Part of grounding as a path of healing and awakening is to gently challenge belief systems. This is important not only for its own sake – in service to our broader awakening – but also because certain limiting beliefs can actively impede us in our process. We want the direction we choose for ourselves and the decisions we make to bring us towards and into greater wholeness, not to increase our fragmentation and keep us in separation from ‘what is’. With that in mind, here are some common fallacies that are present in the New Age communities. Most of them have truth to them, but miss out important bits, so as to be un-useful in their incompletion. Some are, in my opinion, spiritualised/philosophised versions of escapism (escapism being a big part of the New Age shadow). Whether or not you agree with my own ‘beliefs’ about these beliefs, I hope you’ll be inspired to question, both your own beliefs, and also what’s popular and widespread. The New Age world has its misunderstandings and distortions, just as much as the mainstream world does.
“If you meet the Buddha, kill him” – Linji (ancient Koan)
“Everything is one”. “We are all one”. These are common expressions, and reflect a deep truth that’s known and sensed by many, that of Oneness.
There’s a lot of good that comes from embracing this truth; it helps remedy some of the egocentricism that we have; it helps us become compassionate and empathetic, by recognising the universality of all; it helps our spiritual development by radically broadening (or breaking free from) our usual limits of perception.
However, this truth is misunderstood when its drawn on exclusively, at the expense of seeing (and fully engaging with) the vast majority of human experience. It becomes a fallacy when treated as dogma, rather than as part of a broader exploration into universal truth.
The other part of the picture of Oneness, and it’s complimentary part, is that of individuation. At a mystical level, One becomes Two, and so on, into infinity. That’s the seed/flower of life in action, of manifestation, of creation. To see and acknowledge that things have differences, and individuality exists, is not to deny the sacredness or inter-connectedness of those things. To know that a river ultimately goes to the same place as all other rivers, and comes from the same place, is not to say that there is no such thing as an individual river.
This belief can also be used as a form of escapism; as a way to wriggle back into the un-manifest (which is where we ARE all one) or into the group mind (where we don’t have personal responsibility), away from manifest life (where we are both individuated beings AND collective beings). When people do that, their thoughts and feelings (and more broadly, their energy) becomes diffuse and amorphous. They and their energy can seem ‘wooly’ – their awareness not in the here-and-now, but dispersed in higher realms. We have this physical incarnate life so that we CAN experience separation and individuation, not so that we can continue to experience the consciousness of the un-manifest (the consciousness of everything being One). Pursing Oneness without also turning your attention inward into your Self, and also outward into the world, can thus be an imbalanced spiritual path.
We are multi dimensional beings. At our deepest levels, we are one with everything. From that divine core come projections/emanations of consciousness, that exist across many levels/dimensions of being. Whilst the totality of our beings come from Oneness, we nonetheless are (in part) individuated beings. Other parts of us exist collectively, in group consciousness. The spectrum of our consciousness runs from Oneness to individuation. As we go deeper into our Self, the apparent limits of our Self widen and broaden, until we discover that we are infinite.
And that universal infinity includes individual infinity, which includes the collective, which includes an individual aspect of the collective, which includes an individuated consciousness. Each expression or experience of consciousness nestles within its progenitor level as well as being an extension of it.
Another way of saying that – as humans, and within our humanity, is contained everything. The entirety of our beings, and the whole universe, and non-dual existence. Within our humanity is both dualistic (individualised) and non-dual (oneness) experience and consciousness.
Therefore it’s only within our humanity everything is to be found. By embracing and welcoming the fullness of our being, we are healing ourselves, and learning more of ourselves and the world. Taking our consciousness and awareness ‘backwards’ into Source (into Oneness) is only one half of the spiritual journey; the other half is in coming back, and moving ‘forwards’ along the incarnational pathway, of bringing ever more consciousness and experience into the manifest world. The process of evolution is a bi-directional (or even omni-directional) dance that consists of the play of consciousness discovering itself, not a one-directional back into the un-manifest.
My suggestion for an alternative expression and philosophy to “We are all One”, that recognises and includes more, would be “At our core we are all one. In our individuality we are all connected.”
With love, Justin
(“New Flower of Life” artwork by Capstoned)