Question: How would you describe human transformation? And what causes this transformation? How does a human caterpillar turn into a transcendent butterfly?
Michael Richardson-Borne: There is no human transformation other than the apparent transformation presented by your mind. Being human is an idea. And an idea is part of an individual’s mind that does not know the truth of individuality. This is hard for you to comprehend because the culture in which you live proselytizes the mind and body as your primary modes of being. You believe this cultural conditioning to the detriment of looking deeper into your own experience. You believe in the movement of what the mind considers beautiful, progressive, or transcendent and convert these concepts into a convincing concrete reality of sequential change.
Who were you before you were manipulated into believing the physical and mental characteristics of being human, before you were seduced into believing in the passage of time, before you were taught that this passage of days and years could lead to the transformation of an individual? The totality of who you are cannot live in the shadows of even the purest human heart – it can only live as the human heart without the boundary of specific location. Getting out of these shadows, what you call human transformation, is not a change from one thing into another. It’s remembering who you already are, who you’ve always been, and what it truly means to be a human. It’s a first-hand knowing that the mind remains separatively human until it locates an original beingness that punctures the individuality of this beingness – and that this puncturing releases the grip of humanity on the impersonal movement of Non-separation.
The transcendent butterfly as a symbol of the transcendent human is a lie. As it’s held today in the culture of separation, becoming a butterfly is just a tweaking of personality to include personal qualities that are considered transcendent. The transformational butterfly you are asking about is the non-transformation of an individual into the same individual who now possesses new abilities or attributes.
One of the points you’re missing is that transformation doesn’t conclude after you become a butterfly. As a matter of fact, transformation hasn’t even been approached, transformation has yet to begin. The transformation of which I speak starts with questioning the assumption of being a butterfly, questioning the belief in the nature of being a separate object in a world of objects. It concludes with the realization that being a butterfly is an illusion, and that this illusion is an expression of your true nature – not the totality of it.
This transformation can happen in any way at any time – there is no specific cause. Transformation is an action of the causeless without effect. There is no well-defined journey of awakening akin to receiving an academic degree – the assuredness is not there from the outset, there is no precise map you can follow without deviation to arrive at a pre-determined destination at the end of a step-wise journey of set duration. The Path of Non-separation does not exist like a perfectly carved and manicured hiking trail. You can jump into the river, but you can’t know that your final destination will be the ocean. A set of game-rules may be there, but the individual has no control over them. Why? Because the mind is a product of the movement of these game-rules. Becoming a transcendent butterfly does not change this movement – a fact which leaves a human butterfly no more autonomous than a cocooned caterpillar. Why? Because individual caterpillars and individual butterflies have no autonomy separated from consciousness. There is no way for either of them to maneuver outside of consciousness or to make consciousness a personal possession, to transport it like a mobile phone or a laptop computer.
Speaking of which, why is it that you, and the rest of the world, assume the butterfly is more transcendent than the caterpillar? This assumption is very telling. You are assuming the butterfly is a terminus, the terminal expression of transformation. It is assumed that the butterfly is some kind of archetypal omega point where the individual is freed into the world, where an individual gets to be admired for its beauty and flit from flower to flower in true freedom and happiness. This illustrates the primary assumption of humanity, the belief in a separate self.
Let’s look at this analogy another way that will point to Non-separation. Think of the caterpillar as your original beingness or felt experience. Think of the cocoon as the assumption of separation, and the butterfly as the full-on emergence of personality, a collection of signs and symbols that define a world of its own reflection. To take a fresh look at the caterpillar is to see that the caterpillar is who you truly are and that which is before the caterpillar is what this you is expressed by. The cocoon is what I call “the original story,” the first mental story of your beingness, the first mental story of your separation. The butterfly is the flowering of your personality, the complexification of a distinct separate self, the addition of stories to your original story, the flowering of a fluttering distraction from your true being.
It is important for the culture of separation to stop imagining that a separate self can get fancier, more peaceful, or more recognized by blossoming into a winged beauty. It is important to stop believing that a separate self will get to enjoy the fruits of this supposed accomplishment among a separative world of admiring peers. It is important to take a close look at this analogy and notice that after the caterpillar becomes a butterfly, the caterpillar and cocoon are immediately forgotten.
You are here because this forgetting has happened to you. You have forgotten the caterpillar and cocoon from which your separate self emerged. You have forgotten Non-separation, the activity that lives the one expression that is both the caterpillar and the butterfly.
Q: If I was to remember this one expression that is the caterpillar and butterfly, would the world feel differently? Will the world feel different after I realize Non-separation?
MR-B: What does the world feel like now?
Q: I don’t know. Sometimes tense. Sometimes happy. Sometimes sad. Collectively, the world seems to feel pretty bad at the moment.
MR-B: Do you ever ask yourself what is aware of these changing feelings or what the source of the world’s discontent may be? When I say the primary assumption of humanity is the belief in a separate self, I don’t know how much more clearly I can shine the light on where to look. When you see through your assumption of separation, you will notice that the changing feelings are a sine wave or series of bell curves that are leading nowhere – they arise from the impersonal and evaporate back into the impersonal as quickly as they appear. You will notice that the world is bound to feel “pretty bad at the moment” because they’re separated from one another and from their true nature. How can you feel good about life when you’re living a lie? There may be fleeting moments of happiness – but even this happiness is built upon the same lie of separation. This faux happiness disappears in an instant once the constricting assumption of separation takes back the reigns of your mind.
What you have forgotten is that feelings are not caused by external events – nor are they caused by internal events. You look at the mental and physical environments and assume, first, that they are separate and, second, that your personal reactions to these stimuli instigate your emotional world. But ask yourself who is reacting? Who or what is aware of these separate mental and physical worlds? What is it that brings the mental and physical into a non-separative whole? Seeing the answer to these questions clearly reveals that everything causes everything. What your mind interprets as the “true cause” is just the observed act immediately preceding the observed action of interest. The “closest division or preceding cause” is not the “total cause.” The total cause is Non-separation, the activity with no recognition of cause. The total cause always feels as it feels without need for attaching the feeling to a reason.
Q: What exactly does this total cause feel? What is the totality of feeling?
MR-B: When feelings are felt to the bone while remaining translucent – when the collective feeling of the world you mentioned tears at your heart without ever touching the surface of an individual’s skin. When there is nothing for feeling to penetrate, nowhere for feelings to attach, nothing to trust other than a judgment-free arising. When emotions are cared for but still known as the neutral chaos of attempted separation. This is the totality of feeling. This is the swirl in a unified motion of what the total cause feels impersonally.
Q: If feelings are impersonal, how would the behaviors of someone who has remembered Non-separation differ from the person who still believes they are separate? Is there a dramatic change?
MR-B: This question begins to push into the territory of Applied Awakening. When we launch into discussing behaviors of the impersonal, we are squarely in the conversation of the remembrance of Non-separation – the starting point of Applied Awakening.
In essence, when one remembers Non-separation, the expression of the totality becomes aligned with this totality. Even though Non-separation is living both the separated and the realized, when you remember Non-separation, there is no obstruction to aligning with your true nature. This alignment is the instant of realization – and immediately impacts how a person is lived into being. Instead of acting like a separated person in a world of separate people in a separated environment, the entire field of being is now known to be the self, a presentation of consciousness presented to itself. The mind is still available, but it’s output is not approached as absolute – it is more of an impersonal proposition that is observed and understood as part of a singular process not separate from anything inside or outside your field of vision and other sensory input. There is no entanglement in the mind’s rational solutions and its drive to conclusions that assume separation and create products aligned with the temporary. By not getting to the source of the temporal, those who still believe in separation are subjected to behavior impacted by time and personality, ownership and embeddedness – all expressions that, when presented to one who has remembered Non-separation, have no impact other than the thought living out its flash as consciousness, coming and going as it will. The remembrance of Non-separation impacts the mind – moving it from a personal experience to an impersonal one. When the impersonal infuses part of its reflection that’s aware of its infusion, the “dramatic change” is a self-rightening that effortlessly creates non-separative solutions. This is the beginning of Applied Awakening.
Once world leaders and the citizens they represent realize the nature of what is living this global circus into being, a relaxation into these non-separative solutions will occur. This is not merely a change to more democratic values where the world transforms into a collection of several billion butterflies, more beautiful to itself but still separate. This is not an evolution of consciousness or even a change in consciousness. It is the realization that although consciousness cannot change, the assumption at the foundation of the culture of separation most certainly can. This change, what is really just an impersonal turning of the mind’s dial, is the presence of Non-separation on full display, a world of butterflies without the illusion of a final individual transformation.