As we persist in the opinion that we are separate individual people, we have to ignore a lot of evidence about how connected we really are. Even if we don’t look at how we are physically connected, being born from each other, breathing the same air, falling prey to the same diseases and basking in the light of the same Sun, it is hard to pretend that we are not mentally connected.
We spend most of our time reading each other’s minds. Yet we think we are each separate, individual selves. This conflict of evidence and experience is so drastic, it is not surprising that we suffer from this belief.
Mostly, it is easy to read another person’s mind, because they are talking. Besides the words, we can see gestures and expressions. We are so good at reading minds that our emotions are actually contagious. If somebody is angry around us, we are prone to become angry ourselves. If somebody is feeling sad, we will feel sad right along with them. When we notice somebody YAAAWN we may yawn too, such is the involuntary nature of our empathy.
As we go about our days, we use lots of our attention imagining what other people are thinking. Not only do we think we know what they think, we desperately care what they are thinking. We want them to think we are wonderful. Even if we don’t think we are so wonderful, we expect strangers to think we are decent people. We get very offended if we suspect somebody is thinking ill of us.
We also react strangely if we think somebody may actually love us. If we want the person to love us, we will act one kind of strange and if we don’t want them to love us we will act another kind of strange. With our families, the people who really love us, we can be completely ourselves and not give a second thought to the love in their minds. It gives us great comfort to know its there.
What the people around us do and think affects how we dress, how we talk, how we think and how we act. We still think that we are separate, individuals with our own unique problems. If feeling separate and alone causes us distress, we should remember how we are all mind readers and notice how connected we really are.