Universal Harmony

Likely you have heard of Chi, Vital force, Orgone Energy, Prana, or whatever you like to call it. Star Wars fans will call it ‘The Force’ – and that is as good a description as any. This is an energy that is as yet not measured by scientific machinery, but the mystics, and healers, and spiritualists are able to perceive it, and in fact it is not hard to learn to perceive it yourself.  This energy flows through your body, through all people, through all things.  There is a popular idea that if you strengthen this energy then you will become healthier, and stronger.  There is some truth in that, but a deeper understanding is useful.  

It is the quality of this energy that is more important than its quantity, though quantity also helps.  If you have an illness then that illness will be communicated and expressed through a particular frequency of that spiritual energy, if you cultivate negativity and hatred then that also is a particular frequency of the spiritual energy (The Dark Side of The Force).  And of course the more positive experiences, the love and peace and compassion, health and vitality – they are also expressed as frequencies of this universal spiritual energy.  In order to transform from the darker and more negative to the more positive and uplifting a transformation of the frequencies of energies is required.

Now many attempt this with a focus on positivity instead of negativity, beauty instead of harshness, and this has some effect, but the ultimate positive spiritual energy that resolves all of the negatives, and brings together all of the positives is the universal energy – the infinite energy of the cosmos.  When we tune into some particular flower or plant, rock or person, we tune into the frequency of that object, of that being, and each object is different, and brings a different feeling.  When we tune into different feelings then also each one has a different frequency.  Some seemingly more negative than others, but all of these frequencies are part of a holistic pattern that is more beautiful than any single part – more uplifting as one infinite harmony than any individual expression.  When we tune into the universal holistic infinity then we tune into the ultimate positive energy.

The harmony that we create when we tune into one particular aspect of creation allows us to work with it, to move with it, to dance with it.  If you tune into a gemstone you can feel how to cut it, if you tune into the wood you can feel how to work it, if you tune into the plants in the garden you can feel what they need, if you tune into your partner you can dance together as one.  All great craftsmen understand this principle of tuning in, and it is this tuning in that allows peace and harmony instead of conflict and stress.  When we are out of harmony with some aspect of our lives, or the world around us that disharmony creates stress, creates ineffective action, creates conflict, and in the end leads to more and more difficulties and problems as the disharmony exacerbates.  Once we come into harmony all of that stress quickly disappears.

If you look for the cause of a problem do not seek for who did what – for who caused the problem, for who is to blame.  That in itself will prevent you seeing the true nature of the situation.  Look for the nature of the disharmony – where are we out of harmony, and where can that harmony be created.  The environmental destruction of the capitalist system is not caused by particular people who do not care about the environment – it is caused by a disharmony between the nature of the environment and the nature of the system that we are using.  A fight between two people is not caused by one person striking the other, but by the disharmony between the two (and thus could be solved by a harmonising process by either side or by a third party).  Please note that harmony does not always equate to passivity or submission.  In order to harmonise with an intense situation somewhat more intense action is required, though certainly being as non-violent as possible is worthwhile.  Please consider Aikido – the gentle martial art of love – a great demonstration of this principle.  The student learns to harmonise with the attack.  This results in the attacker falling down – and being controlled, but not necessarily hurt.  This very gentle power to control disharmony and to bring it into harmony is what I am talking about here.  Similarly with all the challenges facing us – if we can harmonise with the situation then we can resolve it.

But do we want to solve only one problem?  Or do we want to solve all the problems?  Do we want to harmonise with the holistic pattern that is challenging us on all sides in our life?  This is universal harmony.  In order to do this we must tune in to the frequency not of one particular thing, one particular issue, but to the frequency of everything at once – seemingly a very difficult task as everything is very big, but this task is made so much easier because at the infinite cosmic level all is one, and we only need to tune into that oneness in order to tune into all things, and harmonise with all things.  This is Oneness.

Selfishness, Selflessness and Self-fullness

Obviously selfishness causes all kinds of problems in ourselves and society and the world.  It is a kind of love, but a very limited kind of love that can be cruel to others because its compassion is limited to only the self.  Most of us are not purely selfish – that dubious honour is reserved for only the most undeveloped or traumatised of us.  However for most of us there is a limit to our love where we become a little selfish, there are at least corners of egotism.  Look around at the political leaders of the world, how many of them seem truly good people?  So few.  But how important it is that truly good people can lead and guide us.

The obvious conclusion would be that we need selflessness.  People who care more about others than themselves, and people who have completely lost their egotistical nature, who have destroyed or given up on their egos.  This however is not a reasonable request.  It is not really possible, and if this is the direction that we aim then we will never achieve it, and our situation will be all the worse.  Aiming for unachievable goals creates a stress that leads often to the opposite of what we are wanting to achieve.  Aiming for true selflessness leads people to pretend to be selfless, or to be very critical and spend their lives in seclusion because they realise they are not good enough to serve in an egoless fashion.  And this means that our leaders remain the least developed and most selfish of all – who do not realise their own flaws.  It also means that we can never truly step into our own power – our own expression of self actualisation – of serving the world in our own natural way.

What is possible?  Not selfishness, or selflessness, but self-fullness – not removing the ego, but rather expanding it and creating a greater sense of self.  When we expand our sense of who am I, then we expand our love with it, and in the end when we identify with all, then our ego is expanded, not destroyed, and we achieve Self-fullness.  We still do everything out of self interest, but as that self interest incorporates the interests of everyone else (being all part of that self) then we have a generous form of self interest.  In effect selfishness and generosity become one and the same thing.

People who achieve this form of enlightened self interest become very powerful agents for change, because their work in serving and making a difference is not done out of the rather weaker force of idealism, but out of the strong heartfelt desire to serve, and strengthened by the joy that is received in that service.  

Seek not to lose your self, but rather to find it.  In this we will be set free.

Love in it many forms

I once was looking for good words to describe love in more subtlety than we tend to do in English – to try to express the different types of love – the love of a mother is different to the loyal love that a dog will express to you, and the love for your romantic partner is quite different again, and then there is divine love… So I looked at the words for love in sanskrita, and it was completely overwhelming – I found over a hundred different words for all the different subtle expressions of love. This is great, but not something that I will ever be able to make use of, so I turned to greek – they at least limited their definition of different types of love down to 7 or 8. But the important point is that we need to recognise these differences. It is not really useful to discuss love without defining what we are talking about – love is so all encompassing, so present everywhere in every thing that we do that it is difficult to say what is not love. It would seem obvious that war is not an expression of love, but what is it that moves a person to fight for their country if not love of country? Aggression and abuse would seem to be the opposite of love, but they are so prevalent in exactly the situations where people feel that love is appropriate – in close families – that there must be some link. At the other end of the spectrum the mystics who sit and do nothing and can smile at the world’s problems are also experiencing a kind of love. In the end I believe that all our actions are motivated by a kind of love – the various expressions coming about through the different types of love, or perhaps the different directions that love is directed. Much of what we think of as not love would be rather love of something else – if one focuses exclusively on the wellbeing of their own family then one can be quite harsh to everyone else etc. And so this leads to the obvious conclusion that what makes a difference here – what makes us more loving, and good people, is not the quantity of love, but its scope – how big a circle do we draw around ourselves inside which we love, and how large is the rest of the world where we choose not to diret our love? Where do you draw the line? What do you love? and what do you not?

As we grow personally we expand that circle of love and learn to connect and care about more and more of the world. This is a process that can be continued unto infinity, expanding and exanding until love becomes our world. I believe this is what the mystics, and spiritual teachers are referring to when they say that love is so important for us, to open to love etc. Allow that love to expand and fill your world, and in the process the love changes flavour. We go through a series of stages very similar to what we discussed previously about the different kinds of connectedness and disconnectedness. People begin with a kind of love that is very selfish, they expand to care about the people around themselves, and goodness, and it becomes generous, and noble, but less focused on themselves and their personal needs. Then the expansion happens again and they start to love the world around, and understanding it, the truth of the physical manifest world. This kind of love of truth is a rational intelligent way of looking at things, that may sometimes seem dry, lacking in warmth, but there is plenty of love and warmth it is just focused less on people and relationships, and more on things. As people expand their love further it encompasses more depths inside ourselves, and the animals and life around us, and becomes very compassionate, and interested in the emotional side of the world, and this then leads to the next step where the focus is on the whole pattern of relationships and connections, and not on any one individual which can be less earnest, but more peaceful. And then when people open up to the love of the universe, to the love that flows everywhere they experience ecstatic states of joy and divine romance, but the one that interests me the most, and the one that I think is very important for us as a society and as individuals is to learn to expand beyond the universe – beyond limitations to experience the infinite flow of love that is everywhere and in everything. This great expansion of love is known as Agape – it is not just ‘unconditional love’ but rather the essence of love that underlies all other expressions of love – it is this love that is the building block of the universe. Nothing exists that is not made of this infinite cosmic energy. (Sorry for making such a big claim without evidence to back it up, but to one whose eyes are opened to the experience of oneness and Agape this truth is patently obvious. All great mystics should be able to tell you this, because they experience this truth in every moment. Some things cannot be proved by logical argument, but can only be experienced directly. For example how do you know that the leaves on the tree are green? Only because you see them, some of our knowledge must be based on this direct perception.)

Triple Connection

We aim for connectedness – which is perhaps a better way of saying love – not the I love you, but the ‘we are connected’ however there are a lot of different types of connections, and ways of being disconnected. It is easy to see people who are lacking in connection to others – they are course, insensitive, rude. But what about people who are lacking in connection to themselves? They can be self sacrificing, and sometimes surprisingly needy, as they are not able to satisfy their own needs, or to really acknowledge them, but those needs still exist. It is also reasonably easy to see people who are disconnected from the universal, positive flow – this creates depression, unhappiness, meaninglessness. And so you see the three main directions of connection that we all need: to self, to others, and to the infinite.

Again you will find this theme throughout all spiritual traditions – the recognition of the 3 ways in which we need to connect. Some people would call it 1st person, 2nd person and 3rd person – as in I, you and It – which you should be able to see is just another way of describing Self, Other and the Infinite. You might call it Authenticity, Sensitivity and Positivity, but whatever words you use these three kinds of connection are essential to the harmonious balanced experience of life. Oneness and universal harmony implies the connection to all three at the same time. I do not serve you and forget myself, I do not serve myself and forget you, and I never forget the infinite loving connection. Sometimes this may seem difficult to balance, but in the end it is where joy and ease is found – once you discover it, it is really quite simple.

Let’s look at some of the possible imbalances:

Meaninglessness

the most unpleasant and difficult of all the states of consciousness is that when we are disconnected from all – from ourselves, from the infinite and from others. Life becomes completely meaningless, and the purpose of our very existence is questioned. The answer to this question of ‘why am I here’ that existential crisis comes only in finding some kind of connection that brings some joy and meaning into our lives.

Selfishness

When we connect to ourselves, but not to anyone else then we become selfish. We can be narcissistic and self absorbed, or cruel, selfish and greedy. It does not in the end lead us to happiness, but certainly is less depressing than absolute meaninglessness.

Martyr

If you choose instead to tune into the other person instead of yourself you make yourself into a martyr, always serving others to the detriment of yourself, never making yourself happy, and the happiness you give to others is never real or lasting, or sufficient. Perhaps you are less destructive to the world around you, but hardly effective in creating a good life for yourself or for others. You simply do not have enough emotional resources to be giving of yourself all the time.

Fanatic

Focusing only on the infinite but not on self and others leads you to religious fanatacism or fundamentalism. There is a joy that is found in the divine, but the insensitivity and lack of understanding of yourself and others leads you to unwise, forceful, and sometimes downright hurtful actions. This is what leads to bible bashing religiousness. The spiritual connection that these people have is real, but it is not balanced enough to be a truly positive force in the world.

Angry Activist

Activism is a good thing, but if it is led by a connection to self and other, but lacking in the infinite positivity it becomes a kind of humanism that while caring for others is at the same time, aggressive, angry, and lacking in a positive vision. This is not fun for the individual living in that way, nor for those around, and that angry aggressive approach can also lead to conflicts that actually get in the way of solving the very things that they are trying to improve.

Peaceful Mystic

Being at peace and having compassion for all certainly seems like a good way to live, and it does appear to not cause much harm, but when lacking in a connection to the self – when it is only the understanding of others and the divine love that leads to deep compassion and peace at the same time is missing the inner passion and spirit of self knowledge that leads to powerful action in the world. Yes this experience may lead to a good life of meditation, but it does not lead to really making a difference.

Crazy Devotee

Dancing in ecstacy feeling the love of the infinite divine as it flows through me the devotee is drunk on the nectar of spirit, but they are still lacking in awareness of others and sensitivity – this also leads to an inner spiritual journey that lacks the outer practicality. Again the devotees tend to be good people and don’t do much harm, but it is often surprising how much resistance they create in others less open, and how that resistance can actually lead to the opposite of what they want.

Complete Connection

The ordinary, happy, effective person is one who connects to all. They have an inner joy of spirit, a warm smile, and a sense of human connection, they know themselves and what they need, and the devote themselves to something that is meaningful to them, when not working they know how to have fun, and overall they seem like very normal person, but one with a deeper strand of peace and joy that runs through them. This is the life of Oneness that I think is worth pursuing.

Self Realisation and Self Actualisation

Self realisation is not the end of the journey. You discover yourself, and your deep inner nature, you find the joy of connection with all things, you feel a sense of constant peace – then what? Is that as far as it goes? Do you just sit and meditate for the rest of your life? Or do you take what you have learnt and bring it back into the world. I believe that the deeper and more important reponse is the latter. As we find our sense of connection with all, as we identify not just with our personal small sense of self, but with the greater universal self, then service becomes natural, the desire to help others is part of the desire to help oneself. It would be inaccurate to call it ‘selfless’ service because there is so much that the person gains through that service, so much that is gained by giving – it is ‘Self-full’ service – giving with the whole being because it is good for myself, and for the other who is also in some way part of my greater sense of self.

Do you see how the realisation leads to the desire for action? And this drive to serve leads to the next big challenge in one’s life – the challenge of making a difference – and of finding your particular role in service to the all. People are not always satisfied by simply serving in any particular way, this is also about themselves after all – it is about service to all – including oneself, and so the joy of expressing yourself in an authentic, beautiful, skillful way is also an important part of the mix, and so people begin to search for their own unique role in the world, their passions, and their mission. They go on vision quests, or they make vision boards, they take on projects and look for meaning in all of these actions. If they have done the previous work well – if they have truly realised themselves then they will be positive, joyful, and unstoppable – even when things go badly they will stand back up and quickly recover to try again. They will not necessarily know the best things to do, or have the greatest skills in the area, but skills and knowledge can be learnt, and that basic foundation of connection and inner peace makes all of this action so much easier or at least gives so much energy that the difficulties are much easier to manage.

Oneness is not just an inner experience, it is a fundamental shift of perception that leads people to become truly good – to combine the wisdom that they have learnt from the inner work with the passion that comes from the care and connection with all. I do not think it is enough to seek self-realisation. The world and all those around us need us to become self-actualised to step into our power in truly loving way. It is this profound expression of spiritual truths in action that can unite and bind our society, and transform the challenges we are facing into true growth and upliftment. Can we imagine a society of people living their truth – self realised and self actualised? What would they do to the world around them? What problems would they not solve?

The Layers of the Mind

Throughout the world in all the spiritual traditions, and even in modern psychology the same understanding about the layers of the mind pops up again and again. It is described in different ways, and in different contexts, but the essence of it is always the same. In yoga they are called the layers of the mind or Koshas. In Christianity St Teresa d’Ávila described them symbolically as the mansions of the heart – different houses that we can live in inside our heart. The Theosophists describe the 7 rays, Zen and chinese buddhism have an artistic representation based on the story of a Bull that runs away and must be found and brought home. In western psychology they are described as stages of psychological development, but no matter what system you want to use, we all go through the same stages in our personal growth. The same recognisable experiences – presumeably because we are opening up the same levels of our consciousness. Of course exactly how many stages and how you describe them varies slightly, but there is a fairly close consistency across the traditions and around the world. Here is my best understanding of those layers of the mind

1. Instinct

Those who live by their instincts respond quickly and effectively to emergency and survival situations, but may have trouble controlling themselves in situations where the challenges are less direct. Modern city life for example does not lend itself well to a purely instinctive existence. Instinct is necessary, and it creates the fastest responses, but not always the wisest, or most loving.

2. Conscience

Our conscience leads to honourable and righteous behaviour, it restricts and controls the instincts so that they can be adapted to suit more closely our social existence. It is the conscience that allows us to live well in society, to become an upstanding, professional member of society. You will see the conscience well developed in most religious people, and it is a large part of what conventional, conservative religion teaches. It is also the foundation upon which all more elevated spiritual experiences begin.

3. Intellect

The scientific and technological revolution that has led to the wonders of modern society was the upswelling of this layer of the mind. It is responsible for deep thought, and analysis. This is a wonderful thing, only limited by the fact that analysis by its nature is divisive – it understands by separating things into small pieces and comprehending each little piece. In order to understand the systems and connections between things – the patterns that underly everything – one needs to access further layers, but enormous knowledge and ability can be developed at this stage.

4. Insight

Beyond the intellect is creativity, inspiration, dreams, and insight into oneself and others. All of these things are part of one way of looking at the world – a way that does not divide into pieces, but rather looks at how the different elements fit together. It is not precise, but rather inspired. It is this that allows us to develop emotional intelligence, to create inspired artwork, and to come up with creative solutions to the problems facing us. Many of the greatest scientists, although they worked primarily in the field of intellect – their great breakthroughs were when the inspired creative mind came through with an answer that changed the way we look at and understand the world. Many of our great artists access this part of the mind a lot, and it is responsible for the sensitivity that leads people to humanism – to championing justice, human rights, freedom, equality and such positive qualities.

5. Compassion

Even creativity for all its wonderful qualities can be stressful and overwhelming, and only when we can step beyond it can we find peace, and in that peace a deep compassion for others. This is the layer of mind that is responsible for detachment – the ability to step back and be at peace, not to grasp at what one desires, or thinks should be important; and also for the quality of discrimination which allows one to see what is important, and what is superficial, and to create wise priorities in life. And these qualities lead to wisdom. To a deep understanding of what is important and what is not, and to a sense of compassion that allows the holding space for others true self expression and growth.

6. Ecstacy

Peace and compassion are lovely, but in their quietness they do not engage our passions, and naturally as human beings we have a lot of passion. As we step beyond the layer of compassion we open up the layer of ecstacy where our passionate nature is engaged into our spiritual journey, and where we experience directly for ourselves the deepest aspects of the nature of the universe, and love itself. Devotion, and the divine love affair often find their expression here, and the gnostic experiences of direct perception of the nature of reality. Belief no longer is relevant because you can observe directly for yourself what is true. This is a powerful experience, an intense loving experience, but at times one that is too strong to be comfortable.

7. Connection

The loving ecstacy has a profound quality of love – I love you, and you love me, I love God, or I love everything. In whatever form it takes there is a lover and a beloved, but in the layer of connection all becomes one – I can no longer love you because I am you, and yet it is one of the most profoundly loving experience one can have. It is this experience of connection that people call oneness, and that leads to selfless service, and worldly effectiveness at the same time as deep inner peace and joy. The intense feelings that we experienced in the ecstatic phase have softened, so that the love is still there in some form, but it no longer feel difficult or intense, rather it feels peaceful and satisfying.

8. The Beyond

This is a book devoted to Oneness and Connection and yet to be complete I must point out that there is an experience beyond that – the experience of Emptiness, of Nothingness that is infinite peace, and completely detached from worldly existence. This experience allows people to step outside of our ordinary reality and experience profound bliss while they are totally unaware of their bodies. The greatest of joys, but in some way impractical – one cannot operate in the world at this level, and so after our little holiday in the beyond most people eventually choose to come back to reality (or at least this reality), and bring just a touch of infinite bliss with them.

Beyond Love

Is Love the answer? The obvious joke would be that it depends on what the question is – but that is not really accurate. Love is so universal that in some form it is the answer to almost any question that one can ask, but whether or not you have a true answer depends on what you mean by love. The current popular vision of love as portrayed in hollywood movies clearly does not solve our life challenges, and even the more hippy concept of loving all, or unconditional love does not seem to create a true powerful transformation, only a counter culture that appears to be in conflict with the rest of society – and how can conflict be an expression of love? Interesting don’t you think. And yet as I said Love in some form or other will be the answer to all of the questions, and especially the one I am particularly interested in – ‘What is the answer to the challenges that face us today?’ – the challenges of society, of environment, of modern life.

Everything we ever do is motivated by love. Some actions are motivated by love of self, and so seem to be selfish actions, some actions are motivated by love of friends and family, and so seem more generous, and yet are still limited in scope, some are motivated by love of country, which can be more noble, but in its nationalism can be highly problematic, leading to wars and conflicts. Some actions are motivated by a seemingly selfless love for all others around us. The difference is not in the love – the difference is in the expansion of that love – where is the boundary beyond which our love does not reach? The greater the expansion of that boundary the more great and positive seems the love, but as long as there is such a boundary then every loving action will also be unloving towards someone or something else. If we truly want to resolve our challenges with love then we cannot be at the one time resolving problems in a loving way, and at the same time creating problems elsewhere in the place where we do not consider, and do not love. Even those who seemingly love all, often have trouble loving the system and the nature of society as it is. Who can love the capitalist system, the misguided leaders who are taking us down dangerous paths, and also the person in front of us challenging us in this moment? And who can love themselves as well at the same time. It is not possible to achieve this kind of love while seeing things as separate – we do not have space in our hearts for a billion different loves, but only for one love that encompasses all things. And it is this encompassing love that we experience when we discover the Oneness and connection with all. It is this love that allows us to harmonise with all things, and to bring light into the darkness, joy where there was suffering, celebration where there was struggle. It is this encompassing love of all as one that answers our challenges today. It is different to the romantic love, to the compassionate love, to the dedicated faithful love that we see in common life and fiction, though it has elements of all of these. It has a very particular quality – no longer ‘I Love You’ – a phrase that is said with such serious earnestness, now it has become ‘We Are One’ a sentence that can be expressed with exuberance and joy and celebration as well as with the deepest peace and contentment.

Conflict is only a lack of understanding

Why is life such a struggle? It seems like conflicts are a constant part of life – the inner conflict resolving the different parts of yourself, conflicts in your family and relationships, political conflict, war, and the conflict between how you wish the world was, and the way it actually is. But in the end all conflict arises from a misperception of the nature of things. Underneath there is rarely if ever a true conflict – only that we do not understand what we are arguing about. The Atheist and the Christian argue about whether or not God exists, but underneath both of them know that what is important is love, and how we can live in a truly loving way, and any conflict about God is largely about understanding what we mean by that concept – is it universal consciousness? An old man in the sky? There is not really a conflict. 2 children fight over a ball – ‘It’s mine’, ‘No it’s mine’ – but what they really want is to play with it, and a ball is perfect to play with together. Is there any conflict – not really. 2 countries fight over the territory, but what do they really want? Is it security, or wealth, or a sense of greatness? Whatever it is, underneath there is no real conflict. Conflict is only a lack of understanding. In a couple they fight, about the different movies they want to watch, or how to communicate with each other, but in the end all they both want is love and connection – they just don’t know how to achieve it.

What is real is challenge. Constantly life throws us new challenges – new things for us to learn, new ways for us to grow, and if we imagine that the other is against us maybe we will interpret that as conflict, but if we realise that we are all in this together then we can find the ability to grow and overcome, to turn challenges into opportunities, and to celebrate life and the growth that it encourages in us. Do you want to live in a world where we are all divided one against the other, or where we all work together as one? I know which one I would choose.

Alone to All one

There is only one negative emotion. There is only one reason for all the pain and suffering that you go through. Whether you experience anger and frustration, or sadness, fear, guilt, and even the heartache of love – whatever emotional experience you are going through it is caused by the same single issue that is found all over the world, in all people. And similarly there is really only one single positive emotion that fills us with joy and peace. Some would call these emotions Love and Fear, but I find this a confusing and misleading use of words. Better to say connection and disconnection. Either you are feeling the connection with all things, your heart is open and your are filled with joy and peace, or you are feeling disconnection, and the lack and joy and peace leads to all the suffering experiences of pain and anger and all negative emotions. Connection is natural. It is the natural way we exist and operate in this world (and beyond it), but sometimes resistance creeps in, and we close down to that infinite connection, and try defend our self from the world around us. Unfortunately for us that connection is an all or nothing thing – either you connect with everything, or you lose the joy, and begin to drop into the lower and less pleasant states of consciousness. Many times we attempt to resolve this with filling up on human love – finding someone to care for us and make us feel better, or through other experiences – drugs, entertainment, pleasure – and while in themselves these are not necessarily bad things (maybe drugs are arguable here – can they be considered bad? Maybe in some circumstances) – chasing these worldly experiences to try to resolve a greater existential crisis is not really effective. This infinite connection that gives us joy and peace, this connection with all things is what people call Oneness. It is not some unreachable grand experience that only few are gifted with – it is the natural state of human beings, and one which we do not function well without. We can experience the loneliness of disconnection from that infinite network of loving connection or we can choose to open to the ‘All One’ the joyous connection that uplifts us all.

Everything is Not Equal

woman in white and pink floral shirt raising her hands

Everything is not equal. That is an untenable concept. If everything is equal there is no distinction between judgment and acceptance, no difference between love and hate, no preference towards equality over differentiation. The whole basis of treating things as equal is based on a judgment – that equality is better, and this falls down by it’s own argument. If it is good to treat everything as equal, then it is equally good to treat everything as unequal. It becomes a meaningless concept.

And yet – it is a very popular concept. Why is such a nonsensical proposition so popular? Well for a start it is an expression of a reaction against the opposite – a reaction that of course leads to the opposite imbalance, as all reactions, or at least most of them do. We react against the feeling of being judged, against the sense of hierarchy that we see in the world, against the power structures that seem to be so insurmountable, and unavoidable, and we wish for something that didn’t have those power structures. We wish for something that didn’t have any power structures at all, and this we imagine as equality. Of course what we don’t realise is that there is always a power structure. Even if it is the informal power of who do people listen to more, or the assumption of wisdom among the older people, or whatever unspoken rules govern people’s unconscious perceptions and responses to the world. In many cases these unspoken power structures can be worse than the conscious ones because the conscious ones can at least be considered, and discussed, and perhaps even changed, but the unspoken, unconscious power structures are very difficult to even understand – they are in our shadow – the part of ourselves that we cannot (or will not) see.

This concept of equality is also particularly popular among a particular section of our population. Those we might call mature souls, or heart centred, compassionate people. The soulful explorers of life who wish to discover themselves in their own way – people who might become artists, or community organisers, who understand and are drawn to compassion and inner peace. There is a strong inner motivation for this concept of equality based on the core principle that guides these people’s happiness in life. These people find happiness through acceptance, gratitude, compassion, mindfulness. It is crucial for their own wellbeing and happiness that they treat all with compassion and love, and that they lean towards understanding rather than judgment. And this is a great thing to do. But it is a very different thing to practice compassion, and to impose those ideas that might come out of compassion onto the nature of the universe. Also perhaps there are better ideas – more true ones that can lead us to compassion – an understanding of the uniqueness, and differences between everything that realises that equality and inequality don’t even make sense because at essence we cannot compare. Each element is so different that it can only be admired for what it is.

And this leads to even more compassion than our previous thoughts of equality. And it still allows for choice, for distinguishing between what we choose, and what we leave aside, for what leads to wellbeing, and what leads to discomfort. Discrimination and Detachment are qualities that are recognised as being part of the same level of the mind as compassion and understanding. Detachment meaning inner peace, being in the now, happy with all that is, and Discrimination being the ability to judge what is worth taking on – because it suits my (or our) wellbeing, and what is worth discarding, or at least not exploring because it is not so beneficial.

Let us instead of focusing on the equality of all things – let us focus on the understanding and respect for all things and their differences. Let us see how there are so many possible expressions out there, and each one has its own value and its own place in the world. Each one if we can understand it well has its place that will lead to a more profound, beautiful experience of the world. Let us embrace all, but let us not let that lead us away from the discrimination of knowing in which direction we would like to head, and which things lead to joy and happiness, and beauty, and which to ugliness and brutality.