If i cut my hand, only i will feel the pain. Others won't feel my pain. So where's the oneness that Advaita speaks about?

If there exists only ONE sentient reality, underlying all names and forms then everything must be connected. The pain, pleasure, thoughts of one person should be experienced by all living beings from every corner of the manifested universe. Isn't it so?  Would love to get some answers from the vyavaharika perspective.

  • 1
    Oneness is at the Chaitanya level, not in manifestations. The same Chaitanya is manifested as different entities. So, the differences may exist in all other aspects.
    – hanugm
    Jan 11, 2022 at 11:13
  • You can think in this way: An ocean can be with many waves at a particular point in time. If you stop a single wave by force, other waves won't stop. Similarly, if you make five pots with clay and if you break a clay pot then the other pots are intact. similarly, although all entities that do exist are manifestations of the parabrahman, the experience intended for a particular manifestation cannot affect the other manifestations.
    – hanugm
    Jan 11, 2022 at 11:23
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    Oneness is realized by some aspirants only after performing the prescribed sadhana. It is not a self evident reality from the start for everyone.
    – Rickross
    Jan 11, 2022 at 12:19
  • In continuation of my comment above, a wave is stoppable but not the ocean. Similarly, a clay pot is breakable but not clay. Likewise, a human may get suffer but not parabrahman.
    – hanugm
    Jan 11, 2022 at 12:19
  • See Lord krishna declared he is God there no one equal to him and demonstrated this is by taking one leaf out akshaya vessel and said that his stomach is full than durvasa rushi who came there lunch in late evening to test curse pandava there paving the way for pandavas deafeat felt his stomach full left suddenly this act is never emulated by any of advaitic jeevan muktha till now
    – Prasanna R
    Jan 11, 2022 at 13:39

2 Answers 2


This is a rookie Advaita question that so many people ask when first introduced with Advaita.

Why isn't everybodies' experience not the same and why doesn't everybody experience everything that others are experiencing?

This has been answered so many times again and again the simple short technical answer is that all experience happens on the five kosha level, not on the Atma level.
Did you get it? If not continue to read for further explanation.

The pain you are talking about mainly happens in Annamya, Manomaya and Pranamaya koshas. These koshas are different for different people. The Atma which is same is beyond all these, koshas. Excerpt from Nirvana Shatkam

न वा सप्तधातुः न वा पञ्चकोशः ।

2.2: Neither am I the Seven Ingredients (of the Body), nor the Five Sheaths (of the Body)

चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥२॥

2.4: I am the Ever Pure Blissful Consciousness; I am Shiva, I am Shiva, The Ever Pure Blissful Consciousness.

The Thing which is reffered to as Sacchidananda Shiva or Brahman or Atman is beyond the five koshas.

There is also the problem of the word consciousness, it is used differently in English and differently while translating Sanskrit to English, especially Advaita works.

In English, you can say someone was unconscious. This is a proper usage. What it means is someone is not awake. But the statement someone was unconscious is totally wrong according to Sanskrit and Advaita, as someone can never be unconscious as they themselves are consciousness. Do you see the problem? The consciousness word in English is equivalent to Jagrut state which is also reffered to as Vijnana or Chidabhasa. But Sanskrit consciousness is reffering to Chit, which is always present.

This question is coming because the nature of Atma is not understood properly. You are confusing Chit which is one true Atman with Chidabhasa or multiple reflections of the Atman in multiple bodies.

The experience of pain happens mainly at first four koshas. It doesn't even touch Atman. The memory of different experiences is stored in Manomaya kosha which is different for different people. According to Advaita each person has his or her own five koshas. What is common between all humans is the consciousness(or Chit) which is behind all these koshas.

This is a little sophisticated concept, let me illustrate the same idea with a classical example.

This is famous example in Advaita.

Just as the one, single Sun in the sky gets its many reflections in various vessels of water, so Thou, O Lord, art (variously) reflected in different minds. Shiva Gita 7.34

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Image Source

Now imagine that all the pots are Annamaya kosha and water inside is Manomaya kosha etc. There is one Sun in the sky, whose reflection is there in all the pots. These reflections are called Chitbhasa, while the Sun is the real Chit in this example. If you see, it will be like there are hundreds of Suns, one in each pot, one big, one small, one wavy and one coloured. But all these differences are because of pot and contents of pot.

You, say pricking your hand with a pin and asking why the other person doesn't feel pain is like disturbing water in one pot and seeing the Sun's reflection in that pot getting wavy and asking, why aren't the other Suns in other pots not getting wavy, if they all share the same Sun?

Do you see the problem? The actual thing is never touched. Atma is never touched by your pain and suffering. It simply watches like the Sun simply sheds light on all pots.

  • @Rickross if you can, please delete the above comment :) Jan 11, 2022 at 14:27
  • I do not understand your answer at all. The experience of pain is smh not shared by others. From your answer I can deduce that you say that the physical body is not a part of the soul and the soul is a part of smh greater (whatever that is).
    – Wikash_
    Jan 13, 2022 at 23:01

If i cut my hand, only i will feel the pain. Others won't feel my pain.

The three things द्रष्टा (seer), दृश्य (what is seen), दर्शन (process of seeing) are unreal, but their essence is same which is आत्मन् (Atman) which is non-dual (without a second).

It doesn't mean Atman is one, it just means it lacks multiplity, it has no attributes, it is unspeakable of because even to speek of it you have to make it an object which you can't because like I said before, it encompasses both the subject and object.

To know in detail, please read Upanishads. I would recommend starting with Kenopanishad.


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