June 2015

"The Fact of Our Oneness" (excerpt) The Exquisite Risk by Mark Nepo

---“Sheep Painting” by Nancy Easun


That which can't he stolen hut only given, that which survives by opening us all . . .

All the traditions speak of what Thomas Merton called a Hidden Wholeness, an unseen tissue that joins everything. It is in fact our deepest and oldest home. In truth, it is not really hidden, just so immense that it's hard for us to hold in view for very long. In actuality, the fact of our Oneness is constant and everywhere, a secret hidden in the open.

Amazingly, we arrive filled with this Oneness. At birth, there is no separation between us and other things, no subject and object. Of course, we must make this differentiation very soon in order to live. But inwardly, we then spend much of our time on earth finding our way back to that mysterious place where we were all part of one larger Self,- all part of the same living organism, the Universe. Eventually, if blessed, we land where all saints and sages have always landed, back in the consciousness that joins everything, where there is no separation between living things.

Yet no matter how we stray or are thrown off course, we can, at any moment, regain our sense and experience of Oneness through anything authentic: an honest feeling, a truthful thought, the giving or receiving of a kindness, or any sudden surrender to the larger] order. This is the purpose of love, of truth, of spiritual practice: to j bring us to the lip of that sea where all things join.

The common beat of our Oneness is never far away. When we look closely enough at any area of knowledge, the Hidden] Wholeness can be found. For instance, in nonlinear biodynamics there is a phenomenon known as coherence, which speaks to how 1 harmony is as elemental as gravity. A Dutch scientist named Huy- 1 gens first noticed this effect while sick in bed. He placed two pendulum clocks on his mantel and noticed that no matter how they were swinging when started, they would eventually begin swinging in identical motion. Eventually they would find their rhythm of oneness.
Even more telling is that if you place two living heart cells from j different people in a petrie dish, they will in time find and maintain a third and common beat. This biological fact holds the secret of how all things relate. It is cellular proof of our Oneness. For beneath any resistance we might pose, there is in the very nature of life itself some essential joining force. Given the chance, we will find a common rhythm between us that is enlivening. Some suggest that this common rhythm is our home.

That we have this inborn ability to find and enliven that common beat is the miracle of love. For what are full hearts when excuses fall away, if not two cells finding the common pulse beneath everything? From Taoists to Christian mystics, our journey on earth is offered as a way to find that rhythm of Oneness and to swim with it and not against it. Brief as these moments may be, when we feel that common beat, we are vibrating in harmony with other life. Knowing this and feeling this can be a tremendous comfort and resource.

These moments teach us what it means to live in relationship to all of life. The great Native American elder Black Elk speaks to the power of our Oneness when he says: Peace comes within the souls of beings when they realize their relationship, their Oneness, with the Universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the Universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, I it is within each of us.

Albert Einstein affirms all this when he says:

“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space. . . . Our task must be to free ourselves ... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Whether it is pendulums swinging on a mantel or heart cells beating in a petrie dish or strangers realizing they are intimates, there are indications of the Hidden Wholeness everywhere. Consider how a simple stone dropped in water sinks as it sends its ripples out from the center. Likewise, the deeper we are drawn into our common center—into the fact of our Oneness—the more we are compelled to ripple out our web of relationship.

In essence, we are here "to widen our circle of compassion" until we experience "that the center is everywhere." Whatever we attend to with sincerity is in some way a service to this end: to deepen and to reach out, and to live in that common beat.

"COMING OUT OF THE SYSTEM" by Stephen Russell (Barefoot Doctor)

---“Counter Culture Copyright” by Aurailleus

Just billions of people, joining up at least five days a week to engage in habitual interactions, the form and terms of which have been previously agreed upon but which are subject to change as things progress and which, one way or another, lead to pollution in the atmosphere and sewage in the sea. Hence, by group consensus, we have traffic jams at rush hour, globally, every morning and every evening, and people the world over believing in the power of money. A minority regulate the status quo of this conundrum and the majority goes along. This is normal and results from the inefficient use of imagination on the part of the individual.

As a warrior, however, you have the freedom to choose your own path and, as long as you don't get too attached to home, status and possessions, will be free to exercise that choice whichever regime is in power. In other words, just because everyone else is doing it doesn't mean you have to, too. Just because the majority live their lives a certain way, doing traffic jams twice a day, doesn't mean that's the right way for you. In fact, if you examine the mess made by the majority over the years, it's a safe bet to say that if you do the opposite you'll be on the right path.

This is not to advocate anarchy or chaos. It is simply to say that if you live from your imperishable core, in harmony with your authentic self, you will be following your own path/Tao, and not necessarily the path everyone else seems to be following. You will then automatically find yourself choosing work [see
Your Life's Work p. 185] and play situations mostly outside the nine-to-five context, and may find yourself riding your bicycle (or if you must, driving your car) to work, against the traffic.

You are an individual - literally, one who is not divided. This means that to be authentic and live an authentic life you must be clearly focused on a single path, which means being focused on a single point. When you are thus centered, you see that there is no system, just lots of individuals playing in the playground. There is no system to come out of or rebel against. You simply play however you choose.
This is no less valid when living under the jurisdiction of a totalitarian regime; you just have to be more discreet about it. A warrior is always free.

A quick cut to seeing through the illusion of systems is to do the upside-down contemplation:

You have always assumed that the sky is up and the ground is down. This is based on the now-defunct flat-earth theory. As we are actually on a globe, it is only possible to say that the sky is farther away from the Earth's center, and the ground is closer in toward its center, relative to where you're standing. This being so, it is perfectly acceptable to replace this nonsense of sky-up and ground-down with its opposite nonsense of ground-up and sky-down.
Just like a bat hanging "upside down," imagine that the ground you're hanging from is up, and the sky into which your head is hanging down, is down. Look up to the floor and down to the ceiling. The treetops are reaching down into the sky. Birds fly down there, and planes go really deep.

Practice this lying, sitting or standing still and then take it out for a walk or run. This visualization is powerful and can make you throw up if you overdo it on a full stomach. As well as helping you to see through the apparent system in general, mastering the upside-down contemplation is effective in high-stress situations like courtroom dramas and other such instances where the "system" illusion is strong. A few moments of upside down will concentrate your chi and spirit. It's also wicked in a headstand.

For more complete coming-outness, don't use credit cards and borrow money only from friends.

Barefoot Doctor
Barefoot Doctor's Guide to the Tao: A Spiritual Handbook for the Urban Warrior

More from In the Absence of God/Dwelling the Presence of the Sacred by Sam Keen

As bio-mythic, storytelling animals, we inevitably construct a linguistic frame around objects, events, and emotions. Language is our glory and our downfall, our greatest freedom and our maximum-security prison. Before we know it, the gossamer words we have spun to capture our fleeting experience harden into rigid beliefs that block the flow of passing moments and new meanings.

Our most hallowed languages and symbols—the religious and political terms that encode the dominant myths of our culture—establish a tyrannical hold on our minds, emotions, and imaginations. Before we know it, our unthinking allegiance to the God who blesses "democracy," "capitalism," and "freedom" becomes a rationale for forcing our way of life on others, whom we define as "enemies" when they resist. Unknowingly, our spirits become colonized by the voices and values of officials, authorities, and pundits.

Once the spin doctors, advertisers, propagandists, and religious authorities lay claim to language, the sacred connection between word and truth is severed. The common trust upon which all civil society depends—the understanding that we will tell the truth and abide by our word—is destroyed. When systematic lying, dissimulation, and secrecy become a way of life, the public ceases
to expect the truth from government officials and cynicism blossoms.

Every institution and profession—religious or secular— has its lingo. It is the nature of professions and organizations to invent special languages that are understood by insiders but are otherwise opaque; to be a professional is to speak in code. For the uninitiated, reading a political policy brief, a theological text, a legal document, a medical diagnosis, or a journal article on structuralism is like deciphering code. It is not uncommon for professionals of all kinds—lawyers, politicians, businesspeople, pastors, and priests—to use obfuscation, complexity, and mystification to claim knowledge—and thereby power—unavailable to the layperson.
In the beginning of the Christian era it was said that spirit became flesh. But then Spirit became Word (logos), and words became sacrament, which in turn became the basis for the church. The farther Christianity moved from its original event, the more powerfully theology established its dominion over the living spirit. The creed makers performed a reverse miracle: They turned wine into water.

How can we break the spell of religious language, wake up from the hypnosis of god jargon, and escape from the gravitational pull of the political ideologies implicit in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam?

The first antidote for the prostitution of language is voluntary chastity. Just say no. Paul Tillich, the Protestant theologian, said that the great words—faith, hope, love, grace, sin, and salvation—sometimes become so trivialized and degraded that we need to cease using them for a generation. We need to declare a moratorium on old, hallowed, and overused words: a linguistic fast.

Mystics within the great religious traditions have always cautioned against becoming too comfortable with language describing G-d. Judaism prohibited naming G-d altogether. What theologians called the via negativa suggests that we remain most faithful to the ultimate mystery when we remember what G-d is not. The One we try to capture in our names and definitions remains, as Martin Luther said, a hidden G-d.

One way to recover the original meaning and power of religion is to adopt the radical discipline of linguistic asceticism. Put yourself on an austere verbal fast: slim down; clean house. During the month of Ramadan, good Muslims do not eat between dawn and dusk. Abstaining from our habitual patterns of eating and speaking sharpens the appetite and the tongue.

Stop using the tattered language, outworn creeds, and tired metaphors that were once vital but now belong in museums of ancient beliefs. Abandon archaic notions that no longer speak to our condition. The primitive idea that we can be purified by the blood sacrifice of an animal, or a savior who vicariously atones for our sins, makes no more sense to the modern mind than a three-level universe with heaven above and hell below.

What would happen if churches, synagogues, and mosques underwent a time of verbal fasting, when they put their old stories and traditional religious languages on hiatus? At first things would probably get worse. People wouldn't know how to talk about religious matters. But gradually congregations would begin to experiment with new metaphors and create a new poetry of faith by sharing stories and by helping one another discover fresh expressions of their perennial fears and hopes.

Years ago, when I first took my own advice, I made a list of religious, political, and psychological words I habitually used and forced myself to give them up: neurosis, paranoia, salvation, justification by faith, grace, sin, estrangement, mysticism, spirituality, faith, hope, vocation, et cetera. (I told my children I would put one dollar in a box every time I slipped—a costly agreement.) I stopped praying, stopped reading religious literature, and stopped going to church. Insofar as I was able, I allowed the old words to be replaced by silence.

At first, I became anxious. The silence was painfully awkward. Stripped of familiar language, the God I had known disappeared from the horizon of my life, leaving me feeling naked and vulnerable. Without this God, my basic values and core sense of identity were thrown into question.

Gradually, the silence took on a different valence. God was replaced by G-d. The threatening emptiness turned into sweet anticipation, like that of a lover waiting quietly for the object of her desire to appear. The fear I had experienced suddenly appeared baseless, even comical. How, I wondered, had I fallen prey to the absurd belief that the One with Ten Thousand Names could only exist within my limited religious vocabulary? It seemed unlikely that the Unknowable One would starve to death if I neglected to make the old burnt offerings.

(It would be interesting to see what would happen within corporations if, for one hundred days, it was forbidden to talk about profits, losses, stockholders, competition, or market share. Some workers might wonder out loud if what they were doing with fifty or sixty hours a week truly reflected how they wished to spend their fleeting years. Others might wonder whether the product being promoted was ecologically viable, or if their contribution to a global economy was likely to benefit those on the planet who needed it most, or whether we might choose to measure the success of our society by gross national happiness [as they do in Bhutan], rather than by gross national product.)