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France! The world’s most popular tourist destination. Famous for the Eiffel Tower, Musée du Louvre, Versailles, Notre-Dame, Arc de Triomphe, cheese, wine, and many other enticing attractions. It’s also the largest country in the EU, sharing a boundary with nearly a dozen countries.
Which brings me to one of my favorite childhood trivia questions: what is France’s longest border? My geographically-tuned young brain gleefully shouted, “Belgium!” - certain in the knowledge that Spain and Switzerland, while close, were not correct.
But Belgium - lovely for its beer, waffles, and chocolate - does not make for much of a trivia answer. And, as it turns out, Belgium is not France’s longest border. That honor belongs to Brazil.
Brazil?! The South American country known for its stunning beaches, rainforests, food, and coffee?! Yes, that Brazil.
How can Brazil possibly be France’s longest border? Thanks to French Guiana, situated on the northeastern coast of South America, sharing a 730km (450mi) border with … Brazil. And while French Guiana may not reside within the European continent, it is no less a part of France than Paris.
More than a clever trivia twist, I think this surprising revelation offers a helpful insight into the nature of awareness.
When asked to describe ourselves, we typically mention professional or societal roles, perhaps sprinkling in certain unique skills or achievements. I am this. Or, I am that.
But a name & body self hardly encompasses our true breadth.
Consider everything that crosses your mind. Health, relationships, finances, education, entertainment, spirituality, wonderment, and so forth. Remembrances of the past. Anticipations of the future. All of it. Your entire sphere of existence. These components of consciousness all have one thing in common; they are you.
We don’t experience the material world, we experience our awareness of the world. Awareness transforms matter into meaning, making it part of our identity. Thereby extending our personal borders far beyond mere bodily boundaries.
And the union of attention with awareness brings about an extraordinary shift in perception. Grievances immediately dissipate with the recognition that the totality of experience is one. No one and no-thing separate or apart from another.
From A Course in Miracles:
What is the same can not be different, and what is one can not have separate parts. (T-25.I.7)
With practice, the infinite magnitude of awareness dawns on our seemingly limited minds, resulting in a most extraordinary peace. Join me in Thursday’s class where we’ll explore this expansive nature of being. I look forward to seeing you then.