In a world where we constantly emphasise differences, we fail to see a simple truth that only oneness can survive. Oneness can be also called togetherness or unity and it is the situation where we see and accept that we are all on a journey together. This really is a very simple concept and can go a long way toward saving the world.
What is oneness?
It is the acknowledgement and acceptance that we are not independent. It’s pretty easy to see that all living things can’t live without each other. All of Nature forms a highly dependent system. One good example is that us humans couldn’t survive if it weren’t for the colonies of bacteria that exist in our bodies. If bees stop pollinating plants, we couldn’t survive. If the ecosystem stopped recycling water and rain stopped falling, we couldn’t survive. The list is endless.
We can even go beyond the simple thought of the natural system of plants and animals on this Earth and consider how we couldn’t survive without the energy radiated from the sun. In fact, the whole universe is a highly dependent system. We can even recall that (assuming the theory is true) at the time of the big-bang that started this universe, all the atoms that make up everything where all packed into a very small, single blob, of which there was only one.
We cannot exist on our own. We need everything else in order to be.
It’s easy to see that we are one with everything. We cannot exist on our own. We need everything else in order to be. Acknowledging and accepting this fact of oneness is a huge step for our future.
What is the opposite of oneness?
The opposite of oneness is, unfortunately, a large proportion of what we see in our world today.
Oneness is a fact. Everything needs everything else. No arguments, it’s obvious, but people’s thoughts can be whatever they like. It’s possible for people to deny our inherent interdependency, and we do it all the time.
From very early ages we begin to classify people and we now have so many classifications that it’s hard to keep track. Gender, sexual orientation, citizenship, religion, skin-colour, race, political allegiance, education, IQ, EQ, wealth, language, handicaps, and on and on. Starting from a very early age, we are encouraged to lose track that we are all one.
Even worse, we enforce competitions between individuals and groups from an early age. We have exams at school so that people can be shown to be different. We have sporting competitions that enforce one individual or team to “win” and another to “lose”. We create companies that “compete” in a market where some will “fail” and some will “win”. We form countries that want to create individual identities and “have” more than all other countries.
The truth is that we are all one, but we’ve lost track of this essential truth.
The truth is that we are all one, but we’ve lost track of this essential truth.
We instinctively know oneness is true
How can I say we instinctively know that oneness is true? It’s quite simple really as it boils down to our innate sense of right and wrong, good and bad. Think about that for a moment. We seem to have this sense of things that we know are right and wrong and I suggest this is highly correlated with the acceptance and denial of oneness.
For example, someone steals from another. That’s wrong and is a denial of the fact that we are one. Based on our oneness, it’s not really possible for one apparent individual to have more than another. We all have everything. Another example, somebody goes to the assistance of someone in need. That’s good, we can all feel that it’s good. It feels good because it’s an acknowledgment that we are all one. We’re not just helping someone else, we’re helping ourselves because we are all one. Another example is animal cruelty which we all feel is innately wrong. Again, this is because we feel it violates our oneness and the cruelty is really directed at ourselves.
Succeeding in oneness
oneness tends to create successful outcomes
Our folklore tends to be full of positive stories and anecdotes about how oneness is positive and tends to create successful outcomes. An example is the well known phrase “One for all and all for one!” that is commonly associated with Alexandre Dumas’ novel “The Three Musketeers” but was used earlier than that. The constitution of the United States of America is founded on unity and standing together (at least inside America) with phrases like “in order to form a more perfect union”, “insure domestic tranquility”, “promote the general welfare” and “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves”. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech about a dream that “that all men are created equal” and all “will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood”. John Lennon’s song “Imagine” with these lyrics “imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do, nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too, imagine all the people, living life in peace”. And once more from John Lennon (a little more cryptically this time) in “Instant Karma” he wrote and sung “why on earth are you there, when you’re ev’rywhere”.
Real, tangible examples of succeeding in a strong state of being one come from families, corporations and countries (even though these are examples of denying oneness as well), as these groups have at least the solid unity of being in the same family, part of the same corporation or a citizen of the same country. We all want to be part of something good and act in ways for the betterment of our family, corporation or country. It’s our desire for oneness that pulls us together and creates actions at higher levels for the benefit of all.
In these cases of family groups, corporations and countries, there is a limit to the benefits that oneness can achieve because they represent only partial oneness which is not sustainable because every single thing needs everything else to survive.
Only oneness can survive
Strong families, corporations and countries will eventually see the difficulties created at the boundaries. If groups see oneness inside them but independence from others outside, then trouble starts brewing. Families start to fight against each other, corporations want to monopolise markets and bankrupt competitors, and countries wage war against each other to take their land and resources. This sounds a lot like the world we’ve been experiencing for the last hundred years or more.
Now we are beginning to see that it’s only through our oneness that we’ll survive.
However today, the world is moving rapidly towards oneness. Countries are becoming less important and global initiatives are on the increase. The world’s fight for limiting greenhouse gas emissions is a good example. Also, the fight against pollution of the world with plastic. Now we are beginning to see that it’s only through our oneness that we’ll survive. If we can understand that even the most apparently insignificant part of Nature is necessary for our survival, then our world has a very positive outlook.
Oneness is the only future. The opposite will certainly destroy itself eventually. Only oneness can survive.
Now I’ve left my favourite definition of oneness to last. Oneness is Love.
- Kiss Cam – Love Has No Labels
- A Table and the Universe
- The Miracle Of Mindfulness
- We have everything – unless we think we don’t
- Oneness University – the original link has disappeared and it now takes me to https://www.oo.academy
- Some nice quotes from Oneness University
- “We have a destiny to create, a state of consciousness that is oneness with all that is”
- “Oneness is a force in consciousness that transcends all religions, all cultures, class based and national barriers, thus unifying people in the experience of one divinity, one humanity, one suffering, one love and one consciousness”
- “Peace with oneself. Peace with all of life.”
- “The root cause of all human suffering is the sense of separation.”
- Some nice quotes from Oneness University
- From Roger Gabriel – https://chopra.com/article/what-oneness
- “Imagine that you’re the whole universe; you live in total joy and bliss. Imagine there is no past or future, only now. Imagine there is no space or time, just an unbounded eternity. Imagine endless peace, harmony, and unconditional love. Imagine no fear and equality in all things. This is Oneness.”
Received this comment via email from Mark.
“I just finished reading your latest article and I think I get what you are saying but I also think oneness can destroy as well. When I think of oneness I think of everyone being able to get along and work together. Unfortunately you cannot possibly get along with everyone. Also say everyone did get along and everyone agreed on a really bad idea and it ended up destroying the world. It might be something they don’t really even realize is a bad idea at the time. When the automobile was invented I doubt anyone thought about the emissions it was giving off. Anyway that is my quick thoughts after reading your message. Excited to hear your response.”
Thanks for your comments Mark. They are good observations and are really making me think. I feel like I could write another long post in answer to them, but I’ll try to be quick here.
If we think of oneness is its extreme, where everything is part of the oneness, then I don’t believe it can destroy. Partial oneness can destroy, but then partial oneness isn’t oneness at all. It’s the gaps between the apparent bits of partial oneness that destroy.
You don’t have to get along with everyone to be part of oneness. Does a person always get along with themselves? Do they ever do things that annoy themselves and they regret? Sure. But they don’t destroy themselves over it. They realise that they are a single unit and put the mistake behind them and move on. In the wider context we can put the mistakes of others behind us and keep moving on as one.
In the really deeper sense, once oneness is fully embraced, there’s no need to do anything, no need to covet anything, no need to seek anything. Pure oneness must certainly bring along pure peace (who could you fight against?) and pure love. This would be a beautiful and joyous place. There would be no need for anyone to come up with a bad idea that might destroy everything.
Realistically, your observations reflect accurately the world we’re living in today. I guess the purpose of my article was to highlight that if the world of differences continues as it is, then the only outcome possible is destruction. It must destroy itself at some stage. The only way to avoid this is pure oneness. Oneness is the only thing that can persist eternally.
I liked to read your article, but I think it over-simplifies nature and the meaning of life. Life is biologically about differentiation and survival, so “oneness” in not natural in that sense. As many oriental philosophies teach and western science realizes, indeed we are “one” in the sense that we are all made up of the same matter and energy flowing across the universe. However we are all different manifestations of that “one” and the richness of life is a praise to the uniqueness of each individual, each family, each nation, each species. As you point out, it’s the inter-relations between all that allows for us to survive. But we all need to be unique for life, as it is, to prosper. On the other hand, we need to belong to a group, for protection of our genes and our culture, and by definition this triggers behaviours of “us and them”: “us” naturally creating feelings of love and “them” generating prejudice and stereotypes (this is reinforced psychologically by the way our brain has evolved).
Now what I do think (as we are thinking beings) is that “oneness”, even if not natural, is an aspirational goal for mankind and each one of us. Intentionally fostering “oneness” – trust, knowledge, tolerance, respect for all life forms – while acknowledging that the world we live in is the only one we could have, because life is itself the result of competition. The trick for humans today is how to enable the delicate balance between thriving as an individual, a group and a species, while actively enforcing “oneness” as a whole, or loose the battle of life (someone else will win it though).
Last but not least, our instincts will take us different places depending on our culture and circumstances, but that’s another discussion altogether 🙂
Thanks Claudia for you wonderfully eloquent and thought-proving comments. I didn’t reply immediately because I had to think about them carefully. There’s so much that could be said in reply, but I’ll try to be brief here.
You correctly mention “Life” and that makes me think “what is Life?”. We all have “a” life, but Life overall goes on after we die. Life is not limited to a single beings time of appearing alive on this Earth. Could the fundamental force of Life be an eternal thing?
You also make me think of something I heard Eckhart Tolle say once, about an analogy of the ripples and the ocean. He implies that we are currently aware of ourselves as individual ripples and we think we’re all independent, however, at a deeper level, we are all fundamentally connected by the same ocean.
One final thing that you’ve made me think about is the terrible dichotomy that we see during wars. In the same people, we see the blatant willingness to kill the enemy and the strong desire to save their own injured soldiers. The desire to save an injured soldier often outweighs their own concern for their safety and applies even if the soldier is so badly injured that they could no longer assist them in the war. Why do we see this? It doesn’t fit with natural selection or survival of the fittest. Even further, if natural selection and survival of the fittest were really the way the world worked, then there’d be no need for doctors and nurses as we should just be seeing injured others as weak examples that are now out of the way. Obviously, that’s not how the world works or how we want it to work.
I believe there’s something deeper that’s guiding us that we are not fully aware of and that we almost actively resist being aware of. Like Eckhart Tolle says, there’s a vast ocean beneath. Once we do accept awareness of this depth beneath us, a lot of things might change rapidly.
End of my random thoughts for now. Once again, I can’t thank you enough for your wonderful comments.
Have you read about the hindu philosophies of vedanta and samkhya? I think you lean towards the former (in that all “I’s” are one and material world is multiple and an illusion) while I feel closer to the latter (that says that the universal “I” is fragmented and nature or matter are one, differentiating itself in its manifestations).
Regarding natural selection, we know that most complex life-forms have favoured the development of traits, coded in the genes, that might sacrifice the individual for survival of the species. This ties to the generation of emotions, feelings and consciousness (António Damásio has interesting theories on this). In the short-run this might lead to apparently strange behaviours like you describe, but in the long-run it has paid out for humans, as we are the dominant species on our planet (by measure of the level of destruction we are capable of).
I have come across vedanta and samkhya but only in a superficial way. I’ll have a look into them a bit more deeply. Also, thanks for the tip on António Damásio, I’ll look into his work as well.
My current thinking is that having different things just cannot be natural. A couple of days ago I was watching an old Richard Feynman lecture on the theory of gravitation. What struck me was that just by observing nature, it’s possible to prove the theory of gravitation where every object attracts every other object (with just a few rules). EVERY object attracts EVERY other object! Even people who hate each other attract each other (gravitationally) just as much as people that love each other. Is that another joke from the universe?
Finally, scientists believe that, eventually, the force of gravity will eventually pull everything in the universe back into the same spot (could I say back into “oneness”?). It almost seems like the universe is telling us that being apart is not natural and it’s trying to gather everything back together, as one, again.
Thanks again for the tips on things to look into.