By Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.
“You may say I’m a dreamer,
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one.”
– John Lennon
I have to admit, when I first heard the song, Imagine by John Lennon, I didn’t quite get it. I understood, even yearned for the concept of oneness, but I didn’t grasp all the nuances conveyed in the lyrics. I was 15 years old and at an age when I was trying to make sense of a very confused world: the Vietnam war, civil unrest, high school teen angst, alcoholic parents, and Watergate looming in the not too distant future. What I understood even then, was that the standard worldview of division and separation wasn’t working. John Lennon’s song offered a beacon of light in the darkness of an ego-based world in chaos.
Shift ahead 40 or more years and it is abundantly clear that the ruling perspective of division and separation is not only NOT working, it is destroying the planet: political strife, religious wars, racial disparity, economic tensions, and environmental destruction top the list. What Lennon’s song illustrated is a way of being called “unity consciousness.” It’s a state of awareness where we see ourselves in a most incredible, dynamic, and loving relationship with all aspects of life – oneness. What may seem like an unreachable utopian dream is very much within our grasp. This great shift in consciousness, however, takes some effort. It is not going to happen all by itself.
In college I began a simple meditation practice. Several months later, with one or two mystical experiences, a veil was lifted. One such experience, during a profound meditation, brought me first through a dark tunnel, then through a wall of flames and finally into what I can best describe as an immense area of loving light. In this place/state I was connected through light and thought to everyone and everything. The feeling was sublime, divine and unforgettable.
I found that I could walk each step with a lighter heart, a smile on my face, and a song in my heart. Today, my meditation practice is both grounding and liberating. I practice the Golden Rule daily. I have more moments of amazing synchronicities, profound gratitude, and awe. The web of life is not only good, it’s astounding.
To understand unity consciousness, it helps to examine our standard state of awareness that’s often called duality (or polarity) consciousness. Duality consciousness focuses on noticing, then judging differences between ourselves and others. After we notice differences, then our thought processes begin to slight or diminish those who are different. This creates a fear-based, hierarchical structure, one that promotes ignorance, alienation, selfishness, discrimination, and hatred.
One school of thought suggests that Planet Earth is a type of educational academy where souls come to learn about duality consciousness and divisions: male/female, right/wrong, good/bad, gay/straight, ego/soul, fear/love, and so on and on. Duality consciousness is considered a lower level of consciousness, particularly because in the process of examining the pieces, we fail to recognize the whole. Ageless wisdom reminds us that the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts.
How can we best shift/evolve our consciousness to a higher level as in John Lennon’s song? How can we imagine a better world? How can we develop our minds so we can experience oneness? Based on my experience, here are some suggestions:
* To find unity consciousness, we must first recognize that everything connects to everything else because “we are all one.” Our standard perspective is based in the ego and our material self-interest so we can’t see unity and oneness. The ego sees separation. While this perspective may occasionally have survival advantages, the ego-based illusion of separation can be problematic at best and ultimately it’s destructive. One of the most profound descriptions of meditation I ever heard was that its purpose is to “domesticate the ego.” The ego is our bodyguard and when there’s a physical threat its primary role is to sound the fight or flight alarm. But when the ego abandons that specific role and chooses to take charge of everything, all hell breaks loose – there’s more division, more separation, more illusion, more chaos. Making a habit of sitting quietly in a meditative state each day to clear the mind, to tame and overrule the ego (to domesticate it) is an essential practice for developing unity consciousness.
* Then, treating others with kindness and respect (this includes everyone and everything) is one of the hallmarks of unity consciousness. Everyone deserves respect. We can follow The Golden Rule to love others as ourselves, but first we must have a strong degree of self-love. When we have high self-esteem – without arrogance – and aren’t driven by an untamed ego, we can truly practice The Golden Rule, treating others as we would like to be treated. And then we can judge less, accept more.
* Next, it is one thing to say “all things are connected,” but it’s quite another to see and feel the connections. For some people this comes quite naturally, for others it takes some effort. One way to train your senses is through energetic practices. All styles begin with a core understanding of the universal life force and include experiencing or studying healing practices such as Bio-energetics, Reiki, Qi Gong, and Healing Touch or Therapeutic Touch. There are also energetic practices that are centered on intuition training or mental disciplines such as brainwave biofeedback or remote viewing. Once aware of the dynamic energetic grid and our connection to it, we can supply it with love and optimism, enhancing the connections to all. The opposites – fear and negativity – weaken the connection.
* Spending more time in nature (and less empty time on social media) can also help us develop finer states of awareness. The natural world illustrates quite nicely the interconnections and balance found in nature so we can experience what Chief Seattle called “the web of life.” As we deepen our connection to the natural world and calibrate our rhythms with the planet’s, we can come to see the many dimensions of nature.
* Mystics and sages remind us that love is the glue that holds the universe together. Love is our most natural state. Practicing a conscious state of compassion or loving kindness – a skill that also takes practice – allows us to elevate ourselves out of a limited, fear-based consciousness and reach our highest potential.
Once you domesticate your own ego, become mindful of your thoughts and feelings, sense energies, and live in a kind a loving way, you are on the path to unity consciousness.
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Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.is the author of Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed is Desserts Spelled Backward, andManaging Stress(9e). He is the Executive Director of the Paramount Wellness Institute in Boulder, Colorado and can be reached via his website, www.brianlukeseaward.net.