“The state of consciousness that a great majority of humanity is in is not natural. It’s altered. It’s called separation. Separation is the ultimate altered state of consciousness.” – Adyashanti
Before I found mindfulness I had been reading a lot of Eckhart Tolle’s writings as well as other spiritual teachers and loved it all. But there were two challenges with it. The first challenge was that there was very little ‘how to’ or tools for how to start living in the ‘Now’ and secondly, I was concerned that by being in the ‘Oneness’, I would get nothing done, and the fluff balls would slowly engulf me and take over. After all we are living here on this planet and will probably go back to where we came from afterwards (at least in some form), so why try to live the same here as on the other side? Aren’t we here as Human Beings?
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
Yes Pierre, so let’s have the experience of both. It seems that we are either getting told how to be a human or how to just be.
The manifested, this body and all that surrounds it on this planet is impermanent, it will all decay and disappear. Consciousness is infinite, constant with no beginning and no end. So in that way it can be referred to as the True Oneness, but it is nothing ‘more’ or ‘better’ than the manifested. The manifested is a manifestation of the infinite, of consciousness, of God or Buddha or whatever you believe in.
The idea of a hierarchy, of Oneness being better than the manifested is based in an understanding that belongs in the manifested. Instead we can focus on an experiential integration of manifested and un-manifested.
When at times I am caught in a competitive state it brings with it delusion. The delusion in the moment is based in not seeing our shared humanity rather identifying as a separate little thing, as ‘Me’, the centre of the world.
Being in a deluded state does not feel good simply because it isn’t good, it isn’t good for the body nor the mind. We are wired for connection and being caught in envy, jealousy, competitiveness, judging, anger, depression, self-righteousness and arrogance takes us away from this central wiring and brings us into ‘unhealth’. For the individual it feels like depression and anxiety for an organization it is silo(ing), lack of trust and sharing and competitiveness.
And yet we all get caught – a lot and this is for survival reasons. We have an inbuilt: “I am going to survive” mechanism making us highly reactive to threats and focused on getting our needs met. When we are just in that space only we have little awareness of Oneness, of consciousness. This means we are seeing the world through delusions. With that comes thinking that the most important thing in the world is getting the next task done on the to-do-list, that I am separate, rather than interconnected also that life is about a destination. Yet Oneness says that there is no path, just ever present change arising on and within infinite space. How do I live the integration of this?
‘The more self, the more suffering’ and ‘no self, no problem’, these ‘slogans’ are part of the Buddhist teachings. The more I am identified with the separate self, being focused on how unique and special I am or want to be, the more I suffer and so I experience loneliness, depression, stress, anxiety, and all the previously mentioned states. Our culture celebrates uniqueness, being focused, getting things done, achieving, having amazing possessions, being goal focused and a ‘winner’. Is it any wonder we are unwell, stressed, anxious and depressed?
The gold is in the experience of connection, this is the bridge, the integration of the little separate manifested self with the sense of ‘no-self’. In this experience of connection we touch, sense, experience our other true nature, which is Oneness. The experience feels like coming home, and in that experiences our bodies produce oxytocin that soothes the ‘self’ and opens us up to even more connectedness.
Here are five understandings that bring us into the integration:
1. Shared humanity rather than ‘Me’ focus.
Remembering that everyone suffers, that we have much more in common with each other rather than what is different. So when you feel sorry for yourself, zoom out and recall others suffering in the world.
2. Love rather than judgment.
We can’t judge with love in our heart. Through deeper understanding of the person’s context and background and seeing our own barriers to really ‘seeing’ the other person, the veil of judging melts away, opening us up to the reality of Oneness.
3. Mindfulness rather than identification.
Not believing thoughts that are thought, feelings that are felt nor body sensations that arise as ‘mine’ but rather as arising phenomena that is not my fault but my responsibility. Knowing thoughts as temporary visitors opens us up to what is beyond thought.
4. Rather than trying to understand everything, experience and appreciate the mystery, the wonder of life with gratitude and curiosity.
When we sink into this space of deep gratitude and surrender, then Oneness, the greater space opens up and we sense our insignificance and inter-connectedness.
5. Rather than seek your passion, ask how you can best be of service.
A sharing with you:
Meg had been part of our small a-cappella choir for many years. She has been our New Yorker living in Cessnock, vibrant, witty and passionate. We are gathered around her sick bed, where she lies dying of a very aggressive cancer. We sing one song after another. We have never been able to really find each other in harmonies without a teacher but on this day, it feels like something is in the air that enables us to harmonise on every note. Singing is of course all about tuning in, using your voice as a part for the sake of the whole. The music created beauty, peace and kindness and she was held in that. There comes a time when all the energy in the world, all the focus, and survival drive has to bow to the Oneness and we are home.