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Wholeheartedness is a time and place where all categories, levels, and forms of discrimination simultaneously loosen into just this. That wholeheartedness is very serious but also soft and flexible. Seriousness and flexibility come together and walk together as one.
*Dainin Katagiri. The Light That Shines through Infinity.
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In the confinement cells at the prison where I served as a chaplain, she and I met for a first time. Around us were inmates, alone in cells, under disciplinary action or considered too dangerous to be housed among other inmates, some of these men were considered too dangerous to be housed with any inmate. I asked, "What is it that you get from working here?" She remarked that few persons would choose to work as a nurse in a prison. I agreed. She said something about God and, then, "They are still persons." I knew, with her, the men incarcerated in that building shared a likeness to us, a kinship with us indelible and irreducible. I knew I could serve, like her, these men, for I sensed that kinship having nothing to do with what behaviors had led to them being in that confinement and in a prison. She and I were outside the cells, those men inside the cells, but essentially we were no different from them, not essentially. And essentially is the oneness we are, before she nursed, I chaplained, and those men behaved in ways that led them to being housed in a confinement building apart from other inmates and away from society.
So, she and you were acting from the oneness?
Yes, wholeheartedly so. Oneness is always on the spot, always right here, now. Where totally on the spot, separation washes away. There is often a heightened sense of presence. You can feel like you are being moved by something not you, but this is not separate from you. This is harmony. This oneness right here, now, appears so totally present as to be subtly outside your grasp. That is why you can feel you are no longer acting, but action is happening.
You could more precisely say oneness was acting through us. The acting from oneness, furthermore, does not occur until seeing from the oneness, indeed oneness seeing oneness. I have said before, oneness sees oneness. So, if she, as the means of Grace, had not had insight into the oneness the inmates and she shared together, she could not have shared in acting from oneness toward them, even with them.
See, in this oneness, she was not a nurse, she was providing a role called "nurse," even as I was not a chaplain, but chaplaining. So, from Grace, we are not the role, and the role is action. So, we do not identify with the role, we are one with the action. Oneness manifests as oneing, as simply being itself in harmonizing the prior harmony of being with doing, one with many.
What do you mean "with them"?
In oneness, there is no giver and no receiver and nothing given, even as there is no seeing and no action that one can separate apart. All is in harmony. Once the insight into oneness is in place, this seeing makes it possible for all to be drawn to the center, Grace. Life draws all to Itself. All manifests as communion, a totality. I, sometimes, refer to this center as the heart, or the Heart. There is one Heart, one Center. We all meet, so to speak, at the same place. The Heart knows no inside the cell as opposed to outside the cell, no inmate in contrast to chaplain or nurse.
I often struggle to realize this oneness with others?
Stop the struggle, by releasing the effort to realize oneness. Stop trying. Oneness arises naturally, spontaneously. If something arises resultant of the struggle, that is not oneness, or, at least, is only a glimpse of it. Harmony, being natural, manifests naturally.
So, is this oneness an experience?
In itself, oneness is prior to experience. Oneness, then, arises from oneness, never from fragmentation, never from diversity. With all the praise of diversity, diversity is an off-shoot of oneness. Diversity cannot be sustained in harmony apart from a realization of harmony; this is why social action must be linked with inner transformation. This is why in diversity we can work for tolerance, for diversity can sustain, by will, tolerance, but diversity cannot sustain oneness; oneness is the sole source of the sustenance of harmony amid diversity. Diversity cannot sustain itself.
By its nature, oneness seeks itself, to manifest in form, within diversity, drawing the fragmented back into unity, making diversity aware of unity, imbuing diversity with the grace to honor unity amid multiplicity.
This is redemption, a return to the natural state of being. Diversity can only find its ground from what makes diversity possible; this is like saying that two and three and four ... will remain fragmented without finding its inspiration in one, the One.
Tolerance is still fragmentation, not wholeness; wholeness is pure of intolerance, tolerance holds within itself the tension of intolerance, the residue of intolerance. Therefore, tolerance is not our natural state, not harmony. Yet, it is a move from intolerance in the direction of oneness. See, oneness does not evolve, but our capacity as person and society, as world, evolves in capacity to embrace, to live, oneness.
Will oneness always arise in the absence of effort to attain it?
Oneness will arise in the absence of seeking oneness, generally, when you are prepared to see oneness. This, for experience of oneness arises from oneness, not seeking oneness. Again, experience of oneness cannot arise from experience of oneness, only from oneness as a non-experience, a before-experience. What-becomes always comes from What-is.
J. Krishnamurti, in his On God, speaks of this as beauty, for oneness is beauty.
One comes upon that beauty, not by desiring, wanting, longing for the experience, but only when all desire for experience has come to an end; and that is one of the most difficult things to understand.
So, do not seek the experience of oneness. Rather, surrender to the One. One becomes the experience of Itself, through you and me, through Earth.
This is like, then, your saying not to seek love?
True. Persons speak of finding love, when referring to meeting a romantic partner. "He found love," "She found love." That is nonsensical. Love is another word for this Harmony, this Beauty, this Oneness ~ all words referring to the One. The part cannot find the Whole, the fragment cannot find the Totality. In the absence of desire for this Oneness, this Love, this Beauty, this Harmony, yes, God, this arises as given to you. This is why we speak of Grace. Grace arises from Grace, no one gives you Grace, Grace is not a something that can be given or not-given, found or lost. The All that is, is already being given. There is no God-marketplace, no Grace-supermarket, simply for Grace, or God, is not a something. Love finds you, not your finding Love. How can anyone find what is not lost? A something can be found or lost, not a not-something. We become lost, we need to be found. This is why in the song "Amazing Grace," are the words penned by the former slave trader, John Newton...
I once was lost,
but now am found,
but now I see.
So, please note: Grace is not first a term of religion. Grace is the nature of Life, of the Universe as expressing Life. The nurse was being graceful, for Graced ~ given sight, found ~ by the Oneness through which she served the inmates as not other than herself. This Harmony is, then, not about our personal selves, for Oneness manifests within but free and freely of our histories. Who we are is not what we have done, we are not the collective of personality traits. Grace is, we are, we are already one. In that building that day, oneness was inmate-ing, was nurse-ing, was chaplain-ing, and the One was doing all this regardless of the personalities of each or the roles assigned of each. Harmony was, for Harmony is.
Is religion or spirituality essential to this realization of oneness?
No. Often it is a hindrance. Yet, likely few will realize this harmony without some heartfelt experience of religion or spirituality. Sadly, however, much spirituality and religion, maybe most, creates itself as a special apartness from others, from the world, so forming a barrier to the freedom of oneness, the flow of harmony. Indeed, when one realizes oneness, he or she will not be reliant on any religion or spirituality. One may enjoy it, but not be reliant on it. One may even discontinue any association with it, not feeling any wish to participate in it. But this wisdom does not apply to persons who are just anti-religious, or who are merely dogmatic materialists, or the many who speak against religion who are just riding the against-religion parade, which is now fashionable for persons who know little about what they speak of. Religious literalism and anti-relgiousness are of the same fundamentalist sort. And one in oneness may choose to remain in a religion or spiritual path as a means to worship the One and to serve the world in compassion. Oneness is not inimical to religion or to spirituality; only, in general, an arrogant, ignorant ego is, as arrogance and ignorance, even the intellectual sort, are partners in intolerance and prejudice.
What does oneness look like to you? I mean, when you see the oneness.
First, once stabilized in this insight, you do not have it at times and other times not. Now, to your question. You see the tree, the tree limbs swaying in the wind, the leaves dancing, all of it as it is and as it is happening in one moment. You see all the diversity of it, so clearly, but not as separate pieces. You see each part as the totality, the totality as each part. The most ordinary seeing possible, for the oneness and the seeing are united in a single being-act. One of the surprises when oneness dawns for one, is how ordinary it is. You realize that something as it is, not as you saw it before, as you were conditioned to see it, is amazing, is beautiful beyond anything you knew before as beautiful. It is so special, it appears not special at all. You simply fall in love with what is, in that one timeless moment. You live in Love all the time then, and you know this Love without having to seek particular experiences of what you before called love.
Sounds like this could be lonely.
Yes, in the sense of having few persons, if anyone, to share this experience of seeing with. No, in the sense that in oneness you are always in Love, and you do not feel you have to receive that from anyone ~ you are already in It. So, while you cherish others, you are free of relying on anyone to save you from aloneness, for you feel no need to be un-alone. Aloneness is itself, you realize, the divine playfulness of the One. Even loneliness becomes simply a transitory experience filled with Grace, with Life.
*Brian Wilcox. 'Floating in the Light'. Flickr
*The theme of "Lotus of the Heart" is 'Living in Love beyond Beliefs.' This work is presented by Brian K. Wilcox, of Maine, USA. You can order Brian's book An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, through major online booksellers.