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May 23, 2018

5/2/2018 4:37:00 PM
Room for a View: Oneness: Myth and Reality
By Charles Wilkinson

In politics – and especially in a democracy – there is no such thing as “one voice.” In religion, likewise, there is no “one true faith” as there is no “one right way” to live. So what is it about the idea of oneness that is so seductive?

While one, the number, may be lonely, the concept of oneness implies just the opposite. Politics has always been a numbers’ game. Parties herd citizens into common ground camps with the belief that unity is strength.

Religions seek followers in the name of the ultimate Truth, preaching oneness with a certain God or mindset while offering assured salvation or at least a shared sense of the meaning of God and life itself.

Oneness has many meanings. Webster defines the concept as “the quality or state or fact of being one,” citing singleness, wholeness, harmony, sameness and unity as synonyms. It follows that oneness offers a sense of connectedness, compatibility, a kind of certainty and security.

But oneness is like perfection – constantly sought after but seldom achieved.  Both are fleeting experiences at best.

While it is possible for some or even many to be “of one mind” in certain matters, to share a common ground, no one can experience oneness in all things. The myth, like perfection, is “the stuff that dreams are made of.”

Speaking of perfection, oneness is similarly seductive. It promises wholeness and knowing and sharing a togetherness of purpose and meaning. The world of oneness is a world at peace, living with and breathing in the wonders of unity, acceptance and understanding.

Differences are celebrated for what they bring to the mix; change is seen simply as creation at work.  Such is the myth for those who seek it.

The reality?  In a prosaic world more divided than ever, speaking of a unity that will never happen. Oneness is poetry. Anything human always needs fixing. The fleeting feelings of being one are like hints of heaven which, this side of time, is poetry as well.

The essence of oneness is acceptance and understanding. The realities of being human have always sabotaged both – and will continue to do so.

Still, the good news is that most humans are stubborn dreamers who believe in and seek a better self, a better world. They seem to know that, paradoxically, once accepted and understood for what it is, the myth of oneness is a reality worthy of pursuit.    

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