Together. . .
Ordinarily, we experience the world as somewhat separate from ourselves. When we look at flowers, cars, and people on the street, it can be like watching a movie screen from a seat 10 or 20 paces away. So familiar does this sense of distance feel that we almost never notice.
Early humans shared this distanced point of view, and, like us, they seldom questioned it. They thought of themselves as individual minds separate from their surroundings.Buddhists questioned this reasoning. If the existence of the self is an illusion, they said, then how could liberation be personal?
There was something wrong with the idea that we reach enlightenment as individuals when we transcend our individuality.
The Buddha did speak on individuality and he often taught that the path to liberation is yours to walk but he also taught that as separate minds observing from a distance the world “out there” had its pitfalls. He encouraged instead, that each person is one element of a larger unity that includes absolutely everything. Buddhists viewed this basic unity as infinite in all directions and in that thinking they were far ahead of traditional and current thinking than they could ever understand.
In Zen, the view that consciousness isn’t an individual property but a common resource, like air or water, which no individual can own can be hard to fully wrap ones head around. But as we work through the obstacles we face on the meditation cushion and in our lives, we’re actually helping to clean up a mental environment that all of us share — and one that we’ve all helped to build or degrade. Of course, this way of thinking makes enlightenment much harder to attain, since none of us will wake up completely until everybody does. But the good news is that everyone who embodies something good — or even points the smallest of thoughts and actions in that direction is doing it — that is helping us to wake up. In a much deeper sense than we may recognize. Our simple and undeniable truth however is that we’re all in this life together.
Peace and Love, Jim
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