Flight: Illusion of Separateness

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 Averyt says:

    Love this well written reminder of our interconnectedness!

  2. Roy Reynolds says:

    Pithy, wise, clever, cute, and true!

    Thanks Karen,
    Roy Reynolds

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