Mar 30, 2016

What Do You Think When You Hear People Say That 'We're All One'?

By Tim Hjersted / filmsforaction.org
What Do You Think When You Hear People Say That 'We're All One'?

Sometimes I feel this sense of "oneness" in my body and it's hard to describe, but I say 'we're all one' as a verbal way to describe the feeling. At other times oneness is an intellectual idea that I know to be true but I don't feel it in my direct experience.

That said, the philosophy of oneness has a tangible impact on who I am and how I relate to the world, so even for skeptics of the idea, I believe there is value in understanding it in terms of its material impact on how people act in the world.

I can't speak to how others experience it, but when I'm feeling it, it is the seed of love. Someone can be telling me about their heartache while at a bar and I can just be with where they're at, and I want to hug them and just express my love for them, but I don't think it would be understood and so I don't say it. But I wish everyone could feel this idea of shared humanity- that there is a material separation between us but there is also no separation (this can perhaps best be described as the experience of the heart). That I am in you, and you, me.

I'm still trying to figure out how to put this sense of 'oneness' into words. How could the atheist, materialist, or unfamiliar person understand this idea? 

Here is one way I thought of it tonight, and I'll readily admit it may not satisfy those looking for a scientific, sociological answer, but here is a poetic one: there is only one self. All of humanity is just one person, and all seven billion of us are all variations of the same self. Different manifestations of the same self. The core is the same but in our details, our diversity is endless, like musical notes that are always playing a new song.

When I have this sense of things, it is so easy to love, but it isn't romantic love, in the usual sense.

It reminds me of something I thought around the time my father passed: when I forget who I am, I love you. But when I remember who I am, there is no one to love. No I. No you. There is just us. Just the feeling of love. 

But of course, Tim Hjersted still very much exists! 

That is the funny thing about poetry. All these words and I still don't think I've conveyed what I am getting at. On its face none of what I've said makes sense. I'm using words to describe a feeling in my body and consciousness that I can connect with the most precisely when I'm not thinking - in the space between thoughts. No doubt this is why 'oneness' and meditation so often go together.

What does this kind of loving oneness feel like? I think deeply loving a romantic partner may be one way to discover it. There have been times when my heart was very open, and I looked into my partner's eyes for so long that I could see myself looking back at me. I saw into her soul and I saw myself - but not perhaps me personally, though I am a part of it. But the big self. The oneness that we are all a part of.

Mystics have called this 'god looking into the eyes of god.' 

Although this word conjures up different ideas for everyone, I think even for an atheist, in a poetic sense, this is a beautiful way of expressing this truth.

But after feeling this oneness with my partner I thought, if it is true in us, then it is true with all of us. And if I can love her in this way, then why could I not love everyone in this way? 

So for me, the love journey that felt easy and natural with my romantic partner became a template to open my heart to everyone.

We're conditioned to open up our hearts to people we're physically attracted to. But loving anyone, seeing our common oneness with the lady or gentleman at the checkout counter? Not just thinking about it intellectually but looking into their eyes and feeling it? That is a bit more challenging.

Nonetheless, I suppose so long as we can try this without freaking anyone out, it is a pretty fun practice to try.

At the very least, it feels really good to interact with everyone as a fellow traveler of the earth.

Usually, it seems society is all about everyone interacting with each other's roles. The boss and the employee. The employee and the customer. The ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend. People get caught up in interacting with the roles and forget we are all just people - fellow travelers on this journey through life, all striving and seeking love and happiness and security and novelty.

Sometimes I feel trapped by these roles. I can tell someone is interacting with my role in the particular play we're in, the ex-boyfriend for instance, and I'm seen as a threat to the new boyfriend simply because of where I stand in the dance. We would probably be great friends in other circumstances, but because of the roles we're playing, we can't be friends. He can love his friends and his partner but he cannot love me because of the role I play as 'the ex'.

In the meantime, I dream about a world where we can open our hearts to everyone in the play, where the particular role we play doesn't matter. Where we can love everyone because it is only by chance that we inhabit the mind of one person and not the other.

In this dream of mine, everyone knows that underneath the roles we play, we're all family. We're all manifestations of the one self.

We're all fellow travelers on the journey. 

In this dream of mine, everyone knows that your happiness is my happiness - where love for you is love for me, and where no one is excluded. 

Where we can love everyone, without discrimination. 

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