“Self” and “Others”

The Bible says, “Lean not on your own understanding.” I agree. Use a cane, it’s much more substantial!

Seriously, I just came home from a few hours at my teacher’s weekly satsang. It’s hard to describe it, but… stuff came together. I laughed, I cried, I even clapped with my feet!

Something that had impressed me the last few days was Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness. Not once does Jesus ever say specifically, “I forgive you.” Rather, he proclaims forgiveness as a fait accompli; “Your sins are forgiven.” And in teaching us to forgive, he says “forgive each other’s sins, so that *you* may be forgiven.” This can be seen as a principle, that the open-heartedness of extending forgiveness allows forgiveness itself to be experienced, but I think there’s something else going on.

Rather, it’s that feelings and thoughts are simply illusory phenomena, including the thought of the seperate self, and feelings like guilt, depression, loneliness, whatever. Forgiveness is already the reality, or more realistically, in This divine presence, there is no separation from God, no guilt, no “right” or “wrong” as we think of them, any more than there is the separated self. If I feel something else, I’m simply experiencing a human feeling, but not my reality, since that reality is eternal, luminous, divine. So how to heal it? Go to someone else who is experiencing it and forgive them. Loneliness? Go to someone who is also lonely and be with them. The illusory feeling is shattered by embracing one who is distressed by the feeling. Anyone with a smidgen of awareness of the illusion, can help dispel these false emotions from themselves by setting others free.

The death of “self” that Jesus, Paul, and other enlightenment teachers speak of is so profound, but I saw such a simple and plain aspect of it tonight… If I realize that I’m not really “here”… if I know that this isn’t my world, that somehow I’ve never left God, then I’m “dead” to the world in a significant way. I can then recognize the needs that I perceive I have are really reflections in the world, and can minister to myself, by putting others first.

And if I’m “dead,” then there’s no fear of death. It’s like if I’ve got a week to live, I’m not going to be afraid of going skydiving! Or speaking up to a dictator. Or anything. There’s nothing to lose because I am nothing! And yet, still I am.

No, I didn’t suddenly become enlightened tonight. But some things… just came together.