When we engage in the distortion that the relative plane is separate from the absolute – that it is something to transcend or ‘just an illusion’ – we ignore the reality of the illusion. What is the illusion comprised of? How is it known? And by whom?
The relative may appear to arise out of the absolute, as waves appear to arise out of the ocean, but like waves, both relative and absolute are components of a greater whole. They are not separate. When we know ourselves as this whole which subsumes everything, we cease to diminish or dismiss the mystery of being human. We experience viscerally that “the world is my family.”
From this understanding, we recognize that liberation is not a singular experience. There can be no individual ego that experiences enlightenment. We suffer when we forget that. We suffer when we perceive ourselves as separate from the collective – on the level of consciousness (the absolute) as well as with our neighbor (the relative).
When we recognize that the world is arising in us, Awareness, there is nothing to dismiss. How, then, in our situation of privilege on the relative plane, do we dismiss injustice, bias, cruelty in the name of transcendence or ‘spiritual understanding’? How do we participate in systems of oppression while ignoring the effects on our neighbor, as well as the whole?
Do we fall for the story that the awakened life we seek is mine to have rather than ours to be? And what’s love got to do with it?
Sliding scale donation $5-15.
Heart of Wisdom Zen Temple, 6401 NE 10th Ave, Portland, OR 97211