When a group of spiritual practitioners — those willing to lean in beyond their personal fears and judgements — get together, something significant emerges.
If we are to evolve our consciousness and stabilize its presence in the world (“as above so below,” “on earth as it is in heaven”), we must honour our direct experiences of a higher order, and somehow establish its reality while in relationship to the other. It is only this dynamic of alignment (surrender) and generosity (love) that is powerful enough to liberate us from our very entrenched mind-identification. This strongly pervasive habit has us believing that we can “think” our way out of our personal and global issues. The dualistic nature of it divides and conquers, rather than uniting and fortifying our Oneness.
The thoughts revealed within a divine encounter are from an entirely different order of intelligence. They — quite literally — break in upon our dualistic habits in a way that awakens the heart and mind to their essential nature. The following excerpt describes a direct experience from a Silence Practice group this past winter.
A prominent member of our group last night spoke about a profound and life-changing Oneness experience he had had 20 years ago. As he spoke, I began to notice a current of energy rising in the room — from everywhere, and from nowhere in particular. It was subtle — not strong at all — but it was unmistakably there. My heart recognized it with a slight leap in my chest. I wondered if I was the only one who noticed. I would like to ask next week … perhaps I should ask right here and now?
This delicate current of energy seemed to be saying, “We are One, YES, we are One, YES,” over and over, forever and ever. It appeared to like the story of Itself being told! It had a thrillingly fresh quality to it: immediate, playful, curious, delighted. It moved and pulled relentlessly, but gently, at my heart. “Come, come, come with Me,” it seemed to say. Yes, it was indeed pulling my heart forward — into what I did not know. Into what I did not care for that moment, so compelling was Its Call. Within a few minutes, my awareness of this current faded away as the conversation took another direction.
Today I sit reflecting upon the experience of this “Oneness current” that arose in the room last night. My perception is that it truly did fade. It was not just my awareness of it that faded. My heart had responded without hesitation — I was being invited, pulled forward, awakened to the possibility of becoming “not me,” something totally new and unfamiliar. It truly felt like an invitation into the unknown, even while being aware of my resistance. (As far as I can tell, resistance is rooted in the fear (terror?) of the complete transparency/vulnerability I am being called to.)
But the (my?) heart thrilled to it. I am now thrilled just thinking about it because I can see how our time together need never again be about anything but authentic stories and communications. How quiet and peaceful our lives would be! When I heard another speak about this place (no matter that it was 20 years ago), it was like an invisible “Hallelujah” chorus took place, inviting us all beyond ourselves. It is as though we were being invited into a direct experience of the first commandment, “Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind/might,” and the second commandment becomes implicit.
However, the experience was anything but commanding — bold and playful, yes. Compelling for sure, but no demand. It disappeared just as surely as it appeared when the conversation veered away from it. The “Oneness Current” appeared to be drawn irresistibly by our sincere addressing of It, our attending to It. And the Yearning heart came alive in response. Divine Symmetry! Traditionally, Silence Practice has been done in caves, away from culture, away from personal habits, away from others, so as not to disturb our individual direct experience/encounter.
So that makes last night’s discovery a very important one. A paradigm shifting one. It demonstrates how the group experience can liberate in a way that isolated “cave” realizations cannot: precisely because the liberation beyond ego takes place right-smack-in-the-middle of ego’s most fecund playing ground — among other ego’s.
* If this experience and/or its reflection awakens something in your heart, please honour that experience by responding — however briefly — in the comments section below. It is a mutually vital conversation.