“group of people huddling” by Perry Grone on Unsplash

It has been said to me, “It’s easy for you to say that we are all one when you are a privileged white male. Try telling a person of color who has been treated unjustly that we are all one!” The misinterpretation seems to be: “We’re all one, even though this individual seems to have drawn a longer straw than that individual.”

I want to be clear: we are not all one. It’s much simpler than that. There is nobody here. This individual is an illusion, and all individuals are an illusion.

When the individual momentarily fails to keep re-interpreting everything as being related to itself, reality can be revealed as it is. When this happens, there is a glimpse of all that is in its completeness and perfection. Paradise or heaven is revealed as being all there is. It is nothing-everything, wholeness, or unconditional love.

If the illusion of the individual is able to then re-establish its hold, it rushes back in and immediately individualizes reality, stitching what was revealed into its narrative: “Ah, yes. I am everything!” Since there is nothing apart from this, the individual assumes that all individuals must be the same individual and that we are all one. The false idea is that “universal consciousness” is peering out of all the eyeballs and manifesting as all of material reality. Some individuals report that they see themselves (“oneness”) everywhere they look, as if that is not what all individuals do all the time.

Even though it might seem special or “enlightened,” this perception is the normal functioning of an intact individual. The individual perceives individuality everywhere. The individual cannot help but perceive an individual in everybody. The individual subject also perceives its false sense of being in all objects: in tables and walls and clouds. These objects seem separate and distinct, just like the individual. The individual is a subject-object. It is separation. Everything is in fact just an appearance of wholeness, but nothing can be seen as it truly is by the individual. Even wholeness itself is misunderstood by the individual as being.

Some individuals even experience themselves as God (God-realized) with omnipresence. These mega-individuals can become confused about which human body they think they are controlling or which lifetime they are in. This is just another way that the illusion of the individual stakes its claim on what is.

Sometimes, among people who meditate, it’s said that what looks out of the eyes, the “watcher,” is the true self. In fact, the feeling of looking out of the eyes is just another aspect of the illusion of individuality. Nothing is looking out of any of the eyes.

There is nothing wrong with the illusion of individuality. It’s one of the many ways that wholeness seems to appear. There is also nothing that can be done to make it stop appearing; there is no one that could stop it. It’s an illusion that is there until it isn’t, and when it isn’t, it’s clear that it never was.

So we are not all one. No matter how grand or special or holy or unique or all-encompassing I think I am, the illusion of individuality is simply wholeness appearing as separateness, just as wholeness can appear as other things, including tables and walls and clouds.

In an attempt to survive, the individual will endlessly misinterpret the message that it is an illusion.

An engineer-psychologist focused on machine intelligence. I write from my own experience to support others in living more fulfilling lives | duncanriach.com

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