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Is an eddy in the river or of the river? Is it distinguished from the river in any fundamental way other than my perception of it? If the configuration of the river changes and the eddy disappears has something been taken from the river; is the river lessened by the disappearance of the eddy? I am like that eddy; a temporary arrangement of matter/energy of the continuum. I come into existence and, after a time, cease to be and become another arrangement. The universe is not increased by my appearance nor lessened by my absence.
Self awareness allows me to ponder the larger totality of being around me but in no way separates me from it. For there to be a real distinction a boundary must exist. Where is the boundary that separates me from the universe? Can it be perceived, measured, touched or otherwise empirically proved? Does it have an effect on my surroundings so that it's existence may be inferred from the measurable behavior of other objects? If not then the implication of a "separation or distinction from other" cannot be a boundary in actuality. It must arise from something else.
The equating of self awareness and separation is learned. I have to be taught to differentiate myself from the universe, to individualize. Having learned this lesson has led to my perceived isolation from the universe. The road of Aikido is my path to reintegration with the universe.
All that makes me "me" is drawn to and concentrated at my center. The study of Aikido has taught me this on both intellectual and visceral levels. The truth of this can be felt on the mat during practice when the duality of uke and nage merge to unity.
Self awareness gives me the ability to choose how I will view my own existence in relation to the universe. I can opt for integration or separation. The important point is that the option is mine to choose.