Since it can be so fascinating to attempt to describe what it feels like when one realizes Oneness, let’s go in the opposite direction.
What does it feel like when I’m identified as a separate self?
- It feels like I’m a person in a separate body with separate thoughts and separate feelings.
- It feels like I am the thinker. A thought flits through the brain and it seems to come from me.
- It feels like the sensations which arise are actually mine. They hurt, they please. They are joyful or angry or sad. And they seem to be mine.
- The focus is on the individual. The barn across the street is something other. So is the dog and my best friend and enemy. Shapes and forms seem to divide the world into me and otherness.
- Wants and aversions arise. A strong inner energy dictates life along these lines. Addictions or compulsions often appear.
- Issues of control occur regularly. The separate self thinks it can dictate reality. Or, conversely, it feels helpless because it can’t quit an addictive habit. It’s all about attempting to control what arises.
- Much of attention identifies with thoughts. The thought-world is perceived as real. Awareness of the now comes and goes. Much of attention relates to the dream-world of mental and emotional activity.
- One argues with reality. Thoughts delineate and attempt to disparage other thoughts. Things are labeled “right” or “wrong” or “good” or “bad”.
- Love, when it arises, often associates with how it relates to the separate self. Love is not unconditional. It seems connected to preconceived perceptions. It is not universal.
- A lot of energy is spent propping up and defending the individual. It’s easy to feel threatened. Fear operates often as a background software operating system, sometimes not even consciously.
- Doing seems very important. Not-doing often appears as a threat, an empty hole into which one might disappear.
- Life sometimes seems a series of problems which must be solved through thought. Emotions are seen as reliable indicators of what to do next. Emotions are sometimes perceived to be what one actually is.
- Being is seen as nothing important. It is often not even noticed.
- Drama periodically reigns, either internally or externally. Emotional, mental and physical pain may arise. Great delight and happiness also arises, although it’s often attached to an external stimuli. Something often appears to cause to the joy.
- It seems necessary to fix oneself, to make oneself more acceptable to self or others.
- One tells a lot of stories about oneself and actually believes them.
Just noticing today how I feel when identified as a separate self. Even though intellectually I might remember or recognize Oneness, it’s still not available as a moment-to-moment recognition. It is available when the I remembers to look. Then it sees that it’s immediate, always here, never inaccessible.