There’s a great line from a wonderful teacher who died some years ago named Kalu Rinpoche, a lovely Tibetan monk. He said, “We live in illusion, the appearance of things, but there is a reality and we are that reality. When you understand this, you see that you are nothing, and being nothing, you are everything. That’s all there is.”
What happens to most of us, and I say most of us, is that when you and I were born, we were born into a social-psychological world, a world with feelings and thoughts, that was inhabited by people who were very identified with their separateness. They were somebody. They were mummy or daddy. They were also this and this and this and this, and they were all the different identities they had, and they trained you about those realities, because those are the realities that were real to them.
Let’s say you started out with completely undifferentiated awareness, and then in the process of socialization, you cultivated your cognitive capacities of this versus that and all your conceptual models that are called your ego and ego structure, and then you got caught in them. You got lost in them, so you thought they were real. You got caught in your own creation, because everything around you supported you becoming somebody. You went into somebody training when you took birth, and you ended up somebody. I bet you think you’re real. I really think you think you’ve got a personal history; you think you’re going somewhere; you think you’ve got problems and neuroses and hopes and relationships; it all sounds real doesn’t it? …Boy were you taken for a ride.
Now, it’s not unreal; it’s just relatively real. The predicament is, you bought into the planes of reality that are all in time. That’s a problem because there’s at least another plane where you’re One with it all, and no one is going anywhere. There’s no time – it’s behind time. So there’s a part of you that is not in time, even though the rest of you is in time, and you bought into the part of you that’s in time, so you think time is passing.
When you get caught in your somebodyness, you as a separate entity, relative to the game of form, are pretty tiny. There are galaxies, and you are pretty tiny, you know, and it’s kind of frightening to have your awareness in something so small when everything around you is big and so unpredictable, and you can’t control it. So to the extent you identify with your somebodyness, there is fear. There is fear of what changes, it turns out, because you can’t control it when it changes. There’s fascination with it, but there’s fear in it. There’s fear of death. That colors almost everything everybody does in a subtle way, all the time. Wanting to leave something behind, wanting to get as much out of the moment as you can because you are fleeting; feeling you’re running out of time because there is too much to do.
– Ram Dass