The Quest for Unity

December 2016

After decades of reading about unity consciousness and the experience of oneness some people have accessed for themselves, I started having experiences in my life but I hadn’t realized they were of this kind until recently when I was developing the “Pyramid Model of Consciousness” for FutureShapers, with my business partner Tom Eddington. In other words, I was writing about a state most people aspire to when I recognized that I had been there on several occasions but not recognized it as such.

Buddhist BurgersLike the cartoon on the right, that state of oneness seemed elusive – even something to be joked about – until I was immersed in developing our model and dealing with the nuances and subtleties of this state. Suddenly, voila! Oh, I know what this is! I have been here.

Now I must say, my visits to this place of oneness were not long-lasting. You might even say they were fleeting. But they gave me a taste – enough of a taste to want more. Like a delectable appetizer, a tease for what is to come.

They were also ineffable – difficult, if not impossible, to describe to anyone who wasn’t there, or who hadn’t had a similar experience. The old saw “you had to be there” comes to mind.

Mark Nepo, the best-selling poet and author of The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have, writes about oneness thusly:

It is amazing to consider as infants we are one with everything. In time, of course, we learn to distinguish between ourselves and others, between the world we carry inside and the world we move through. But, ironically, the sages of all paths are those who, after lifetimes of experience, try to return to this primary state of Oneness.

When I think of the moments I have felt most alive, they all have this quality of joining all-of-what-I-keep-inside with everything-outside-me in a way that makes me forget myself. They all feel timeless and open-ended….

Not surprisingly, it is the risk to love – the risk to give our full attention – that lets what-is-eternal-within merge with what-is-eternal-without. In those moments of Oneness, we, as drops of spirit, join the larger river of spirit.

Here Nepo puts words to my experience, which is what poets do for us. He describes what I have felt, most often when I wasn’t thinking about what I was feeling because I was wrapped up feeling it. This is the place of non-duality, where we step out of the artificial construct of a dualistic world of inner and outer, good and bad, you and me, us and them. The dualistic world is one of separatism, a persistent-but-contrived reality paradigm as we see in the news each day. The idea of building physical walls to keep “them” out – as in worldwide immigration phobia – or building walls to keep “them” inside – as in our ever-expanding prison systems, mirrors the fences and walls Nepo references. He concludes:

…it is the risk to be fully present that opens the Oneness that flows through all things…just as a rush of water moves through us all, undermining all the walls we maintain…we always have the choice: to remain a builder of fences or to enter the stream that ignores all fences.

In the FutureShapers’ “Pyramid Model of Consciousness,” we have placed the state of Oneness at the top of our model (see slide below), the fourth layer sitting atop three other states of consciousness – 1. Life happens to me, 2. Live happens by me and 3. Life happens through me. In the model we based our pyramid of consciousness upon, this Oneness state is where life happens as me, without separateness or duality.

(above) the FutureShapers’ Pyramid of Consciousness

If you are interested in seeing the FutureShapers’ model explained, see our article “Navigating the States of Consciousness.

Once we have experienced the Oneness, the nondual Unity of all things, everything expressed from the separation paradigm seems contrived and fictional. This is because they are! They are products of the egoic mind which constantly seeks explanation, distinctions, boundaries and rationalization. But these expressions of the dualistic paradigm are not real. Our egos made them up. They are false.

Oneness is that state we experience as infants, where we are one with everything, as Nepo points out, before our egos developed and started separating things so they could understand them. Rediscovering this nondual state means a coming home of sorts – a return to that ecstatic sense of being one with everything.

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John Renesch

John is a seasoned businessman-turned-futurist who has published 14 books and hundreds of articles on social and organizational transformation.

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