It is J.G. Herders definition of loneliness, to be among people who do not know what you mean. However much I meditate and practice mindfulness here in Germany my experience remains my own. It does not include that of others. The ways that I have come to identify myself to be, seem to have minimal meaning for me here at times. Terence Keenan says that “where we hold to the singularity of our own experience of the world it denies a deeper relativity that we all sense, that gives the lie to any single moral and intellectual universe”.
There is a part of me that is opening to a new experience realizing that my own development of consciousness may not be the only relevant one. It might not even be real but there is something of me that I have been that does not want to let go of how I have come to be defined. It is something that might be out of a fear of its own death.
Recently here in Dresden, Germany there have been public protests against the Islamization of Europe. I suspect that it has partly to do with a similar desire, however more arrogant it might be than mine, to manifest a “singularity of experience”. Something of that fear that I have experienced may not be something that many are conscious of. I am grateful that it is a part of my meditative and contemplative practice to reflect in such ways.
In the west we can be particularly prone to this fear of the death of what we have come to know to be true and with it a strong desire to impose our ways on the world. I watched a movie the other night titled “The Good Lie” about Sudanese refugees coming to live in an alien world of Kansas in the midwest of the USA. The way that locals originally responded to the refugees was fueled by a sense of “my world is the real world” questioning where it is that you come from that makes you so unusual. The American policy of the melting pot declares that individuals settling into the USA, must become Americans, is a reflection of this desire to retain a singularity of experience manifested at a more collective level. It seems to me to be the substance of which, many a conflict is fueled. A more open Canadian way of implementing immigration and developing Canadian culture has been the “cultural mosaic” where the policy has been to welcome others from other lands in a patch work of acceptance of a diverse Canadian definition of living is at least a deeper recognition of something less singular.
Is it possible that a part of us that urgently identifies with the singularity of experience is something that has been conditioned in us and in that in that we resist the experience of vulnerability, of opening to the others experience, from truly listening to and embracing what the others experience is. We define, identify and attach to certain ways of being in a rigid and static way and seem to surround ourselves, in our groups and activities with individuals who share like-minded perceptions not really giving ourselves the opportunity to look beyond them. Keenan writes about Tolstoy, that in his book “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” the question is raised “What if my entire life, my entire consciousness was not the real thing”. How can we be so sure that our consciousness is as real as we would like to believe? Have our efforts to protect and guard it from others and outside influences however subtle it may have been, in an ongoing way compromised the truth of seeing, and if this is true can we forgive ourselves for the lie that we have lived? In our search for something more authentic how is it that we should commit to truly opening to a way that we feel so vulnerable in our experience of no boundary.
Most of the boundaries that are a part of our identification with self that have been erected with our conditioning, however conscious of them, or not, we are have contributed to this singularity of experience. In some situations the experience of moving beyond them is referred to as awakening, enlightenment or being reborn.