Mitch McConnell is an American politician serving as Kentucky’s senior United States senator and also as Senate Majority Leader.
Michael Richardson-Borne: There’s a fierce culture war taking place in the United States as we speak. Just like in the 1860s, there is a battle between two different Americas. It’s a civil war as one would appear in the age of information. How would you describe this divide between Democrats and Republicans?
Mitch McConnell: First, it’s important to understand Republicans and Democrats aren’t fighting one another – they’re railing against their own shadows and don’t know it. They’re screaming into distorted mirrors and placing the onus on the other party for the distortions. They’re busy dropping bombs on an opponent while their personal cockpits are filled with poisonous snakes. To stop the snakebites felt by their Separate Selves, all they need to do is land and exit the aircraft. But they prefer to imagine they’re being forced to remain in the driver’s seat and blame the people they’re bombing for the pain of the separative snakebites they experience. They haven’t realized the war is inside the planes being flown labeled as Republican or Democrat – not against targets they perceive in the outside world.
So the war between the parties is misplaced. All wars are misplaced. Conflict occurs when two warring belief systems fail to recognize the mechanism by which individuals define themselves. It isn’t known there is a singular identity structure, under the stories of Republican and Democrat, being defined. Due to this, both parties fail to understand how all of their resulting behaviors begin “after the fact” – they don’t see how all of the turmoil is over a fairy tale of their own construction.
MR-B: Say more about what you mean by “behaviors begin after the fact.”
MM: “Fact” means the first point of psychological time, the original story of separation. “After” means any story added to the time-bound definition of the first point. Both political parties have forgotten the first point of psychological time and therefore imagine living solely in “the after” – they live embedded in their imaginations, in surface stories that blur the foundational “fact” and annihilate the experience of “before the fact.”
Imagine starting a 40 yard dash an inch after the finish line. Does this even make sense? Of course not – you can’t run a race that is already over. Yet this is the silliness in which Republicans and Democrats are engaged – in which the entire Culture of Separation is engaged. By being absent from life as it presents itself before story arises, the race is over before any of us even begin – and then we all pretend to run a fake race like chickens with our heads cut off, meaninglessly scrambling around in circles within a small diameter of the total track. Mass confusion doesn’t even begin to describe this behavior.
So, again, the divide isn’t between Republicans and Democrats, it’s the divide of each individual who makes up these parties with him or her self. The political parties are mere symptoms, not the virus itself – which leaves the question as this: Will some of our congressional runners travel in the opposite direction of our collection of chickens and locate the starting blocks? Will they rest and mark the point of return for everyone on the track? And when all are back at the starting blocks, will they collectively ask what was before the idea of running a race? To this point, the answer is no. So the divide continues.
MR-B: From a Senator’s perspective, how do we begin to heal this divide?
MM: From my colleagues’ perspective, there is a sub-mental need to maintain the divide, as the cracks of separation are the lifeblood of their electability. There is no true interest in healing the divide because a total healing would mean the end of the system they use to govern. The intent is not to do away with division as that would bring their separative system to a grinding halt. The goal is to differentiate within certain bounds, to stress the exact points of division where they stand out – because this is what makes them recognizable as an “other” and creates the needed delineation for choices to be made in the Culture of Separation.
This kind of relationship between politicians and voters is a direct reflection of how the Separate Self recognizes its own beingness – how it maintains its differentiation from its true being in order to substantiate its existence. First, an Original Story of separation happened to you. Second, the Original Story was defined by “personality particulars” to make up your Story Identity. At the very instant your Story Identity was established, your Original Story was forgotten. Next, you used your Story Identity to construct a narrative based on two projections of your imagination: “the way things are supposed to be” and “the way things actually are.” Between these two projections is a “gap” that creates personal dissonance. The story of this dissonance is called your Personal Myth. When linked together, the Story Identity plus the Personal Myth plus the Original Story make up personal experience, which is called your Separate Self. A world that assumes itself to be a collection of Separate Selves is called the Culture of Separation.
After contemplating the Separate Self’s “identity gradient,” one can easily observe how the relationship between politicians and voters is one composed of Story Identities and Personal Myths. Story Identity is a sequestered belief in who one is as an expression of separation – an element of the Separate Self that adds definition to the “empty” experience of personal being. In our example, the Story Identity is one defining personal being as Democrat or Republican.
When the separative identities of Democrat and Republican become firmly ensconced as individuals, political issues between the two groups arise from the illusion caused by the split of Story Identity into Personal Myth. There is a way that America should be and a way that America currently is. The gap between these two stories creates the Personal Myth – a myth that manifests a never-ending feeling that something needs to be “fixed” or something “needs to be done.” This need to fix makes the political fight into what it’s all about – alleviating one’s Personal Myth dissonance by getting the dominant narrative of the country as close to one’s Story Identity as possible.
In a nutshell, that’s the whole of the political game in the Culture of Separation. It’s a game not interested in true healing because, again, healing would require seeing beyond the stories of the Separate Self – and this seeing would eradicate the need for the separative action that drives a political system built on the assumption that the Separate Self is the totality of identity.
So, as things stand right now, the dynamic of separative relationship I just described is unknown by the leaders of both political parties as well as the voters. This blindness means the healing you ask about is literally impossible. The entirety of American political activity is led by Personal Myths who think they are fighting for either the conservation or progression of their Story Identities. Notice how everyone’s Original Story, the gateway to Non-separation, is left completely in the dark.
I dream of an electoral process that is more about “wide presence” than “tight minds.” And where there is an understanding that the remembrance of Non-separation is the only way beyond the division that exists in our country today. To heal, we must simply bring our deeper identity back into the light – and then open the gate to take the inevitable journey that will follow.
MR-B: Talk a little about the impeachment trial of Donald Trump. Explain to the people why you led a movement to acquit when a majority of the country found him guilty of the accusations?
MM: Guilt assumes autonomous action. And autonomous action is a perception caused by the total acceptance of the narrative your Story Identity feeds to you. When the Original Story of separation happened to you, you forgot what this happening actually happened to – and it was then the potential for guilt entered a personal identity you assumed held the fullness of reality. When separation is accepted as “the way things are,” “others” are automatically placed in an environment outside of the Separate Self. And when others show up in the environment as your compadres of separation, they can then acquire a characteristic called guilt because an unquestioned assumption of separation spawns personal experience – a mental experience that feels like self-authorship.
I’ve taken a lot of heat because I approved of a trial that didn’t allow witnesses. But my question for Congress was this: When guilt cannot be personalized, where is the need for witnesses who are just looking to play the separative chess that reinforces the Culture of Separation? B.F. Skinner ran those psychological experiments long ago – it is not my job to positively reinforce the primary assumption of humanity, the belief in a Separate Self. I’m not required to participate in the illusion. My only job as a member of the Senate is to be lived an an invitation to Non-separation.
Why should I entertain putting my stamp of approval on what would be my complicity in the Culture of Separation when the president in the hot-seat combined with the ludicrous way the trial played out are perfect pointers to invite everyone to get in on the joke? It seems to me when things rise to such a ridiculous level of absurdity, one may want to ask what the hell is going on that makes such a charade even possible. But, so far, separation is winning out – the blaming, the in-fighting, and the never-ending calls for change (which are just translations of separation) continue.
I didn’t allow witnesses because there is only one witness. What do I mean by witness? Well, I’m not talking about a viewer that solely judges external circumstances. I’m talking about a witness that also observes objects that are internal, the stories that are internal. When one locates this witness, both the external and internal happenings become external experiences – and then you’re one step away from seeing that that which is resting “under” the Separate Self is incapable of guilt as it’s not separate from a “total impersonal movement” that’s living everything experienced as personal activity.
Based on this impersonal realization, impeachment isn’t about throwing somebody overboard – impeachment is a call for everyone to remember the Path of Non-separation, not just the suspected offender. Let the entirety of Congress impeach the Separate Self and watch what happens to the desire for impeachment.
What I constructed was an invitation for Congress to rally around President Trump as a collective body of invitations to Non-separation. I invited us to rally around him, to create a container where any sort of vindictiveness or power grab would immediately be revealed for what it was without the need of saying a word. Again, “wide presence” always exposes “tight mind.” Being lived as Non-separation uncovers a truth that effortlessly presents the Culture of Separation for what it is – the attachment to dream-minutiae.
So the entirety of Congress needs to level up, to remember Non-separation. Then, the President’s instincts can be impersonally embraced, and the natural movement of being lived into existence can change the “rules of separation” in such a way that functioning as a separative agent no longer generates power. When the foundational assumption of humanity, the belief in a Separate Self, is thwarted, when the foundational agreement of human society is disrupted, the old tricks of the trade of separative life no longer apply. One discovers that the gig of the Separate Self is up – and the only way forward is to figure out why. As Congress grows into this remembrance, so grows the country.
But this growth will require an earnest inquiry. How are legal trials in the Culture of Separation to be handled after self-authorship is seen through? What happens when the curtain comes up on cut and dry individuality and everyone’s experience flips from “the one doing the living” to “the one being lived?” Where does one place guilt when all points of reference no longer grasp the ornamental definitions one believes need our autonomous hands to guarantee proper placement? What happens when “bipartisanship” is seen through as the childishness it is – as congratulating ourselves on the equivalent of being able to share our toys? What happens when stewardship as the lived existence of Non-separation becomes the norm?
MR-B: Many journalists are calling the United States an oligarchy rather than a democracy. It’s undeniable that our elections and policies are influenced in the extreme by lobbyists, big donors, and multi-national corporations. How do you explain this to your constituents?
MM: It’s all a misunderstanding of the deep structure of expectation. If you understand the tendencies of the Separate Self, you fully expect different forms of separation to present themselves. Since both democracy and oligarchy have the same primary assumption of separation at their bases, it shouldn’t be a secret that both can morph into various forms that enact this separation.
If you locate the separative source of the institutions that make up the Culture of Separation, you will relieve yourself of much shock and anger. Many people get bent out of shape because the problem seems to be the behavior of the wealthy intertwined with greedy politicians – they don’t understand separative behavior should be expected since the wealthy share the same foundational assumption with politicians, not to mention the working class.
Simply stated, this is the way things should be in the Culture of Separation. A collection of separate selves will always manifest imbalanced personal expressions misaligned with their true being. It’s perfectly logical in a world that has forgotten Non-separation. I always say, “Money doesn’t trickle down, but the remembrance of Non-separation can trickle up.” This saying reminds me that Non-separation is the only revolution left.
MR-B: There is a move towards authoritarianism across the world, even in the United States. What is causing this?
MM: The speed of change – which is the flood of information, the pace of new stories entering the collective psyche, the potential displacement of old stories, the pressure caused by having your identity stories constantly challenged. It’s all overwhelming for the Separate Self.
So, many people are looking for a “strong-man” who they believe can stop this overwhelming advancement of story – the harsh assault on the personal tenor of their Separate Selves. They are looking for someone, anyone, to wrestle down the new narratives emerging that put pressure on the stories of the Separate Self to shift. They want someone to do this for them – to relieve the stress caused by having their identities uprooted. They want someone to tell them their stories are okay, that they’re safe, that the stories that make up their identities don’t have to change. In fact, the Separate Self wants to hear that its stories are superior to any alternative – and that any emergent identity story is an absolute enemy. The threat of an enemy of this magnitude tills the soil for an authoritarian protector to emerge.
MR-B: What is your response to the authoritarian tendencies you see in American government?
MM: As executive power continues to grow in America, there are two forms of dictatorships waiting in the wings. Democrats think one set of ideas is “the way.” Republicans think another. And both are eager to enforce these stories on the nation while neither are interested in understanding there is no wrestling down separation when one’s root assumption is the source of separation.
Both Democrats and Republicans must be completely freed of their identity stories for the Culture of Separation within government to cease. And freedom only occurs when one remembers what lives the impersonal story that includes all personal stories – which is Non-separation.
*This is a fictional interview written by Michael Richardson-Borne as a teaching of Non-separation.