What do you refer to when you say or think the word “I”?
That word encapsulates a great many things. If the speaker is an artist named Jan then “I” likely refers to a female human who enjoys creating creatively. If this female Jan has two kids and a husband then “I” hopefully includes the roles of mom and wife. If Jan was emotionally abused as a youngster then “I” may, under certain sad circumstances, refer to somebody who feels worthless.
You are what you identify with.
By the time you’re grown up most of the “I’s” you identify with are reliant upon others. Jan, for instance, might not be an artist today if she hadn’t had so much pain to work through from the emotional abuse.
These are all things that Jan identifies as part of her, “self.” That is why, when any of these things are threatened, Jan feels threatened.
Jan recently read Cosmos by Carl Sagan. Seven sentences had a profound effect on her. Those sentences are quoted below…
“The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. On this shore, we’ve learned most of what we know. Recently, we’ve waded a little way out, maybe ankle-deep, and the water seems inviting. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return, and we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We’re made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” – Carl Sagan, Cosmos
When Jan read that she felt what Carl Sagan was describing when he wrote…
“The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.” – Carl Sagan, Cosmos
…because she realized that she was a bit of cosmos. Her next thought caused the exact same reaction only more intense because she realized that she was a bit of cosmos that had gained awareness of its own existence and was also aware that it was aware. She literally became the cosmos, self-aware.
She realized that when she used the word, “I” she was ultimately referring to the Cosmos itself. The Universe literally had a, “self,” of which she was a part. From that moment on Jan I’d differently.
She is now a bit of the Cosmos painting a portrait of another bit of Cosmos.
She is now a bit of the Universe wiping her hung-over-as-fuck-husband’s face with a cool, damp cloth. He was a bit of Cosmos having a very bad time after having a very good time.
She is now a bit of sentient Universe giving birth to and raising other sentient bits of Universe.
She is now the Cosmos bewildered by the fact that the Cosmos has the capacity to be bewildered at all.
She is now a Versling.