Your Experience and Mine
When you consider the nature of all things—who you are, what objects are made of, where suffering comes from, how to live or be your best—here are two essential inquiries:
What is your experience telling you?
Where is your experience taking you?
Not your parent’s experience. Not your teacher’s. Not your coach’s. Not your therapist’s. Not an expert’s. Not a politician’s. Not your partner’s.
Yours. Only yours.
Because, without even realizing it, you (like the overwhelming majority) have spent much of your life overlooking what your experience actually means. You’ve pretty much lived from the presumption that you are a separate or personal self who lives in a separate world of separate selves and separate objects. You’ve bought into the culturally conditioned belief that separation or duality is real. And while this may seem insignificant, I promise it is not.
But, please, don’t take my word for it. Rather, simply check out whether, in your experience, the following scenarios make sense.
Oh, and a quick warning: Because of the aforementioned conditioning and belief, at first glance, these questions might seem complicated or odd. If possible, read slowly.
Have you ever had a thought or a feeling—be it a so-called “joyful” or “anxious” thought or feeling—apart from yourself?
As I said, odd question. But your experience says no, right? No one can have a thought or feeling separate from himself or herself.
So, then, why have you accepted the belief that there is this thing called you, this personal self, and that there are these things called personal thoughts and feelings? Experience says that a thought and feeling appear at the same time that you appear, and a thought and feeling disappear at the same time that you disappear. Again, the world has conditioned you to believe that you are separate from your thoughts and feelings; to believe that you have thoughts and feelings and, thus, the good ones need to be held onto and the bad ones need to be managed or tossed. But, dollars to donuts, your experience is telling you that with each thought and feeling a new you appears. It’s telling you that you are a thought; you are a feeling.
Here’s another ‘“odd” example: Have you ever observed another person, an object, a world, or even a God apart from yourself?
Like in the first example, most will insist that there is you and there is everything else that is not you. But can what is supposedly not you appear without you? Has that ever happened even once?
Your experience says no, right? Another person, an object, a world, or a God cannot exist without an observer.
So, then, why have you accepted the belief that there is the thing called “you,” this personal self, and there are these things called others, objects, a world, or God, when you’ve never experienced anything of the sort? In fact, your experience is telling you that separation is an illusion. That subject and object are one. Your beliefs are telling you that separation exists and, thus, it creates insecurity, isolation, lack, judgment, prejudice, unkindness, and all sorts of problems that need to be solved. But without separation can you name a problem? I guarantee your experience says no.
Now, if you’re still not sure that your experience is telling you that there’s no such thing as separation or duality, even while your beliefs are telling you otherwise—no worries at all.
However, rather than trying to strategically distract or rid yourself from the illusion of separation, rather than seeking connection with what can never be separate, let’s keep going straight to the heart of this illusion. In fact, as a teacher, my only role is to point you, over and over again, back to your actual experience.
Because that’s the direct route to self-discovery.
Because you cannot understand what you’re deliberately trying to escape from.
Because you cannot repair the illusion of separation by going further into the illusion of separation (the objective world and its relationships, strategies, vices, gurus, and cravings).
Because no one has ever had more than one experience at a time.
Sure, if separation were actual, you’d need to escape; you’d need a cure. But can you actually reach out and touch this belief called separation or is that merely how things appear? Indeed, trying to cure separation, while overlooking the singularity of experience, only fortifies something for which there’s no concrete evidence.
And—in my experience—that, and only that, is what leads to suffering.
And—in my experience—only the realization that “we are what we seek” or “we, and all things, are one” can end suffering and heal the objective world.
How about your experience?
Is it telling you that those you disagree with, or even disdain, exist apart from you or they are the same as you?
Is it taking you away from the one Being we share or toward it?
Your experience and mine: The only true teacher.