Question: We're All One?
I've recently come across a website where someone brought up the impersonalist point of view that we're all one and that God is a collection of all souls. How exactly should I respond?
The following is his text:
"I'm a firm believer of this (we're all one). This ties into my spiritual religious beliefs, but I think that everyone is infinitely more interconnected than is currently believed. I pretty much see the whole world of beings as all part of the same, and everyone that surrounds me is nothing more than a part of me. This ties into the limitless, endless possibilities of the mind. If we were able to all function as one we would essentially be 'God.' That is actually what I believe God to be, the sum of all of our souls. Although, I do consider myself either an atheist or spiritual with regard to religious beliefs. (See 'Karma' for related discussion). Agree? Disagree?"
Answer: Simultaneously One and Different
You can tell Mr. Firm Believer that we while we can accept that everything is one and different, we cannot accept that everything is one and the same.
We do not base our philosophical understanding on our beliefs as Mr. Firm Believer has done. Basing our vision of reality of beliefs is the same trap that sectarian religionists fall into. They accept religion without any philosophy and thus end up becoming sentimentalists and sometimes fanatics and extremists. We would caution Mr. Firm Believer not to get stuck in this same trap and thus miss fulfilling the purpose of human existence, which is to fully realize the Absolute Truth.
Of course, we can readily agree that everything is one because everything that exists is a manifestation of God's expanded energy. In other words, everything is one in the sense that God and His energy are non-different, just as there is no difference between the sun and the sunshine. The sunshine is nothing but the expanded energy of the sun. So when the sunshine appears on the eastern horizon we can rightfully say that the sun has appeared.
So the oneness of everything is an undeniable fact. But absolute two-ness exists at the same time. Even though the sun and the sunshine are one, there is also a difference. Even though the sun shine appears on the eastern horizon it is not that the sun planet is sitting on the eastern horizon. If it were, the earth planet would be burnt to a crisp by the fiery sun planet.
So there is God in His original from which He has expanded everything, and there is His expanded energy. Both are God. But one is the expander God, the other is the expanded God.
So in conclusion, while on the one hand since God and His energy is non-different there is nothing but Krishna, at the same time nothing is Krishna except for His original, primeval personality from which everything has emanated.