Oneness Within Christianity and Eastern Religion.

(We are One. Speaking the Truth. Fostering Love.)

Spiritual realities are eternal, beyond time, wherever they are found. The Judeo-Christian Bible is firmly grounded within history, and the characters within scripture are generation upon generation moving toward a fuller understanding of these eternal realities. Grounded as they are in history, the eternal perspective is not often out in the open, and is usually only hinted at. Each generation seems caught in its own present truth and human experience, holding onto a surface level of spiritual understanding, often rejecting the new insights of those who would take them one step deeper.

One such truth is Oneness in the Universal Body of Christ.

Jesus says, "I and my Father are one", (John 10:30). He prays for believers, and also foreshadows the oneness and interconnectedness between God and enlightened humankind. He says, "This is eternal life... That they all may be one: as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us... that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one... that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them and I in them, (John 17:3, 21, 23,26).

The answer to this prayer for oneness and interconnectedness is later portrayed within the Pauline letters as fulfilled in the universal and cosmic body of Christ. The church, humankind, and all creation are reconciled together into the one spiritual body of Christ.

"Christ is all, and in all", (Colossian 3:11). There is only one universal and cosmic body: The body of Christ (Ephesians 1:10, 4:4). This is a philosophy of oneness. The dualism of previous generations begins to fade.

God is in Christ & Christ is in God. Christ is in us & We are in Christ. We are in all things & all things are in us. Through Jesus and His oneness with the Father we see in part the oneness and the interconnected universal harmony of all creation, which is from Him, through Him, and to Him. Everything is made perfect, completed, and complemented by everything else, members one of another, in the one body.

This is the heart of the prayer of Christ.  "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one... that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them and I in them",  (John 17: 23,26).

In the early church, this is a present reality. The Pauline desire is that people might be able to perceive the fulfillment of this prayer, and comprehend with all saints and "know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God," (Ephesians 3:19). You are completed in Christ as a bride with a husband. Through Christ you are filled with all the fullness of the godhead bodily. Christ is all and in all, that God may be all in all, (Colossians 3:11, 1 Corinthians 15:28)

God is all. Christ is all. We are all... One.
He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit, (1 Corinthians 6:17). 

The Christ is the light that lightens every man, (John 1:9).
However, perhaps because of limited insight, self-centeredness or a cultural emphasis on individuality, the universal scope of this oneness is often overlooked. The harmony of God with Jesus, and then the disciples was intended to point us to the greater realization of the oneness of all. This is hinted at in later writings.

God is in Christ and Christ is in everyone and everything, for Christ fills all things, (Ephesians 4:10). In this way it is realized that there is "One God and Father of all who is above all, and through all", (4:6). Not only is God and Christ in everything, but all things are gathered together in one in the Christ, (1:10, 4:10).

The mutual interconnectedness this implies is staggering. We are not independent. There is one spiritual body that includes all humanity, (Ephesians 2:15). For as "we have many members in one body... so we being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another", (Romans 12:4-5). We are members one of another: I am in you, and you are in me, and we are one in Christ. What we do to another, we do to Christ, and to ourselves.

Everything is in Christ. This Christ is in everything. Everything and everyone is in everything and everyone else. Put simply, since everything is in Christ, and we have Christ in us, then we also have everything in us. Again, put in Pauline language, we are members one of another, and we have all things (1 Corinthians 3:21).  

This is the mature "body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all - for in that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete, and Who fills everything everywhere [with Himself]", (Ephesians 1:23 Amplified). The lines and distinctions between God, Christ, the Church, and All Things blur and fade away. God is all, in all. When this is realized the lines blur, dualities fade, and all becomes One. 

Though I have a Christian background, and have made most of my spiritual discovery through the Bible, the study of world religions is a personal interest of mine. Insights perceived by those outside our own traditions are very often valid. Christ is the light that enlightens every person everywhere. Many spiritual realities hidden deep and often unseen within the Christian scriptures are often discussed openly, plain for all to see within other religions, and other cultures. For this reason, rather than restricting study only to the Bible, it is often easier to present and then apprehend some insights using the language of other traditions.  Truth is truth whatever the language. 

The idea of oneness found within the Christian Scripture is also expressed within Hinduism, Buddhism, and other faiths, but often much more succinctly.  Within the Hindu and Buddhist traditions much thought has been given to the concepts of oneness, interconnectedness, and the various means that people become aware of these realities.

In the Hindu faith two vital ideas are Atman and Brahman.

Brahman is the universal cosmic mystical force. It is the divine everything, the spiritual essence of the universe. Atman is the divine spark in everyone. It is the spiritual essence in all human beings. 

Enlightenment is the realization that the Atman is the Brahman, and the Brahman is the Atman. They are one and the same. Understanding this oneness brings liberation (or Moksha).

Coming from a Christ centered perspective I see Christ in all things. When I read about the Hindu concept of the Atman I think about the Christ who lightens every person, (John 1:1,9). I can see the eternal Christ as the divine spark in everyone. When I read of the Hindu understanding of the Brahman I am reminded of the universal, cosmic and spiritual body of Christ, (Colossians 3:11, Ephesians 1:10). The Christ within, the eternal divine spark within all people, is one and the same Spirit as the cosmic universal Christ. As it is written, Christ is all, and in all. Christ is all there is. Realizing this is the essence of "enlightenment ”.

The Ephesian prayer was that the eyes of our understanding might be enlightened so that you might know, perceive and experientially understand that we are completed in Christ, (Colossians 2:10).  This was a present reality.  Enlightenment perceives the universal body that we were called into. We then recognize everything as the riches that are present in, and that we have in this corporate body. Then we come to know the exceeding greatness of the power of this reality, (Ephesians 1:17-19). The result of understanding the height, depth, breadth, and length of the love of God is that we realize that we are filled with all the absolute fullness of God, and that we are one spirit, one mind, one body, together able to do abundantly above all that we even dare ask, think, or imagine.

In Ephesians, we are already blessed with all spiritual blessings, (1:3). We are already one. What prevents people from seeing this present reality is "the vanity of the mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated... through ignorance... because of blindness,” (4:17-18).

In a similar way within Hinduism, what prevents the realization that the Atman (the divine spark within) is the Brahman (the everything of the universe) is illusion (or Maya). The goal is to see through this illusion. When we realize that all is one and everything is the same we start breaking down the illusion (the Maya). Until then everything we see, hear, and touch can contribute to this illusion of separateness and individuality.

In Ephesians, the way out of this darkness and sense of alienation and separation comes through Christ in a variety of ways. Enlightenment is a divine gift that comes by revelation (1:9,17), through proclamation (3:8-9, 4:11-13,15, 6:19-20), and through prayer (1:17-19, 3:14-20, 6:18). Sometimes, understanding comes while reading, listening, studying and meditating on the message, (3:3-4). 

In Hinduism this realization of oneness and interconnectedness is often discovered during the various practices of yoga. Various types of yoga provide various paths to perfect union with the divine. There are 4 common styles of yoga: meditation, study, work and love. There is a tolerant recognition in Hinduism that different sorts of people need and are most comfortable with different spiritual paths toward enlightenment. Individual circumstances and personality type will often determine the most suitable yoga to practice.

Yoga is a means within Hinduism to see through the alienation and illusion of separation. Yoga means "union" and is related to the English words to join and to yoke. The 4 most common types of yoga are listed below. 

1. Royal (or Raja) Yoga

Within Royal Yoga perfection is discovered while meditating on the supreme personality of the Godhead within one's heart. The ultimate goal of Royal Yoga is the super ultra conscious state of understanding that knows that Atman is the Brahman. This consciousness is called Samadi. 

2. Knowledge (or Jnana) Yoga

In Knowledge Yoga, study is for the pursuit of spiritual wisdom, not academic knowledge. When enough theoretical and experiential knowledge is combined with an intense longing for liberation then oneness is realized and the scriptural freedom is lived.

The ultimate goal of Knowledge Yoga is spiritual insight. Spiritual insight eliminates ignorance. Ignorance is the cause of Maya (or the illusion of being separate).

3. Action (or Karma) Yoga.

Karma Yoga is serving without expecting a return. This is selfless work and action. This is divine work. It is not the self doing the actions. It is the Atman (or the divine spark within), which is the Brahman (or the universal cosmic divine), which does the work.

Often those who practice Action Yoga or selfless action become completely absorbed in their work. They may lose track of all time and become released from self. 

4. Devotional (or Bhakti) Yoga

Devotional Yoga is the most common type of yoga, practiced by lower classes and the common people, and is characterized by love, devotion and relationship with the divine. This relationship is often expressed through prayer and giving.

Amongst Christians, and others enlightenment and flashes of insight often come during similar practices. I have been awakened and transformed by new insights while walking on a treadmill meditating on the nature of God (Royal Union), while studying the scriptures (Knowledge Union), in service to others while preparing for a presentation (Action Union), in private and group prayer and meditation, and while in the midst of community with outward expressions of love in worship (Devotional Union). Often these insights come with visions and mystical experience, but they are always life altering. When the insight comes, whether it is during meditation, or prayer, or study, or expressions of love... when the revelation of the Christ comes … we are changed.

In a similar way, the Buddhist notion of skillful means is the idea that enlightenment can come in a variety of ways.  Mahayana Buddhism, for example, invites many philosophical and practical approaches toward enlightenment and the discovery of cosmic unity. Some people need to hear a message, others need the connection of a community, and others still need only silence and emptiness, while some focus on the divine nature to see the deeper reality. For Zen Buddhists enlightenment comes as a flash of insight and the sudden realization that nothing is separate from oneself. There is the Buddha (or Christ) nature within and also the Cosmic Buddha. Everything is a part of everything else, and all people and things exist together. I have even heard of some coming to this realization from the study of physics, chemistry, and science.

For me, I look to the Christ, but since Christ is all there is, there is truth everywhere I look. I am glad to see the graciousness of God in revealing these realities to people everywhere.

Indeed, we all are able to see beyond a limited human cultural viewpoint, the eyes of our understanding being enlightened to the eternal or divine perspective. We all have the mind of Christ.

Whatever the language, Christ is all and in all. The cosmic Christ is the Christ within. Whether Christian, Buddhist, Hindu or not each moment is and can be an experience of completeness. With enlightened eyes we behold with wisdom and compassion, the completed and ultimate unity. We are all interconnected and one.

God is all, Christ is all, and We are all… One. 

Celebrating our Oneness,
In Christ, URfriend,
Dean Johnson 

Christ is all, and in all, that God may be all in all.

 


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