Flight: Illusion of Separateness

This is a repost from May 5, 2014

On any given day, I do not spend much time on philosophy. Don’t get me wrong, philosophy is a fine and noble subject, and someone needs to study it… just not me. I do get an occasional deep thought when I am out in the garden by myself, but they are short – the 25-words-or-less variety. Consequently, I am a fan of bumper stickers, especially the pithy ones.

Things like:
When you throw something away, where is away?  

Never let the facts get in the way of a good opinion, and

You share 75% of your DNA with a banana, get over yourself.

By far one of the most thoughtful and thought-provoking bumper stickers I have seen was credited to Thich Nhat Hanh. His quote was: “We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.” This one caught my attention, mainly because I didn’t understand it. My ‘separateness’ seemed obvious to me, why would he think that it is an illusion? I think I found part of the answer in a PBS special on meditation.

A significant portion of Buddhist spiritual practice is spent in meditation. Long-time practitioners say that it helps them feel at peace with themselves and at one with the world. Brain activity quiets down during meditation – in particular in the parietal lobes, the part of the brain that houses our sense of individuality. It is as if our brains are silenced so that we can hear our hearts. I think we come to love ourselves and then grow our hearts to love the world.

As we maintain the illusion of our separateness we are losing sight of the idea of the greater good, despite the evidence of quantum physics and ecology that we are all connected.

I invite you to awaken from the illusion of your separateness. The way is long and the road is hard, but whenever you feel that the struggle is getting the better of you, I encourage you to remember our close relative, the banana.

~Karen Smith

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2 Responses to Flight: Illusion of Separateness

  1. Peggy A says:

    Love this reflection, Karen. It was just the reminder that I needed to quit taking myself so seriously and dwell more on the interconnectedness of life. As I eat my banana this morning along with my bowl of oatmeal, I will honor the banana, the oats, and all of life.

  2. katrina yurko says:

    I don’t normally think like this, It’s rather abstract for me to wrap my head around the degrees of separation between me and another individual or for that matter, a banana. I can’t quite fit this into my ordinary, routine life. The closest I come to opening my mind to the metaphysical experience is when I draw or paint the banana. I suppose I need to watch that PBS special on meditation!

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