Benjamin Netanyahu is an Israeli politician serving as the ninth and current Prime Minister of Israel. He is also a member of the Knesset and the Chairman of the Likud party.
Michael Richardson-Borne: It is frequently said that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” This indicates there is a readiness to accept the terrorists’ viewpoint. In the West, it is customary to believe that there is always another “point of view” worthy of consideration. For many Americans, terrorists are just another type of political activist with a grievance to be considered. How do you respond to this?
Benjamin Netanyahu: We live in a world of obscurants – points of view are just an obscurant’s unnoticed device of separation. The belief in a separate self is a cataract on the true condition of public opinion as it looks outside of itself at a fictional other and decides “what he is” – as if there is anything outside of a storyless self to be. This blurriness creates an absurd “this way or that” argument over which view of separation is “more correct.” When two worldviews can be correct or incorrect, you know you’re in a dream-world where the only option is to pick your poison – to decide which way you will advance the Culture of Separation’s current iteration of forgetting impersonal beingness.
In our world, it is not understood that thinking about the position of terrorists is not a matter of perspective. Holding a separative perspective is just an indicator that it’s time to wake up and move beyond perspective – that it’s time to locate the unconditioned view beyond the need for making an isolated viewpoint the sole basis of your knowledge.
In your example, the West thinks by carving out a more accepting space for a terrorist’s point of view, they are being part of the solution, not the problem. They believe if everyone could just understand the hearts and minds of the terrorists, they would be able to make sense of their anti-social actions and therefore, be able to better meet their individual needs. Being lived as Non-separation, this belief is a glaring example of the confusion of personal perspective.
The reason is not that the sentiment is wrongheaded – it’s that the sentiment is being offered from a condition of misunderstanding their own hearts and minds. It isn’t gleaned that their consideration is just separation offering space to separation. It isn’t known that the only real consideration isn’t being considered – that the supposed bright space they are offering to a fellow human is actually a reflection of a pre-existing brightness, not a light being provided by an individual or collective sun. It isn’t understood that the separate self can only offer separation, no matter how nice its actions are determined to be by the existing culture. A separate self living as a personal experience ambushes everything in its path, whether it’s with a weapon of mass destruction or with the gentlest communication.
Chogyam Trungpa had a term he used for this called “idiot compassion.” What he meant by this is by taking a point of view that exonerates two acts of separation at once, both yours and the terrorists’, you are engaging in idiocy, not compassion. What he meant is that the separate self can only offer idiot compassion because mature compassion does not arise from a separative experience of life projected onto life itself.
Mature compassion is simply being lived as an invitation to Non-separation. It’s an understanding that life can only live itself in the exact way it transpires and that the solution we seek is boldly remembering we’re being lived into the moment as an impersonal action rather than personal reactions.
This level of remembering is the only way to battle terrorism at its core. It’s the only form of compassion that can perpetuate the lived experience of compassion. Until Non-separation is remembered, we are merely playing a game of surfaces that is the equivalent of cymbals crashing together – two metal surfaces banging into one another and reverberating without remembering the hands that are behind them. Missing the foundational emptiness of consciousness and instead believing in stories that define words which then accumulate to create more complex stories that congeal to manifest an identity attached to the Original Story of separation leaves us operating in a vacant world without the loving touch of impersonal compassion.
Non-separation does not necessarily weakly excuse acts of terrorism or give unconditional space for brutal behavior. Those willing to do violence must be confronted and, if need be, detained. The change I am pointing to is the courageous reconsideration of negotiation, rehabilitation, and diplomacy as aligned with the movement of Non-separation. To do this, there must be a realization that events can only happen exactly as they do based on the dominoes that fall when the impersonal lives a culture of separation that has forgotten itself.
So, the terrorist’s act is evil. And the foundational belief that drives the act is also evil. As Non-separation, you remain at peace with all expressions of evil while fighting like hell as an invitation to remember that a belief in a separate self doesn’t have to be the floor on which we place our feet before walking forward.
MR-B: Does this make you a freedom fighter?
BN: Well, first, let’s ask what a freedom fighter is.
The Culture of Separation has the story of both of these words, freedom and fighter, backward. Freedom is thought of as achieving greater personal autonomy when it is altogether impersonal. Fighting is thought to be something done outside of the self – which misses that an unseen internal battle rages that manifests the confused motivation to fight the outside world.
So, a freedom fighter is thought to be a self-authored individual fighting against an obstructive object outside of itself. If this is the definition of a freedom fighter, then no I would say that “freedom fighter” does not apply to my actions.
A true freedom fighter is a lived invitation to Non-separation. It’s an understanding that the separate self is lived rather than doing the living – it’s knowing that freedom is always present even while a separate self believes it is fighting for freedom. Fighting is a product of a single movement blurred by the conditioning of story. Knowing this “infects” the separate self so to speak with a balance that transfers the separate self into an impersonal arising of Non-separation where there is nothing to fight and nothing to fight for – there is only the invitation to see through freedom and conflict as defined by the Culture of Separation.
MR-B: What about the final part of the question? Is a terrorist just another type of political activist with a grievance?
BN: Yes, I suppose you could say that. When lived as Non-separation the terrorists, the activists, and the victims are all complicit in the culture that manifests the need for terrorism. They are all the same expression of separation.
I’m not trying to sound hard-hearted here, but when you’re on the checkerboard of the separate self, you can expect separative moves to lurk in the shadows that can end your run as a participant in the game of separation. You are always one move away from the personal discovering its end as the personal.
Now mind you, this doesn’t completely put you out of the game – it just leaves you held by the personal hand that was guiding you in the first place. Personal death always leaves one in the separative context of the killer. The terrorist remains on the board while you are mourned in a stale obituary that remembers you for who you weren’t. This is more grievous than the death itself as the victim’s birthright failed to be unearthed, and therefore honored, before the violence of a personal culture laid waste to an expression of the impersonal.
MR-B: In your book from 1986 “Terrorism: How the West Can Win,” you defined terrorism as “the deliberate and systematic murder, maiming and menacing of the innocent to inspire fear for political ends – a declaration of a total war on the society he attacks.” How would you define terrorism today?
BN: Terrorism is any act that triggers the suffering of external objects due to the absence of understanding of internal objects. It’s the act of forgetting that personal experience is being impersonally lived as existence itself. It’s a pointer to Non-separation, an invitation to holistically take stock of and question the stories that guide our world. Without this taking of stock, humanity continually re-ups the declaration of total war against itself by inventing new stories to combat the old ones – which means we are left with stories fighting stories as the fairy tale solution to terrorism that leads to anywhere but the truth.
In essence, terrorists are screaming at us to wake up. But rather than hearing what they are saying as a question that is inviting us to live life as a question, we view terrorists as a statement to which we must respond with a statement of our own.
If there is anything that should keep us in a state of the deepest questioning, it’s acts of extreme violence perpetrated against society. Terrorist attacks bring the big questions about life to the forefront for everyone. They bring a momentary depth of feeling that doesn’t exist in the separate self’s shallow day to day life. But, predictably, we always miss the opportunity to hold steady in these depths. With each occurrence of terrorism, we fail to take advantage of the psychological opening. People come together for a short time when these tragedies happen – but notice how that togetherness quickly fades as questioning the separate self’s place in the world dissolves once again into the background. We come out of the gates strong-willed and determined to heal our society, but quickly lose momentum as we’re sucked back into the distractions of separative life in the Culture of Separation.
This may be hard to swallow, but if we pause to take a closer look, we’ll notice that being pulled back to separative numbness after a terrorist act reveals how innocent survivors are co-conspirators in the unfolding of a culture that caters to the numb. Even in great throes of passion and tremendous emotion, without the realization of Non-separation, feelings hover in front of a brick wall built by the separate self – which is always an isolated individual extracted from the whole, numb and disconnected from life lived in the moment. By going about our days identified with social classes, religions, nationalities, ideologies, and the like, the software for terrorism is firmly held in place by who we call “the innocent.”
Before we go any further, I want to say that Non-separation, or the understanding of how the personal and impersonal co-exist, is not the same as liberalism’s or the left’s mission to rid us of our particular identities in favor of a whitewashed global identity. Globalism and nationalism are equally expressions of the Culture of Separation – homogeneity of separation is not different from diversity of separation as both value systems live with the same fundamental mistake at their core.
As Non-separation, you can keep your history and tradition if you want – but odds are, you won’t much care as the clarity of exactly who is identified with history and tradition will be held ever so gently within the framework of an impersonal culture that includes the personal. As Non-separation, stories like “I am Israeli” or “I am Palestinian” move to the background and soften while accumulating the energy of an all-encompassing question rather than the forward energy of statements that are “just so.” When one’s identity depends on things being just so, violence is inevitable. When one’s identity depends on nothing other than the movement of existence, experience becomes a question where all answers are revealed as the next question. Two people living as questions open a space for right solutions to arise – authentic relationship lives here. Two people living as statements contract a space and limit solutions to what has always been attempted from the experience of separation. Here, relationship exists in the imagination.
So, in the end, the politics of terrorism are just a matter of relationship. We must learn that if we personally pressure the world, it will respond by pressing back as a call for us to observe the mechanism of personal experience. We must learn that if we take our hands off the wheel, the world will flow as a single movement – space will open and effortlessly fill in without the separative contraction that creates never-ending situations of square pegs in round holes. We must learn that the politics of terrorism are an opportunity for its players to discover how to relate from impersonal existence in a world that operates under the illusion of personal experience. And, finally, we must discover Non-separation – and realize the application of this discovery spontaneously flips us into being a direct invitation to realization rather than an indirect one.
Again, what I’m saying is really hard for the separate self to embrace – and easy to dismiss as lofty, unrealistic, or even religious. Regardless of whether it is or isn’t, if you’re truly looking to solve the issue of terrorism, there are no shortcuts that exist in the separative world that will get you to where you claim you want to go.
The counterintuitive key is to allow the separate self to take its hands off of the world – to take a completely hands-off, impersonal approach to global affairs. This is hard to imagine for the separate self. It will immediately jump to interpreting suggestions like this as a naive utopian dream, uninformed peacenik blather, or just plain stupidity. The separate self has no time to waste on such sentiments because consideration of these sentiments results in its own demotion. Instead, it will immediately ask, “If I’m not running things, who will?” And the answer of “nobody” is so frightening and unfathomable that the preference is to keep things as they are – a global competition of separate selves that are smart enough to autonomously “figure things out.”
But terrorism and the overall global situation is not something to be figured out. A belief in “relational calculus” is the naive utopian dream, the uninformed blather, and just plain stupid.
MR-B: What is the difference between a terrorist and a soldier?
BN: A terrorist is one who perpetuates the Culture of Separation, knowingly or unknowingly, as a lived invitation to separation.
A soldier is one who is questioning the separate self and/or being lived as an invitation to Non-separation.
The difference between the two is razor thin. A terrorist becomes a soldier by seeing through the thin membrane of stories that cover true being.
MR-B: What do you believe the root causes of terrorism are? Many say it’s poverty, political oppression, or denial of nation-building aspirations. Do you believe it’s this or something else?
BN: Most foreign policies in the West press the global community to recognize that international terrorism is not a sporadic phenomenon born of social misery and frustration. It is rooted in the political ambitions and designs of expansionist states and the groups that serve them.
Of course, both of these explanations are severely short-sighted. Notice how either way you go to understand the catalysts of terrorism, all of the causes are categorized as a desire for external outcomes – there is no accounting for the roots of internal experience that are not separate from these external outcomes.
What if terrorism needed no definition and no externally driven root cause? What would that feel like? Where does that leave your mind and how you approach the problem?
MR-B: I agree.
BN: But we’d rather be distracted by surface causes and be locked in an eternal back and forth where solutions do not exist. For instance, the terrorists would just point out the hypocrisy of states like the US and Israel – as the beginnings of each included terrorist acts on natives due to political ambitions and the designs of expansionist states and the groups that served them. In this kind of relationship that’s balanced on the belief in a separate self, it’s hard for both sides to see they are reflections of one another and lashing out is just shooting into a mirror, not at an opponent.
So pointing out hypocrisy is beside the point. All of this concern with definition is beside the point. Any way you approach terrorism from the perspective of a separate self is like trying to heal the flu with swipes of a machete. While being caught up in swinging the weapon of the separate self, it’s virtually impossible to see that the symptoms of individuals are the symptoms of the total culture – which are the symptoms of the original act of separation that lives underneath the stories of both.
All of this leads to something very simple that is extremely difficult to accept. The root cause of terrorism is the belief in a personal experience undergone by a construction that’s composed of a foundational separative structure of beingness and the corresponding identity stories that define it.
Once this structure is defined, the outline for conflict is complete. It’s like a simple graphic design composition or a coloring book. All that can be done has to take place within boundaries that are completely made up. The life of terrorists and the forces that fight them is an exercise of coloring within the lines to fill in a self-imposed limitation with what they deem is the correct color.
Realizing Non-separation is a way of coloring outside of the lines to reveal that the space outside of the lines actually exists.
MR-B: What is the job of government before and after a terrorist attack?
BN: The only job of the government is to live as an invitation to Non-separation that allows the governing to happen on its own.
To project my own proclivities for a second, part of this type of governing may be an invitation to the general populace to understand that national security includes understanding who the terrorists are by understanding who they are not. Discovering the terrorists are not who they claim to be will reveal to the general populace who or what they are. With this knowledge, dare I say wisdom, the targets of terrorism will see an underlying connection with terrorists that transcends two nodes with a string between them. They will be free from the confusion of “the why” when it comes to the drivers of terrorist behavior. From here, you can watch the populace respond to terrorism as life lives the new understanding into being. Alignment with Non-separation will find its way.
It is the responsibility of government to live the strength of this culture into being. Without it, we are headed toward our own extinction.
MR-B: There are military attacks aimed at terrorists (with possible accidental civilian casualties) and terrorist attacks that intentionally prey on civilians. Do you believe these two circumstances are on the same moral plane?
BN: Of course, they’re on the same moral plane. The Culture of Separation, which is war lived into being, doesn’t consist of a moral gradient. Killing in the name of separation doesn’t have levels. It exists as an infinite single plane that re-creates itself as the same iteration.
MR-B: Why do many of your advisors believe the collaboration between Marxist and Muslim radicals is not accidental?
BN: Well, as you know, nothing is accidental. What is lived into being could never be an accident. Consciousness does not create accidents. The mind does. But let’s go into the weeds a little bit.
The far right views the Muslim world as a double bind. On the one hand, they are hellbent on protecting the identity and domination of European whites and are deeply opposed to Muslim immigration into Europe. On the other hand, they see Islam as one of the only forces that may be able to stand up to and topple the global liberal order. So, because of this latter potential, in addition to being in agreement that they have a common enemy in globalism, Marxist countries supply aide to terrorists willing to take action against the West. This is an aspect of the Culture of Separation.
So as I see it, the far right, populist, and globalist liberal causes are all visions built upon the assumption of separation. There is literally no difference between the trio. The three ideologies mentioned here don’t realize they are in the same bucket and making the exact same noises in the exact same sequence. They think they are playing different tunes, but if you have ears to hear, what is heard are sound waves in perfect sync with one another. People who believe they are separate selves are just playing the song of separation. So it follows that the only result that comes from ideological changes from one cultural vision to the next is just a translation of separation. It’s like changing lanes on a trafficless highway where all lanes lead to the same destination.
MR-B: How do you catalyze a coherent international response to terrorism? How do you see the international community winning the war on terrorism?
BN: To win the war on terrorism, you must first win the battle with the separative self. There is no free lunch on this issue – our leaders either see through the Culture of Separation or the arc of separation will continue. The separative frenzy has to be brought into focus – the charade must be paused so that humanity can get down to business and let the real work begin.
Terrorism is not an issue to be solved or figured out – it’s a problem to “be with.” The solution will not be a thought out plan forced upon the world, it will not be something executed by individuals. The solution will come from knowing that you can either fight to change a world of separation that is changeless or you can locate that which is changeless and manifest the change that puts the standoff of story identities in its broadest context until context disappears.
Even though Applied Awakening seems to preach an almost hyperbolic level of peace, what I am speaking of is not meek and to be relegated to the dustbin of stereotypical new age psychobabble. Applied Awakening provides the real answer humanity claims to want. The Path of Non-separation may still be a very long road – and it can bring feelings of overwhelming sadness and hopelessness. But it’s the only path that has a real destination – one that appears in every moment, never on an approaching horizon that we can never quite reach.
*This is a fictional interview written by Michael Richardson-Borne as a teaching of Non-separation.