Everywhere I look there are TV shows, articles, pictures, poems, reflections and pithy aphorisms about “oneness.” If I didn’t know better I would think we were hungry, or even starving, to know what “oneness” is, how to experience, capture it and celebrate it. We want everyone to know this “oneness” because I think we all yearn for what is good, true and beautiful.
And I’m no different, I too am searching to feast at that banquet table of oneness. Yet, I find myself drifting in and out of understanding what “oneness” really means. Trying to define it, to manifest it, to “come from” it, to know it and live it, and to take another step toward the fulfillment of spirit expressing through our humanity, by dancing the oneness dance again.
What exactly do we mean by “oneness?” Whose form of oneness is it? White, black, rainbow colored, rich, poor, man, woman? Last time I checked all the people of the world hadn’t gotten together to decide what we mean by unity and oneness, so how do we work that one out? There doesn’t seem to be a shared reality, so is there oneness being made manifest with such seeming divisiveness or differences we see everyday? What does oneness really look like? Not as a theory, but really lived, down and dirty, in the reality of my everyday life?
My first reply in my head is, “How the heck do I know! That’s one of the great mysteries of life that perhaps I’m not meant to understand.” Perhaps. Upon further reflection what I believe oneness is, is how we see the connections in life, all life. It’s how I see that umbilical cord of the divine, of spirit, weaving the interconnected web of life. Oneness is that creative life force present in all, and it comes alive, it’s empowered when I see it – which means I need to be looking for it.
I live oneness when I align with the knowing in my heart that I am part of something beyond myself. Whenever I am living through respect, compassion, mutuality, care and belonging, I am living oneness. I used to think oneness was this amorphous, unknowable spiritual principle and ideal that was too daunting to experience unless I put great effort into it. Or maybe I could feel oneness, experience and live from it if by some miracle I had prayed and meditated enough, done enough introspection and healing of my own wounds, and then, maybe then, it was attainable.
I have discovered that, while those actions are necessary for my ever-expanding yearning to live spirit, most of us live oneness without even knowing it – at home with loved ones, with friends, anywhere that we naturally value and express compassion, love, being of service and listening, and belonging. So how come I miss seeing that so often? Because it turns out that umbilical cord is creating a myriad of expressions of that oneness, that is, oneness manifests itself or we come across it, in an infinite number of ways. And while it remains the same in a sense, it is always arising as something different, so there are many onenesses.
Perhaps this is because God, Spirit, the Divine, whatever you want to call it, is always happening. Always emerging, always expressing through that umbilical cord that belongs with each of us. Oneness is one of those mystical truths that can only be understood by paradox.
Many religions and faith traditions think of God as unchanging, static, an abstract energy, principle or presence of some kind. And while I believe this is true, I think it doesn’t go far enough. Spirit is dynamically at work, and therefore moving faster than I could ever know, and can never hold tightly. So yes, for me, I need to remember God is always present, changeless, and yet what doesn’t change is that Spirit is always changing, always offering this oneness in different and new ways, it’s our job to be looking for it, and harnessing that power.
I look at my life and see that sometimes this oneness is offered in very sweet and tender ways, and sometimes in challenging and difficult ways. Oneness is the opportunity to spot spirit in any circumstance, in each new experience that emerges in my life. In other words, the more aware I become of this oneness in different ways and levels, the better able I am to respond and live through that oneness as my awareness of Spirit keeps evolving. This presence, this oneness, keeps expanding, penetrating and enfolding me, and becomes more involved with all that I am, physical, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. And so it is for you.
So where does this leave me in my oneness journey? With the realization that as my understanding of what oneness is and how to live it grows, it becomes reflected in living my life as an interdependent creature. Oneness is dependent on the relationship I have with you, with earth, with the cosmos. I can only see everything as one because everything is different. In our great uniqueness as individuals, we see what connects us collectively is that presence, that creative force we call oneness of which we are expressions. The experience of oneness only makes sense within the infinite diversity of life. The treasure of my uniqueness only makes sense in relationship to the whole.
The power of oneness gives us access to great energy and creativity and generosity. This power of oneness is inviting me to show up, to listen to you, be open, receptive and discover our shared humanity. My joy is your joy, your suffering is my suffering, mother earth’s tears are our tears, because these are all in that ever-present oneness that is always arising. If I am to live oneness, the question then becomes “How do I need to be for you to know love?” “How do I need to be if you are to be happy, or have abundance?” Living through oneness depends on me belonging with you, with all life.
Oneness is the power that allows me to act with intention to serve all life, not just my own individuality, or the glory of our own uniqueness. Oneness is a bright energy shining a light on how all these different parts that make up my world that are all “onenesses.” It is an ever-present, shining beacon focusing us on how we can play together for our well-being, and for the whole of life. That’s how we take another step toward the fulfillment of spirit expressing through our humanity. That’s how oneness is really lived, down and dirty, in the reality of my everyday life, dancing the oneness dance again.