What the old timers used to call “enlightenment” or “realisation” or “awakening” is really just the direct realisation that you are not some kind of being that is separate from the universe but that you are, in fact, the entire universe. Not a part of it; not connected to it; but actually it in its entirety.
Most of us spend our lives thinking we are separate from everyone and everything else. Our concept of who we are is predicated on this assumption. I am a separate being, walking around, hoping to find someone to love and someone to be loved by. From this initial assumption, that I am separate from the rest of the universe, we build other concepts about what it’s going to take to achieve happiness or fulfilment. However these assumptions are all based on a misunderstanding.
What the old timers referred to as “the one” – as in “being one with the universe” – is the recognition that there is only one universe, that it is a functioning entity and that it cannot be divided.
Take a pea. Everything inside of that pea, is the pea. The tiny bits of pea stuff inside the pea is the pea. It is a single unit.
Now according to cosmologists, our universe was once the size of that pea. It was actually once a lot smaller than the pea, but at some stage, for a brief trillionth of a second, it was the size of the pea. Imagine if you were outside of the universe at that second and could pick it up like you pick up the pea. Everything in the universe is the universe. It’s a single unit.
Well that is still true today, even though the universe is magnitudes bigger than it was when it was pea-sized. It’s still a single unit. You are just inside the pea. And you see lots of different things inside the pea, including yourself, and you think they are all separate from the pea. But really there is nothing except the pea. And the pea is you.
Another way of looking at this is to think about the fundamental elements of your body.
Your body is made of cells which are made of molecules which are made of atoms. We could keep going but let’s pause there for a moment.
Scientists tell us that the majority of the atoms that make up your body today were not part of your body, say five years ago. Back then, these atoms were something else – other animals, vegetables, bacteria, whatever. So the atoms that are you today, were something else five years ago. And the atoms that were you five years ago? They are something else right at this moment. And the atoms that will be you five years from now? They are currently something else.
So which set of atoms are the real you? Of course there aren’t any. There is just a big soup of atoms, appearing now as one thing and later as something else, like cloud animals in the summer sky.
Now most of these atoms are also billions of years old. The heavier elements, e.g. carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, etc, were created during the death of a star somewhere between 8 and 10 billion years ago. Imagine the journey they have been on since that time! And the hydrogen in your body (most of your body being H2O) dates back to the early dawn of the universe, before there were any planets or stars or light or life.
So the fundamental stuff you are made of is billions of years old, has been travelling the universe for half of that time, and for the last 4 billion years has been taking a multitude of forms of living and inanimate objects on this planet, momentarily becoming you, and then moving on to become something different.
Why does this matter?
It matters because when you identify yourself with one tiny part of the universe, you tend to get caught up with the vicissitudes of that tiny part. Your perspective is skewed. You’ve forgotten that you are the whole. So you get wrapped up with the ups and downs of the one tiny part, worrying about what will happen to it tomorrow, and obsessing over what happened to it yesterday. You end up with tunnel vision, thinking, mistakenly, that you need concern yourself with the comings and goings of that one tiny fragment of the whole pea.
When, on the other hand, you stop identifying with the one tiny fragment and instead accept that you are the entire pea, you stop worrying so much about the tiny fragment. You realise it’s fortunes will come and go, there will be good days and bad days, there will be light and dark and happiness and sadness but that none of this matters to the pea. The one tiny fragment of the pea is a trillionth, trillionth, trillionth of the pea. Probably even less.
You cannot escape the universe. You cannot exist outside of it. All of time and space – that’s what the universe is. And because you cannot be separated from that, and you have no separate existence without that, then you must be that.
When you accept this and live with it, fully integrated into your concept of who and what you are, you’ll find that the things that used to worry you no longer do. The ups and downs of life as they apply to a single tiny part of the whole are not your concern. They will come and go and come and go. Both the coming and the going will be welcomed equally as a brief experience. Because that’s all you are left with – experiencing. You are the universe observing itself from billions of sets of eyes, human and non-human, in one tiny corner of the universe. Over billions of years of slow change, hydrogen has become carbon which has become self-aware and can cognise. If we can say that you’re existence has any purpose, it is that – to observe and experience. To judge those experience as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ requires the perspective of the tiny fragmented individual. It judges events that it likes as good and those that it doesn’t like as bad – but the universe has a different perspective. There is no good nor bad to the universe. There is only a wide variety of things happening. Once you accept your true nature – that of the universal beingness – then you will also cease to judge events as good or bad and just see them as “things happening”. And that is the basis of true pea-ce.