There’s not a lot of Unity in the Bible, not on the surface anyway; you have to really go looking for it, and even then. But the Kabbalah is a rich map of reality. It shows that from the most abstract unmanifest divine truth, a sequential unfoldment or manifestation occurs. But even so, all this unfoldment happens WITHIN the wholeness of Being. There’s no question of anything OUTSIDE of the Absolute. Unity is non-negotiable.
As for the Vedas and the Upanishads, even when talking about God they remind us to know that WE ARE THAT.
It’s the notion of separation that’s so pernicious. Because one of the ways it shows up in our ideas about ourselves is this idea that we’re ‘apart’ from the divine nature, separated and outside it somehow and we have to reconnect or get back to God. But it’s just not true, there’s nothing OUTSIDE of the Absolute Being, all that is is contained within it.
It’s like the student who asks the teacher “what is God?”, and the master replies, “what ISN’T God?” (We can swap out God with consciousness if we like.)
And this is a good exercise to explore. Notice whatever your attention lands on and ask, “is this not God?” The sky, the chair under you, the light, the colour blue; ask, “is this not also God?” And also in the sensations you feel and the thoughts that arise in your mind, are these not also God?”
And to completely close the gap of imagined separation, the very act of noticing, the awareness that you are that ‘knows’ — is this not also God?
The Christian mystic Meister Eckhart made this leap to the Unified view of man and God when he said –
“The eye with which I see God is the same with which God sees me. My eye and God’s eye is one eye, and one sight, and one knowledge, and one love.”
So to perceive separation is to imagine it only, it’s to believe a mere conception. And therein lies our problem, we privilege thinking over experience and we don’t test the veracity of our beliefs against our lived experience. This habit starts early, before we could even think as such we were handed a bunch of conceptions about the world and who and what we are, and we believed them without question, and life based on this becomes our way of being. This is conditioning and it has a life of its own, we’re conditioned by those who were conditioned before us, as they were, and so on.
But sooner or later we start to bump up against reality proper and we notice that the consensus reality we’ve internalised doesn’t comport well with the facts on the ground. And that gap between what’s real and true experientially and the beliefs we have about it start to become untenable, and this is where suffering is born. Even if that suffering is just a nagging dissatisfaction, a sense that something’s not quite right.
This is what the Buddha called ‘dukkha’, and most translate it as ‘suffering’. But it can also be translated as ‘unsatisfactoriness’. So conditioned life is ‘unsatisfactory’, or put another way, life in its conditioned state in incapable of satisfying.
But it’s not LIFE ITSELF that’s the problem, it’s CONDITIONED EXISTENCE, it’s the embodiment of false views of reality and the actions and self-reinforcing behaviours that this leads to, and the inevitable sense of wrongness that follows.
It’s like if we truly believed that the sun rising was ‘wrong’, that it really SHOULDN’T BE that way, then every time it rose we’d feel terrible about it and spend our energies trying to fix and and stop it. We’d maybe be scared that life was broken somehow. And so like that, because we’ve given a belief priority over reality, we suffer. But we suffer the belief, NOT the reality. And when we accept the fact that the sun rises as natural and inevitable, there’s no suffering, there’s just what is.
Reality, the truth, is what’s real and true before we impose our beliefs and conceptions on it. But it’s not obvious what that is until we ‘do’ it. It’s why ‘no-mind’ is so important in enlightenment teachings. The experience of a mind free of thoughts, judgements, descriptions, gives us a glimpse of the ‘thing in itself’, naked being, Zen.
But an empty mind isn’t the end in itself, because thoughts themselves don’t make us suffer, it’s the BELIEF in them that does that, and in particular it’s the false and limiting thoughts in regard to ourselves that cause most trouble.
As false notions go, “I am the body” is the bottom-most block in the Jenga stack, and the one that leads to the most suffering. This is the root idea upon which the superstructure of our suffering is built. Get rid of that one bad idea and the whole tower comes crumbling down. But as I said, it’s not enough to just not think it; that might give a moment of relief, a welcome glimpse of its absence, but when the thought returns so does the attendant confusion and suffering. But when we truly see it’s falseness of our limited view of ourself, then the belief in it naturally falls away and we’re free, whether the thought arises again or not.
This process is a bit of a chicken and egg situation. But in this case it doesn’t matter which came first; either we first recognise our boundless nature and then as a consequence the “I am the body” belief falls away, or the belief drops away and our true nature is revealed.
Either way, truth dawns and freedom reigns. ❤️