Wednesday, April 27, 2011

We Are All One... or are we? (video)

What does it mean to say "We are all one"? A very spiritual girl I knew scoffed at the notion. Even after becoming an expert Buddhist meditator, she did not speak of nonduality, Oneness, or unity. She could see through the delusion of separation, yet she would not make the claim of all being one. She asked, "Do you think we're all one? What does that even mean?"

"Of course," I answered emphatically. "It's not even that hard to understand." One needn't be St. Francis or Thich Nhat Hanh (or "Nitch Natch Hans Christian Anderson" as we would refer to him, never being able to get our Vietnamese or Thai lessons to stick) to understand the unity (nonduality) concept.
It was not by direct mystical experience that I understood it. But there's almost no one I know who hasn't had intimations of sensing how we are all interconnected.

Official trailer for Tom Shadyac's film, "I AM" now in theaters:

  • On a subatomic level, we're all constantly exchanging ions (and not just the living beings, but rocks, streams, blades of grass...unseen emanations of energy).
  • On a social level, we're all going through the same thing -- even as we experience it differently according to our attention, intention, and habitual reaction patterns).
  • On a physiological level, we are all more or less the same: subject to the same follies, mortal, morbid (when we get a boo boo, we instinctively exclaim ouch).
  • On a psychological level, we have the same neurotic tendencies and stumble into the same thought traps.
  • On an emotional level, we can empathize with one another (by force of our mirror neurons being triggered before we're even consciously aware of it).
  • On a biological level, we're all built up out of DNA, cellular material, the Four Great Elements, subatomic particles, properties, name-and-form (nama-rupa)
  • On a spiritual level, we all have the same potential (enlightenment, buddhahood, basic goodness, Buddha Nature, humanity, self-actualization, altruism)

It might be better to ask, In what way are we actually different? Take a set of building blocks and build something. Everything tangible is the same. Everything intangible (the arrangement of all the tangible things) is within the potential of others.

When we're in love, we love connecting, merging, losing our burdensome ego (our sense of separateness or isolation). But even when we hate someone or something, we are bonding with it by our attention/intention, and so we run into it again and again. How great, then, to cleanse the heart of bias and partiality and accept everything with the same equanimity and peace of mind that still allows us to act and respond appropriately without getting snared and entangled.

Our main separation -- and our main problem -- is the delusion that we are apart, independent actors, isolated, alone, abandoned, forgotten, or left behind. We are not.

We are united (whether we like it or not at any given moment), we are together, we are in the same boat (Earth as our own Easter Island, and we all know what happened there -- and if not, we can all get on the same Network and find out), we are inter-dependent, we are All One in this sense and probably many others.

And it is possible to glimpse in a mystical/shamanic/DMT (the spirit molecule)-fueled state that this is literally true at all times and in all situations even though we now look back and feel we were alone a lot of the time. We were never alone. She agreed.

It's easy to forget this growing up in our competitive society watching "Survivor" and wondering why Donald Trump seems to get off firing people and feeding a scarcity mentality. But even Christians have an easy reference to this universal truth in theistic terms: There's that poster in the bathrooms of footprints in the sand; when we felt most alone and look back to prove it, we were actually being carried.