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On Becoming One

It’s Pentecost – traditionally held fifty days after Easter. It is truly a celebration of the movement of the Spirit, also known as Shekinah, Hokmah, Wisdom, Ruah, Sophia, the feminine essence of the Divine. At the very beginning of the Old Testament, in the book of Genesis, the Hebrew myth tells us that the Spirit hovered over the chaos of existence and brought forth order in the form of daylight and darkness, land, sea and sky, and life in all its varied forms. Creation was born.

In the book of Acts, we find the disciples and other followers huddled together to celebrate the Jewish feast of Pentecost (Shavuot in Hebrew, pentecoste in Greek for 50th day). Suddenly, a great wind blew through their midst and tongues of fire appeared on everyone’s head. This event was seen as the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise right before his ascension, that they would “receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” Christians basically co-opted the originally Jewish holiday, and it became a celebration of the birth of the church through the movement of the Holy Spirit. Once again, the Spirit brought order to chaos and created something new.

The most amazing piece of this story of the Spirit, however, is that the people involved truly became one as their language differences were overcome. All those who gathered from so many different cities and countries could hear the disciples speaking in their own native languages. The Spirit brought unity, oneness.

John Philip Newell, in his book A New Harmony, suggests that this same Spirit who acted on that Pentecost day so long ago, is now “breathing a new vision of oneness into our awareness.” This awareness is happening in individual ways and it is happening in much larger ways. Slowly, very slowly, it feels like we are evolving into a higher level of awareness.

Mark Nepo shares a story about Marco, a photographer from Santa Clara, who was asked what surprised him during the previous year. His svoice began to quiver when he responded that he had witnessed two breaths that had changed his life. His daughter’s first breath. Then his mother’s last breath. As his daughter inhaled the world, it seemed to awaken her soul on Earth. As his mother exhaled her years, it seemed to free her soul of the world. These two breaths jarred Marco to live more openly and honestly. He took these two breaths into his own daily breathing and quickly saw their common presence in everyone’s breathing. 

I watched an amazing YouTube video called, “It’s time to Wake Up Now – We Are One.”Oddly enough it began with actor Jim Carrey sharing an experience of his that changed his whole outlook on life. He said he "woke up suddenly and realized that thought was an illusory thing and how it is responsible for, if not all, then most of the suffering that we experience. Then I suddenly felt like I was looking at these thoughts from another perspective, and I wondered, who is it who is aware that I am thinking. Then I was thrown into an expansive amazing feeling of freedom from myself, my problems… I saw that I was bigger than what I do, than my body, I was everything and everyone. I was no longer a fragment of the universe, I was the universe. Ever since that day I have been trying to get back there… it comes and goes, like riding a wave, sometimes I’m on, sometimes I’m off. We are all one thing… it really is true.”

Technology, internet and World Wide Web awakened the globe to out interconnectedness in a way that had never happened before. We can talk to people around the world at any time. We can email, search the internet, conduct business and classes and worship services that can reach anyone around the world who wants to access it. The pandemic has shown us in a very graphic way that what affects one person affects us all. People who got COVID affected our health system, our supply chains, our access to toilet paper, our social existence. 

But our oneness is bigger than toilet paper.

If you’ve watched any shows on quantum physics, you know how mind-blowing this stuff is. John Hagelin, a quantum physicist, also spoke on the above mentioned video and explained that the “core basis of the universe, the foundation of the universe, is a single universal field of intelligence which unites all forces of nature and all particles of nature. All are one, simply “a different ripple on a single ocean of existence.” This is the Unifed Field or Super String Field. It is a non-material field, it is a field of consciousness… there is only one consciousness and it is you and it is me and it is everyone.  Knowing this experientially is enlightenment. We have thought for a long time that the universe is made up of dead matter, but it isn’t. Scientists have been able to go so far past the material part that we see that they have found underneath it all a field of pure intelligence, pure being, a unified source in a unified filed. The properties of this unified field are non-material, dynamic and self-aware intelligence. It is pure abstract potential, pure abstract being, pure abstract self-aware consciousness." 

So, what is costing us our unity? What continues to divide and fragment us? Why are we in such denial about our interdependence on Mother Earth and the Biosystems that sustain us?

Newell proposes that at the core of our fragmentations, whether as communities, or religions, or nations are various forms of fundamentalism. I don’t mean this in the strictly religious sense, though it includes that. Fundamentalism, he says is, “Any system that perceives reality in hard-edged terms, that boxes in truth with four fixed walls of definition. Fundamentalism says that what the rest of humanity needs is inside these tight boundaries of truth.” We see this not only in religion, but in government, in race relations, in struggles gender equality and so much more. 

Walter Kania, in Healthy Religion, states, “Fundamentalism lodges itself into a rigid system and systematically inhibits person freedom and spiritual growth. It is destructive to personal growth, to mutual respect in relationships, to peace among neighbors, countries, and religions and to the enhancement of human life and love.”

At the core of fundamentalism is fear. And so whenever there is significant change happening, including rapid social change, you’ll find fundamentalism rearing its ugly head, grasping desperately to the tight protocols of how things are “supposed to be done” and to the familiar, safe way “we’ve always done it.”

We are in the middle of significant change in the world, and have been for the past century. We’re talking HUGE change. Part of that change is the evolving understanding that we are ONE, and the responding backlash of fear is seen everywhere – mass shootings, decline of the churches and mistrust of God, wars and Wall Street, banks and the gas supply. Hoarding and violence, bullying, addiction, human trafficking and on and on.

It is as if fear is crying out from the street corners, We can’t be one! What about me? How will I be special? How will I get ahead? What will I have to give up? I might not have enough – stuff, money, food, opportunities – if we become ONE!

But we are ONE, we just refuse to see it, and our refusal hurts everyone and everything.

Newell shares a story about his son, Brendan, who struggles with an anxiety disorder. “In his late teens he suffered a severe mental breakdown that holds him in a type of imprisonment to anxiety and at times paranoia.” The longer the family lived with mental illness, the more Newell began to see that it wasn’t just Brendan’s illness. Certainly, he is most deeply affected, struggling with fear every day in almost every situation and relationship. But it does not affect him alone. It affects the family and shapes their thinking and experience, which then shapes their relationships and work and school situations. And the dominoes keep falling. But, also, through Brendan they met other young men who also suffer from anxiety. They are sensitive and often artistic young men who, Newell believes, are "manifesting the illness of our time, the fear that permeates our nations and societies and lives."

When our children suffer, we suffer. When one nation is not healthy, other nations suffer. When the earth is not healthy, humanity suffers. It is all connected. We are all one. Newell says, “Wellness is not found in isolation, but in relationship."

Nothing can stop the wind, and nothing can stop the Spirit from blowing in boldness and change. But it isn’t nice, neat and clean. Creation of any kind often gets more chaotic before something new can emerge. So we need to let go of the old rigid systems and beliefs and hang onto the coattails of the Spirit as she blows through taking us to places we’ve never been before.

Live the truth - we are ONE.