I once went to report on a village in Russia, a community of artists who were forced to flee the cities! I'd heard that paintings hung everywhere! I heard you couldn't see the walls through all of the paintings! They'd painted the ceilings, the 82 plates, the windows, the lampshades! Was it an act of rebellion! An act of expression! Were the paintings good, or was that beside the point! I needed to see it for myself, and I needed to tell the world about it! I used to live for reporting like that! Stalin found out about the community and sent his thugs in, just a few days before I got there, to break all of their arms! That was worse than killing them! It was a horrible sight, Oskar: their arms in crude splints, straight in front of them like zombies! They couldn't feed themselves, because they couldn't get their hands to their mouths! So you know what they did!' 'They starved?' 'They fed each other! That's the difference between heaven and hell! In hell we starve! In heaven we feed each other!
Jonathan Safran Foer
On this material plane, each living being is like a street lantern lamp with a dirty lampshade. The inside flame burns evenly and is of the same quality as all the rest-hence all of us are equal in the absolute sense, the essence, in the quality of our energy. However, some of the lamps are 'turned down' and having less light in them, burn fainter, (the beings have a less defined individuality, are less in tune with the universal All which is the same as the Will)-hence all of us are unequal in a relative sense, some of us being more aware (human beings), and others being less aware (animal beings), with small wills and small flames. The lampshades of all are stained with the clutter of the material reality or the physical world. As a result, it is difficult for the light of each lamp to shine through to the outside and it is also difficult to see what is on the other side of the lampshade that represents the external world (a great thick muddy ocean of fog), and hence to 'feel' a connection with the other lantern lamps (other beings). The lampshade is the physical body immersed in the ocean of the material world, and the limiting host of senses that it comes with. The dirt of the lampshade results from the cluttering bulk of life experience accumulated without a specific goal or purpose. The dirtier the lampshade, the less connection each soul has to the rest of the universe-and this includes its sense of connection to other beings, its sense of dual presence in the material world and the metaphysical world, and the thin connection line to the wick of fuel or the flow of electricity that resides beyond the material plane and is the universal energy. To remain 'lit' each lantern lamp must tap into the universal Source of energy. If the link is weak, depression and-or illness sets in. If the link is strong, life persists. This metaphor to me best illustrates the universe.