Question: I work on staff at a prison in my hometown. Over the past couple of years, I have begun thinking a lot about “blame.” And if we are all not separate, how our ideas about blame change. It’s like I am brought closer to all of the crimes committed by the men I work with, if that makes sense. I haven’t been able to work my issue with blame out in my mind completely. But I feel like I’m on to an important question. I’m still having trouble formulating it – it’s like I know what I feel, but I can’t give a clear explanation of what I’m thinking. Can you understand what I’m getting at?
Michael Richardson-Borne: Yes, and it’s beautiful.
By “closer to crime,” I don’t take it that you’re talking about “understanding crime” in a deeper intellectual way, that you are becoming an expert on what crime is, studying the results of decades of case studies. I take it to mean that your belief in the separation of personal action is loosening. The separation of your behavior with an other’s behavior is getting closer to an impersonal experience – an experience that has moved beyond the story of individual beingness. The gravity of separation is dissipating as a restrictive force on your identity – a force that pulls you away from your true being and the single movement of existence that lives us all. The stories that define your Separate Self are beginning to disperse, and the brick wall of separation is becoming more translucent. You’re beginning to see that crime is not a matter of individual actions accumulating to configure the concepts that create blame. You are nearing the understanding that crime is a collection of impersonal experiences that can only be addressed by the self-rightening remembrance of Non-separation – from which arises Applied Awakening.
When impersonal experience begins to predominate, you will find that you arrive at the scene of the crimes and watch them all in full view. You will find that it’s you who passes along the drugs, pulls the triggers, steals the goods. Who else could it be, right?
Which brings us to the questions that are beginning to knock at your door. Who is there to blame for an impersonal movement that lives all personal action? If blame is a product of believing in a Separate Self, and the Separate Self isn’t real in the way you think, how is the way you believe in blame an illusion as well? If our projection of blame is rooted in the assumption of separation, how does it change when one is lived as impersonal existence, as Non-separation?
So keep following your thread. It seems you have found a path that, if completed, can help you make your way through the belief in a Separate Self, beyond what feels like a purely personal consciousness.
Yes, keep going. Find out how close you can get to the crimes of all the inmates with whom you work. Keep moving closer and closer until you become what in physics is called “in phase,” – an occurrence that happens when the crests and troughs of two waves flow together as one pulse. Locate how you flow with every crime on the planet so that you, the crime, and the perpetrator are lived as an impersonal existence that includes all personal movement. You will find that understanding crime from the inside out rather than the outside in is a different condition that brings a non-separative alternative to personal reactions such as blame.
You will find that not knowing your birthright is the only crime. And blame is simply a misunderstanding of the nature of Non-separation.
Q: Okay. But how?
MR-B: Notice how separation is mandatory for an environment to emerge where blame is created and passed between human cogs in a societal wheel. Without separation, there is no “space” in which concepts, such as blame, can be transported and pinned onto some people but not others. As I said, blame is a byproduct of personal experience, of believing in a world where the stories of the Separate Self represent the fullness of your reality. The Separate Self, whose personal container is filled with identity stories, must embrace the cause and effect nature of blame to make sense of its “position” and to protect its world of continuity without inquiry.
To see through this, you must notice that personal experience requires an original act of separation that happened to you – followed by a total belief in the post-impersonal happenings.
During the course of human development, there is an instant for all of us when the first personal experience happens to who we are as the impersonal, pushing all impersonal experience into the jungle of the unknown – and thus, all impersonal experience is forgotten. After this original blot of individuality happens, stories continue to arise – but now rather than the stories “passing through” impersonal experience, they begin to “attach” to this original personal experience, giving it definition. That’s how the Separate Self is born. And when one gets lost in the stories of the Separate Self, the original sense of individuality that lacked all definition is forgotten. The impersonal experience that the personal happened to is forgotten. And impersonal existence, Non-separation, that which lives both personal and impersonal experience, is forgotten. This forgetfulness is the substrate for blame.
So, to understand blame, it’s necessary to walk back through these “places” of forgetfulness so that you can remember who you are as the pre-existing unity that is not separate from the entire sequence of separative “development.”
Ask yourself these questions. When there are no others, where do the bodies exist on which blame can be placed? Can a self-authoring individual accurately decide the fate of a person guilty of wrong-doing in a way that is not furthering separation? If you become the pre-existing unity, how does your view of the inmates change, and how is blame understood differently? What are the conditions that are needed to animate blame – and how can these conditions be changed where blame is no longer logical?
Q: Wouldn’t that change the entire prison system?
MR-B: The entire Culture of Separation would change. When the psychological environment self-rightens, all structures and systems are impacted as the foundation of these institutions no longer grows out of the assumption of a Separate Self.
As for the prison system, how does one dole out a penalty for non-autonomous action? Understanding the answer to this, police training, policing, the court systems, and prison systems immediately shift. When it becomes known that the problem isn’t the crime, the blame, the restitution, or the penalty – it’s the misalignment of personal being with non-separative being – then our prisons transition from shelters further embedding the madness of separation into centers for the exploration of identity. The rehabilitation process becomes a way of teaching people who they truly are – rather than reinforcing the idea of who they are not. Don’t mistake the teaching of Non-separation as a re-education camp that is merely swapping one story for another, lining up the story of an individual with the agreed-upon story of a society of individuals. Non-separation is the step-wise eradication of identity stories until they are integrated into impersonal existence through “right relationship.”
The prison system does not have a culture in which one is surrounded by a rallying cry for transformation, a constant invitation to be lived as one’s true being. It has a form of gravity that pulls one deeper into the Culture of Separation (both by abuse and the context of its “support”) – keeping one a subject of a fiefdom owned by the Separate Self.
So unless we can all arrive at what I call “total forgiveness,” an open-ended forgiveness that’s a spontaneously lived expression of Non-separation, we will never move beyond blame and the resulting prisons that are created and controlled by the unexplored constricted identities of our lawmakers.
The Separate Self interprets such talk as naive – as being unrealistic to practice in the real world.
I invite you to remember the lived existence of Non-separation – and then check in with me again and tell me face to face that you still believe this is the case.
Q: What about accountability and civil society? I’m sure you’re not against a safe environment for everyone.
MR-B: Of course not. What we’re discussing here is not a matter of belief in the concepts of the Culture of Separation, but how these same concepts are “re-approached” once Non-separation is remembered. Concepts like accountability, civil society, and safety are a completely different lived condition when they are no longer seen through the prism of self-authoring action.
So ask yourself, “What is non-separative accountability? What is non-separative civil society? What is non-separative safety?”
Q: Will you answer those questions?
Non-separative accountability is not a matter of personal “pressure” baked into a societal locale – it’s becoming an obvious and immediate invitation whose presence reveals the relationship between separation and accountability.
Non-separative civil society is no longer a dead agreement that attempts to induce preconceived behavior. It’s utterly unconcerned with itself. There’s an understanding that all social circumstance is being lived in the moment – and civility is merely keeping one’s hands off of this moment. Non-separative society doesn’t feel the need to make the moment happen in a certain way; it trusts the moment to reveal what wants to happen.
Non-separative safety is permanently resting as impersonal existence rather than a continuous hustle to manufacture personal experience where safety is imagined in the form of preservation of a Separate Self.
Q: Non-separation really flips the world on its head. It’s hard to let myself go there fully. It’s like I’m on stable ground and being asked to run into an earthquake.
MR-B: It actually places the world back on its feet. You don’t notice that you are in an earthquake right now and running towards stable ground.
Q: Now, I’m really confused about how to approach my job. I am in contact with hardened men every day and can’t appear “soft.” There’s very little room for spiritual pursuits inside of a prison. It’s fine in my personal life – but work is an entirely different story.
MR-B: Once you remember your non-separative nature, it’s that very instant that Applied Awakening begins. Until this moment, there is resistance to where spirituality “fits” and where it doesn’t.
And maybe what we’re discussing isn’t spirituality. I view it more as practicality. Does practicality fit with your job?
Q: I blame you if this all goes wrong!
MR-B: Being lived as an invitation to Non-separation can never be wrong. It may not make your life any easier on the surface. But transitioning from “doing the living” to “being lived,” and then letting life naturally unfold, is unleashing a self-rightening movement that can never go wrong.