Either all of it is me, or none of it is me.
This is the voice of pure Awareness, describing its relationship to phenomenal appearances: the kaleidoscopic transformations of body-mind-world.
First, we learn to distinguish unchanging Awareness from phenomena which come and go. We clearly perceive that “none of this is me.”
Sometime later, we dissolve even this distinction, to clearly perceive that “all of this is me.”
Still, Silent Depth
Having been tossed about on the waves of worldly turmoil, we find the still silent depth of the ocean: ahh. But then we notice that the waves—in all their various shapes and colors, tastes and textures and scents—are ultimately not-separate from the ocean depths.
From either position—i.e. “none of this is me” or “all of this is me”—one might assume absolute equanimity in relation to the appearance, reproduction or disappearance of a given phenomena.
Does the still, silent depth of the ocean feel a preference for one wave over another? Does the still, silent depth of the ocean celebrate the birth, or mourn the death, of one wave more than another wave?
And yet …
And yet … from the point of view of a given human body-mind, such distinctions are almost always made. A human body-mind—though not ultimately findable as a permanent, independent and separate entity—does, in a more relative sense, have a specific and limited sphere of influence. (Physicists might refer to it as a light-cone describing possible causal influences.)
A given human body-mind cannot—in a practical sense—care for all other sentient beings equally. We may be able to generate a more abstract wish or desire for all sentient beings to be happy and healthy. And we may feel directly—from the still silent depths of our essential nature—our non-separation from all-that-is … and from this “place” equally love all beings: understanding all beings to be the Love that is, most essentially, who I am.
But in terms of the day-to-day practicalities of taking care of one another, we make necessary distinctions between our friends and family members—and everyone else. Human communities and societies depend upon such distinctions, in order to function as such. And so we are touched, in a different way, by the passing-away of a friend-wave or a family-member-wave—than we are by a stranger-wave.
And yet, in our heart of hearts, we always know the truth of what John Donne expresses in his much-loved poem.
For Whom the Bells Tolls
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
~ John Donne