Upon waking in the morning and turning on the news, you’re immediately filled with stories of injustice, prejudice, violent protests, cruelty, greed, ignorance, and the like. Feelings of anger, sadness and perhaps even a desire for revenge bubble up inside of you. You wonder what’s going on in the world — how we came to this point where so many people look more at our differences, instead of seeing our similarities and then striving to somehow be a part of the solution. With a strong sense of fear and anger circulating — as we regularly see in the news — it seems that in response to it, there is often more of the same.
Mahatma Gandhi is frequently quoted as saying, “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” When I first heard this quote, I was struck by the visual. It is this idea that in choosing to punish another (or even just harbor hate or ill-will or spread a negative message in response to another’s actions) — even if just in your imagination — we are all harmed to some degree in the process. We end up spreading suffering and perpetuating more conflict even if we don’t realize it.
It is this cycle of unconscious living that has blinded many from seeing their true capacity to bring harmony in the midst of negativity and go from separateness to oneness. I believe one person can change the world — not because they have the supreme authority to do so, but because you, and each person on Earth, contribute to making the world what it is and what it can be. The intention behind this quote — “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” — brings up a good question, “How can we begin to ‘see’ again?” How can we begin to see our individual capacity to live and be what we also desire to see around us? To know that at the core of who we are, we have the divine potential to bring about a profound sense of peace within ourselves and also peace within our neighborhoods and world.
Preparing the path from separateness to oneness
In the pursuit to go from separateness to oneness, there needs to be the desire to live in the solutions (not dwell in the problems). While we may not be able to personally stop the acts of injustice that we see happening in the news, we have the choice not to engage in or feed further negativity by our thoughts, actions and words. When the focus is always on the problem — on what’s not going right —there is no clear path to a solution.
A first step toward oneness, that is recognized and taught in both Eastern and Western philosophies, is utilizing our capacity to bring increased awareness and mindfulness into each moment. If every person were to take more moments with this intention, imagine the difference one day like this can make. Rather than experiencing hostility, unease and separateness, you would instead experience hope, harmony and oneness. If we take note from the paradoxical way of thinking that Buddhism teaches, for example, we are reminded that where there is “bad”, there is “good”. And that it is the responsibility of each to choose which end of the spectrum we want to live from. Although you may know that the better choice is to live and practice “good”, it can be challenging, but the effort is well worth it.
One simple act of kindness during your day, for example, can make a huge difference. It may not solve the problems of the world, but it can brighten one person’s day who likely needs a little more light. They, then, are uplifted to share good with others. In Matthew 5:16, we’re reminded that we are the light of the world and to let our light shine before others. That when we do so, others can see the good that we do, and as a result be led to honor God and reflect this good as well in their own life.
In Christian tradition, increased awareness and mindfulness can mean bringing your focus to your capacity to be a change-maker through the guidance and grace of God — to be mindful in practicing the Word, and the truths and virtues taught by Christ. Examples of this are: to love your neighbor as yourself; to trust the Lord your God and lean not on your own understanding; to take His (Christ’s) yoke upon you when you are weary and burdened and He will give you rest.
In the practice of being mindful, present and more deeply aware, you come into greater realization of your own divine abilities to be of good in the world — to be an embodiment of the harmony, balance and heaven that exists when you allow the Spirit to guide your life. You become an embodiment of the divine qualities found within the practice and the same qualities that were intended for you to live by upon the creation of your soul.
The answer: seeding your path with compassion brings Oneness
We each walk a path in life in pursuit of purpose, meaning and happiness. Some are more skillful than others in the ways in which they walk their path. Some walk along disrupting the nature that surrounds them (whether intentionally or unintentionally), others walk along carefully caring for every creation that crosses their path, and most of us are somewhere in between. It’s my belief that whatever path we may be on in life, if along the way we plant a seed of compassion and shine our light upon it, we can create a beautiful way to go from separateness to oneness. What blooms from these seeds of compassion is a flowering of hope in others who cross our path — that they may be awakened and empowered to also plant their own seeds of compassion. With compassion also comes understanding and peace.
You may not always understand the exact reason why someone does something that hurts you or another. But through compassion, we can see that at the core of all negative action is a human who is deeply suffering. To show compassion toward another — whether in thought or action —means to understand his or her suffering. You can see their unskillfulness at handling their suffering. This does not mean that we allow injustice to go unnoticed, but it means that we see the injustice differently.
It might be unrealistic to believe that everyone will choose to live with more compassion, understanding and acceptance of one another, but what if each day you decided to plant some seeds of compassion, and I too planted some seeds, and in doing so, we inspire and empower others to sow their own path in the same way. Soon, each one person would have a path flourished with beauty and light. Enough paths like this would make for a more beautiful world. Perhaps we each really do have the power to heal each other, to us all “see” again our part in making the world what we want it to be. Only then can we go from separateness to oneness.
The purpose of all struggles is to understand the necessity for sharing and loving, and the truth that all are interrelated within a shared reality of oneness. – Lisa Hromada