Empathy and Respect Inside the Bubble

Inside my First-Second Degree of Illumination bubble, I perceive you separate from me, us separate from them. Even when we are we, as in a tight relationship, I distinguish each of us as separate individuals! I crusade for, create, and fortify alliances with others to assist me in defending my reality as THE reality. This the result of a separation hallucination.

From a Fourth Degree of Illumination perspective, everyone and everything in my perceptual world represent aspects of ONE individual – ME. To understand that concept, I may wish to connect with “others” – metaphoric, representational aspects of that ONE.

Through the vehicle of empathy, I can connect to aspects of me in all the myriad ways I present myself in my perceptual reality. I can extend empathy and realize a more expanded reality – one that recognize separation for the illusion it is. I might view empathy as an invitation to more fully understand the ONE that is ME.

Connecting Values to Extend Empathy

Dr. Robb Willer in a TED talk proposes that one can connect with another through shared values. He suggests we use values to extend empathy. Paraphrasing, when I appreciate your values and understand them in the way you do, I can connect to you in a meaningful way. When I connect through our values, I may discover a source of my perceptual separation and an opportunity for re-unity.

As a political activist, social scientist, and researcher, Dr. Robb Willer supports the idea that like-minded individuals tend to extend empathy to each other – what evolutionary psychologists call tribalism. A bias for tribal associations causes us to favor the opinions of those in the in-group and discount those of the out-group. We see this playing out everyday in American politics. That same separation illusion appears in me as perceptions of human cruelty, blame, terrorism, and justifications for and acceptance of genocide – and much more.

Connecting the Dots

This disconnect between competing values is the essence of the First-Second Degree of Illumination bubble.

To begin the process of “connect the dots” I might exercise one of my human “superpowers” – imagination. I can pretend I am both sides of an issue. I am you AND I am me. Imagine what it might be like to espouse another person’s beliefs and values in a scenario in which they are the “good guys” in an issue. Willer suggests I connect by applying the same value I hold for some other issue to their value concerning the issue in controversy. Value to same value.

Using Willer’s TED example, a conflict might arise when I espouse a more liberal view than my neighbor who espouses a more conservative view. When we discuss a divisive issue, I may tend to favor values of equality and fairness while he might base his arguments more heavily on moral values.

People are willing to fight and die for their [moral] values. Why are they going to give that up just to agree with you on something that they don’t particularly want to agree with you on anyway? If that persuasive appeal that you’re making to your Republican uncle means that he doesn’t just have to change his view, he’s got to change his underlying values, too, that’s not going to go very far. (Willer)

Remember – ALL the values on ALL sides of the issue are MINE – they only appear to apply to other people. Even the values themselves are an artifact of the separation illusion and do not exist as I perceive them – if at all.


To connect with my neighbor, I connect with his values as MY values. To do that, I respect his values as valid. Then I can extend empathy, in which I begin the process of dissolving the perception of separation into connection. That within-the-bubble empathy still validates a perception of separation because I’ve “extended” it to someone else – a someone I perceive as not me. Still, it is a step closer to complete dissolution of the separation illusion.

Connecting with the characters in my world offers me an opportunity to delve more deeply into the source of that world – the ONE that is ME. And isn’t that the point?

Connect with Your Values to Stop Fear Thought Spirals

Want to feel less defensive? Want to feel more loving and kind? Want to meaningfully connect with others? Want to foster relationships that satisfy your values?

Then you would benefit from a short exercise you can do any time. A study published in the July 2008 issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, found that writing about important values made people feel less threatened and more connected – and that these other-directed feelings resulted in reduced defensiveness. Read more Connect with Your Values to Stop Fear Thought Spirals

Questions that Awaken Dimensions

I exist in multiple dimensions of multiple dimensions of multiple dimensions – each as fractals of the others!

HOW do I do that? To really cook the noodle, though, I might ask a more essential question – “WHY?”

Let’s Start with HOW.

Each organism (circle A, B or C) lives within its own dimension of multiple dimensions – i.e., a self-directed intellect and a body of interrelated, inter-dimensional, interconnected and interdependent components that function as one.

For example, although my body consists of trillions of individual cells, I consider it as one being – my body or “me” – rather than as a bunch of separate beings. Read more Questions that Awaken Dimensions

What Is Beyond Connection?

Some people value their connection with significant others. Some value their connection with “nature.” Some value their connection with the universe. And some simply value the concept of connection.

Connection has value! I question, WHY?

According to Google, a connection is “a relationship in which a person, thing, or idea is linked or associated with something else.” The concept of connection infers two or more separate individuals or things in a relationship.

Between people, connection takes on a much more profound anthropomorphic meaning. Beyond rapport, in which each person in a relationship realizes one or  more shared interests and conditions, connection invokes a much more deeply realized awareness in which two or more become one. And yet, their connection is only the beginning… Read more What Is Beyond Connection?

Filling a Need

The alignment of a system is the purpose of its function.

There are things we need for physical existence and things we need for psychological existence. Both appear to be immediate. One is a physical need for oxygen to breathe, water to drink, food to eat and shelter from the elements. The other is a psychological need generated by imagination and powered by emotion – which ego uses to instill a sense of urgency for its own survival, motivating a need to seek acceptance, control, status and etc.

Satisfying needs is characteristic of life. Humans tend to blur the distinction between imagined and physical wellbeing, “I do what I have to do to survive – in life, love, connection, separation, and etc.” Psychologically, need is a drive that motivates an action to fill a perceived emptiness.

Read more Filling a Need