Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Illusion of Independence

Wherever you are in your life and your path, you are surrounded by the illusion of independence. For some of you, life really ends at your fingertips. To consider that you're a part of everything seems a little absurd. It feels too conceptual, and so from our very beginnings in these bodies, we have the seeds of separateness from which the idea of independence can grow.

Independence and Interdependence
We make choices. We decide how to move, how to dress, when to talk, what to say, and so many other things. For some of us, we feel even more power over our lives. We feel in control and that we can make things go according to what we want. Some of us even get really good at kind of bending life to our will, which only furthers the illusion of independence. It all seems to be happening the way we want it to.

This is part of why it's usually some really traumatic event that has to hit us upside the heads before we start to shake free of the illusion of independence. A lot of times, it's a physical trauma. Car accidents are one of the great equalizers. We suddenly see just how insignificant and small and vulnerable we truly are. The resulting rehab period forces us to turn to others for help. For many, this becomes a time of deep depression as the ego is suddenly faced with its lack of independent power. And in a deeper way, the ego is confronted by the truth that it has never really be in control.


The Wake Up Call
If spiritual awakening is anything, it's a call back to the reality of our interdependence on each other. We can't really do much of anything without help or assistance. Even a powerful CEO is relying heavily upon the connections of all his/her employees and stock-holders. I think you ask a few CEOs, you'd be struck at how tied up by issues and agendas they are (Pleasing the Board of Directors, managing ambitious and headstrong senior management, and so forth). If everyone walked out of a company one day, that CEO has no power and no company.

Sure, we are incredibly influential in our lives, but using each other must come to an end. It is an incredibly unhealthy way of living. Because the truth is we never ever really do anything by ourselves. We make our choices, but without support from the world, we wouldn't get very far. Even if you live in a cave, make your own clothing, and grow your own food, you're dependent on the weather and the earth. You aren't self-sufficient.

In civilization, we are always in a flow with other people. You may be driving your own car on the freeway, but you're depending on others to manage their cars well, to stop at the stoplights, to drive on the appropriate side of the road. You're depending on the car manufacturers to have built a good car. You're depending on the quality of gas and oil to keep it running smoothly. You're depending on the auto-body shop that checks your car to make sure that it's safe and running well. This isn't about freedom per se. This is about the illusion that we have that what we do is just happening within our own little bubbles and that we aren't affected by others or are affecting others.

Cracks in the Shell: Illusion Giving Way to Reality
As I said, usually the illusion of independence doesn't start to break down until something traumatic happens to someone. For those of you already in spiritually awakening, you may feel viscerally interconnected to everyone and everything around. You can sense what's happening in the room with all the people around you--at least to varying degrees (everyone gets this awareness to different levels). I remember with the oil spill that happened in the Gulf of Mexico just how upsetting it was to some people's energy fields. It's not just the idea; some people feel their connection to the earth so intimately that this type of event is directly upsetting to their energy. The same thing goes with what's happened in Japan post-tsunami. In awakening, you know independence is an illusion, yet where that illusion of independence hangs on, you're going to feel disconnected. In this, you're seeing and feeling one of the truths and sicknesses of the ego.


Independence and Ego Separation
The ego maintains that it's different than everything and everyone else. Strangely enough, in its many desires to connect with others, there's this idea that somehow you can keep your distance. It's like when someone is out on a date, and they want to feel connected to their date, but they don't want to feel vulnerable. So, the date turns into something of a chess match until one person drops their guard enough to let the other one in. In letting your guard down, a part of the ego lets go. A part of your independence vanishes. Many of you know how emotionally connected you can feel with a lover. That connection means you can feel when s/he is upset or happy. It can lead to all kinds of other issues as you want your partner to be happy because you may feel bad when they're not happy (codependence or trying to fix the other can happen). Why do you want them to always be happy? Partly, it's because you feel connected, and it does hurt to feel someone close to you be in pain.

Now, there is a whole other discussion about how to be with pain and not take on someone else's experiences. There's plenty I can say around maintaining a lot of love and open heartedness during this too (Essentially, that's a lot of what I do as a teacher). I am simply illustrating something what people commonly feel so that you can see that you've probably felt this deeper level of connection at some point. The amazing thing is that this deeper sense of connection and unity can be had with all people and not just with one special person in your life. Ultimately, everyone is special anyway, and deep connection is always possible (although not everyone is open to the same depths).

Dissolving Illusions in Spiritual Awakening
But for now, many of you aren't ready to let go of that illusion. That's fine. You can have it as long as you wish. No one is going to take it from you. It will be both your greatest teacher, ally, and tormentor. It will be there until life forces you to ask for help and to really see just how interdependent you are with every man, woman, creature, and thing on this planet. And when that illusion starts to break, a little spiritual opening may create a broader view and break you out of your tunnel view that has had you narrowly driving towards goals that you may not fully understand. In this shift, you may even feel a little overwhelmed, maybe more than a little overwhelmed. Just know that you're going to be all right. The help you need will be there when you need it because in interdependence we are all learning to help, hold, and love each other.
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