As a newborn, you have no distinctions of this world. All around you is a colorful, noisy mess of a constantly changing kaleidoscope of perception.
We first begin to know ourselves through experiences of pain and separation: ripped out of the warmth of the womb, cut off from our feeding line, spanked into taking our first breath.
A little later, happily feeding, and while we are still hungry, mom removes her breast before we are done. MMMmmmmaa, the first sound babies are capable of making evolves as an attempted command to that thing that feeds us. She might or might not come back, but in either case, we suddenly realize, she is separate from us…
Then we hit our head against a table: “ouch THAT hurt me… I would not hurt myself… THAT must be separate…”
Slowly the child begins to realize itself as separate from the world that surrounds it. And through expressions, first clumsy sounds, then words, we learn to distinguish what is what in our environment, and what we can and can’t control through our expression. And realize that there is an expression for us, our name. Then “ME” dawns… Welcome to the terrible two’s…
From here on out, we are continuing to learn distinctions, words, expressions for that which we encounter. First mostly through our parents, than through other children, teachers, media and our entire cultural environment.
Distinctions create actuality
One could go even further and daresay they create your reality. It is through our distinctions that we experience that which appears to be around us. Our mechanism of perception acts similar to a sonar. We receive data into our eyes, we evaluate concepts and determine distinctions, which we then “perceive” in our environment. Reality only occurs in our imagination. Our distinctions are the paint we apply to the canvas of our experience.
We learn distinctions
Distinctions are learned. Some are conditioned (e.g. most of the distinctions you learned in school were hammered in through a constant process of repetition), some are imprinted, which means they sit on a much deeper level and were created under states of neuroplasticity, or imprint vulnerability, the state of a newborn, and later through experiences such as fear, orgasm, or other trance states. They require special care if they need to be addressed.
We learn distinctions on multiple levels – physical, emotional, mental. Each manifest differently:
Physical level – Relationship to body
Babies spend hours delighting in their bodies. Few things are as much fun as to watch a baby giggling in joy at the sight of its own hands. Our body is also the root of our first experiences of pain and negative physical sensations like hunger, indigestion, teething etc. Our earliest imprints and distinctions around “Other” have to do with how we relate to our body, the first “Other” we encounter in relation to our primary point of perception, our sense of “I”.
Emotional Level – Relationship to emotion
As we begin to begin our explorations into space at the onset of mobility, we create imprints and conditioning around which distinctions fall into like and not like. We crawl towards mommy and daddy where we feel we “belong”, and are taught to stay away from strangers. We learn to move toward that which we like, and avoid that which we don’t. Within that, we inherit our parental and societal biases associated with distinctions e.g. around sub groubs of society, and prepare ourselves for our future choice of sexual partners.
Mental Level – Relationship to thought
Mental distinctions come in the form of words. And as we begin to learn words, we also learn about the persistence of objects. Peekaboo represents the child’s learning that distinctions exist across time. Once “I” learned words for things, “I” can ask “Where did __________ go?”, if I am not perceiving the things directly. Giving words to emotional experiences results in the ability to strategize based on past and into the future. “Good” and “bad”, initially felt as immediate sensations, turn into morality, and rationalization thereof results in subsets of beliefs and the beliefs of “Others”.
“Other” dances with “I”
When you find “I” again (we tend to get lost in identity attachments in the three levels described above), you are now aware that nothing and everything else is “Other”, and that you can learn more distinctions, refine your likes and not likes, and utilizes strategies around maximizing your physical pleasures while reducing occurrences of physical pain – for “I” and – the more you expand – for “Other” through your actions.
“Other” becomes a dance in which you have two options: fear (enforce separation) or love (overcome separation).
Fear enforces the distinctions. Ask yourself how this supports you in your experience of “I”. Sometimes separation is required, sometimes it hinders. Ask youself: Does it make your feel better about who you are? How is it working for you to be separate from what is going on? What are the distinctions you are drawing? Where did they originate? Are they yours?
Or there is love…
“Love”, a much overused term, can be defined as understanding self beyond the boundaries of “I”. Distinctions to create more separation can be drawn ad infinitum, and they can be helpful to communicate subtleties. When you simply are with “Other”, there is no need to communicate (which occurs between two separate entities), since you are in communion, and at that point, distinctions disappear and you integrate ad infinitum, until you are beyond even part and parcel of everything. Love is that which bridges distinctions.
So, when you encounter “Other”, ask yourself: Why is “Other” in my life? Why is it “Other”? Whose distinction is that? And then, once you decided, ask yourself: How can I create the most benefit for “Other” right now?
We are all here to lovingly dance with each “Other”, after all, right? 😉