There are many major shifts we can go through.
Human, ground, integration
The first one is obviously birth as a human being, followed by an (eventually exclusive) identification with this human self.
Then, we can find ourselves as formless awareness (Original Face, the Unborn, the ground of being), in which our human self and the rest of the world of form arises. When we find ourselves as both the ground and the world of phenomena, it is also called Big Mind – beyond and including all polarities.
And then, we can let go of any particular identification and find a new fluidity between our the relative and absolute, our human self and Big Mind. This is a deepening integration of the two.
Self & all
But there is also another major shift, and one that can happen somewhere within the two last phases. This is the shift from living our life for this particular human self, to living our life for all beings.
At phase one, we live our life for this human self whether we like it or not. Even when we try and pretend to live our life for others, it all comes back to this human self. This is after all what we are identified as.
At phase two, we find ourselves as that in which this and all beings arise. So here, we can live our life for this human self mostly, or for other selves mostly, or for all selves. There is an option of fluidity among these, depending on what the situation invites us to. In some cases, it may be quite appropriate to focus on this human self – maybe there is an illness or healing that needs attention, needed education, and so on. In other situations, we can effortlessly shift focus to other selves and their needs. And as a background to it all, we can have the focus of living our life to the benefit of all beings – to explore actions and behaviors that benefits all, as far as we can tell.
Of course, included in this is the sincerity and humility to realize that we even here have a limited perspective and ultimately don’t know. Even if we define “benefit” as reducing suffering and the cause of suffering, and facilitating happiness and the cause of happiness (as they say in Buddhism), we ultimately don’t know which actions does which – especially not in its long term effects.
We can be temporarily stuck in exclusive identification with our human self, the larger world or the ground, and we can find a deepening integration and fluidity between the three.
In the same way, we can be temporarily stuck in exclusive concern for this self, other beings, or all beings, and we can also find a deepening fluidity among these three – each one expressed more clearly in various situations, depending on what is invited to come to the foreground.
If we are stuck in any of these ways, we live a limited life. When what we exclude in ourselves naturally comes up in ourselves and others, we will experience it as an “other”, as a disturbance, and we may rationalize and justify our own exclusion of it.
When we find a fluidity in these ways, we are more aligned with what is – with what naturally comes up in ourselves and others. Rather than try to dam it up and resist it, we can go with the flow.
We find our temporary identity to fluidly move among our human self, the larger world and the ground. Each one is always there, but they take turns coming to the foreground.
And we find our temporary care and concern to fluidly move among our human self, other beings and all beings. Again, the concern for all is in naturally in the background, but they each take turns in coming to the foreground.