All Life is One

"They, as part of us, have done this to us."

"It was a very simple statement — 'They, as part of us, have done this to us.' Think it over very, very carefully. One of the most direct results of a sense of injury is the element of divisiveness or separateness that it introduces immediately. 'Look at what they are doing to me!' or 'Why do people treat me that way?' It is obvious how this mood, understandable as it is, cuts the tie that binds man to man. Such an attitude establishes a gulf between men, made possible by the effect of their deeds on their own kind. Often we say to ourselves that the only conditions under which it is possible for one person deliberately to injure another is for the injurer to be able to regard himself as being something other than, and perhaps more than, the injured one. There is something utterly fantastic about the thing that takes place in a personality before that personality is able to hurt deliberately. Some kind of immunity against feeling must be established. On the other hand, the injured person seems instinctively to feel that the person who injures him must be different, deeply and profoundly different or else the thing that was done would not have been done. Hence the cry, 'Look at what they are doing to me.' But when we begin with the basic idea that all life is one — that there is no such thing as an ultimate detachment of any part of life from the whole — then the meaning of the simple statement, 'They, as part of us, have done this to us,' begins to make sense. The moment that this is understood, two attitudes become at once apparent. One: it is no longer possible to separate oneself from another person even when that other person behaves as if he were not a part of one's self. What the other person does to me is, in some very real sense, a part of me doing that thing to a part of us. Two: it becomes a reasonable thing for me to hope to understand another person because of the hope that I can and may ultimately understand myself. This is the meaning of the statement, Know thyself, which has been taken more mystically from the statement, 'Thou hast seen thy brother, thou has seen thy God.' "