FROM THE BOUNDARY - One on Oneness – Part two
Poor religion – so much of it’s rooted in separation and division, so little in a sense of identity and oneness with the consciousness of God. For the Christian, the ‘follower of the Way’, we call it ‘Christ consciousness’ and it’s mediated through the sacred heart of Jesus. It’s ever, this religion whatever we call it, a Gospel of oneness, never separation disguised as ‘the one true religion’. You remember Jesus’ words? If a kingdom or house is divided against itself, it cannot stand. Yet from the cradle we’ve been taught the law of separation, of division, of life by numbers and through opposites: body and soul, flesh and spirit, the one and the many, heaven and earth, time and eternity, work and play, good and bad. This dualism exists only to separate us, from each other, from life, from God. It’s the devil’s game. We tear apart the harmony in everything which God has made. Yet it’s only “when thine eye is single” that our “whole body also is full of light.”
Think of trees. We only prize those which bear fruit and rubbish the rest. Yet all are nesting places for birds. All give their shade. The air we breathe is shared with every one of them, just as the clouds give us water to drink. It’s the scent of oneness. So yes, let’s say we share our surnames with the trees and clouds.
Is there anything in the natural world, great or small, that’s ugly to God, do you think? Is there anywhere He’s not present, any event where His power is not? Do you have to go to the high mountains to find Him, or to some distant land, or some grand cathedral or shrine? Didn’t He create, in His way, everything that is, and without Him was anything made that was made? Didn’t His very breath bring every creature into life, the animals which roam the forest, the birds of the air, the fishes of the seas, even the insects of the grass; and the trees and wild flowers too, even the weeds and thorns? We all come, surely, from the same source, and as we’re mysteries to ourselves so also we reflect the mystery and power of the natural world. We’re all, visible or invisible, a theophany, a visible manifestation of the Godhead, a little kosmos, a little universe in which God dwells. As Eriugena, the ninth-century Irish teacher, tells us, God manifests Himself in the created order but remains invisible. He makes Himself comprehensible but remains incomprehensible. Hidden and unknown, He yet reveals Himself and makes Himself known.
Think of those who despitefully use you, those whom, for this reason, you detest. As improbable as it may seem, even they show loving kindness to others and are loved in return. However warped they may seem, they’re still rooted in the oneness of things – even Hitler, even Trump. Ask Eva Braun and Ms Hicks. Everyone has something worthy about them. It might be the wrinkles about an old man’s eyes. It might be the playful smile which dances at the corner of his mouth, or the calloused hands of a man who knows only honest labour. It might be the candour and exuberance of a naughty boy. In other circumstances, he might be a good Samaritan.
Even the hard knocks of life, which we all share, enjoin us to greet them with the kindly heart of an old friend. And why not? They’re all our companions on our journey, the tears, suffering, confusions, injustice and fear. That way, we’re free. Life’s ridiculous whimsy can’t control us. It might even make us smile and say ‘I wondered when you’d turn up’. The Sufi poet Rumi likens our lives to a guest house with new arrivals daily, the joy, depression, meanness and the rest, all unexpected guests. They’re to be treated honourably, he says. Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in. They’re all “guides from beyond”. All life is sacred, you see. Our human experience is one. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing – sitting, standing, alone, in community, in the street, in sickness and health – it’s one total experience. We call it the ‘world’, and it’s of God and in Christ.
Symeon the New Theologian in the eleventh century expressed it thus: I move my hand and it becomes Christ; I move my foot and he comes as a flash of lightening; if we truly love him, we awake inside his body. In other words, we become one with the Beloved in every moment we experience the divine, in the sun setting, in the moon rising, in the taste of an orange.
Have you ever had the feeling that somehow you’ve become part of everything, that you understand everything, that you’ve been swallowed up by the vastness of everything? It’s as if we’re free and at one with all things, that we’ve somehow entered an unbounded consciousness and know that we’ve never really been separate from the world. Indeed, we’ve become the world, and in becoming so, in becoming everything, we’re now at peace with the world’s dance no matter how much it twirls us around. It’s a wonderful feeling and I hope that one day we’ll all share it.
Go safely, then – until the next time.
Oneness from the boundary: “Whichever way you turn there is the face of God” (Quran 2.115).