At-one-ness and Aloneness
A friend recently wrote about an experience of walking meditation, in which he focused on at-one-ness, hoping to feel a deep sense of connection. Instead, what came to him was the thought that if you replace just the "t" in at-one-ness, you get aloneness. His thoughtful comment invited me to ponder some themes I've been writing about lately.
One mystery that's awed me for some time is the paradox that we are always alone and we are never alone. Human experience is one of separateness. As we grapple with separateness, we learn so much. We get glimpses of oneness and the memory of who we are. And then we forget – only to learn more, remember more and forget again.
The truth of our oneness is sometimes validated by a beautiful feeling of deep peace. And, sometimes, it's not validated at all – at least not in any way we can tell. When we feel the pain of separateness and aloneness, the best I think we can do is stay gentle and present and spacious with the discomfort. We don't get to make it go away. We don't get to eliminate it or control it. It moves through us at its own pace. And it moves best when we give it breath – and the quiet space of awareness.
We can, of course (and often do), turn our discomfort into real suffering by going to war with it and by indulging in various stories of fear and unworthiness. And that suffering invites more learning. Life as I know it on this planet.
At-one-ness and aloneness – only a tiny letter apart.