Question: Can you talk a little bit about the nature of desire as it pertains to fame and stardom?
Michael Richardson-Borne: What is a star? In separation, it is a luminous ball of nuclear reactions – bright, shiny, and separate from both you and the earth. From separation, a star is also a person who is bright and shiny and separate from what is thought of as average, mundane society. In just these two simple definitions, you can easily identify the mind’s creation of strata – and, if believed in whole-heartedly, how division is seeded, watered, and fostered to grow.
In Non-separation, both definitions of star are reflections of consciousness – the strata are images and ideas that appear in consciousness, as consciousness. Neither definition, manifestation, or thought is truly separate from the other. The strata and the separation are a mirage, a rainbow in an oil slick that is mistaken to have an independent existence not only from oil, water, and light – but the totality of existence as well.
In the visual field, as interpreted by the mind, the atomic star and the human star are known as two. In non-separation, as interpreted by the mind, the atomic star and the human star are known as one. In true non-separation, the atomic star and the human star are known as before one.
Think of it like this – think about the shell of a turtle. If the shell of a turtle is removed, does the shell cease to be that of a turtle? Does the shell become an independent, totally redefined, object that was never lived by the turtle? Does it ever lose the fact that it not only belongs to a turtle but is a turtle?
The same goes for both types of star I just described. They are both stars of consciousness. No matter how separate they appear to be, they can never separate themselves from consciousness, and thus, one another. The unity that bonds the atomic star and the human star is previous to the mechanism by which any mental definition of star could divide them.
The key word to take notice of here is “of.” The shell of a turtle. A star of consciousness. The nature of desire is one that forgets the word “of” and everything after the word “of.” In the instance just described, “shell of a turtle,” if the word “of” and everything after the word “of” is forgotten, a shell is empowered to not only believe itself to be separate – but to also forget that it was ever a turtle in the first place. It can now think of itself as a work of self-created art, celebrating its intricate hexagons as its own independent beauty.
In much the same way, the mind, aka the separate self, can believe itself to be completely separate and autonomously functioning. And, just like the shell, it can not only believe itself to be separate, it can also forget that it was ever the purity of consciousness in the first place.
The mind can convince itself that consciousness is actually inside of it rather than recognizing the mind as an entity being lived by consciousness. The mind believes it was prior to consciousness rather than seeing that consciousness is the pre-existing unity of all that the mind encounters as a separate self.
After this separateness is believed in as a law of existence, it is a knee-jerk reaction for subsequent beliefs to amplify the separate self’s importance in startling magnitude. The effect is to exaggerate its power beyond the scope of its usefulness – making its continuation a do or die situation locked in the story of a human life that lives on a planet that lives in a universe for a limited amount of time.
When the separate self forgets, dismisses, or ignores that it was ever an aspect of consciousness, desire is a natural side-effect that occurs in 100% of people because, in separation, one lives in a world of “surroundings” – an environment where separate things can be viewed as obtainable or attainable rather than being recognized as aspects of the self or the existence of non-separation. Repositioning celebrities from special people to basic people, then from basic people to consciousness is the journey from multi-layered separation to a different expression of multi-layered separation to the doorway of non-separation – which is the doorway to the impersonal.
Q: How does the mind determine if someone is a star from the viewpoint of separation? And how does the mind determine if someone is a star from the viewpoint of non-separation?
MR-B: From separation, an individual is in autonomous possession of a set of qualities or characteristics that make them special, independent from the whole. Some of these qualities or characteristics are considered more special than others which allows for a hierarchy of separation to be brought into existence. These characteristics and qualities of stardom, much studied by the separate self on the separate self, tend to be connected with survival, power, and desire – access to money, sex, ease of movement, access to social networks and the like.
From non-separation, when you realize the object that “has stardom” or “star qualities” is being lived by consciousness, the specialness ceases to be hers or his, and moves into being an aspect of the totality, as close to you as what you consider your own skin. When you are watching a star, be in awe of what consciousness can do through you rather than in awe of the particular talents of an autonomous individual. Find out where this line of inquiry leads you.
Non-separation is the impersonal existence of being that includes the personal. From the perspective of stardom and the fan culture that make these so-called stars possible, the opposite is thought to be true – the personal existence of being includes the impersonal. This belief forces the world-culture that manifests celebrity to function upon a base-layer assumption that is exactly backward. When the personal existence of being includes the impersonal, free reign is given for an illusion to be the bedrock of society. It’s the continued worship of this illusion that keeps our world in a constant conundrum.
From non-separation, stardom is the remembrance of the self. But this kind of star does not receive fame or accolades because nothing that is channeled his or her way has anything to do with a personal doing. All is a happening of the impersonal that may or may not be noticed by the personal in the moment – but all is still understood as an activity of the impersonal. Either way, any attempt at making an individual special in a particular way is seen as an action of non-separation rather than an honor from the human world achieved by an individual. Stardom may happen, but there is nobody there to be a star.
Q: In the United States, we have a subculture that we call “celebrity culture.” It’s known for being intellectually bankrupt and comfortably removed from the issues of the day. Some of the music you share comes from this culture. Why do you endorse this music when it seems so far removed from what you teach about non-separation?
MR-B: When you say this music is removed from what I teach, what do you mean? Do you mean it’s removed from consciousness?
Q: I don’t think about it that way. Sometimes, the lyrics in the music are offensive and promote messages of separation. Your teaching is about non-separation.
MR-B: I understand what you’re saying – and what you say reveals that you are still holding separation and non-separation to be on opposite ends of a continuum. What you don’t yet know is that what you call “messages of separation” are also lived by non-separation. Understanding this deeply is the only remedy to the problem expressed in your question.
When I say non-separation is the impersonal existence of being that includes the personal, there is no continuum in that statement. What you are asking me about is “not separate” – which is an aspect of the mind, a tin ear lived by the music of non-separation. There is no existing opposite to what I teach, there is no existing opposite to consciousness, there is no existing opposite to non-separation.
I neither endorse nor condemn the music I share. What you are thinking of as offensive music is just another red-hot branding iron searing the skin of your mind as an impersonal exercise to remind you of non-separation. Right now, I’m just making the branding iron a little hotter and holding it to your skin a little more firmly. This same branding exercise happens for every object the mind distinguishes as separate in the atmosphere of consciousness – all objects are burning questions begging for self-inquiry, not final statements conveniently letting you know the flattened truth.
The music and culture I share are not removed from anything – least of all who you really are as an expression of non-separation. The cult of personality that exists in our world teaches us that the impersonal is living the personal while being forgotten by the very mechanism it is living.
I am here to ask a question, and to invite you to inquire into a shift where this impersonal living of the personal is recognized as a mechanism of the impersonal rather than being claimed as an autonomous action of a separate self. What kind of potential opens when this recognition occurs? This is what I call Applied Awakening.
Q: How do you feel about social media? The social media craze isn’t slowing down – and there seems to be a weird connection between social media and celebrity culture. What do you see happening in the world of social media, an ecosystem that creates the opportunity for everyone to become a micro-celebrity by gaining followers?
MR-B: Social media is a virtual world of the virtual world of the separate self. It empowers the separate self to dream up personalities of a personality and to share these characters inside of separative networks that claim to bring the people of the world closer together. I shake my head when I hear tech experts talking about how hot VR is right now or is going to be in the future while at the same time failing to realize that they’re working with what I call VRX2 – VR-twice removed. Even if VRX2 achieves the holy grail of what is called “presence,” this presence will still be mired in separation as the assumption of a separate self experiences a different layer of its already virtual world.
Social media is much the same thing – chambers of inauthenticity provided to perpetuate the arc of separation while claiming something different is happening, something that is transforming our world. My response is always that the externalization of our identification with content is definitely nothing new as far as I can tell.
That said, I’m no Luddite. I also see social media and VR, coupled with celebrity culture, as a medium by which the remembrance of non-separation could spread like wildfire. As we talk about stars and their fans, if one “side” or the other could steadily rest in non-separation, the fat of the transference counter-transference debacle would be easily cut and an invitation for the side-show of separation to be seen through would be constantly extended. With this grounded invitation backed with the daily application of the remembrance of non-separation, it wouldn’t take very long for everyone to arrive at the party with a common realization: In the pre-existing unity that we truly are, you are always the star you are looking for.
Q: I’ve heard there is a link between using social media and depression.
MR-B: It makes sense if you connect the dots. Most times, social media is used to imagine and project what is considered the perfect personality. When this “perfect self” still does not receive the amount and kind of attention the separate self would qualify as “enough,” this lack triggers the separate self to feel a degree of hopelessness or lack. Combine these feelings with the continuous reminders of lack via advertising and the constant comparing of this fictional self to the perfectly curated worlds of the “friends” in your feeds – and what you get is a ready-made recipe for the separate self to feel pretty bad about its life situation.
And after depression sets in, these same people are sent into a mental health system where treatment is a process of trying to better manage the separate self with no support in seeing through it. I’m not saying treatment should be an either-or answer – but understanding that the managing of the separate self becomes a much more dynamic process when people have a route to understand how separation comes into being is missing from our mental health system. Why? Because the US healthcare system is also stuck in the primary assumption of a separate self. Maintaining physical health, in addition to managing the life-long adjustments to the mental belief in separation, is the standard for well-being in our current world.
In the Path of Non-separation and the arrival at Applied Awakening, a different outlook on healthy adjustments to the life cycle of the separate self arises and takes precedence.