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I tuned in yesterday afternoon to Christina Pratt's new radio show. (Which I announced here.) Christina provided a wonderful introduction to both the new show, and the practice of shamanism.
One of the concepts Christina touched on was the concept of oneness. A question from a caller exposed the difficulty a lot of people have with this concept when they're really being honest with themselves. The caller asked, and I'm paraphrasing, "Does that mean I'm one with people and behaviors I really dislike?"
Short answer, yes.
This is a fundamental challenge of inculcating a belief in oneness, when we are living this experience of duality. The concept that we're all one sounds yummy and warm when we're in a loving space, like when we're on a spiritual retreat. It tends to go out the window quite suddenly, when we're confronted with the very tangible yuckiness of the world at large.
Christina addressed this question from a shamanic perspective, and since I don't think I could do her answer justice, I'd suggest getting the podcast to hear her explanation. But, I'd like to address it from the perspective of mystical thought. Having studied for many years with Cherokee Mystic, Virginia Sandlin, it is one of the fundamental issues I've had to confront, in my own thought process. The role of a tribal mystic is different from that of a shaman. As Virginia has described it, a mystic is born embodying the context of oneness. They hold that context for their community. Where most of us perceive the manifestations of this world as separate and discreet, a mystic innately perceives them as expressions of the whole. In my years of study with Virginia I had my comfortable concepts of duality and over-there-ness ground to dust. She's relentlessly, mercilessly mystical. She is a mystic, after all.
An anecdote: Some years ago when I was taking a course with Drunvalo Melchizedek, I found myself increasingly uncomfortable with what has been aptly termed the "instamacy" of spiritual gatherings. To put it simply, I'm not a hugger. This puts me distinctly at odds with the cultural climate of a lot of "new age" gatherings. To me, a full body press with another person is a rather intimate expression; one I reserve for people I feel personal affection for. That kind of affection usually develops over time. I feel perfectly comfortable hugging close friends and family, but rarely people I've just met. But, anyone who's ever been to one of these things can tell you, hugging total strangers is the norm. So, it became an issue. Drunvalo's response was to tell me that I would some day realize everyone I met was "absolutely" me. I think he was somewhat taken aback when I told him I already fully understood that, but it didn't change my views on the hugging culture a bit. While it was most certainly true that everyone in that class was "me," so is Charles Manson. I don't want to hug him either. This is what I mean when I say that oneness can feel yummy when we're in a comfortable, reasonably agreeable environment. But, being "one" with someone doesn't actually mean you have to like or trust them. To do so can be foolish; even dangerous. What it does mean is that you have to own the parts of yourself that reflect them. This is where it becomes difficult.
Accepting that people and behaviors we dislike are "one" with us, is part of what Virginia terms "sourceful awareness." Each of us is the source of our reality. That means when we observe behaviors we dislike, we look to take responsibility for them in ourselves, first and foremost. Does that mean that when I observe Charles Manson -- and quite naturally recoil -- that I'm a murderous psychopath? No. What it does mean, is that somewhere in me is something that "reflects" murderous psychopath. It could be smaller than a speck under the nail of my pinky toe, but it is there somewhere, else I would not have sourced its reflection. Addressing that as an intellectual question will ultimately bring frustration, and cause the ego to go into a threat response. I could never tell you, from an analytical place, how I reflect murderous psychopath. But, there is a technique for addressing exactly these questions. Simply ask spirit to show you what that reflection is, in yourself, and allow the images or words to appear in your mind's eye. Often, what you see, won't even make any logical sense to you. But, whatever you see, be willing to forgive and release it. Whatever it is, it is a barrier between yourself and conscious unity with the divine.