Among all the talk of self-realization and the fulfillment of the individuation process, no one really mentions that it’s incredibly odd feeling whole. Assuming that at one time you were incomplete, fractured, and deluded towards your own state of being, and that you were able to reconcile the damage you felt towards yourself and reintegrate the parts of you which were being denied, what you’re left with is something truly remarkable, in that it itself is a rare thing. Many people will cite other thinkers, philosophers, and wise people who speak of individuation to give insight into the process, but few people who have accomplished it talk about it themselves. Maybe because there’s no clear way to, or maybe because it sounds somewhat pretentious to talk about one’s own accomplishments. Here, though, I’ll try to describe my experience and perception of it as a philosopher describes the results of a meditative contemplation (mostly because that’s exactly what this is, but also because it seems to be an optimal framework for communicating this kind of information to other people).
I feel complete. I feel as if there are no unfulfilled desires, though I do still desire, and I feel as if my knowledge and understanding is whole, though I know that there is much more that I do not know than that which I already understand. I feel as if the ends of a string have met and joined together, forming a full circle, a symbol I recognize as representing integration and existence without breaks or missing pieces. However, I feel that this is not something new or something that I have attained, but something that, at times, I was simply not aware of. Right now, it seems logical that existence would be self-fulfilling, in the sense that there is nothing outside of myself that is needed to verify or validate my existence, but for many years this was not my understanding, nor my perspective.
I used to understand the world in terms of abstract concepts such as God, the state, and the labels of identification that we assume as citizens, all ideas that were removed from the physical reality which I was experiencing and laid over that reality like a lens. This perspective was unsatisfying, leaving much to be desired because of what I interpret as its lack of inherent justification. There was always something else which validated the perceived existence of these concepts, but such external validation was as unacceptable as an argument missing its necessary premises, so I could not accept the conclusions.
As I grew, I saw that this confusion and displacement of meaning and value was not just a factor of my perspective, but also evident within many peoples’ world views. People understood themselves in terms of what they called themselves, not what they chose to do or what they were directly and indirectly engaged in. For many years, I sought the right name to call myself. I was either a scientist or an artist, an idealist or a realist, a philosopher or a dedicated actor, but never just myself.
Gradually, I began to encounter different interpretations of mystical philosophy and theology, and I encountered the domain of metaphysics which did not necessarily go by that name. I understood that metaphysical truth was something that could not be easily described in words, in the same manner that it is practically impossible to prove that anything is real, but I believed that metaphysical truth could still be known as knowledge did not have to be conceptualized to be understood. Many people know how to walk, and learned how to as toddlers, but they did not gain this knowledge from a lecture or in the form of a conceptualized description of the process and its steps. They stood on their feet and fell until they were no longer falling, but walking. Walking became an emergent, self-fulfilling development that was known without formal lessons or teachings coded in language. Likewise, my understanding of existence came to be whole once I understood that existence transcended its conceptualizations, and that to know the metaphysical truth of existence was simply to exist.
I looked back at my interpretations of these people who seemed to posses some enlightened quality that others lacked, and I realized that there was again nothing different except for the conceptualizations surrounding them. An individuated, self-actualized person is one who is whole within themselves and requires nothing external to validate their existence because their external reality is already a factor of their being. They cannot and do not exist without their world, and so their sense of being extends to include what is “external” to them. Those who seemed different to these “wise” people were really no different except in their perspective. They see themselves as being nothing more than what is within their line of conceptual thoughts, the most superficial aspect of their “internal” existence, but even these thoughts are made of symbols and representation derived from their experience of their “external” reality. So, their sense of being was withdrawn from reality and existence, rather than extended to it. The two ways I would describe this (for comparison) are as follows:
- Some people exist as whole persons, unnecessarily and indirectly related to labeling ideas and abstract concepts, yet understanding that their sense of existence is the same as that unspeakable substance of their existence; whereas, some people exist as members of a people who have each disconnected their sense of existence (and therefore how they understand their existence) from the actual experience of that existence itself, and so they feel, and probably worry, that nothing in reality is reliably real.
- There are two kinds of people, those who know there are, and those who think there are not. There is no difference between the enlightened and unenlightened individual, the wise one and the fool, because each is equally deluded in their understanding if they believe that in being either one, they are not also the other.
Self-realization is already accomplished. If you desire it, it simply means you do not realize that you have already attained it. If you give your selfhood, your personal validation away to something that you do not recognize or associate with yourself, you are simply forgetting what your “self” is so that you can remember it at a later time should you choose to. There are two kinds of people, but there is only one kind of person. You cannot simultaneously belong to a group and to yourself. You are either a piece of a larger whole, or whole within yourself.
This is not an argument for solipsism or a justification for some sense of solitary, egoic existence. Rather, this is an argument that if you are to accept that our personalities, our ego personas, exist as constructed social clothing, then everyone is alone together, but some people don’t believe it and delude themselves with the idea that they are what others told them. I have come to a point where I understand myself to be what I feel myself to be. I have made an effort to remind myself constantly that the conceptualizations and names and labels we tell each other are nothing more than words used to explain a feeling, and that while we may identify and align our personalities with these words, what we are metaphysically is not anything that can itself be a symbol, only symbolized. So when I say that feeling whole has been an odd experience, I mean to say that I didn’t expect it would feel exactly the same as when I felt displaced from myself.