The spiritual material presented here—a practice of oneness—is intended to help a spiritually aware person grow into and realize the full meaning of what the revelation of God in a human being means for us. First we must understand that a human being’s purpose is spiritual growth and development. The spiritual growth process and my experiences are discussed within the context of Jesus Christ and what it means to follow his way. My emphasis is on what Jesus said and did, a perspective that is open to spiritual knowledge and wisdom that values spiritual truth above dogma, doctrine, and creed. Each person is unique, and the way we integrate purpose into our lives is also unique. If you do not feel you have found your purpose, the process of meditation will help you find it. If you know your purpose, this process will help you fulfill it. Another person cannot give your unique purpose to you. You are the author of your purpose, and it is up to you to discover the ways to manifest that purpose.
2011-74 There is always a question in the human mind about purpose. This is usually a mental exercise. The soul finds its purpose in loving other souls and having compassion, and nurturing compassion for other people. You will find that almost all things that human beings do just happen to go on around a purpose of loving and having compassion for other souls. It is why every person can fulfill their purpose in whatever job they have, if they see their relationship in this context. There are many facets of love, many ways to express. One manner of expression is to be a companion on the journey with other people. But there are hundreds of ways, thousands of ways to use love in a fashion that does not take regard for what it means to be a companion. These ways are often selfish or very limited in their perspective. They are usually seeing love or using love from a selfish perspective.
Second, I work with and use the Bible as a record of the evolution of human consciousness and the evolution of the human understanding of God. The Bible was written by human beings inspired by their experience of God, but subject to all the limitations and imperfections of human beings. When the Bible is understood within this very human and fallible context, we can begin to discover the deeper truths that are part of the text. The Bible becomes like a mirror of human consciousness reflecting our condition back to us in much the same way that dreams reflect our human psychological condition. The very brokenness, the contradictions, the unreasonableness, the limited understanding of God, all can teach us profound spiritual truths—truths that should not be limited by seeing the Bible as historical or scientific fact, or limited by believing that the Bible contains all that God might have to communicate to human beings.
Third, progress through the various stages of spiritual growth requires a method of looking within at who we are—our motivations, our fears—and developing a higher perspective of ourselves as human beings. These internal processes are facilitated by the use of meditation and prayer. Too many people tend to avoid responsibility and accountability and sit back thinking that a “belief-centric” focus on Jesus can substitute for the necessary developmental work. Obedience without understanding—especially in a rule-based system of spirituality— becomes spiritual blindness. We miss seeing the true causes of our suffering and behavior because they have been repressed or avoided. This belief-centric perspective on Jesus distorts key elements of his message; it avoids the understanding of his example, and fails to understand that we must live out our purpose as authentically as Jesus lived his purpose. Through his manner of authentic, purposeful living, Jesus revealed the Way, the Truth, and the Life in such a way that they became synonymous with him. The same manner of authenticity is required of us to ful ll our purpose as human beings. Jesus calls us into relationship with God and each other—do unto others with love; giving to the “least” is the same as giving to God. A belief-centric approach violates this call into relationship because it denies the experiences of the other person. It begins with denial of the other person’s experience because it claims to know the answer before seeking to understand. The material presented, when properly used and understood, helps us avoid bypassing important inner work. The practices here help us turn inward in self-examination, and at the same time they promote compassion. The full understanding of compassion also means we must learn to love ourselves. Strong inner work of self-examination and questioning, through meditation and prayer, is what builds within us self-esteem and the ability to act morally in moments of crisis or doubt.
Fourth, we need an understanding of the oneness of God that includes our relationship with other human beings. This helps us understand our internal condition (often expressed through our intention) as an indicator of spiritual development. Many of the ways that we grow can only be accomplished through relationship, and this is why I believe that God calls us into relationship. Everything in this practice and in life work together. It is in our relationships with God and with other human beings that we live out our ideals and our purpose. These relationships help us grow. Sometimes this is accomplished painfully, without awareness. On a spiritual journey we have the opportunity to accomplish our purpose with awareness, and perhaps less pain. Love, compassion, respect, and humility are just a few of the ways that we relate to each other. Respect for life and the free self-determination of others is the source of all moral law. You will discover how they are related through your life experience and through the pursuit of your own purpose. These things will determine the course of your life. If you are acquainted with how they work together, this awareness will enrich your experience and bring you closer and closer to the experience of the joy and happiness found in God. Jesus Christ is a reliable guide of that process.
How to Use this Book
A spiritual practice is not a magic pill that suddenly makes everything fall into place. ere may be ashes of insight and feelings of bliss along the way, but also pain, anxiety, and a myriad of other phenomenological experiences. You may find that you have spent a great deal of energy creating a sense of equilibrium in your life, and then, a er starting a spiritual practice, it all falls apart. is is not unusual. Some experiences during your spiritual practices will be physical, some will be psychological, and some may be transcendent or spiritual. All of these experiences are simply milestones on the way to a greater understanding and experience of God and oneness. No matter the ecstasy of the moment or the comprehensiveness of each new understanding, each experience you have will not be a sign that you have arrived. Each event that unfolds will be the next starting point on your journey.
The Book of Oneness is not intended to replace other things you do that help you feel connected to God and community. Rather, it should be used to help deepen your relationships with others and with God. A true spiritual practice is one that helps you become more engaged in the world—one that helps you become more connected to the divine, but it should also help you experience the process of becoming more human, because our human-ness is an authentic expression of the life that flows from God. The book can be used individually or in a group setting. If you are developing a practice on your own, I highly recommend that you establish a community of accountability. This can be working with a spiritual guide, meeting regularly with a group that is engaged in a meditation practice, or meeting with a person you can speak with about your spiritual journey. As you grow and develop, things may come up for you that you will want to share with someone you trust. Another person can provide a moment of insight or speak truth in a way that provides deeper understanding.
Chapter 1 provides instruction in basic and Christ-centered meditation. Some people benefit by setting apart a special part of the house for their meditation practice. I have several areas in my home I tend to gravitate towards and I sometimes light a candle that I use to remind me of God’s presence. I also have a set of Tibetan prayer bells I ring to begin and end my meditations. Rituals are important because they can help call us into an awareness of the present moment. Create rituals that work for you and don’t be afraid to try new things as you establish your practice.
Chapter 2 outlines seven stages of spiritual growth to give you an understanding of the changes you may experience on your journey. God is a dynamic presence that calls us into relationship in different ways. Be gentle with yourself and give yourself room to grow. Following each stage are several excerpts from the readings that describe aspects or elements of each stage. You can read through the readings, or skip ahead to the next stage and return to the readings later.
The daily prayers in Chapter 3 and are intended to provide structure and to give you a sense of how the repetitive aspects of this practice can be helpful. Prayer is a good way to enter meditation and to come out of your state of meditation. Eventually you may want to write your own prayers.
The topics for contemplation in Chapter 4 call attention to specific aspects of spiritual life and are meant to supplement your meditation process. Fifty-two topics have been provided to make it easy for those wishing to contemplate one topic per week, but spend as much time as you wish with each one.
The Book of Oneness is a devotional book. Even the sections that look at philosophical and theological ideas are presented so you can understand different attitudes and perspectives that inform our spirituality and awareness of God’s presence. In this light of understanding I have chosen not to capitalize certain words that refer to God or to attributes of God. The prayers and other texts are meant to establish a familiarity with the personal nature of God—the very life that inspires us, moves us, and meets us in relationship—but also to establish in us a sense of the transcendent and transpersonal aspects of God. I invite you, when you read and meditate, to see in each word—like truth, unity, love, grace, law— not only the practical aspects of spirituality, but also the deeper meaning that brings us conscious awareness of God’s continuous presence.
Our destiny is to grow into a conscious awareness of the God “in whom is heaven,” (Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, 1989, p. 181) to quote the interpretive “Lord’s Prayer” from A New Zealand Prayer Book. This framework of devotion and personal growth helps us realize a consciousness of God that is found in every moment. We are transformed by the knowledge that our essence, the gift of life and light within us, is love and truth. In these moments, eternal moments, we are free. The truth has set us free, not only from spiritual death, but we are free from what we previously and erroneously believed to be true. We are free to move into a spiritual future without the limitations of dualistic thinking that leaves us separated from God. Deuteronomy 6:4, the Shema, states “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” The emphasis of The Book of Oneness is this basic truth of oneness and the unity in all of creation. A core principle of this oneness is that God cannot create except out of God’s own being. Life is God, and comes from God. Consequently, every human being exists in relationship with God, and the practice of oneness helps us bring this consciousness into every moment.