When spiritually-minded people say, “We are all One,” what do they mean? What is this idea of “oneness” anyway?
I was contemplating this and decided that to me, oneness is more than just some esoteric notion. It’s something tangible that I could relate to and use in order to transcend my sense of self.
Here’s a meditation to read now and then ponder while you’re on a hike:
I’m going to take you through a contemplative process wherein you’ll have the experience of being a separate self in nature, surrounded by individual entities, to being part of the oneness and connectedness to all things, living and non-living.
You will walk in silence.
You have made the decision to be here today. You arranged to get here in your own car or as a passenger in someone else’s car. You have chosen how to spend these next few hours based on what your personal preferences are.
As you’re walking, notice how you’re placing one foot in front of the other. Notice how you’re negotiating the terrain and making instant decisions on where to step and what obstacles to avoid.
Feel the space around you. Feel the spacious boundary between you and your neighbor. Ponder all the ways in which you’re unique or different from the others in the group.
Now, look around you. Notice how each tree, shrub, plant, bird holds its own space. Some are closer together than others, but they are still separated by some amount of space. You can distinguish a tree from a bird from a mountain from an airplane. Each of these living and non-living entities is unique in its environment.
Everything around you, everything you see, was created without your input or control. The trees, the grass, the ocean, the lakes, the mountains, the animals, the insects are the result of 13 billion years of creation for which no human being can take any credit.
This creation, this life, continues year after year, millennia after millennia.
Notice what, in this moment, is living its own agenda apart from yours.
What is the tree’s agenda?
What is the mouse’s agenda?
What is the fly’s agenda?
How are these beings moving and functioning in order to accomplish this agenda?
Now go back to your own body. Notice your legs. Notice the movement of your arms. They are still moving and getting you closer to your destination without you consciously needing to direct the muscle fibers every moment.
You don’t need to control everything in order to get where you’re going.
Notice your breath. Notice your heart beating. Do you feel your aliveness in this moment?
Also in this moment, look around and notice the aliveness of the plants and animals around you. What are the clues that there is that life force within what you see around you?
The aliveness is happening outside of any being’s control. It just IS.
Right now you have a life force within you that you aren’t control. You can’t even make your heart beat one time.
Feel the aliveness coursing through you and through every living thing around you.
There is motion and movement and aliveness at a level you can’t see with your naked eye.
Right now, there is photosynthesis taking place in the needles and leaves of the plants. Cells are carrying on their energy production. There are cellular functions happening in your body in this moment without your being even aware of it. And yet, it is within your body, at a distance that can’t be any more intimate.
The mice and insects and birds have even less of an understanding and awareness of the process that’s taking place at a cellular level in their own bodies.
Everything that’s alive has this cellular process happening in the background right now.
Nothing you see was created by any one human being. Not even a car or the the clothes on your back.
They’re the product of hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution and society. It’s the product of culture and knowledge that’s been handed down from generation to generation for thousands of generations.
You are not a separate from your human ancestors, either.
What about the mountains and the rocks and the water and the sky? Are they different from you and from all the living things?
In your mind’s eye, journey to a sub microscopic level, where everything you sense, from the animals and plants to the cells, to the mountains and rocks, are composed of sub atomic particles.
At an atomic level, it’s all just nuclei and atoms and electrons. It’s all brimming with energy and movement.
There is no distinction between DEAD or ALIVE, INERT or ANIMATED.
The electrons in your cornea are the same electrons that are contained in those mountains and in the air between you and the vastness of space.
There is more space between the atoms in your fingertips than there is between the stars in all the Universe.
How does understanding the connection and oneness of everything that is feel to you right now? Are you in control of your life? Do you need to be?