I invite you to take a journey — a psychological equivalent of a thought experiment. Find a seat where you can be comfortable and go inside.
Right where you are now, get a sense of your ordinary human condition, what your life feels like, and who you basically take yourself to be as a human being.
Now, especially on the exhales, let yourself drop down out of your head into your body, and into your inner depth and core being. Relax deeply into your primary sense of being, deeper than being this or that. This is not something for you to figure out, but rather something for you to sense and feel into, that which you always already are.
Allow yourself to settle into a core intuition of the ease (or peace) of being, a sense of fundamental OKness, suchness, no problem.
Imagine the human being dimension as the surface of the ocean, and the being dimension as the depth of the ocean. Even if you tend to identify with the first of these rather than the second, embrace them both as your human condition. It is the condition of the limited and the limitless, the changing and the unchanging, and so on. Expand yourself to embrace the whole of this. Let yourself face the reality of your paradoxical human condition.
Open to the wisdom that life is not a problem, not only in the depth of being, but in the waves of life. Simply, all of it is being.
Now let's explore the in-between space that holds the polarity of being (or existence) and Being. Somewhere deep in the unconscious level of your being, imagine a place where you (along with the rest of humanity) adopted the belief in separation from being (source, God, etc.). It is not just in the past but is operative in you now.
Now feel into your primary feeling reaction to this separation. Consider one of four primary feelings: glad (to be independent), sad (to have lost something precious), mad (at being abandoned), sca'd (scared — at being so alone and vulnerable). Even the part that might be glad carries the others as shadow, and at least one of these holds you in its grip. It has deep roots in your past but is essentially happening in the present.
Basic egoic styles are generated out of these three negatively felt reactions to the underlying sense of separation. The ego forms to deal with that crisis, and the whole egoic life is built on the defenses and coping strategies that arise out of this. It tends to be perpetuated because it is all so deeply unconscious and automatic.
In this way, we tend not to really live but to live in anxiety and reaction — seemingly to the past, but essentially to the belief in separation that we carry now. The degree to which you feel basically OK in this moment might have roots in early bonding, but essentially it comes from your deeper sense of the fundamental ease of being and fundamental OKness.
Survey these four levels of your human condition — from being, to the sense of separation, to the strategic reaction to the feeling of separation, to your ordinary life as you experience it. Now explore it all from the place of present being, from the ease of being.
Understand and forgive yourself for the sense of separation. It does not make you evil or guilty, and being holds nothing against you. It is more an ignorance or ignoring of being, but now you can open to being and feel fully accepted. In truth, you are not even returning to being, for you have never left. So there is nothing really to forgive. There is only opening into being.
When you open unconditionally, it is like a dying and letting go of all reference points. Then out of being, you arise as the creative individuation of being, in innocence and trust, rather than as a reaction and defense against being. Welcome to your new life.
Ed Hirsch leads free weekly Presence groups in Ashland. For information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Send 600- to 700-word articles on inner peace to email@example.com.