What is division? What does it mean when something is said to be divided?
The opposite of division is unity. To be divided means to be separated. To be unified means to be together.
To understand division I think it’s important to understand unity. Without a deep understanding of unity an understanding of division is superficial or meaningless. Understanding what is unity is not something incidental to understanding division, it is primal.
Unity means togetherness. It means a state of unitedness, of being together. But what is being together? What do we really think in our minds when we think of being togetherness?
Being togetherness itself involves being. No understanding of the unity of being makes sense without first understanding being.
Being is what we already are, whether through presencing or withdrawness. But we may never penetrate to the roots of our being if attempts to understand our own being are limited by our own preconditions. Our penetration into understanding of ourselves can fall into oblivion if we do not really heed the call of our primoridal being, if we do not relinquish the conditioning we have inherited, which has become a part of our own identity without our understanding because we never had a framework to even conceive of it.
Recently I was reading an article about Buddhist vows and it was said that Buddha himself said that keeping precepts is giving a gift to your fellow humans. This is a very powerful, a very profound concept.
We are familiar with what gifts are. In the mundane sense there are material things that are given to others. Then this idea can be carried further to include things that are at least partially immaterial. A special experience someone may have which, while some of it involves a particular setting, some of it involves something that goes beyond the senses.
If you think of this transcendent aspect of giving – something that extends beyond the realm of the physical into the spiritual – then it really gets interesting. We are so used to only gratification on lower material levels that we might not even fully recognize something as being a gift that is non material. But I can think of many. Think for example of a dedicated teacher who teaches her students. Even when she is not in front of her students teaching, she is still thinking about teaching her students, preparing lessons, etc.
Through these acts the teacher is giving to her students. While there is a more concrete abstract ascpect to what she gives – knowledge about general or particular things – there is something that is more transcendent. There is an energy that the teacher gives to her students that transcends any one topic.
This type of transcendent energy is important to us, because we humans are transcendent beings. We mistakenly think that we need material things to live, but if we were clear we would recognize that what we really need is spiritual, is transcendent.
We do not have language nor concepts for much of what is important to us. It has never been taught to us, and there have not been good examples to show us and teach us what these things are. We truly are living in a time of sad poverty, a time of spiritual deprivation even as the material seeminly increases bounteously.
If we can develop our transcendent awareness and being to be able to allow the presencing of Being to reach us, to touch us, then we can begin to have a concept of how we really are and what unity really, really means and hence what division really means.
We are all responsible for giving the precious gift of unity to everyone around us. But if we are not even capable of recognizing who we are then how can we ever give? In order to be able to give we first have to correct ourselves and align ourselves with the highest cosmic energy.
When I think of division and unity I think of the Buddha’s teaching about giving the highest form of gift, and think further about what that really means. There is an impoverised type of compassion which does not involve a transcendantal awareness which will never amount to anything. But to engage in the long quest for one’s true identity, to embark on the path of the quest for self, then one day one can begin to enjoy and appreciate the true gifts that can be given and recieved, and understand a deeper meaning of what it means to be united.
Just getting back to the idea of adherence to precepts as way of giving to others, it makes sense. Think about a person who abstains from inebriation. If a person become inebriated it has an effect on what they do. In whatever ways that person interfaces with others there can be adverse effects. If they are a parent, it will harm the children. If they are an employer it will harm employees. Etc.
I was also thinking about how keeping precepts sexually is a form of a gift also. If one lives in a society in which such precepts are not practiced then it leads to multiple types of harm. If a person is in a relationship with someone else and then that other person cheats on them, it will hurt that person. The way one chooses to conduct oneself isn’t just about what one wants, it also effects others because we are all here together.
We can either give each other the gift of a happy society in which we cherish each other, or we can fail and be selfish and harm each other. People in prominent positions in society as role models can also either impart gifts to others by being good examples, or they can cause damage and injury by being poor examples.
If people are so out of touch with what it is even like to be cherished, to be part of a cherished, loving society then how can they even give such a gift, or receive it? They cannot even recognize it yet.
To me this is how karma works. If we want to turn our lives for the better and move away from darkness, away from harmful, damaging things then we need to transcend those things in ourselves. Transcendence takes place within, not without.
Sometimes people have to lose something before they appreciate it. If someone takes a certain benefit or freedom for granted and then one day loses it, they will really come to value it.
Imagine having the freedom and the benefit of being a human being, and then being reborn as a dog or a cow. What makes a human being different than a cow or a dog? Well, just imagine the reality of being a cow or a dog. A cow or a dog is not necessarily a bad creature, but neither does such a creature have responsibility like a human. A human has more potential to fail it’s human responsibility towards others but it can also enjoy more. It can understand things. It can conceptualize and communicate. It can transmit knowledge and receive it.
If we look around and find that we are living in a world where there is not much security, where there is the potential of various types of harm, then we must step back and ask ourselves why? Why are those precious gifts not being given? What type of cultivation does it take to be able to recognize and appreciate, to be able to give and to receive such gifts?
If we decide that that is what we truly want, then we will make the choice and follow the path. But that can be difficult in times when there is so much collective destruction and chaos.