I share a video clip below from a young actress, Thandie Newton, who speaks at a TED conference about an identity crisis she experienced when just a girl and continuing as she became a fledgling young actress. She had the courage to find wisdom in her early twenties that I am only now trying to discover at thrice the age.
She speaks of self and separateness and uses the term “self” as I would use “ego.” She describes this self as a “vehicle to navigate a social world comprised of the projections of other people,” and noted that it is designed only to cope with the fear of death. She presents it as a false reality which left her feeling empty and alone.
She spoke of her discovery that “awareness of the reality of oneness can heal us” and described this realization as the loss of the false self, the ego self. Newton experienced what I would call “grace” as she embraced the world as she realized that it embraced her. She stopped drawing the distinction between “me and thee” that Western culture is so intoxicated with.
I want to conclude with an observation by Pema Chodron about our “shared humanity” and how that we can experience this “oneness” when we are willing to come out of the darkness that Newton was born into just as we all are:
Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity. (Pema Chödrön, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times)
(You might have to copy and paste the following clip.)