“It can be said that the ‘reality’ of the world we live in has two aspects, that which is Created and that which is Made. That which is ‘created’ is God’s reality or that which is not dependent on mankind’s involvement; in other words, Nature at its most basic, pristine level. That which is ‘made’ is what we, as co-creators, have layered upon ‘creation’ or Nature. This applies to our own Nature as well as to the natural world in which we live.”
- Master Matthias
A common goal among spiritual seekers of all varieties is the quest for connection with a Divine Higher Power- whatever name or form it may have. And among those of us who have an esoteric or “mystic” element to our spirituality, we all tend to agree that we are working towards some sort of re-unification with the Divine. We all agree that connection with the Divine in some form or fashion is the optimal state. However, what is not necessarily agreed upon is what the opposite of connection with the Creator looks like- the state commonly referred to as “separation“.
Separation is a word that often comes up in various socio-political conversations between those of a “New Age” persuasion (particularly around mass migration and the refugee crisis). I have often heard that those who wish to keep certain groups of people from entering the country for various reasons, that these people are “part of the problem” because they are “othering” and ultimately confirming “illusion of separation”, by wishing to live separate from differing groups of people, regardless of their reasons.
This is a somewhat complex and complicated topic, but it is one I have wanted to unpack for a while. But before we begin adding on interpretations and connotations, let’s go ahead and look at what this word “separation” actually means
1. The action or state of moving or being moved apart.
ex. “The damage that might arise from the separation of parents and children”
(synonyms: disconnection, detachment, severance, dissociation, disunion, disaffiliation, segregation, partition )
ex. “The separation of the two companies”; “her parents’ separation”
(synonyms: breakup, split, parting of ways, estrangement, rift, rupture, breach, divorce)
2. The division of something into constituent or distinct elements- The process of distinguishing between two or more things.
ex. “prose structured into short sentences with meaningful separation into paragraphs”
ex. “religion involved the separation of the sacred and the profane”; “the separation between art and life”
(synonyms: distinction, difference, differentiation, division, dividing line; gulf, gap, chasm)
So from the outset of the first definition we already get the assumption of the word meaning something “bad” when it speaks of the “damage that might arise from the separation of parents and children”. This gives us the impression of something traumatic, harmful or undesirable. This feeling is amplified by the first few synonyms: disconnection, detachment, and dissociation. Like the example describing childhood separation anxiety, that these three words are also linked to negative psychological conditions caused by physical, mental, and/or emotional abandonment and isolation. Another synonym listed is a word that has a huge level of emotional baggage in western society- segregation.
But as we move into the second example in the first definition, things become a little more “gray”. Here we are now dealing with separation meaning the end of a relationship with its synonyms of breakup, split, parting of ways, estrangement, rift, and divorce. While breakups and splits both in business and personal life can be hard and often times painful (sometimes more for one side than another due to varying levels of attachment), I don’t think any rational individual would say that ending a relationship that is no longer productive or healthy is inherently a “bad thing”. Who honestly believes that a couple that has an observably toxic relationship should stay together because breaking up would serve to validate “the illusion of separation”?
Moving on, we come to the second definition. It is worth noting that in many dictionary sources, this definition is the first one listed (this particular definition was just the one that popped up when I did a Google search). This would make sense as the etymology of separate is from the Latin word that literally means “to divide”. Divide is a funny word, as it can have radically different connotations depending on the context around the word. Cells divide to create new life. Cells also divide to create cancer. In order to survive and thrive, a species must “divide” itself; or at least its DNA and create children. In order to conquer and dominate, an occupying force will find it most effective to “divide and conquer” the occupied populations along tribal and cultural lines. Division is both a creative and a destructive force, which might begin to move us into a deeper, more alchemical understanding of this word “separation”.
The second part of the “second” definition simply refers to “the process of distinguishing between two or more things”. Another word for this is “discrimination” (another word with some baggage). This is something we do every day when we are picking out clothes, choosing what to eat, or crossing the street. Hinduism and Buddhism talk about the practice of “spiritual discrimination“, which is discernment in regards what is of the true mind of Brahma or Buddha, and what is of the illusion; of “Samsara“. Of course, the Hermeticists might argue that it is technically ALL of the mind of God, but that is another conversation.
In the human psyche, the job of sorting, dividing and “separating” belongs to the ego. The word “ego” has become akin to a four-letter word in the world of New Age spirituality with its heavy Eastern influence. With talk of the talk of ego death and the like, it can be easily to mistake the ego as being an altogether negative thing, but the fact of the matter is that the ego is a vital component to what makes our experience of the physical world possible. In its basic function, the ego is the component of consciousness that enables you to perceive where your body ends and where another form begins. It is a survival mechanism that prevents us from seeing ourselves as “being one” with an oncoming vehicle. Without the ego, we would not survive long enough to have a spiritual experience in a physical body outside of death.
THE “NATURE” OF THE SEPARATION
In the beginning, it is said that there was ONE. This ONE has been called many things. Some say the ONE came from a great Nothingness or Void. Some say the ONE has always been and always will be. Some say both are true. In any case, at some point, the ONE divided itself into two. This was the formation of the Principle of Duality, best known through the Taoist concept of Yin and Yang. Then, after there were two, the two formed three, and then the three became four, and so on ad infinitum. In short, ALL of Creation- Life, Nature, the forces that create them and the things they create exist because The ONE separated itself into many. This process has never stopped. The end of the separation process would be the end of manifestation- i.e. the end of life.
However, we do NOT exist separately from God- we can’t.
One of the many descriptions of God is “that in which we live and move and have our being”. If we were to imagine God as a colossal, yet-invisible body, we would be akin to cells within that body. The entirety of creation- Sun, Moon, the planets, the stars, the Earth and all life within can be best understood as cells, organs, and all other “materials” that comprise the body of God, which is primarily “mental” in its nature. This is why He is called ALL IN ALL. Just as the cells in your body cannot really live outside of your body (at least without using artificial means), so too do we have our life in the body of the ALL.
And just like how your cells are not “you” per se, at the same time they are. Your cells carry the information needed to construct your form (and some might argue your essence) within the mysterious and enigmatic structure they contain known as DNA- just as you too carry the essence of the Creator and are “made in His image”. Cells are autonomous in their own way, carrying out “missions” completely independent of what you are putting your attention on right now. The same can be said of you as a cell within the body of the Creator. And sometimes, cells become cancerous and need to be dealt with accordingly.
Within the body of THE ALL IN ALL, as in yours, everything has a function– a specific purpose and a role. This is where the Laws of Nature and Creation come in as a means for making sure everyone “does their job”- one way or another. The natural world is a perfect example of how all things perform a function to keep things in balance and operating as they should. Nature is self-regulating and self-healing. Of course, the self-regulating and self-healing mechanisms of nature are at times, unpleasant, but it is only when men who do not understand or respect the Laws of Nature intervene in some way, that things go “wrong”.
Suquamish and Dkhw’Duw’Absh leader, Chief Seattle famously stated:
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”
One of the most famous “separation” myths is that of the Garden of Eden. Now, there are many interpretations of this story, and like most myths, it is a story that will inevitably many-layers of allegorical truth to it. Esoterically speaking, it is generally understood to be detailing man’s somewhat unpleasant journey from being a completely non-physical entity in a state of blissful (albeit child-like) union with the Creator, to being incarnated into bodies of increasing degrees of density. Another level has to do with the conscious and subconscious mind. There is also a part about sex in there, too…
However, another interpretation of the Garden of Eden story that I came to independently when I was practicing Shamanism (although I’m sure I’m not the only one to come to this conclusion) is as an allegory of man’s separating himself and his identity from the natural world, and the trauma that this created. This would be man’s mindset beginning to shift in a way that saw himself on some level “at odds” with nature. Now, I realize that this happened in different ways for different peoples. And it should be noted that many esoteric scholars see the Adam and Eve story being about a specific group of people, while many others also speak of “Pre-Adamic” races- but that is another story in and of itself.
Due to dramatic and traumatic shifts in the climate and makeup of the Earth (as well as his own physical makeup), man ultimately came to view nature as an increasingly hostile place and sought to use his ingenuity to make it somehow less threatening to his survival, while simultaneously seeking to tame and utilize nature for his benefit. Again, this happened in varying degrees for different peoples. The peoples of the tropics, for example, would not have developed the same perception and means of dealing with the natural world as those who needed to survive the harsh winters of the northern climates.
This was a benign, and even necessary quest at first, however, over time, this quest to be sheltered from nature grew into an almost neurotic desire to separate from it. This can be readily evidenced in through the actions of the old Roman Catholic Church, which turned the ceremonial reverence of nature it into a “demonic” practice, punishable by death.
As a whole, the philosophy of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) and the societies they created tended to foster disconnectedness from nature, quite often seeing it as something to be controlled, dominated, and exploited. This happened when respect turned to fear. It is worth noting that Judaism and Islam in particular, were also religions of nomadic desert wanderers- merchants and bandits who would have had no real connection to the land outside of what could be taken in the short term.
However, it was when man moved into the cities that the neurosis of this separation anxiety really began to kick in. Although not necessarily connected with nature in the same way as a hunter/gatherer society, the ancient agriculturalists were very much in tune with the land, and the cycles and forces of nature- they had to be. However, life in the city with its consumer markets and its artificial paths and structures, created an environment where men no longer needed to be connected to the cycles of nature to survive. While the benefit of comfort was there, this move was what really kicked what some refer to as “human domestication” into high gear. And like any other highly domesticated animal, a certain increased propensity for disease and neurosis comes as a price.
Alexandria was perhaps the first major cosmopolitan metropolis in known history… and with it came all of the things we associate with modern cities of this type- poverty, squalor, crime, disease and isolation. This was the birthplace of Gnosticism. Gnosticism was founded on a sort of “separation anxiety”, and saw the material world as an evil place run by a false god known as “Yaldabaoth” (aka the Demiurge). The Gnostics preached “salvation” through following the mysteries of “gnosis” and being able to escape the suffering of this material world. Buddhism in the East also had a somewhat similar view, expounding on the idea of this physical world being Samsara- the land of suffering. These were religions that formed as man grew increasingly disconnected from the natural world and its Laws- and this includes the Laws of the spiritual worlds, because in truth, the spiritual worlds and the physical worlds are just varying levels of the same reality that adhere to the same overarching Laws and Principles.
Fast forward a good 2000+ years into the future, and we now live in a world dominated by this metropolitan, cosmopolitan, domesticated culture that began in the cities of the ancient world. And with the advent of technology and the Internet, we have only worked to put even more layers between the natural world and us- between the world that is created and the world that is made.
Just as we are not, and cannot be separate from God, we are not, and cannot be separate from Nature (the active Principle of God as Life), and this includes Her Laws and Principles- even though we’d like to believe otherwise.
Namaste and God Bless.