Whether you are Christian, celebrating the birth of Christ, or Jewish celebrating Hanukkah, or Muslim, celebrating the birth of Mohammed, PBUH, the message of this time of year is the hope of a world at peace and all of the people of the world finally realizing our brotherhood arising from a single source of creation. What would life be like without war, greed, religious differences? What would our world be like if we all made sure everyone had food, shelter, education, and good health?
“He who, in pursuit of his own happiness, hurts others that are also seeking happiness, will not find it, either in this world or the next.” ~ Buddha
Spirituality offers an alternative way to living life and being happy, that does not involve competition and materialism. What is the principle that we find in all spiritual traditions that could make a radical difference to the world? Oneness.
The Need For Oneness
The understanding and experience of oneness can help stop wars, exploitation, injustice, violence, abuse, environment damage, among other problems. These actions would hardly have any reason to arise, just like it makes no sense for the left hand to hurt the right hand, or for the blood-cells to wish the destruction of the bone-cells, just so their “way of life” can prevail.
Oneness can improve our social, political, and professional environments, helping create a more “enlightened society”. A society that exists, where we recognize that, as human beings, we are all cells of a larger organism.
This may sound highly utopian, because we probably cannot believe we will ever live in a world where everyone understands and behaves in accordance to the truth of oneness. However, this change is possible, and any small progress in this direction has the potential to create much good.
Spiritual teachings – in all their variety of approaches and traditions – offer both the perspective and the tools required for this transformation to occur. The conception of oneness takes different flavors and shapes, depending on the tradition behind it, but they all boil down to this: an invitation to conceive of yourself, and your wellness, as being larger than your body-mind.
Lastly, even if all these traditions were wrong, and we were looking at it only from a pragmatic perspective, we can see that the concept of oneness is a powerful tool to transform ourselves and our world, because it promotes goodness and positive action.
There are two aspects of the practice of oneness. First, you need to appreciate it within yourself – and ideally experience it. Reflecting about these things, and hearing related teachings, indeed helps. But to understand it in a deeper level, spiritual practice is essential; especially in the form of meditation. It helps move your identity from the ego to a larger consciousness.
The second aspect is to translate it to action. The ideal of oneness and non-violence unpacks into several other principles. For instance, here are the 5 core Buddhist precepts.
- Not to cause harm
- Not to take what is not given
- Not to speak what is untrue
- Not to engage in sexual misconduct (one that creates suffering)
- Not to use intoxicants
Can you see how breaking any of these guidelines creates circumstances of suffering? Even taking intoxicants – which some may argue causes harm only to myself – also adds to the suffering in the world, because it obscures the power of mindfulness in us, making us more prone to causing harm via other means.
Just imagine the paradise we would live in if most people followed all these precepts! Even if only in their most basic expressions, these simple guidelines have the power to eradicate much suffering. Oneness is a good rule of thumb to inform our actions. In a way, it is like taking the principle do unto others as you would have them done onto you, but on a deeper level.
Living a life in harmony with the ideal of oneness is highly challenging, and a continuous process of growth. You can do it, little by little! Ultimately, there are no hard rules. Keep in mind the unity of all beings, and make your actions be a reflection of your ever-deepening understanding of oneness. Don’t be disheartened by how hard this can be at times. Simply keeping this ideal, to the best of your ability, already puts you in a better space than that of most people.
One word needs to be said about balance. Don’t forget that you are a cell of this big body of life too! So, while in service to others, take care of the health and well-being of yourself as well. If the lung cells die as a result of helping out the heart-cells, however heroic that may sound, it’s not really helpful to the organism as a whole, is it? So let us act in a way that benefits the life of the cell and of the organism at the same time.
The practice of oneness makes our actions congruent with our inherent values and ideals. It makes us live a life that truly matters. Whether you are involved in activism and philanthropy or not, realizing oneness and implementing it in your actions is one of the best ways to really effect change in society and world. It’s an act of care.
It can be challenging to know how to “apply” and live this concept with integrity and balance. But if you constantly think about it and have it as a north, it will be a powerful tool in polishing your character and allowing you to contribute more – big and small – to the welfare of the organism.
Acting based on oneness is internally rewarded with happiness, regardless of the results of your efforts, because we feel connection to everything – instead of being isolated, alone and helpless. The process starts within us simply by feeling grateful and thankful that our creator gave us consciousness and free will. Think about that for a moment, why are you conscious and aware? If there was no purpose for life, consciousness and awareness simply isn’t required. For what purpose does it exist? Start there.
To all of our faithful readers across the world, we hope you have a magical 2016. Better yet, let us all take a pledge to make it a magical 2016.