In my latest book, The Great Growing Up, I write about holons and how everything and everyone is part of something larger and a whole for something smaller. In a seeming paradox, each holon is also unique. Even “identical twins” are not 100% identical.
I am presently reading Your Unique Self in which the author deftly addresses this parts/whole conundrum for us. Before I continue I want to be clear about one distinction: while our uniqueness is factual, saying we are each “special” arouses the egoic mind and can reactivate the separation paradigm that ranks me versus others, not as unique parts of a larger whole but as my being better or worse than you. Now back to Marc Gafni’s book.
In a section he calls “The Puzzle-Piece Teachings,” Gafni writes: "You are a puzzle-piece. If you try to round out the unique curves of your puzzle piece through meditation or any other spiritual oneness practice, the puzzle piece that is you will simply not fit into the divine oneness. The part fits into the whole through its unique part nature. You are not interchangeable with any other part. Only the puzzle piece that is your authentic Unique Self can seamlessly connect you to the divine one. Similarly, Unique Self is not absorbed in the whole. Unique Self is integrated into the whole, meaning that the part does not lose its integrity as it merges."
Gafni makes one of the clearest distinctions about how our uniqueness is our gift – even our gift to God – so long as it is not confused with “the skin-encapsulated ego” or separate self. As he writes, “The puzzle piece becomes part of the whole only through its unique puzzle-piece nature…. if you are identified exclusively with your ego-separate self, then you think that your puzzle piece is the whole puzzle."
This is where extremism gets loose in the world, when the partial truth becomes the one and only truth and violence results. Discussing this fine line between ego-specialness and our Unique Self is challenging yet Gafni does an admirable job applying his writing skill and brilliance to the task.