We humans have limited cognitive capacity when it comes to social relationships. At any given time, we can maintain meaningful relationships to a maximum of 150 people. They are the ones we can easily cooperate with and care about. We consider the rest of the people as strangers, and by nature, it is not easy for us to trust them and work with.
This limit, also known as Dunbar’s Number, long hindered the progress of ancient humans as there were challenges far bigger than an individual tribe of up to 150 people could tackle. So, to bring different tribes together for practical purposes, humans formed higher-level groups. Today, the notions of race, nationality, religion, and corporations seek to unite otherwise different peoples so they can cooperate and accomplish something bigger.
Society teaches us these concepts from an early age and determines which groups we belong to. As a result, we form a core belief that our social identities define our essence, and that within each identity, we share some kinds of deep inner properties with others that make us who we are. When we meet a new person, we instinctively label them as one of our own or an outsider, and if we can trust them.
Our strong attachment to one identity can create resentment towards people outside our group circle. We are willing to fight others in the name of race, class, nationality, religion, and even sports club when we should only be caring about 150 people from our core tribe. We go as far as marking physical lines on the planet calling them country borders to protect our people from the other people. Such is our fear of the other.
But beyond all these concepts is a loose circle of humanity caring for all humans regardless of their identity. And beyond that is a circle of life caring for all life, animals and plants. Further beyond is a circle of inanimate caring for even lifeless objects, mountains, glaciers and rivers. And beyond everything, is a circle that encompasses all. Unlike other circles whose boundaries exist in our imagination, this circle is for real. This is the ultimate circle of being. Surprisingly we are least aware of this circle of oneness when we should be most concerned about it!