The realization that has been most impactful for me is that our identification with the “individual self” serves mostly to insulate us from the sense of vulnerability that is inherent in our more authentic connection with all else on the planet and perhaps the universe. In that perceived separateness there is a somewhat illusive sense of security and certainty, or at least the questionable belief that these things can be acquired if we pursue them. There is as well a false sense that as individuals we are agents of change that can create circumstances for this to occur.
In coming into a more direct and whole experience with self and life we begin to see the fragmented understanding that has influenced our self-identification and we begin to learn to cope with the vulnerability that is part of a more authentic realization in a new way, that is influenced by a more comprehensive and directly experienced understanding. The sensitivity that is inseparable from the vulnerability becomes a conscious force in our actions that in our previously conditioned way was absent. Compassion and deep inter connection become an inseparable part of our life. To make decisions and to act without considering them leaves us incomplete. So in a way we begin to realize that the sense that we are individuals and that we have free will is a way that has emerged from a limited identification with self. And in the acting from the limited identity that we have assumed there are grave consequences. I remember watching the movie ” The African Queen” and at one point the deeply religious character played by Katherine Hepburn says that ” God gave us dominion over nature”. Humankind has used this kind of rationalization to perpetuate the existence of the self separate from nature. When we begin to wake up we begin to realize that we can not act in a way without compassion or love without hurting ourselves and the world that we are inseparable from.