Bad at Using Yoga Catchphrases to Excuse Cruddy Behaviour
We are all one.
That we are all one is a beautiful philosophy- one that is easily reduced to a warm homogeneous fuzzy. It's similar to those blankets with arms in them that came out a few years ago. Y’know, those ones we all secretly wanted. It feels pretty nice but it degrades us all.
My concern with the whole oneness thing is it easily feeds the unconscious belief that we should all act and live in the same way. For example: Why do so many of us, after our first taste of the yoga koolaid, start dressing like some sort of hipster Sadhu and ending every sentence with sending someone "love and light"? Nothing against love or light or Sadhus- I’m fond of them all. Well, all except that one self-professed Sadhu in Varanasi who tried to give me a back massage. I definitely was not one with that. All I’m saying it’s a little suspect that the revelation of our innate interconnection happens to look and act the same in so many of us. Let's be honest, it's a wee bit culty. While certainly not the case for everyone, I know my mala beads and soft vacant gaze back in the day were never an honest expression of divine unity. They were part of a stock image that I tried hopefully, then later desperately, to mold myself into.
To our greater detriment, oneness can also easily become an excuse to disregard diversity when it doesn’t suit us. This one just ain’t funny. Another example from my sullied yogic past: say you came to my class and what you brought with you (physically, mentally, socially) was beyond my personal and professional understanding. A situation that was bound to happen because, y’know, I’m human. I could have attempted to learn something from you which would have challenged some of my existing paradigms and likely involved some uncomfortable self-inquiry (who doesn’t love that?!). But instead I chose the easy way out. Transcending the uncomfortable situation with the inner motto of “we are all one anyway” likely indicated to you with a knowing yet somewhat creepy stare and then going about business as usual- oblivious to how this might affect you. It does seem rather equanimeous, doesn’t it? It’s not. It’s using self-serving bits of philosophy to justify apathy towards the experiences of others. That's the danger of the oneness bubble- it easily becomes exclusive.
We are, in a great and inexplicable sense, all one but in day to day life we are individual people who are very different. This difference hungers for both recognition and expression. It deserves each of our attention, reflection, and willingness to be vulnerable to it. To my unenlightened mind oneness has come to mean that regardless of your lifestyle, culture, finances, age, political views, gender, physicality, or that metal ball sack hanging off the back of your truck that because you exist you deserve my respect. And I in turn deserve yours. And yeah, because I am human I usually miraculously fail at this. Case in point- referring to some very nice people as hipster sadhus.