THAT SCARY ONENESS
BY: FRED PRUITT
I think I know what you mean about this being scary. You’d have to describe how that is with you, but for me it’s this:
Every time I have those moments when heaven seems to be plain for a second, it is a more certain opening on oneness. On God being ALL.
This is where being on your theological toes breaks down. Theology really can’t handle oneness, except to maybe point to it, because the ultimate goal of any “spiritual system” is not to make the description the experience, but rather to engender the living experience of God in each individual person.
I think that’s why in my early days I was attracted to the eastern disciplines, because the Christianity I knew seemed embroiled more in questions of doctrine and morality and Americanism than in things of the spirit. That was only my perception, I know, but it WAS MY perception, so I abandoned what I thought to be a lifeless belief system to earnestly search in ones (Hindu Yoga and Zen Buddhism) that promised peace of mind and heart and enlightenment while in this life. Which led to an ardent practice of first meditative yoga exercises and then Zen meditation.
Twice during that time the universe came crashing into my belly so that I seemed to contain it all. Once while looking up at the stars in the quiet hours before dawn, the whole panorama of all there was came rushing like a waterfall into my belly and became “Me” – or – “Not Me”. And the other driving down to my parent’s house out in the country in the green opulence of early summer. Driving our 63′ Valiant, nicknamed Bimba (another story), down the 5 rural miles to my folks’ house, flooded all over with the still gentle early summer sun, new green leaves on all the only weeks-ago-bare hardwoods, their leaves shimmering in a breeze-touched indescribable green, when in a moment suddenly all of that green and breeze and gentle sunlight and blue sky came swirling like a whirlpool into the midst of me, and for a moment (or a couple of miles) I was not separate from any of that as if an observer, but had ceased to exist as just myself alone because I saw and was part of the One. I wasn’t “high,” either, sober as a judge.
As any good new Christian would, I rejected that experience as spurious in my newborn phase and for many years after forgot it. But for some time now as I’ve seen the Father irradiate all of my life, all of the past, all of the present and future, things lost, forgotten and discarded can sometimes be found again and seen for the truth they represent. There is nothing that does not speak something of the Truth, because God is All in all. Everything is holy. EVERYTHING is His Voice. Everything. And right there is the rub in this whole “oneness” thing. When I say, “everything is His Voice,” that’s saying a lot. A really. Really, really lot.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made… And he is before all things, and by him all things consist…”
Every “opening” of oneness since has confirmed deeper and deeper that All is Him. All is Love. And Love is the calling card of true oneness with God in Christ. The scary part for me of “oneness” is that I leave judgment behind. Judgment is something for the sense world, to discriminate between this and that, and serves a purpose, but there is ultimately a place, where Love originates, where there is no judgment, no condemnation, neither for myself nor for any one else.
Judgment is “safe” because you have an anchor for yourself in your judgments. To be rid of them, aye, there’s the rub. They do not exist in God. God sees only Himself and His love purposes being fulfilled. In His Kingdom, on His Mountain, there is nothing that hurts or destroys.
I find this a more constant temptation maybe even than to forget Who I am – the temptation to judge (which of course comes from “forgetting Who I am.”) In judging there has to be a picking of sides, and since “I” am the judge, “I” pick the correct side, and the object of my judgment has therefore chosen the wrong side. Whatever it might be. Which movie to like. What kind of music to listen to. What kind of clothes to wear or how to wear one’s hair. Someone’s lifestyle, someone’s sex life, someone’s problems with “substances,” someone’s car, someone’s home life. How someone does their money or takes care of their kids. Someone’s religious situation or beliefs (as we perceive them).
Whatever. I find this the hardest thing to let go. And if I perceive a “wrong side” here, then I find there is some despising going on. As the Pharisees would despise “that sinful woman” in their hearts, oh I know when it rises up in me. When I say “despise” I mean in some way to see “that other person” as lesser, or wrong, or off-beam, or a sinner, or the sad product of their own choices. And separate from me. Definitely “not me.” I would be soiled to intimately touch that person. To be found to be associated with that person. For someone to think I was part of “them,” agreed with “them,” was like “them.” That’s the voice of judgment. I think it’s the wicked one’s best test most supreme temptation of all.
It’s really pretty delicious. Because in dividing up everything like that, right and wrong, correct and incorrect, favored and despised, since “we” are the judges, we always get to be the right, correct, and favored! It’s built in to the system. If “they” are less, “I” am more! If “they” are off-beam, lo – I am ON-beam!
Oh, wait a minute, someone says. There IS a right, there IS a correct, and there IS a favored! It says so in the Bible. Yes, it does. But what is right and correct and favored in the Bible?
The story of the woman taken in adultery told in John 8, alongside the parable of the prodigal son, are to me the greatest stories in the Bible, and show the fullness of the Love of God like no other.
There is no judgment in Jesus’ heart for this woman, therefore no despising, and therefore she sensed no condemnation from him – only total acceptance for who she was right there in that present moment. All the others were foaming at the mouth to kill this wicked sinner, who was really only a scapegoat for their own greater wickedness within them – her sins of the body did not equal the hate and judgment in their hearts which was far more deadly. Jesus didn’t see her sin, didn’t regard it. It was inconsequential to Him.
He saw Himself in her, Who she really was, and not the temporary diversion the circumstances of life had led her to in the flesh. He saw her whole, in the vision of His faith, and rather than upbraid her for her wicked ways, He gave her the greatest gift any hurt soul can ever receive.
“10] When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11] She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”
The Only Begotten of the Father, the Lamb of God, slain from the foundations of the earth, said, “Neither do I condemn thee.” What a proclamation!
You are NOT condemned!
What does the word “condemned” mean? We all know – it’s what you say when someone has been found guilty of a crime and then is sentenced for it. “Condemned” is the punishment part. We’re guilty, and the condemnation, whatever it might be, 2 years, 5 years, life, or the death sentence, is the punishment.
Jesus said, in effect, “Ok, you’re guilty, but NO SENTENCE! You are FREE to go! No penalty!”
And then he even gave an added bonus. One of the great flaws of our justice system is that so few offenders are “rehabilitated” after their incarceration. Most people in prisons have been guests of the justice system before. Jesus, in setting this prisoner free, included lifelong rehabilitation in her checkout package.
When He said, “Go, and sin no more,” that was more than a suggestion, or even an order. It was the Word of God. Spoken by the Logos, THE Word. The fulfillment of His Word – that she would “go and sin no more” did not depend on her fleshly ability to remember what Jesus said and try her best to never sin again. It depended SOLELY on the Living God WHO spoke that word and WHO ALONE was responsible for its fulfillment. She walked away from that encounter, maybe scared, maybe feeling mighty lucky, maybe needing a good stiff drink, but more than anything, she walked away having known non-judgmental, non-despising, non-condescending, totally ONE-WITH-HER LOVE.
Love lives in the loved. It experiences what the loved experience. It considers itself not better than the loved, but only knows itself in the loved and the reality the loved experiences. It sees no difference between itself and the loved.
Judgment lives in itself. It makes a private place for itself, a place in which to remain aloof and superior, and looks out from its lofty-towered perch to see all the struggling masses below, so joyfully glad it’s not like them.
There is no meeting place between judgment and love. They are mutually exclusive, because they emanate from two different sources. One from above, one from beneath.
I read a book a long time ago, by a popular author – “The Wounded Healer” by Henri Nouwen. It was so long ago, I don’t remember what Fr. Nouwen said in his book, except that I liked a great deal of it. But the title has always stuck with me.
This is the great privilege we have in the death and resurrection of Jesus. We in our turn are now Christ in our worlds, the healers sent by God to reconcile His world. But we have something that really Jesus didn’t have. We HAVE sinned. We ARE wounded. We ARE angels who flew too close to the ground. We’ve been to the honky-tonks and cried in our beer.
Jesus of Nazareth, bless His soul, He never sinned.
We have. So we REALLY know. We have the scars to prove it. I’ve touched the hot stove. I’ve bit off more than I could chew. I’ve embarrassed myself more times than Bill Clinton. I’ve stuck my hand in the fan and my finger in the pie. And I got wounded. Hurt. Bruised. Gun-shy. Untrusting. Crotchity.
Now I’m ready to heal. Without condemnation, without judgment. Because I UNDERSTAND. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. And like Jesus, but maybe for a different reason, I know, “there is no good thing that dwelleth in me” and “there is NONE GOOD, save God.”
This may seem like off the subject from where I started above about “oneness” and it being “scary,” but it isn’t. This IS oneness. You see, when I get down to it, I can’t “define” oneness. The very word “definition” is the antithesis of “oneness.” To “define” means to put borders on something. Oneness has no borders. But maybe the best description I can give is this: to see “oneness” means to see only God.
WHICH IS TO SEE THE TRUTH
That’s not a doctrine. I really could care less about doctrines, though I’ve gone to great lengths at other times to express my own. But THE truth is God Himself, not what I say about Him. “Yea, let God be true and every man a liar!” That’s what this is all about, which I said in the first place – to SEE God. I think a Mormon, a Buddhist, a homosexual, an Islamic fundamentalist terrorist, and an evangelical, all have an equal chance for seeing God in the present moment right where they are, exactly as they are, whatever they are doing, because God is the Truth no matter who you are or what you are or how you are or what you are doing. Every human being can open his eyes in this present moment and hear the Word, “This is the way, walk ye in it.” I don’t care what you are doing – if you’re helping the homeless castoffs in the streets of Calcutta, or “offing” some wise-guy in Jersey, God is All in all. One moment’s recognition of the Living God in ANY circumstance changes the whole fabric of the universe.
Oneness is scary because it leaves all the safe ports and goes into uncharted seas, and from time to time calls unexplored territories its home. It has unsavory characters as its friends, and scalawags and scoundrels trim the sails, weigh the anchor, and even sometimes steer the boat.
It’s wide open, no holds barred, the sky is the limit. When all is One, all is God, all is your friend. You have no axe to grind, no points to prove, no reputation to uphold. You exist only to be the Lamb, the light which shines outward to irradiate all around with the Love of God, to reconcile and redeem that which needs it, to edify and increase the kingdom of Love. You have no other purpose, no other Life, because the flow of Oneness with the Father is directed only outwardly, intent on only one purpose, to reproduce Love by the One Only Method of Love, which is to give itself, unreserving of itself, a total expending of itself, to reproduce into visibility the reconciliation and life that is hidden dormant in every wayward molecule of the universe.
That’s what you get when you give up judgment and give it to God alone.
Unto the pure, thou wilt shew thyself pure.
Now, it might seem I’ve laid down a “law” here.
If you are not “one” with God, then this certainly IS a law! It MUST be fulfilled. Please give it your best shot!
However, if you are “one” with God, one person with Him, then YOU ARE this law! It IS fulfilled! There is NO condemnation in YOU, because there is NONE in God!
GO AND SIN NO MORE!
“Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” (1 Thes 5:24)
The Word is the Power and fulfills itself. According to your faith be it unto you. And luckily, HE is even your (and my) faith.
All my love,
THAT SCARY ONENESS [Fred Pruitt] 1