When we think we are a “separate self” we are in danger of feeling isolated from others, from life. Alienation leads to great suffering.
Or this “separate self” can feel the pride of accomplishment, or feeling slightly superior to others, which then leads to suffering for whatever goes up must come down.
“Pride goeth before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18
Or we might feel like a failure, and this leads to despair.
But if we think of ourselves as “nothing,” we will likely become apathetic and passive, and thus we won’t contribute what is ours to share.
Let’s take a wider approach.
Can we broaden our view to see that we function as a “self,” but a scientific fact is that everything that is formed, all matter, is really empty at its deepest place. There is nothing there.
Quantum physics shows that matter when taken to the level of the smallest particle is found to be nothing solid, always in a state of flow, always becoming and dissolving.
Max Planck, Nobel Prize winning physicist says, “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear-headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as the result of my research about the atoms this much: There is no matter as such.” The Isaiah Effect, Gregg Braden, pg 109
There is no matter as such. This is a great big WOW! And it appears so real.
Likewise we have all the characteristics of a self. We live in this formed body, but at our very core, our essential center, we have no separate form at all — a non-self—for we are always in flow, at one with the All.
Can we hold the tension of both of these natures and see that they work together—the formed and the unlimited, infinite unformed?
A helpful metaphor I have found is that of the whirlpool and the great body of water in which the whirlpool exists.
There is great energy within the whirlpool—lots of activity that can be seen and identified. It contains patterns, movement and a momentary identity. We can see it and watch the flow.
It also catches debris that causes the current to be irregular, blocked.
Yet this whirlpool is also part of the great ocean—never separate from it. Its very essence is the water of the great ocean.
The whirlpool and the ocean live in each other and are dependent on each other for expression of life.
So it is with us. We have an identity. We can say “I” and mean it. We see and speak from this place within us that only we know.
But this isn’t all that we are!
We are not separate from the Source of our “I” nature, the whirlpool—the great ocean of life that breathes us and flows into us every moment.
We are both the great ocean and the small whirlpool all at the same time.
The ocean gives the whirlpool life and energy. The whirlpool couldn’t exist if it weren’t an integral part of the greater body of water.
Can you feel this for yourself? Right now there is a flow of energy supporting and sustaining you. You need “it,” and “It” needs you.
Here is true reciprocity. The whole couldn’t express without you. It could never be complete without the “whirlpoolness” of you, of your mind and your heart. From this you create. You bring texture, shape sound and form to life. You bring meaning into the specific place where you are.
And you could not breathe for one second without the energy and life of the whole that always sustains you.
When the whirlpool thinks of itself as separate it will act as if it’s not connected. It will harm and seek out things for itself, try to get all that it can. It will use others as objects to fulfill its own ambitions.
The results will be major suffering and destruction.
But when the whirlpool turns to the greater whole and asks to be guided in its actions, it can bring beauty and compassion to all the other whirlpools that are flowing within this great unending stream of life.
Listening and sitting still in meditation, quieting the whirlpool of the mind and joining the great stream of consciousness that flows through everything and everyone brings new awareness and serenity.
We begin to see and experience the great web that holds us all together. We begin to get it that when we act out of our self-centeredness we miss the truth of the “All.” And suffering results.
The self isn’t the center. It is simply one of the infinite number of whirlpools all doing their thing.
Self-centeredness or God-centeredness? We make this choice every moment of every day. To which are you devoted?
What kind of a world do you want to help create?