A Menagerie of Self, Part B

It’s interesting that many of the week’s encounters had already started me thinking about the subtleties of the self/other phenomenon, and that the last encounter before this writing was with a snake, which, in Christian symbolism, represents duplicity, temptation, or The Fall, which, in an illuminated view, is succumbing to separation consciousness. Yet the snake is also symbolic of shamanic transmutation, release of what binds us or no longer serves; and that can be liberation from the blinds separation.

In our own gaze at that which we perceive as other dwells the veil of separation itself (as well as the strain to see through it).

In animal encounters such as these, I’m shown the tension between instinct and desire to bond, to know, to merge. I witness Life’s curiosity about life, the natural magnetism between all sentient beings, even as I perceive self-protection mechanisms backpedalling from it. 

So, I see a birds nest, and I enter taboo space and look inside; yet, I am conditioned to feel pangs of misgiving, because, whether I am a threat or not, the parents will perceive me that way. 

I am drawn to and wary of interchange with these creatures. They are nobly savage; without duplicity, innocent. Baby birds, particularly, are vulnerable; I know vulnerability in myself, and I‘ve seen vulnerability exploited, in myself and others.   So, as I identify with these babes, it is confusing to also haplessly be the perpetrator.  (Many of us will have heard the warning that an animal parent will reject a baby after it’s handled by a human.)

But I want to appreciate the babies, commune with them, experience my innocence through them, or that which I project onto them. I also linger at the edge of the grief of knowing that I am feared, and of the projection that I am not kind or trustworthy.  

As humans, we’ve all been born and raised and domesticated.  I suspect I’m not alone in this, but for myself, I notice a lament that the original wild tribe from which I came won’t take me back, won’t accept me now; I’m polluted now by my humanness (or association with humans), by the smells of the toxic thoughts I host. Just as a baby bird is rejected by its parents if handled by a human–its smell is no longer recognizable as “one of us,”– I am somehow no longer of the One. 

And, subjectively, amid the smells of human programming, of our unholy inheritances and alliances, we’ve lost the scent of our own belonging in the Tribe of One. We walk our path sniffing for it, mostly where we’ve been trained to– out there: in work, approval, romance, religion, on and on.  We believe we are alone and, therefore, not safe.

  So when I am in touch again with innocents I perceive outside myself, I long to be validated, recognized as one of them: In belonging to that tribe, I am redeemed, no longer separate from, or judged by, Creation. And yet my own fear of rejection, fear of the other’s fear, produces enough fear-gas to repel Bambi, Baby Jesus, Frodo Baggins and all their friends.

The basic anxiety of separation engenders aversion to both self and other. We blame ourselves, assuming we must have done something wrong to find ourselves cast out of Bambi-land (Heaven). We fear each other because, if we are alone, it’s every man for himself.

So, if I’m offended and terrified by separation in the first place, I notice that– in the twisted logic of the nightmare– encountering another distinct human being feels like an affront, a proof of my lostness, failure to be one with One. It stirs a deeply buried  sense that if there is another one here, it too must be indignant and volatile. If there is more than one of us here; is God diluted? How can both of us be whole? How can both of us be God? How can I be God alone, or have all of God’s Love, or have full power or control over my life and world or how it sees me…?  In encountering another on the trail, I’m reminded that if there’s so many of us here, all asserting and pursuing individuality, then collecting up the pieces and getting home is like herding cats. Hopeless. 

All this from this belief in separation.  For we all share the same source; we are all just Life expressing itself. By some mystery, the refracted lens of our consensus reality displays a multiplicity; and stories, fears, projections, justifications and defense spin out in intricate feedback loops from that original prism.     And the joke of it is….

                                                                                                                                                                      to be continued.

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