Meditation seems to lead me towards an ever more universal perspective on human life. The more I sit with myself, the more I encounter a radical individuality that actually undermines my sense of distinctiveness.
When I remove the distractions of the details of my life, it reveals this crazy panoply of things that are always going on underneath — way more than what’s happening on the surface. And it frequently occurs to me that everybody has this. This is just what having a human brain is like. What’s going on for us all, at the root of everything, is mostly the same. All that varies is levels of awareness, plus some minor details.
This is what’s frustrating about this era’s political, religious, and otherwise tribal upheavals. There is some threshold of scale at which human beings — from their default perspectives enmeshed in worldly concerns — will consider a problem important enough to fight about, and that scale is not nearly big enough.
In a given day, one could make a long list of contentious issues that have erupted into conflict, halting progress towards solutions while people fight about them. On one end of this list, some issues threaten the entire world. But because of this infernal threshold in the default human mind, people spend whole careers on inconsequential problems at the other end of the list and think they’re doing good.
Human civilization could be wiped out while people — operating at the individual or small group end of the scale — squabble about things that only threaten those small-scale identities. But my point isn’t even that extreme. There’s so much work to do on alleviating underlying suffering and alienation that would benefit individuals and groups vastly more than fighting little territorial battles with one another. It shouldn’t require universal love and understanding to see that. If we could just take better care of ourselves as we really are, that love would arise on its own.