The Invitation Offered by Pretty Little Fears

Question: In one of your previous talks, I heard you say “fear is beautiful.” When you talked about the questioner’s fear, you called them “pretty little fears.” That stuck with me – I’ve thought a lot about why you would say that. Will you explain it further? It’s the subsiding of fear that I find beauty in.

Michael Richardson-Borne: Sure. Fear is the interaction of two stories of separation. One is a flower. The other is a lattice on which the flower and its leaves grow. The fear you speak of is the flowering of a secondary story that grows on the lattice of a primary story, the story of being a separate self.

So I call fears “pretty” because I know them like flowers on a lattice. They come, they blossom, they pass. It’s a neutral, natural occurrence of separation lived as Non-separation. Look closely and you will see that it’s the story-mechanism of separation that makes your mind tense up and body react, not an independent event. The kind of fear you are talking about is a story that defines a story – it has nothing to do with you. But you still observe your reaction to this combination of stories and believe it’s the way things are, the way things have to be in this world.

The top layer of fear, a flower, grabs your attention, makes it your total focus, and keeps you distracted from the underlying story of fear, the lattice. You are here to discover that both of these stories can be questioned. Both can be psychologically squeezed like an interrogator does to a suspicious subject to reveal the truth – that both stories of fear are the pain of believing in the existence of a separate self. This belief is a misunderstood relationship with fear, one that triggers the separate self into delusions of independently performing specific actions.

I call fears little because they exist inside of a much larger space – fears are like the proverbial gnat on an elephant. When the gnat is right in front of your face, tickling your eyes and nose, you swat like mad to get rid of it. When it’s on your shoe, you don’t even notice and could care less. This is the difference between experiencing fear as a separate self and existing where fear is not something to be concerned with. When you give fear your total attention, your heart races and you feel disturbed. When fear is simply another arising, it’s like watching the silhouette of a bird float across a calm sunset. It’s simply there as part of the landscape.

What is experienced as fear by one that perceives individuality is actually fear of fear. Fear arises as what I call a Personal Myth, a little story that registers on top of the belief in separation, a separation that is experienced from assuming one personally owns a story of individuality. This story of individuality is what I call one’s Original Story – the bigger, foundational fear that is the original occurrence of separation that unnoticeably happened to you. Take a moment and let that sit. I said this foundational fear happened to you. It’s the fear that fear happens to, the fear that can be questioned to reveal impersonal existence.

The little fears are merely descriptions of the bigger fear underlying them. They are adjectives inviting you to take notice of the noun, which is an invitation to take notice of the verb that lives both the noun and the adjective into being. So, the totality of fear has two layers – little flowers of fear that grow on the lattice of one’s Original Story of fear, the combination of which constitutes the fear of falsely believing one is a separate self. Ultimately, the fear you are asking about is a flower that doesn’t notice the lattice it is using as a crutch – or the ground in which the lattice is planted.

Fear is beautiful because it’s a constant invitation to inquire into who or what is fearful. The separate self finds beauty in colorful objects outside of the self or in emotions like joy or tenderness. It never gives the proper due to the beauty of its own foundation – which is the fear of an imaginary separation experienced from dreaming there’s some sort of space between Non-separation and the body it owns.

There’s a beauty in living as an invitation, as an underlying question hanging on every one of your actions to see if the answer will be revealed. To see if the invitation will be accepted. There’s a devoted beauty in an invitation that remains open to you even if you ignore it for a lifetime.

The takeaway here is that while you are attached to the separate self, fear never subsides. What you experience as subsiding is actually a temporary distraction from the constant ache of separation. Even the joy and tenderness I mentioned before is infused with the serum of separation when one is absorbed in the story of a separate self, when one has forgotten Non-separation.

Question: About 15 years ago, I was in the military – in the Iraq War. And fear, while my boys and I were under attack, was not beautiful in the way you speak of it. No invitation to anything was happening there except an invitation to life or death. Very little, if anything, was beautiful in those scenarios other than the bond I felt with my brothers. The presence of fear in war just means you are paying the proper attention – but these are not “pretty little fears.” They’re ugly realities – real fears.

MR-B: These ugly realities have been a significant part of your journey – one’s that have landed you in this conversation. What could be more beautiful than that?

What you experienced in Iraq is actually the most intense, loudest, most compelling invitation to Non-separation you can possibly receive. There is so much fear of separation, so much fear of “an other,” that you possessed a willingness to fire automatic weapons at people in the name of perpetuating your personal story – one that is grounded in separation. And your adversary was under the same illusion – willing to kill to make their separative story correct. Willing to kill as a story in the name of protecting what they believe to be a superior story, not noticing that life itself is lived without a story. Non-separation is not a story, it’s the impersonal existence of being that includes all stories.

In war, the horror of the suffering of separation is mirrored at all combatants with laser-like precision. This is why so many Vets struggle after leaving combat zones. The story of suffering they’ve witnessed embedded in their story of an imagined personal autonomy wrings them out until there are no options left but to question everything. You are one of the lucky ones who has been graced by a turn within – a turn that can lead you out of living a lifetime of disillusionment within a culture of separation.

If you can, recognize right now that you are still ingrained with a story and are in relationship with that story, not the supposed human on the other side of the story where both of us are lived expressions of Non-separation. The reaction to the mind’s fear drives the mind. It keeps you in a constant state of war with yourself – which taken to its logical end becomes a war with others.

If you can, recognize that an invitation to Non-separation is also an invitation to life or death. It’s an invitation to align with the truth of being lived or to remain dead as a separate self doing the living. In the culture of separation, we’re able to see the intensity of being in situations, like war, where physical death is more probable. However, in this same culture, the equal intensity and corresponding bravery of questioning the separate self is ignored. If anything, self-inquiry is mistaken for pop Buddhism where the only thing going on is an attempt to relax or a desire to be slightly nicer to the people around you. But true self-inquiry is to hang on a string between life and death. As you question the separate self, at any moment, a flip can occur where you overcome the dead experience of separation and align with life itself, Non-separation. Just like war, until you’ve been in the situation, until you’ve authentically stepped into a life of self-inquiry, you have no idea what it’s like. Questioning the separate self is just as real as a bullet flying over your head – the separate self feels equally threatened.

The awareness of fear as part of self-inquiry also means you are paying the proper attention. But there is only one kind of “real fear” and it’s applicable to all situations – it’s the fear the separate self feels about losing its attachment to separation.

Question: So, in order to find Non-separation, I just need to contemplate the relationship between consciousness and my own fear?

MR-B: The first thing to look at is the word “between.” Can consciousness be in relationship with something? If so, what is outside of consciousness in which you can relate? What is between consciousness and anything? If you find a gap, it’s a gap between your stories of fear and your stories of what consciousness is. Fear is a reflection of an impersonal consciousness, not separate from it.

And yes, you can contemplate fear and consciousness to realize Non-separation.

You can contemplate if there is an owner of fear.

You can contemplate how fear is not separate from consciousness.

You can contemplate how the story of individuality happened to an impersonal consciousness.

You can contemplate how the Original Story of individuality is the beginning of fear.

You can contemplate why fear is amplified when there are specific things to fear outside of the Original Story of individuality.

You can contemplate why fear is always impersonal at its root.

You can contemplate why fear is always a mere movement of Non-separation.

You can contemplate why Non-separation is not something to be found, it’s only to be remembered.

Question: Do you have no fear then? Are you immune from these fearful impulses?

MR-B: Who I am is immune, who I am not is not immune. Which means Non-separation is both immune and not immune. Non-separation is the impersonal existence of being that includes the personal. Fear is real. Just who is experiencing the pretty little fears is not real in the way you think. The experiencer and the fear are lived as a pre-existing unity, who you truly are – Non-separation.

Question: I feel like I’m close to a breakthrough. So, the reason you call fear “pretty little fears” is because every instance of fear is an opportunity to see fear for what it is. And, when you recognize that fear is not happening to an individual, that it’s a story not separate from beingness itself, then fear “just is.” It happens as it will – but to nobody in particular. Is that what you’re saying?

MR-B: Yes.

The Difference Between Feelings & Feelings of Emotions

Question: When I get into an argument with my husband, I always get caught up in my feelings and end up saying things I don’t really mean. Then, this makes me feel guilty and I sulk for a few days because I feel so bad. During these times, I just want to make things right. How can I keep from getting too much in my feelings and having these outbursts?

Michael Richardson-Borne: Two ways.

First, you can begin to get more familiar with the contents of your mind. You can take the time to notice that the nature of your mind is one composed of stories. You can take the time to discover who you are and who you think you are have yet to be differentiated. One is a conglomeration of stories, the other reveals the limited nature of these stories. After you know the limited nature of your mind and its collection of stories, you can begin to get more familiar with the layers and individual components that make up your story. The more familiar you get with this story, the better you will be able to understand what you are attached to and therefore what you are fearful of and defending when you have your outbursts. By knowing your story, you are less vulnerable to reacting when the moment feels intense.

Just remember that knowing your story is a short term fix that will leave you less reactionary but still suffering and feeling the lingering pain of separation. If you truly want to solve the suffering that causes your outbursts, you’ll have to remember Non-separation – which leads us to the second way.

So second, you can control these outbursts by not trying to control them. The trying just leaves you convinced that you are an autonomous person when, in reality, you are under the illusion of a separate self locked in a world distracted by change – in your case a change of behavior. Individuals are obsessed with change – the apparent shifting this way and that is a convenient hocus pocus that stabilizes the belief in separation.

But who you truly are is not worried about changing anything having to do with an individual’s behavior and, oddly enough, surrendering to this lack of worry, surrendering to that which is impersonal, is the only way to change the behavior. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but cracking the code to why I’m saying what I’m saying is the key to solving your problem. By seeing your outbursts for what they are, coming to understand how they are lived into being, you can transcend them – eradicate them rather than pretend control. This takes being consciously lived as an impersonal expression of what I call Non-separation.

Also, I noticed you used the word feelings instead of emotions. Most people in our culture use these words interchangeably. So let’s take a closer look and gain more clarity.

So what is a feeling? A feeling is the immediate shock of separation felt by the foundational assumption you are living as – a separate self that has an independent “I-am-ness.” Feelings arise from the surprise immediacy present when the story of a separate beingness is felt in your awareness. This separation places you in a world that continually reinforces the perceived space between you and other dream figures rather than in one that feels the solidity that infuses the thrust of stillness, Non-separation. The belief in a separate self allows you to lie about life and to live in an unknown place full of objects – it confuses you about your contact with otherness. You feel the immediate spark of separation with every interaction. This is why relationship is so important to you – it causes feelings that are dumbfounding, episodic pinches that disturb your mind. They are telling you something, but you don’t comprehend. You don’t know the foundational assumption your life is built upon, the belief in a separate self, and hence your feelings remain the mysterious cause of all your suffering.

The aftershock of this initial pulse of individual feeling is what I call an emotion. An emotion is the interpretation of what this feeling of separation is according to the mind. Emotions are just as mental as any kind of intellectual pursuit. They are stories. Emotions are not just “feelings in the body,” far from it. Emotions are objects in your mind that have been attached to the object feeling your illusion of separateness. They are the interplay of the original division from your true being with the collection of stories that you believe make up who you truly are.

And it’s these objects in the mind that lead to a second set of feelings which are what I call the “feelings of emotions.” It’s at the level of feelings of emotions that most people think of when they talk about the experience of being stuck “in their feelings.”

So, first, there are feelings at the level of the “I am” from the initial twinge of separateness. Then there are unconscious mental interpretations of that feeling where more stories are added to this near neutral pulse. These are your emotions. Last, come the conscious feelings of your body and mind, your feelings of emotions. You bundle this process up without knowing it and make it a foggy experience you call “feelings” or “emotions” – which is how a vast majority of people experience their feelings and emotions in the culture of separation.

But there is a deeper experience available to you. You can move underneath the feelings of emotions. You can move underneath emotions and the original feeling of separativeness. You can do this by moving into the experience of what I call “the impersonal.” There are two types of impersonal experience. One is the impersonal without the personal. The other is the impersonal that includes the personal. The former can be found in spiritual teachers or detached spiritual types you have seen that seem overly stoic and checked out from the overall pulse of global affairs. The latter is Non-separation where the depth of feelings, emotions, and feelings of emotions is felt in and as the total context. The full range of feelings and emotions is felt, even the writhing, while being lived as the peacefulness of the movement of Non-separation.

Q: My daughter has a book at home about emotions – it teaches her how to better recognize her emotions. But, now that I hear you speak, maybe this book is inadequate. How would I teach what you just said to my daughter? She’s only ten – is there any way to begin teaching her this way of thinking about emotions to her now?

MR-B: Yes. But it’s nothing that you will be able to teach her intellectually from a book. You must actually become what I just pointed out – you must be lived by the realization. From here, you will understand that she needs you more than a separate person reading her a book that teaches her the separative ways of the world. Children’s books are designed from a perspective of separation unknowingly passing on the necessary memes to nourish future generations to believe in separation. It’s a ghoulish industry that is believed to be all warm and fuzzy. These books could just as easily arise in a context of Non-separation, helping children be held as they grow into remembering that the separate self happened to them and that they’ve always already been welcomed and loved as that which has always been.

What I am pointing out is not solely a way of thinking, it’s a way of being that includes the thinking. Just as I stated that the impersonal includes the personal, this impersonal way of being includes the personal thinking. You are free to notice in this moment, right now, that there is an observer of your thoughts. Just as I am an object in your external field right now, your thoughts are objects in your internal field. So notice how what is observing your external field is also observing your internal field. This observer is the seat of the initial shock of feelings we just discussed.

But remember, this observer should be held lightly as the truth – as lightly as Santa Claus, Leprechauns or the Easter Bunny are held as truth in your current experience. Why? Because it is still necessary for you to locate why these myths are the myths of a myth. You must question the observer and seek what is living the observer.

Not knowing this observer or being able to question the observer leaves the adult world incapable of teaching our children who they truly are or what relationship truly is. They leave our children hanging out to dry, not knowing what feelings and emotions are and who it is that is experiencing these emotions. This means, relationally, we are still nascent at worst, adolescent at best – and accelerating into a future that will remain exactly the same. Take an honest look at the “adult world,” the world of politics, the world of business, the world of marriage, family and partnerships – and tell me with a straight face that we have graduated beyond an adolescent way of relating to one another. We still relate to one another from the surface, in a way that can never truly touch, where the depth of our offerings to one another are mere “feelings of emotions.”

Getting to the relational quality of the original feelings before emotions is the beginning of discovering who you are. To do this, you must question the experience of your autonomous responses to objects outside of yourself and grow into the space where you can truly “be there” for your daughter. Otherwise, you are a ghost in her field that’s teaching her how to be a ghost – and feeding her a story about both of you that she can make her own and carry with her into a culture of separation that is sure to result in the suffering you’re desiring not to replicate in her life.

Q: Buckminster Fuller said, “Our children and our grandchildren are our elders in universe time.” So I guess, according to this, my daughter is already more emotionally intelligent than I am.

MR-B: Children are no more or less emotionally intelligent than their elders. They are resting in the exact same place, the belief in a separate self – each are at the same depth and neither make it beyond the surface of emotions and the feelings of emotions. These emotions and feelings of emotions may become more seasoned, but they are still the same at their core. There is not much difference if you use old paint or new paint to color a white wall.

Fuller was focused on the external world and the rate of technological change – and how children live in a “more advanced” iteration of the culture of separation. They live in a world of technologies that you don’t relate to in the same way – and some that will exist in their futures but not yours. He is pointing out how you and your daughter are separate individuals that live in separate worlds – that your daughter lives in a more youthful translation of the experience of separation. This difference is interpreted as the younger being more advanced in “universe time,” when in actuality, universe time or not, both of your experiences are exactly the same with different external characteristics believed to be more important than what is underlying them – the remembrance of Non-separation. As Non-separation, there are no elders in either direction.

All that being said, there’s an emotional quality to children that is more innocent and open than that of adults. A term I am remembering from Zen Buddhism, I think, that describes this is something called “beginners mind.” It’s a return to the mind of a child – the openness and wonder before all of the woulds, coulds, and shoulds were foisted upon you.

The concept of beginner’s mind is described in the Zen tradition with a great story called “the overflowing teacup.” In the story, the Zen master begins pouring the student a cup of tea. As it reaches the brim, the master keeps pouring so that the tea over-runs the cup and leaks onto the student. When this happens, the student yells, “Master, there is no more room in the cup!” The master responds: “Exactly.” And in that moment, the student sees that there is no space in which the master can pour his wisdom. His cup is already over-flowing with his own thoughts, assumptions, and projections. He, then, knows he needs to empty his cup, to fall back into his beginner’s mind before he will have a chance to hear what the master is truly telling him.

This is why adults can’t drop the bullshit and begin exploring their depths – their cups are already full with the way things are and the way things are supposed to be. There is no room to place anything else in or to challenge what is already in the cup. This leaves the culture of separation in a position where the best it can claim is: “Our children and grandchildren can potentially become our elders in universe time if it is they who collectively remember, and become living invitations of, Non-separation.”

Q: That actually makes sense to me. Especially when I think about the vast majority of relationships I’ve had and known about. I often think about my daughter growing up on this planet and it’s scary. When it comes to her emotional well being, how do I protect her from a world filled with so much pain and negativity?

MR-B: You worry about her well being while not asking yourself if you know what emotional well being is. Would you know it if you saw it in her? What would it look like, feel like?

Q: Now that you ask, the only thing I can think of is truly feeling happy – smiling, laughing, enjoying life.

MR-B: Right. So you are worried about your daughter being happy, not her emotional well being. If you get to the bottom of your thinking, you will find that your current definition of happy is “to not be touched by negative feelings,” on the level of feelings of emotions.

But there is only one way not to be touched by emotions, which is to be fully touched by emotions, the hope you seem to have for your daughter. And that way is by holding a space that allows her to relax in an environment that relates to her non-separatively as she is lived into the journey of remembering who she truly is as an expression of Non-separation.

Stop Trying to Be God

Question: You need to stop trying to be God. This is some kind of power trip.

Michael Richardson-Borne: When you say “trying to be God,” expand a little on what you mean.

Q: You’re telling me what is correct, and what is not. It’s like you don’t respect and appreciate the multiplicity of views I’m stating. You don’t agree with any opinion except your own. It’s denigrating. At best, you don’t know that you’re doing it. At worst, you’re trying to control my mind. I’m all for spiritual exploration – it’s why I’m here and why I read all the time. But it crosses the line when there’s no room for the way I feel about things. You have your way and I have mine. I will listen to everything you have to say – but I don’t have to agree. If you can’t accept this, it’s just a guru complex on your part. Your theory about Non-separation sounds good – but there has to be a space for people like me to critique it. To challenge you. You can’t just be God and expect everyone to follow.

MR-B: I acknowledge what you’re saying and sympathize with your concerns. I hear you would like more of a dialogue and less of the question-answer format where the relational dynamic is somewhat uni-directional. I hear a desire to make room for debate rather than perform what seems like a constant stump speech. Am I hearing you properly?

Q: Yes.

MR-B: As much as I’d like to comply with your request, the request itself is one I can not participate in as an invitation to Non-separation. Even if we found common ground on a critique, this would still be empowering a divisive mode of interaction – two individuals competing for (or agreeing with) “what’s right” is the communicative style that results from the belief in separate autonomous individuals. If I participated in this kind of dialogue, it would be a disservice. I would merely be reinforcing the very assumption I’m inviting you to question – the assumption of a separate self.

Can you see how the conversation you’re asking for simply doesn’t exist in the relational context of Non-separation? If not, everything I teach, every word that is spoken through me, points to how this is the case.

I’ll stop here and ask for your permission to continue. If you don’t want to hear it, I understand. If you do, I’m happy to respond more fully.

Q: Please do.

MR-B: Let’s begin with the notion of “trying to be God.” Most people, maybe you as well, take this to mean the attempt to be an all-powerful being that is able to operate on and beyond the human sphere, a divine figure that is external to both your internal and external worlds. Trying to play God is either a literal or metaphorical interpretation of this definition – but both of these understandings are based on an identical assumption of separation that brings with them the same fear of control and manipulation. One interpretation submits to this fear, the other doesn’t. So, in the first case, a supernatural God manipulates or controls your mind and destiny. In the second case, a human plays God by seizing power to manipulate or control your mind and destiny. But notice the assumption that both of these interpretations miss, notice what has truly usurped control of your destiny. Doing this will lead you to the beginning of the Path of Non-separation.

Because you don’t understand the nature of manipulation, you are absorbed in a chess match that pits concepts against one another and takes your mind’s calculations of this word game to be real. Meanwhile, who you truly are is left under the radar, not playing God, but being God incognito. The separate self is the only imposter that can play God. Once you are aligned with the truth of Non-separation, playing an imposter of God is no longer on the map as all imposters are effortlessly played by God. Knowing this frees you of the edgy fear you hold against “others” you perceive as attempting to take your power. Control is from the inside of the inside’s movement out rather than from the outside in. But, right now, you prefer not to notice this.

Most times, where you are speaking from is where the depth of experience and inquiry freezes. It is here where the world stops, ground to a halt by the satisfaction of one’s conclusion about “the way things are.” God, both mythic and humanistic, is left outside of the self as a conceptual object – left as something that can exist outside of the self. But ask yourself what both of these viewpoints leave unexamined? Ask yourself what you are leaving unexamined.

Q: I spend my life trying to be aware of my thoughts. Being mindful. I’m sure some of my thoughts slip by without notice or are completely unconscious. It’s these missed thoughts that I leave unexamined.

MR-B: The importance of missed thoughts has nothing to do with the inquiry I’m inviting you to begin. Missed thoughts must have a separate entity there to miss them, to be concerned about missing them, to have fear of missing them. This separate someone believes there is something to achieve as you become better and better at being aware of thoughts. It places an importance on the movement of the mind that the remembrance of Non-separation knows is arbitrary. From separation, there is a sporty atmosphere where an individual can win or lose at counting thoughts. From Non-separation, this sport is just another act of divisiveness – an action believed to be an autonomous effort for the good or the betterment of a false self.

Missing a thought is like missing a taxi driving the streets of Indonesia while you’re flagging one on a street corner in France. It’s irrelevant. It’s like suffering from starvation in Rome while being unconscious of an apple in Cambodia. Just as there is no nutritional value in conceptual apples, there is no value added to your self-inquiry process by gorging on thoughts or trying to stop thoughts that are thousands of miles away from the real. Ask yourself why you project importance on a story missed by a story? Ask yourself if two stories can even miss one another. Does a story missing a story even make sense to you? If not, realize this is what you are telling me is happening. You are saying the story of your separate self is leaving the stories that are your thoughts unexamined. You are putting yourself in a position where there is a split between the objects of awareness, the individual that is aware and awareness itself. And you expect me not only to buy into this but to participate in the charade while pretending it’s authentic. Who’s trying to control whose mind here? Who’s trying to be God?

Recognize, right now, that you can’t tell me anything other than what is part of a pre-existing unity. Consciousness can only reveal itself to itself as an invitation for the total to align with the totality. As a reflection of this realization, I welcome all challengers and challenges because neither has anything to do with me personally. I am an invitation, not an opponent. Recognize that I’m not attempting to convince you to become something that you haven’t always been. I’m simply pointing out two things to you that may be of service to your journey. First – God is not something “to be” individually as total individuality is an illusion. And second – you are still under the spell of a separate self.

Q: Prove to me that you’ve broken this “spell” you describe. If I’m the one trying to be God, teach me how to stop.

MR-B: Trying to prove something to you is just a push to be personally heard in the field of separation. Besides, there is no proof I can provide in this moment that will be anything more than an opportunity to literally become me and my words as they’re spoken. Ultimately, there is nothing to prove – there is no finality, just perceived movement. Even if I could convince your mind, the depth of this convincing would just touch the surface of the real issue at hand. Non-separation is not something I can hand to you like a gift or prove to you with an intellectual argument. I can only be a lived invitation as we wait for what can be thought of as your moment of grace.

Q: Hold up. If you’re not claiming to be God, you’re, at least, claiming to know what God is. You’re claiming to know God and to be able to show him to the rest of us.

MR-B: The mind cannot know what God is fully because the mechanism for knowing is also God. Take a moment and notice the lag between what you are and what is known by the mind. And then notice that the lag is not disconnected from what is known. All that is known and all that is aware is a whitewash of “empty joy” infusing the suffering of presumed separation. This empty joy is Non-separation.

By saying this, I am not showing you a flip deck of characteristics that comprise a God. If anything, you are showing God to me, and the rest of us, just as much as I am to you because the movement we are is arising as itself. The way I spoke that is probably confusing because none of us are showing anything to one another. We are the thing being shown, period. And this period is not inside of time – the beginning and the ending have no place in Non-separation other than as concepts of the separate self.

Also, notice that “what God is” indicates a terminus – an object that can faithfully be described. Can a supposedly limitless being have a terminus? This is not a Godly paradox or a mystical question – it is simply an illustration of the confusion of the separate self.

Q: Here’s the thing – we say the same phrase about professionals like doctors, scientists and artificial intelligence researchers – they’re all trying to be God. But they’re actually doing something. I give them a pass because there is a service attached to their actions. They are active in the world, solving tangible problems. You talk about the ephemeral. There seems to be a huge difference.

MR-B: What I speak of gets mistaken as ephemeral due to the separate self’s attachment to the body and its focus on behaviors in a world outside of itself. Our materialistic society, with its hazy attention on the supposed solidity of science and the commodification of feeling, makes the internal lesser than the external. The body always comes first – the mind is a mere happening of the body, as is consciousness. But understand that what you think of as ephemeral is the solid and what you think of as solid is the ephemeral. Non-separation is not some pie in the sky phantom feel-good invention for religious types. It’s available to be seen just as readily as I am here before you. It’s always present gently waving at you – waving as you. But, right now, you think you’re too good for it. You’re acting like the popular kid who’s too busy being seen to say hello to the nerdy kid right in front of your face.

To devalue the ephemeral is to be scammed by the culture of separation. You are revealing that you have taken the bait – you have the hook of separation in your lip and don’t even recognize it’s there. You unconsciously feel the pinch of separation. But you have grown so accustomed to the discomfort that you find it a normal part of waking life. You are being dragged around by the pole of a fisherman while believing you are swimming freely. You have no idea that you are one with a fishing pole, a fisherman and a boat. And, then, on top of this, you dismiss the ephemeral as less important because you have no idea that the ephemeral is the weather – that which brings rain, the water that maintains your aquatic life. You dismiss weather as irrelevant without knowing it’s there in any way except conceptually. It’s not concrete enough for your mind and therefore you believe it plays no role in the conditions of life – when it’s the only condition of life. In this metaphor, weather is Non-separation.

Q: I hate to say this, but if what you believe is true, maybe you’re all frauds then. You elevate yourself above the common man and behave in a way to keep this structure in place.

MR-B: From separation, every word you say and every object you behold is fraudulent. Only the fraudulent can exist from a fraudulent belief in separation. As you look at me, you immediately turn me into a fraud because the entire dream around you is fraudulent. I am merely an aspect of this fraudulence. What you are speaking to is your own fraudulent reflection. And this fraudulence is a reflection of the only person that can try to be God – the person who lives life based on the assumption of a separate self.

Self Care is Not the Antidote to Suffering

Question: Last year, I went through a bout with alcoholism after losing a job. Basically, I failed at my dream job and I took it pretty hard. I had never viewed myself as a failure before and didn’t know how to handle it. So I started going out to…

Michael Richardson-Borne: Sorry for the interruption, but please let me stop you there for a second. Why do you call yourself a “failure?”

Q: Because I failed at my job. I wanted to achieve something that didn’t come to fruition. I lost something I wanted to keep. I was given a job to do, and even though I gave it my all, I didn’t come through for the company. I failed.

MR-B: Ask yourself if a job, or a descriptor like failure, can possibly define who you are. If you believe it can, take a look right now and ask yourself what this job and descriptor are actually defining. If you look in the right direction and journey deeply enough, you may find there is nothing objective to which something like a job title can attach and give absolute definition. If you see through your life’s story, one that’s arisen without any effort, you will find it rests on an assumption of individual beingness that you have forgotten is impersonal. If you see this clearly, you will notice that believing in individual beingness is the beginning of concepts like failure. But, remember, this individual beingness can be questioned and seen through – and when it’s understood as an impersonal expression of the personal, life as an invitation to the remembrance of Non-separation will activate, which is what I call Applied Awakening.

Ask yourself, right now, if a job defines your body and mind. Can either of these entities be a job that was lost? Or do the body and mind define a job and construct a playing field for this job to happen to a person where personal victory and failure become either-or potentials? If it’s the former, then consciousness is inside of the body and mind and exists solely in a limited world of sensory experience. It’s life as a universal game of bumper cars slamming into one another as they move through an external world on their own accord. This experience is probably very familiar to you. If it’s the latter, consciousness is the body and the mind and the bumper cars are not slamming into one another as once imagined. Rather, a concept free consciousness is slamming into a concept free consciousness until Non-separation is slamming into nothing because there is nothing else in which to slam. When Non-separation slams into nothing, the job and its field for failure is a movement that means what it means without attachment and is understood to be moving your story in the only way it could possibly move. This brings impersonal experience, total acceptance, something that’s probably not very familiar to you.

Ultimately, in order to answer this question for yourself, you must have clarity on what the self actually is. You must understand that failure is a concept, a conditioned response to a series of preceding concepts and supposed outcomes that happen to an individual as an independent event manifested by a separate self’s personal behavior. Without understanding the intricacies of what I just said, you will continue to be a personal failure who lost a job by not performing in a way that satisfied a world outside of you. If you understand what I just said, you will easily drop the nonsense, including what I just said, and be free from descriptions and outcomes. Like Nisargadatta spoke, “You just do what needs to be done, and leave success and failure to the unknown.” The need expressed here is not the need of your personal agenda, it’s the way you are naturally lived into the moment, the way who you are is impersonally needed as the totality to, as the poet Mark Strand put it, “make things whole.”

Can you now comprehend that your world is turned inside out? That your body and mind have moved outside of their container so to speak – a container that contains the body and the mind even when there is a belief in being outside of it? Can you comprehend that life is not happening to you, you are happening to it? You are happening as it. Can you comprehend that failure is not your doing? The only true failure is not even failure. Why? Because missing out on the remembrance of Non-separation is not your doing either. We are all stories being lived into the moment, holding a place for one another to see through the confusion of separation. You are either lived to resist this truth, or you are granted a little grace and lived into a release of this resistance. The point is to stop putting the blame on a hologram and acting as if it has a life accurately defining itself in comparison to others. The point is to stop getting all strung out on outcomes you have no control over, stop getting hooked into a belief in personal deficiency.

Remaining locked in the belief in a separate self is what I call “carrying luggage that is not your own.” Right now, you don’t know you’re carrying a heavy bag in each hand – yet you wonder why walking through the world is such a struggle, why it feels so heavy, especially after a tough personal experience. One bag is called the separate self. The other is called a job and failure. All you have to do is set the damn suitcases down. But, instead, you continue walking through life bumping into everything, bogged down, not recognizing the ease of freeing yourself from the weight is to simply open your clenched fists that are wrapped around the bag’s conceptual handles. Realize these bags are not yours to carry – drop them, and observe what happens to failure.

Q: You are so relaxed about all of this compared to my support system. When I talk with my friends and family, why does all of this feel so stressful? It feels like the conversation is always tense and I’m pressured to keep on the straight and narrow to repair what is broken within myself. I’m always told that it’s in my best interest to practice what they call “self-care.” It winds up just getting on my nerves most of the time.

MR-B: With freedom comes relaxation. Seeing through the fictional sense of self-authorship brings freedom and relaxation. What do I mean by relaxation? First, I mean discovering the already existent space around the separate self so that the separate self becomes an object of awareness. Second, I mean the sudden absence of this space between the separate self and the totality, where the suddenness becomes eternal, complete. The first discovery is a partial relaxation, a gateway to the impersonal. The suddenness is a lightning strike that cracks the shell permanently. It may take time, it may not, for the fragments to fall off to greater and greater degrees until there is nothing there, Non-separation.

My guess is your support team engages with you from a perspective of separation. To your family and friends, you are an independent autonomous object – making what they perceive as a bad choice through your own volition. This assumption of separation bestows all of you with your own separate lives in a world where everyone is living independently. Then, as it’s reinforced by the group that all things are separate from the totality, it follows that a separated object can be personally broken – which means they can treat you as separate and broken and be deadly serious about it. They also expect you to respond using the same context of division, to respond using an array of separative concepts that make their separate selves into healthier versions who are “giving sound advice.”

They don’t understand that health cannot arise from a belief in a separate self. Un-breaking one’s self cannot arise from the brokenness of separation. When the crack of separation is there, any action meant to repair the crack is merely to sustain it. From this broken place of separation, the separate self is always stressed about something – as there is a body, mind, and world outside of the self to be worried about. What all of you don’t see is that who you are can never be broken. The breaking of who you are can only happen in your imagination, it can only be made real in the unreality of separation. Knowing this is the real solution to healing the fracture your entire ecosystem of relationships is dealing with – the confusion of assuming the separate self to be real. When Non-separation is realized, the traditional family dynamic can relax as a group of concerned technicians is no longer needed – the imagination has already been fixed.

My invitation here is to offer you your first real conversation. To spontaneously invite you into dialogue as a lived experience of your true being.

Q: What is a “real conversation?” And how are we not having one right now?

MR-B: An unreal conversation is one in which separate people speak about events that occur in an external social and physical geography – which they are divided from and participate in. A real conversation is one in which a verbal exchange between two or more parties (that are both objects within consciousness, and therefore one) exist as the perfect movement of watching what wants to happen. What this means is when the separate self is dropped, a conversation is no longer a mere back and forth, it’s no longer an unaware throwing of conceptual mud at a human wall and responding to what sticks. Instead, the conceptual mud is known to not stick to anything because there is nothing outside of it to which it could stick. Knowing this relieves the conversation of separative force, situating it in the power of the moment. No longer divorced from the totality, real conversations take their natural place as a flicker of consciousness – not between two people but as the glow of one movement.

As an example, take this moment. I don’t see you as a separate object trading signifiers with a separate object that is holding your personal attention. What is in front of me is not experienced as in front of me at all. It’s simply what is here, no more, no less. It’s experience itself revealing the way. That is all. The separative confusion is unregistered. When you know this you will find that you can’t be triggered by your family because there is nothing to personally take you from your impersonal center. There is nothing that isn’t being lived exactly as it should be according to its conditioning as the movement of Non-separation. Even though the support people think you need may still be offered, you will be under no illusion of anybody doing anything separate from the totality. You will be lived from this space as an invitation to Non-separation – making a real conversation always present.

Real conversations are the backbone of Applied Awakening. They rest in, and are, invitations to Non-separation – which is the only true offering of self-care.

Q: Speaking of which, you didn’t say much about self-care.

MR-B: When you say “self-care” what do you mean?

Q: I was told that my alcoholism was part of neglecting myself. Due to my situation at work, I no longer felt I was worthy of care. I felt like I was unworthy. I felt shame. Self-care is doing nice things for yourself that are positive rather than destructive behavior. Rather than self-loathing, you treat yourself to nice, relaxing, enjoyable things.

MR-B: I understand. From separation, self-care is considered something like treating yourself to a massage, an enjoyable meal or hobby, a hike, or meeting a friend for coffee. It’s doing things that make you feel good, feel happy. It’s commonplace for many in the spiritual communities to encourage healing in this way – by being gentle with the self, loving the self, nurturing the self, embracing the self. What they fail to let students know is that a lifetime of this kind of self-care will not lead you to the core of what is instigating your feelings of stress and suffering. In separative self-care, you are still being encouraged to cling to the self, the source of pain – just in a way that is perceived as healthy.

Don’t get me wrong, these experiences are nice enough. They just have nothing to do with self-care as understood from the perspective of Non-separation. You are not here with me to discuss how to be nice to a separate self so that this assumption can be accepted in a calmer state of mind. Living a lie is living a lie whether you’re happy or not. You are here to discover that you can only care for the self when you know the self.

Before I continue, again, I’m not saying these kinds of self-care activities are negative in any way. They will be lived or they won’t – and judging them is not what I’m advocating. I’m just inviting you to see what the self is that you’re attempting to care for. I’m inviting you to look at your underlying motivations for engaging these self-care activities. Are you just satiating the separate self, satiating its desires? If so, can you see that whether you’re drinking a fifth of bourbon or eating a kale salad, you are still distracting the separate self from the pre-existing unity living it? Can you see that, whether you are numbing your pain with negative substances or positive feelings, you are left in the exact same situation, embedded in a separate self? Can you see that self-care, in the culture of separation, is just another form of self-interest?

From Non-separation, self-care doesn’t carry the same level of importance because it is known to be a false promise for total rehabilitation or relief. It is known that self-care is not the opposite of self-destruction. It is known that self-care is not the antidote to suffering. Suffering is a sickness of the separate self – and the only known antidote is the remembrance of Non-separation.

Butterflies are Not the Final Transformation

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 its 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.

As Soon as Possible is Forever

Question: What do you mean by “as soon as possible is forever?”

Michael Richardson-Borne: There are two ways I’ll approach your question.

The first is from separation which frames both “as soon as possible” and “forever” as conceptual byproducts of a separate self. Even though “as soon as possible” and “forever” ultimately have the same meaning, from the perspective of your separate self, one word is defined as short term and the other defined as long term – a separation in time that you’ll find doesn’t exist. From separation, “as soon as possible” is a demand or wish from the separate self, “forever” is an open-ended amount of time that has the same starting point as “as soon as possible” – a separate self that is an illusional extraction from the totality. Again, the separate self is unaware that “forever” is just as finite as “as soon as possible” because it has forgotten that both are in relation to an individual it believes in.

For example, take the phrase “his or her memory lives forever.” It’s fairly simple to see that there is an assumption of an individual as the subject, an assumption molding it into a form of psychological time that limits “forever” and “as soon as possible” into equivalent fictions that express separation. The key here is to ask yourself, “his or her memory lives forever as what?” This question is the opening to a suspension of solely focusing on the objective world from the perspective of an object – and is the beginning of what I call the Path of Non-separation.

After you get to an understanding of this first inquiry, the statement, “as soon as possible is forever,” is held in a different fashion. Your conditioning moves from one with a starting point of separation to having the separate self white-washed into an activity of that which is living it into being. You are able to see both “as soon as possible” and “forever” as contents of consciousness seamlessly released as a common thrust. Neither is separate from the self-animated awareness – an awareness that has no need for the illusion of a further self-directed animation. Why would your separate self need to animate what is already animated? It doesn’t amplify the animation in any way. What it does do is ignore the fact that the animation is already there and proceeds to take credit for something that is not its own doing.

From this deeper understanding, “as soon as possible” is known to be a deceptively personal experience while “forever” is known to be impersonal existence. Or more precisely – first, it is recognized that personal experience lies within impersonal experience and, second, it is recognized that the personal and impersonal experiences are not two, both being lived as the natural impulse of impersonal existence. It is here where both “as soon as possible” and “forever” become eternal – an existence with no beginning and no end. This is where the understanding of Non-separation originates as the impersonal existence of being that includes the personal – just another way of saying that “as soon as possible is forever.”

Q: I’m here with you because I want to lose my sense of separation, my ego, as soon as possible. What’s the shortest path to self-realization?

MR-B: I’m afraid that is unknowable, and not something I can speak to. There are some so-called teachers who will sell you a sure-fire solution or path to enlightenment, taking advantage of your rushed confusion – but I’m not one of them. The more important question is to find out who is actually interested in the shortest path to self-realization. Awakening is not self-willed and can’t be passed from one individual to another. It may seem like, in the moment, you’re being spiritually guided in some way – but once you see more clearly, you will look back and know what was truly the case. So, again, there is no known fool-proof system that one can engage to reach the dissolution of the self. There is no objective system that will expedite your awakening. Remembering Non-separation happens on its own accord to no one in particular. There is nothing that requires your individual effort and nothing to personally worry about. This is the understanding you are searching for.

It sounds cliché, and it annoys me when I hear teachers use worn out phrases like “pathless path” – but here I go using it. Why? Because you asked about a path – and there really is no path for an individual to recognize and trod along that is outside of the pathless. As long as you believe there is a path to follow, you are stuck in the mind of an individual on a self-authored journey headed to a destination you think will be a locale for a personal experience of awakening to happen. This is an off-shoot of the status quo narrative that believes in the fiction of separation.

However, as Non-separation, it is noticed that “pathless path” is the same as saying “as soon as possible is forever” – “pathless” being the eternal impersonal and “path” being a personal journey lived by and as the deeper reality of the pathless.

Q: You say there is nothing to worry about when it comes to accessing the realization of Non-separation. But how can I not worry about it and still remain fully invested in my seeking process? If I stop caring, realization will never happen.

MR-B: You are still imagining that the separate self is in control of your seeking. You think your personal worrying or caring is what keeps you on task when the worrying is just an individual with a false sense of self-authorship being fooled by the belief in the separate self. Your worry is attributable to not knowing what is going to happen circumstantially in the world outside of your self – which is the conditioning of separation. In reality, worry is an attachment to an outcome where you desire a control that isn’t yours, and never will be. Embrace the experience of no outcomes and see that worry is a product of not knowing your true nature, Non-separation.

Do you think consciousness needs you to worry about it? Is this even possible? Notice how worry itself is just an impersonal activity living itself into being. If you are meant to continue seeking, you will be continued. If you are meant to take a detour, you will be detoured. Your separate self is not writing this script. The mind may be reacting to and interpreting reactions to this script – but the production you are watching unfold is nothing but an expression of consciousness, your true being.

Q: That all sounds great. But, tangibly, how do I stop the worry?

MR-B: How do you stop the worry? Get out of the mind’s future. Being in the future results in wanting to know or achieve a specific outcome “as soon as possible.” Instead, rest in “forever” and sink deeper and deeper into it until it consumes the separate self and the limitations of separation are revealed. Worry may still arise in the mind at this point. But once you are able to let life happen spontaneously, and only the happening is present, all worry that was formerly taken seriously evaporates. This is remembering “as soon as possible is forever.”

Q: This sort of hands-off approach runs contrary to American culture. We want the quick solution, instant gratification. Then, as soon as that gratification is secured, our attention seems to be pacified for the moment, and then it’s on to anticipation of the next experience or possession.

MR-B: This is an important observation you are making. Stick with this line of inquiry. Pay close attention to the instant of gratification. Pay close attention to the space between “I want” and the re-appearance of “I need.” You will find that the behavior you are pointing to is a forgetting of “forever” and a worshipping of “as soon as possible” – which is a blindness to the impersonal and a forgetting that the personal and the impersonal are not two.

What you are pointing to is a symptom of what I call “the culture of separation,” a culture fueled by the false belief in the existence of a separate self as the primary unit of exchange in a world filled with personal transactions.

Q: But there’s no choice but to remain in the culture of separation. It’s what is available here and now. How can I be surrounded by and living in this culture and simultaneously break free into Non-separation? When I walk out my door, separation is there no matter what I do.

MR-B: Ask yourself who or what is surrounded by and living in the culture of separation. Understand there is no one to break free and nothing to break free from. Understand that the culture of separation is still an expression of “forever.” Notice that what you are asking is sped up by the mind and that there is something to do “as soon of possible” rather than just relaxing into your pure being.

Any sort of self-authored push along a path towards obtainment will, more than likely, just leave you pushing towards a concept in your mind – because a mind that is hunting outside of itself is always committed to doing instead of being. Doing is an action of separation, while being is just an action – being is an action that includes the doing. Doing is the personal, while being is the impersonal – the impersonal is an action that includes the personal. Comprehending this relationship (that isn’t a relationship of opposites) between personal and impersonal leads one to effortlessly become an invitation to the understanding that “as soon as possible is forever.”

Love is Apparently Two, In Reality One

Question: Why do people long for a love that will last until the end of time?

Michael Richardson-Borne: Because they believe themselves and their partners to be finite – they imagine themselves to be two separate objects and then grasp at one another while dreaming they’re both at the mercy of time.

Q: What is so wrong with that?

MR-B: Nothing is wrong – but confusion is present.

In your initial question alone, there are already a number of confusions that make themselves known, confusions that obstruct getting to the root of love – confusion of the nature of humanity, the nature of time, the nature of mind, the nature of story.

Before I go any further, I want to plant the seed that remembering Non-separation clears up this confusion immediately.

When you love while still infused with the stories of the culture of separation, you are in love with a conception of love projected on an object who also believes in him or herself as an object and, thus, empowers you to unknowingly play out the illusion of love that is peddled by a separative society. You aren’t being lived as love, you are loving through a lens that supplies you with a concept of love and your mind attempts to mimic it. Love in the culture of separation is given by mimes and accepted by mimes.

Neither this conception of love nor the lens through which this kind of love is tinted, one which obviously doesn’t work for humanity, are hardly ever questioned. Embedded in separation, love is a murky dictator with love in his grip. And through a sort of underground activity, this dictator, the separate self, manipulates you into believing that love is something that has to be earned or that requires some kind of particular action in order to be considered worthy of a return. This is not love – this is what the culture of separation calls evil.

What do you expect your world to be like when what you think of as love is actually a form of violence, a board game with rules and a code of conduct that makes one deserving or undeserving of what you truly are. You cannot lead a global population into believing that love, the true self, your very birthright, can be withheld and not end up with a confused, anxious, violent society.

Q: You make love sound like a terrible thing.

MR-B: That’s because I’m not speaking of love, I’m speaking of an illusion of love. What I’m pointing out to you is that the culture of separation is subservient to a concept of love – the love that needs no concepts is, as yet, forgotten and remains invisible to the culture at large.

That said, I don’t want to seem like a downer when it comes to love and relationships in our world. What I’m pointing to, in no way, takes away from the alive story of these felt connections. Just know there is a tangible change with the remembrance of Non-separation – a change that loves the individual in a different way. Seeing with new eyes both mutes the particular gaze and enhances the love of the particular in a pure acceptance. “Standing the test of time,” enduring the traps and pitfalls of the culture of separation through effort and endurance, is no longer a concern.

Love is apparently two, in reality, one. There is only one love that will last a lifetime – and it has nothing to do with who you think you are and who you think you love.

Q: Are you saying that love is a social construction?

MR-B: Separative love, yes. And by separative love I mean a concept that the story of a separate self peers through in order to define love rather than allowing it to be lived into the moment, every moment. Can you see where the detachment happens, where the division exists? The starting point of love in the culture of separation is unaware of its starting point. This creates an imaginary fault line that is blindly defended in order to keep the earthquake from happening that would rock the Richter scale of the separate self.

Q: Yes, but how is love a social construction?

MR-B: Well, for example, there is a social construction and acceptance of the story that you are supposed to love certain people more than others. It is expected that your children, your family, your spouse, your friends, maybe the people of your country or race are to take precedence or be loved to a higher degree than “acquaintances,” people you have yet to meet, or people outside of the demographic to which you identify. This partitioning of degrees of love is the accepted and acceptable way to express intimacy as constructed by the culture of separation.

The capitalist mindset believes that love is a commodity. It is something that can be shopped for and shared between two individuals like a milkshake or a pizza. It’s this sort of downgrading of love that leaves humanity confused about how to love one another. Love is thought of, and felt, as an internal feeling rather than the open space of who you truly are. Loving a concept from the point of view of a concept is an immature conception of love. This immaturity dominates the privacy of your personal life as well as the current world stage, leaving your home and the global population continuously teetering on the edge of destruction.

Real love has nothing to do with who’s closer and who’s farther away from an individual’s food chain of love. Always remember, apparently two, in reality, one – because from Non-separation, there are no gradations of love. People are not divided into those who are loved more closely and those who are loved from a greater distance. All objects are reflections of consciousness – so love is given freely in equal measure because one encounter is not separate from the next. The giver is not separate from the receiver. From Non-separation, it is known that being lived by love is something altogether different than being lived as a human being who understands a definition of love that can be brought to life in a world of relationships outside of the self.

Q: Ok. So, from Non-separation, can you describe how two people fall in love?

MR-B: That’s the point – two people don’t. Consciousness cannot fall in love with an other.

Love is apparently two, in reality, one. Two objects of awareness fall in love as the awareness, not as the objects.

Q: People spend millions of dollars per year on therapists in an attempt to salvage their relationships. Is this all just a waste of time and money?

MR-B: I give two votes for no, and one vote for yes.

If you don’t recognize that the separate self is being lived, not doing the living, then there is something on the line, an emergency, something in which to invest. So, from the point of view of separation, it’s not a waste of time and money if the therapy actually seems to be supplying results that the individuals desire.

From Non-separation, it’s the direction of the inquiry that is critiqued. Therapy is viewed as a waste of time and money if the inquiry is about how to bring two individuals into an external unity rather than supporting the realization of unity. No solutions live in the exploration of the external or the adjustment of the external. The only solution lives in the remembrance of Non-separation. If the therapist and/or the partners undergoing therapy do not know this, then the time and money are, in a sense, wasted.

But if you realize you are being lived as a reflection of Non-separation, it is understood that what happens is revealed and the participation in therapy is an expression of what is being revealed – just another movement of the whole. So, it’s not a waste of time and money because what is being revealed couldn’t happen any other way. In this sense, nothing is a waste – rather, everything just is.

From Non-separation, there can still be real investment in salvaging a relationship, but it is understood that this is not separate autonomous action. It is understood that love is apparently two but, in reality, one – no matter the surface happenings that arise as the personal in relationship with a person.

Q: Why do you keep saying there is “in reality one,” when relationship clearly requires, at least, two people?

MR-B: Clearly, yes. But clearly to whom?

Remember, the mind gains clarity about what is perceived as outside of it, but ignores what was before it. It grasps “the apparent” while ignoring the “reality.” It grasps what it convinces itself is “clear” and ignores what makes the possibility of the concepts clear and unclear emerge.

To take this a step further, answer these questions. Ask yourself, can a story be clear about anything? Ask yourself how a story outside of the self becomes clear about what is happening to the individual story you imagine yourself to be? Ask yourself if your relationship with your mind requires two people – and how this relationship with your mind differs from the relationship you have with an “other.”

I’m not intending to be tricky, magical, or mystical. There is nothing spiritual about what I am pointing to. It’s right in front of your face, as grounded as an earthworm – love is apparently two, in reality, one. Love is apparently a behavior of the separate, in reality, it’s Non-separation.

Q: When it comes to love, why do you put such focus on the Path of Non-separation? Isn’t this just a form of pressure placed on people similar to a dogmatic religion?

MR-B: I’m merely being lived into the moment and either your wick will be lit by this fire or it won’t. When it’s time, the fire will burn. Until then, there is a living invitation that invites you to continue to be curious about the story of who you are. This is love. Apparently two, in reality, one.

The Separate Self is All Mumbo Jumbo

Question: What is the separate self?

Michael Richardson-Borne: The separate self is all mumbo jumbo – but it’s mumbo jumbo you continue to allow to be your foundational object of belief, a foundational object that provides the separative core of your identity. The separate self is a concept that underlies the conceptual architecture of who you think you are – an unnoticed anchor that holds you in the waters of separation and restricts your impulse to come up for air. The separate self is a belief in an all-encompassing personal existence, an addiction to isolation and to an imaginary being that is subject to the occurrences of birth and death.

Let’s continue with this because it’s one of the most important questions in our time together. Until one delves into this question of separation and sincerely begins to follow the inquiry to its conclusion, the Path of Non-separation has not been actively entered. Without opening the space for the separate self to be doubted, it will remain an unchallenged story of the mind – a belief you hold about an individual body’s self-authored existence. Without this doubt, you’ll continue to un-willfully forget what it is that came before your personal story. You’ll continue to be committed to the product of a mind that has turned in on itself and only observes its own concepts. You’ll continue to believe these conceptual stories provide a one to one correlation with a reality that’s separate from the whole.

This commitment to concepts is a kind of agoraphobia where the mind is scared to leave its house of concepts. Instead, it builds a larger and larger house to accommodate its lie – and convinces itself that an expanding house is all there is. Do you see how being locked in an ever-growing house keeps you from knowing a broader existence, keeps a personal contraction from knowing what’s outside of the house or from recognizing the land that the house is built on or the air that pervades it?

When I speak of Non-separation as the impersonal existence of being that includes the personal, the separate self is what I mean by the personal. Right now, you believe the impersonal is that which is not personal. You believe the impersonal lives inside of the personal. But take another look and you may see that the Non-separative impersonal is actually what expresses both the personal and that which you think of as impersonal. Think of separation as a personal self embedded in a human game of dominoes where other personal selves are imagined to push and bounce off one another until they completely fall. The fallen are simply replaced by new-born selves that automatically continue the traditions of the culture of separation – a culture they fail to see is a separative construction that induces a separative existence.

Our reason for being here is to question this separative tradition – to question if a culture founded on the assumption of a separate self is the true way of our hearts. To question if the separate self has forgotten its existence as, first and foremost, a reflection of Non-separation.

Q: Why do you say my separate self is all “mumbo jumbo?”

MR-B: How can speaking from the contours of unreality or from the perspective of a false assumption be called anything else? Speaking from the assumption of a separate self is just a garbled symphony of phoniness, an abstract painting of sounds where the separate self is perceived as free to find any pattern it wants and to shape this pattern into a self-authored identity.

If you saw someone speaking to a tree, you would most likely deem what they were saying is mumbo jumbo. In the same way, I understand your speaking to me as a separate object is the equivalent of watching you speak to a tree.

Q: Are you suggesting that the activities of the world are all nonsense?

MR-B: As reflections of Non-separation, no. As illusions of a separate self, yes.

When you say “activities of the world,” what do you mean?

Q: Things like politics, religion, family, education, work.

MR-B: All the activities you mention have something in common that anchors them in non-sense – the assumption of a separate self. If you believe in a separate self, the angle from which you approach life is always steeped in non-sense. From separation, activities are viewed as something outside of the self that an individual performs according to their own volition – which is just mumbo jumbo. From Non-separation, all of the activities you mention are merely one activity – and only a reflection of this activity can be observed as the activity itself. Put more simply – all activity points back to who you are beyond the separate self.

The noise, thoughts, and movements of the separate self are inherently jumbled, chaotic, biased, unhinged, and unaligned with the truth of your condition. What you call activities are just distractions that keep you from getting to the bottom of what these activities are.

Take note of this – from Non-separation, mumbo jumbo is the language and cultural expressions of a world convinced of the existence of the separate self. Bringing the truth of Non-separation to the fore will spontaneously straighten out the separative natures of activities like politics, religion, family, education, and work – it will automatically relieve these institutions of the non-sensical separative nature safe-guarding a continuation of the culture of separation.

Q: Why should I believe you and not the majority of the world? From my experience, not very many people believe what you do.

MR-B: No people in the world believe what I do because what I’m pointing to is not a belief.

Q: What do you mean?

MR-B: Non-separation is not a belief – it’s that which is living the conceptual nature of all beliefs. Any belief that isolates as the true, including all notions of Non-separation, is just conceptual mumbo jumbo. As a matter of fact, any kind of intersubjective or intrasubjective communication that has the belief in a separate self as its undergirding is mumbo jumbo.

Can you now see how what people think is happening in their private worlds is all mumbo jumbo? Can you see how the mumbo jumbo you think you autonomously share with another object is non-sense when divided from the movement of the whole? Can you see how self-authorship and the fear of personal consequences can be let go?

If you notice that the root context of your separate self is egoless, the mumbo jumbo of the personal will become the non-sense as well as the reality of your world. The jumbled sounds of separation will become an expression of Non-separation.

Q: So life is just insignificant mumbo jumbo, completely pointless?

MR-B: Only a separative approach to life can make it one way or the other – but either interpretation of life from a position of separation amounts to what we’re calling mumbo jumbo. When the truth of Non-separation is floating in the background without recognition, everything that occurs is in a context of mumbo jumbo that guarantees perpetual nonsense.

However, the repositioning of Non-separation as a sort of atmosphere for the conceptual workings of the mind frees the separate self from itself. From here, a pre-existing freedom moves back to the forefront, which is how the personal can be recognized as mumbo jumbo without feeling threatened about the survival of its continued independent existence. The impersonal effortlessly embraces the mumbo jumbo of the personal exactly as it is – but without, once again, becoming blinded or fully absorbed by it.

The Blind Spot of the “Silence Breakers”

Question: Getting sexually harassed is not being “hurt in love!” How can this horrible occurrence be equated with being “hurt in love” when it doesn’t happen as an act of love? It’s an act of lust, abuse of power, misogyny. I get angry when I hear people say “everything is love.” How can sexual harassment be loving?

Michael Richardson-Borne: I’d go along with your line of thinking if we were here to focus on the short-sighted view of the separate self and its addiction to streamlining reality into a narrow culture of separation. What you say makes perfect sense – but there is an assumption you are missing that ensures the problem you speak of will continue indefinitely. No amount of righteous anger or justified discontent about human pain will ever be enough to find a cure if you continue to plant your worldview in the assumptive soil of the separate self.

Sexual harassment is lived by love but not acted out as an expression of non-separation. This is the crux of all that I point to. All behaviors transpire, whether perceived as good or bad, in love and as love – but not necessarily in alignment with the wisdom of this effortless unfolding. Being “hurt in love” is a metaphor – a metaphor for how the separate self can be hurt as an individual in relationship with another individual, even though neither of these individuals exists in the way they think. Both perceived individuals are being hurt in love because love is not recognized from either side. This is what happens in a world where division is accepted as the norm and non-separation is forgotten. Being hurt in love points to the understanding that what you think of as your self is inside of love – not the other way around. Love is not inside of what you think of as you.

But again, the way you are interpreting “hurt in love” is perfectly logical. The question is this: Do you want to continue our use of separative logic? Or would you like to explore non-separative logic?

Q: Let’s try the latter. But first, what is the culture of separation?

MR-B: The culture of separation is the global culture that has emerged from humanity’s attachment to the primary assumption of a separate self. From this assumption, a culture misaligned with your true being defines your existence and creates the game rules by which you live. It’s the limiting air you’re breathing this very moment. Even though you don’t recognize it, you are very familiar with the agitation of this limitation that underlies what you think of as your individual life.

Q: But what does a culture of separation have to do with conflating being “hurt in love” with sexual harassment?

MR-B: You ask this question because you do not understand how the love and sexual harassment you speak of are the very same thing.

The culture of separation creates a framework where worries about the conflation of separative love with separative sexual harassment feel urgent enough to demand attention. In the culture of separation, these kinds of issues seem important to speak out against so they don’t become ingrained in the lexicon of the culture’s accepted illusion. This is what the media calls “culture wars,” a battle over concepts – which is the violence you are demonstrating with your current line of questioning. Battling over concepts is a favorite pastime of the separate self. You can continue to play this game for a lifetime – or you can realize the source of all concepts and be lived as this realization.

I can tell you’re ready to pounce – but hear me out for one more second. From non-separation, it is seen that when there is a conflation of concepts, a pre-existing conflation lives in the background that confuses the story of a separate self with that which is aware of and living it. Notice that it’s not the conflation of love and sexual harassment that you find confusing – on that topic, you have clarity about your point of view. It’s the realization of non-separation that you find confusing. You have yet to understand how two concepts can live in non-separative love as expressions of separation.

If you understood this, which amounts to understanding the true self, you would immediately recognize the innate confusion of your inquiry and instantly alleviate your worry about surface features that all have the same separative root.

Q: But haven’t you noticed the recent climate change in the United States in regards to speaking out against sexual harassment, mainly in the workplace? An emergent ecosystem seems to have developed where women are more empowered to speak out into an open space where we are actually taken seriously. There are now real consequences for sexual harassment. Basically, everyone has heard of it by now – it’s called the “me too” movement. The women who spoke out were named Time’s “person of the year” as “the silence breakers.” Don’t you see this as a positive movement for us?

MR-B: Who is the “us” you speak of? Do you see how this use of language and believing the reality it presents is the architecture of separation between genders? Can you see how belief in the unreal pins the results of the unreal onto the real? Can you see how attachment to the unreal keeps you from noticing a smoothly swinging pendulum? Instead of seeing the easy motion, you attempt to hold the weight of the pendulum to one side, you attempt to obstruct a motion that is impossible to obstruct. You feel this weight in every moment, but believe it is the only way to experience life. You believe you must maintain tremendous effort to make your distinction of gender more powerful or more equal – not understanding that a concept can never hold true power or true equality. In a culture where one is encouraged, dare I say demanded, to focus on external features rather than the deep feature, can you open your story enough to allow the light of what is prior to and unifying all features to enter the shadows a belief in gender casts?

Even if the movement you are pointing to is considered positive by some in the culture of separation, it still will not suppress the pain of the “us” you define. As long as there is an us rather than a singular I, there will continue to be a painful roller-coaster that manifests in relationships between separate selves and conceptual groupings of separate selves.

Please note that what I’m saying does not mean I am in agreement with sexual harassment – it’s just not where my focus lives because agreeing or disagreeing does nothing to align the problem with its solution. This is not a dismissal of the hurt and invalidation felt by women – that would obviously be a lack of compassion for the self. What is being provided here is a space for the recognition of who these harassing scenarios are actually happening to and the mechanism by which they unfold.

What I’m saying is that I don’t magnify the problem, I magnify the solution and invite you to see the enlarged image. I don’t get locked in the drama of separation and instead point to where the problem of harassment can be solved. I am pointing to an experience where sides disappear and behaviors become naturally aligned with the self. I am pointing to a recognition that the whole is the cause of the whole.

Can you now see that you’re starving with an apple in your hand? Instead of continuing to try to polish the apple into brighter shades of red – just eat it.

Instead of designing kites that won’t fly, realize the wind.

Q: But don’t you believe that politicians who are accused of sexual harassment are unfit for office?

MR-B: Nobody is fit for office in this country if sanity is a pre-requisite. Being labeled “unfit for office” in the culture of separation should be a given – as being fit for office means being fit to perpetuate the culture of separation, a skill that requires insanity committed to insanity. Leading an illusion from the belief in an illusion may make one fit to lead the continuance of illusion – but no amount of “character,” trustworthiness,” “intelligence,” or “political acumen,” can erase the belief in a separate self and the destructive baggage this belief drags with it.

Kicking one political leader who is lost in separation to the curb and replacing them with another addict of separation is not a win for the people and does not demonstrate any kind of moral authority. Replacing the unfit with the unfit is just another movement of the insane. Only those who know the self are fit to govern – which leaves the process of self-inquiry at the unexplored center of both national and international politics.

One last comment. Just like nobody is fit for office, nobody is ever guilty of sexual harassment. Assigning blame for the movement of the whole is non-sensical while we constantly remind ourselves that we live in a world built on rationality and common sense.

Q: So, is there a place for morality and ethics in non-separation?

MR-B: The division the belief in a separate self initiates creates the conditions where morality and ethics are useful. As long as the assumption of a separate self remains in place, there will be a need for ethics and morality – which are conceptual guidelines for the concept of the separate self. Without an overarching ethical story meant to control the divisive desires and impulses of the separate self, there is an intuitive concern that humanity would go even further off the tracks than it already is.

That said, protecting our world from sexual harassment does not live in the story of morality and ethics. The solution to misogyny, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and sexual discrimination does not live in the rules of morality and ethics. Only healing the confusion of the separate self can get to the foundation of the problem.

True ethics and morality are those that come from the recognition of the prior unity living all of us. The current witch hunt for sexual violators is a hunt for abusive individuals who are assumed to be self-authoring. Behavior is viewed as a choice made by individuals separate from the movement of the whole. Seeing through this illusion and understanding the applications will be the end of morals and ethics – which will, one day, be viewed as outdated just like the theory of a flat Earth is today.

Q: In non-separation, what would the rehabilitation process look like for all of the men that have recently been accused?

MR-B: The same rehabilitation process is needed for sex offenders and non-sex offenders alike – which is the transition from belief in a separate self to being a living embodiment of non-separation.

This is the blind spot of the “silence breakers.”

How Forgetfulness Keeps You Lost

Question: There seems to be a loss of wisdom in our world. I’m only 31 but most of the time when I’m with those closest to me, I feel like I’m an elder to my elders. I can’t believe how narrow-minded they are and some of the things that come out of their mouths about politics are just insanity. I usually just try to make light of it and say something like, “The 12th century called. They want their world-view back.” So, I try to laugh it off – but I’m not laughing on the inside. To tie my question to the video, they are completely lost and, yet, they’re supposed to be the wise ones with all of the life experience. What is going on?

Michael Richardson-Borne: Consciousness is going on – that is all.

Inquire into how these pseudo-elders are your own literal reflection. Inquire into how othering their narrow-mindedness just keeps you insane and in perfect lock-step with the same symptom of their insanity. How is looking outside of yourself and comparing your story to what you perceive as the insane stories of your contemporaries just a kind of meticulous unconscious war on yourself? How is the concern with their “lostness” a pointer to your own state of being lost?

Take a look at what the lost activity of your mind’s attachments is re-enforcing. Take a look at how belief in a separate self and insanity correspond. How is your own pride keeping you from hearing the chant of the totality that lives all the hearts of humanity, old and young – embracing every breath of confusion as its own? What is keeping you from remembering there is only one way to become an elder, and that’s to move beyond time into the lived experience of Non-separation? When you recognize it is not you talking with them or them to you – rather there is just a talking and an impersonal observation of this talking, you will also recognize that these same people are the origin of objects like flowers and leaves and everything else that is holy and unholy held together by an infrastructure of undefined space. Take your worry about an insanity that you consider outside of yourself and realize how it rests in and as the undefined.

That said, you are recognizing fragments of the culture of separation – but unknowingly from another perspective of the separate. Granted, this is a start – at least you’re questioning. Now, turn that questioning in on itself, make room for the mind to pierce the mind. Navigate the essence of the stories you hold about the people around you. Locate the structure that gives you something in which to compare these stories. Locate what you imagine is a concrete figure for this comparison. What is this statue? What is this stake in the ground? What is the ground that supplies a base for this stake? Is the solidity of any or all of this questionable?

The answer, of course, is yes – which is the beginning of the Path of Non-separation. Not knowing the ground I speak of is the reason you are lost and not laughing on the inside. You don’t yet hear the joke. From Non-separation, there is always a laughing inside of the pain that is felt, a laughing that lives the pain of separation.

Also, remember the world-view that you are recognizing as having more depth than what you called the 12th century perspective of your acquaintances will also be considered a 12th-century point of view eventually. Stories always replace stories in the culture of separation and this culture believes this to be change. The culture of separation will translate itself and consider this the depth of the real. Stories only recognize stories – stories can’t recognize the source of their existence. One must let go of story before this source can come into view and pervade all identification.

To be pervaded by what you are already pervaded by, one has to only get to the source of all world-views. Get to the foundation of being that holds all world-views as a collection of stories being lived in the moment, nothing more. Get to the illusion that makes it possible for a continuous history to be written from multiple perspectives. See that these allegiances of the separate self are unreal. World-views are a flavored expression of consciousness that always taste the same on a tongue that consciously feeds as consciousness. No matter what Non-separation ingests, an indescribably neutral flavor is underlying the sweet, the salty, the bitter, and the aromatic. Getting lost in the particular tastes of the world, without noticing the singular taste of what is doing the tasting, is how the world-view of a separate self remains intact.

Q: If what I’m thinking is just another world-view, an expression of being lost in separation, I can’t help but feel like I’m missing something. Can you please clarify what you mean when you say “lost?”

MR-B: “Lost” is the sole identification with a separate self. Lost is a life lived solely as a thinking individual that has forgotten the awareness that includes thinking. Lost is being lived as that which is not lost, but warped by the lost as an action of the unlost.

It’s realigning the unlost with the unlost that is the unwinding of the separate self and will be the unwinding of the culture of separation.

Humanity’s tendencies are a repeating pattern of lostness drawn in the sand of the unlost. This lostness has carved unseen mountains that grow from the ground and point to the sky as a single movement. But the separate self either can’t see the beach or is busy scaling the intricacies of the mountains not recognizing that the beach is just over the horizon or that the mountains are a metaphor. All of this happens because the wisdom of Non-separation has been unconsciously rejected.

Q: If this pattern continues on long enough, can the wisdom you speak of be entirely lost?

MR-B: Interesting question. Let me answer this in two ways.

If you’re asking if consciousness itself can be lost, then no. As I stated before, it can be forgotten, but that which we are cannot be entirely lost. What is the essence of all cannot be lost – it’s neither an object that can be misplaced nor an item that has an independent existence that can be possessed, moved, or left in a specific location.

If you’re asking if the truth of our pre-existing unity can be forgotten forever, then yes. In fact, I’d say if humanity doesn’t collectively wake up sooner rather than later, this is exactly where we are heading.

The separate self is so ingrained in our culture that any mention of our pre-existing unity is automatically treated with suspicion at best, but more typically, with a strong disdain. It’s as if an invitation to remember the truth of our unified being, to turn within and question the separate self, is the equivalent of inviting one to join a terrorist group or a cult. With this kind of apprehension embedded in the culture of separation, the recognition of Non-separation is a tough one – and only getting tougher as humanity entrenches further into the separate self, and in more complex, sophisticated ways.

Q: Can individuals who understand Non-separation be lost in this world? Danny Brown’s video that we just watched showed the pain of the lost supplying the lost with what they need to cope with the pain of being lost. Money, drugs, sex – it’s all there. How do you avoid getting lost inside of the world of the lost?

MR-B: When Non-separation is understood, there are no individuals left, including what was formerly perceived as a personal self. When there are no individuals, the thought of, or concern with, being lost evaporates. Without division, there is nowhere to go and one is empowered to rest as the undivided. It’s left to consciousness to work out the details around money, drugs, and sex rather than being left to false individuals in a culture that approves of and listens to “established experts” on such matters – which are just personal opinions from individuals who are still unaware of their origin.

In the culture of Non-separation, being lived as the origin may actually keep the habits of acquiring money, drugs, and sex – but the whole understands that consciousness is living this into being rather than projecting blame on a self-authoring individual isolated from the whole. This kind of understanding changes the rehabilitation process from shame, blame, and punishment for actions of self-authorship to compassionately investigating the stories of this reflection of consciousness and how to best go about inviting a re-connection with one’s true being that re-situates the pain of the mind into a larger container.

So, even though the men and women in this video can be considered lost, those who consider them lost are also lost if they don’t understand that everything lived into being couldn’t have happened any other way. All that can be done is to live as an invitation to the self to remember the self, an invitation for lost reflections to re-align with their true being. Being lived as this impersonal invitation is being lived as the found. As the found, there is nothing to avoid, nothing to get lost in – all is a current revealing the self to the self and one is always home.

Q: As we talk, if what you say is true, I see that although I thought I knew a lot, I’m lost too. If I understand what you’re suggesting correctly, I’m part of a situation where the lost is leading the lost. How can anyone help anyone if this is the case?

MR-B: That is exactly the point of what I previously said. They can’t. True help is rarely available, and when it is, people don’t recognize it. What the culture of separation thinks of as help is either purely physical or a form of internal support that aides in managing an illusion of a separate self. Trying to get a person’s story to be accepted as real in a way that keeps them from experiencing as many painful emotions as possible, or trying to convince a person that perception is reality, or assuming a position that affirms the belief in an individual’s control over the “world process,” is considered the best way, if not the only way, to offer help.

Throughout this conversation, I can tell you already perceive that the culture of separation is a dead end. I am here to remind you that the culture of Non-separation has no end. Solve your own lostness and you will live as the found. The found has no need for the distractions of the culture of separation, has no need for the distractions of the separate self. But remember, in the culture of separation, attachment to distractions is an encouraged form of forgetfulness that keeps you lost.