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Illusion of Separation


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#1    ChloeB

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 05:51 PM

I was watching a video from Joseph Campbell and he was talking about this, and he brings up a story (I'm sorry I tried to find a youtube of it, but no dice so I'll try to summarize) about a policeman that goes to save someone who fell off the side of a bridge and the policeman is falling and about to go over with the person, and it's clear if he doesn't let go, he is going with the person, but he will not let go for anything, even if he's going to die with the person, so another policeman does finally get there and saves them, but they ask the policeman that was willing to sacrifice his own life for a stranger, rather than let go to save himself, why he would do that, why he would abandon his obligations to his family and career and life all for this person he'd never met....and he said all he knew is that if he let go, he couldn't live with himself another day, that was all he could think of.  Joseph Campbell talks about Schopenhauer at this point, basically what I found to quote below here, but that this person had a "metaphysical realization" at that time, that the policeman became clear that he and that person were not separate but were one, by letting go of that person, he was letting go of himself as well, because they were not separate and in these moments like these with the policeman, they have moments of clarity or a revelation and see through our world of duality, that the appearance of our separation our individuation is just a perception as a result of being in space and time.  Anyway, I just thought it was kind of a cool topic, about why we here stories about strangers disregarding their own lives to save another person, what you guys think about this or any ideas why someone would do that.  

Quote

(I would like to present this book excerpt because it's something I often find myself bringing up in conversation but don't always explain so clearly. This is from Joseph Campbell's superb book The Inner Reaches of Outer Space and it is a quotation from the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer.)

    [Schopenhauer asks] in his celebrated essay On the Foundation of Morality, "How is it possible that suffering that is neither my own nor of my concern should immediately affect me as though it were my own, and with such force that it moves me to action?...This is something really mysterious, something for which no basis can be found in practical experience. It is nevertheless of common occurrence, and everyone has had the experience. It is not unknown even to the most hard-hearted and self-interested. Examples appear every day before our eyes of instant responses of this kind, without reflection, one person helping another, coming to his aid, even setting his own life in clear danger for someone whom he has seen for the first time, having nothing more in mind than that the other is in need and in peril of his life..."


(My favorite recent example of this was the Subway Superman Wesley Autrey risking his life to save someone who had a seizure and fell onto the subway tracks.)


    Schopenhauer's answer to this question is that this immediate reaction and response represents the breakthrough of a metaphysical realization---namely (as he states the idea in Sanskrit), "tat tvam asi, thou art that."

    "This presupposes," he declares, "that I have to some extent identified myself with the other and therewith removed for the moment the barrier between the 'I' and the 'Not-I'. Only then can the other's situation, his want, his need, become mine. I then no longer see him in the way of an empirical perception, as one strange to me, indifferent to me, completely other than myself; but in him I suffer, in spite of the fact that his skin does not enfold my nerves."

    "Individuation is but an appearance in a field of space and time, these being the conditioning forms through which my cognitive faculties apprehend their objects. Hence the multiplicity and differences that distinguish individuals are likewise but appearances. They exist, that is to say, only in my mental representation. My own true inner being actually exists in every living creature as truly and immediately as known to my consciousness only in myself. This realization, for which the standard formula is in Sanskrit is tat tvam asi, is the ground of that compassion upon which all true, that is to say unselfish, virtue rests and whose expression is in every good deed."

http://www.abuilding...separation.html

Edited by ChloeB, 07 September 2011 - 05:55 PM.

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#2    eight bits

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 06:41 PM

In place of a clip, here is how Campbell's words ended up in The Power of Myth, basically an edited transcript of the famous television interviews with Bill Moyers. This is from Program IV, "Sacrifice and Bliss."

Quote

CAMPBELL: There is a magnificent essay by Schopenhauer in which he asks, how is it that a human being can so participate in the peril or pain of another that without thought, spontaneously, he sacrifices his own life to the other? How can it happen that what we normally think of as the first law of nature and self-preservation is suddenly dissolved?

In Hawaii some four or five years ago there was an extraordinary event that represents this problem. There is a place there called the Pali, where the trade winds from the north come rushing through a great ridge of mountains. People like to go up there to get their hair blown about or sometimes to commit suicide -- you know, something like jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.

One day, two policemen were driving up the Pali road when they saw, just beyond the railing that keeps the cars from rolling over, a young man preparing to jump. The police car stopped, and the policeman on the right jumped out to grab the man but caught him just as he jumped, and he was himself being pulled over when the second cop arrived in time and pulled the two of them back.

Do you realize what had suddenly happened to that policeman who had given himself to death with that unknown youth? Everything else in his life had dropped off -- his
duty to his family, his duty to his job, his duty to his own life -- all of his wishes and hopes for his lifetime had just disappeared. He was about to die.

Later, a newspaper reporter asked him, "Why didn't you let go? You would have been killed." And his reported answer was, "I couldn't let go. If I had let that young man go, I couldn't have lived another day of my life."

How come?

Schopenhauer's answer is that such a psychological crisis represents the breakthrough of a metaphysical realization, which is that you and that other are one, that
you are two aspects of the one life, and that your apparent separateness is but an effect of the way we experience forms under the conditions of space and time. Our true reality is in our identity and unity with all life. This is a metaphysical truth which may become spontaneously realized under circumstances of crisis. For it is, according to Schopenhauer, the truth of your life.

The hero is the one who has given his physical life to some order of realization of that truth. The concept of love your neighbor is to put you in tune with this fact. But whether you love your neighbor or not, when the realization grabs you, you may risk your life. That Hawaiian policeman didn't know who the young man was to whom he had given himself.

Schopenhauer declares that in small ways you can see this happening every day, all the time, moving life in the world, people doing selfless things to and for each other.


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#3    ChloeB

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 06:51 PM

That's it!  Thank you, Eighty!  :)

“You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth.”
― William W. Purkey

#4    eight bits

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 12:00 AM

Quote

Individuation
That's not a word you often see outside of Jung and commentaries on him. And in your quoted material, I think the writer meant it as "individuality" or "separateness."

But that's ironic, because to Jung, individuation is the building of a genuine Self, which would, he thought, necessarily be in touch with common humanity, in harmony with the collective unconscious.

When I think about what that could possibly mean, I imagine it might take the form of an appreciation of connectedness. Not so much, then, that separateness is a proper illusion, as that it is only part of the story, maybe one of a pair of opposites to be reconciled.

As to what happened to the policeman, I like Joe's word "breakthrough." The nearness of death cleansed the doors of perception, I think. Training explains why he reached out his hand, but something else, something big, explains why he didn't take it back.

Joe had a good eye for that sort of thing :) .

Edited by eight bits, 08 September 2011 - 12:01 AM.

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#5    momentsinlove

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 03:23 AM

 ChloeB, on 07 September 2011 - 05:51 PM, said:

I was watching a video from Joseph Campbell and he was talking about this, and he brings up a story (I'm sorry I tried to find a youtube of it, but no dice so I'll try to summarize) about a policeman that goes to save someone who fell off the side of a bridge and the policeman is falling and about to go over with the person, and it's clear if he doesn't let go, he is going with the person, but he will not let go for anything, even if he's going to die with the person, so another policeman does finally get there and saves them, but they ask the policeman that was willing to sacrifice his own life for a stranger, rather than let go to save himself, why he would do that, why he would abandon his obligations to his family and career and life all for this person he'd never met....and he said all he knew is that if he let go, he couldn't live with himself another day, that was all he could think of.  Joseph Campbell talks about Schopenhauer at this point, basically what I found to quote below here, but that this person had a "metaphysical realization" at that time, that the policeman became clear that he and that person were not separate but were one, by letting go of that person, he was letting go of himself as well, because they were not separate and in these moments like these with the policeman, they have moments of clarity or a revelation and see through our world of duality, that the appearance of our separation our individuation is just a perception as a result of being in space and time.  Anyway, I just thought it was kind of a cool topic, about why we here stories about strangers disregarding their own lives to save another person, what you guys think about this or any ideas why someone would do that.  



http://www.abuilding...separation.html
I haven't seen the show, but it seems to me that Joseph Campbell was making more about it than what it really was. It has nothing to do with a "metaphysical" one-ness, and duality is not in question. Apparently, the policeman was brought up properly. He's probably from a very devout, religious family. Besides, it's his duty to put himself on the line. They are trained that way. If your conscience and humanity are totally intact (especially if you're religious), you would do the same too, without even thinking about it. And definitely, the thought of one-ness is not even going to pop up in your brain. It's the last thing on the list. It's a tremendous schock to the system to experience something like it, and there's no time to waste. I know. I placed myself on that line before... My sentiment after the fact was exactly the same as the policeman, which is I wouldn't be able to face myself ever again if...


#6    Serpentine

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 11:12 AM

 momentsinlove, on 08 September 2011 - 03:23 AM, said:

.... My sentiment after the fact was exactly the same as the policeman, which is I wouldn't be able to face myself ever again if...


QED    :)


#7    White Crane Feather

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 02:31 PM

 ChloeB, on 07 September 2011 - 06:51 PM, said:

That's it!  Thank you, Eighty!  :)
My father has been to that place in hawahii. There are lots of stories from there. One man trying to kill himself was actually blown back over by a gust of wind.

In Complete surender we merge with god. Its a very pure form of existance.

"I wish neither to possess, Nor to be possessed. I no longer covet paradise, more important, I no longer fear hell. The medicine for my suffering I had within me from the very beginning, but I did not take it. My ailment came from within myself, But I did not observe it until this moment. Now I see that I will never find the light.  Unless, like the candle, I am my own fuel, Consuming myself. "
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#8    ChloeB

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 02:45 PM

 eight bits, on 08 September 2011 - 12:00 AM, said:

That's not a word you often see outside of Jung and commentaries on him. And in your quoted material, I think the writer meant it as "individuality" or "separateness."

But that's ironic, because to Jung, individuation is the building of a genuine Self, which would, he thought, necessarily be in touch with common humanity, in harmony with the collective unconscious.

When I think about what that could possibly mean, I imagine it might take the form of an appreciation of connectedness. Not so much, then, that separateness is a proper illusion, as that it is only part of the story, maybe one of a pair of opposites to be reconciled.

Yes, you're right.  I didn't really think about that, you know how Jung uses that word, individuation, almost seems counter-intuitive to me for some reason, as with the word individual, I tend to think of it as the way what I quoted does, to become more separate, while Jung uses it as a process of integration.  And yeah, ironically, how they used the word individuation to kind of indicate that is something the policeman had overcome, I would say, in the way Joseph Campbell is talking about it, it is more about what happened with the policeman, some breakthrough to the collective unconscious, where is where I guess we would say the idea of separation breaks down.

Quote

As to what happened to the policeman, I like Joe's word "breakthrough." The nearness of death cleansed the doors of perception, I think. Training explains why he reached out his hand, but something else, something big, explains why he didn't take it back.

Yes, see that's exactly why I liked the story, one of my favorite parts of the series, the nearness of death cleansed the doors of perception and revealed the infinite that was hid.  The stories of death and rebirth, the transformation, to me it's possible the policeman experienced that, maybe just temporarily.

Quote

Joe had a good eye for that sort of thing :)

I just adore him.  I love his books, but I love to listen to his lectures and interviews.  He has this Morgan Freeman-like effect, his voice, just has this calming way, like something familiar to me.  I keep thinking he was a voice in some old Disney films or something I saw when I was small; something just has that feel to it.

Edited by ChloeB, 08 September 2011 - 03:03 PM.

“You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth.”
― William W. Purkey

#9    ChloeB

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 02:50 PM

 Seeker79, on 08 September 2011 - 02:31 PM, said:

My father has been to that place in hawahii. There are lots of stories from there. One man trying to kill himself was actually blown back over by a gust of wind.

In Complete surender we merge with god. Its a very pure form of existance.

Thank you, I like how you put that - complete surrender you merge.  It's kind of what I have in my head, but words aren't working for me, lol.  But complete surrender would be an absence of ego, that's what he did out there, the policeman.  That's what is at the core of religious teachings, surrender, sacrifice - things like this enable me to understand it at a deeper level, what I think it really means.

“You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth.”
― William W. Purkey

#10    ChloeB

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 03:02 PM

 momentsinlove, on 08 September 2011 - 03:23 AM, said:

I haven't seen the show, but it seems to me that Joseph Campbell was making more about it than what it really was. It has nothing to do with a "metaphysical" one-ness, and duality is not in question. Apparently, the policeman was brought up properly. He's probably from a very devout, religious family. Besides, it's his duty to put himself on the line. They are trained that way. If your conscience and humanity are totally intact (especially if you're religious), you would do the same too, without even thinking about it. And definitely, the thought of one-ness is not even going to pop up in your brain. It's the last thing on the list. It's a tremendous schock to the system to experience something like it, and there's no time to waste. I know. I placed myself on that line before... My sentiment after the fact was exactly the same as the policeman, which is I wouldn't be able to face myself ever again if...

Why wouldn't you be able to face yourself again, what makes that happen though?  I'd find it highly unlikely that every story we hear about someone who disregarded their own life to save another person, a stranger, is going to always be religious, very devout.  I don't know, it's hard for me to think man-made constructs like duty, religious ideals, would override our instincts for self-preservation.

“You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth.”
― William W. Purkey

#11    White Crane Feather

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 03:08 PM

 ChloeB, on 08 September 2011 - 03:02 PM, said:

Why wouldn't you be able to face yourself again, what makes that happen though?  I'd find it highly unlikely that every story we hear about someone who disregarded their own life to save another person, a stranger, is going to always be religious, very devout.  I don't know, it's hard for me to think man-made constructs like duty, religious ideals, would override our instincts for self-preservation.
You are right of course. If I saw a falling individual I might risk my life to an extent, but I surely would not sacrifice it for little or no chance. I think a lot of these cases are simply instincts. Then after the fact thinking. If there was before the fact thinking and knoeledge I think things might be different. Not to take anything away from heroic instincts though. I do admire people that are extended to others.

If the 911 firefighters knew the fate of the building and their own, I doubt many of them would have been in it. Again still Heros just I think "the monent" is a big part if these situations.

"I wish neither to possess, Nor to be possessed. I no longer covet paradise, more important, I no longer fear hell. The medicine for my suffering I had within me from the very beginning, but I did not take it. My ailment came from within myself, But I did not observe it until this moment. Now I see that I will never find the light.  Unless, like the candle, I am my own fuel, Consuming myself. "
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#12    libstaK

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 03:09 PM

 ChloeB, on 07 September 2011 - 05:51 PM, said:

I was watching a video from Joseph Campbell and he was talking about this, and he brings up a story (I'm sorry I tried to find a youtube of it, but no dice so I'll try to summarize) about a policeman that goes to save someone who fell off the side of a bridge and the policeman is falling and about to go over with the person, and it's clear if he doesn't let go, he is going with the person, but he will not let go for anything, even if he's going to die with the person, so another policeman does finally get there and saves them, but they ask the policeman that was willing to sacrifice his own life for a stranger, rather than let go to save himself, why he would do that, why he would abandon his obligations to his family and career and life all for this person he'd never met....and he said all he knew is that if he let go, he couldn't live with himself another day, that was all he could think of.  Joseph Campbell talks about Schopenhauer at this point, basically what I found to quote below here, but that this person had a "metaphysical realization" at that time, that the policeman became clear that he and that person were not separate but were one, by letting go of that person, he was letting go of himself as well, because they were not separate and in these moments like these with the policeman, they have moments of clarity or a revelation and see through our world of duality, that the appearance of our separation our individuation is just a perception as a result of being in space and time.  Anyway, I just thought it was kind of a cool topic, about why we here stories about strangers disregarding their own lives to save another person, what you guys think about this or any ideas why someone would do that.  



http://www.abuilding...separation.html

Some rare times in life people present you with something that hits you right where you live.  
"tat tvam asi, thou art that."

This is one of those moments for me, thank you Chloe and Eight Bits for finding the original interview - this is one of those moments.

I don't know who I would be in that situation, I suspect as most people would, that I would hesitate for just the wrong amount of time for fear and self preservation to rule the day. I also think on a different day the policeman would likely have done the same - but that day he didn't and a profound and simple truth was born in him because he didn't - not something by it's very definition that anyone could PLAN or EXPECT to experience - seriously just WOW.:yes:

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In you is hidden the treasure of treasures, Oh man, know thyself and you shall know the Universe and the Gods."

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#13    ChloeB

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 03:16 PM

 libstaK, on 08 September 2011 - 03:09 PM, said:

Some rare times in life people present you with something that hits you right where you live.  
"tat tvam asi, thou art that."

This is one of those moments for me, thank you Chloe and Eight Bits for finding the original interview - this is one of those moments.

I don't know who I would be in that situation, I suspect as most people would, that I would hesitate for just the wrong amount of time for fear and self preservation to rule the day. I also think on a different day the policeman would likely have done the same - but that day he didn't and a profound and simple truth was born in him because he didn't - not something by it's very definition that anyone could PLAN or EXPECT to experience - seriously just WOW.:yes:

I have big ol' goofy grin on my face now!  LOL, you're very welcome.  I had the same feeling when I heard him tell it on the video.  I'm glad you got that too.  :)

“You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth.”
― William W. Purkey

#14    mklsgl

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 07:03 PM

 ChloeB, on 08 September 2011 - 03:02 PM, said:

Why wouldn't you be able to face yourself again, what makes that happen though?  I'd find it highly unlikely that every story we hear about someone who disregarded their own life to save another person, a stranger, is going to always be religious, very devout.  I don't know, it's hard for me to think man-made constructs like duty, religious ideals, would override our instincts for self-preservation.

This may be of interest... http://www.scribd.co...th-Schopenhauer

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#15    momentsinlove

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 10:27 PM

 ChloeB, on 08 September 2011 - 03:02 PM, said:

Why wouldn't you be able to face yourself again, what makes that happen though?  I'd find it highly unlikely that every story we hear about someone who disregarded their own life to save another person, a stranger, is going to always be religious, very devout.  I don't know, it's hard for me to think man-made constructs like duty, religious ideals, would override our instincts for self-preservation.
The mind is strange that way. Ingrained belief system is very hard to shake off... It's really the weight of not doing what is right (for you and you alone) is what's really in question. That particular event, to begin with, was very surreal because time seemed to have slowed down, and that thought came over me so vividly, during and after. In fact, a friend asked me, "Why help..."

Sorry if you misread my post, but I didn't say that it's "going to - always - be religious, very devout." It just happens that I came from a very devout family. On the other hand, other people ran away from the situation. It would be very interesting to find out their social configuration.

[I don't know, it's hard for me to think man-made constructs like duty, religious ideals, would override our instincts for self-preservation.] Until it actually happens to you, it would be very hard for you to think about a situation such as this, how your reaction might be, and what the construct in you made you do it. Who knows, you might even freeze up?? I highly doubt it though because it just seems to me that you have a strength in you to do something about it..., but I wouldn't discount it until it's actually proven. I've been in other situations where a so-called "tough guy" simply cried his eyes out like a baby in the midst of adversity and chaos. Was he religious? I'm not sure, but he's a church going Catholic. Interesting though that you started this thread, perhaps the universe is gearing something for you.





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