I'm not quite sure how to write about this - my ideas are not yet fully formed. But maybe that's ok. We'll just see how it goes.
Over the last few days I've been reading the short stories and articles in a book I picked up at my favorite used book store a while ago, called Best Buddhist Writing 2006. One of the first articles I read this weekend talked about how our the idea that we are separate individuals, distinct from other people and other things is an illusion. A delusion, really.
David Loy, author of the article "Ego Goes Global," puts it this way:
"The most fundamental delusion, individually and collectively, is our sense of a self/other duality -- that "I" am inside and the rest of the world is outside. "
In another article in the same volume, Judith Toy speaks about learning how to stop and enjoy her breathing, and how doing so was one step on the way to unexpectedly forgiving the boy who murdered three of her family members years prior. About breathing, she says,
"I was welcomed into paradise through noticing my breath. The breath became the gateway to my heart....the rising sun, the sound of sirens, a crying child, the squealing of brakes, a Mozart sonata, even a war -- reminds me to breathe, to breathe in a universe that, while full of anguish, will always, always breathe with me."
And there it was, the way to dissolve the delusion of duality: breathe. I breathed. Fully and mindfully for the first time, I think. As I breathed, I felt the air being shared by the universe and my lungs, back and forth. A cooperative ebb and flow with no distinction between inside and out, just a giving and receiving. No difference between "me" and "it," just unified flow of all things. I slept easily and well that night, for the first time in many years.
It reminded me the next day of an activity called "push hands" in Tai Chi. This is a practice where two people keep their hands and/or forearms touching at all times, moving forward and backwards as a means to develop responsiveness and sensitivity. To see people doing this, you would think it was a pre-rehearsed set of movements, but it is not. It is instead a balanced and dynamic flow of responsiveness to the movements of one another. It's hard to describe, but you can see a short video of what it looks like here. It's a transcendent thing - there's no you and me, just conjoined unity, sort of what the yin-yang symbol represents.
All I can say is, try it. Try breathing while being mindful of the flow of the universal atmosphere moving in and out and see if you can notice the dissolution of self into the myriad things. Imagine, now, the consequences if people could shed themselves of the delusion of duality and feel the very intimate connection with the universe, as we literally take in and release a part of it with each and every breath.
Push hands picture courtesy this tai chi website.