Our desire or aspiration toward unity is fundamental, loneliness being the sense that we are as yet far short of that goal. I think in terms of different levels, dimensions, or degrees of unity. We naturally seek a unity in outward things and persons because these mirror the more fundamental spiritual longing for unity, and in a sense these outward things and persons are steps toward the more transcendent, subtle, and fundamental “belonging” that is their archetype.
If we are aware and focused only on the external forms of unity, then we are caught up in the constant flux of that, so our gains and losses leave us always unstable and never fully satisfied. But if we also have more of the deeper sense of unity and belonging–that which arises from the spiritual side of our nature, then it gives a stability and peace that can’t be found in the external forms alone. And the more we feel ourselves grounded in that deeper sense, the more we can live wisely and live joyously live the external life.
It’s often been suggested that we should “love our self.” What does this mean? If by “love your self” is meant “self-respect” or “self-esteem,” then it sounds healthy. And if we’ve been filled with self-hatred it may seem reasonable to try escape by replacing self-hate with self-love. But in this we may find ourselves on the horns of a dualistic dilemma, a tricky reasoning where the mantra “love yourself” may become a philosophical justification for selfishness and egotism that is contrary to love.
What of “self-esteem?” Implicit in this psychology-word are aspects of ego or self. But mystic experience affirms there is only one real Self–so what is this part of self that holds esteem for another part? What is the division? What’s happening when we say we have self-esteem or that we feel good about ourselves? Perhaps when what we are doing at a behavioral level–physical, emotional, and mental–is more or less aligned with soul, then we receive an inner validation, a sense of harmony, a right creative tension. In this sense, self-esteem may be a reflect growth toward integration and self-awareness.
Yet consider the paradox. The thought of loving ourselves seems to imply there is one thing called “self” and another separate thing called “love,” and that we can direct one toward the other. By this thought it seems we cut ourselves in half, and in trying hard to “love our self” we might very well fail to rise above our current egotistic concerns—those very concerns which, when we are obsessed with them, shut out the light of love.
Perhaps the thought of loving our self may be born of a natural and understandable desire for self-improvement, or a desire to compensate for self-hate, or to feel better about ourselves. These are normal human tendencies, yet all are personal desires and not love, that is, they are acquisitive and not radiant. They may give some improvement or relief, but not transformation. Love is transformative, radiant, and unitary, leading us beyond the normal toward the supernormal.
Love doesn’t divide–it unites. I’m thinking that, to the degree that real love is present in consciousness, we don’t experience a division between “self” on the one hand and “love” on the other. In love there is simply one central shining reality, one positive consciousness, the consciousness of love. In that unified state we are in love, of love, and we are love. And when filled with love, we no longer need to prop ourselves up by an effort at self-love. Simply to love is enough. In the mystic sense, we need not think about loving our self. We need only think about the nature of love, it’s goals, and purposes and how to manifest these in our lives and in the world. We need only think of how we may most wisely express this energy, the light of our essential nature. The affirmation of the heart is not “I love myself,” but “I am love.” This identification is powerful that opens the gates. It is enough to recognize that we are the power. It is enough to simply be what we are.
Science and philosophy speak about races, and some of this creates a sense of the vast sweep of evolution that helps take our eyes off our small personal sphere with its provincial concerns. A large history and cosmology may serve to give some perspective.
On the other hand, talk of the races and evolution, with its implications of more and less advanced types can be divisive and misleading. It helps to think toward the more subtle meaning of types but, in people’s minds, race is virtually synonymous with body. The idea of race as consciousness and race as culture is of real value, and the trend of adopting the image of a rainbow is a real insight.
Differences, diversity, variations of body, type, culture, heritage, are all OK in their evolving expressions. Differences are inherent in forms, in manifestation, and theses divisions are useful for understanding the phenomenal world. Yet, emphasis on differences creates divisions and feeds egotism and discord between individuals and various subsets of the one humanity. A wrong sense of race feeds the separative sense of them and us. Groups war and fight based on narrow self-interest and ignorant identifications. So is mapped the tragic history of egotism and cruelty based on ignorance and the stupidity of bodily identifications. The only salvation is perseverance in primary identification with the one humanity that includes all.
“Then I will tell you a great secret, Captain. Perhaps the greatest of all time. The molecules of your body are the same molecules that make up this station, and the nebula outside, that burn inside the stars themselves. We are star stuff, we are the universe, made manifest, trying to figure itself out. As we have both learned, sometimes the universe requires a change of perspective.”
—Delenn, in Babylon 5
We know there is an interaction between language and thought. Thought shapes words, and words shape thought. For example, we may want to affirm unity, but not notice how language leads thought toward compartments and fragments. Language, with its many categories and divisions, is adapted to work with external or objective things. So, we may affirm a unified and holistic way of thinking but dress our thoughts in dualistic language that doesn’t fit what we’re trying to say. But when thought soars beyond the usual objective categories, our verbal habits may result in curious and paradoxical expressions. For example:
“The tricky word is ‘and.’ So long as we have the idea of God-AND-Man we are likely to have the feeling of separation, of duality. ‘And’ places an almost imperceptible but real cellophane veil between us and the immediacy of our existence wholly in God-consciousness. Until we have the ‘feeling,’ the realization of complete existence in God-Consciousness we are separate entities appealing to a long-distance God, and we are inclined to doubt whether our appeals can reach One who has so many sparrows to watch in their fallings.”
—Joy is an Inside Job, Don Blanding
To the forgetful, life is a painful game of numbers, with emphasis on division. What is forgotten?
The simplest is unity: one. We can’t get simpler.
1 is a beautiful straight upright line, clean and fundamental, like a spire pointing heavenward. One is a single sun shining high above the forest.
2 and 3 introduce many, a sequence of angles and curves; so begins in number symbols a winding path in the forest of complexity. 2 and 3 are lovely and useful when 1, the origin, is behind them. In essence 1 always is, but if we don’t look sunward, then all becomes a maze of complexity and separation. Without 1, complexity is depressing, crazy, and painful. With 1, complexity becomes interesting and creative. Sunless and heartlessness are the walking dead who have forgotten 1.
The numbers are abstract, I apologize, but the pure wave of unity is not abstract. Bang or bloom, the origin of stars begins. Bang or bloom, spirit-thought strikes downward.
Remember, without 1 there is no joy, and everything is blank, sunless, without true dimension. A teacher said, “The world has lost its happiness because happiness is in spirit.” Spirit is 1, and life begins with the simple realization of 1.
Down the ages teachings come to us of unity and the way to it, even though we humans have not taken to it very well. Books of religions advocate brotherhood even while the would-be faithful violate it. Everywhere, the form of things dominates and eclipses spirit. The form attracts us and the mysteries behind remain largely beyond comprehension and application. So, the eclipse of spirit by matter is the rule, and the ways of light are lost in the shadowy labyrinths of human imagination. Yet behind the veils of human activities is the impelling force, the luminous quest for unity.
Are the many quests for unity branches of one tree? On the contradictory surface it would be impossible to affirm this, yet in principle the idea works–but only if we dig deep, ignoring the many overlays, the crazy human constructions seething with chaos. In the deep cosmic sense, we find signs of the original tree of knowledge, signs pointing the way toward harmony and unity.
“Only the kernel of every object nourishes;
Where is he who tears off the husks for you and me?”
— Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman