I had three interactions this morning before I had breakfast. The first was passing a woman on the path, our eyes met, and in that brief eye contact before she looked away, I could see the veils, the protection, the investment of energy into some kind of mental management system. There instead of openness I could see the complexity, the covering, the dullness in the eyes, and the quick look away from wide open contact, from being seen. No recognition of friend in her eyes, even though mine said, friend, friend, friend (how we see each other naturally, without the veil of separation).

The second interaction was in the food line – I asked the attendant a simple question: “Are those scones gluten-free?” I was looking for information, yes or no. But because they ran out of gluten-free scones and because that triggered her feelings of badness and separation (bad kitchen helper!), she was nowhere near the present, contact with me, nor my actual question. She didn’t see my openness or friendliness, and instead, with the energy of defense, she gave me a lot of extra information, instruction and a bit of a slap on the hand for not coming earlier to enjoy the gluten-free scones like any clued-in special eater should if they were paying attention. She was having a conversation with her thoughts, not with the reality of my presence and openness.

The energy of this sort of relating is devoid of aliveness, has fear in it, refuses contact with the moment and therefore the beings in it, and with oneself. The life energy and the contact is all wrapped up in the mental system of managing the self concept and the only part another being can play is as an extra in this person’s conceptual and delusional show. The possibility of enjoying the energetic banquet of being here, now, in this amazing vibrating alive deliciousness together is not an option.

The third interaction was with a little boy and a little girl. The boy had a Woody doll, and I saw Woody’s hat under the table. I picked up the hat, put it beside Woody and said, “Woody dropped his hat.” And the boy, wide-eyed and absolutely present, realized in this gesture and my energy, that I was friend, and held up his hand and said, “I have a Band-aid on my thumb.” I said, “You have a Band-aid on your thumb.” Then I looked at the girl, and she showed me her knee and said, “ I have two Band-aids on my knee.” And I said, “I love Band-aids.”

In that interaction, there was so much shared sweetness and innocence. (As one is all here, one can feel in the field the energy of presence versus the energy of fear management.) Most of our attention was on being, enjoying and noticing this, now. The energy was of being at a sweet open quiet feast of simplicity, presence and joy. It asked nothing of anyone and left no one in “bad” status. And every statement was about now. We could have been saying anything, the content was irrelevant. The main event was not the Band-aids or Woody’s hat, the main event was “Hi friend, we’re here, it’s good.” In the other interactions, there was no “Hi friend,” no “We’re here,” and there definitely was no “It’s good.”

Through conditioning and mostly without our conscious awareness, a complex energy and reality management system is built. We largely share its unconscious assumptions, and agree that it’s real, it’s necessary. We fund it with our life energy, with an effortful avoidance of the basic energy of agony, heartbreak and terror that separation leaves us with. Deep agony and pain in their raw form are simply deep agony and pain, but when the energy management system is done, there are lots of chutes and ladders, lots of copings and assumptions and thoughts and conclusions and rules and detours and rituals of soothing, denial and delusion to avoid dropping down into and allowing ourselves to meet the simplicity of what’s really going on here and now.

A big part of our conditioning is the collective belief that all of this insanity is serious and necessary, that this is “the real world.” That’s why it’s really wonderful to be in an environment like this that gives so little support to the idea that the separation and coping system is necessary. There’s no hook to hang your delusional hat on! There is no reason to be busy here, no reason to protect here, no reason to run complex systems of anticipating the future or justifying anything in the present. (There’s no reason in the everyday world either, but that’s a little harder to experience at first because of all the familiar triggers.) Here the mind will still find excuses for why we should run the conditioned machinery, but when examined, the excuses sound a little tinny, a little hollow, because we are surrounded by beauty, invited to relax, to be fed, and to receive. So the engine is exposed without its sophisticated justification system and we look a little silly, with our system that was born a long while ago and has NOTHING to do with the present. And the last thing that that mechanism wants is to be exposed as utterly ridiculous.