Rapper Prince Ea has a YouTube clip in which he comments on the recent events in Ferguson. The man is right on. He clearly identifies one of the main causes of suffering in the world – that human beings are ‘brainwashed with conditioned thoughts.’

We’re indoctrinated from an early age to have specific beliefs, opinions, and prejudices, which often include narrow philosophical, religious, and political views. And all of it is culture-dependent: what I believe to be the truth is in direct conflict with my neighbors who happen to have an opposing view. Thus the self-perpetuating cycle of hate and violence that has existed throughout human history. And Rapper Ea’s point is that unless our perspective changes, this destructive cycle will never end.

It really begins with the first conditioned thought innocently thrust upon us: the sense of being an individual self who is separate from all the other individual selves. The notion of ‘I am.’

Actually, ‘I am’ is perfect if we would just stick with that – the pure recognition that you, I, we, exist as aware presence. It’s the ‘I am this or that’ that begins to create the separation, which ultimately leads to conflict – the ‘I am bigger, smarter, stronger,’ or ‘I am smaller, dumber, weaker.’

Rather than trying to change things on the outside, using the same old arguments and methods that continue to fail, Ea goes on to say: ‘What we’ve forgotten about is that which is looking outside, which is ourselves. Who are you? is the question.’ In other words, set aside who you think you are, with your conditioned beliefs, opinions, and positions, and ask, as Ea asks, ‘Who are you in the deepest sense?’

When you look closely, from the inside out, you can first ask yourself, who is looking? If we thoroughly examine who we think we are, it turns out that what we identify as ‘me’ is just a cluster of thoughts, images, feelings, sensations, and perceptions. Is it a thought, feeling, sensation, or perception that is seeing the words on this screen? Obviously not.

So what is seeing the words on the screen? What is hearing the sound of the traffic? What smells the soup cooking on the stove? What is feeling the smooth texture of the baby’s skin?

Go beyond the usual conditioned mind and body responses, look closely at your actual experience, and find that there is no real ‘me,’ no individual self. The sense of being an individual self is an illusion. If you find one, at best, it’s only an idea, and will only last as long as . . . an idea.

If you can find an individual self, an individual identity, then carry on with your conditioned beliefs, opinions, and positions – your neighbors and the world be damned. But if you can’t, relax in the understanding, the pure knowing, that there is nothing separating you from anyone or anything else except for the miraculous and unique expression of your essential being as infinite and eternal consciousness. And because, by definition, infinite and eternal is all-inclusive, it leaves room for only one, not two, and we are THAT.