"You see yourself in the world while I see the world in myself. To you, you get born and die, while to me, the world appears and disappears."
- Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj
After some time, awareness of my physical form dissolved into the environment. I saw, I felt - I was - the sandy beach and ocean waves of Kauai's coast. My face buffeted softly by the wind, I looked out in a subtle state of pure illumination.
Then, I was aware of Kaua'i looking back.
I was on the inside looking out - Kaua'i was on the outside looking in. I could even see what it saw. With playfulness, I could switch my perspective from the inside looking out or the outside looking in. There was only a thin, barely detectable, haze between our physical forms and a clear window through the eyes by which we could view out - or in. What was surprising was that the view was much the same - I was in Kaua'i and Kaua'i was in me. My consciousness seemd tuned to that of the island's.
While the Zen-ish concept of no-self seems overly simplistic, it was fascinating to experience the intertwined relationship between self and surroundings - the lack of an impermeable boundary. What was even more exhilarating was to experience the consciousness of what the self had until then understood to be inanimate surroundings.
Dogmatic self-realization seems more readily available today than in prior centuries - at least at an intellectual level. We have within our collective knowledge a reasonable understanding of the relationship between matter and energy, galactic birth and death, and our inconspicuous place within the infinity. Perhaps, what was striking about this experience was that it happened within awareness rather than intellect.
We are much like the waves on the ocean - every wave a part of the ocean - forming and dissipating in temporal beats - each wave impacted by the whole and by the 'others'. Contrary to a strict interpretation of no-self, each has a place in space and time. We are awareness encapsulated in matter. We each have our own experience. Within the vast ocean of energy, humans and countless other life forms arise to witness their perspective. Yet, if one were able to see the total spectrum of illumination, the individual forms might not be distinguishable without careful attention. The separation between the one and the many is more like an ocean current than a boundary.