On Unity

Self and world are nothing in themselves and it is only in the interactions and creative, fundamentally incomplete interplay that they both gain substance…

Context: Some originally spontaneous, slightly edited thoughts (and literary self-reference) made as a comment in reflection to another blog post concerning unity and oneness:

Yes, thankyou.  I agree.  We are all one.  This is like the Möbius strip which at any point on its surface appears to be two separate surfaces, a boundary and division between self-other or self-world – when seen as a gestalt whole structure – it is clear that there is in fact only one surface.  It is merely that the nature of the surface, or perhaps – the nature of seeing and understanding, requires it to be seen at any moment or in any place as a dichotomy, a duality.  There exists a fundamental discontinuity, in the Möbius strip this is represented by the twist, the enigma and paradox of singularity and oneness which can not be seen in any one spot but is only apparent as in some sense spread out evenly across the whole surface.  The metaphor derives explanatory power and potential justification from other areas of geometry, topology and logic but it remains a fact that there exists this one, unique surface, one identity, indivisible and yet expressed as a duality.


There exist fundamental limitations to the way our selves and psychologies work – to have the understanding, comprehending observer and point of reference to be able to express the viewpoint of oneness requires creating the dichotomy that we attempt to unravel.  A single point of view, looking at a sphere – it is not possible to see the whole sphere at once unless the single point of view becomes every point of view and the paradox of this is that the individual psychological self actually dissolves – to be seeing a complex or enigmatic entity from every single viewpoint (which may be required to fully acknowledge and comprehend the unity of all things), the self dissolves to nothing.  Zen Buddhist psychology wrestled with this, successfully.  Christian mysticism found Apophasis and reductive exploration of mystery to understand this.  There are many sources in many faiths but in the end this can just as easily be a fundamentally secular spirituality – a psychological insight and ambient awareness of unity.

A paradox of the unity of the self/world symmetry is that the world (human experience of the world, culture, society) is only what it is because it possesses some shared mental existence, supported by so many minds who creatively participate in it.  The self which does this creative participation aggregates all of its knowledge and biases from the cultural, social world.  Both self and world are nothing in themselves and it is only in the interactions and creative, fundamentally incomplete interplay that they both gain ontological depth and substance.  We are real, but only in interaction with that other part of ourselves, which is each other and the shared reality we call culture, society, and so on.
“the psychological self is itself so deeply intertwined with the world from which it accumulates its ideas and opinions that it is in itself actually profoundly empty and void, not in any emotional sense negative but certainly insubstantial.  The source of the great enigma here is that the collective self and cultural reality is itself nothing beyond the individuals of which it is composed but these individuals are also themselves almost nothing beyond the expression and storage of the collective, cultural self.”
“Just as in the way matter curves space and space provides the most probable vectors for matter to move in accelerating motion along those curves, the self (individual or collective) warps the symbolic, gestural, lived world around its own internal mental processing and provides the possibility for growth and the probable vectors of history and shared existence, the stage of experience.”


One reply on “On Unity”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.