Is self-enquiry selfish? On the surface it may appear this way. In this video, I compare the philosophy of solipsism and the experience of oneness, or nonduality, to explain why exploring deeper elements of our own unconscious mind paradoxically connects us to the interconnected web of existence.
Solipsism is the philosophy that no knowledge outside of the self can be known. Reality is subjective, and I only have knowledge that I exist. Therefore, everything within my reality is all I can, and all I will ever know as truth. How can I know you exist outside of me? Solipsism says I am the centre of the universe.
I view solipsism as ego-centred. From an intellectual perspective, this argument stands to reason. Viewing the universe as mechanical and material and consciousness restricted purely to the body and brain, of course I will follow the path that “I” am the only verifiable element of existence.
It’s all a bit cynical, isn’t it?
On the contrary, the direct experience of nonduality and oneness expands solipsism — not from an intellectual exercise but to an immersion in existence. As microcosms of the macro, knowledge of the Self leads to knowledge of the universe itself. Rather than self-centred, through self-enquiry the self is transcended.
This links to Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and his explanation that the more one self-actualises, the more self-transcendent one becomes. We realise we are all fundamentally the same, connected to the same web of consciousness. From this taste of wholeness, how can one not have compassion and empathy for others?
To expand my point, think of your reality when you dream: you have an inherent understanding everyone you encounter, all the phenomena, is a product of mind. Well, “waking” reality is much the same. Everyone you encounter, all phenomena, is a product of the universal mind, a cosmic consciousness much vaster than an individual, separate ego.
So as you go about your day, play around with this. Imagine everyone you encounter is a product of your reality, not a separate entity. How would your interactions change, knowing all you see, hear, perceive and feel is a part of you, from the beloved you hold close to clouds in the sky to distant stars?