Tat tvam asi
Joseph Campbell was fond of asking Schopenhauer's question, found in his essay On The Foundations Of Morality: "How is it possible that suffering that is neither my own nor of my concern should immediately affect me as though it were my own, and with such force that it moves me to action? ... This is something really mysterious, something for which Reason can provide no explanation, and for which no basis can be found in practical experience. It is not unknown even to the most hard-hearted and self-interested. Examples appear every day before our eyes of instant responses of the kind, without reflection, one person helping another, coming to his aid, even setting his own life in clear danger for someone whom he has seen for the first time, having nothing more in mind than that the other is in need and in peril of his life..."
Schopenhauer's response, one Campbell delighted in making his own, was that the immediate reaction and response represented the breakthrough of a metaphysical realization best known as "thou art that." This presupposes, as the German philosopher wrote, his identification with someone not himself, a penetration of the barrier between persons so that the other was no longer perceived as an indifferent stranger but as a person "in whom I suffer, in spite of the fact that his skin does not enfold my nerves."
This fundamental insight, as Schopenhauer continued, reveals that "my own true inner being actually exists in every living creature ... [and] is the ground of compassion (Mitleid) upon which all true, that is to say, unselfish, virtue rests and whose expression is in every good deed." ~Eugene Kennedy, in the Editor's Foreword to Joseph Campbell's Thou Art That: Transforming Religious Metaphor
And so -- it's by our own living that the Deity, the symbol, becomes flesh.
Or so it seems to me.
Only the change in the attitude of the individual is the beginning of the change in the psychology of the nation. ~CGJUNG (CW7,4, trans, mod.)