March 30–Awe and Wonder: Other–no other

We have considered things outside of us that bring us to wonder.  We have considered things inside of us that bring us to wonder.  Among these might be examples of both:  things that come out of human creativity that often manifest outside of us, the things we do, say and be in the world.

There are no others

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I was deeply moved the first time I saw this quotation from Ramana Maharshi, a Hindu saint from the 19th and 20th centuries.  It seems like always baby steps, but this is the message I keep learning and hopefully practicing–that “othering” people and all beings not only diminishes them but me as well.  When I “other” you, even in a minor way, I mentally cast you off from myself as if we have no common life or being together.  Given how we develop as human beings from infancy on, I suppose that it is inevitable that we first learn to “other” people, things and other beings–the sheer learning of language and the process of naming people and things creates “otherness.” I imagine that we enter the world with the experience of full connection with life all around us (mother primarily). Then, we begin to learn names and differences.  Intentionally or not, we are taught to fear some beings, and we learn “no” and other forms of negation.

Perhaps this is the way of the evolving soul that then, once we have learned to “other” people, things and beings, we must continue the process of realizing this simple and profound truth.  How do you treat others?  There are no others.  Both the necessity of “othering” and the necessity of “no others” both arise within the human being, can both be practiced by and between human beings.  That leaves me in awe.  Who are we?  Where do we come from?  Where are we going?

There are so many examples of the creative work that resides in and expresses itself through and out of us.  A friend shared this short video recently of Ukrainian egg painting. I’ve watched it several times.  It is very short, and I hope you can take time to watch this short piece from National Geographic and be amazed.  Within the span of time it takes to find and pick up the egg and assemble all of the tools (likely a process of “othering”) to the point where the artist and the egg are almost a single unity, I think we are seeing how we move in and out of “other–no other.”

Bob Patrick

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