Knowing Self and knowing others.

There is paradox in everything about the human experience. For instance, it is through giving we receive, and through receiving we give. It is the ‘unimportant’ in our lives, such as stopping to breath under an unfolding oak tree, that gives importance to other activities. It is the “meaningless’ connections in daily living, such as a hello at a checkout at the supermarket, that provides framework and meaning for the more intimate connections we have. These apparent paradoxes are not part of any cosmic game played on us, but rather a daily reminder of the wholeness and perfection of life. Each moment offers glimpses into this, often via these connections with others.

These connections with others are a foundational part of living. Without them, we would quite literally go insane or feel tormented, as those in solitary confinement in prison sometimes do. Exploring connections is hard wired into our bodies, and even when lives of relative isolation are lived, there will always be an element of this exploration.

Exploring longer term connections, the depth of them, is termed ‘a relationship‘. We all have different preconceptions of what a relationship is – as many preconceptions as the word ‘love’. It is in longer term relationships that we meet the dichotomy between these preconceptions and what is head on. Conflict can be the natural result. We also see how much the ideal of ‘relationship’ we have works within ourselves, for we can try to fit ourselves in a mold very easily in an attempt for intimacy. It is a dance with essentially the present moment, Now.

 

In this dance of intimacy, which can also be termed ‘knowing the Self’, I’ve identified two fundamental forces and motivations based in Love:

  • Knowing Love through interconnection. This is the desire to know one’s wholeness and completion through seeing how fundamentally interconnected we are with others. We connect with others via sharing ideas, emotions, and space, and feel the joy that comes from this experience of oneness in whatever form it takes. It is a desire to fully experience the knowledge that you are not separate from anything in the universe.
  • Knowing Love through autonomy. This is the desire to experience wholeness simply by being exactly who you are in this moment. In other words, it is the sure knowledge there is nothing lacking in you, and that nothing can be found in another that cannot be found in the Self. There is thus no empty need for connections with others. There is nothing you can ‘get’ you cannot find already there, and so there is no need for any pretense in order to gain anything externally. All of the universe is within you.

 

These two forces sound diametrically in opposition. Most people place more emphasis on one than the other; some are focused on new experiences and connections at all costs, and yet others are about maintaining and building identity. Yet the paradox involved in all this is that they are not separate at all. Wholeness is found both in the universe and in the Self, without conflict. ‘As within, so without’ was the maxim of the alchemists studying inner transformation. This has parallels to the psychological concept in Bowen family systems theory of differentiation. A healthy balance is obtained by a core self that is maintained in the midst of stress and deep connection. The oneness of the above concepts shows itself in the world through the fact that the depth of your connection with others is always equal to the depth of connection you have with your Self. Again, this is not theory, and it is not simply in the long term. It is a truism of every moment of your life. When you lose connection with Self, you may indeed feel ‘highs’ of connection with others, which can feel as intense as opiates. But this connection always feels around the corner, not Now. This law of connection is itself an expression of the oneness of the universe.

Relationships are the most visible manifestation of this oneness. If a man feels inner lack, or emptiness inside from not being connected to Self, then it is common to seek someone in a relationship to fill this apparent void. He might even obsessively seek more and more connections with others, seeking to know wholeness through the eyes of many others. But because of the utter unity of inner relationship with the Self and outer relationships with others, this soon manifests as co-dependency, conflict or other ‘problems’, even in short term relationships. I also see this in nightclubs and dance events; when others are in close proximity and there is no firm knowledge of Self (autonomy), then there is a natural diving into others that is in essence a giving away of the birthright of knowing wholeness. It often pleasurable, but it will always contain seeds of experiencing the separation the action comes out of. This is not a punishment, but a continual invitation to know Self.

The other side of it is common to those involved in spiritual quests, as I was:

When I was in my twenties, I was coming out of a very isolated and empty family. Because of the framework and pains I had accumulated through childhood, connections with others were painful, and I thought that heavy meditation was the answer. Eventually I would ‘get it’ and find enlightenment. I was determined to find the wholeness in myself, so I would retreat into long meditations and avoid connections with others until I obtained this. Of course, the denial of the interconnection with others led to even more disconnections within. Depression continued and I thought that I must not be meditating hard enough. It took a lengthy trip to India to see that I was literally trying to cut off part of myself in order to find ‘wholeness’. This in itself was violence to myself, and it took me some time to recognize this. On my return from India, I immediately dived into a tumultuous and emotionally heavy relationship, which was necessary on my path to balance and knowing Self.

The ultimate expression of Love in this world, is seeing another as Self. This is not a theoretical statement, but a simple expression of the non-duality that is underlying all of life. If you look at the two forces described above, in fact the only way of harmonizing them without conflict is through this perceptional transformation. This is in fact what the root of the Hindi word ‘Namaste’ is. I see that we are truly one, and I honor this unity.

You could think of a third force in addition to the two above, a neutral force. This is referred to as “the observer”, “the ether”, etc. It is a state of potential, of simply being and allowing. It provides the framework that lets harmonization occur, where “the observer becomes the observed”, as Krishnamurthi said.

 

So then, given this state of the universe, how do we experience this oneness? How do we know Self, and truly experience the joys of the interconnection with all aspects of life? According to Gandhi, ‘The ends are the means’. As superficial as it sounds, it is good to ask yourself how you would act if you knew the truths above in every aspect of your being. Would you still look for the same distractions? Would you not look in the eyes of those surrounding you in life? Would you still have the same short, shallow breath through much of your day that keeps you from experiencing what is actually going on in the present moment?

There is no substitute for experience, and the greatest lessons are always obtained by completely being present in life, without any escapes or attempts to be anywhere else but Here or Now. When disconnections have been built, it is of course natural that the first experiences would be painful, but this is nothing more than an awakening of awareness. And it is through awareness â???? being fully and utterly conscious of Self and others in their completeness â???? that Love is manifested on this Earth. Is this not what we all wish to bring?

9 Comments

  1. Reveal the Truth Within!!! November 16, 2007 at 1:15 am - Reply

    The disolving dichotomy of “self” and “others” can be awkward transitory moment, moving from a perpetuated sense of separate singular identity known as “me” into a unified field of converging universes.

    You talk of knowing love through interconnection and knowing love through autonomy, when ultimately they are the same unit – unity. The perceived point from which it appears as a dichotomy is simply an agreed point of reference that is claimed to be an absolute. Funny thing is, the interconnection and autonomy plays on one another, without the sense of autonomy, there can be no realization of interconnection and without the interconnection there can is no fundamental framework for autonomy to arise.

    Moving beyond the perception of a frame to reference “self” and “others” moves the observer beyond the limitations of the context through which perception is fundamentally tied to. Without context there is no perception, simply awareness and unity, and in the moment the observer becomes the observed, and it is the only moment – now.

    An exercise that I often use is to be in conversation with someone and consciously look for the deepest motivation behind the conversation and what often happens is there will be a moment when reality sort of shifts and there is no longer to people talking, but rather me having a conversation with my higher self, at least that’s how i’ve experienced so far, and in that moment, I literally feel like I’m one with everything around me.

    You see, when I consciously look for that deepest motivation it always leads to the source of it all – love, for love is the deepest motivation behind all actions. In every moment we are radiating that primal force, you called a neutral force, I call it love. Either way it is a “centering” of “self”.

    Thanks for your brilliance…

    Much Luv
    Michael

  2. Hayden Tompkins November 19, 2007 at 11:37 am - Reply

    “This is the desire to experience wholeness simply by being exactly who you are in this moment…All of the universe is within you.”

    What an amazing way to phrase that feeling.

  3. Kikipotamus the Hobo November 19, 2007 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this site and for this post. This is what I needed to read tonight.

  4. Priscilla Palmer November 20, 2007 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    You have been added to The Personal Development List. Thank you for letting me know about your site.

  5. Shawn Murphey, Inner Peace Activist November 22, 2007 at 8:24 am - Reply

    I, too, resonated with this part of your post:
    “Knowing Love through autonomy. This is the desire to experience wholeness simply by being exactly who you are in this moment…All of the universe is within you.” It has that resonance of Truth in it – the sense that my heart and soul are opening up and saying “yes!”

  6. Daniel Escribens November 27, 2007 at 11:44 am - Reply

    This is the firts time I read your bolg. This is great stuff!

    “Would you still have the same short, shallow breath through much of your day that keeps you from experiencing what is actually going on in the present moment?”

    Yes… I forgot abou that… breath in, breath out…

    Nemaste,

    Daniel

    • tremor November 28, 2007 at 6:22 pm - Reply

      As Zen Judaism says,

      “Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out. Forget this and achieving enlightenment will be the LEAST of your worries.”

  7. Learning to breathe properly has helped me to reconnect with my body and my inner being. Thanks for the thought-provoking article.

    • tremor December 3, 2007 at 11:46 am - Reply

      Thank you! Watching breathing (aka Vipassana) is an age old practice that helps a lot!

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