There’s nothing more heartbreaking to me than when people are unkind to one another.
When we are young, we learn the most fundamental teachings about being human: be nice to one another, share, clean up after yourself, don’t take things that aren’t yours, etc. But it seems that when we become adults, we often forget everything that was a part of these original lessons of life. Even the yoga community is littered with heartbreaking exchanges. If unkindness is evident in a community dedicated to conscious living, I imagine it is even more insidious in other spheres.
I am always interested in people who are doing innovative things. Cora Poage is a health and wellness coach. In a recent conversation, she shared with me that she has had a life-long dream and has just implemented it. She put up a sign in New York City that said “Free Listening.” She and her friend, Theresa Venezia, sit for 1 ½ hours and just listen to people. No strings, no gimmicks, no marketing ploy. They simply listen.
Many Eastern and modern spiritual traditions claim that oneness is the pinnacle of spiritual achievement. In this sense, oneness means to connect to — and ultimately become absorbed into — a great numinous matrix. This can be likened to a drop of water returning to the ocean, as Zen traditions claim.
However, oneness can also be realized as the loss of individuality when memories and experiences become information within the Akashic records. In all of these cases, the individual that once was a human being no longer exists upon the death of the body. The essence of one’s experience and being is simply absorbed into the fold of a higher level of reality, or into a greater whole.
In the classical sense of oneness, each individual is advised to reject or remove the ego. This enables an easier assimilation into the great numinous state of oneness. This results in the loss of who you are, and all that you have gained, as an individual. However, this is not the only option open to us. We can retain our individuality and still become part of a greater whole.
The first time I took a live yoga class, at age 12 or 13, I remember hearing some strange, prayer-like, exotic word come out of my teacher’s mouth. Everyone echoed it back, and it made me uncomfortable. It didn’t stop me from going back, but I did kind of feel “left out,” as I didn’t know what they were saying, what it meant, or if it was the name of a god or other deity. Frankly, it sounded kind of religious, and I was definitely not into god-stuff at that point in my ’tweendom.
When my teacher told me what Namaste meant (“I bow to the god within you”) and how to pronounce it (Nah- Mah-Stay), it didn’t necessarily make the phrase any easier for me to embrace. But the social pressure of “call and response” soon won me over. I attended very small classes in Santa Fe, and any non-compliant Namaste’ers would be very obvious to the teacher and other students. At first it barely rolled out of my lips, a garbled rumble of vowels with slight hiss in the middle. I had no way of knowing that a decade later, I would be the one at the front of the room offering the same salutation to my classes.
As our brothers and sisters in Japan struggle to find peace, understanding, support and a sense of order after this month’s devastating earthquake, I invite each of you to join me as I offer these words of prayer:
There is a lot of conversation on the planet about the fact that we are living in a field of infinite possibilities. Some of the successful authors and teachers tell us that we are called to remember that we have access to the creative power of the universe that is unlimited. The question then becomes, do we really believe that is true and can we operate from this place in all circumstances?
On Sunday, October 24th, the first Global Oneness Day will be celebrated. I am excited about this because I am a firm believer that once we realize that we are all connected, the energy of separation can begin to be dismantled. From my point of view, it is imperative for us to remember that what we do and think affects the whole. This one day feels like a great opportunity to begin to place our attention on what we want to create.
There is a lot of talk about oneness. We love the philosophers, teachers and healers that espouse wholeness and unity. There are blogs, newsletters and organizations dedicated to a world that is united, and it makes my heart smile to think that this aspect of the spiritual conversation is unfolding in such a grand way.