Today I want to explore a concept that I hope will help explain our deep, often unbalanced and unhealthy desire to cling to/achieve/stay in ‘unity consciousness’ or ‘ego death’ (I as an individual do not exist, my personality and individual identity is an illusion as there is ONLY 'one'). To show that wanting this and holding this perspective at the exclusion of the individual self awareness is really a TRAUMA response - not a true spiritual aspiration.
It's not that this oneness perspective is WRONG or that we should ONLY exist in the individual identity.
Rather, it's about recognizing that reality lies in being able to hold BOTH perspectives at once.
As it is with most everything we seem to struggle with conceptually most as human beings.
Everything I say must be taken through the filter of 'both and' to really make any sense.
Let's dive into WHY clinging to the 'oneness' 'I don't really exist' perspective is a trauma response, and how we can love ourselves into the truth.
We Are At Once Individuals And One With All That 'Is:'
We are all at once both individuals and a part of the whole. Both perspectives - complete unity as well as individuation - are half of the whole picture. One without the other is incomplete.
Just as with the body we can look at it as a whole - the one body that's united in it's desire to function and survive - or we can look at it as a composite of almost uncountable single units all performing their unique and individual tasks, which when all put together create the oneness that is the functioning whole. The whole could not exist without the parts - the body could not exist as a unified blob without its individuated entities all performing their role - nor could any one part exist outside of the context of the whole body.
So long as we are looking for OUR identity only as an individual, without considering our place in the context of the WHOLE - without the awareness of our ONENSS with all things - we will never fully understand ourselves. We are not separate and can't find our truth without the awareness of connection to all.
At the same time, if we want to ONLY identify as 'oneness' - then a lot of life certainly gets in the way of that. Having to clothe, feed, tend to and nourish ourselves as individuals continually 'breaks' this 'oneness' perspective.
Either perspective on its own is a denial of the other reality that exists equally. This is what makes us feel out of sorts!
Awakening Is About Understanding Reality In A Way We Didn't Before:
‘Awakening’ is all about recognizing the parts of reality we are unaware of.
It's about recognizing where we have an incomplete view of reality which then hinders our capacity to function well within reality. Anything we are ignoring or not understanding about reality is a 'delusion or an illusion' and when we 'awaken' we are simply EXPANDING our awareness of how reality functions.
Remember it's our delusions that cause us pain.
When we are out of alignment with reality we break ourselves.
This only happens when we are living in a 'delusion' - thinking reality works one way when in fact it works another.
Most on a ‘spiritual path’ must first awaken from the illusion or delusion of complete separation. That 'I' am 'me' and 'you' are 'you' and that in this we are not a part of the same whole. This is the first awakening most people experience - the bubble of 'me being me means I am SEPARATE' gets burst. This usually leads people into a phase of deeply wanting to get rid of and let go of ANY identification with the individual, because it's perceived that THIS is what was causing us ALL OF our pain.
Most people come to spirituality because they are in pain due to that deep core root fear we ALL have is that we are separate. That our 'I' identity means we are ALONE. Thus, when we 'awaken' to the unity perspective, it feels like the heavens open up and we are finally SAFE.
Safe because unity = being accepted = being provided for = survival = getting to self express.
THIS is what we are really feeling in that unity experience, the breaking of the illusion that we are separate and therefor always vulnerable to rejection and therefore DEATH.
We then cling to the 'oneness' idea with all our might, again deeply believing that it was the perception of the 'I' that was causing the separation and thus the pain.
The Roots Of Our Fear Of Self:
This trauma around the separate self is one that we all have to varying degrees - the desire we all have to get away from it when we ‘re-realize’ unity (a perspective we were BORN with that we MATURE OUT OF) is totally natural. For it's the very FIRST trauma we all experience in infancy - that recognition that we are not ONE with our caregivers, but rather we are fully VICTIM to them. Because remember - we could not meet our own needs or even understand them. When we didn't get our needs met that meant PAIN because it was counter to our GROWTH - this triggered our core nervous systems into fight or flight survival mode. That our separate nature became a threat to our survival, because these people now have total control over meeting or not meeting our needs, and because we are separate from them they can not meet them and be ok, where we then suffer. Their rejection of us fully meant death to our little bodies - and rejection can only happen in separation. It was devastating to us to be in pain and not be rescued - or worse, for our caregivers to CAUSE us pain. It triggered all of our nervous systems to go into deep trauma, looking for how to serve or manipulate ourselves or those around us into loving us and then meeting our needs. A trauma most of us never grew out of - seeing that as adults we now can meet our own needs with or without the approval of others. This is why feeling like an *I* still feels so horrible in adulthood. We still feel our needs get met via OTHERS and that rejection = being trapped in pain/death. Depending on how nurturing and attentive our caregivers were to us AFTER we realized we were separate from them will determine how much we wish to ‘return’ to the innocent state of ONENESS where all our needs were going to get met. In our awareness of separation we realized that we could be rejected, and that in rejection we could go without our needs being met - because the ‘other’ that were our caregivers had total control over us.
That is our first trauma. Separation = not getting my needs met/being unsafe in the world. Getting rejected - the ME that is ME is what gets me rejected by the other, which then threatens my security, which is then the cause of my suffering.
This is how we develop the idea that the Ego self causes pain. However much we were rejected for who and what we are (stunting our growth/not getting our needs met and us not being able to meet our own needs, feeling that threat to survival and having no control over it outside of changing our behaviour to be accepted/approved of) POST learning that we were separate from our caregivers and also totally victim to them will be the degree to which we hate ourselves, and the degree to which we long to return to a state of oneness. The connection feeling that was there PRE awakening to individual reality because in that pre-awakened state we were in a bubble of not having to worry about our needs being met, because it was assumed they would be - we were one with our caretakers and thus fully provided for.
These parts that needed to grow and didn’t get their growth needs met but were instead rejected and abandoned remain the parts of self that cause us pain, because they weren’t able to grow into the adult perspective that would have allowed them to align with reality.
The parts of us that our caretakers rejected are the parts of self we see as wrong, bad and shameful - a threat to our survival - because we never grew into the adult perspective that we can now be rejected for who we are and still get our survival needs met. We are locked in the childhood perspective that rejection = death and separation = death.
Thus the idea that we can ‘witness’ these parts as ‘not me’ is attractive because if these parts are ‘no longer me’ that really means I can’t be REJECTED for them - and that feels so much safer than what most of us generally feel which is that ‘this is who I am and no matter how hard I try NOT to be this or TO be something else I keep failing.’
Again our identification with self is painful BECAUSE it gets us rejected by OTHERS and that's a SURVIVAL THREAT to us.
We want to exist in the teachings of oneness and no ego identification because that's the separation of self from what we think is causing us pain - US. If we can witness and dissociate enough with the parts of us that are traumatized from childhood - either essential parts of our nature that were rejected or parts of self that needed to grow and were stunted through rejection/abandonment, we will finally be SAFE because we will STOP BEING these things and thus will START BEING acceptable and therefore PROVIDED FOR.
This is a trauma response. The more we learned that who and what we are was unacceptable/got us rejected when we were fully dependent upon our separate caregivers to provide for us, the more we will long to return to ‘unity’ only and will wish to deny parts of self that are hurting/needing growth/that got us rejected.
Unity and witness perspectives are then a defense mechanism.
Realizing Individuality Doesn't Lead To Disconnection From LIFE And Provision:
The second awakening that we will eventually arise to, is that the individuated 'I' identity doesn't then MEAN disconnection from the whole. The Ego self was never the 'reason' we suffered or felt disconnected, but the fact that we FULLY identified with the ego or separate self so as to have to IGNORE our inherent oneness that caused us to suffer. The Ego self not being FIT INTO the context of the ONENESS perspective that was truly our root of suffering.
As we heal the traumatized child inside and show them, slowly, that we can be who we are - all the parts that got us rejected and are fundamental to our nature - that we can make mistakes and LEARN rather than the parts of us that don’t know and that are in pain being the REASON we suffer - get rejected and still SURVIVE - the more we FREE ourselves from needing to DISSOCIATE from our individual nature.
The less and less the Ego will be in a state of TRAUMA - the more we free ourselves from the false idea that it is our EGO that is the threat to us, and the more we realize that we can be ourselves and can learn without that leading to death.
THIS is the stepping into the adult perspective.
"I can be rejected and still survive."
THAT is when true spirituality can start to happen for us.
*Most things before that are coping with childhood trauma.*
Needing to deny reality - phenomenon that is occurring - to hold onto an ideal is a coping strategy.
When spirituality isn't taking you deeper into REALITY and helping you live WITHIN IT - it's not spirituality. It's again, an attempt at coping with trauma we don't see or know how to be ok within.
We may defend and look to SOLIDIFY our egos on the other side of the coin - and this too is a trauma response. The sensitive, delicate ego comes from that feeling that if we aren’t understood and loved for who we are we will be rejected and die. Trying to get rid of the self or make EVERYONE UNDERSTAND YOU are two sides of the same ‘I’m going to die if you don’t love me’ trauma. Any time we are looking to IDENTIFY - find the perfect way to represent ourselves and therefore find the perfect way to be understood/find our 'group' that we will finally be SAFE with is again, due to feeling that if we are rejected we die. So we try to solidify who we are and then find our 'tribe' as a way of self protecting from that rejection. The rejection that is inevitable whenever anyone is an 'other' - not part of the inner circle that will love, understand and thus care for us. Opposite side of the dissociation coin.
From there we awaken from the delusion that being an 'I' that is separate is POSSIBLE. We start to see that true freedom lies in finding ourselves WITHIN the context of the whole. Finding that which never changes within the context of the ever changing. Finding that it's not ever looking for one reality AGAINST another - because that's delusion. Any time we are being asked to deny phenomenon to make our spiritual concepts work, we are, for all intents and purposes, in a state of delusion.
We finally awaken to the BOTH AND concept, and in that we find 'truth'. Ever present and stable while also evolving. We find our nature that is constantly changing within the context of the whole as well as fixed and individuated. That the two perspectives, when put together, are what make life make sense.
From here we can HEALTHFULLY witness the self - go into seeing the parts of us that are hurting, rejected, abandoned, immature - and rather than approaching with a ‘that’s not me’ (further rejecting and abandoning OURSELVES deepening our trauma) we show up with LOVE and seeing that this part is HOLY just like all other parts. We look to provide what it NEEDS and see that it GROWS into something that nourishes the whole - even if it’s rejected or misunderstood. We become GROUNDED in our “I”ness, knowing that this is fluid. We don’t have a ‘solid’ identity nor are we dissociated - we are who we are and we grow as we need to. We move beyond the trauma that separation = death, beyond the trauma that rejection = death by showing ourselves we can provide for and love ourselves safe even when others reject and abandon us.
THAT is spirituality.
That is when we can hold oneness “I am always safe and can access UNCONDITIONAL LOVE (to us safety and provision/what we all really mean when we say ‘unity awareness’) within myself no matter what” AND individual ‘I am a self that works and is growing and evolving within the whole” at the SAME TIME.
Unity awareness at the expense of the individual self is really our way of trying to stay safe/become safe. To feel that we are going to be provided for. That we are going to get what we need to stop pain and thus survive and thrive.
Can be myself without that being a risk to my survival? THIS is the healing mantra. Seeing that there are more than these specific individuals who may or may not like me out there to work with.
We can’t be rejected if we are all one - you see? It's an attempt to find permanent safety.
But if we have to deny our individuality to be and feel safe, we will never have peace.
We must learn to access oneness WITHIN for ourselves, as the world may never get there.
Then we are free to evolve our individual selves without the need to dissociate from any part of our human experience.
Oneness and individuation exists at once.
It's never one or the other. It's always that the two perspectives complete one another to create that third, broader, more aligned view of reality.
We are both one and individuals, changing and unchanging. The two need each other to be in alignment with truth - that both exist as part of the whole.