The Universal “I”
A human being is an aspect of the divine, an expression or spark of the divine Godhead “made in God’s Image”. The term “individual”, however, is misleading and the concept itself is in essence an illusion. Although each “individual” has his/her own seemingly separate body, mind and emotions and separate awareness the only true “individuality” he/she possesses is their separate physicality, personality/ego and their own True Self/Spirit/Soul. Each “individual” is in fact a microcosm, complete in itself, contained within while simultaneously containing the imprint of the whole of the macrocosm of the whole of Creation. The All is within the One and the One contains and pervades the All. All life and consciousness originates from the same source and all “individuals” are merely different aspects or expressions of the One Source. Therefore it naturally follows that even though humanity as a whole is composed of literally billions of “individuals” each “individual” is merely, although admittedly in some ways unique, one of a myriad number of aspects or expressions of humanity as a whole, a microcosm reflecting a macrocosm. Yet each and every “individual” shares the same affiliation with the same One Divine Source, making for a collective soul of humanity, as it were.
Even though in many ways by nature it is illusory, the formation of a separate sense of self, a self-image or sense of individuality, is key to forming a base from which to work from and to forming a central seat of awareness with which to meet and relate to both the inner and outer worlds. The Personality can be seen as the set of personal traits, characteristics and set ways of acting, reacting to and relating and interacting with other people specifically and one’s outer environment in general. Another aspect of one’s self similar to the Personality is the Persona, which is simply put the “mask” which we for the most part consciously wear or present to the world. These two aspects together represent the “You” others see as you project yourself out into the world. Just as the Personality and the Persona show how others see the “You” and how you relate to others, the Ego shows your self-image, the “I” and how in many ways you relate to your personal self. In fact, the keyword for the concept of the Ego is “self”, and a very subjective sense of self at that. Terms like self-image, self-esteem, self-centered, self-conscious, et al. all come to mind. The Ego is very much all wrapped up in its-“self”. This is why when we talk about people whom we deem to be very egotistical we say that they are very “self-ish” and that they are very full of them-“selves”. Ironically, this strong sense of “self”, this powerful personal construct of an individual “I” is exactly what is needed to eventually safely and successfully lead an individual to a transcendent understanding of the “not-self” as the external “I”. Until this enlightened state of awareness is attained the main function of the Ego is to function as the personal center of the seat of awareness allowing the conscious self of an individual to mentally and emotionally as well as physically separate its “self” from the external “not-self” and to differentiate, process as well as filter all external stimuli and energy and information through the individual psyche and the five physical senses. Without this strong and secure sense of self there is the danger of losing one’s self to the external “I” and the subsequent dissolution of the personal identity/personality/psyche.
The ego-awareness is synonymous with the conscious mind and is associated with the term “I”. The Higher Self is associated with the aspect of the “Higher-Mind”/Universal Consciousness and the Inner Self is associated with the aspect of the “True Psyche”/Universal Heart or Soul. At the common level of ego-awareness the individual consciousness is led to discriminate and to differentiate between the “self” and the “not-self”. Individual consciousness and separateness becomes based upon such terms as “I”/”Me” and “You”/”Them”. A person sees and experiences himself as not only a physically separate individual/entity unto himself but also as mentally, emotionally and spiritually separate as well. Simultaneously, however, unbeknownst to the Ego’s limited state of awareness, the individual’s Higher Self (Spirit) and Inner Self (Psyche/Soul) are at some level aware of the Oneness and the interconnectedness of all “individuals” and of Creation itself. At some point along the line of individual evolution common or average awareness for the individual crosses some critical threshold becoming in essence “common” or “shared” awareness. Here what was once seen as “You”/”Them” now becomes “I”/”We”. Physical separateness and integrity is of course maintained yet what had once also seemed so separate and individual, one’s personal aspects of mind and heart, thought and feeling, transform themselves into a vastly wider and more inclusive state and level of awareness. It is here that one realizes that we are each physically separate aspects and expressions of the same “Oneness”, the same singular universal “Self”.
Before we as individuals reach this awareness of the all-inclusive universal “I” we must first develop a deep and profound sense of the personal sense of self. Only then can we truly appreciate and understand the sense of our shared selfhood in others.
From the moment of birth and especially through what are considered the formative years of adolescence and early adulthood the human psyche is constantly engaged in forging a solid and coherent identity and sense of self. Here a unique personality emerges centered around the Ego establishing an essential central core of self-identity and self-awareness. This central sense of self is what anchors the Ego throughout the individual’s life. It is the base from which a person approaches life in general and any and all relationships with others. In other words, the personality and the Ego combine to form in a large part the manner in which an individual relates to the world. In early infancy and early childhood, however, the individual’s Ego and personality are not yet firmly established and as a result are much less rigid and much more inclusive than are an adult’s Ego and personality. Yet as an individual enters and progresses through adolescence and into young adulthood he/she becomes increasingly conditioned, defining and identifying themselves by and through the various social roles that they take on and play out. This proverbial “clean slate” and subsequent role- playing are part of a natural progression which comprises the vital dynamic of self-individualization.
Once a person realizes a certain measure of maturity and self-awareness one begins to progress from the point of the public persona, the personality and the Ego toward a more enlightened, deeper sense of self. Not only does this person see certain aspects of himself reflected by others, he begins to actually identify with these aspects. Through this process of awakening a sleeping awareness of the true self, one embarks upon the path of true self-actualization. Slowly and gradually the narrow, limited focus of the Ego is replaced by the blossoming awareness of the newly awakened and merging Higher and Inner Selves. Identification paves the way for the realization that the “I” which we see in others is a true reflection of our shared and mutual universal “Self”.
You may ask the question, “What can an individual, one person, do to make meaningful change in the world?” To properly answer this question one must delve deeper beyond the realm of the universal “I” and into the dynamics of the collective psyche of humanity itself. Modern analytical (or Jungian) psychology has introduced the terms and concepts of archetypes and the collective unconscious into modern mainstream society and awareness. Archetypes are fundamental formless dynamic ideals/energies which exist as psychic potentialities within the collective psyche of humanity capable of being expressed in infinite number of forms, ideas and imagery/symbolism. The term collective unconscious refers to the common psychic ancestral reservoir whose contents are shared by the whole of all humanity which includes among other things ancestral memories, biological conditioning and as just mentioned the ethereal realm of the archetypes. Every individual can and does to some extent access the energies of the archetypes and the collective unconscious. Whether it is done unconsciously or semi-consciously or it is done consciously is another matter. Here as always individual awareness is the key. Literally the key for personal consciousness is the key which unlocks the proverbial door to universal consciousness and which enables one to develop and acquire mastery on a truly higher conscious plane. Such people become conduits for the conscious expression of the collective unconscious and the energies/ideals of the archetypes. They are catalysts for good or for ill for the conscious evolution of humanity.
Here is an analogy which may prove to be illuminating. Consciousness, whether individual or collective, is like unto an iceberg which only the tip of which is readily apparent to the light of awareness. The vast percentage of this iceberg lies beneath the surface of consciousness within the shadowy depths of the unconscious. As conscious awareness begins to grow the iceberg becomes enlightened and more buoyant and it begins to rise bringing more of its volume above the surface. As this process continues more and more of what was once beneath the level of conscious awareness rises up into the light of day. In this way previously untapped and unexpressed psychic contents become accessible to the conscious mind. It is through this conscious acquisition and assimilation of previously unconscious psychic contents that human consciousness grows and evolves. As each individual grows in conscious awareness and as each individual is a singular expression of the universal “I” this growth of personal awareness acts to raise the consciousness of the entirety of humanity. Indeed it may seem that the number of paths to enlightenment and greater conscious awareness is infinite yet it also seems that the further one travels along the path of personal enlightenment and awareness the more one discovers that these innumerable paths begin to converge as tributaries to a larger common stream of consciousness. Those individuals who are in tune with this concentrated consciousness are able to effectively harness it and channel it purposefully and intentionally. These are the individuals who often have the greatest impact upon the collective consciousness of humanity yet each individual to a greater or lesser degree helps to pave the way for humanity’s growing awareness. One person truly can help change the world.
So even though in one sense we are all separate individuals each with an isolated separate notion of an individual or personal sense of “I” we are all equally valid valuable expressions of an invaluable, inestimable universal “I”. The One is contained in all and the All is contained in each one. With this being true it bears mentioning once more: one person truly can change the world.