Here’s the thing: spiritual Oneness is your birthright.
Deep down, you know this. I know this. We all know this. Something about it resonates deep within your bones.
“But isn’t Oneness something reserved for the spiritually advanced or elite?” we tend to protest. “Don’t I have to be worthy to earn it?”
Experiences of spiritual Oneness can come spontaneously or after years of vigorous spiritual practice. There doesn’t seem to be a consistent, objective pattern.
But the truth is that Oneness can be felt by anyone. There’s no secret or elite club here. No matter what age, gender, race, background, intellect, or level of spiritual development you have, Oneness is your destiny. In other words, not only do you have the right to experience it, but it is an integral part of your journey as a spiritual seeker. And ultimately, in the words of the wise sage Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, you are That.
In this article, I’m going to explain the best ways to directly feel and embody this sacred Original state of being – the essence of your True Nature.
Table of contents
- What is Oneness?
- Why is it So Hard to Experience Oneness?
- Is Oneness the Same as Enlightenment?
- Oneness and the Spiritual Awakening Journey
- How to Experience Oneness (5 Paths)
- 9 Inspiring Oneness Quotes
What is Oneness?
Oneness is an experience that transcends the mind. When we experience Oneness, we feel a connection with everything in existence on every level. In other words, we feel ‘at one’ with all things.
Another way to put it is that Oneness is the feeling of fullness, vastness, and completion – it is the experience of embodying our true nature, the Self that exists beyond our limited personalities (also known as our egos).
Other names for Oneness often include Non-Dual Awareness, Unity, Buddha-Nature, Christ-Consciousness, and Enlightenment.
Why is it So Hard to Experience Oneness?
Put simply, the reason why it’s so difficult and rare for us to experience Oneness and wholeness is that our minds won’t let us.
While our minds help us to plan, imagine, create, structure and logically understand life, they also simultaneously fragment existence. When life is broken down into thoughts, concepts, ideas, and beliefs, we cannot directly experience the Oneness of everything. Instead, we perceive life through a broken lens. Until we can take off those cracked glasses, we will continue to see ourselves as isolated and separate little entities who see the world in black and white.
The problem is that most of us have forgotten that we are wearing those cracked glasses. We live most of our lives believing that we are our thoughts and limited mental identities. We’re kind of like fish who have forgotten what the concept of water is. The only reality we have been conditioned to live in is the one dominated by the mind. We forget that we’re so much more than our thoughts and mental stories. We lose touch with our true nature.
Contrary to popular belief, Oneness is not a “special” experience – it’s actually the most natural and normal state of being possible. But from the perspective of the mind, it seems truly novel and exciting because it’s such a rarity!
Splitting & Inner Fragmentation
Because our minds dominate so much of our lives we also tend to feel internally fragmented. The nature of the mind is to seek understanding and safety. And to understand life and be safe, we must see some things as “good” and some things as “bad.” Splitting life into good/bad and right/wrong is a very natural process because it helps us to survive. If we didn’t have the capacity to split life into opposites, we wouldn’t be able to understand that stepping in front of oncoming traffic is fatal (or “bad”) and letting our children play with knives is dangerous (“bad”).
But at the same time, splitting life into polarities also creates tremendous suffering in us. Why? Because we grow up learning that some parts of us are “good” while other parts of us are “bad.” We then attach to the “good” parts of ourselves and repress or deny the “bad” parts of ourselves.
What happens when we start to perceive ourselves in a fragmented way? The answer is that we feel flawed, lacking, “not good enough,” and incomplete. We start to feel insecure, anxious, lonely, depressed, and in some extreme cases suicidal. Our essence has been diluted. We feel fake and inauthentic. Emptiness haunts us. We greatly crave to love and embrace ourselves, but how can we fully accept who we are when we hate some parts of ourselves and love other parts?
This is why spiritual integration is so important. Integration is the opposite of fragmentation. When we integrate, we unite different parts of ourselves that may have been missing for years or decades. When we seek integration, we are seeking Oneness and wholeness. We’ll explore the subject of integration more a little later.
Ultimately, Oneness and wholeness seem so alien to us because we perceive our inner and external worlds through the fragmented lens of the mind. And by the way … the whole concept of an inner and outer world is itself a division created by the mind! Do you see how deeply embedded into our realities the mind and its concepts are?
Is Oneness the Same as Enlightenment?
Like Oneness, the term ‘enlightenment’ is also thrown around a lot on the spiritual path. But are they the same thing? Yes. In my perspective, they are the same thing. However, I don’t like using the phrase enlightenment because it’s such a loaded word.
Oneness to me feels more embodied. I personally resonate way more with this term than enlightenment which seems very cerebral and overly focused on the “light” aspect of existence, which itself is one-sided. In my experience, the point of our existence as humans is about embracing both our humanity AND divinity – not just focusing on the “love and light” aspects of spirituality which bypass anything too raw and real.
The spiritual journey is not just about ascending. We also need to descend. We need to dive into the dark waters of our minds and do some soul-searching. We need to get comfortable with the blood, dirt, and grit of being human. To avoid our wild side is to avoid, deny, and disown a major and essential aspect of us: our divine and messy humanity. As such, wherever possible I try to avoid the phrase ‘enlightenment’ as it seems too lopsided. Oneness (or ‘wholeness’) feels more holistic and realistic – these terms feel truer. But ultimately, no words can truly describe the experience that is being pointed to here. That, to me, is the most essential thing to remember.
Oneness and the Spiritual Awakening Journey
For most spiritual seekers, Oneness is the motivating drive to go on the inner journey. We may have experienced a moment of utter freedom and union with all of Life. Or perhaps there’s a painful longing to ‘return home’ (i.e., to the state of Oneness). But whatever the case, Oneness is at the very core of the spiritual awakening journey.
Like a mandala, our journey takes us around the axis with the hopes that one day, by Divine Grace, we will unite with the center of it – the center representing spiritual self-realization or Oneness.
How to Experience Oneness (5 Paths)
I want to be realistic and clear with you here: the tools and practices I’ll be recommending aren’t an “instant bliss” pill. I would caution you to be careful of anyone who tries to sell you “enlightenment-in-5-easy-steps” because there’s no such thing. Oneness isn’t like instant noodles. I’m not going to churn out some Buzzfeed, clickbait advice because that would dishonor how truly deep the path of Oneness is. Countless people have spent their entire lives on this path.
So with the utmost respect for the true commitment and sincerity needed for this path, I offer you five helpful paths. There are countless practices out there, but I have included only those that I have personally experienced and found helpful. So I encourage you to both pay attention to and also look beyond the scope of the tools presented here.
1. Meditation and mindfulness
Yes, this might seem cliche, but just because meditation and mindfulness have entered the mainstream market it doesn’t mean that they lack true value.
Certainly, the approach many modern teachers have towards meditation is secularized and watered-down. But there are many ancient techniques – such as Vipassana (thought awareness) and Anapanasati (breathing awareness) meditation – which help you to gain direct insight into the nature of your mind.
Mindfulness is another simple way of gaining access to the experience of Oneness. Mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment. Ironically, mindFULLness is less about the mind and more about sharpening your awareness and ability to live in the present moment. More accurately, it can be thought of mindLESSness (without the negative connotations). Many glimpses of peace and inner wholeness can be experienced through these two popular practices.
2. Solitary nature immersion
Spending time alone surrounded by nature is another beautiful way of accessing a state of wholeness and Oneness. Training yourself to simply observe nature as a passive form of meditation is nourishing to the soul and can fill you with a sense of inner peace. I have found myself so soothed by the presence of trees and birds around me that I have temporarily become One with everything around me. Nature immersion is a powerful practice for many mental and physical ailments, so it is worth experimenting with.
3. Mind-altering plant medicine
Powerful and life-changing moments of Oneness are common to experience while taking various forms of plant medicine. If you’re interested in exploring this path, I recommend seeking out a genuine shaman or spiritual guide who can support you through such experiences as they can often be intense and overwhelming. (On that note, it’s best to keep away from any type of plant medicine if you have a severe mental illness.)
Examples of plant medicine include ayahuasca, San Pedro, psilocybin mushrooms, peyote, DMT, and marijuana. How do these plants help us experience moments or periods of Oneness? The answer is that they temporarily remove, alter, or distort the fragmented lens of the mind. Once the veil of our limited perception has been removed, there is space for us to experience a more whole and integrated version of reality.
I can frankly say that plant medicine has changed my life. I have had some intense and paradigm-shifting experiences of ego death and merging with all of existence. Skeptics suggest that such experiences are meaningless hallucinations, but these profound glimpses into the Ultimate Reality have been validated by my own sober everyday experience. The only thing I can say is that you must experience it to believe it. If you haven’t tried plant medicine yet, I recommend doing some thorough research and giving it a try.
4. Inner work that focuses on integration
There are many forms of inner work, but not all of them focus on exploring, accepting, and integrating the repressed and rejected parts of you. While this path can be slow, it is – in my perspective and experience – the deepest work you can do. There are no quick fixes here. To have more than a fleeting glimpse of Oneness, you must make the unconscious conscious. As luminary Carl Jung once said:
Wholeness is not achieved by cutting off a portion of one’s being, but by integration of the contraries.
We must seek to reunite with the lost parts of ourselves and develop psychological balance. Only then can we experience authentic spiritual Oneness. Examples of integration-centered inner work include shadow work and inner child work.
5. REAL Self-love, compassion, and acceptance
Love is the most expansive feeling and reality there is. When we truly and genuinely love someone or something from the depths of our being, all barriers are torn down. All mental constructs are obliterated. All division disintegrates. All that remains is openness, expansiveness, and yes, the experience of Oneness.
As humans having a spiritual experience we have a complex relationship with ourselves that is often defined by extreme highs and lows. Sometimes we think we’re the cat’s pajamas, and other times we feel like a pile of turd. But if we can manage to embrace both the highs and lows and truly understand the nature of our minds, we can experience real self-love, and learn how to love ourselves more.
When we can embrace both our humanity and divinity, we can experience self-compassion and self-acceptance. These qualities and practices are essential on the spiritual path. Without learning to love ourselves in all our weirdness and sacred wildness, it’s impossible to fully open to the experience of wholeness and Oneness.
9 Inspiring Oneness Quotes
To end this article, I’ll leave you with a few other perspectives on Oneness spoken by ancient and modern poets, sages, mystics, and religious scriptures:
For those who are awake the cosmos is one. — Heraclitus
See the One — know the One
and affirm that it is One
Whether at the beginning or at the end,
all of this is only one single thing
Alas the eye of man sees double.
— Attar from The Book of Secrets
Oneness is not a metaphysical idea but something so simple and ordinary. It is in every breath, in the wing-beat of every butterfly, in every piece of garbage left in the city streets. This oneness is life, life no longer experienced solely through the fragmented vision of the ego, but known within the heart, felt in the soul. This oneness is the heartbeat of life. It is creation’s recognition of its Creator. In this oneness life celebrates itself and its divine origin.
— Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive. — Albert Einstein
How can the divine Oneness be seen?
In beautiful forms, breathtaking wonders,
The Tao is not obliged to present itself
in this way.
If you are willing to be lived by it, you will
see it everywhere, even in the most
ordinary things. — Lao Tzu
How wonderful that a single Essence should
Refract itself like light, a single source
Into a million essences and hues.
— Shâh Ne’matollâh from The Drunken Universe
When you make the two one and
When you make the inner as the outer and the above
As below, and when
You make the male and the female into a single one
Then you shall enter the kingdom.
— The Gospel of Thomas
In the beginning was only Being,
One without a second.
Out of himself he brought forth the cosmos
And entered into everything in it.
There is nothing that does not come from him.
Of everything he is the innermost Self.
He is the truth; he is the Self supreme.
You are that, Shvetaketu; you are that.
Merge in the sea and become one with it,
Forgetting they were ever separate streams,
So do all creatures lose their separateness
When they merge at last into pure Being.
There is nothing that does not come from him.
Of everything he is the innermost Self.
He is the truth; he is the Self supreme.
You are that, Shvetaketu; you are that!
– Chandogya Upanishad
A hundred things
a million or more
if you look to their reality
— Fakhruddin Iraqi
What is your experience with Oneness?
Can you recommend any other practices or paths that have worked for you? I’d love to read your thoughts, feelings, and discoveries in the comments.
I hope this article has helped to give you more clarity surrounding Oneness and, perhaps, has even opened up new paths for you to follow!