Reunion with Reality

The Suffering of Separateness


“A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘universe,’ a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”


       Albert Einstein



“When you forget yourself completely, you have discovered the Lord.”


       Eknath Easwaran



Joy comes when our mind is focused and we ourselves are not the object of our attention. This is particularly true when we are focused on a selfless task, one that benefits the greater community. Joy comes when we give.


Suffering comes when we dwell on our needs, our mistakes, our circumstances, resentments, and problems: when we dwell on ourselves. We do have needs, we do make mistakes, we may face challenging circumstances and problems, and our minds may be full of resentments and feelings of guilt. It’s the “dwelling” that brings on suffering.


I’m not suggesting we ignore these things. It is how we give them attention that makes the difference. If we face them with detachment and attempt to see them in the big picture, we are more likely to see them clearly and deal with them effectively. How many problems and resentments are more real in our minds than in reality? How many simply disappear when we put them in proper perspective or simply stop giving them attention?


When we suffer the delusion of separateness Einstein talks about and lose connection with the “whole,” when we feel alone and separate so that we feel abandoned and left with only our own meager resources, we suffer.


Meditation empowers us to reconnect with the “whole.” We dive beneath the surface levels of consciousness in meditation. In the depths of meditation we discover we are not our thoughts or our mind, but something grander that is connected to “all living creatures and to the whole of nature in its beauty.”


Copyright 2017 James Phoenix

updated 9/24/2017