Thursday, February 08, 2007

I’ve noticed recently that whenever I seem to be having a “problem”, it always involves, and stems from, the use of the word “my”, as though I am a separate, vulnerable being who “owns things”, and these things – “my” things – are being threatened. Just yesterday, a student behaved in such a way that “my” reputation as a strong and respected teacher seemed endangered. As I often do, I was thinking of myself as a single, separate, and susceptible entity that had been assailed and harmed. I felt like she had attacked “my” authority as a teacher, and it disturbed and saddened me. Later in the day, I found the time to do some quiet thinking, and I got back in touch with some fundamental truths. Most importantly, I recalled that this infinite universe is not “many”, but always “one”. The entity that I call “me”, and that seems to own things that it calls “mine”, is in truth an indivisible part of a seamless whole called the universe, a whole that has no beginning and no end (at least none that astronomers and physicists have yet discovered). Saying there’s a separate “me” that “owns things” (like a reputation) is as unreasonable as saying some air in one part of the park near my house “owns” the air that passes through it. Similarly, feeling like “I” was hurt by the student yesterday is as silly as feeling that the ocean can be hurt by punching the water with a fist. When this 9th grader said the words that supposedly hurt me, those words were sounds made up of atoms moving across the air and then mingling with the atoms in my ears and my brain. All of these atoms, along with the countless other atoms that now exist, were created billions of years ago at the time of the “big bang”, and they have been mixing and mingling harmoniously ever since. What happened yesterday between this girl and “me” was simply a further mixing of these eternal atoms, a continuation of the endless dance of the Universe (which is the name I use in place of the Judaeo-Christian “God”). It’s impossible that anyone got hurt in the process, because there is no “separate one” anywhere. There’s only the single, unified Universe that has been beautifully swirling along since time began. The girl and I were just part of this continuous and astonishing swirl.

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