Who, exactly, are “you?” In answering this question, you might tell me your name, the personal details of your life, your appearance, your relationships, your job, your preferences. The whole point of your answer would be to identify yourself as someone unique – a distinct person – not to be confused with any other. And that mistake is the basis of all your problems.
You believe you are a little island in the universe – a little “self” inside of bag of skin. Your self ends where your skin does – or so you believe. You are completely separate from other “selves” – other bags of skin. No one else can get inside your head and feel and know exactly what you do. You are alone. What happens to your “self” – this little bag of skin you call “myself” – is crucial. What happens to anyone or anything else, while you may try to be interested and sympathetic, just isn’t as important.
Great mystics and spiritual explorers from all religions – and none at all, have ventured deep into human consciousness and seen a very different picture. In all parts of the world, and usually independently of each other, these travelers have come in contact with “Something” which connects all these separate little pieces of the universe. At the most basic level – these investigators tell us – all reality is one single piece. All things are one, and all things are a part of each other. There is a single “Source” for all existence, and you and everyone else are simply different expressions of that source.
The idea you have of being an independent, separate being is basically an illusion – a trick. The real you – the you that really matters – isn’t a bag of skin. The real you is the unlimited, infinite Source of all being. Does this mean that you are God? That depends on what you mean by “you”
There are two “yous.” There is the limited, finite, bag of skin you generally call “you”. This “lower self” (sometimes called the “ego” in mystical literature) clearly is not “God”. Then there is the “Higher Self” – as it is often referred to by the mystics – which is limitless. This “Higher Self” or simply “Self” is one and the same with the Source all being. You are God – but only if you identify with the Higher Self instead of the lower self.
This may be a shocking thing to read for people raised in monotheistic religions where the greatest sin of all – the sin of the devil himself – is to think that you are God’s equal. And these religions are quite right – because the very worst thing that can happen to you is for your lower self to think it is equal with God. This is exactly what the lower self would really love to do, because being a “lower self” is actually very terrifying.
The lower self feels (because of its connection to the Higher Self) that it ought to be unlimited – immortal, all-powerful and invincible – connected to all things. Instead it finds that it is weak, insecure, cut-off from everything else, and doomed to extinction. The anxiety this creates is terrible. Because the lower self is weak, is seeks after power. Because it is insecure, it seeks after money and possessions and other symbols of security. Because it feels cut-off, it seeks one relationship after another. Because it feels the press of death, it seeks for immortality through fame, through obsession with youth and beauty. To tell the lower self that it is “God” would do nothing but prop up the illusion that the lower self is the “real” self.
For this reason, the mystics of the monotheistic religions often prefer to say that the “Higher Self” is simply a part of God or in the image of God. They are afraid to tempt lower selves into regarding themselves as divine. For our purposes it doesn’t really matter which way you choose to look at it. The important thing to understand is that you have, at the very center of your heart, your true Self, and that it is unlimited and connected to the great Source of all being.