Can Oneness and Separation Co-Exist?

in #philosophy4 years ago

Often, you hear the concept that all is one and that all separation is an illusion. But is this really true?

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A popular idea that is taking hold throughout society is the concept of oneness or wholeness in our world. There are a variety of interpretations regarding this topic, but the general idea is that on a spiritual and physical level, the universe is a single consciousness, and that separation between parts is an illusion.

This concept is typically used in relation to philosophical ideas of why humans inflict suffering upon ourselves as well as the natural world we inhabit. Our alienation from the oneness of reality is what allows some individuals to believe they are an isolated being with no relation to the rest of the whole.

The idea of oneness has resonated with me on a deep level since being introduced to it. Of course, I am just a small speck of the universe, my consciousness is connected with the whole in ways that I cannot possibly comprehend.

My body and mind are the result of billions of years of evolution. Quite honestly, I am often in awe of the fact that I am able to even have these thoughts about the world, let alone share them with any human that has an internet connection and stumbles upon this post.

Is all separation truly a lie?

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In regards to oneness, the line that is often referenced is how our ego and personal identity is an illusion. That we are not really separate from one another, and that we are merely reflections of the greater whole. This is illustrated in an article featured on Deepak Chopra's website by author Robert Gabriel:

We are one but we think we are separate; we have forgotten our Oneness. As a result of forgetting, we create an illusory world of duality, which leads to suffering. All disagreements, conflict, and wars are due to the mistaken belief that we are separate. When we realize we are one, who, or what is there to fight against? On a cosmic level, two people fighting is as ridiculous as if your hands decided they didn’t like each other and started fighting.

There is a degree of truth in this statement, but upon further reflection I inherently disagree with the idea that these people are not separate at all. Person 1 has a body that is clearly limited, as does person 2. To suggest there are not two separate entities in this scenario is somewhat absurd.

Philosophically, I can understand the point that separation and disconnection creates unnecessary conflict. However, when the conflict is occurring, there is distinct separation being experienced tangibly by both parties.

I am my own person, living my life in a consistent form that I label as myself or 'Colin' to others. This differs from the consistent entity known as my fiance or my mother or any number of friends.

Oneness does not eliminate all clear distinctions of separateness

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The universe may be one on a cosmic level, but that doesn't change the fact that elements within this whole are distinguishable from one another. A proton and neutron are a part of the atom, but they are distinctly different from one another.

The primary point is that the line 'all is one' can be a bit reductionist and limiting. In some instances, oneness is used to subvert a person's individuality by people who have ulterior motives. If you're not separate from me, who is to say I can't just take all of your belongings? Possessions are a form of separation from the whole, after all, right? And what about touching your body without your consent? We're all one consciousness, so I'm just touching myself, right?

Of course, I say this not to denigrate or completely throw out the idea of wholeness or oneness. But I also think it's important not to completely throw out the idea of separateness either. I believe the two can co-exist without completely contradicting one another. There is value in empowering yourself for the good of the whole.


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We are all made from the same One Light energy. This is where are all One. Separation gains momentum through energetic density. So we are experiencing Separation but never have left Oneness in the first place. ;)

It is all within. We each decide what is true for us and what not. "As you wish so you conceive" is the directive, and we have purest creative Freedom in that. In my latest article I delved a bit deeper into this if you like.

The only satisfactory discussions on the subject, for me, have come out of Plato. Robert Schmidt does an amazing job of articulating this.

Plato maintained that you can't have this "oneness" or "separateness" without each other. He called them the same and other (as well as limit and limitless, one and many, etc). You can't have same without some kind of identity that establishes as a distinguishing factor, yet you can't have otherness without some kind of commonality, either with onesself or with the principle that establishes identity. Ultimately it's impossible to resolve this issue into one - the two have to exist side by side. If you have same, you have the possibility for something "other than". If you have other, the opposing sides still have to partake of a certain uniformity in order to establish a difference.

At one point the mind and world were considered distinct, but not intrinsically separate. The world was that which emitted an effluence and the mind received it. They were dinstinct, and differently defined, but not separate. The sameness and otherness exist within the same space (as in quantum mechanics, to my understanding).

Empowering yourself for the good of the whole can both be for yourself (the same) and the whole (others). All at the same time.

Good comment. The point is to experience the oneness - and there is a definite experience of that state. Without that basic experience, it is just ideas and words. After the experience, two things happen: firstly, we return to our standard duality with a new perspective; and we also have the opportunity to integrate that inner core with our daily life.

Think of it a base or root consciousness - I'm not a fan of quantum mechanical analogies, but here it comes! It is somewhat like the ground state, where apparently nothing exists yet is the source of existence.

Yes, we are all connected, but that does not mean one amorphous hive-mind blob of consciousness; it means we have the same ground state. hence, it may be possible, one day, that we may all agree on reality!

Although I like the ideas of oneness and connected consciousnesses, I also doubt their realism.

I like to think that our individual lives are parts of a much bigger life – evolution. We are distant relatives to all forms of life on our planet, including monkeys, wolves, whales, orcas, dolphins, minnows, flowers, and trees. The life as a whole, as the evolution, as the ecosystem whose part we are, continues long before and after our individual death. Thus, we all contribute to and enjoy a bit of the ongoing, bigger life, in addition to our individual lives.

I find this approach a bit more moderate that the oneness, while still having a similar underlying idea. : )

That's a great way to link it together without disregarding the parts. I'll have to use that one ;)

Nice post :) important to shine some light on this subject since it’s really vastly misunderstood.
When a person whom believes and acts as a separate entity adds the concept of oneness to the beliefstructure there is often weird effects in behavior.
Like justifying touching another body without prior consent (this usually only happens in a spiritual context/gathering/festival since the person doing this intuitively knows he/she wouldn’t get away with it in on the bus to work). The spiritual community really needs to grow up in this sense, call out and react when behaviors like this is seen. It’s just simply wrong! Keep in mind that most people in the spiritual communities are people with deep wounds and it’s important that we help to look out for each other.

Oneness is a really really mature state of being, and it doesn’t have a sober place in a life until that maturity is there.
If oneness is a cool concept that one adds to ones beliefs it’s really not doing any good. Might feel good to trip out on the concept but it won’t give any long term benefits.

I would go so far as to say, forget about oneness. When it is truly seen for what it really is then one could start to learn how to live it.
It’s not about adding something to your life it’s an effect of loosing ones sense of individuality. It’s about loosing loosing loosing! It’s rarely a nice ride. Forget about it!

Love, respect, friendship/friendliness, compassion and contemplation (and don’t forget your self, treat your self with at least the same amount of love etc. as your fellow beings) will take you a lot “further” then the idea of oneness.
Peace

Needs a lot of clear understanding of the two before reaching to any conclusions. Yr post gv me so much insight of the topic and made me to think a lot. Informative 👍

Very insightful post , I tend to agree with you that the two can indeed exist with contradicting each other.
Though I have always found it hard to make up my mind on this topic specially when we start talking about consciousness.

Everything in this world is made of energy. Energy can be converted into mass and mass can transform in energy according to Einstein's famous equation E=MC^2. We are all part of this world and this world is part of us. Our ego gives us the sense of our own existence but it also separate us from others. When we our inner self transcends through the curtains of 'maya', we see a different world and our separation from it disappears.

I would agree that on an energetic level we are all part of a universal vibration.

However, I believe we are also our own individual within this cosmic consciousness.

We are a drop of water in the ocean, but we are still a singular drop. In our predicament as humans, it's important to recognize the value of our individuality as much as our shared experience.

The two can coexist in my eyes.

We are a drop of water in the ocean, but we are still a singular drop. In our predicament as humans, it's important to recognize the value of our individuality as much as our shared experience.

Your opinion is absolutely right. There is no doubt that we are a part of a supreme creation but we also have our own individual entity.
When I said

When we our inner self transcends through the curtains of 'maya', we see a different world and our separation from it disappears.

I was trying to say that we should recognize our own individual entity but we should also not forget that we are all similar. We should not have discrimination on the ground of religion, race, beliefs, color, nationalities etc. Because neither I am different from anybody nor anybody is different from me. We should respect everyone. Even an animal should not be harmed unnecessarily. Thank you.

Nice Post @colinhoward. This is something I have thought about at length as well. While we clearly are separate entities in terms of our body, or vessel in which our spirit is contained; we are somehiw part if a bigger whole that binds us. I have had some amazing experiences in terms of synchronisity, I'm sure you have as well. For instance you think of a friend, then the phone ring and its your friend. I think there's a spiritual energy that binds us all, so the concept that we are all one is referring more to our energetic experience rather than our physical experience.

You bring up some interesting points though. Thanks for sharing.

Absolutely, my experiences with synchronicity have affirmed my belief in the collective unconscious and that much deeper connections exist within reality that we are aware of.

A constant observer (ourselves) indicates that, at least in sensory terms, there is a sense of separation between us and the rest of the cosmos. If it's an illusion, it's a persistent and helpful one in making our world coherent.

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Yes, "oneness" has become another group-think hive-mind thoughtless meme. However, it appears to have legs... so needs knee-capping.

I said in another comment, experience is everything, and the experience of oneness (selflessness, egolessness, nothinglessness etc) is an important first step in rearranging our inner priorities and how we look at the universe. It is a personal experience, not a collective one, hence is not a "oneness" with anything, it is a "wholeness" of oneself.

Then the journey starts.

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Interesting, There is a strange synchronization between life (unity) in the universe but this in turn is endowed with an independence (free will) that affects their environment.
It is necessary? It is so, everything is sustained. thanks for your post