In my view, our perception that each of us is an individual soul or an ego, a separate being with a unique personality is only an illusion. It’s just a nicely constructed persona developed for the drama of life in which we have temporarily immersed ourselves.
The word persona is from the Greek word used for the mask that actors wore in Greek theatre. A person is a mask.
Each of us is an expression of the Whole, and for a short time, each of us pretends to be a singularity and we play and dance and love and cry and learn and have fun and suffer.
IT, the one behind the mask, we can chose to call by names such as the Cosmic Mind or God or the Source or the Divine Goddess or the Great Whatever. Names don’t matter. Words don’t capture the experience of being, the nature of consciousness. Trying to describe life with words which can be understood as like the eye trying to see itself. Because in reality we are IT.
The vast space between atoms, between stars, between galaxies, is not empty space: it is consciousness. It is a misperception that we think our brains create consciousness. The scientific and yet mystical philosophy of Quantum Physics suggests that it’s actually the other way around. Consciousness has created our brains and everything else in the Youniverse.
We are all expressions of the one consciousness. Knowing this, I choose to not cause suffering to other beings as best I am able. I would only be hurting myself.
As was said by the wisest men to have ever been recorded on audio tape, “I am you as you are he and we are all together…I am the walrus. Co-co-cha-chu.”
And I am the orca, I am the prairie dog, I am the wolf, the sparrow, the bison. Each transgression against them is a transgression against me, against us.
Albert Einstein put it in this way:
A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the ‘Universe,’ a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his 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.
A Buddhist priest once told me that everything is perfect, just right the way it is. Another Buddhist priest told me that we wouldn’t be able to understand pleasure without pain, light without dark. Ying and Yang. Off and On. I have often thought about this. Is what we do to animals right? Do those creatures deserve it for some transgression they committed in a previous life? Such a strange way of viewing Karma. Is it just a learning experience that will benefit them in the next life? Is there a next life?
I once read that the word “believe” came from words that meant “to wish things to be.” My beliefs are far from firm. Instead, I have Faith that there is a consciousness — the Force from Star Wars is a nice way to think about it — and that we are here to prove that our dreams of peace can come true. Buddha said life is suffering, but we don’t have to cause it for others. We can view personal suffering in new ways that aren’t painful and we can do something about the suffering of other beings.
What we have to do is just this:
Be examples of peace. We have to be the best advocates for animals that we can be. We have to live without anger when anger seems the easy path, to see personal suffering as a chance to learn, to love without expectation, to stay on an ethical path when it seems unlikely that most will follow, to see meaning in life at times when life seems most meaningless. True courage is the ability to let go of beliefs and to hold onto our faith that the Youniverse will continue to be marvelously strange and wondrous. And now and then, we need to remember who we really are.
Greg Lawson graduated from the Main Street Vegan Academy in 2014. He was lead journalist for the newsletter of Animal Rights Online for eight years. He is vice president of the Veg Society of El Paso and host of a vegan radio show, Animal Concerns of Texas, in its eighteenth year on KTEP-FM, National Public Radio for the Southwest.