Oneness and Individuality

Consciousness may express and experience itself through the sense of individuality and apparent separation just as much as it might through the majestic sense of oneness — it is clinging to or seeking one and avoiding the other which creates the chronic dissatisfaction which plagues most spiritual seekers. What we can recognize, upon inspection, is that both views are just that – views – and as such are essentially fantasies of interpretation on perception, projections of mind.

Moreover, the sense of individuality, as well as that of unity consciousness, are equally natural expressions of the incarnated being, contrary to the claims of some teachers who disparage one and elevate the other. In life, it is only fixation in any state that turns out to be the hindrance, not the state itself, which is, after all, a transient and non-binding modification of consciousness.

Light and shadow alternate. This realm is a platform for the complementary play of opposites, of yin and yang, and in fact it is one that makes the other “meaningful”. On the other hand, there are many so-called spiritual authorities who preach that the sense of separation and individuality is a lesser, or undesirable, state. One popular Western neo-advaita teacher, Adyashanti, wrote: “The state of consciousness that a great majority of humanity is in is not natural. It’s altered. We do not need to go looking for altered states of consciousness; humanity is already in an altered state of consciousness. It’s called separation. Separation is the ultimate altered state of consciousness.”

However, consciousness itself is perpetually changed by experience, so in that sense, it is always “altered”. In that regard, the sense of unity or oneness is also an altered state. Since there is no fixed and permanently established consciousness, it is all flux. Consequently, the effort to cling to some preferred, idealistic state (such as un-separate-ness) inevitable results in stress and suffering. One can verify this through their own experience.

It seems that there are a lot of myths swirling around the experience of “oneness”, perpetuated by our fellow human personas who would like to imagine the victorious acquisition of idealistic and superior states, along with the sense of some finality to the spiritual search. In reality, such an awakening to “oneness” may grant another perspective, a shift in the angle of vision, but does not immediately eradicate the subconscious programs (vasanas) which continue to confuse us in our behaviors and relationships.

It is a good step, however, if properly utilized in one’s inquiry, although it can also become even more of a hindrance, as we have witnessed too many times in teachers who claim some special liberated status and yet are revealed to be all too human in their foibles. The term “Spiritual By-pass” has been employed to describe the use of spiritual blinders that lead one to avoid dealing with painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs.

In fact, ego-mind can co-opt even profound awakenings, wearing the experiences as some sort of badge. This is the “Intermediate Zone” that the 20th century sage Sri Aurobindo wrote about, which can be a serious trap for those without mature and qualified guidance and mentoring. I have discussed this previously, including in the essay “Tests of Mind, Character, and Will”.

In our human adventure, we may experience both separation and oneness, and there is even a level of realization in which we recognize that what we truly are is utterly beyond any definition or temporary experiential state, whether it be one of apparent lonely isolation or exalted oneness with all the universe. Both are equally interesting to our immortal Spirit in its infinite expansion of Self-awareness.

Indeed, it is only the human persona which holds the hierarchical perception that one state is somehow better or of more value than another. In reality, different views, different states of vibration, even the different dimensions are all arising interdependently, and exist within one another, informing and influencing one another and creating new possibilities all of the time. Thus, to quote the Guide Sparrow, one state or vibrational frequency cannot be of greater value than another, for all are “interwoven as one fluid mechanism, one interconnected sentient orchestration, and one infinitely expansive and evolving interactive process — That which some call God.”


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About Bob OHearn

My name is Bob O'Hearn, and I live with my Beloved Mate, Mazie, in the foothills of the Northern California Sierra Nevada Mountains. I have a number of blog sites you may enjoy: Photo Gallery: Essays on the Conscious Process: Compiled Poetry and Prosetry: Verses and ramblings on life as it is: Verses and Variations on the Investigation of Mind Nature: Verses on the Play of Consciousness: Poetic Fiction, Fable, Fantabulation: Poems of the Mountain Hermit: Love Poems from The Book of Yes: Autobiographical Fragments, Memories, Stories, and Tall Tales: Ancient and modern spiritual texts, creatively refreshed: Writings from selected Western Mystics, Classic and Modern: Wisdom of a Spirit Guide: Thank You!
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21 Responses to Oneness and Individuality

  1. Pingback: Oneness and Individuality – Bob O’Hearn – The Conscious Process | Pauline Battell – Star Seed – Lightarian (TM) Rays Master-Practitioner – Reiki Kundalini Master-teacher – Spiritual Channeller – Lightworker

  2. Bob OHearn says:

    “Internal and external are all the same function. That means when we are practicing, we take up all the phenomena of the physical universe, internal, external, mental or physical as well as motion and activity, and regard them all as the sublime activ­ity of the True Mind (Awareness). As soon as any thought or mental state arises, it is then the appear­ance of this sublime function. Since all things are this sublime functioning, where can the deluded mind stand? This is the method of extinguish­ing delusion by seeing that all things external and internal are the same function of the True Mind (Awareness).”

    ~ Zen Master Chinul

    • Carlton Booze says:

      Hello Bob:

      Very briefly, I decided to forgo a living teacher for now, and just assiduously do calm-abiding meditation and focus on my Iamness as much as I can.

      But, I have a question that’s been dogging me, so I’m sorry for writing you at the current level of my knowledge. Concerning NDE’s and the One infinite Consciousness:

      It seems that some popular teachers give absolutely no credence to near death experience at all, based on the fact that there’s only the One, from whom all existence emanates. Therefore, because there’s only One, where is it supposed to go after death?

      Are they really addressing this teaching to students who have yet to attain realization, or those for whom the doctrine of Ajati-vada would be too mentally, spiritually too much to take on?

      You referenced your readers to the Nde website, after having your own experience, so I know it’s something that you know! But what would you say to people who say that there’s only the One and nothing else? I sure wish to know what you think.

      Sorry for the long post, but I feel the need to know! Thanks!

      • Bob OHearn says:

        I’d tell them they have a big surprise in store! 😉

        “Although all dualities come from the One,
        do not be attached even to this One.”
        ~Hsin Hsin Ming

      • Carlton Booze says:

        I love it, Bob!!!! Do you think I have the makings of a good practice focusing on Iamness, Bob? Sometimes, I wish I had a teacher, so I could ask him/her questions like this! Sorry, I know that you’ve indulged me already.

        Okay, thanks!

      • Bob OHearn says:

        Whatever you do is good, if you put your whole heart and soul into it. ❤

  3. Hi Bob, great post! Gary Horvitz pointed me over here and I’m glad I did! I agree with this take on a conceptual view of total reality although I think, in some ways, it stops short of ‘the end of suffering’ which is the physical and mental end of attachment to self reference. In my experience, self reference (individuality) does exist, but it is weakened or becomes smaller both suddenly and gradually as a result of practice. We outgrow it in a tangible, physical way and become something larger than it, not just when sitting but always thereafter. Does this jive with your experience?

  4. Bob OHearn says:

    “The ‘I’ casts off the illusion of ‘I’ and yet remains as ‘I’. Such is the paradox of Self-realization. The realized do not see any contradiction in it.”

    ~Sri Ramana Maharshi

  5. Thanks Bob, well said. I’ll check that out.

  6. Bob OHearn says:

    “Action, of any kind, including inaction, creates a momentum of energy. The direction and properties of this energy is dependent upon the choice and intent, and action produced. The action of the many, or the actions of the one, all effect the process, the bigger picture, the evolution of the One. Therefore the actions of the one do not go unnoticed by ‘the process’, since that individual is an inherent part of that process.”


  7. I love your writings, Bob! You are one of the few people I’ve been able to pull from while going through my own transition into recognizing spirit vs. what the world has taught us to pay attention to. I recently wrote this poem, I hope you enjoy!

    Sinking Into the Self

    There’s so many special moments
    I have wanted to have
    Yet, I feel that I keep sinking
    And losing hold of my raft
    And, perhaps that is the purpose
    To learn there’s no steady ground upon which to stand
    Perhaps, all this seeming sinking
    Is a part of my life’s greater plan
    Because, I know deep down we aren’t just born
    And then one day we die and that’s the end
    Know that there’s a force that gears all life forward
    Into another type of land
    And, maybe, that’s why so many people are scared
    Because one day they think they’ll disappear to dust
    Yet, I know the next portal that awaits us
    Is just the point of another type of cusp
    So, maybe, I’m meant to sink
    And, maybe, you are, too
    Maybe when we reach the deepest vista’s of space
    We’ll find a new world where nothing appears as two

  8. Bob OHearn says:

    “The purpose is to experience life. It’s to experience being in the physical. Because in the other realm we don’t have a physical body and we can’t know who we are. The other realm is a realm of non-duality. Here, we are in a state of duality. Only in this state of duality can we know who we are. Because, it’s only by comparison with others, by knowing who we are not, by knowing opposites—that you can’t have good without bad, negative without positive—do we know who we are. All that is only possible here. Only here can we feel our emotions, fall in love, get hurt and really experience life to know who we are. None of this happens in the other realm. You can say that this is reason we take form, we take birth here.”

    ~Anita Moorjani

  9. Bob OHearn says:

    Q: “All spirits are splinters of the whole and lose their individual identity when returning to the whole, correct?”

    Nanci Danison: “Source’s mental characters, what we think of as individual spirits or souls – us, do not lose their identity upon awakening as the whole of Source. Rather than losing our identity as an individual, we expand our awareness to include the knowledge that we are Source and have simply been narrowing our focus and experiences to one small part of ourselves.”

  10. Pingback: Gemini Full Moon -and- Mercury Retrograde | Planetary Clarity

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