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The Illusion of Separateness

By Dorothy Hatic - November 2011

Dr. Deborah Ooten presented a workshop for intermediate to advanced participants interested in psycho-spiritual growth. I had the great pleasure and extraordinary experience of attending this workshop. It was a very profound and moving presentation highlighted by four video excerpts she used to illustrate what separates us from unity consciousness. 

We were invited to explore all three centers and to notice what arises in us as we watched the videos. We cannot predict what is going to arise, but we can notice what is, in fact, arising and we can have conscious choice about what we are going to do about it. Therefore, as we watched, first, a video about a wife and mother whose husband had died and who was speaking poignantly at his funeral about the imperfections of her husband which she missed so deeply, I noticed many feelings and emotions arising inside myself. There was not a dry eye in the room as Deborah Ooten asked us to be present to what we are willing to have die so that we are able to be one with ourselves, each other and the divine.  

The second video was of Katie Makkai performing a piece that she wrote about the imperfections of the human condition that also keep us separate. Once more Deborah asked us to think about what role identities we are willing to let die and to learn to embrace the imperfections about ourselves and those we love; in effect, embracing what we put into our shadow. We then broke into groups of two to explore the different masks we put in place to keep us from knowing who we truly are. The question Deborah posed was, “What do you hold back that keeps you separate or what are you protecting?” After the exercise, the floor was opened up to the audience to share their observations and experiences. It was a powerful exercise as demonstrated by the many willing to share the masks they wear and what keeps them separated.  

The third video was from The Lord of the Rings. Deborah asked us to keep in mind as we viewed the video what it is that we do not want to look at…what we keep in the shadow. As she explained, those things will become a monster and will be seen and we need to learn to hold them, to embrace and love them, and to learn to hold them in compassion in order to make a shift. She asked us to consider what capacity we need to develop in ourselves to take up the sword and to slash our illusions that keep us separate. We then went into another exercise with our partner to ask what capacities we need to develop to pick up the sword and what monster do we need to embrace? And once more the floor was opened up to the audience to share the experience. Courage, persistence, honesty, action and remembering oneself always…the self that is in unity consciousness with all that is… were all mentioned as capabilities that need to be developed. Deborah explained that we have to have a willingness to do the work and have a community that supports our journey. The IEA is a place where we can be more open-hearted and expand our awareness of ourselves and each other.  

The fourth and final video was ‘the samurai mediator’. It was a metaphor for what we have to do to put down the sword. “What we resist persists.” The video was an apt and succinct closing for the workshop. Visually the audience was able to experience in all three centers the powerful and provocative message that Deborah had brought to us this day. We broke up again into our groups of two and were asked to consider two questions:   where is our consciousness located and what do we need to lay down the sword? Much discussion ensured about where consciousness is located. For each it was a personal conscious exploration of what was needed to lay down the sword, but in the end, each and every participant in the workshop walked away with something of deep and sustaining value.   Dr. Ooten did not disappoint. Her knowledge, wisdom and conscious presence permeated the workshop and, like a fine wine, was savored for its full-bodied flavor and exquisite bouquet.  

Many thanks to all the presenters at the conference, and a special thank you to Deborah for helping us to take a very personal and rewarding journey into our illusion of separateness.

Dorothy Hatic is a human resources specialist who studies the Enneagram and is part owner in Conscious Dimensions, LLC, a creative company.   Dorothy lives and works in Cincinnati, Ohio and became acquainted with the Enneagram through her work at DCS Sanitation Management, Inc., where the Enneagram was introduced as a tool to assist with office dynamics.   She uses the Enneagram in her everyday life in both work and at home and considers herself a spiritual seeker using the Enneagram.