ONENESS WITH ALL LIFE
Oneness with all life is your perceived inter-relationship with others, not just with those who are close to you, but also with those who are distant and unrelated to you. Understanding the wisdom of your connection with others is the first step of enhancing your relationships with others, and thus avoiding any future conflicts and confrontations.
No man is an island
According to John Donne, the famous English poet, “No man is an island”; that is, every man is a piece of the continent, and a part of the main. So, you are inter-connected as well as inter-dependent on others in many different ways in order to survive and thrive in this material and secular world.
Oneness with all life is the law of nature: what you do to others, you also do to yourself, either consciously or unconsciously. It is the unity of all life-life is what you have, and what empowers you and others, giving you the enlightening experiences and the holistic ways of living.
The Bible has repeatedly stated the significance of oneness of God’s creation and salvation to all.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)
“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16)
“For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body--whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free-and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)
According to Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese sage, one of the reasons why nature has continued to exist for thousands and thousands of years is that all forms of life in nature have their presence, which depends on one another for their co-existence. Just think about that: everything in nature does not exist just for itself, and that is why it can last forever.
“Each and every being in the universe.
is an expression of the Creator.
We are all shaped and perfected by Him.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 51)
“Blessed is he who has no ego-self.
He will be rewarded with humility to connect with the Creator.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 9)
So, always focus on others, instead of just on yourself all the time. Focusing on others also initiates your connection with the Creator, who provides you with spiritual wisdom to guide you along the rest of your life journey.
According to Buddha, “Nothing ever exists entirely alone. Everything is in relation to everything else.”
What Buddha means is that it is not uncommon for humans to blame their problems on all the things outside themselves, such as other people and circumstances that are beyond their control. But the connectedness with all life contradicts that common but erroneous belief. The reality is that what you see in others and in your own circumstances is a reflection of your inner life, of what you believe in--which is the main source of all human miseries and sufferings. The truth is that all humans suffer because they do not see the miseries and sufferings in others, except in themselves.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Baptist minister, and leader in the civil rights movement, once said: “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” So, your connectedness to others plays a pivotal role in helping you become your true self,
instead of being who you wish you were.
Even John Lennon in his famous hit song “Imagine” says: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope one day you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” That the world will live as one may indeed become a reality, and not just a dream.
So, “oneness” is focusing on wholeness, which is connecting anything and everything, not just in the world you are living in but also in the whole universe beyond.
This oneness with all life--once intricate and inexplicable connectedness--is now no longer a religious, spiritual, or philosophical concept; it has become a clear scientific principle for further exploration and more investigation. Indeed, many celebrated quantum physicists, ecologists, and environmentalists have now come to believe that all life and matter are united by an underlying energy or consciousness.
This scientific belief is also a strong testament to what Albert Einstein had previously said: “A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
The bottom line: Oneness with all life may lead to your diverse expressions of the one original source energy, and thus enabling you to grow spiritually toward your further understanding of oneness with all life.
Being is the person you have transformed yourself into--it is neither the person you wish you were, nor the person people think you are, but your real self you were created to be.
Love and humility
What is the real meaning of “love”?
Love involves your feelings and your emotions. Like everybody else, you love some things and some people. Love, ironically enough, gives you both your happiness and your unhappiness. When your love is fulfilled, you feel happy; when your love is rejected or unrequited, you then feel the pain and the unhappiness. That, unfortunately, is the reality of love.
In Christianity, “love” refers to the love of God and the love of your neighbors or even your enemies. In Buddhism, love refers to an awakened state of mind; the word “Buddha” means “wake up.”
If you want to love others--no matter whether they deserve your love or not--you must love yourself first, and that is also the reality of love.
Paradoxically, it is not easy to love yourself, let alone loving others, especially those you are not particularly fond of.
The truth of the matter is that while connecting with others through expression of your love, you may see yourself better than others, or others are better than yourself. In the former scenario, with a greater ego, you may then expect, if not demand, others to gratify yourself first before expressing your love to them; in the latter scenario, with lower self-esteem, you may then become hesitant in loving others as you should, thinking that your love may be rejected due to your perception of your own unworthiness.
So, always focus on your connectedness with others, rather than on your own perceptions of self. According to Oslo, a charismatic spiritual leader of India, “Love is happy when it is able to give something. Ego is happy when it is able to take something.”
Just remember this: Every person has a heart, and every heart has a place to love and to be loved, as well as to be connected to other hearts.
The bottom line: Always avail yourself of every opportunity in your life to express your love and care to others. You pass through life only once, so show your love now, and not later.
Acceptance of self
To truly love someone is very difficult, if not impossible, unless you love yourself first, which is self-acceptance-accepting who and what you really are, and not who and what you wish you were (which is your ego-self). It should also be pointed out that “loving yourself” and “loving your ego-self” are not quite the same. The former is about loving yourself for who you really are despite all your imperfections; the latter is about craving to be the person you wish you were.
Acceptance of others
With humility, you can love not only yourself but also others because they are not very different from you in that they, too, are as imperfect as you are. On the other hand, if you have pride with a strong ego-self, it will be difficult for you to love others because you want to distinguish and separate yourself from others; accordingly, others must somehow satisfy your ego first before you can love them.
The bottom line: if you can accept yourself as who and what you are, then it may become much easier for you to accept and love others as who and what they are because you are not different or separate from them in that “nobody is perfect” and that everybody has the “gift of imperfections.”
Forgiving and forgetting
You may accept others, but others may not accept you for who you are.
Indeed, they may have many negative actions toward you based on their incomplete knowledge of you and even of themselves. In addition, they may have their distorted perceptions of you due to their attitudes, beliefs, and habits.
So, aggressions and conflicts are often not only unavoidable but also unstoppable.
The only resolution to any fight, both verbal and physical, is your deliberate and purposeful letting go of your response and reactions, followed by your forgiving and forgetting.
Forgiving, instead of vengeance, is never easy, even if the wrongdoer shows genuine remorse and sincere repentance. But “an eye for an eye” will only make you blind to the reality and the wisdom that forgiving can heal both the victim and the wrongdoer, while forgetting will detach you from your baggage of anger, injustice, and remorse that you may carry for the rest of your life. Most importantly, forgiving and forgetting may connect you to others.
Most importantly, forgiveness can lead to your understanding of empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you. Forgiveness is a pathway to spirituality, and ultimately to human happiness.
Empathy and sympathy
Empathy is more than just sympathy. It is a deep understanding of the painful experiences of another individual that are as meaningful as those of your own because either you too have experienced them yourself, or you can somehow realistically put yourself in that individual’s shoes. Sympathy, on the other hand, is only your acknowledgment of another individual’s tragic and traumatic emotions and feelings, as well as an offering of your own comfort and assurance to that individual.
Empathy is inherent human goodness that, however, may not be easily expressed due to lack of courage. In addition, it is often much easier to display sympathy than empathy.
It is because sympathy involves only an understanding of another individual’s problems, such as what it is like to be poor without a job or to be abused physically by someone you love, while you may still somehow distance yourself from that individual. But empathy, on the other hand, involves your feeling that individual’s heart in your own heart and your seeing that individual’s problems with your own eyes. Empathy is not a natural human habit; it must be cultivated and developed before it can exist in your heart and mind.
Compassion and loving-kindness
Compassion means “suffering together.” It is an emotion or a feeling that arises when you are seeing another individual's intense suffering, such that you feel motivated to relieve the suffering from that individual.
Loving-kindness is an act of kindness, motivated by love, and expressed to your fellow human beings. Loving-kindness is expressed in human behaviors. To optimize this behavior, develop your mindset for love and care, which should become a habit or second nature to you.
Loving-kindness is an act of love that you consciously express to another individual simply because that individual has the same desire to be happy and to avoid suffering, just like yourself. Accordingly, your response reflects your own love for that individual, irrespective of the behavior of that individual toward you. However, that does not imply that you should accept, approve, or even condone the inappropriate behavior of that individual.
Loving-kindness is a response in your attempt to change the inappropriate behavior of that individual. The outcome of your attempt to change that individual, however, does not affect your own response, because the attempt is out of your compassion and love for that individual, irrespective of your success or failure in changing the behavior of that individual.
When a person is not nice to you, if your immediate response and reaction is: “I will not let him or her step over me like that!” Over time, your natural response will then become habitual and even spontaneous-a natural way of expressing your individuality and your own rights. In other words, it has become your habit and your mindset.
Follow the practice of Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader. According to Dalai Lama, on the very first meeting with any individual, he trains himself to feel that the individual is simply “a fellow human being with the same desire to be happy and to avoid suffering as myself.” With that oneness-of-all mindset, Dalai Lama then becomes immediately “connected” to everybody, without any exception.
Yes, with awareness, you, too, can develop a positive mentality toward not only yourself but also others-which can significantly improve your overall human relationships by expressing your compassion and loving-kindness. So, can you do just that?
Gratitude and generosity
Connect your soul or spirit to gratitude. If you are grateful to God for what you have now become, you may also look at the behaviors of other individuals with more tolerance, or even with totally different perspectives.
Blessings in life, such as the gift of life, are generally overlooked, or often even taken for granted. For example, if someone has taken advantage of you, do not just become angry right away; instead, be grateful that you are the victim instead of being the person who victimizes others.
Gratitude enables you to develop a positive outlook in your soul. Smile more often. Keep complaints about people, things, and life in general only to yourself-unless voicing them will help bring about positive changes in others or in society.
Gratitude helps you see the good in others, letting you give them the benefit of the doubt. Try to remember that we are all created in the image of God. Focus on any individual as a person, rather than on the behaviors or beliefs of that individual, which may not be appealing or pleasing to you.
Always be grateful that you have been given the opportunity to become either a teacher or a student in whatever circumstance you may find yourself in, and turn it into a miracle of life.
Gratitude is something that you will get more only by giving away more. Expression of gratitude generates happiness that often overcomes the unhappy feelings of lack.
Be generous with your time, your labor, and whatever you may have. Show generosity to others around you.
Form the habit of giving without expecting any credit, recognition, or anything in return for your generous gesture. If you give with the intent of receiving, you become a “user” and not a real “giver.”
Generosity does not necessarily have to do with giving or spending money. It is not solely based on your own economic status or how much money you may have, but on your pure intentions of looking out for society's common good, and on giving away from the bottom of your heart. Generosity should reflect your own passion to help others who are in need, or who are less fortunate than yourself.
Mother Theresa once said that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
All of the above shows you how to connect yourself with others, which is the oneness with all life.
FREEDOM with BONDAGE shows you how to free yourself from your bondage to the flesh, and thus giveing you the "freedom" to connect with others.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau