Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ending the 'Optical Delusion of Consciousness' to Demonstrate 'True Compassion'

"A human being is part of the whole called by us the universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our 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 the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

"The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive."

(Albert Einstein, 1954)
The primary basis of all the world's great wisdom traditions and religions is love - not "love" in a personal sense, per se, but a love without conditions and without any particular object. And, of course, the result of this unconditional, all-inclusive love is the 'compassion' Einstein speaks of, or what the Dalai Lama calls "unbiased compassion."

"Compassion,' from the Greek 'pathos" (meaning suffering), means that we recognize the suffering - both physical and psychological - of others, and that in a very real sense their suffering invokes suffering within us. Interestingly, realization of the Buddha's 'First Noble Truth' on the path to enlightenment, or "liberation from the self" (the 'Noble Truth of Suffering') is that to the 'unawakened' mid or 'imprisoned' mind, this life is dukkha, or "suffering." Einstein realized, as the Buddha did 2500 years before this time, that what the individual (indeed the world) needs to survive and flourish is "a substantially new way of thinking."

Today, as ever, there is an imperative need for this new way of thinking; or, as spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen explains,  there is an "urgency" for individuals to seek enlightened consciousness and adopt a purposive relationship to the attainment of that rarified state of being, not for themselves alone, but for the sake of others - for the sake of the Whole. We need, as others teachings have long advocated, to become what may be thought of as 21st century bhoddisatvas, vowing not to give up until there is a broad based enlightenment  - or the adoption of "a substantially new manner of thinking," to use Einstein's phraseology - amongst all human (and other sentient) beings.
Andrew Cohen, Editor-in-Chief,
EnlightenNext Magazine

The vow of a boddhisatva - even a 21st century boddhisatva - like all things spiritual, it seems, is somewhat paradoxical: There is a need for individuals to awaken spiritually for the sake of all humanity; yet, in obtaining spiritual enlightenment, individuality slips away. As Cohen observes in his book, "Enlightenment Is a Secret:"
"The most delicate and difficult task possible to accomplish in this life is simply to be Free. One who succeeds is very rare. It is hardly ever seen. If a person can be Free it is the greatest blessing. It means an alternative to the human mess is possible. Simply being awake and staying awake is a demonstration of the solution. Living Freedom is the solution. You become the answer. You become the solution. Few have the courage to do it.
And yet . . . this aspiration to be "the solution," even for the sake of the Whole, remains personal and therefore paradoxical. While all the violence and suffering that is rampant may make it seem that it is "a very selfish endeavour" to seek a higher state of consciousness and being for oneself, Cohen observes that, "Nothing could be further than the truth."
"You are doing the human race the highest service by realizing your Self," he notes. "Self-Realization is evolution. Coming to the end of aggressive, destructive and selfish behavior is evolution is action. When you evolve to the point that you are able to actively manifest the profound understanding discovered in Self-Realization you are cooperating with all the forces of nature. Only then will your own life be the very expression of the opposite of everything you claim to abhor. What more can you possibly do? What more can anyone possibly do than that? When you have Realized your Self you simply 'are.' When you have found that harmony that you are, then you will be the harmony and no longer an obstruction to it. When sturggle has come to an end, so does all division."
The end of "all division" is the end of Einstein's "optical delusion of consciousness," of course. It is the attainment of a wholly "new manner of thinking" that Einstein would undoubtedly acknowledge as the necessary state which we all need to demonstrate "true compassion."

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