I recently returned from a trip to the Oneness University in India, where I learned the Oneness Blessing, an energy technique similar in style to Reiki. There were about 450 people there from all over the world. My English speaking group immediately took a dislike to the Italian group. We were asked to be in silence throughout the 21 day process. The Italians never stopped talking. As one of our guides compassionately said, “You always know when the Italians are present.” I kept waiting for a shift, when my group would suddenly start liking the Italians. (I personally didn’t have a problem with them as I am a talker myself). It never happened. This intrigued me because if oneness isn’t achieved at the Oneness University, how were we going to transform the world? Before giving my own answer to the question, let’s take a look at the Oneness teachers’ unique (to Americans anyway) outlook.
Our teachers believe that 90% or more of who we think we are, or what we call our identity is predicated by other factors—genetics, our time in utero, the first 7 years of our lives, our culture, the biology of the human organism, etc. According to them, these factors are considered mostly fixed. We can influence these factors by diet, exercise, personal and spiritual growth, etc. but we can’t change them.
The next point in their discussion was even more intriguing. They said that we aren’t responsible for those factors. Applying their logic to the Italian situation, the Italians weren’t responsible for all of their talking because it was a cultural and probably genetic trait. Yet many from my group spent inordinate amount of time and energy fixated on the rude Italians and their boisterous ways. Meanwhile, Americans, culturally speaking, are overly responsible for everything, including the state of the world. And we project this expectation of responsiblity on all other cultures as well.
Let me clarify here: The Oneness teachers weren’t advocating a stance of nonresponsibility in one’s life. For example, if my genetics or early childhood predisposed me to be a murderer, do I get to kill someone and say, “It’s not my fault, it’s my parents?” I think the answer is fairly obvious. No matter what our body containers predispose us to on this planet of free will and choice, we are responsible for our choices.
So what could the Oneness teachers’ central message around responsiblity and the ability to change be? Are we doomed to forever having to shore up the cracked dam, if that was our DNA inheritance? Always be at the mercy of some lottery that took place when we were absent? (And the winner of the curly hair gene goes to….Bruce Willis!)
My interpretation of their teachings at this point in time, is that we were being invited to be in an easier relationship with ourselves. Quit wasting energy on trying to be someone we can’t be, or rejecting aspects of ourselves that we can’t really do anything about. That doesn’t mean we can’t choose to straighten our hair, if we got the curly hair gene. It just means we don’t have to have any negative emotions and mental anguish around the curly hair. Few of us try to change the nature of the ocean. The tide goes in and out, always has and hopefully always will. To apply this same acceptance to our own innate natures would be a great gift of freedom.
So can we really change who we are? Yes and no. We can’t change certain factors, but we can become free from them ruling our lives. This process is called awakening or enlightenment and its a natural consequence of spiritual growth. There’s only once catch…if spiritual growth is being motivated by a desire to escape ourselves, we’ll never achieve enlightenment. If, instead, it’s being motivated from love and acceptance of the natural laws of evolution, then enlightenment can be in the next breath.
Finally, what is the oneness in the Oneness University if it isn’t loving the Italians for their boisterous presence? My answer is…it’s being one with myself. If I achieve that, then I have true freedom and the choices of others can never restrict me.
Copyright © 2007 gia combs-ramirez. All rights reserved.