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Oneness Does Not Equal Sameness

Oneness Does Not Equal Sameness

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by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
August 5, 2020

Consider the simple Hindu greeting and salutation upon meeting or the valediction upon parting ways of “Namaste.”

Namaste translates as “I bow to you.”  It also has the deeper spiritual meaning that the life force, the Divinity, the Self, or the God in me is the same in all. Namaste – the God in me honors the God in you.

This salutation also points out that while we are made from the same spiritual substance, we are not identical expressions of that substance.  Wouldn’t it be boring if we were?  A bunch of me’s, or a bunch of you’s, walking the planet and nobody else?

I had an experience of embodying oneness at a 5-night silent retreat with one of my favorite enlightened guys, Adyashanti. There were over four hundred attendees on this retreat, and we were four days deep into the container of silence.

In the second silent sitting that day I opened my eyes suddenly, looked around the room and noticed that everyone was together in the same silent container, observing the same things: passing thoughts, breathing, coughing, inner peace, still body, still mind – through different eyes, in different bodies.  Suddenly I felt as if I had merged into the Whole and became one with The One.  I went from hovering above the crowd, looking through the person’s eyes next to me, then before me, then the person across the room to the right, and then across the room to the left.

What a profound mystical experience this was for me, which has gradually integrated within me over time.  Oneness points to the truth that we are all born of the same stuff, yet we are not identical.  Consider a stained-glass window.  All are pieces of the window, but each glass is a different color, a different shape, as a unique individualized expression within the whole.

I’m a 5’3″, 40 (something) year old, female, white, brown hair, hazel eyes, and athletic.  You may be a 5’8″, 22-year old male, a person of color, with brown hair, brown eyes, and not athletic.  Each of us with our own unique life experiences, conditioning, ancestry, and heritage.  Either privileged or burdened by the circumstances we were born into, which were beyond our control.  The two of us are part of the whole.

God is all there is, and you are God in form, in your own uniquely fabulous way.  Divine and human.  Just like the quarter has a heads side and a tails side.  Both are the quarter, yet each side is uniquely different.  Yes, we are one, but we are not the same.

As we honor the Divinity within one another, let us simultaneously honor each other’s uniqueness, as the individualized expressions of the Divine that we all are.

I honor the Divinity within you that is you, and simultaneously acknowledge and respect the unique individual, expression of the Divine as you!

And so it is.

Rev. Elizabeth Rowley

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