“Maybe I’m not a human being that has consciousness.
Maybe I’m consciousness that is shaped into a human being.”
- Jeff Lieberman
The ESL tip this month refers to strategies to help learners remember when to use or not to use articles. You remember articles, right? The, A, or An… three little words that sole purpose is to differentiate something out from a wholeness whether it be in a specific, defining way (The = a definite article) or whether something is separated out in a more general way (A / An = indefinite articles). As a communicative tool, these articles come in handy to convey our thoughts, ideas and opinions. They are merely one small representation in the area of language and communication that we human-beings use to create this illusory notion that we are separate entities rather than just part of the whole.
I just recently viewed a TED talk by MIT-trained artist, scientist and engineer, Jeff Lieberman. In it, he shares his ideas on the origin and nature of humans. He talks about how we are not simply a single physical entity but are composed of a community of trillions of cells which are, in turn, made up of trillions of atoms. Lieberman contends that the atoms that make up our body are composed of energy and that it comes from a single source — the single source of undifferentiated energy. The entire Universe, including us, came from this one source and shares this energy in common.
In fact, this is not really new. It’s based in science. However, what is interesting about his talk is that he makes a scientific argument for what we commonly think of as mystical experiences. And he does so in a way that is easy to understand for both those who rely heavily on scientific explanations as well as those who have never fared well in science. I am of the latter group.
One of the most wondrous as well as the most disturbing aspects about us humans is that our minds are ‘thought-generating’ machines. It is wondrous because, as Lieberman points out, we have ‘the most evolutionarily advantageous tool in the entire universe sitting in (our) head(s).’ With this tool, we can predict the future and create alternative realities. The problem with having this tool is that we lose our ability to recognize that we are really just energy (as if that weren’t enough). ‘The reason that we don’t notice it is because we are so distracted by the human levels of our experience that we fail to notice what is always sitting beneath.’ (Lieberman). According to Lieberman, those distractions are the source of our suffering. Jealousy, regret, and anxiety are rooted in our compulsion to generate alternative realities.
Lieberman’s points make a lot of sense to me intuitively. Yet, I think the journey to shift one’s perspective in order to rejoice in the fact that we are simply and so beautifully undifferentiated energy and that everyone and everything is a part of that one source of energy is very challenging. Our need to differentiate ourselves from others manifests itself in all areas and we have created a great many tools in order to keep ourselves separated from reality. Language is clearly no exception as seen by our ‘beloved’ articles.
I will keep using articles because language is a tool in which we can communicate and can, despite its limiting qualities, also be used to bring us humans closer to accepting our true nature. So, I will continue to teach when and when not to use them. However, my new year’s challenge will be trying to at least be conscious that all my future predictions and my past regrets are really just alternative realities that my mind has created and that what is real is that I am just part of pure energy and that alone is beautiful. My resolution is to reduce my unnecessary suffering and embrace life as it is.