I’m fortunate enough to often find myself involved in a lot of fascinating conversations. I’m a bit Eastern European when I meet people—my conversation cuts to deeper issues almost immediately. It might surprise you how quickly and easily the average person can slip into a deeply philosophical state, and all with a virtual stranger.
In my case I suspect this is facilitated in large part by my sheer openness. I’m pretty okay with being vulnerable and I’m not big into value-based comparison or judgment, so I’m very accepting of pretty much anything and anyone and I think people can sense that. This openness recently paid interesting dividends when I had the opportunity to meet a man who was almost the exact opposite of me and yet at the very same time he was almost exactly the same.
He was married with children and he had emigrated from his home town half a world away, to my home town, Edmonton. I’m single with no kids, have been and lived all over the place and yet I live blocks from where I was born. He works in a highly technical field and I’m fundamentally an artist. And yet despite all of those differences, deep down he and I both knew we were the same.
Think of yourself as a costume. The real you puts on an identity; a set of customs and clothes, a memory of a history, beliefs and values and other memorized knowledge. You zip this costume on and you say that character’s lines and you live that person’s life (unless you have amnesia). And yet the whole time you’re really just a spirit in a suit—a finger on the hand of God performing a play on God’s own stage. And God is energy and it simply Is and we are all vital aspects of that great isness.
We are one. And yet our egos perceive the world as though there are bunch of separate sheets of paper that have been stamped with a logo. The ego notices that the symbols are different, but what this gentleman and I noticed was that it was always the same God/Universe that did the stamping. Stamp it Canadian or stamp it Russian or stamp it Vietnamese, God did all the stamping. Stamp it rich or stamp it poor, God did all the stamping. And stamp it Christian or stamp it Muslim or stamp it Buddhist or stamp it by any other—God did the stamping. These differences are costumes. They are just ideas we think. If we were raised as babies to believe in something else, we would have done that just as innocently.
What this man and I shared was a clear understanding that everyone is an aspect of the same infinite entity. Call it God or call it The Universe or call it Higgs-Boson—it really doesn’t matter what you label it. Everyone is made of that substance or action or however you want to describe it, and the “it” is a verb. As D.T. Suzuki said, it is better to think of the soul as a principle. It’s something that is applied. It’s a motion. A verb in action. It is something that happens. And so for one aspect of this happening to hate another aspect of the very same happening just seems silly. It’s like your thumb hating your index finger. That’s how hate looks to those who can see past the costumes.
This awareness of our similarities all came out in about a 20 minute conversation. The other thing that came out is that both this man and I share the view that we can sense a tidal shift in the zeitgeist of our culture. Yes there are still wails of Consumerism and the big machine continues to grind along oblivious, but he and I both sense that people are tired. That they don’t want more they want peace. Yes, some are angry and fed-up. But most are exhausted from the arguing and opinions and battles and resentments and guilty feelings. People want to be embraced. They want to smile and laugh and then rest afterwards.
So maybe it’s time you gave some real thought to peeling off your costume, getting vulnerable with another person and really connecting. Because it’s a wonderful feeling. It really feels as though everyone you meet is your brother or your sister. Everyone is family. You love and you are loved. And the closeness feels good.
So even though this man and I were both wearing our respective costumes, we were able to signal to each other that we recognized our connection when we shared a smile. The connection was confirmed by sharing the secret handshake—which is a hug. And just to be sure, we gave each other the secret phrase: I care about you and what happens in your life.
Remember that just as this man and I experienced our connection, you too can do this any day, with anyone. Be open. Be vulnerable. And yet be confident in who and what you are—mistakes and all. Be comfortable with your youness. And in being so, don’t be afraid to have deep conversations and connections with anyone. After all, they’re all family. 😉
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.