Transcending the Illusion of Separateness

“The fanciful idea of a self is a contraction, a limitation of wholeness, real being. When this notion dies we find our natural expansion, stillness, globality without periphery or centre, outside or inside. Without the notion of an individual there is no sensation of separateness and we feel a oneness with all things.” ~Jean Klein.


The following is a short excerpt from Who Am I? The Sacred Quest by the spiritual teacher Jean Klein (1912-1998). The wisdom here is deep, so best to read slowly. Also, to go from conceptual understanding to experiential knowing (as Klein describes) it helps to have a spiritual practice (such as yoga, meditation or tai chi), that enables your awareness to expand beyond the illusory sense of “I” that society feeds and the mind projects. 

“To be human is to be related. As a human being we live in relation with the elements, the sun, moon, the stones in the earth and all living beings.

Generally, when we use the word “related” we mean a link of some kind between individual entities, object to object, or subject to object. The word relationship here presupposes separateness, the joining together of fractions. This fractional view of relatedness is purely conceptual. It is a figment of the mind and has nothing to do with pure perception, reality, with what actually is.

When we live free from all ideas and projections, we come into real contact with our surroundings. Practically speaking, therefore, before we can be related to our environment we must first know how to be related to that most near to us, body, senses and mind.

The only hindrance to the clear perception of our natural state is the forceful idea of being a separate individual, living in a world with other separate beings.

We have an image of ourselves. This image can be maintained only in relation to things and thus it makes objects of our surroundings, friends, children, spouse, intelligence, bank account, etc., and enters into what it calls a personal relationship with these projections.

The fanciful idea of a self is a contraction, a limitation of wholeness, real being. When this notion dies we find our natural expansion, stillness, globality without periphery or centre, outside or inside.

Without the notion of an individual there is no sensation of separateness and we feel a oneness with all things. We feel the surroundings as occurrences in unrestricted wholeness.

When our lover or children leave home or our bank account drops, it is an event in us. Awareness remains constant. All phenomena, all existence is an expression within globality and the varieties of expression only have meaning and relationship in light of the whole.

To be related is to be related within the whole. Since there is no meeting of fractions, in the whole there is no other. Strictly speaking, therefore, in perfect relation there is no relationship, no duality; there is only globality.

All perception points directly to our primal being, to stillness, the natural non-state which is common to all existence. Thus, in the human expression, to be related is to be in communion with the whole. In this communion the so-called other’s presence is felt as a spontaneous giving and our own presence is a spontaneous receiving.

There is no longer a feeling of lack and consequently a need to demand, because simply receiving brings us to our openness. When we live in openness the first impulse is offering. Being in openness and the spontaneous movement of offering is love. Love is meditation. It is a new dimension in living.

You live in contraction, thinking of yourself as an individual. Where do the terms ‘me’ and ‘mine’ find meaning? All humanity is in you. You are what you absorb. You eat vegetables, fish, meat, and these are dependent on light, the sun, warmth.

The light is related to the moon and the stars are all related. There is nothing personal in us. The body is in organic relationship with the universe. It is made of the same elements as everything else.

You must understand and co-operate with the body. It is ignorance of the mechanism that creates conflict. Inquiry can only be carried out in daily life. Your mind and body are reflected in your behaviour from morning until night. Your attention must be bipolar, observing the inner and outer fields.

Relationships are the mirror in which your inner being gets reflected. Be aware that you are a link in the chain of being. When you really feel this, the emphasis is no longer on being individual, and spontaneously you come out of your restriction. You do not live in isolation, in autonomy. In relatedness is the fore-feeling of presence.

The person is really only persona, mask, but it has come to be synonymous with the idea of an individual, separate and continuous entity. The personality is not the constant we imagine it to be. In reality it is only a temporary re-orchestration of all our senses, imagination and intelligence, according to each situation.

There is no repetition in life and each re-orchestration is unique and original like the design in a kaleidoscope. The mistake is to identify with the personality, to conceptualise it in memory and then take ourselves for this collection of crystallised images rather than letting all emotions, perceptions and thoughts arise and die in us.

We are in the theatre watching our own play on stage. The actor is always ‘behind’ his persona. He seems to be completely lost in suffering, in being a hero, a lover, a rascal, but all these appearings take place in global presence.

This presence is not a detached attitude, a witnessing position. It is not a feeling of separateness, of being ‘outside’. It is the presence of wholeness, love, out of which all comes. When no situation calls for activity we remain in emptiness of activity, in this presence.

Generally, we are fixed in patterns of communication but when we live in openness a great sensitivity arises, a sensitivity we never dreamed of. When we approach our surroundings from wholeness our whole structure comes alive. We do not hear music with the ears only.

When the ears cease to grasp sound for themselves we feel music with our whole body, the colour, the form, the vibration. It no longer belongs to a specific organ. It belongs to our whole being.

This creates a deep humility, an innocence. Only in humility is true communication possible. Then one lives in a completely new dimension. To live as a personality is to live in restriction. Don’t live in restriction!

Let the personality live in you. In living in the environment without separation there is great, great beauty…

Don’t try to influence [others]. The moment you breathe, the whole world is affected by your inhalation and exhalation. So when you live in peace you radiate it. If someone asks for help, help of course. But don’t become a professional do-gooder.

If you have any idea of being somebody, a friend, helper, political person, teacher, mother, father, and so on, you will only see the situation coloured by this image.

It is a fractional view and because it is partial it breeds conflict and reaction. Since the action did not appear and disappear in wholeness there will be residue.

Before acting, one must understand the situation. To fully comprehend it, you must face the facts free from ideas. It must belong to your wholeness; otherwise you are stuck to the wheel of reaction where there is only relationship from concept to concept.

When you become a professional doer you are no longer spontaneous. You can never create harmony. It is beautiful to be really nothing, without qualification. All that appears, appears in you.. Then all action is balanced.

First you have to know how to face the facts properly, that is, free from the limited individual point of view. Our surroundings appear to us according to the stance we take.

From the point of view of the body and senses, the world appears as sense perception. From the mental view the world appears as mind. From consciousness the world is only consciousness.

Don’t try to change anything. Only be aware that your ideas and actions stem from the mind. The moment you look at your surroundings from consciousness you will see things differently and seeing things differently your understanding and actions will be different.

The question often arises: how can I change society, I disagree with so many things? You can never change the world from the personal standpoint. You can only change society from the impersonal, from consciousness.

Realise that there can be no transformation unless action comes from a completely different view than before. In the personal realm you remain an accomplice with society. Creative action can only come when you see your surroundings from the point of view of consciousness. Then you are really related to society, the situation, the world.

Otherwise, you remain related only to yourself, your reactions and resistances. See that society begins with you. You are your own nearest environment, so begin with yourself.

When you learn how to look at your closest environment you will automatically know how to look at the broader environment. In this way of looking there’s understanding, and understanding brings right acting.

The moment you come to the living understanding, you won’t need to ask anyone else what to do. Where there’s an ego there is purpose. And when there is no sense of ‘I’, there is no purpose. Life is purposeless. There’s only beauty in living in the eternal.

If you believe you are the individual ‘I’ you are isolated from your surroundings, and this isolation brings feelings of insecurity, fear and anxiety. Then you look for goals. You worry and anticipate.

Life doesn’t need a reason to be. That is its beauty.”



About Christopher Chase

Co-creator and Admin of the Facebook pages "Tao & Zen" "Art of Learning" & "Creative Systems Thinking." Majored in Studio Art at SUNY, Oneonta. Graduated in 1993 from the Child & Adolescent Development program at Stanford University's School of Education. Since 1994, have been teaching at Seinan Gakuin University, in Fukuoka, Japan.
This entry was posted in Creative Systems Thinking, mystic view, nondual awareness and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Transcending the Illusion of Separateness

  1. Pingback: Transcending the Illusion of Separateness | AGR Daily News Service

  2. Gianni Christakos says:

    Excellent !!

  3. Patricia Ribeiro de Abreu says:

    Good morning Sean,

    Long time I don’t have news about you, and in the other day I heard Mar’s voice 😊 it was fantastic good!!!

    I share this text with you…there are moments incredibly beautiful 😊 I hope see you soon…

    With Love,

    Patrícia, the Little Sister

    Ps. Life doesn’t need a reason to be. That is its beauty.

    De: Creative by Nature
    Enviado: 10 de junho de 2017 13:50
    Assunto: [New post] Transcending the Illusion of Separateness

    Christopher Chase posted: “”The fanciful idea of a self is a contraction, a limitation of wholeness, real being. When this notion dies we find our natural expansion, stillness, globality without periphery or centre, outside or inside. Without the notion of an individual there is no”

  4. Pingback: Transcending the Illusion of Separateness - UNITED EARTH

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