Dec 3, 2006

The idea of One

Most religions state that we are all one, united under God. Looking back on his home planet from space drove that point home to astronaut James Irwin. Even a good number of worldviews and world organizations say the same, though without the mention of a deity. I find the idea hard to grasp. Intellectually, I get it. I see that we all struggle with the same things, and are comforted by the same things. I see that we all have a responsibility to the planet we live on, so we can keep on living on it. But there is a spiritual side, an emotional side to this idea that tends to lie just out of reach of my understanding, so I can't consistently feel one with everybody else.

I have started on a new book (audiobook version), "Light On Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom" by B.K.S. Iyengar with John J. Evans and Douglas Abrams. (Iyengar himself is on the cover with some of the longest eyebrows I've ever seen, and a wonderfully happy face.)

The book is about the philosophy behind yoga, and I recognize some of the ideas already from more western philosophies. What got my attention came 53.5 minutes into my "read":

[My transcript]

If we ever find ourselves apart from or superior to others, pure or more elevated by yoga, we can be sure that we are becalmed or even drifting back into a state of ingorance. It was Ramanuja, the saint and philosopher, who over 900 years ago, exposed a brahminical misconception that we can be above others. On the contrary, practice and purity of life place us among, not above. Just as we have discussed inner integration within our own body, this naturally leads to integration with all other life.

Integrity means "one". One is the number that can go into all other numbers. The fully sensitive and sensible being becomes not a somebody, but the common denominator of humanity."


Ah, no wonder I haven't been able to understand. Becoming one with ourselves will automatically make us one with everyone else. Trying to be one with everyone else while still feeling incomplete or empty as an individual, won't bring about that nice warm fuzzy feeling about the rest of the world. This is a concept, a spiritual reality (and even a psychological one) that I've heard told in other ways. Start with yourself, and make sure you yourself are whole. That will automatically make the world whole for you, too.

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