Someone asked me how is the enlightened state any different from an animal or baby as they too lack self awareness and differentiation of self and environment. She thinks differentiation is a progress and the “oneness” of enlightenment sounds like a regressive state where one is unable to differentiate self from other or differentiate between objects.
I explained to her that anatta realisation is not a collapse of everything into an undifferentiated oneness, or a regressive state where you cannot tell left from right. In fact the experience after the realisation is more of a dispersing out into multiplicity but all manifestations having a single taste of luminosity and emptiness.
I also told her to read this as she is having the pre-trans fallacy:
"...But when Ken began taking a closer look at the anthropological data, he knew something was wrong with this reading of history. Looking at both cultural and individual development, it became clear that we do not begin our lives in some integrated state, only to lose that integration as we grow. Rather, Ken saw that we begin our development in a state of pre-differentiated fusion or absorption with the environment, unable to distinguish where we end and where the rest of the world begins. We then begin to differentiate ourselves from our surroundings, dropping boundaries between self and other, inside and outside, mind and body, and so on.
This stage of differentiation was typically seen as the cause of all our sin and suffering—we ate the apple from the Tree of knowledge, learned to discern good from evil, and promptly got ourselves banned from a mythic Paradise. But according to this new evolutionary view, eating the apple was not a step down; it was a step up from Eden—a transition from the pre-differentiated fusion of the animal mind to the differentiated self-awareness, self-reflection, and capacity for choice that defines the human spirit, and only then to a state of genuine integration with the world and with nature—a true Enlightenment.
As Herman Hesse once wrote, “The way to innocence, to the uncreated and to God leads on, not back to the wolf or to the child, but ever further into sin, ever deeper into human life.” The goal of enlightenment is not to regress or go backward in order to return to some primordial lost paradise, as the retro-romantics believed. Rather, we must continue forward through separation and discernment and suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous manifestation before we can ever achieve a state of seamless integration with all things.
Equipped with this new evolutionary understanding, Ken noticed a core confusion that made it very difficult to discern between the lower stages and the higher stages. Trans-rational mystical experiences were often being dismissed as pre-rational fantasy, postmodern values were being erroneously projected onto pre-modern cultures, and pre-modern impulsiveness and hedonism were being celebrated by the postmodern counterculture. Rather than viewing psychology as a developmental process running from pre-rational to rational to trans-rational (or pre-differentiated fusion to differentiation to post-differentiated integration), a person was seen as being either rational or not—resulting in the trans-rational baby getting thrown out with the pre-rational bathwater.
This misconception between “pre-” and “trans-” became known as the pre/trans fallacy, one of Ken’s most popular and profound theoretical contributions, and one that continues to help us make sense of many of the central conflicts and confusions running through Western psychology and academia..."