Individual (“I”)– The human individual is he who says “I” or “not I” when speaking about and thinking about himself.
“I” concept - How one perceives, conceives, quantifies and expresses himself.
People often refer to themselves utilizing the personal pro-noun “I”, which when articulated, symbolizes the individual who speaks the word in
reference to himself. The individual is the concrete, the “I” is his abstraction, or what he thinks
the concrete him is.
There have been many thinkers of an eastern spiritual flavour who have stated that there is no “I”, and even go so far to say that every
individual is somehow not a separate entity, that everything is “one”, non-dual, not even plural, that we are not distinct enough in composition
and action to warrant a concrete difference with anything else, that the individual and his conception of himself is “idea” only, an illusion, a
construct, a null set completely void of content and context, and perhaps, even a concept that should be shunned.
It is often said that emptying this “I” concept of its content leads to peace, or “oneness”, or “non-dual awareness”, ego-death and other
idealistic desires and clichés. It is my estimation that such a doctrine is merely a fear, inability or unwillingness to define oneself, and to act
in accordance with whatever definition that results from this process.
From what I’ve noticed, people rely too heavily on preconceived notions to define themselves. They choose certain labels,vocations, religions, or
ideologies in the hopes that these sets of restrictions and rules might offer some defining qualities to their “I” concept. But the “I”
concept loses its personality when it is filled with entirely impersonal
content such as this, or no content whatsoever. What is to be the most
personal, self-defining concept for an individual is left for anyone else but that individual to define. Hence a repudiation of labels is often
necessary, for through a constant application of such labels, the individual is left with only these labels to define himself, and the labels become
the only means through which to express himself. In the case of the advocates of “non-dual awareness”, these thinkers attempt to do away with not
only the labels, but with the “I” concept altogether, even making it their scapegoat. However, doing so can only ever further defines this
concept. Both “I” and “not I” are still concepts of the individual, who by necessity, is the only one ever responsible for the individual’s
Advocates of “oneness” still appear to be individuals, yet say they are not. What we have here is someone refusing to speak about the actuality of
individuals, but nonetheless acting as if the opposite was the case. The lies always come from the mouth, but the rest of him is telling the truth. An
embodied individual claiming he isn’t an embodied individual is a strange notion to behold. One can hit that body, and it will make a sound, it
might complain, it might get angry, it might ask questions, it might rub where it was hit – one can swing a fist through the air away from that
individual, and, as expected, not hit him despite “everything being one” – but still, from its individual mouth: “There is no I”, “We are
one”. How is this possible? It doesn’t take long to note that this is only possible through ignorance or dishonesty, and that no matter what one
says about oneness, he is still as distinct as anything else.
What they likely mean to say is that “everything is one”, meaning we are a part of one thing. It seems to me that a philosophy of this mindset is
also a philosophy of pointing out the obvious. Oneness, as a universal concept is akin to saying the universe is the universe. The initial premise is
the same as the conclusion. We need not waste our time critiquing it.
"Non-dual awareness" is strangely a dualistic concept. It presupposes that "awareness" is something outside of that which is aware, and even, that
which is aware is a product of awareness. The idea cannot be contemplated, and requires simply more mystical abstractions in order to make it work.
Of course, as is often the case with those that promote a doctrine of “oneness”, these individuals are in some way suffering, and as I’ve come
to understand, would like nothing better but to suffer with others. To do so requires others to be the exact same as the individual saying we are one,
which according to the law of non-contradiction, is a logical and empirical impossibility.
After a little introspection – and perhaps after much indoctrination – they arrive at the conclusion it is their “ego”, their personality,
their “I”, their very individuality and how they think about themselves and how they speak about themselves that is the root of everything they
have come to know as “suffering” – their personal brand of “suffering” to be sure – and no one else’s. Yet, as a consequence, they’ve
come to demonize the act of thinking about oneself and defining oneself differently in the process, continually attempting to demonize the otherness
of other people and even themselves, further desiring an imaginary homogeneity so they do not have to suffer as individuals, alone. Seeing themselves
as not individuals, as not “I”, is the only way to satiate this desire.
I suppose that we could all jump into a giant blender and make ourselves one entity if we were delighted enough to do so, but it seems to me a
dangerous if not ridiculous notion. Saying we are not separate is dishonest. The very fact that one must express this notion so that others can hear
it proves quite easily how separate one really is. If “we are one” (a logical contradiction when spoken), no expression would be necessary and
we’d all be thinking the same thing. The exact opposite is the case. There is an “I” if one chooses to define himself. It is no illusion. It is
a word. It is how we present ourselves when expressing ourselves. In logic, it is the set under which we define ourselves, and what we make ourselves
out to be. This “I” concept is as individual as the individual thinking it, and it is sourced only from that particular individual who expresses
it. Whether one will seize that opportunity or not is up to him.