One great splitting of the whole universe in two


one great splitting of the universe

“One great splitting of the whole universe into two halves is made by each of us; and for each of us almost all of the interest attaches to one of the halves; but we all draw the line of division between them in a different place.
When I say that we all call the two halves by the same names, and that those names are ‘me’ and ‘not-me’ respectively, it will at once be seen what I mean.”

William James

me[notme]

We each divide the world in two – Me and Not Me -and we each draw that line between those two parts in a different place. Then we pretend that it’s fixed and inviolable and that this line was put there by Not Me – when, all the while, the line is only there because “me” put it right there.

Now, if something comes along that  “me” doesn’t like, let’s say it’s a voice that only “me” can hear and that counters my deeply held beliefs, or leaves “me” feeling dis-empowered – then it is easy and natural for “me” to say “that’s ‘not me’,” and to summon up strength to fight it, and especially if I live in a culture that trains me to do just that. It might even work, or work sometimes or for a while, but I will consume a lot of energy fighting it off, keeping my defences strong.

Choosing rigidity and resistance is one way of dealing with external forces and is useful, even necessary,  sometimes but at some point a rigid body will, in the face of undiminished forces, eventually topple, or fracture, and snap.

I could instead choose adaption – to draw my line between me/not me in a different place: expanding my understanding of “me” as being defined not by my physical boundaries but as “me” becoming everything that I experience.

This way if I hear a voice it then becomes another part of my experience. In that sense it is “my” voice, as in: I’m the one who experiences it and the effect on “me”; I’m the one who decides what what it means to me; I’m the one who gets to define it; and I’m the one who decides what I do about it.

If a voice is now part of my experience, part of me, then why would I fight it?
If I were to fight some part of my body – say my arm- then that would seem at least a little strange, ridiculous even. How is that different from fighting off my own experience? It doesn’t have to be.
If nothing else such a fight would consume energy I could use for something less boring instead.

It’s not easy- and anyone who tells you otherwise has had their head stuck in a dark place for a long time – and it can be challenging.
But when we are challenged we have a choice – we can stay away from the challenge or, when we’re ready, we can given time and the right support learn to overcome any challenge.

I’ve learned that the line between me and not me is something that I create.
It is neither fixed nor inviolable.
It moves and can be moved, it is fuzzy and it wobbles like a jelly on a plate.

And that line goes wherever I draw it.

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