Are We All One?

Yasutani Roshi is a Japanese Zen master who is reported to have said that, “The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and that you are out there”.

At my deepest level I believe this to be true, that we are all one in the spirit and that somewhere along the way we have forgotten it. Although I hate to admit it I have, for a very long time, been able to see the points of view of people holding opinions and ideas opposite from mine. I don’t like to admit this because our society looks upon the unsure and questioning as weak minded. I’m in the process of abandoning this usually unquestioned premise. I’m thinking that it may take a strong and courageous mind to hold an opinion and make room for the possibility that there could be another side. This disappears when I’m afraid or angry and the truth is that my anger always comes from my fear. I’m afraid I’ll lose something I have or not get what I want and anger is my response.

I continue to want our current administration to be replaced and will work toward that end but as I watch them struggle I must admit that I can see their points of view. Don’t misunderstand me, I believe they are 180 degrees removed from the truth but I think they got where they are because they are afraid. I think all violence comes from fear whether reactive or instigated.

My dilemma is to determine how to get these beliefs across. A few weeks ago, while having a discussion with a new friend, I mentioned my desire to be a pacifist. He asked me what I’d do if my children were attacked and I said I didn’t know but that I hope I wouldn’t react violently. He went on to say that I knew what would have happened had we not engaged against Hitler in the Second World War. I said that I did not know and, further, that I believe that it’s quite possible that the world would be a better, more peaceful place if we hadn’t.

A short time after this conversation I had another discussion with a very close friend and I said that I believe in the divinity of all humans. He replied that my thinking would lead to a lessening of the concept of divinity. Since then this conversation pops into my head frequently and I’ve concluded that I disagree with him. I believe that, were this belief universal, divinity would be greatly enhanced and might eventually lead to world peace. If we believed that we are all one and stopped living under the delusion of separateness and polarity what would happen? Religion, Nationalism and Racism have made brethren of some of us to the exclusion of others and, I believe, to the detriment of all of us.

This is what I believe and yet, day after day I position myself against some person or institution. I’ve spent the past couple of years knocking the Bush administration, The Pope, corporate executives and most others in powerful positions while I maintain my own powerful place as, relative to the rest of the world’s people, a relatively wealthy man consuming much more than his share. This is where I get stuck. I’m not willing to give up what I have. I rail against the injustices in the world and do nothing to stop them. I don’t mean this to be an exercise in self flagellation but as the simple truth about how I live.

Posted May 9, 2007

1 Comment

I too face certain realities of our shared humanity that I believe to be “wrong,” and do nothing about them. A rabbi whose name I cannot recall, while discussing the subject of righteousness and performing acts of loving kindness, said “you do not have to do it all, but you must do what you can.” I think of this quote often when struggling with the tension created in my head and heart between doing what I can, what I can’t, and what I won’t. I accept the tension as part of my personal human condition.

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