Don’t Worry, We Are All One
By Fashi Lao Yue
For many years I have been aware of an underlying principle driving religious doctrines, a principle I never looked at with a clear eye. I imagine that I didn’t look at it because I was in some way satisfied with the two main components of the principle, the whip of encouragement and the place of exceptionalism. Let me explain.
My thoughts arise from a recognition that being off-kilter and out-of-step are two attributes used by religious teachers, both historically and presently, to determine the wayward among us (you and I, sinners, the ignorant) and to shape up and point towards a singular place on a path which is often described in exceptional language (the narrow gate, the Way, the Truth, the Mind of the great sage).
The list for both the whip and the place is extensive and well anchored in spiritual practices of all kinds. Spiritual practice, which may include encouragement and pointers out of the ditch are used to take the walls down not build up the separations and the divisions.
When, however I look at this principle with a clear eye both the whip of encouragement and the pointing to a path suggests that there is some special way, some special place where the wayward among us can find God. This approach has an implicit message of ….if…..then. If you do this special such and such, then you will find the special place which will lead you to find God. It is in many ways an approach that is supported by reason.
As I write this I find myself challenged by years and perhaps lifetimes of being instructed that this is how to find God. This instruction often comes in the form of giving up that which is labeled bad and relinquishing life to a small, narrow footpath on which to get to God. It is a bit like the yellow brick road in the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Find the yellow bricked road, put on your special shoes and head off to the Emerald City. This approach can lead to self-flagellation and narrow thinking as well as a dividing up life making us all into judges.
There is no doubt sameness-and-difference is part of the human condition, making tolerance for difference and affinity for sameness into yet another division. It is a human attempt to continue doing the same old thing, using the whip of encouragement to shape up an acceptable image to make it to the place that is exceptional.
God is not anywhere else except right where we are, wherever we are and whatever shape or place karma shows up. Whether it is entangled in the brambles of the material world or robed in solitude on a mountain top.
God, the eternal existence of being is never apart from us. And God shows up as Jesus, the son of god, Shakyamuni as the mind of the great sage, Sri Ramakrishna as the avatar of God, Mohammed as a prophet….endless manifestations to awaken us. The pervasiveness of generosity is immeasurable. There is sameness and difference, but don’t see it as such.
If sameness and difference is what we look at, the tendency to whip and point continues to separate, divide, and worst of all exclude and exile. This tendency if enacted and followed leads to ossification. Groups tend to want members to look and act like them and exclude and exile those that don’t. In some respects we might call it spiritual nationalism.
The problem is that this approach divides the world of creation into them and us and those who are right (those who look and agree with us) from those who are wrong (those who look different and don’t agree with us). Anytime right and wrong dominate, whether in the group or the individual, a tendency to hide and conceal increases. Odd shaped tumors form often manifested in acts of splitting, ridicule and arrogance. The tumors from whipping and shaping compounded by right and wrong increase the possibility of no growth. Creation bound in such a way has ossified and is gasping and is all but dead.
The ossification has become rigid in such a way, that growth, which comes in the form of change, is a threatening prospect. Form and measure, which are quite helpful and necessary, become lords of the house. And when form and measure rule, creativity and aliveness suffer. Separating-out becomes the axiom and anxiety about doing it right follows. It is an endless snake eating its own tail (ouroboros).
Creation (God), thankfully, cannot be killed. IT flourishes as the grass and mosses that make their breakthroughs in cement show us. There is no arrival-place of special and separate as these beings remind us. Life experience, whatever it might be, comes daily to awaken us to our true nature. (The emphasis on whatever it might be.) When we are encouraged to show up wherever we are, invited to do so, we begin to include whatever might be separated and excluded finding the whole (holy) life creation.
When we realize our oneness in the midst of sameness and difference we offer what we have been given back to the giver (God), we offer it back to life. We are the offering….the oblation….and we live beyond the wrong-doing and right-doing….in the field where when the soul lies down it is too full to talk about the world divided by ideas (Rumi).
Offer it to God, not to get anything at all, but to be an oblation, a sacrifice that is pleasing to life. IT no longer is you, hidden in the shadows of self-interest, but you, all of you is IT. IT is lived beyond wrongdoing and rightdoing….in the field where the soul lays down and there is no you or me, where there is no anxiety, no separation, no right way or wrong way, no ossifications.
And so the question may be, how do we find this field? Wherever we are. We are standing in IT….no matter where we are….we are there, never separated from IT. When we know where we are, life (creation) beckons the soul to lie down beyond wrongdoing and rightdoing….where we are all one.