When I was a child, I had what felt like a huge epiphany, but I had nowhere to fit it into my philosophy/worldview/self-understanding/etc. Until, perhaps, now.
I was in kindergarten – funny how we can remember such things – probably six years old, and now I am sixty-six – old! (As a side-note, I have no patience for anyone who responds, “Oh, you’re not old . . . Yes, I am. You can’t exactly call me young. And I’m not middle-aged because that would imply that I am only halfway through this earthly life, which is, mathematically, unlikely – 122?)
Any, somehow, at that very young age, I suddenly became aware of myself as the centre of my own universe, and then made the quantum leap of realizing that that was how everyone else saw themselves. Maybe that sounds pretty obvious, but I took it one step further: I could imagine, almost literally feel myself as being them.
It blew me away but, as I said, I had no larger framework into which I could fit that new awareness, so it just sat there – waiting, I suppose, for a time like this.
Many mystics (and old hippies) have asserted that we are all one, that below our superficial differences, we are united at a deeper level, whether literally a single entity or possessing the commonality of all being made in the image of God or possessing a collective unconscious mind as Jung supposed, or any one of dozens of other ways of looking at it . . . there is a deep connection between us all.
A friend of mine told me of a drug-infused party he went to back int eh 60’s where someone approached him, wild-eyed, saying, “Are you me?”
Well, yes, in a way . . .
And with that truth in mind, however it might be glimpsed, many things become possible.
The first is forgiveness.
Jesus said to love your enemies, and to forgive those who hurt you. That’s not always easy because, well, it hurts. Why did they have to do this to you, you ask? Especially if they did it purposefully and knowingly. Why the hell should you forgive them?
With my new awareness – or should I say, with my newfound place to put it – I understand this when I look at people who I most disapprove of: if I were in their skin, if I had their makeup and exerienced their circumstances, I would probably feel, think and behave as they do.
And I would want to be understood.
So who am I to withhold my understanding?
Have you ever done something that you are really ashamed of? Something for which you were not forgiven when you really want to be? Might you have thought something like, “I am so sorry; I didn’t ‘get it’. I might have known that what I was doing was wrong, but somehow, I felt justified, and now it’s just killing me because I ‘get it’. Wouldn’t it feel good to receive that forgiveness? Wouldn’t you think highly of such a person who could rise above their own hurt in order to give that to you? Wouldn’t you want to BE such a person?
And it all has feeling of rightness, dare I say “sanity” to it because we all share that deep commonality, whatever you want to call it.
And it occurs to me that a lot of other things, formerly mysterious, make sense if you look at it that way.
“Love your neighbour as yourself.”
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
I have the feeling that that’s only where it begins . . .