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Widening the Circle

A girlfriend of mine pleasantly surprised me with an unexpected visit last week. She was on her way to Mexico for a conference and during a layover found out it had been cancelled due to swine flu. She rerouted her trip to the next warmest place, LA. She’s a psychologist, considers herself a hardcore scientist with “complete faith in mainstream science. If it hasn’t been proven, it isn’t true.” Need I mention she’s also an atheist? I’m none of those things. I enjoy an easy-to-digest book on quantum physics as much as the next layman, but I’m as skeptical of science as she is of spirituality. And I believe in a power greater than myself—a source of love. I call that God.

Nevertheless, my gorgeous friend and I do share plenty of common ground. For one, we’ve both been vegetarians for twenty years. She told me that one day she knew in her twelve year-old little heart it wasn’t right to eat animals and stopped. We also share a yen for hot weather, sunshine and swimming pools, so we hopped in the car and headed to Palm Springs. As the warm desert air breezed through the open windows and Kansas panted in the back seat, we got on the topic of spirituality, namely how “unspiritual” she is. I told her it didn’t matter whether she was spiritual or not. It only mattered if she felt something was missing.

She confided that one of her favorite childhood past times was trying to communicate with animals—squirrels, cats, dogs, and birds—but they never communicated back. I suggested that she can never really know they weren’t communicating. We laughed at the idea that perhaps it was the animals that told her not to eat them. I said, “To me, the definition of spirituality is really simple. It’s oneness.” She thought about it and replied, “That’s an interesting way of defining it.” I said, “And you exemplify that. I think you’re much more “spiritual” than you think.” She said, “Well, I do view the world as one interconnected organism.” Spoken like a true scientist.

Truth is true. As I understand it, all minds are joined. As she sees it, the world is an interconnected organism. The only thing true is that we are one. Nowhere does my energy end and yours begins. Einstein said separation is an “optical delusion of consciousness.” Well, here, I’ll just find his whole quote.

"A human being is a part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security."

Everything is moving towards oneness though it may not always appear that way. This is true in our own lives as well as in the collective consciousness. There could be no Obama without Bush. Oneness doesn’t require that we perceive it in order for it to be true. As Einstein said, it’s very difficult to be aware of it. But this doesn’t mean it isn’t happening or that it’s a free pass to sit around. On the contrary, we all have a unique and active role in the unfolding of that creation. Each of us has a special part to play in the “task” of healing. In fact that’s kind of what I was trying to say in the previous post.

My friend arrived at the understanding of connectedness through science. I came to it through more spiritual means of study. Someone else may learn it through worldly travel and another through volunteer work. Or golf. It doesn’t matter. We will all end up in the same place. My friend and I were brought together by the swine flu, and even that—swine flu—can be a means for shaking the sleep of separation from our eyes. Anything can be used to help us understand our oneness if we choose to see it that way.

We must change our worldview, as Einstein said, not only for the healing of the world but also for our “inner security.” The cruelty inflicted on a pig in a cage kills us as well. The child neglected by his or her parents and let down by a broken foster care system hurts us too. The question then isn’t how you reach that conclusion. The more important question is how you begin to experience everyone and everything as yourself. For quantum physics attests they are literally a part of you, only your “optical delusion” blocks that awareness. The answer lies in widening your circle of compassion. Within that is the liberation we all seek and the knowingness that there really is only one of us here.