The measure of the pattern's growing and its fast becoming
are all determined by a Master Weaver
and yet the Master Weaver does not weave alone;
For all are master who in that shape are weaving.
The threads, the colours and the constitution of the its myriad parts
are those, who being many now are one.
My stomach has been in knots for days, like most of our country, over this most recent devastating act of hate and violence in Orlando. Facebook is riddled with long emotional posts and incendiary commentaries on the attack, everyone wanting to say something or speak up in some way. Media outlets dissect every angle, get more interviews, peel back more information. They refer to the perpetrator as a : "mentally unstable, terrorist-ideology-subscribing individual."
While “Mentally unstable” being the qualifying buffer by which we protect ourselves from seeing our own insanity, and “terrorist ideology” seemingly protects us from recognizing our own sectarianism, I would suggest that the word “individual” gives us the eyes to see and understand what occurred in Orlando as deeply connected to ourselves, offering us a pathway of non-violent action that begins with our own interior landscape, here and now.
It is curious how we’ve co-opted the meaning of individual to mean: single, separate, or a particular person. The word originally stems from the latin: in (not) and dividuus( divisible).
In other words, the meaning of individual is: an undivided whole.
The truth of how we assert our sense of self, however, is anything but “undivided."
We begin by understanding our selves in differentiation. This binary mechanism is a very normal part of our development: the formation of the ego and creating personality is all part of that healthy trajectory that allows us to function in the world. Unfortunately for most of us, our development remains arrested at this level and we stay hooked on our personalities.
Pause for a minute and see if you can (without judgement) gently identify some of the many “I’s” that are floating around in you right now. Who are all those “I’s” that assert themselves? Can you find the “I” that reacts? The "I" that strives for approval? The "I" that tries to manipulate the outcome or control the circumstances?
This is a simple exercise of self-observation, but if you’ve never turned inwardly in this way, it can be a bit disconcerting: what do you mean there are many “I’s”? aren’t all my emotions and thoughts part of me? Aren’t all my opinions important and my preferences part of what makes me unique?
Well, yes and no. They are part of us, sure, but they are operating from the external structure of personality that tends to pit us up against each other. “I am me, because I am not you”. “I like this, because I don’t like that.” The formation of personality is part of our development, but as is becoming abundantly clear in our world:
if we don’t learn how to understand our sense of self beyond the tyranny of personality, and develop a perception that operates from unity rather than from differentiation, we’ll only continue to increase the cycle of divisiveness and violence that so plagues us.
Not long ago I went to the GRAM museum exhibit honoring the work of my friend, Sally England, a master macramé weaver who has gained national attention and a world-wide following for her incredible work. As I stood in front of piece after piece I was struck by the relationship of the knots and the string, and how she deftly created a balance in her patterns: a riot of particulars in the interconnected whole of each tapestry.
Imagine though that you are a knot in one of Sally’s pieces….and you take such pride in your particular shape over and against the shape of the knot next to you that you truly begin to think yourself as separate. You might think yourself isolated and decide that the knot to your left makes no sense because it is so different from you. So you set about your life of “better knot-living” over that of your neighbor. You might so love your particular knot-life that you spend your whole existence allowing each thread of your configuration to take a turn at telling you how excellent you are…how very decent you are, how much better you are than "the other knots," and thus continue to be reinforced that the only reality IS your knot-reality.
This "knot-life" is the consciousness with which most of us live our lives : whether we identify with our sexuality, religion, politics; whether we are liberal, conservative, mystics or activists...Whenever we live from identification, we are in “knot-life” mode.
When we become so obsessed with our own story (our own constructed sense of self) we become knots that have forgotten that our true identity lies in the fluid rope that connects us to everything and everyone. So even when we think we're not harming anyone, when we are "knot-life" we are perpetuating the false notion that we are separate from each other, that the "other" is someone we need to "correct," that violent behavior is something that happens because "that knot over there" is nuts, not because the fear and violence in our own hearts is feeding the fear and violence in the whole tapestry.
We are not individuals. Humanity is individual.
Together we form an undivided whole, along with all the rest of the created order (seen and unseen). We are knots in a tapestry of inter-being: Interconnected in ways we are only just beginning to understand in quantum physics, and urgently need to awaken to socially and spiritually.
I would venture to suggest that rather than lobbing one more charged emotional statement at one another on Facebook, we respond to what happened in Orlando by committing ourselves to working every day at unifying our own inner divisiveness and growing in our capacity to see ourselves as deeply interconnected.
It begins here, now, with each of us asking:
Can I begin self observation today through some form of spiritual practice, meditation, or self-exploration?
Can I observe my own inner violence in the myriad of personality “I”s that seek to run the program over and against something or someone else?
Can I commit to taking some time to develop more of a unified “string theory” view of this great tapestry we are all part?
Let’s wake up to the undivided whole tapestry we form, and weave ourselves together in response to all violence, beginning with our selves. There is no asserted egoic self that stands isolated from whole. There is no “deranged perpetrator” that is separate from our own anger and confusion, no loss of life that is not the loss of our own life. There is no love that isn't part of the one love that binds us all.
There is no “I”…only “We”.