Oneness. What is it? And how can you achieve the state Buddhists call “Being one with the universe”? The good news is that there is a path to achieving oneness. And I’d like to share it with you.
But first of all, congratulations. Yes, congratulations. Because you are in the top 1% of people.
99% of people will never achieve oneness. And most will never even consider the idea that you, me, and this entire universe could be one.
The reason most people do not consider oneness possible is because of the mind.
The mind often tricks you. And the absolute number one way in which your mind tricks you is this. It makes you think you are separate to everything else.
Your mind created an idea of your self as a separate personality, a person who is clearly and resolutely not one with the universe. Because, well, you are you and the universe is the universe.
So yeah, your mind creates delusions, like a magician creates illusions. Just like Houdini.
Your mind has conjured one of the most amazing illusions of all time: the illusion of you. And if you so firmly believe in yourself as a person separate from reality then, well, you will never be one with the universe. Because it’s one or the other. Either you’re one or you’re… two?
So does oneness exist or not? Actually, you might be surprised
While spiritualists believe that the self is the illusion, scientists aren’t clear whether the self is the illusion or whether the state of oneness is.
Which is real? Are we one with everything, or are we a separate individual?
Ultimately, both the state of oneness–the state of being one with the universe– and the state of individuality (the self) are both created by your brain.
Both the sense of self and the sense of oneness are in fact delusions.
Scientists at New York University studied the affect of meditation on the brain using fMRIs (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and amazingly, the results of the tests show that that the brain creates both the sense of the self and the sense of oneness.
Both your idea of your self and your idea of oneness are created by your brain’s “default network”.
The default network is a part of the brain which controls self-reflective thoughts—the part that creates the thoughts that tell us who and what we are, as well as other self-focused thoughts.
The extrinsic part of the brain is the part which is activated when we perform everyday activities, like making a cup of tea, or sports, like playing tennis.
Buddhist monks (and other advanced meditators) are able to activate both of these neural networks at the same time, which scientists believe causes the sense of oneness.
It was two thousand five hundred years ago that Budda discovered how to be one with the universe, by using mediation. He achieved enlightenment (and you can too) and found complete oneness. And because of Buddha, Buddhists believe that they genuinely are one with the universe. Science, however, suggests that oneness is a state of mind created by altering the way the brain functions.
So who is correct? The spiritualists or the scientists?
It doesn’t matter.
In many ways, whether we are or are not one with external reality is not what is important (and besides, there is no way to ever know… but that’s a subject for a different article). What matters is the fact that our brain functioning creates our perception both of oneness (non-duality) and duality.
When we are bored or under-stimulated, we experience the opposite of what Buddhist monks experience: we become self-centred, cut off from the world, overly concerned with our thoughts… Anxiety, depression and stress are the complete opposite of oneness.
So, when the Buddha famously said “Enlightenment is the end of all suffering” it seems he was spot on.
The three facts that truly matter
- Duality, our sense of our selves as separate to the outside world, causes suffering.
- Non-duality and oneness, on the other hand, are the keys to happiness and serenity.
- And both of oneness and duality are delusions of the mind. They are states the mind switched between.
So based on the above, would you want to achieve oneness or not?
To Become One With The Universe Right Now
1. Just take a few breaths and focus on your breathing
Go ahead and take a few mindful breaths (take a look at this guide to breathing meditation if you have not done this before).
When you practice mindful breathing you will experience moments in which you are nothing but pure energy, moments in which you achieve oneness with the universe.
Those moments won’t have lasted long,though. They won’t have last long before your sense of “I”, your sense of yourself, returned to you. The mind clings on to the idea of self, and so it is hard to remain one with the universe for very long.
Take another twenty breaths in through your nose and try to focus your mind again.
You will notice that at times it’s almost as though you become the breath, but then your sense of yourself returns. You’ll likely notice too that when your sense of self returns, your connection to the outside world is severed. In other words, you are divided between the “I” and the “Them,”—between yourself and the rest of the world.
That, in a nutshell, is the curse of the self. It prevents you from being one with the world. It demands that there be an I and a THEM.
Now, your ego might be getting slightly irked about the idea that you are one with the universe.
You see, it is your ego that stops you from achieving oneness. Your ego wants you to be unique. Because if you are one with the universe… well, what are you? Nothing? The universe? What happens to your ego?
2. Practice Bhakti Meditation
If you would like to know what it feels like, right now, to be one with the universe, just practice Bhakti meditation for the next ten minutes. Seriously. You will achieve oneness.
But it is difficult to be one with the universe for an extended period of time because your mind is so damn determined to make you feel like you are unique. Your mind will actively make you return you square one. And square one is you. In other words, your mind will constantly make you think about yourself.
So how do you stop thinking about yourself?
3. Achieve lasting oneness
Thanks for reading.
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