Babies (before six-month old) live in a completely merged state. They have no ability to differentiate from the external or internal world.
As babies grow older, they start to develop the ability to differentiate. When the differentiation is developed to a certain extent, separation is experienced. Hence, ego appears to be the subject in experiences. Awareness is unconsciously merged with the ego. When experiencing thoughts or feelings, the ego takes credits or blames for them as the ego believes that it is the creator of all of its thoughts, feelings, ideas and reactions. This inevitably leads to suffering, especially when devastating judgemental thoughts arise.
In reality, for the most part, the ego is the recipient of thoughts, feelings, ideas and reactions, which arise spontaneously from the total psyche (the totality of the human mind, including the personal conscious and unconscious as well as the collective unconscious***). By noticing them when thoughts, feelings, ideas or reactions arise spontaneously, you can see that you didn’t plan to have those thoughts, feelings, ideas or reactions.
Witnessing in spirituality is watching thoughts, feelings, ideas and reactions. This is to use the ability to differentiate to find our way back to our true being - awareness. When awareness is differentiated from the ego and realizes for what itself is - formless (which implies borderless) but conscious and present, which is the source of all forms, unity is experienced...
There is a misunderstanding in spiritual experiences about merging. Some people try to merge during their spiritual experiences. They imagine that is what oneness is about. Sometimes such merging can be blissful; sometimes it can be frightening. According to Adyashanti, a good rule to go by is:
”Never identify or merge with any aspect of the collective unconscious. Just see and relate to the unconscious as experiences that are occurring within you, but that are not you. If you don’t identify or merge with the contents of the collective unconscious, you will remain safe. If you merge with the negative aspects of the unconscious, you end up paralyzed by fear. And if you merge with the positive aspects of it, you end up inflated. Cling to neither hell nor heaven, for they are both simply passing experiential phenomena that can neither harm nor delude you if you do not merge with them. Don’t resist, grasp, or identify. That’s your safeguard. For you are bigger than them all, the space within which the collective arises and passes away.”
***Collective Unconscious - A term coined by Carl Jung. To quote him, “In addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature and which we believe to be the only empirical psyche (even if we tack on the personal unconscious as an appendix), there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents.”
I just love Adya and I think he deserves his own forum.
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