In neo-Advaita circles, people sometimes say you are not a separate being.
That’s true enough since our more final identity is as what it all happens within and as.
And as with any pointers, it can be misleading if taken too literally.
In my experience, I am both and more.
I am a separate being as this human self in the world. I walk around. Do things. Am vulnerable. Was born and will die. I am dependent on the kindness of those close to me and society as a whole. I am dependent on a functioning ecosystem. I am dependent on this living planet.
I am part of society, ecosystems, this living planet, and the universe as a whole. I am a local expression of all of this.
And I am, in my immediate experience, that which all of this – the sensory inputs and my ideas about it – happens within and as.
All of this is valid in its own way. All of it contributes to the richness of what I am and this local expression of life itself.
And all of it is an overlay of ideas. Ideas that right now seem helpful. Ideas that serve as a pointer. Ideas that have temporary value at most.
The seed of this article came from how I ended the previous:
I wanted to say a few words about these parts of us operating from separation consciousness. They are formed at a time when we operated from separation consciousness, typically in our childhood. They reflect this idea that we are (only) a separate being and view and act as if that’s the case. And they are formed from, and form, a wound or trauma, even if this wound or trauma is very gentle. These parts of us can also be called beliefs (in the The Work sense) or identification (with and as the viewpoint of a thought).
It’s not wrong that we as human beings develop within the context of taking ourselves as a separate being. We are, in a conventional sense. We need to live partly as if we are, and the different parts of us need to develop within that recognition. But it’s not all of what we are. And when we notice what we are (as that which content of experience happens within and as), that serves as another context that can allow us to heal more deeply.
We live within multiple contexts: As a separate human being. As parts of larger social and ecological wholes. As an expression of life and the universe. And as that which our sense fields – sensations, taste, smell, sound, sight, and thoughts – happen within and as.