This study guide (pdf) is a valuable tool for
individuals, study groups, educators, business people, and anyone
inspired to better understand a way of being in the world that is
ultimately about service and stewardship.
Oneness is a fundamental, creative force present in all life,
empowered when individual consciousness recognizes and aligns with it.
When we experience oneness, we feel in the gut and in the heart that
we are part of something beyond ourselves, that there is harmony and
meaning in life, and that every human being and every aspect of
existence is uniquely valuable. We live oneness through respect,
compassion, cooperation, and creativity, which naturally support the
most fundamental needs of life.
For centuries, oneness has been described as a spiritual experience
and principle. In Taoism, oneness is the Tao, "the way" of life, which,
like nature, has its own rhythms and patterns. Mahayana Buddhism trains
its disciples to awaken from a solid, individual "self" into an
infinite, intelligent oneness that is empty and compassionate. And in
the New Testament, the letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians describes
"...one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in
Oneness and the Heart of the World: In this talk, Father Thomas Keating discusses the dynamic nature of God and the paradox implicit in experiencing…
Oneness as a spiritual ideal can seem daunting -- as though we can
only experience it after great effort. But oneness is not special --
it's special that we don't live it more often. When we curb our natural
response to help those in need, when we impose our will on nature
instead of discovering how to work with it, when we choose to "get
ahead" instead of finding meaning and dignity in our work -- we
undermine the natural, relational, and unifying power of oneness.
Most of us live oneness without even knowing it -- in our private and
family lives where we naturally seek and value empathy, care, love, and
unity. But these same experiences, which create the foundations of our
most important relationships, can also play a role in building the
future structures of our global community.
Reflections of Oneness
In the modern world, oneness is reflected through our growing
understanding of ecological interdependence -- the ways every plant and
animal species depend upon each other, and how the health of a whole
ecosystem depends upon the health of each part. Nature's invitation to
experience the harmony of oneness is so potent that even a simple walk
on the beach or in the woods can help us feel that we are not separate
from its beauty and power, but rather it is within us and we are within
The truth of oneness is also revealed through quantum physics, which
identifies a stratum of reality where energy and matter interact and
affect each other continuously.
The Emerging Consciousness of Oneness: Sufi teacher and dreamworker Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee tells us about his own change of orientation from…
Developments in technology like the Internet and global communication
reflect how oneness works, and give us tools to align with it. Like
oneness, the World Wide Web is non-hierarchical. Information is equally
available to those who want to participate, and the web exists both
because of and beyond our individual contributions.
The Internet and mobile communications help us dissolve previously
impenetrable personal and national boundaries, bringing the lives of
others into our own world, allowing us to share ideas and influence each
other in ways that are unprecedented in human history.
An Electronic Membrane: Laboratory scientist Dean Radin discusses the possibility of a global mind and questions whether that…
Without even using technology we can know oneness through focusing on
one particular experience or object, recognizing its true nature and
how it is synchronized with all life, as William Blake wrote, "To see a
world in a grain of sand..." Or it can be seen when we pull back to look
at the bigger picture, as when Russell Schweickart, the astronaut who
orbited the earth in 1969, said in a 1974 speech, "You know, there are
hundreds of people killing each other over some imaginary line that you
can't see. From where you see it, the thing is a whole, and it's so
beautiful. And you wish you could take one from each side in hand, and
say, 'Look. Look at it from this perspective. Look at that. What's
The Power of Oneness
Because oneness connects us to all life, when we align with it we can
access sources of energy and inspiration that might not otherwise be
This power of oneness is illustrated through the possibilities born
from genuine cooperation, the creative power of dialogue, and the
inspirational nature of generosity. The extreme speed at which we have
harnessed the Internet shows a latent need for free and creative
exchange, regardless of culture, geography, status and other boundaries.
And the power of oneness is seen through the reverberating impacts of
a single or specific contribution to life -- in the way that protecting
one species of plant or animal allows so many other species to thrive,
or how organic school lunch programs improve students' health and well
being as well as grades and test scores, and contribute to community
cohesion and social justice.
When we act with the intention to serve the whole of life -- not just
ourselves -- we access a power that is truly unlimited. Individuals
like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Mother Teresa reflect the great
transformative power of aligning with oneness, which can shape world
history through the simplest of attitudes and actions.
A mindset of duality can limit the creative potential of any
particular moment when it creates hierarchies in which the needs and
gifts of one group or individual are prioritized over those of another.
Dualistic thinking can easily support labels like "right" and "wrong" or
"better than" and "less than," which undermine cooperation and
collaboration. When we limit our consciousness to the seeming boundaries
of "us" and "them," we cut ourselves off from the life force that
threads through all of us, and which is itself a source of energy and
innovation. Max Lerner, the America journalist once said: "Either men
will learn to live like brothers or they will die like beasts," which
emphasizes the creative power of unity and the destructiveness of
isolation and competition.
The Nature of the Mind: Tibetan Buddhist nun Ven. Tenzin Palmo describes how the infinite, primordial awareness that lies behind…
Oneness does not deny individuality or diversity, but rather shines a
light on how separate parts can play different but equally valuable
roles in the creativity of life. This fundamentally balanced view is
stamped on every US coin, with the phrase "E Pluribus Unum," or "Out of
the many, One," which identifies a national identity comprised of
individuals and groups.
Why Oneness, Why Now?
At this time in history, many developing nations are following the
example of the West's extreme individualism, where an emphasis on
personal gain and achievement has overshadowed an emphasis on community
well-being. In the United States, our free market economy engenders the
attitude to "Look out for number one" and ignore the needs of others --
expecting the market to bear the responsibilities for injustices or
inequities. When we make decisions based almost solely on what an
individual or corporation wants, too often we leave others with fewer
resources, and we externalize the costs to the environment.
Around the globe, dualistic attitudes that allow the prioritization
of one group's needs over another's have depleted the earth's resources,
destroyed innocent people and torn apart families and communities. From
the historical genocide of Aboriginal Australians and Native North
Americans, to ethnic conflicts in Africa and around the world, all
reveal the fruitless cycle of violence that ensues when one group
demands the fulfillment of its own agenda without a recognition of the
others' fundamentally equal value and shared humanity.
"How do I need to be in order for you to be free
Albert Einstein once said, "The world we have made as a result of the
level of thinking we have done thus far creates problems that we cannot
solve at the same level at which we have created them," and many of the
world's 'problems' were born from a mindset of duality. Individuals
carrying a perspective of oneness are already helping to resolve the
conflicts raging in our world, restore dignity to those who have been
denied rights and opportunities, and revitalize many of the natural
systems we have depleted.
Like Brahm Ahmadi,
who recognized the relationship between poor diet, illness, and lack of
community in a low-income neighborhood in Oakland, California, and
responded by creating a community garden that brings people together
through farming and cooking classes, and providing healthy locally-grown
Or Nelsa Curbelo,
who listened to the gang youth of Guayaquil, Ecuador, trusted in the
creative power of collaboration and developed ways gang members could
work together to restore economic opportunity and pride to their
Or Nolusindiso "Titie" Plaatjie from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, who started a grassroots soccer league to educate children about AIDS and HIV prevention.
One of our earliest interviews of the Global Oneness Project was with Orland Bishop,
a community organizer from Watts, near Los Angeles. During the
interview, Orland asked the question, "How do I need to be in order for
you to be free?" It is this type of question that arises when we
experience the world through a lens of deep respect and awareness of
interconnection. And it is from this question that new answers will
arise and new stories can be told.