Last time I wrote about the distinction between unity and separation—the two possible cornerstones of our individual thought systems. Each of these serves as the organizing factor for all that follows in our perceptual navigation of experience. In describing the transition from the state of perfect communication within the primordial state of being—which is unity—to the condition of separation, I noted that “the experience of being separate was granted, but this did not change the nature of reality.”
There are far-reaching implications of this statement that I want to further unpack here, all of which hinge upon the understanding that while unity is the fundamental nature of reality, and thus of ourselves, we are free to have experiences to the contrary. Further, and most importantly, no experience can change what is truly so. This fact establishes benevolence as integral to the structure of reality, and I want to explore why this is the case.
As I noted last time, “something [indeed] went wrong” as a result of the choice for separation. It’s not all fun and games in this world. In order for the consequences of the choice for separation to be experienced without undermining or destroying the fabric of unity, something akin to dreaming had to occur. I don’t wish to imply this is as simple as a fairy tale, but I do wish to suggest that a means of generating experiences arose in response to the choice for separation that allowed for the fulfillment of the request without the possibility of any impacts whatsoever to the primordial state of being. As we are integral to and in unity with the primordial state of being, this means that we were granted the opportunity to experience “unreality” without the possibility of any lasting impacts on our true and given natures.
We call such an adventure illusion, and the theater of such dreams is space and time—the transitory dance of form. As I alluded to in the previous post, the condition of separation involves is a loss of communication with the primordial state of being. It further involves the formation of an identity based on “something else.” The something else that coincides with the separation is an identity within the transient world of form, and specifically, on an individual level, a near complete identification as individualized beings with particular forms. Our bodies. Without such a vehicle, the choice for separation simply couldn’t be experienced. I think this particular point is pretty obvious. Without a localized, finite and seemingly independent vehicle for experience, we couldn’t experience separation at all. (Note it is also possible to identify with unity and to express this knowing in physical form, while maintaining a name and address and occupation and all the unique predilections and loves we hold, but this is to have unity as foundation of one’s thought system, and this is not what I’m attempting to suggest is the root of suffering.)
The existence of suffering in our world is often considered the strongest refutation there is of the notion that the universe is fundamentally benevolent. But I want to present one way of viewing things in which this is an incorrect interpretation, and to show that, in fact, an intervention of the sort many people imagine a benevolent universe would offer is nothing but a projected affirmation of the choice for separation. Were such forms of intervention to be “granted” or “given,” in other words, they would in fact be far more damaging than the alternative forms of difficulty that exist today.
The logic is straightforward but it’s a lot to accept and wrap one’s mind around. First, the experience of separation requires the formation and acceptance of an identity other than the primordial state of being, as noted above. Though this can never be our actual identity, it can be the identity we experience. Second, suffering is the nature of this illusory condition. Suffering is simply a word, and we generally use it to describe the worst-seeming consequences of this choice we’ve made. We’d very much like to argue that while there is indeed suffering, and it’s terrible and unfortunate and quite often incomprehensibly random, there’s also a lot of really great things about the modality of experience we’ve adopted. In other words, we’d like to avoid saying the whole shebang of separateness is related to suffering. But it is. We want pleasure without pain, but this is like wanting warm without cool, youth with age, electricity without magnetism. Pleasure and pain are just points we define along a common spectrum of experience—the particular form of experience derived through body identification, or what I’ve termed “image.”
What happens is we imagine, while still inhabiting the thought system of separation, that if the universe were benevolent, portions of this experience would be filtered out or removed while others remained. The problem is this is tantamount to asking that the illusory identity we’ve adopted be granted the same stability and freedom as unity—that each of us be a kingdom unto oneself. To perhaps oversimplify this, imagine someone decided to stop breathing and then insisted that all the hard parts of that experience be removed so it was really quite pleasurable. One problem is that a body in this condition would die, and the pain that results of this choice is actually intended to be helpful: the consequences of not breathing lead quickly back to breathing. To ask that benevolence simply remove the pain of not breathing is to double-down on the choice not to breathe—to request that we be allowed to enjoy our naïve decision to harm ourselves. Clearly, there would be no benevolence in the granting of such a wish.
But what actually is the problem with a world where no one gets cancer and no one goes hungry and no one is less talented and no one goes without? The answer is nothing. We’re just going about creating it the wrong way—like the hypothetical person in the paragraph above who asks why he or she cannot be allowed to live without breathing. We’re going about the achievement of our desires in a way that is not in accord with the conditions of reality. There are consequences of this, just as there are consequences of releasing an egg from the top of a building. That is all. The perplexing thing is that if we knew how to answer the question of why what we’re doing cannot work, we’d probably stop doing it. But we don’t know the answer, and this makes it difficult to explain.
An aspect of this is that the primordial state of being is sovereign creative freedom. To create is to extend this sovereign creative freedom in novel ways, and so we, too, are sovereign creative freedom. This is our identity in unity. It is who and what we are. Now, in our choice for separation—our question about what it would be like not to breathe—certain consequences arose. They have arisen in the framework of an experience that, while all too real in a sense, is not able to impact the actual state of being we share. We are still sovereign creative freedom, we just don’t know it in a sense. We think and believe we are something else, and our experiences support this conclusion. In this state, the consequences can be difficult, harrowing, horrible, depressing, evil, etc. So why not simply undo what has been done? Or assuming it was possible, simply filter out the parts of this experience we do not like?
These are difficult things for us to understand from the viewpoint of separation, but I think there are two really important answers. The first is that to simply change what we have chosen would be to take away the very sovereign creative freedom that is our genuine nature. This would deprive us of the opportunity to learn and in essence result in our being less “real.” Sure, we could imagine being made into automatons or something that were only allowed to make certain choices, but this would extinguish the very essence of the life that we are. This would destroy our sovereignty and our creative freedom. Such “beings” would no longer be participants in the type of communion and communication that is the hallmark of unity.
Second, and related, we could imagine each of us being allowed to truly be separate from one another and perfectly free to imagine and enjoy whatever we desired. In such a scenario, there’s no one else with a free will in the entire world of our experience: we get whatever we want. It’s just “me.” The problem is we would truly be separated then. We would be lost from one another forever. This wouldn’t simply be a temporary loss, an experiential-illusory-dreaming one, but an eternal one. From the perspective of unity this would be a permanent loss of an element of ourselves—of who we truly are. I just don’t think this is permitted, or even “possible”, aside from the fact I don’t believe it’s truly desirable.
So to suppose that benevolence, if it were in fact a quality of reality, would grant us these strange wishes is insane on the one hand. But I concede it’s not too crazy from the vantage of separation, because from the perspective of our illusory identities we don’t understand there is in fact another resolution to our difficulties. That solution is to stop holding our breath. To breathe again. To place unity at the foundation of our thought systems. The solution is not to be allowed to hold our breath while experiencing only the macabre joy of our expiration, but in a sense this is what we are asking for whenever we try to resolve the issues before us without examining the fundamental choice for separation.