Many great sages arrive at the conclusion that we are all one, that the individual soul is either a temporary manifestation or an illusion. Many of them conclude that we are the universe and the illusory individual souls are simply waves on the ocean. They are somewhat correct in their realizations, in the sense that they have realized one aspect of the supreme reality. They are perceiving it from one angle of perception. But there is more to it than that. There are higher realizations to awaken to. Perhaps many of these sages arrived at such heightened awareness of the Oneness, and concluded that was the pinnacle of realization. But as I have stated many times, we are eternal and infinite. There is no limit to our Being.
In 1989 I awakened to the fact that the entire universe sprung forth from the center of my Being. I was the center of the universe. But so are you and everyone else. In fact all of the animals and trees and insects, and even every atom, are also the center of the universe, as it is nonlocal. Each of us is a microcosm, or fractal, of the entire universe. The entire universe rests within the center of your Being. So in a sense we are all One with the universe. But in the sense that the entire universe is manifest within us, just as we are manifest within it. We are all intricately connected. In fact, that connectedness is so intricately woven, that it can appear as one, just like a tapestry appears as one piece, yet there are many threads that make up the tapestry. So in a sense, we are One, but there is still a distinction.
The realization of the Self is pure stillness, peace, silence, emptiness. But is my emptiness the same as your emptiness? We are each individual containers of emptiness. The realization of the Self is as a container of emptiness. If you had 7 billion empty glasses, they would all contain emptiness, but they are individual glasses. As I described in Beyond Emptiness? each of those glasses can be filled, just as each emptiness of each self realized individual can be filled with love, joy, creativity and bliss. Our form as the Self is emptiness, but the propensity, or natural inclination of the soul is to fill that emptiness with love, joy, creativity and bliss. But notice that each person will fill his container individually according to his realization of Self. If one person realizes his Self, then his container, the emptiness, becomes filled with love, etc. If we were all One, then whatever one person filled his container of emptiness, we would all find that in our container. That doesn’t happen. Each person awakens individually.
Let’s look at this from a different angle. Each of us have taken birth in this life, and we each have specific lessons that are placed before us to learn. We go through great pains and sufferings to learn those lessons. So if we were all One, if there was only one soul, and that one soul temporarily divided itself into innumerable separate parts (or manifested innumerable individual parts), and the purpose of that was only to learn of itself, then why would it go through innumerable separate people to learn the same lessons? For example: we are 7 billion people at present, and there have been several billion before us. Then why would the one consciousness go through so much pain and suffering in innumerable bodies to learn the same lessons over and over again through eons of time? How many times does he have to learn about selfishness, greed etc.? It makes no sense. And this is going on for countless cycles of ages. Don’t you think the Oneness, the One consciousness, would get tired of that game? Don’t you think he would have figured out these lessons by now? You would think that he would have moved on to greater things by now. Why would he be stuck in pain and suffering for eons?
But if each individual soul is eternal and distinct, then this makes complete sense. In my article, Who is the Self? I went into quite a bit of detail explaining that we are simultaneously One and different individuals, but that in the ultimate sense we are eternally individual souls. In Cracking the Shell of the Cosmic Egg I gave the analogy of the Sun and the Sun’s rays. The Sun cannot exist without the individual rays, and the rays cannot exist without the Sun. And you cannot say where the Sun ends and the rays begin.
So let’s go to the absolute origin, if that is possible within eternal and infinite. Way beyond this one universe there is one life, which we can call the ultimate God. It is like the Sun, and we are each a ray that emanates from that one Sun. But within that Sun, within the Absolute, ultimate God, what do you find? Innumerable individual souls. We are all that Absolute Godhead. We are a group of individual souls eternally, and that is God. The one life, the ultimate godhead, is a group of individual souls in complete harmony and union. To many who awaken to this, it may appear as Oneness, but within that Oneness we are eternally individual Selves, and each of us, as a ray of sunlight, journey through the various universes, which are also all part of the Absolute Godhead. So rather than describing it as Oneness, I feel a better description is Wholeness.
And so where exactly is the Sun, the wholeness where we reside? It’s not up there somewhere zillions of light years away, and we have traveled outward from it so far. Remember, the center of the universe is nonlocal. It is everywhere. It is within the deepest part of you. So the ray, which is your individual self, emanates from within you. The Sun is within you. So you haven’t traveled far at all.
Another thing to consider is this: In the here and now we are all individual Selves. When one of those selves awakens to his true self, it is he that experiences that. He is the observer, or the perceiver, of that. The I AM presence remains as the individual observer of the emptiness, as well as the fullness.
Do you notice that all of the saints and masters behave differently? They all have a unique personality, even after awakening. If we were all one, then they would all think and act alike, they would all be speaking the exact same philosophy, dress alike and eat alike, etc. But they don’t, do they?
“He who perceives the Absolute as either impersonal or personal, without perceiving the other, is seeing with only one eye.”
– Bhaktivinode Thakur
I know this may not make much sense, but I feel that it is important to make this distinction. Each of us is an I AM presence, which connotes an individual. It is I AM, not we are. The word Self is defined as, “A person’s essential Being that distinguishes them from others. A person’s particular nature or personality. The qualities that make a person individual or unique.” So how can we speak of the Self while considering that the Self does not actually exist? In my article, Who Is Perceiving, I touched upon this as well. So yes, we are simultaneously One and distinct. The Sun and the rays cannot exist one without the other.
– Greg Calise