April Practice: Unity
While the news continues to call our attention to political divisions, we are mindful of the spiritual teaching of “one hand, one heart” —that all our individual appearances are specific manifestations of the Whole Essence. This concept of Divine Oneness—of a prevailing unity behind the appearance of diversity—is a central theme in many mystical traditions. Regardless of our political stance, we can benefit from considering and focusing on our oneness—our commonalities—rather than on that which scares and divides us. Here are some spiritual practices to build awareness of our unity.
- Consider this quote from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones by Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki: “We all have the same colored bones.” Contemplate the wonder of the infinite varieties of what God or the divine has done with two eyes, two ears, a nose, and a mouth in your fellow humans; then contemplate all the ways we are the same.
- Use the phrase "just like me" to signify your unity with others. Whenever you find yourself assessing another person, whether you are saying something critical or something complimentary, right after you think or say it, add the statement "just like me." For example, "That (person from a different religion) is so sure of himself, just like me." "That (person from a different spiritual community) is very generous, just like me."
- Consider this quote from The Heart of the Enlightened by Anthony de Mello, “The human mind makes foolish divisions in what love sees as one.” Pay special attention to those moments in your daily life when separations disappear.
- Try Jane Vennard’s suggestion for intercessory prayer in Embracing the World. When it is hard to articulate prayers for an enemy, do it nonverbally. Simply hold that person up to God's or infinite love.
- Try the meditation that Ted Falcon recommends in Religion Gone Astray. Meditate on the Hebrew "Adonai Hu ha-Elohim" (1 Kings 18:39) or an English equivalent, "The One indwells in all." Originally spoken by the children of Israel when the prophet Elijah demonstrated the power of their God, this verse is traditionally recited as a meditation and spoken at the moment of death. We are called to remember that everyone and everything that exists is an expression of the One Life we share.
- Take what Andrew Harvey, in The Direct Path, calls a "Unity Walk." Through it you attempt to experience the innate "unity" of all experience. As you walk, consider and "know" everything you see, smell, touch, and feel as different aspects of the One you are one with in the core of your consciousness. The flower you love in the flower bed is the smile of the One; the wind brushing against your arm is the One moving against you; the faces of the people you pass in the street are all different masks of the One face that is also yours; every tiny sensation in your body belongs to the One living in and as you. It helps when you are doing this exercise to say the Sanskrit word for divine peace, “Shantih,” again and again in your heart center. As your experience of inner peace deepens, your unity with everything inside you and outside you can naturally shine out. At the end of your walk, extend peace and unity to all beings in the four directions, and dedicate any insights or joys you may have experienced to the happiness of all beings everywhere.
In partnership with our friends at Spirituality & Practice, we are sharing practices to help us all “practice democracy” from the inside out. This practice is from their free, downloadable guide, "Practicing Democracy through Interfaith Engagement.” Visit Spirituality & Practice's The Practicing Democracy Project for more practices and a wide array of resources.
Spirituality & Practice (S&P) is a multi-faith website devoted to resources for spiritual journeys. While respecting differences among traditions, S&P celebrates what they share in common.