Several seemingly unrelated moments of awareness this recently have led me to ask myself, “What do I know of Oneness?” At Unity convention in Albuquerque, I marveled at led prayers and public sharing pointing to a diversity of beliefs gathered under the umbrella of “Unity.” Some talk to God. Some believe that Unity Village is our Mecca and that every Unity leader in training ought to reside at Unity Village for a period of time. Some wish for Unity to retain a Christian identity, based upon early writings by co-founders Charles and Myrtle Fillmore. Every thought of what’s best, what’s right, and what’s certain is subjective. In every case, there is another viewpoint — perhaps many other viewpoints. All within Unity. Unity in diversity.
Although I have attended Unity convention every June for many years, I felt proud of my spiritual progress this year when, instead of cringing in disagreement with a perspective different from mine, I reveled in appreciation of everyone’s conviction. I looked not to what was being said but instead to the beingness of the speaker. I saw Light, and Love, and Faith in all their radiance.
After convention, I toured Bandelier National Monument, home to ancient Pueblo people 11,000 years ago. I climbed ladders to look into cliffside dwellings, walked past a ground-level community that housed more than 100 people, and marveled at circular kivas used for ceremony and community gatherings. I tread ancestral paths. I sensed their presence in the soil and stone. I felt as if I had been one of them — one with them.
Then, I was at the gym I heard news from Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, SC, of nine people killed by a shooter. A man whom I often see at the gym, and who knows I am a minister, told me, “You’d best buy yourself a gun.” I assured him I would not. He told me that when he was an usher at his Baptist church, he carried a concealed weapon just in case. I wanted to argue with this man. I wanted to propose that more guns in more hands promotes more violence. I was busy, though, working out. I didn’t think I could change this guy’s mind anyway, even though he was wrong and I was right. Later I learned that the shooting was a hate crime perpetrated by a young white man. How could this happen in our world today?, I wondered. How could we not see that we are all one? This thought from my mind, the mind that could not see I am one with the mind of a man at the gym with whom I disagree.
So you see, dear reader, that I have succeeded and I have failed in my quest to know Oneness. As guru Ram Dass once said: “I often fail in these aspirations because I lose the balance between separateness and unity, get lost in my separateness, and feel afraid. But I make the effort.”