Fear originates in the belief that I am separate from you and from everything else in the world. Being separate – I am obviously alone, therefore I have reason to fear. We are programmed to survive. It is the first instinct that we have. If I believe that you are separate from me, I then have every reason to fear you, regardless of what you say. It does not matter whether or not you, today, are intent on my harm, what matter is that you are in a position to cause me harm unless I can control you or protect myself against the possibility, however small, that someday, for some reason, you may feel the need or desire to harm me. All of this is predicated upon the belief that this reality that I can see, touch, and hear is the ultimate reality. When I say “I”, I believe that it is as true for me, as it is for each cell in my body. I am the totality of the consciousness that pervades every atom in my body and so I cannot claim that each cell does not see itself as, as much of an “I”, as I see myself. So it is easy for me to see a liver cell finding it hard to conceptualize a lung cell as sharing a common “I”.
If we understood that we are all cells in the same body, whether I am a brain cell, a heart cell or a cell in the rectum. The body requires the use of each cell in order to survive, therefore each cell shares the same I in every way that matters – each cell shares the same “I” in every way that matters to the ultimate survival of the body. Every cell in my body is not in a me, you, them relationship with each other cell but in an “I” relationship in the only way that really matters. If the liver goes down, soon the pancreas will follow, then the kidneys, the lungs, the heart and the brain. One day, we will realize that the health of our bodies and all of the diseases that seem to plague it are closely tied to our sense of separateness that would logically pervade every cell sharing the same body consciousness.
If I was taught from an early age that I am because you are, which is because they are, which is because we are One. If we were taught to believe that the illusion is our separateness and not our connectedness – we would have not fear of the “other”. We do not see the air, but we are taught to believe that it is there even if we cannot see it. Ants, bees and many other insects function as one body – we may say colony but that is only our vision of their reality. To the ant and the bee, they are only separate in function and contribution but not in being. Therefore the one is never alone, and the whole is never unguarded. There is no fear of each other, and together they act upon that which should be feared. There are places in the world where it is only a matter of minutes before one bee becomes one thousand bees. One bee may seem threatened, but with those odds, it soon becomes the threat.
The Golden Rule tells us to do unto others as we would have others do unto ourselves. In Genesis, we are told that, yes, we are our brothers keepers. In Leviticus 19:33-34 it is said, 33 “And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. 34 But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”Jesus and other spiritual teachers tell us that we are to go further – that we are meant to go further. Jesus, in Luke 10:25-28 25 “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. 28And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do and thou shalt live.” 28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. 29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? “
30″ And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him , and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. 36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.” To understand what God means by “neighbor” or “brother”, Jesus uses this example which, at the time, would be the equivalent of telling the story to an Israeli and instead of Samaritan – using a member of Hamas.
I consider myself to be a very spiritual person, yet, it has taken me until now to understand the full import of loving my neighbor as myself. I have heard so many people, Christians, say to me that they live a certain lifestyle while there is such poverty in the world because, “They worked hard for what they have, they earned it.” Or, they may say that they, “give to the poor” or to charity. But that is not what Jesus is saying here, it does not say give what is left after you give to yourself. Or, give what is comfortable, after you give to yourself. It is saying, think of others in the same way as you think of yourself. Care for others as you would care for yourself, not after but in the same moment, in the same breath with the same love. It says give to others what you would give to yourself, because you earned it for yourself and for your brother. If we all did this, then no one would be without enough. This could be called many names, it could be said that I am talking about socialism or even worse, communism – but I am quoting the Bible, I am speaking about religion. Yet, I am really speaking about the topic I began this with, fear. Fear is as responsible as greed and selfishness for the mess that we are in.
We fear that we will not have enough to share, yet in truth, if we do not share we will not have enough. No one rises up with a full belly. No one steals when his needs are met. The storehouse is dwindling and if the owners don’t begin to share, the peasants will take it over. It is a story that is repeated time and time again throughout history. We must begin to allow ourselves to open to the belief that we are not separate unless we separate ourselves. We are all connected by the Spirit that runs through the One Body. We are One in reality, we are One in necessity, and we are One in God. The only way that we will guarantee our own health and survival is to care for the health and survival of the entire Body of which we are all a part. Here is another of my favorite stories that exemplifies this point.
There is a story told in Kabbalah:
“With an angel for his guide, the visitor is first ushered through the gates of Hell, which, he is surprised to find, are made of finely wrought gold. The gates, in fact, are incomparably lovely, as is the verdant landscape that lies beyond them. All this is quite astonishing to the visitor, who turns to his angelic guide in disbelief. “It’s all so beautiful,” the man says. “The sight of the meadows and mountains . . . the sounds of the birds singing in the trees … the scent of thousands of flowers. . . .” And then another scent catches his attention: the aroma of food being prepared.
The angel leads the visitor toward an immense banquet table laden with every sort of delicacy. However, something is terribly wrong. Hundreds of people are seated around the table, but they all appear to be starving. Their emaciated condition is painful to see in the midst of such bounty, but even worse is the frustration and anger they are obviously experiencing. Each person at the table has a long-handled spoon chained to his wrist. The handles are so long that no one can place food in his mouth. But that does not prevent the condemned souls from trying. For all eternity, they are struggling to feed themselves a meal that is right before them, but that might as well be a hundred miles away. Taken aback by the tragic spectacle, the visitor is now more than ready to visit Paradise, and the angel immediately complies. At once they pass through another set of golden gates, alike in every detail to the gates of hell. In fact, a great deal about the two locales seems to be identical, including the banquet table and the diners chained to their utensils. But the people around this table are well fed and happy, despite the fact that their circumstances are identical to those of the damned. The difference is not in the physical situation, but in how they respond to it. As you might have guessed by now, instead of trying to feed themselves, each of the souls at this table feeds the one across the table.”