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March 21, 2023

Thoughts on The Unique Self

By Thomas G. Goddard, JD, PhD

Tom Goddard is a board member of Center for World Spirituality and a senior student of Unique Self Enlightenment and World Spirituality.

The array of forces that brings a human being to this point in space at this moment in time — here, now — is infinitely beyond comprehension. If we feel beyond the obvious (e.g., I am here in this chair because I walked here from over there) into all the actions that we and everybody else has taken that has brought me here, and then try to find an end to those connections, we cannot. Certainly, without an infinitely immense number of decisions that brought my mother and father to meet each other in Boulder, Colorado in the late 1930s, I wouldn’t even exist, at least not in this form, much less be sitting in this chair on this Saturday morning in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Similarly infinite forces brought their parents together, and so on, all the way back to the beginning of time. Similarly infinite forces also brought the chair on which I sit, the computer on which I compose this, and breakfast I ate this morning, to this here-now.

And it doesn’t stop there with human activity, of course. Other forces of nature, like weather, animals, plants, even solar flares, have had their influence as well. Some of these influences are at the cellular level, expanding exponentially the array of forces at work in bringing me to here, now. Going further, these influences are also at the sub-cellular level, naturally, as it makes no sense to draw a dividing line below the cells that influence us. The very operation of molecules, then atoms, then sub-atomic particles are behind my being here, now.

This unfathomable array of influences is not limited in time and space. Because drawing a boundary within this immense fabric of causation would be arbitrary, the influences go all the way out in space and all the way back in time to at least 13.7 billion years ago, to the birth of the universe as we know it. And it’s not just the dance of things — there are energies, both detectable by humans and beyond our current awareness — that are at play in the gross, subtle, and causal realms.

And this process continues, with each new emergent here and now. We ride the crest of a wave of infinite emergence, as though we are a surfer on a wave that began eons ago.

What is astonishing is that the particular wave on which I am surfing is not your wave. It is utterly customized to my here, my now. Not one other person (or animal, plant, or thing, for that matter) has the particular constellation of forces converging on this here, this now. It is an intensely intimate and personal point in the time-space fabric of the universe that I occupy as I write this, just as it is an intensely intimate and personal point in that fabric that you occupy as you read this.

The practice underlying this realization is first a conscious seeing, feeling, even tasting of this infinitely glorious, shimmering fabric that extends throughout time and space. Once practice brings us in touch with this, practice can then lead each of us to finding our place woven into this Kosmic tapestry.

While I am not separate from this fabric, I am a unique and shimmering expression of it. This awareness of both interconnection with the All and the unique spot in space and time that each of us occupies is the awakening of Unique Self. It is a form of awakening that goes beyond the classic enlightenment’s “I am one with All” to an intimate understanding of who I am, in this irreproducible Here and infinitely unique Now.

[Deep bow to Marc Gafni, whose book, Your Unique Self (in press) and teaching, both in private instruction and at Shalom Mountain’s Wisdom School, has informed this piece to its core.]

About Tom Goddard

Thomas G. Goddard, JD, PhD, is the President and CEO of The Integral Company, a firm dedicated to helping individuals and organizations to operate consciously and joyfully in the world. In his work with organizations, Dr. Goddard brings his expertise in Integral Theory and industrial and organizational psychology to diverse organizations, primarily in the health care sector. His work with organizations has taken him throughout the United States and to Latin America, the South Pacific, and the Middle East. In his work with individuals, Dr. Goddard empowers his clients to live full, conscious lives. Dr. Goddard has earned a law degree and master’s and doctoral degrees in psychology. He has received specialized training in emotional intelligence, Respectful Confrontation, shadow work, tantra, the Shalom process, and consciousness studies. A founding member of Ken Wilber’s Integral Institute, he has led mindfulness and Integral Theory trainings and workshops for the National Institutes of Health, Shalom Mountain, The Omega Institute, The Chrysalis Group, and the Center for Creative Therapies and the Arts. Dr. Goddard serves as one of the three members of the Executive Council of Shalom Mountain, Inc., a retreat center in the Catskill Mountains of New York.


  1. Liza Braude-Glidden says:

    Wow, from the mundane to the Unique in seven paragraphs! I feel beautifully woven into the Fabric in the most tantric sense. Thank you.

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