There is so much hatred in the world. So many people banding together based on group identification. Our fear of one another is so heightened that we lack the awareness to listen to one another and ultimately understand one another. Our personal view of life, based on our own beliefs and agendas, is the only perspective of life. Our personal narrative is the narrative. But it has always been this way. Our hatred and fear towards each other are nothing new. It’s an old game that we are all duped into playing. And the game is based on a lie, a lack of understanding about who we truly are and what the world really is.
The truth is our perception of the world is clouded and unable to see the world as it truly is. Division and conflict are the result of a world literally going blind to the truth. The fabric of society is built on the foundation that separation is true. But is separation really true? Or is separation the heart of a tired old game that is the root cause of all the problems in the world? If our mentality of separation is true, then why does it only cause conflict? These are the questions that we need to be asking. This is the adult conversation we need to have.
To explore these questions deeper we need to understand what fuels division and group identification. And that which fuels both is personal identity. An inquiry into the nature of identity is not new though. It is the core philosophy of the three main spiritual traditions of the East, namely Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism. It was also the focus of such philosophers as Jiddu Krishnamurti who dedicated his life to understanding the human condition similar to the quest of the Buddha. This Eastern view of exploring the validity of the individual is in stark contrast to the focus on individualism in the West which has slowly but surely become the focus of the entire world. But have we traveled in the wrong direction?
This is such a vast topic that needs an entire volume to explore. But I will focus on a few specific areas that will illustrate how the problems in the world are not an external problem, but rather an inherent problem in the human condition that has never been dealt with outside of those curious souls interested in Eastern philosophical thinking.
Our Identity is Limited
To consider that identity is the cause of all the world’s problems, we must first understand that knowledge itself, the knowledge we all think we possess, is limited. Knowledge is limited because we are all perceiving the world subjectively, influenced from birth by our culture, religion, race, gender, nation, family, etc. Each group is training us on an individual level to identify with the group as if it defines who you truly are, which are in the end superficial identifications. The group wants you to see as they see and think as they think. Identifying with a group doesn’t allow the possibility of you knowing who you truly are because you’re a bundle of external conditioning based on group beliefs. This conditioning trains us to perceive the world with certain biases which eclipses how the world truly is. Thinking itself, as a result, becomes divisive because our thinking cuts the world up to suit our conditioned identity.
Conflict can only ensue from such limited views. The limitation of knowledge creates conflict, not because we’ve identified with a group, that is only the effect, but instead because the cause of conflict is our tendency to seek security. But our perspective of security is warped and the seed of all conflict in the world. When will we learn this lesson? This wisdom has been with us for thousands of years, but we feel more comfortable in the “apparent” security we’ve built for ourselves individually, which gives us an illusory feeling of security within group mentality. But ironically this is far from security and actually is the cause of conflict. How much violence, hatred, and bloodshed will it take for us to understand that superficial boundaries don’t exist, never have and never will.
The Game of Identification
As the human species evolved, we were naturally part of certain groups due to the nature of biological evolution. As we started to develop culture, it was a safe bet to identify with a group to ensure our individual survival, which was then eventually superimposed onto the survival of our beliefs and the beliefs we have about ourselves and the groups we feel we belong. But this tendency towards survival no longer serves a lot of the world where our basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter are taken care of. Yet this yearning for security is the seed of conflict and basically holds us back from seeing the total picture. It is a limited view of the world.
The common belief is we will find security in the family, tribe, nation, race, gender, etc. So we believe security is in division. If we identify with a certain group then this will ensure our safety and propagate our limited knowledge. Do you see the inherent flaw in this common perspective? The division itself creates insecurity. Our identification with a group creates insecurity. All battles are waged based on this illusory belief that division ensures security. We’ve drawn a line in the sand, “this is who I am and what I believe.” But the division itself is limited.
Anything that is limited must inevitably create conflict. This cuts to the heart of the individual. For example, if I say “I am an individual,” it is limited. I’m only concerned with myself, which is limited. I am only concerned about the way I see the world according to my beliefs and conditioning which are intrinsically divisional. The “me,” “I,” “my” is a divisive entity. Our yearning for security ironically creates an identity that is fundamentally insecure. Do you see the irony? All of the injustice and also the reactions to injustice in the world comes from the limited individual. One who hasn’t thought about this at all hasn’t looked at the world as a whole. One hasn’t considered oneself as the world, but instead we view ourselves as part of it, divided from other parts that conflict with our limited view.
We’re mainly concerned about our superficial differences, no matter whether they are religious, cultural, racial, sexual, nationalistic, etc. We’re not focused on the human condition, which is the actual cause of division. A thorough understanding of the human condition is what will dissolve all illusory division and boundaries. Actually, our apparent differences are small in comparison to our intrinsic similarities which are vast. Sadly, most people cling to their superficial differences. But our superficial differences are an act of division, a way of isolating ourselves from the rest of the world as if our identity is real. According to Jiddu Krishnamurti, this act of separation is violence:
When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.
That act of separation is the cause of all conflict. When I say “I” I naturally create conflict you because the “I” I believe I am is limited and likewise you are also limited. Our limitations can only breed conflict because we have separated ourselves from the whole of humanity. But to truthfully understand this fact, we have to admit that we are limited as an individual. In the Eastern spiritual traditions, there is no “I” without the world because the “I” doesn’t exist. The “I” is a divisive entity that sustains its illusory existence through insecurity, causing conflict as long as it survives. We need to inquire into the nature of the identity we all believe we are. This identity is fundamentally conditioned and any form of conditioning is limited.
The questions we need to ask are, what is beneath all of this conditioning? and What is the real essence of our being? This has nothing to do with spirituality, but rather the fundamental basis of our mind, minus the divisional accumulative identity. The Eastern spiritual traditions have been primarily focused on the nature of the mind and consciousness itself. For thousands of years their conclusion has been that the doer of actions and the thinker of thoughts is causing all the trouble in the world. The belief in “I” can only cause conflict. This “I” identity, with all of its beliefs, agendas, biases, and prejudices, is an illusion. It is an accumulative social construct only useful as a public utility. But that’s the only use it has.
When we explore the nature of our mind, we discover that the contents of our mind are polluted with learned beliefs about a sense of self we are supposed to be and a body we are supposed to identify with as if it is permanent and everlasting. What happens when we explore these beliefs? We discover that they were all built on our insecurity and inculcated within us from other people suffering the same affliction. Real security, then, is not found in identification with division, but rather found in a sense of unity we feel within with no divisional boundaries. Actually, this state of unity is our natural state of mind that we have covered over with the illusion of separation.
The Local Awareness and Undifferentiated Consciousness
To know yourself truthfully is a shedding process, a process of inquiry into the limited divisional falseness of identity. The more we go through this process, the more we see the world as it truly is from our true unpolluted nature of mind. Our true nature of mind is not divided, it has no opinions, agendas, beliefs, or biases. Our true nature of mind is a feeling of unity where we truly understand that separate minds don’t exist. They don’t exist because the fundamental consciousness within you is the same as in me, it is a real state of oneness. The contents of mind eclipse pure consciousness. That pure consciousness is one consciousness, our true sole identity.
As we live and are conditioned, our awareness becomes stained and we identify with a localization of consciousness that we refer to as “I,” the limited individual. We are identified with the equipment we possess on a local awareness level. What I mean by equipment is we identify with the contents of the mind, the sense of self we have accumulated and the impermanent body. Identifying with the equipment of the localization of consciousness keeps your awareness from knowing its true source. Identifying with the localization of consciousness can only perceive a reality of duality, as its existence is built on a separation from its source and consequentially everything and everyone else in existence. But the power and influence our limited identity has over us on a local awareness level can be overturned if we can just dissolve the “I” to reidentify with the one undifferentiated consciousness.
When the local subjective awareness merges with its own source, meaning when the subtlest form, the subtlest contraction, of the “I” thought collapses, then there is only space and you can’t locate yourself anymore. You know that in truth you are everywhere. Your local awareness was only scattered because of a wrong identification with the equipment of a limited individual. Conventionally you are still a person interacting with other persons, but what you know is you are everywhere with no sense of “I” to claim the experience. We are just like a wave that forgot it is the ocean. The wave was always the ocean. The form of the wave is at the local level, the essence of the wave being the ocean is everywhere.
From this true state of consciousness, you see the world as it truly is because you are not limited anymore. There is no conflict from that true place because there is no such thing as opposition, no concept of separation. From that place there is no religion, race, nation, gender, or any apparent division. There is only love because hatred can only exist when we believe we are an individual separated from everything and everyone else. When there is no more identity, there is no more conflict. Conflict can only exist if we have fallen for the illusion of separation and act from our divisional perception of the world. From the undifferentiated consciousness there can only ever be unconditional love because in reality there is no “other.”
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