A friend emailed me recently asking if I could clarify what I mean when I use the term “oneness.” It’s a term she finds quite distasteful because to her it smacks of an amorphous, undifferentiated blob.
Although in my writing I often use terms like inter-existence, inter-beingness, interdependence or interconnectedness rather than oneness, I thought I would take some time to describe in more detail what I mean by all of it.
To do that, though, I need to give some autobiographical context, because when I speak of this it isn’t an abstract concept for me. It comes from a very formative experience I had years ago.
Almost two decades ago, a very close friend of mine died, and her death prompted me to resolve to open to deeper dimensions of my existence that I sensed were there but had never known.
Some while later I began to experience an onslaught of synchronicities too numerous and implausible for my worldview to accommodate. It felt like my reality was cracking apart.
I didn’t know what to do but surrender to what was happening, so I went to the woods one afternoon to give myself over to the process. When I got there, not knowing what else to do, I simply started giving thanks for all the people whose presence in my life had brought me to that point.
As soon as I began saying their names, something inside me collapsed: the idea of myself as a separate self. In that moment I comprehended that I exist only in and as relationship. In that moment I understood the absolute interconnectedness of Reality.
This aha precipitated a Kundalini awakening. Waves of energy poured up and down through my body, opening the energy centers and transporting me into a new world, a world of Joy, Beauty, Infinite Possibility, Absolute Love.
This experience, which I write about in my memoir Beyond Jesus: My Spiritual Odyssey, became a watershed moment in my life, and it continues to inform how I see everything: who we are, the times we find ourselves in, the nature of Reality.
So let’s get back to this question of oneness. Words here are clumsy, and any attempt to convey this through language is inherently limiting, but I’ll do my best.
Imagine the surface of a lake where gusts of wind are creating all sorts of ripples on the surface of the water. These ripples, these waves, are all interacting with each other, creating unique and ever changing patterns.
What I understood in that moment of lucidity is that what “I” am is a temporal, locational convergence of an infinite number of “waves,” an infinite number of influences interacting with each other, like ripples moving across the surface of the water, coming together in a moment, in a place, in a unique pattern of expression.
Reality encompasses all of these influences and converging interactions. It is unfathomably complex, yet of a whole—one infinitely complex system interacting with Itself.
When I speak of oneness, that’s what I mean. Not sameness, but inseparability.
As one of my favorite spiritual texts, A Course of Love, says, “Only what exists in relationship knows that it exists.” This is the essence of consciousness. Reality, in order to know Itself, in order to be conscious, must be in relationship, must give rise to distinct expressions of Itself that can be in relationship with each other.
This, then, is what you are—a convergence, a unique expression, an unrepeatable pattern of the Totality of All Being. You are the eyes through which the Universal Mind looks in order to have the aha of its own existence as the All That Is, as Oneness Itself.