Our consciousness is set up to allow us to see many things when there is really only one thing in front of us. Sometime after we are born our unified consciousness becomes divided. At some later point we become aware that we reside in a world built upon polarities, each one competing for our attention and allegiance. We continue to live within this world of dualities until we come to the further awareness that all the parts we have become so familiar with are actually components of a greater wholeness, within which we regain our consciousness of oneness.

Our understanding of reality gradually evolves as our consciousness evolves. Born with a limited consciousness, we transcend our own finite perspective over and over in our lives until we arrive at a glimpse of the infinite, which then becomes the wider base with which we understand everything else after that. Life is a process of moving from an underdeveloped, localized, fragmented consciousness toward a fully developed universal consciousness.

Once we have an experience of oneness and unity that is what we will want to strive to see everywhere. It is like looking above ground at a vast field of wells that appear from this perspective to be tapping independent sources of water, compared to being able to see from the underground perspective and knowing that there is really only one interconnected source of water. We realize our fullest potential as we transcend apparent barriers and limitations, eventually merging our individual consciousness with a boundless consciousness.

How we see ourselves, how we understand our personal identity, depends on our current level of consciousness. If we expand our consciousness enough to change our worldview, we are at the same time changing our identity, since we are really one with what we know. It is all interconnected; shifting our awareness shifts our level of consciousness, which shifts our sense of identity.

If the mind is silent, content, and focused on what does not change, we have gotten to our core identity, as well as to pure consciousness. As Peter Russell puts it, “The essential self is eternal; it never changes.”