Eliminating Your Individuality?
Early on in my search for truth, I explored a few paths—Buddhism, the new age culture, various types of meditations. As a result, what I found was an ever increasing attack on individuality. In other words, to retain one’s sense of individuality makes one less enlightened or less spiritual, if you will. I also discovered the concept of “merging into the oneness” or the “universal consciousness,” which is woven through the fabric of many of these paths. Merging enables one to lose their personhood, and again attain their Godhood. Essentially it is thought that you can become God, in fact, you ARE God, you just have to realize it.
To be God or Not to be God?
Here are some common quotes from those who propound the ideology of merging one’s existence to become God.
“When the One who has realized God says, “I am God. You are God, and we are all one,” and also awakens this feeling of Oneness in his illusion-bound selves, then the question of the lowly and the great, the poor and the rich, the humble and the modest, the good and the bad, simply vanishes.”
“There is only one question. And once you know the answer to that question there are no more to ask. . . . Who am I? And to that question there is only one answer—I am God!”
Question to the readers: why do you think someone would want to adhere to such a philosophy? I mean, it’s a really popular paradigm and it definitely has some good aspirations. Yes, we want to transcend the physical limitations of the body, and yes, we should desire to transcend the dualities of pain and pleasure, happiness and distress, success and failure, honor and dishonor. However, I hold contentions that this is achieved by attaining the position of God.
When the Sun Ray Equals the Sun
Just for starters, if we are all God—then why is there even a NEED for enlightenment, anyways? If I am God, but I have fallen into illusion and only need to remember my Godhood—wouldn’t that make illusion greater than God? How can illusion overpower that who is considered “Supremely powerful”? Srila Prabhupada in Sri Isopanisad enumerates this point:
“Such people, unable to recognize their own foolishness, never consider how it is that God can be entrapped by maya [illusion], His own illusory energy. If God were ever entrapped by maya, maya would be more powerful than God. Such people say that God is all-powerful, but they do not consider that if He is all-powerful there is no possibility of His being overpowered by maya. These self-made ‘Gods’ cannot answer all these questions very clearly; they are simply satisfied becoming ‘God’ themselves.”
Furthermore, where in nature do we ever see the part equal the whole? In essence, such an idea is being proclaimed (i.e. though I am an individual right now, I am actually God—the complete whole). The sun can be used as an appropriate analogy. When I think of the sun, I automatically think of sunshine. How can the two ever be separated? Although they have the same qualities, heat and light, there is a quantitative difference between them. Here in San Diego, during the summer months especially, it can get pretty hot out in the sun. Yet, standing in the sunshine would not be equated with being on the surface of the sun, would it? In other words, we are the energy of God (the energetic source). We are like a sun ray emanating from the sun globe. We have the same qualities, but we are a fragmental part and parcel.
There was once an encounter between two men during a large gathering of pilgrims in India. Particularly in the month of January, it can get very cold. One man was sitting with two blankets on a cold morning during this large festival. The other man approached, asking for a blanket to keep warm. The blanketed man pulled one large thread and proceeded to hand it over, much to the surprise of the other gentleman who looked at it with bewilderment! Then the blanketed pilgrim said, “What’s the funny look on your face for; that is your philosophy isn’t it? The part is equal to the whole? So enjoy, keep warm, our blankets are one!”
It is my personal realization that such a philosophy of realizing ourselves as God is inconsistent with the way in which we live our lives on a daily basis. Through the vision of Krishna consciousness, or bhakti yoga, it has become apparent that the part can never equal the whole. In fact, being enlightened means to retain your individual existence to serve, on a personal and individual level, the Absolute Truth and all living beings.