In recent years many practitioners of spiritual practices, including the system of Reiki, can be found discussing Oneness. But does this talk really express Oneness or has it gradually become a simplified concept; a new fad?
Let’s take a closer look at traditional understandings of Oneness and how this relates to modern interpretations.
It is said that Oneness is not easy to understand and can take years and years of practice. It is described as a direct experience of reality as it is, or, the uncovering of your own true nature. This state of Oneness is no different to the state of mind called non-duality.
Different names were given to this space of Oneness depending on the country or spiritual group that a practitioner belonged to. Below are just a couple of examples.
- In Taoism you would have discovered the Tao and realized that the universe is you and you are the universe. Those who did were called the Immortals.
- In Buddhism the space is known as emptiness or Buddhahood and in knowing this you you would be a living Buddha.
- In Shinto (a Japanese folk religion) you would discover that you are a kami.
“‘Living kami’ are people who are believed to have become One with the kami as a result of strenuous religious training, and are therefore venerated as kami themselves.”
The Mountain of the Mandala: Shugendo and Folk Religion by Miyake Hitoshi.
- In Shugendo (a Japanese esoteric practice) you would realize that you are no different from the cosmic Buddha, Dainichi Nyorai.
- And in western alchemy you would discover that the philosopher’s stone was not an elixir or external object, rather that you are the philosopher’s stone.
By reflecting on these ancient traditions and their understandings of the state of Oneness, what is known is that the process involved a lot of practice, patience and perseverance. And that only after many years of practice and guidance from a teacher could this space of Oneness be fully realized.
Guidance from the teacher is a very important aspect of this process. The teacher, who hopefully has a deep understanding of Oneness, guides the student in remaining on the right path. It is the teacher who helps the student not to stray or begin creating false realities in his or her mind. Without the guidance students might mistake their experiences. If this occurs then students gain an incorrect understanding of Oneness and of their practice.
In modern spiritual practices, including the system of Reiki, people have been known to talk about Oneness as if it is easily accessed. This experience of Oneness during a meditation, a Reiki treatment or an attunement/reiju may be the reason for this belief, and yet this feeling of Oneness is not really Oneness; it is only a very, very small aspect of Oneness.
Let’s take a look at an example… the sensation that one might have of being in the space of Oneness throughout a course. This may occur through the experience of the group energy but ultimately is short lived and is, again, a small aspect of the Oneness space.
The difficulty in discussing the concept of Oneness is that even by stating that one is in the space infers that there is separation; there is the person and the Oneness space. In a true state of Oneness there is no discussion of “me and it”. In Taoism they say that the Tao that can be named is not the Tao!
Then there are advertised meditations that claim to take you straight into the Oneness space right there and then. These meditations might be able to provide you with one small aspect of Oneness but if it was so easy to access Oneness why are there so many wars, why are we still eating meat, and why are we still ripping up the earth?
Oneness is ultimately interlinked with compassion. We cannot be truly compassionate without the state of mind of Oneness. Again, we might ask… why are we killing people and why are children starving to death? If Oneness is so easy to obtain then our way of life would have changed long ago.
If there are paths to Oneness why can’t we access it straight away?
One of the main reasons is that the human form cannot know Oneness in one foul swoop; it would be too overwhelming for the practitioner.
In fact, jumping straight into Oneness would be impossible, and might end you up in deep trouble!
What if you suddenly find that you cannot feel your physical body anymore? That you can hear every single sound around you – even incense falling from an incense stick? What if you look at your partner and you see his or her past, true present and future?
If you were not prepared for these experiences how would you react? Think about this before making statements that you are One with everything.
So, to prepare ourselves for experiencing true Oneness and not just one small element of it we need to practice for a long period to bring about adjustment and strength, creating a solid base. Within the system of Reiki this is accomplished with the 5 elements of the system of Reiki.
There are many paths into Oneness and the system of Reiki is just one of these paths. If we were to say that our Oneness is different from another person’s Oneness then we would be missing the point of Oneness. As Oneness is non-duality, how can there be a difference!?
On asking a Qi Gong Master how long it would take to reach this state of Oneness within his teachings, he said it would probably take somewhere between 6 and 12 years solid practice. Not just once a week, and not just doing something every morning, but a solid step by step Qi Gong practice where you slowly work toward Oneness. Then he was asked if any of the westerners he had been teaching for about 15 years were in this space. He just smiled, stating that his students’ main interests in Qi Gong were for stress relief and that they found it very difficult to practice one technique for such a long period.
On one of our recent trips to the USA we visited Anyen Rinpoche, a Buddhist teacher, who had this to say about Oneness in his book, Union of Dzochen and Bodhichitta;
Many of the more subtle ideas of Buddhist thought, whose understanding requires deep explanations and years of contemplative experience, have been reduced to sound bites and images: simple ideas that are easy to digest and seem easy to realize if we could just remember them. These packaged ideas appear to be spiritual in nature but have lost the essential meaning conveyed by the teachings as a whole. One example of this is the commonly spoken idea that “everything is one”. This idea has its basis in the nature of “suchness,” or reality “as it is”, which is quite a profound state of realization.
Another wonderful Buddhist teacher said that it is very easy to check if you are in that state of oneness, especially for people who keep making statements that they are in that oneness state of mind. He offers a simple technique to check if you are in that state of mind. Buy a candle, lit it, stick your hand over it, if you are getting burned you are definitely not in that state of mind of oneness. Because if we are really one with the candle flame the flame will not harm us. Fire does not harm fire.
This test can be done too if you keep claiming to yourself that you are in that state of “Being Reiki.” This is why it is so important to stay honest within our practice.
So keep practicing the system you work with, and keep asking your teacher for guidance to ensure that you remain on the right path toward the state of Oneness.
Bronwen and Frans Stiene are the co-founders of the International House of Reiki and co-authors of The Reiki Sourcebook, The Japanese Art of Reiki, Your Reiki Treatment, The A-Z of Reiki Pocketbook and the Reiki Techniques Card Deck. Bronwen and Frans teach in the USA, Europe and Australia. Visit the Courses page to find a course near you.