Here’s a bit of wisdom that I’m sure you’ve heard, in one form or another: “We are all connected.”
It’s perhaps the most prevalent idea in the whole field of spirituality. And, at least for me, it makes a sort of intuitive sense when I consider it.
Even so, sometimes it’s hard to remember that in every person, no matter what their actions are, there is something that links us all together, that connects me to everything else.
It’s particularly difficult to remember when a person has done something annoying or offensive to me or another being. Maybe it’s the guy in that huge, jacked-up truck that was driving dangerously close to my bumper this morning, or maybe it’s the lady that decided to take too many pets into her home to the point that they aren’t healthy anymore.
Then there’s the people that go so far and commit horrible crimes, stuff I can’t even think about because it breaks my heart. We want to put these people away, into places where they can get help, yes, but more importantly, where we can’t see them and they can’t see us.
And I’m not saying that we, as a society, should just let them be—some people are a danger to themselves or others.
But we still have to try to remember, in every person and every being there is a space, a consciousness, a stillness that connects us all.
It has always been there and always will.
It is perhaps easiest to connect to this space when a community comes together in service.
A good example from home in Calgary, Alberta, Canada occurred last year.
The city suffered the worst flooding in recorded history as the two rivers that run through it rose several meters. But unlike every Hollywood disaster movie, everyone was coming out to help clean up, donate food and clothes and help to raise funds for the people affected by the flood.
The whole city worked together as a team, volunteering their precious time and even taking in families who lost their home to the rising water.
At the time, we were completely surrounded by disaster, the city felt so connected and part of a community. We knew if we worked together everything would be okay and everyone would be taken care of.
It was amazing!
There was a feeling of coming home, and compassion flowed through the city even stronger than the high waters of the Bow and Elbow Rivers.
This connection has been called many things throughout history,
Buddha Nature, OM and The Word. And let’s not forget The Force.
His Holiness The Dalai Lama describes it like this:
“Every sentient being, even insects, have Buddha nature. It is universal. It’s the space inside ourselves that connects us. The universal consciousness. The unconditional love. The place where we remove our separateness to return to the whole.”
In the Upanishads (a collection of sacred texts that inform Hinduism), this connectedness is described and labeled as the word OM. The Mandukya Upanishad, which is entirely devoted to OM, begins like this:
“OM is the imperishable word. OM is the universe, and this is the exposition of OM. The past, the present, and the future, all that was, all that is, all that will be is OM. Likewise, all else that may exist beyond the bounds of time, that too is OM.”
When we chant OM together it aligns us, and together we are aligning to everything else: the plants, the animals, the particles in the air, the universe.
In the Bible it is described in John 1:1.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
And Mark 4:19.
“…but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desire for other things come in and choke the Word, making it unfruitful.”
When we get trapped by the things of the world, we can no longer feel this connection.
Jesus was noted for saying “be in the world but not of the world” (Mark 4:19) and in the Gospel of Thomas (a ‘gnostic’ gospel that did not make the cut as the Bible was being compiled) it is written that, “…the kingdom (of God) is inside of you…” Gospel of Thomas 3.
We are all sleeping Buddhas.
To reach enlightenment, to see and feel our awe-inspiring connectedness, we must only awaken to who and what we truly are.
Remove the delusions we pick up from others and the ones we tell ourselves.
Turn away from wanting the impossible, and thus from the suffering that comes when we don’t get it.
Filter out everything that takes us away from compassion and community.
Be constantly connected to the truth, to things just as they are.
“To be one with what is,” says Ram Dass.
And that says it all.
Awareness is not some private, personal achievement, or a special gift that only the privileged or the “good” will receive.
Awareness is already there and always will be. We just have to turn the mind towards compassion, and away from separateness.
There are many different methods of training the mind and uncovering that awareness—one of them is bound to work for you.
And yes, for some of us, it might be buried pretty deep under a lot of worldly stuff that seems important.
But it’s there.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Lauryn DeGrado/Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Omar A./Flickr