Being apart vs. a part

As a minimalist and an advocate of simple living I often find my core values at odds with most of the modern world.  I've always felt different - not the same as most people around me.  I've written about it here and here. 

There is nothing wrong with being an individual but beware; it can lead to feeling apart from others and to the illusion of being disconnected.  There are two negative outcomes from feeling apart:

  • We begin to feel isolated, different, and alone.  With this we will begin to see others as a threat.  Fear creeps in and begins to control our decisions.  When we make fear based decisions we limit ourselves and our experiences.

  • We begin to feel smug and superior.  We lose our connection, our love, and our compassion.  Before long our hardened hearts will feel empty and isolated and we are back to number one.

Although you may or may not conform to standard lifestyles and expectations, it does not have to translate into "I am an oddball don't fit in" - nor does it have to translate into "I am superior and above."

The bottom line is we really are not all that different. We have different levels of awareness and understanding. We have different roles to play and diversity is what makes this Universe alive and dynamic.

Even with our different levels of awareness and uniqueness we are not alone.  We are all connected in this vast, ever-changing Universe.  Better to be a part of it than apart from it.

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living
Inter-connectedness, Inclusive, Zen Buddhism.


  1. I think I go towards the smug end of things when I get all separate and alone. And it does suck because I'm not better than other people!

  2. I have been realizing that nearly every bad decision and hurtful thing I have ever done, has been caused by the mistaken idea that I am separate from everything and everyone--and, yes absolutely everyone was some kind of threat! I think most bad things people do are due to their feeling apart from it all.

  3. I really like your points, Dan. You are so right! We are more alike than different.

  4. Truly insightful Dan. I have definitely had times, especially when I was younger of being smug. But I realize it was a real feeling of superiority it was a defense. I just said I was smarter or more aware to defend against the comments I would get about how weird I was.

  5. I always felt like the outsider, very much apart from other people when I was younger. I think I fell somewhere between fear and smugness. There were definitely times when smugness was there, but that didn't last, when you are smug something or someone will come along and show you your place.

  6. Beautifully written, and excellent point about how things change.

  7. Wow. I really needed this. Thank you so much.