It is commonly said that everything is one and duality itself is an illusion. Is there any validity to such a view, are we all one?
What first needs to be understood is exactly what one means when one speaks such ideas. For if this is not understood one can all too easily confuse oneself by taking up beliefs and concepts literally when in actuality they were meant to represent something operating on a much subtler level. The idea of oneness is to represents our inherent substance-essence. Our essence is one and the same, whether we are looking at another human or a rock, all animate and inanimate object throughout space and time all share in the same substance as the totality itself. Yet, sharing in the same substance as the totality itself does not equate with being identical to the totality in the sense that our individuality no longer exists.
A glass of water shares in essence the same substance that makes up the great oceans, yet a glass of water, although of the same essence, is not identical with the great oceans. To say that a glass of water is in actuality the Atlantic ocean, is to be living in delusion. One needs to come to terms fully with the reality one has found oneself in instead of trying to reject such a reality under misguided philosophical views.
Individuality is not the problem, as it is so often presented in mainstream philosophical mindsets, the problem all stems from a misplaced sense of identity. The ancient masters always spoke and directed their students to unravel the maxim; know thyself. The teaching was not to deny thyself. When one speaks such statements as “we are all one” what in actuality does one mean?
Would one truly say that they are identical with the underbelly of a tarantula? Would one truly claim oneness with a piece of lint that has been rolled up in a pile of pigeon droppings? If one truly held the view of “we are all one” to be an actual fact, one would have turned themselves in as the perpetrator of all crimes ever committed. Is one allowing themselves to feel the immense guilt and trauma that must arise for taking the life of another human being in cold blood? Is one allowing themselves to suffer the immense heartache and pain every time stories of parents losing the children in senseless acts of wars are heard?
If someone in front of you gets injured, you do not automatically feel the pain. Just by observing the world around you, you will discover that certain ideas that are presented and thrown around by the mainstream philosophies are simply incorrect the way they are usually presented.
you and I are the same thing, but I am not you and you are not me
~John Daido Loori, Roshi
The truth that is pulsating from within the hearts of all beings, that inner fragrance that has pulsates out of the beingness as “I Am” is the same for all. Whether man or woman, animate or inanimate, the truth of who and what we are is the same. Yet, the expression that this inner pulse takes in this physical manifestation can be so vastly different from one another that no two beings are the same. This is the great play and the Divine Mystery of Life. That although all beings share in an identical essences, no two beings can share in its expression.
What needs to be understood is what this essence is, for it is only when we have gained a direct understanding of our inner essence that we can allow for the fullest expression of our being to manifest. Unity is the absolute state of the universe, but what needs to be correctly understood is that what we consider duality is simply the manifestation of unity.
Our concept of unity still functions within a duality. For we can only have a concept of unity insofar as we have a concept of duality to balance it out. For the mind cannot conceive of solely one thing. The moment a concept arises, its opposite is also present. Although unity is what is actually operating throughout the universe, it is not our idea of unity that is operating.
Our ideas of unity and duality are simply a mental construct we have created to help us better understand the world we live in. They are simply tools for us, not the actual state of the universe. To see unity in action we need just take a look at the world. As it is, is the perfection itself. To say “we are all one” is to still hold the idea that we are not all one, for true oneness cannot be aware of itself.
Trying to hold on to an idea of universal oneness simply as a belief is meaningless, for simply having this idea will not bring one any closer to discovering who and what one truly is.