n the spiritual community, we talk a lot about oneness and unity, and you may occasionally hear the term “separation consciousness
Separation consciousness is a lower level of awareness wherein a person cannot perceive the interconnectedness of all beings or their connection to their own divinity and God/Source.
You’ll see a lot of New Agers refer to this as the reason why we aren’t able to recognize our spiritual oneness and they will attribute it to the human ego, but separation consciousness goes much deeper than just the energetic and personal level, it’s also manifested into the world around us as tribalism. We have different groups and factions that see themselves as being independent of one another, and in many instances, diametrically opposed, for example, Republicans vs. Democrats, capitalism vs. socialism, fascism vs. communism, etc.
Within the spiritual community, the concept of a diametric opposition in and of itself is often labeled as separation consciousness, but what many of these people don’t realize is that much of their own doctrine is also infiltrated by separation consciousness.
Individualism in the West
Individualism is a social theory that places heavy emphasis on self worth, self-reliance, individuality, personal freedom, and personal responsibility. It is extremely evident in Western culture, particularly in the United States. The very concept of the American Dream–that if one works hard enough, they will achieve prosperity–is rooted in individualistic thinking.
This in and of itself is not a bad thing. It’s healthy for people to have a personal sense of independence rather than being codependent, being self-reliant is a valuable skill to cultivate, and we do all need to have a healthy sense of responsibility for ourselves.
That said, when the values of individualism are taken to an extreme, it becomes toxic just like anything else. Extreme individualism assumes that everyone in the collective is independently responsible for their own circumstances. One’s worth to the collective is often measured by their level of material success and that worth is largely expected to be earned and proven by hard work. In other words, this line of thinking correlates a person’s worth as a human being with their ability to produce goods and amass wealth.
Extreme individualism dehumanizes people by only valuing their economic output. It ignores or dismisses complex social factors and systemic oppression, and implies that anyone who has been systemically disadvantaged is simply lazy–i.e. unworthy. This is nowhere more apparent than in the prosperity gospel preached by many Christian Evangelicals that says god rewards good people with financial success, which automatically implies that poor people are unworthy of God’s love (even though Jesus himself said blessed are the poor…).
Extreme individualism also often leaves the individualist feeling as though they owe nothing to the collective other than to be a hard worker, which allows them to avoid social responsibility and accountability. This, of course, also allows the individualist to avoid having to feel responsible or be held accountable for the way their actions may affect the collective they live in.
Any time someone chooses “my rights” and “my freedoms” over and above what is good for the whole of society, they are acting from separation consciousness.
Westernized (Americanized) Spirituality
Extreme individualism is antithetical to unity consciousness, because it values one’s self above the collective. It doesn’t view the collective holistically as “one.”
This philosophy shows up in spirituality most often dressed as Law of Attraction, manifestation, and extreme personal empowerment rhetoric:
- You are the absolute creator of your reality
- Energy flows where attention goes / what you pay attention to becomes real
- You are responsible for all of your negative experiences
- Your scarcity mentality is responsible for your financial situation
- No one will love you until you love yourself
- Surround yourself with people who are living the lifestyle you want to have
These concepts reinforce unworthiness, ignore collective karma, disregard the effects of trauma and abuse, and dismiss the consequences of societal structures that oppress others by assuming that the oppressed have a victim mentality and are simply manifesting their own abuse. You are not responsible for your trauma, but you are responsible for healing your trauma, and in order for trauma to be healed and abusive karmic cycles to end, abusers must be held accountable along with the culture that enables them.
Learn why we don’t manifest abuse.
The idea that we are the absolute creators of our reality is an especially obvious example of separation consciousness because it completely ignores the existence of everyone else on the planet and is the polar opposite of the much touted concept in spirituality that “we are all connected.” You are the absolute creator of your thoughts and beliefs about reality only after you’ve deconditioned yourself from childhood and societal programming and healed your trauma. However, you are not the absolute creator of your physical reality and your actions have real repercussions and consequences that affect other people.
“Energy flows where attention goes” and “what you pay attention to becomes your reality” applies on an energetic level and within your belief systems, and only manifests in the real world through the actions (or inactions) that you take with regard to those belief systems. If one is not careful of how they apply this platitude, it can greatly contribute to spiritual and emotional bypassing. It is the core belief that results in spiritual people ignoring acts of violence, abuse, and systemic oppression.
In spirituality, we recognize that every human being is inherently worthy of being loved, even the ones we don’t necessarily like. That worthiness also extends to having their basic survival needs met. Love and survival isn’t something that human beings should have to earn.
The concept that we should have to earn love, as well as the perception of good and evil comes from separation consciousness:
When we incarnate here, we forget who we really are (that we are love and that everything is love) and in that forgetfulness, we have the perception that there is a lack of love–that love is scarce.
Fear-based belief systems are rooted in duality–the concept that there is a polarization of good and evil. They have not yet recognized that the foundation of the Universe is love, and the only thing that makes it appear as fear is their own limited understanding of it. – Why Fear-Based Beliefs Are Distorted
Individualism is also largely behind the explosion of The Secret and Law of Attraction and why business coaches have now integrated manifestation techniques into their marketing rhetoric as business gimmicks. These people have no true commitment to inner work because they are primarily motivated by desire, success, and money.
This attitude is also extremely evident in hustle culture, which reinforces individualistic philosophy, consistently shames people for not being productive, and neglects the importance of self-care and balance. When you say “surround yourself with people who are living the lifestyle you want to have” as applied to material wealth, it eliminates the perspectives the majority of the (poor) people in the collective and “others” them as unworthy of your time and attention. Instead, I suggest you surround yourself with people who demonstrate the values you wish to embody: integrity, depth, accountability, authenticity, humility.
Learn about materialistic spirituality.
Finally, from a spiritual perspective, our sense of individuality is our ego and it is the literal mechanism that allows us to experience separateness. When one only recognizes themselves as the absolute god of their individual physical reality, and does not recognize that everyone else on the planet is co-creating a physical existence along with them because we are all, collectively, God, well that’s the ultimate level of narcissism and the epitome of separation consciousness.
The hierarchical view of spirituality that labels some beings as more advanced or more enlightened than others is another way separation consciousness can show up in spirituality.
When narcissism invades spirituality, labels like lightworker and ascended master, psychic, intuitive, empath, incarnate angel, etc. become avenues for people to set themselves apart from everyone else–mainly by presenting the illusion that they are “better than.”
Pay attention who uses these labels and how much humility they express. Anyone using them as an avenue to accrue power, authority, or attention are operating from separation consciousness.
When you lean too far in one direction, individualism becomes materialistic selfishness and narcissism, and can also lead people to become too independent and avoid meaningful connection. Human beings are social creatures. We need each other, and we require connection in order to be mentally healthy. But when you go too far in the other direction it manifests as codependent relationships, neediness, energetic vampirism, and entitlement. For this reason, individualism espouses some important concepts that can be valuable when they are recognized in their proper context and not taken to an extreme.
In order for us to have a healthy sense of individuality, we must find balance and recognize the importance of healthy interdependence. While we are all individuals, we are also incredibly interconnected and our actions affect one another. This is what spirituality is attempting to teach us. This is unity consciousness.
Many of the concepts I mentioned earlier that spiritual people attempt to shun or avoid in the name of oneness because they view them to be dualistic and diametrically opposed are, in reality, unity consciousness opposing separation consciousness.
By condemning or avoiding these things, the spiritual community is actually engaging in spiritual bypassing and preventing the very ascension they claim to be here to facilitate!
Learn about spiritual bypassing and ascension.
We have to observe the lesson in the energies of Aquarius where the individual is valued just as much as the individual’s contribution to the collective. Aquarius recognizes that our unique gifts and experiences are our very contribution to that collective.
Start asking yourself some important questions:
- Where have I been embodying separation consciousness in my spirituality?
- Where have I been embodying separation consciousness in other areas of my beliefs and attitudes?
- Who are the people promoting separation consciousness in the form of extreme individualism?
- How can I bring myself back into balance and support the liberation of the collective, not just myself?