This new article is no exception. Here he talks about the idea from the oft-criticized perennial philosophy on the one and the many - that we are all manifestations of the One true spirit, however you choose to define that idea.
Read the whole column.
The one and the manyby Kurt Barstow, LA Religion & Spirituality ExaminerSpirituality is nothing like I ever thought it would be when I was younger... well, even three years ago. Having taken a class in Zen Buddhism in college and for much of my professional life working on Western devotional material from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries, I had a notion that Enlightenment was something that happened in distant lands and sanctity was something that was relegated to the past. I thought we lived in a thoroughly modern or post-modern world that essentially had nothing to do with such charming relics of days gone by or foreign esoterica and the fact that I was concentrated more on work than what was actually going on in the world spiritually served to reinforce that idea. I had no idea, for example, that there was a synthesis of the world's wisdom traditions that had been going on and would be popularized on the Internet and in movies. I didn't make the connection between the state of the planet and the imperatives of contemporary spirituality. I didn't realize that so many current day saints and awakened people were in our midst and available to the public. And I had no idea that the basic technologies of awakening and the information to provoke a shift in consciousness were being made available to and were interested in by so many.
Indra's Web with Erato and Poets
Re-watching An Inconvenient Truth and One: The Movie last night reminded me of how dramatic has been my own shift in consciousness. I certainly never, up until about three years ago, had the sense of Gaia as a unified system or of Unity Consciousness wherein we experience ourselves not as separate beings but as one with the Kosmos. The popularity of Eckhart Tolle and The Integral Institute, whatever their differences might be, are further signs of this new moment. My most intense experience of Oneness came at a meditation seminar given by Jack Kornfield at The Skirball Center that was geared primarily toward therapists and other health care providers. In one exercise we had a guded meditation in which we had to look directly into the eyes of the person (often a stranger) sitting next to us for about twenty minutes as Kornfield spoke about us all being part of the Great Web of Life. We imagined the person next to us as a child, as someone with hopes, desires, fears, relationships, unspoken dreams and pains that we will never know but that are exactly like our own. We imagined them, with the idea that reincarnation is true, as someone who could have been our mother, our father, our sister, our brother, our child in a previous lifetime. To look directly and steadfastly into someone else's eyes--the gateway to the soul--while imagining these things is to experience that sense of Oneness very directly and intimately. In the end, it was like God looking at God looking at God. There result of this exercise was both a great appreciation for the diversity of creation and the absolute conviction that there was no separation between people, that we were all the same beholder. People wept openly.
I don't want to sound too starry-eyed, but how amazing, how extraordinary that we are these two things at once: a private, separate unique individual unlike any other and a being that is exactly the same as all others. Although this has been known for a very long time, for me it was a new principle both for the boundless appreciation of difference and for a radical, complete conception of equality. The great Indian metaphor for this is Indra's Net, in which there is at every point of connection a jewel that reflects all the other jewels. This reflection is reveaing of our complete interdependence. But what is this thing that makes us all one despite our seemingly separate self existences? It is rather more than just a system that connects us because, in one sense, literally, we are one. That sense resides in the part of us that is divine and is the same in each and every one, the loving and impartial observer of our lives, the witness of our thoughts, feelings, and sensations. That part of us that is God or absolute spirit.In his great anthology The Perennial Philosophy of 1944, Aldous Huxley cites a number of sources from the various wisdom traditions that make this point. In his first chapter, That art Thou, which we might consider Perennial Philosophy 101, he cites Plotinus, the 3rd-century Greek philosopher, who says, "Each being contains in itself the whole intelligible world. Therefore All is everywhere." Shankara, the 9th-century Hindu philosopher, says, "Caste, creed, family, and lineage do not exist in Brahman. Brahman has neither name nor form, transcends merit and demerit, is beyond time, space and the objects of sense-experience. Such is Brahman and thou art that. Meditate upon this truth within your consciousness."
Another rendition of Indra's Web