Young children have not been indoctrinated with the idea that they are separate. Even around eight, nine, or ten years of age, although they now see themselves as separate individuals, the consequences of that false belief have often not yet set in.
For instance, watch a group of children who don’t know each other come together and play, say, at an office party for instance. They just get on with it. There is spontaneity and high excitement.
That’s because they have not yet built up a wall of self-protection. They expect to be accepted. As adults we project a self which is manufactured. It is an image which, life has taught us; works. It is a way of being in social situations. We have a different one for professional situations and another for family.
The benefit of this is security. We have a pretty good idea how to act in different circumstances. The cost is authenticity. We become masks talking to masks. In some circles there is even a farcical element to adult communication. A parody of sorts takes place. We may even call it sophistication.
The disconnect between authentic self and manufactured self is the cause of neurosis. Underlying this, the idea of a separate self fuels this layering of self projection, leading to many mental illness’s including depression.
In non-western cultures, for instance the Pacific nation of Vanuatu, I have seen adults do something they rarely do in the west – play. I’ve seen grown men pull a toy truck along, or just play! The difference between child and adult behavior is less clearly delineated.
One significant consequence of this is obvious, happiness! The freedom to spontaneously do something fun without worrying what people think is manifested in a lightness of being. It doesn’t mean we are not serious when we need to be. Or mature when we need to be. Rather than being evidence of something lacking it is evidence of greater behavioral range. Which means we can more often meet circumstances with an appropriate and often spontaneous response.
In like manner, awakening to the non-dual nature of reality releases neurotic thinking and allows the being to live spontaneously in accordance with is natural character, without layers of sophistication and cynicism piled upon it.
The false idea of separation, and the consequent narrowing of identification with groups and sub-groups is the cause of violence and wars. It is itself a kind of mental illness which is the root of suffering. Separation is the root of all evil. Crime makes no sense at all sans separation. Ditto violence. Ditto war.
Intolerance can only exist within the idea of separation. Otherwise it too, is meaningless. As is greed. As is envy.
We are born into a species wide delusion with which we are indoctrinated. It seems so self-apparent that it is rarely questioned. It is the cause of our suffering and yet it so fundamental to our world view that we rarely examine it (although sages on many continents have thoroughly examined it for thousands of years).
It is the idea that we are all separate individuals, each with individual awareness that is centered somewhere inside our heads.
If we really look, if we examine our own experience, we see it is a false idea.