After my recent short post, “I am everything and everything is part of me,” I received many questions – most requesting clarification.
The human spirit yearns for a sense of connection, a sense of meaning and fulfilment. Evolution works against this.
From an evolutionary perspective you are a gene transmission machine, the same as any living thing – a plant, a fish, a bacterium, a worm. All of our adaptations are to support this blind process; to survive, in order to reproduce, in order to pass on the genes you carry.
The way in which we perceive reality is part of this. We perceive reality not as it is but in a way that increases the chances of survival of the genes we carry. The ego is simply part of this survival mechanism. Ego divides the world into two categories: “me” (everything inside this bag of skin) and “not me” (everything outside of this bag of skin). When ego is born then a sense of separation is created: “I must protect anything inside this skin.” Everything outside of this skin is given a value according to how useful it is to what’s inside this skin. In our ignorance we identify with our egos, believing it to be who we are. Your ego is not who you are. Your ego is simply a survival mechanism.Your ego is simply a collection of automatic thinking patterns you developed to best survive in the environment into which you were born – your response to your environment; parents, teachers, siblings, relatives, etc, none of which you chose. If we look closely at ego we find nothing solid or permanent there. It is simply a constant stream of thoughts, a never ending story we tell ourselves about ourselves and about the world. It is the root of all suffering. However, ego, however essentially a genetically useful “survival perception”, is severely limiting; it disconnects us from direct experience, rather we experience the thoughts about our experience. It is of little use, an impediment even, if we want to better understand the universe, to be happy or to have meaning in our lives.
However, there is another way of being, of perceiving which frees us of the paltry constraints of ego.
From a scientific/rationalist standpoint, free of superstition, the fact is that we/everything in the Universe are made of the same energy/stuff. The fact is that I, Geoffrey, am simply a fleeting manifestation of this underlying energy/stuff. However, with this manifestation is the miraculous gift of consciousness. With this gift comes the wonderful ability to feel awe, to appreciate, to feel a sense of gratitude for this existence, for this opportunity. We are simply a way in which the universe appreciates itself.
We can also experience this directly, when we come fully into the present moment, when the mind becomes quiet, empty of thoughts and we perceive directly. As thoughts disappear, the distorting limiting, suffocating lens of ego disappears also. Such a thing occurs when we meditate, particularly when we practice choice-less awareness.
This Sunday Rhea and I took our weekly walk on the beach at San Vicente de La Barquera. We walked to the end (a favourite place to meditate) and sat for about an hour.
My mind initially active begins to slow down; the space between thoughts growing, becoming ever greater – the mind now stable, tranquil and immensely spacious. The sense of self, the ego, evaporates along with thoughts. Now simply observing/experiencing. It is not a drowsy relaxed state but a state of wonder, alertness – greatly heightened awareness, together with a deep sense of connection. Awe at the unreal billowing greys and white forms of the clouds; the intense greens of the pastures and multitude of earth browns and eroded forms of the weathered cliffs; the dark silhouette of the mountains, the brilliant white and infinite blue/green hues of the sea. Everything at once both wondrously familiar and strangely alien – the colours more intense, brighter, sharper. There is no “Geoffrey”; instead, a deep sense of connection, of gratitude, of fullness. The overwhelming beauty is almost unbearable. I experience what is always there, obscured by thoughts and ego, that:
”I am part of everything and everything is part of me”.
If we look at most of the serious problems we face as a species and at all levels we find ego at the root, especially the masculine macho ego. If our species is to have a future, then we must raise our level of consciousness to a level higher than the present “me-centred-universe” of the ego and in its place, experience and live in the reality of connection.
I quote Einstein:
You cannot solve a problem using the same level of thinking that you used to create it.