Life often gives us examples of how we are connected to everything. I once read a story about a man who could “tap” another person and cause them to turn around, even though twenty feet or more separated them! Is this even possible? In the story it was stated that, out of forty people who passed by, only four failed to turn around when this man mentally “tapped” them. That is remarkable! (From The Lost Season by Jeffry Beers)
“Part of life’s beauty is that we are all connected, so that beauty is in me as well”
Coincidentally, the day before I read this story, I was walking through the halls at school (back when I used to teach high school) and I envisioned an energy connection with all those present in the hall. I could actually feel it! The “coincidence” of reading the story while on a personal quest to find this connectedness to all others and to all things is too profound to ignore. It was as if the author of the story was saying, “See, here is proof that the energy connection you were feeling that day in the hall was real because here is a man who can actually cause others to turn around by accessing that energy connection and “tapping” them.
What adds to the profundity of the synchronicity of this experience is that it occurred the same day I was watching perhaps the largest flock of geese I’ve ever seen. They were all landing in the practice field at school and I recall thinking about how interesting it is that they all fly together moving in unison. Later, it just so happens that I found myself reading about an individual’s experience while walking on the beach and noticing the incredible unison of the flight pattern of birds. The author even spoke of the invisible energy field we are all connected by.
How could all these connections in such a short period of time be a coincidence? It seems more believable to me that I was witnessing the interconnectedness of all things rather than just coming across a series of amazing coincidences. Interestingly, people often view examples of connections as “mystical” and attempt to explain it away with coincidence. Which is more believable? Would it not be even more “mystical” to go against the odds and say that all of these signs of interconnectedness are merely coincidence?
The Ego is What Separates Us
The meaning of the concept “to be an individual” is to be separate from others. The irony here is these thoughts of individuality take us away from what we deeply need and desire, which is the feeling of connectedness. Psychology tells us that one of the major universal human needs is relatedness. Of course it is! Without it we don’t feel connected to others. It is our psychological self that prevents us from feeling this sense of connectedness through the confines of the ego, yet it is our psychological self that defines the need for the relatedness in the first place. How paradoxical!
Perhaps this is why we have all these gathering places, to meet the needs of the psychological self, so that it can acquire a sense of relatedness. In fact, all public places are gathering places and tend to provide a sense of connectedness. People choose to go to places that seem to coincide with their own individual likes. Interestingly, this seems to be one situation that meets the needs of both the psychological and the authentic self. It seems like they are often in conflict. Much like how animated movies depict an individual with a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other shoulder, each vying for the attention of the individual. In this representation, the angel is symbolic for the authentic self and the devil is symbolic for the ego. Then who is the individual? Perhaps the individual is just the body, which can be controlled by either the authentic self or psychological self; depending on whose advice it follows.
Solitary Confinement: The Greatest Punishment!
It is very interesting to me that the punishment said to be the most diabolical is solitary confinement. I have even read that prisoners would rather risk injury and even death than be sent into solitary confinement. Viewed in light of what was stated above about separation, this makes perfect sense, especially in the confines of prison walls, where there is no chance to connect with nature. After all, some individuals who live in total seclusion are said to have become enlightened and live in eternal bliss. However, unlike being in prison, they are typically described to have found this eternal bliss in far away places such as remote mountains, therefore they are not confined to man made walls of physical, and perhaps mental confinement.
Being separated from God is what the bible describes as hell. What if the building of the ego was like creating prison walls for the mind and causes us to lose connection with God? If this were the case, then the more egoic ideas that are constructed in our mind, the more we would lose our connection with God. Certainly this is how many view it.
In order to allow the authentic self to be free to experience life, we must break down the walls created by the ego. Otherwise, we experience life through the veil of the ego and become our thoughts and our emotions, rather than the witness of them. Viewed in this light, it appears it is the ego that creates our own “hell.”
The Mind is the Great Perceiver, and Deceiver
I recall considering the topic of the human ego and thinking that there is no truth to the concept of space and time. Indeed, these terms are simply mental constructs. What does that mean? Basically, we have given these terms meaning by looking at the differences between our self and others. In truth, we are in others because we are one life, and the only thing that separates this one life is the sense perceptions of the human body, which are then perceived by the ego in order to experience reality. If this were so, then there would be no space between us because we are one. Indeed, this is in line with what has been described in terms of both the physical and spiritual world being one. In this way, there is no such thing as true separation, only separation through perception and the false ideology of the ego.
So how might this concept of oneness apply to time? In a personal example, it seems to have something to do with how I am connected to all those who gifted me books that have inspired me, as well as all the authors who wrote them, and all those who inspired those authors. Perhaps we are one with all those who preceded us, both in thought and in action. Their thoughts became their actions, their actions, which often times are recorded as words, were perceived by us and became a part of us. This happens regardless of whether we chose to act similarly or differently, as our choice was still influenced by how we perceived their action. Others then form their beliefs and act according to their own perceptions after observing our actions. This pattern continues on for eternity. Separateness in these terms is impossible! It would only come from our mind’s perception of who preceded whom. And preceded according to what, the number of times the earth has revolved around the sun?
So if we choose not to look at events in comparison to one another or in comparison to the movements of the solar system what is left? Does time not then disappear? After all, if we zoom out and look at the big picture of all of the events that have ever occurred in the history of mankind, we can see that it is really one long chain of unbroken events with no beginning and no end. However, once we remove a section of that unbroken chain of events to look at it in comparison to the whole, we now have a concept of time. How interesting! I think I am beginning to see it. It is the mind that isolates these “individual events” and tries to make meaning of them by comparing them to the whole of eternity. Only by zooming in and separating one small portion of human history do we create time.
We Are Free to Choose to be Connected
It is clear that we define our individuality through thoughts, and by so doing, cause ourselves to be separated from others. However, we also establish our connectedness through our thoughts. For example, we can use our thoughts to remind ourselves to look to life’s connections to explain meaning and purpose. By believing that we must do things to establish our identities and show ourselves to be worthy of praise from others, we demonstrate the true division between self and others. This seems so paradoxical! How could thoughts both connect us and divide us?
The only space between our “self” (ego) and others is created in the mind and supported by the senses of our physical body. The actual thought of desiring praise from others connects us to them in a way that cannot be separated by space and time. Those thoughts lead us on a direct path to those whom we desire praise from through our actions, which are done as a way to open their receptive channels to us in the first place. The connection is there. What is missing is merely the receptiveness, which could come eventually, unless we choose to change paths because we have changed the focus of our attention.
When we read or see something in others we want it for ourselves. Why do we do that? Can’t we see that if it is in others and we appreciate it, then it is in us? For example, if a story that is shared with us touches our heart we might think, Why can’t that happen to me? However, if it touches our heart in a similar way that moved the one sharing the story, then did it not also happen to us? Are we not simply looking for the feeling that we already received? What a deceiver the mind can be! It is time to shed that way of thinking from our human existence. In its place can be the thought, Part of life’s beauty is that we are all connected, so that beauty is in me as well.
The Blessings of Others is Ours as Well
I am reminded of the time I was having difficulty feeling good for a close personal friend when I thought about how he was taking over the basketball program in full swing, and would be the one to enjoy the benefits of all the years I had put in building the program. However, all I had to do was remember that he and I had done much of that building together. Just because I was not there during the following season did not mean that I had no part in what was happening with the team. In addition, given that he is such a dear friend to me, it seemed strange that I would be unable to feel good about his success. Obviously, that was the ego in me getting in the way of this very real connection.
Once I saw past the ego, I felt great joy for my friend getting the opportunity to coach these fine young men. And that joy remained any time the thoughts returned to his potential for success in taking over the program. In fact, it seemed much more appropriate that my friend was the one taking over the program at that time, because there was a group of very dedicated seniors who would most likely benefit from the continuity of keeping the overarching philosophy intact. Would this continuity not have been lost had another coach came in and taken over the program at that time?
As if a message was being sent directly from the Universe, the very next morning while reading the Bible, I came across a passage about Cain and Able. After both presented the Lord with an offering, Cain killed Abel because God liked Abel’s offering better. The thought occurred to me, Could this be God’s way of saying, “See, I am listening to you and showing you what envy can lead to.” Indeed, God, or the Universe, or the One, Allah, the Absolute, or whatever you want to call it, is talking to us all the time. All we must do is be still, present, and listen.