The universe is a mirror
You are a human being experiencing the universe. Or are you the universe experiencing a human being?
You think you’re staring out at it. But what if it is staring in at you?
Deeper now: What if you and it are one and the same — that separation between you and anyone or anything is nothing but an illusion?
Look. All I can tell you is what I’ve seen. And what I’ve seen is this:
I used to see myself as separate from everyone else — my own individual entity, a “sack of skin with an ego,” as Alan Watts would put it. And in that separation, I judged. I criticized. I shamed. I feared. I argued. I looked down on some and up at others. I felt up when things went my way and down when they didn’t.
When someone would wrong me, I was so quick to point out their wrongdoing. I did so to distance myself from them. When I said, “He hurt me,” what I really meant was, “I’m not like him.” More precisely: “I’m better than him.”
Because in the blaming, I didn’t have to look in the mirror. I didn’t have to see all the ways in which I was exactly like anyone who has ever hurt me.
All judgment of others, I realized, comes from a deep-seated fear that we may be just like them.
I judged a man for deceiving me in business.
I judged a man a flake for not finishing the work he agreed to.
I judged a man for being inauthentic on stage.
I judged a man for being condescending.
I judged a man for being a bully.
I judged a man for being a hypocrite.
And then something happened. I saw that I was not separate from anything. I saw that everyone and everything is me. I saw that every person I ever saw was me looking in the mirror, showing me a piece of myself.
And as I looked in the mirror of the people whom I have judged, I saw that:
I am deceitful.
I am a flake and don’t follow through on many of my commitments.
I am inauthentic.
I am condescending.
I am a bully.
I am a hypocrite.
Suddenly, my greatest enemies became my greatest teachers. I saw on a deeper level than ever before what Christ meant when he said, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…”
The people who hurt me the most, who triggered me the deepest, who frustrated and angered me the most, affected me so deeply because I saw in them things I hated about myself. They were not obstacles outside of me, but mirrors inside of me.
By hating my enemies and fighting against them, I failed to learn the lessons they had to teach me. By pointing my fingers out at them, I could not self-reflect within myself.
I must love my enemies, I saw, because they have the most to teach me about myself.
- The man who cut me off on the freeway: the universe holding up a mirror to show me my self-absorption and aggressiveness, and my fear of not being taken care of behind it.
- The woman who judged me unfairly: the universe holding up a mirror to show me my tendency to judge unfairly, and my desperate need to be seen behind it.
- The man who always had to be right: the universe holding up a mirror to show me my intense need to be right, and the fear behind that need.
- The boys in high school whom I judged for mocking others: the universe holding up a mirror to show me my insecurities that cause me to mistreat others.
And as I looked deeper into the mirror, I saw something even more important: Everything I hated about myself, which was triggered and revealed by everything I hated about others, was not something to hate and resist at all. Rather, it was something to love and accept.
Deeper still, what enabled the acceptance was the realization that everything I hated about myself was not spawned from an “evil nature,” but rather from fear, insecurity, and pain.
I saw all my fears, insecurities, and pain not as “bad” people who needed to be punished, but rather as lost, hurt, scared, confused little children who needed to be loved and cared for.
The only redemption from the constant battle with the universe and everyone and everything in it, I realized, was self-acceptance. The things I hated about myself were not healed nor cured by fighting them, suppressing them, wishing they were different. They were healed and cured by embracing them, accepting them, holding them in compassion, loving them.
And now I turn the mirror to you and ask: What do you see in the mirror that is your world? Do you see love or hatred? Fear or faith?
For whatever you see out in the world reveals what is inside you.