In the climactic scene of the classic comedy What’s Up, Doc?, a mob of disruptive courtroom witnesses has Judge Maxwell on edge. One witness identifies himself: “I am Hugh.” But the judge hears, “I am you.”
Judge (responding to the man): You are me?
Man: No, I am you.
The perplexed judge implores the bailiff: “Make him stop saying that!”
That’s kinda how I feel about the “all is one” teaching. You know, the idea that there’s no creator separate from his creation; every being and every item are all parts of a single whole. Wouldn’t that mean that, say, if this head of cabbage is actually me, and I chop up the cabbage to make coleslaw, I would feel pain? And how can the me that is coleslaw drive to work?
God sent Moses back to Egypt with, “I AM is sending you”—not “I AM you.” When Jesus asked Saul of Tarsus “Why are you persecuting me?,” should he have asked, instead, “Why are we persecuting us?” Then when Jesus ordered Saul to get up and go, and Saul went, what evidence is there that he was accompanied by the whole of humanity . . . plus cabbages? Even in peeks into eternity, there’s nothing like the “we’re all drops of the same ocean” idea; there’s recognition of individuals (Revelation 22, for example).
But the “all is one” experts persist. Interspiritual/Catholic leader Thomas Keating says that we first mistakenly believe there is a higher power, an Other. Then we try to become the Other. But when we are fully enlightened, we realize “that there is no Other. You and the Other are one.” Buddhist speaker Joanna Macy says, “The self is just a metaphor.” (But she also states, incongruously, that “we’re unique; each one is an individual.”) And famous New Ager Deepak Chopra says, “There is no such thing as a separate self.”
So . . . you are me? I am you?
I can almost hear Judge Maxwell pleading, “Make them stop saying that!”