Oneness: Concept or Reality?

Sundar Kadayam - USA Articles, English 4 Comments


We encounter the term “Oneness” in our traditional practice of Reiki. Like with all spiritual traditions, paths and teachings, in the system of Reiki also we encounter this idea of “Oneness”. 

The third symbol in the system of Reiki, taught typically to practitioners at the Level 2 or Okuden teachings, is Hon Sha Zay Sho Nen (HSZSN). When I learned Western Reiki in the first four years as a Reiki practitioner, I was taught that HSZSN was the “distance healing symbol”. i.e. As a practitioner, I would invoke the symbol by drawing it, visualizing or saying the name of the symbol three times, and then proceed to provide “distance healing”. As a prop, I might use the photo of the person needing that healing at a distance, or I might use a teddy bear as a proxy for that person, and then effectively do hands-on healing on that photo or teddy bear. And I would use language such as “I’ll send Reiki to you at 8pm tonight”, in my communication with this person needing healing.

Despite the fact that healing did occur with regularity in persons receiving such healing at a distance, this brought up a lot of rational questions. If Reiki was “universal life force energy” as I was taught by my esteemed Western Reiki teachers, then it (the Reiki) must be there with that person thousands of miles away, just as it must be here with me – that is, after all, the meaning of ‘universal’, something that is present everywhere. If Reiki was this universal energy, then what was I “sending”? How can I “send Reiki” from “here” to “there”, when it is effectively there in both places?

In the course of re-learning Reiki, in its traditional form, from Frans Stiene since 2007 (and yes, I re-sit Frans’ Shinpiden classes, and his retreats every single year, and effectively trying to go deeper in my understanding of the system of Reiki), it became evident that HSZSN represented the energy of “Oneness”.

Though I had exposure to the concept of “Oneness’ through other spiritual teachings from Indian traditions, I found it interesting that “Oneness” was also baked into the system of Reiki by Usui san – a very very clear giveaway for me, that the system of Reiki was a path to discovering your True Self.

Of course, I replaced the “concept” of “distance healing” with the “concept” of “Oneness”. Such is the way my mind works, wanting a clean, conceptual framework for understanding of all experiences. I had “experiences” of “distance healing” for sure. But “Oneness” was this higher level concept, that was pretty fuzzy. My mind would imagine, quite vividly sometimes, that I would merge with my mind and body in tact, with Sue, or Dave, or Meera, the “other person” I was supposed to provide healing for, in effect, imagining that “Oneness”. And then I’d extend this vivid imagination of how “I”, this mind and body, and the tree over there, or the bird flying over there, would be One.

This play continued for years till 2014, as this mental conception of “Oneness” and the mind’s imagination of “Oneness” is all I really knew about “Oneness”. I had to be true to my way and my being and I had to be diligent in my practice – that is what Usui san suggests in his precepts. Truth was that I was allowing myself to remain fooled in the conceptual understanding of “Oneness” and the fabricated experiences of “Oneness” from the imagination of the mind.

Then in a Shinpiden class with Frans Stiene in 2014, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I had an experience. Frans was in the center, and the students were standing around him, in an exercise to facilitate “connection” with him without touch. As the exercise proceeded, there came a point, when in my honest, unfiltered, pre-judgmental experience, “Frans” the body-mind disappeared. My eyes were closed for sure. I did feel the presence of Frans and the others energetically, and then at this instant, “Frans” completely disappeared. I remember totally flipping out after that exercise, and I remember how it took me a long time to accept what I had experienced. I wasn’t the only student to experience it, I found out, as another long time practitioner friend of mine, Joan, also experienced the very same thing at the very same time.

Later on, much later on, I came to recognize this experience of Frans disappearing, as a visceral experience of Oneness. For in that moment, prior to the judgment and the shock, there wasn’t a “I” either. There was just the experience, and the experiencing alone.

Fast forward to almost present time, July 2015. I am now teaching my 2nd yearlong program of Support Your Spiritual Journey With Reiki. I have 8 students in this program, and we meet every other Wednesday. In our journey in this program, we are now covering HSZSN. Compared to the first time I taught for a year (shared in a series of articles on IHReiki Blog 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), my own practice has gone deeper with Frans’ help. And I find that my teaching approach is leaning heavily towards direct experience, rather than adding concepts to the students’ heads.

In any case, in the last session, something profound occurred, which I shared with Frans after the session was over.

One of the students was having severe lower back pain from an injury. We put him in the center seated in a chair. I asked the others to stand around him in a circle. I asked the student in the center to relax and reach into the stillness in their heart center and notice that this stillness emerges from deep inside them, and remain in and as that stillness. In turn, I asked the students in the circle to relax, move their attention to their heart center, and remain in and as that stillness. I chanted HSZSN for a few minutes from that same stillness, and then asked the students in the circle to follow the chanting after a while. Five minutes or so later, I asked them to remain as that stillness. The results were dramatic. The student in the middle had deep healing in a short time. The students in the circle were experiencing “oneness” in their own unique ways. One student mentioned that all they could experience was silence. Another said that their body boundaries could not be perceived. And common to all, they were saying that midway into this practice, “others” disappeared along with their own sense of their self or body. 

Only a year ago, I had a direct experience of “Oneness” in Frans’ Shinpiden class. And here, just a year later, in my own class, these students were experiencing this directly and quite easily! This is all dramatically more powerful and direct and experiential than it has ever been before. And it is gratifying that it is possible to assist students into their own direct experience of these ideas (like HSZSN for example) readily.

Specifically, in this practice of HSZSN, given their own experiences of what it is, it was easy to show them how so-called ‘distance healing’ can be triggered. They saw evidence of the healing, in real-time, in just 5-minutes. And they saw for themselves that they “did” nothing. They saw that their role as practitioners is to move into the stillness of the heart and remain as that stillness, and the one that they intended to offer healing for, automatically got what they needed. They saw that they got the big benefit of deepening their personal experience of reality, and the other person got healed rapidly in the process 

Frans, in his usual simple manner, said this: “Yes the deeper we go within ourselves the more we can facilitate this during a class and therefore the students can have a deeper direct experience. Thus as you say it all comes back to ourselves.” There’s more wisdom on this key idea, in this fantastic article from Frans, “Teaching Others Comes From Our Own Direct Experience”.

A few specific things I’d like to spotlight from this experience:

There is no substitute for practice. Especially if we aim to be diligent practitioners and/or teachers. As Frans says, “the deeper we go within ourselves the more we can facilitate this during a class”.

Healing doesn’t require DOing. This experience clearly demonstrated to students that no DOing was needed. What was needed was the practice of moving into stillness and abiding as stillness. Healing flowed rather rapidly in whatever way it was necessary for the recipient in the middle of the circle, with no DOing involved.

HSZSN is a practice of recognizing the inherent “Oneness” that underlies reality.

When we are in the experience of deep stillness, a state beyond objects and duality, to me, we are also simultaneously in the experience of “Oneness”, which is beyond the limits of space and time. And BEing in and as that “Oneness”, manifests whatever conditions needed in the one who is intended to receive the offering of healing, as that recipient is also the very same “Oneness” too!

“Oneness” can remain a concept and we can continue with the delusion that the mind will introduce with the clever and creative or even fanciful imaginations of “Oneness”. Or, we can choose to look for that direct experience of “Oneness” that bypasses concepts, and leads to an essentially undescribable, but vital and personal experience of the reality of “Oneness”.

As always, this is the experience of one practitioner. And as I always tell my students, “Do not believe a word of what I am saying, until it is your own personal experience.” 

Comments 4

  1. Avatar of Frans Stiene

    Hi Sundar,
    Wonderful article as always.
    This is why the direct experience is so important. We can talk till we are blue in the face but without sitting on our butt and practicing we will not have the direct experience of oneness.

  2. Avatar of Denyce Peyton

    Thank you Sundar! Direct experience is so effective in learning because we experience the BEing rather than trying to just conceptualize the DOing.

  3. Avatar of Seema

    Thank you Sundar for sharing your ” experience ” as well asserting importance of diligent practice.
    So true, with only practice and direct experience , we can know ” oneness” , otherwise it is just a word.
    Funny , how people talk about oneness yet , lable, judge , use protection , etc..
    In oneness , there is no difference..we are bare…
    Thank you

  4. Avatar of Sundar

    Frans, thanks.
    Denyce, you are right, and as Frans says, the way to the direct experience, which is the only thing that finally matters when dealing with concepts like Oneness, is through that personal practice.
    Seema, yes, it is a fact that even in the spiritual quest, we can be stuck with concepts on one side, and our drama on the other, and continue to “feel spiritual”.  This is nothing more than the mind / ego usurping the spiritual quest and keeping us stuck on the path.  So often Frans has reminded me that at the end of the day, what matters is to sit in and as Silence.  When one experiences more unfolding, it is often disappointing to hear from your teacher that there is not shortcut but to remain in and as Silence, but that is the cold, hard truth.  All else is further spinning of the web of illusion and nothing more.

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