It condenses and unfolds. But moments before birth, at least physiologically, we are our mother. Then we are released into our new and striking "otherness," and our connection to the umbilicus is cut forever. And instantaneously upon that arrival, an insidious process begins. The eyes of the world fall upon us, framing and situating us within every space imaginable—physically, psychologically, emotionally—investing us with expectations, fears and hopes. And we oblige. Their attention collapses on a vernix-covered body, and our attention follows. They isolate us from the larger picture. We consent. Ignoring has begun. This is not very dramatic. It rests in small details—gestures, glances, fleeting feelings. And in reality, it's been going on for a long time before our birth. In reality, it is timeless. It is simply the way we process the raw facts of our lives in an attempt to gain some security, so we conspire to agree, to collude within this ignorance.
In essence, we bring ourselves into focus by following others' gaze. Then we reciprocate by focusing on others. As we emerge into our own awareness, the sense of our self is already nicely bound and localized, and it feels very real and isolated against the backdrop of the universe. We fit ourselves and are fitted into the framework of other minds. But the cost of this is that a good part of reality is ignored. What does that feel like? What does that lead to, in terms of experiencing our lives, others and the world, passing on this ignorance and experiencing everybody and everything around us in exactly the same way? It means that we ignore who we really are. It is like looking into a kaleidoscope—a narrow perspective that reinvents itself as an entertaining promise of something new. It's a promise that does not deliver, but it can be distracting in a very effective way—like samsara, the cycling and recycling of our delusions. Take a few shiny, iridescent pieces of glass, stuff them into a tube, illuminate them with a candle and start spinning. The shifting vistas seem like they can go on forever, and they're addictive in their magic. And so we become hypnotized, forgetting the world around and within us, forgetting that we are looking into a collapsing pipe dream.