Oneness by Jennifer Kavanagh
We live in a divided world. Human beings struggle to live together. Whether at the level of family, community or nation, we row, we fight, we kill each other. Communities are riven by racial, political and religious divisions. Fear, greed, power-seeking and desperate need turn fellow human beings against each other and blind us to our common humanity. This is a reality of which we are fully aware.
There also exists a parallel reality: of
compassion, generosity and daily acts
of kindness. It is natural to help others.
The reason that the obverse is news is
because it is shocking and unexpected.
Kindness is not news.
It may be a divided world, but it is also a small one. We are more informed than ever about the rest of the world; we are more and more connected. But our connections are both more ancient and more profound than those facilitated by electronic media. Our lives are peopled. However much an outsider we may feel, we are part of community. Even shut behind gates or fences, we cannot hide the fact that we are dependent on circles of humanity: the postman, the farmer, the manufacturers who made our furniture and clothes. Sometimes we acknowledge our connection. A meeting at a bus stop may result in eye contact, a smile, a comment about
a common cause. In an ocean of separateness we experience a drop of connection.
Many of us have occasional
experiences of a connection of which
the rest of the time we are barely
conscious. It’s something that we might
crudely call telepathy, but is at a level
well beyond party tricks. Synchronicity
is a seeming coincidence – a phone call,
a piece on the radio – that confirms
a course of action. For many, God is
connection, relationship, the linking
factor in all living beings.
The natural world is an extraordinary model of oneness, not only in the relationship between individual beings but as a whole. That oneness is expressed in the overwhelming interrelatedness of all that exist within it. Examples of mutuality and
interdependence are all around us.
Insects, flowers, trees, fungi, protons
and microbes, they’re all at it. There is
so much that we don’t know about the
universe that we live in, but what we
can say with confidence is that built into
its fabric is a web of connection.
Shared characteristics do not stop at the behavioural level, but stem from our genetic similarities. DNA not only connects us to those we have considered “other” among the human population, but to nonhuman animals and non-animals too. It is not them and us. We can’t separate ourselves from the rest of creation.
Most of us live an active life largely
unconscious of the transcendental
dimension. In periods of spiritual
practice we may experience an
enhanced perception of reality, when
the boundaries between ourselves and
the outside world are blurred, merged
We live in a paradoxical world. We are always alone and always in community. We are unique, but there’s only a hair’s breadth of DNA difference between us and, not only other humans, but other species. The planet is unimaginably diverse, and yet it is one. In the variety of religions, at the mystic level it is united. And it is in the Divine, at the heart of the multitudes of creation, that unity can be found.
From religion, in science, and from
our own experience, we can see that
separation and division are human
distortions. We know that the universe
is one and that any disturbance of any
part of it will upset that fragile balance.
The more we can recognise the oneness
of all, the closer we will draw to the
One from whom all emerges and
in whom all meets. Oneness, unity,
brings together all human beings, all
of the created world and, in those
rare moments of revelation, they can
be experienced in the oneness of the
Jennifer Kavanagh is a Quaker, a retreat leader, and a speaker on the Spirit-led life. www.jenniferkavanagh.co.uk. Her book Heart of Oneness is available for purchase from Cygnus Books. This article was published in the Spring 2018 Cygnus Review.