The Greatest Illusion of All

As you sit and read this, you may perceive there to be a you. You may think of yourself as functioning independently, walking separately among apparent others, and doing your own thing. Of course this is true to a degree, but that is not all there is to you.

What if you discovered that you are really not a unit at all? Instead, you are a network of all the interconnections we call Life – currently known and unknown, and visible and invisible. You are a process evolving the entire network. If you could visualize all of Life, it may something like this – and you are really this:

This is actually a picture of brain neurons – but many processes naturally evolve into similar patterns when communicating and interacting is the goal. The Internet has become a living extension of nonphysical relationships and is not to be overlooked as an aspect of our life system.

If we felt like the entirety of the web of Life, we would never feel isolated, alone, disconnected, abandoned, or ostracized – these would not even be concepts in our vocabulary. So, why do we feel like discrete entities and separate? Why do we feel like islands onto ourselves?

Let’s go back to this image:

Imagine creating a small sphere within this network, like a bubble. Immediately, there is a center – you become the center. Then, the cords coming in and out of this sphere begin to define you and your perceptions. You have taken a portion of life and used it to claim individuality.

Where the cords of the connection intersect your sphere – these are your boundaries. You create this imaginary boundary to define yourself and to interact with the world. Although only an analogy, this is how we perceive separate identities – by artificially limiting the entire network to what comes through our perception filter. Then, you forget that you were the Whole.

Another analogy can show why we feel small and isolated – the celestial sphere, which was imagined by astronomers to be around the Earth to help describe the positions of stars and galaxies. You often see a picture like this in astronomy textbooks to show the celestial sphere:

Of course, the stars are not all at the same distance from the Earth. However, the celestial sphere shows the stars as if they were all located on the sphere and is a helpful tool to map the stars. The sphere does not really exist, and the dots on the sphere are just projections of the real stars. Much like our illusion if being separate, this sphere is a conscious illusion. In reality, the Earth is located inside our Milky Way Galaxy:

All the stars in the galaxy, at all their varying distances, are imagined to be projected onto sphere around the Earth – an artificial center. But look at the real picture – the galaxy is a dynamic whole, of which our Earth is an integral part. In Astronomy, we have come far to recognize the vast network of forces acting at all scales. 

Of course the little self will feel small when experiencing Life from its smallness and by circumscribing its center. We look at the vastness of the Universe and think about the number of stars and feel small and isolated – just like an island in the Cosmos. But what if we knew that we are the Whole?

In your daily life, you are living inside an imaginary boundary, and information comes in a goes out through the boundary – the perceived you – in the form of events, interactions with people (others who live inside their spheres), and situations. Whatever you see projected onto your “celestial sphere” is how you define yourself – “the world reflects to you who you are.” Boundaries always lead to the inevitable perception of being too small to be significant. And that is the root of fear and lack of self-denigration.

The perception of an artificial boundary of a human being is the greatest illusion of all. If you no longer identified with this illusory boundary, but identified with the entire web of Life, your perspective on you would be very different. Would you even ask “Who am I?” From this vantage point? Mystics have broken through this illusion and are able to shift their vantage point such that they are simultaneously a perceiving unit and the web of Life. We call this enlightenment, but it is only the culmination of the human experience.

It’s a bit more complicated than what I have described…. We are not really sure of the scope of the totality of Life we can consciouly sense. Even in knowing Unity,  there is a sense of an even greater vastness beyond what is sensed. Is our perception of unity only a portion of circuit on the motherboard of existence because we live in a Body that set its own boundaries?

Empathy, as well as other abilities people have to stretch beyond separation, show us that we are not just staring through a glass fishbowl of a body. We can and do reach beyond to sense the Whole and thin the veil of illusion – to the point that we are That.

You may wonder why this illusion of isolation persists or exists at all…. Separation seems to be a necessary step in our evolution. Through our separation we gain a unique perspective on Life, and we can share that with the Whole. But then, we return to the whole as totality.

Why is it this way and not another way? I don’t know. It is a mystery. However, the current push toward feeling One is unmistakable. Even in schools, in the workplace, and in our daily lives there is a greater emphasis on building and maintaining relationships. Cognition and skill of interconnection are often valued as much as the specific work skills for which people are hired. The ability to collaborate is a requirement in virtually every workplace and organization. People try to do this now mostly to keep their jobs and their status – most fake it. However, they can get glimpses of the truth of seeing how the perceived units can cooperate in the Whole.

So here we are, living the greatest illusion  of all and learning how to work with it so that we can ultimately live in peace and harmony with the knowledge that there are no boundaries within Life at the higher levels. And yet, we are tasked with cultivating relationships, which is only possible when there is something to relate to. Imagine if a critical mass of humanity learned to see past this illusion…. What would our world be like? We could then appreciate the whole from a unique perspective.

A more advanced state is moving through the Whole as Consciousness – raw awareness – which unites the refined form of what the body, emotions, and mind gave us previously as our experience. But evolution continues. I have a sense that even the Whole is Living with the question of what It it Is….

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