Experiencing Radical Oneness
I spent the day yesterday in reflection and rumination. (Translation: I took a couple of naps and spent a lot of time staring at trees. ^&^) A very kind member of the Shift had reminded me of something very important and I really needed to find alignment with the fullness of my thoughts on the matter before I tried putting finger to keyboard. (Pen to paper…kkkk)
I strongly believe that radical oneness as an intellectual pursuit is valid and has great value. Clarifying our concept and image of radical oneness helps to illuminate our path: the direction in which we are intentionally evolving in consciousness. Our human minds may not be able to conceive it in its entirety from our present evolutionary state, and honestly only God and by extension our Selves (rather than our materially created selves) could have a complete understanding of radical oneness, but envisioning it as clearly as possible and continuing to refine our vision, particularly in conversation, is beneficial. However, intellectual pursuit is not the ultimate goal and if we stop there, we are missing the point. Real knowledge is also experiential. There is a thought experiment called Mary’s Room developed by Frank Jackson. In the experiment, Mary is a brilliant scientist who was raised in a black, white and grey environment. Her body is also coated to be in shades of black and white. Though she has perfect vision, she has never experienced color. She has, however studied everything there is to know about color and is an expert. One day she is allowed to leave her room and walk out into the world of colors. She see’s color and exclaims, “Oh, so that’s what red’s like.” The point is that many philosophers believe that experience is crucial for complete knowledge. I agree with them. So, the question I was contemplating was how can we gain some experience of radical oneness.
I wish that I could say that I have had a radical awakening to oneness as Wonhyo did after he discovered he had drunk water from a skull in a cave. I’m not sure if I have even had an experience that gave me a glimpse of oneness. I have had some expanded consciousness experiences, however, and draw on them when I try to conceptualize radical oneness. One of those was a time when I was doing some hiking. I had almost reached the peak of a mountain, but the remaining few feet were covered by small boulders. My footing felt unstable and the wind was very strong. I’m not afraid of heights per se, but I do have a fear of being above ground on something unstable. So, for example, I could be at the top of a very tall building and walk to the edge and look down and feel O.K. once I got past a little vertigo. On the other hand, climbing up a couple of feet on a ladder takes a lot of willpower. So, going those last few feet was really difficult for me. I was clinging on to the rocks as I went. When I finally got up to the peak, I got up the courage to let go of the rocks, turn around, and look out at the view. At that moment, the sun peeked out from the middle of a large expanse of clouds. I could see rays streaming forth from the sun and suddenly felt in communion with the sun and everything I could see around me. There were also a couple of times when I was pretty sick but still had to go to work. As I walked down the halls at school, it seemed as if the boundary between myself and what was around me had dissolved, or at other times I felt like I were walking through a 3D movie. Those feelings of expansion and also the feelings of the illusion-like appearance of material reality can be useful in conceptualizing radical oneness but they are far from a feeling of unity with the entire universe from the macroscopic to the submicroscopic to the non-physical. Though I don’t claim to be an enlightened being, I do have some ideas about an individual path to experiential awareness of radical oneness.
Probably the most commonly spoken of method is also the most useful. Meditation is the core activity that will draw us closer to experiencing radical oneness. The methods of meditation are surprisingly diverse and all forms of meditation have their own traditions and purposes. I have no desire to indicate preference for one over another. I think it is possible to categorize them into overarching groups: inwardly focused and outwardly focused, Some forms of inwardly focused meditation would be breathing meditation, mantra chanting, light (or image) meditation, moving energy (or chi from China or gi from Korea), centering prayer, and ultimately no-mind meditation. Forms of outwardly focused meditation might be walking meditation, mindful action, and mindful-compassion meditation, While it is very possible to experience oneness using one practice alone, I believe doing a practice from both groups would be very helpful in cultivating a sense of and ultimately an experience of radical oneness. Experiencing Self and also cultivating an awareness of non-separation at the same time would, to my mind, be … the most efficient? (Wow, efficiency applied to meditation and awareness just doesn’t seem appropriate, but for now, efficient will have to do).
Imagining radical oneness could be another useful practice. Cultivating our sense of oneness by repeated and diverse use of our imaginations can help to expand our awareness. For example, I mentioned I had spent some time yesterday staring at trees. I was doing a little more than that. First, I brought my awareness to my body as a whole as I was looking at a tree. Then, I tried to sense the tree’s awareness at the same time. I wasn’t trying to imagine I was a tree, which would be something akin to object identification. In radical oneness there is no object opposing subject. I tried to feel awareness of human/me being aware of the tree and tree/me being aware of the human simultaneously. Then, when I got a feeling sense of that, I tried to include our surroundings: the building and the balcony of the building I was standing on, the other trees surrounding tree/me the breeze, the sunlight, the shadow, etc. As a first step exercise it took quite a bit of focus and some stretching. I think with practice, I might be able to include more in the awareness relationship, but for now, I’m satisfied with just one other awareness source. I could also foresee a time when I would be able to include non-biological entities: stones, water, soil, stars, etc. Doing an exercise like this with another human partner that we feel a comfortable connection with would also be very powerful. Developing a sense of me/me being aware of you/me and you/me being aware of me/me simultaneously could help to crack open many of our constructed barriers. I would like to distinguish this practice from a more intellectual kind of imagination in which I might be describing to myself what the experience would be like. I would also like to add a word of caution. This is not a process of imposing will over another entity, it is an attempt to break down the false distinction of subject/object. I think that experience of radical oneness is a feeling and awareness based one, rather than being intellectual and descriptive. I also think, at least for me, starting with the physical plane is much more productive than trying to imagine non-physical entities, thought that may change over time.
“Be the change you want to see in the world” (Mahatma Gandhi) We hear that often and I think it applies here perfectly. We cannot wait for the rest of the world to come to a realization of radical oneness because there is no rest of the world. There is no other. Every step I take in my growing awareness of oneness is a step of the whole. Every realization and every awakening is an awakening of oneness to itself. And the closer we come to an experience of that oneness the more aligned we are with our Selves and the more love, joy, and awareness we will experience and ultimately the more creation we will be able to attain.
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