On my better days, I look around at other people and I only see myself.
I see the same sense of “I,” the same subtle glow of selfhood in the eyes of everyone I come across. I see the same all-pervasive spirit, the same suchness, the same fundamental “stuff” comprising all things.
We may be different in our looks, dress, and actions, but perhaps beneath all of that there exists the same essential sense of self—the same consciousness underlying our seeming differences.
Maybe I’m just a shameless optimist, or in some way naive to believe this, but it certainly feels true. It feels more real than anything when I recognize this. I feel more connected with other people when I abide by this sense of inherent sameness, when I give credence to our basic likeness rather than our superficial distinctions. As far as I can tell, connecting with other people is the reason we are here. It certainly feels better than anything else.
Isn’t it possible that we all feel almost exactly the same inside? There may be discrete distinctions based on our particular backgrounds and dispositions, but is it possible that this sense of “me” that we feel is felt all across the board? Isn’t it possible that we are not different—that this notion of there being some other person or some other group that is inherently different from us is merely the resonance of our tribal origins?
I’m not trying to sell you on this. I just want you to play with this, to explore its possibilities. Being that so much of the chaos we see in the world seems to come from this sense of intrinsic division between people, it seems as though it might be valuable to do so.
We seem to be so much better at recognizing our differences rather than our similarities, don’t we? We tend to see and categorize people as Democrats or Republicans, rich or poor, Americans or Syrians, Christians or Muslims.
I believe that this propensity arises out of the movement of our thoughts, being that the thinking mind has been conditioned to recognize problems as a matter of evolutionary necessity. Thought is essentially a mechanism that diagnoses and solves problems, a mechanism without which we likely would have been wiped out long ago.
The point is that we have come to be much better at recognizing discrepancies than we are at acknowledging similarities, and this proclivity makes it harder to see how we are intrinsically the same.
Personally, I am tired of the bullsh*t. I’m tired of war. I’m tired of poverty. I’m tired of people hurting one another. To me, the only way to put this madness to rest is to get people to see that we all want the same things. We feel the same. We have the same passions and desires.
Fundamentally, we are the same.
It’s time to wake up.
It is time that we recognize that the human enterprise is not comprised solely of our thoughts, our personal identities, our distinctions. It is time that we acknowledge who we are—beyond name and form. It is time that we acknowledge that which is in us that is entirely universal and is not subject to change.
When I force myself to proceed in this manner—to go out of my way to acknowledge and embody this ineffable force behind all things, to embrace the universality of consciousness—then I feel much more capable of love.
How could I hurt someone when I see them as the same as myself? How could I possibly harm my cosmic brothers and sisters if I see clearly that we are one family? How can I cause pain if I see that we are simply individualized expressions of the same essential thing?
In the words of Alan Watts, “Until we wake up we are going to keep pretending that we are just poor little me.”
In other words, we will keep pretending that we are pesky, little, isolated selves that are in some way distinct from everyone else. We will remain under the control of the ego mind, which is concerned solely with its own well-being (or, more likely, the lack thereof). We will stay disjointed, disconnected, and existentially flustered—at least this has been the case in my own journey of self-understanding and discovery.
This isn’t to say that we aren’t special, or don’t have characteristics that are unique to us. Rather, I‘m trying to say that there is something much deeper than what is seen on the surface that unifies us all. There is something that connects us on the level of our souls. The more we embody this underlying connection, the better we tend to feel and, likely, the more good we will do in the world because we can feel responsible for other people.
We are all the same, and I feel that, as a society, we have suffered enough at the expense of having forgotten this. We are due for a wake-up call. At a certain point we have to grow up and realize that we need each other and are responsible for each other. Without this understanding, all will be lost.
Love must be the driving force of human existence.