The Sense of Separation
Something you might consider...
If you're here, reading (and perhaps posting), you are surely familiar with the notion that All is One, or we are One. This is the basic tenet of all teachings founded on nonduality (and zen is one of these teachings).
And yet, I don't feel the hunger of a starving child halfway across the world in South Asia. I don't feel the post-chemotherapy sickness of a cancer patient halfway across the country. I don't even feel the headache of the person sitting next to me on a bus, even if we are in physical contact.
To be sure, there are some people who say they feel some (or all) of these things. Perhaps they do. Though I can't imagine how they could survive feeling all the world's pain.
But I surely don't. Certainly I can imagine another's pain. I can fantasize about it, and, in doing so, possibly create a similar sensation in this bodymind mechanism (isn't the mind is an amazing tool!). But that is thought functioning, imagination operating, and not a Reality of genuinely knowing another's pain.
So, if we are all, actually One, how is it we don't actually feel, experience, know our neighbor's pain, distress, upset, fear? If we are all, actually One, how is it that we do all the senseless, stupid, mean, vile, cruel things that we do to each other, and other sentient beings?
Some might answer, "We behave as we do because don't know that we're One." And why is that? When did that not-knowing happen? Or was it always there, from birth? (A psychotherapist I worked with was fond of saying We're always in our own blind spot.)
And finally, consider: if, in fact, the above explanation is accurate (we behave as we do because we are not aware that we are One), it is certainly not an "unawareness" that we made happen, that we chose to import into our localized consciousness. So then what makes us think we can do anything to dispel it, that we have the power to do something (pray, meditate, chant, bow, do affirmations), that will lift the hypnotic trance which encapsulates (and defines) us?