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We Can't Separate the Inseparable
By Robert Rabbin
I am a spiritual activist who feels that spiritual practice, study, and wisdom are inseparable from the minutiae of day-to-day living. The German-born architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe once said, "God is in the details." This is a wonderful slogan for a spiritual activist. The demonstration of our spiritual work must find expression in our every word, choice, and action. We cannot separate yoga, meditation, and deep spiritual work from living: they are inseparable. We cannot separate the spiritual from the worldly. These are language-based distinctions we use to appreciate various aspects of the great Mystery of existence. It is a tragic conceit to think that yoga, meditation, and spiritual wisdom exist outside daily life. They don't. A flower and its fragrance cannot be separated, because they are innately inseparable.
I'd like to share a recent email I received, and my response.
I do not believe in such things as "spiritual" and "political" as though they were shoes and beer bottles. They are just notions in the mind and have life and force only to the extent we empower them. The naming of things is a feature of the mind: its nature is to name and separate one thing from another. Beyond the mind, in the realm of Silence, all things are expressions of one Consciousness and have the same name.
I have never felt that I had any "expertise in matters of spirit." If anything, 35 years of spiritual inquiry has made me acutely aware of all that I don't know. I will admit, however, that I have encountered the infinite majesty of the Great Mystery and can confirm that it is aptly named. I also confess to knowing that I am a portion of the Great Mystery and to feeling within my blood the murmurs of a universal heart. In this heart I live as a song of Silence. In this song there are no verses of murder and the mayhem of war. I am not an expert in spiritual or political matters; but I constantly hear the murmur of the universal heart within my blood, telling me that I must pour my heart into this world, that I must live in this world as a strong emblem of love and peace. And so I do.
My dictionary defines politics as, "The totality of relationships between people living in society, especially involving power, authority, and influence." To say that one should refrain from politics is like saying that one should refrain from breathing. From cradle to grave, we exist in relationship. Our very life comes from others. Our food comes from others. Our clothes come from others. We are affected by others, as they are by us. Think of your life: it is nothing but relationship, and each relationship includes negotiations and transactions of power, authority, and influence.
How are we to live in these relationships? To me, this question is of equal weight and importance to "Who am I?" This latter question is often regarded as spiritual, while the former is termed worldly. Nonsense.
If one only asks "Who am I?" then one has but one leg, one hand, one eye, and half a heart. I want to be whole, for I am whole. So I also ask, "How shall I live?" Asking this gives me my second leg, second hand, second eye, and whole heart.
"Who am I? How Shall I live?" is really one question, one breath, one path, one realization. Insight and action are one movement; realization and expression are one movement. One cannot separate nondual perception and knowledge from its behavioral corollary. Pure consciousness and the world are not different. Each exists as reflections of the other. Therefore, knowledge and action arise together, just as form and formlessness arise together.
Asking "Who am I?" alone leads only to self-absorption and spiritual narcissism; it does not lead to wisdom or to freedom. "Who am I?" is but half of the true question; the other half is "How shall I live?" The answer/resolution to this larger question is the gateway to realized Self-expression.