Saturated with it and surrounded, too, dwarfing my farthest reach, curling deeper into intimacy than any of my whispering dreams—is my experience of oneness. So how can one write an introduction to this book? Much more, how did the hundreds of writers in these pages express it?
A brilliant friend who declined to peruse this work told us, “It’s the wrong conversation.” Anything you strive to say about oneness is not only not it, it goes the other way—into pieces—so it’s better not said.
Hey, hey, hey! He and we both start in an experience that oneness is everything and everywhere at every moment for us; then there is nothing we can say that’s the wrong conversation. Not only are we in it, it is in us, so we can’t help but speak.
Our goal is to share these expressions of oneness with others who may feel jolted by the competition in much of life or by its fractional, contentious and tense landscapes. We are confident they may sense, beneath noises of disconnection, the harmony that bears it all which is usually missed in oversight.
The offerings are from numerous settings, and they open like surprising hidden doors into as many realms. The ages of the wise range from childhood to old age; they come from ancient through modern times right into the present; and the authors are from all the inhabited continents and nearly a third of the current nations on Earth—widely surpassing the representation in other international anthologies we have seen.
Here are a just a few of the expressions for an inkling.
He, the door of whose breast has been opened,
Sees the sun reflected in every atom.
Harmony would lose its attractiveness if it did not have a background of discord.
Are the dreams of other men so different from those of Africans? The similarity between other people’s stories and ours is such that it is difficult to speak of a black or a white soul. Souls are seen to be the same in their aspirations. The adventures of Tom Thumb resemble those of the young Soudanese, Marandenboué; the tricks of the fox are like those of the hare; indiscretion is punished in the bee-woman of Borneo as in the yam-woman of the Ivory Coast; the bee and the toad of Senegal, and the fox and the stork of France play the same tricks on each other.
There is no man who is not at some time indebted to his vices, as no plant that is not fed from manures.
Rabbi Shmelke and his brother once petitioned their teacher, the Preacher of Mezeritz, to explain to them the words of the Mishnah: “A man must bless God for the evil in the same way that he blesses Him for the good which befalls.”
The Preacher replied: “Go to the House of Study, and you will find then a man smoking. He is Rabbi Zusya, and he will explain this to you.”
When Rabbi Shmelke and his brother questioned Rabbi Zusya, he laughed and said: “I am surprised that the Rabbi sent you to me. You must go elsewhere and make your inquiry from one who has suffered tribulations in his lifetime. As for me, I have never experienced anything but good all my days.”
But Rabbi Shmelke and his brother knew full well that from his earliest hour to the present he had endured the most grievous sorrows. Thereupon they understood the meaning of the words of the Mishnah, and the reason their Rabbi had sent them to Rabbi Zusya.
Why should I feel lonely? Is not our planet in the Milky Way?
My mission is not merely brotherhood of Indian humanity….But through realization of freedom of India I hope to realize and carry on the mission of the brotherhood of man….I want, if I don’t give you a shock, to realize identity with even the crawling things upon earth, because we claim descent from the same God, and that being so, all life in whatever form it appears must be essentially one.
[A good Minister] should get religion like a Methodist; experience it like a Baptist; be sure of it like a Disciple; stick to it like a Lutheran; pray for it like a Presbyterian; conciliate like a Congregationalist; glorify it like a Jew; be proud of it like an Episcopalian; practice it like a Christian Scientist; propagate it like a Roman Catholic; work for it like a Salvation Army lassie; enjoy it like a colored man.
Great perils have this beauty, that they bring to light the fraternity of strangers.
…place your hands on the Earth Mother. Try to feel the natural life force surging within. Embrace a tree until you can feel the life force within it. A tree is like a pipeline or conductor bringing energy from the sky to the earth. The same life force energy surges through all life. When you embrace someone and you feel good energy surging between you, that is the same life force energy that is in the trees and the other creatures.
If you study Japanese art, you see a man who is undoubtedly wise, philosophic and intelligent, who spends his time how? In studying the distance between the earth and the moon? No. In studying the policy of Bismarck? No. He studies a single blade of grass. But this blade of grass leads him to draw every plant and then the seasons, the wide aspects of the countryside, then animals, then the human figure.
The young science of Ecology has been built up since Darwin’s time and is based on the recognition of this fact, that in addition to the operation of Natural Selection, the environment has a silent, assimilative, transformative influence of a very profound and enduring character on all organic life. In the subtle ways of Nature, sun and earth, night and day, and all the things of earth and air and sun mingle silently with life, sink into it and become part of its structure. And in response to this profound stimulus, life grows and evolves, the less whole in harmony with the greater whole of Nature.
The minute one stops going forward, one falls back. The moment one is satisfied and no longer aspires, one begins to die. Life is movement, it is effort, it is a march forward, the scaling of a mountain, the climb towards new revelations, towards future realizations. Nothing is more dangerous than wanting to rest. It is in action, in effort, in the march forward that repose must be found, the true repose of complete trust in the divine Grace, of the absence of desires, of victory over egoism.
True repose comes from the widening, the universalization of the consciousness. Become as vast as the world and you will always be at rest. In the thick of action, in the very midst of the battle, the effort, you will know the repose of infinity and eternity.
Profound quietude delivered me to the transparent moonlight. After enlightenment one understands that the six classics contain not even a word.
Neither by words nor by the patriarch;
Neither by colors nor by sound was I enlightened.
But, at midnight, when I blew out the candle and went to bed,
Suddenly, within myself, I reached the dawn.
In moments when the inner lamps are lit
And the life’s cherished guests are left outside,
Our spirit sits alone and speaks to its gulfs.
A wider consciousness opens then its doors;
Invading from spiritual silences
A ray of the timeless Glory stoops awhile
To commune with our seized illumined clay
And leaves its huge white stamp upon our lives.