When we say that we are “one mind” or “there’s only one of us here,” we are not talking about discrete material reality. We are not going to trade these bodies for spirit cloaks, or for angel bodies, or prismatic spiral nebulae or something like that.
Rather, when we talk about “one mind,” we are really talking about content: at that level, it is possible to see that there really is only one mind because we all have the same shared content.
A Course in Miracles teaches us that ideas do not leave their source – when we share them, they stay where they are (T-26.VII.4:7). If we think of the one mind in terms of content, then we can see that we are not really sharing anything in the sense that I have a slice of pie and offer you half. It’s all already there! So what we perceive as a new idea is more like light reaching us from a lamp that was always there. We are remembering what we always knew, albeit dimly.
So, you know, Tara Singh writes something profound and transformational and I respond to it: “Oh! I never thought of that, that way! But now I know! Thank you Taraji!” But you see, all that has happened is that the one mind grew a little bit clearer, a little bit brighter. If I project a unique or special wisdom onto Tara Singh – if I pretend that there was a spiritual lack in me that he filled from his personal store of spiritual abundance – then I am denying the one mind. I am pretending that Singh has something I don’t. But if I think of the insight I acquired from him as more in the nature of a light going on – one that was always there, just dimly – then it’s not such a big deal. It’s my idea, too. And yours. And so on.
We tend to think of spirituality in linear terms: So-and-so is enlightened, so-and-so is getting there, and this other so-and-so hasn’t even really started the journey. Or some of us are in the middle of the ladder of prayer while others are at the top rung. We all do this but I question its efficacy. I don’t think it reflects reality but rather a pervasive (even pernicious) view of reality – a sort of competitive, consumeristic view. The hierarchy abounds, and we celebrate the spiritual hero who stands alone on the altar – whether it’s Tara Singh, Ken Wapnick, Eckhart Tolle or the local priest or rabbi.
A better way to see it is that we all compose an enormous circle (whose center is everywhere) that is always moving and always in flux. One can be here or there in the circle, but no part of it is superior to another. So Tara Singh occupies this region of the circle, and Saint Augustine occupies this part, and you are here and I am there but we are all composed by and composing the same circle. If a light goes on here in the circle, then it reaches there. So when you awaken a little because you are reading somebody, the insight isn’t flowing from their mind to your mind, but is akin to a light flowing through the circle. You might think of it as dawn: the slow beautiful tides of sunlight gently flowing across a darkened landscape, brightening it bit by little bit.
Now, it is important to see that ideas, too, are physical in a way. Most neurophysiologists would say that an idea has material components: chemical, electrical, and so forth, and that these are measurable. So, in a sense, ideas are another level of the material – a very subtle level, but still.
But while we can measure the brain’s activity, and thus see when thought is creating pleasure or fear, say, and while we can do this in very nuanced ways, we are still not able to see the content of the thought. I mean, you can hook me up and say, well, Sean is very happy right now. You can see it here in this image of his brain, and it shows up in these chemicals in his body and all of that, but you can’t say whether I am happy because I am remembering an old dog or dreaming of a new one.
Eventually we all see as a result of our practice that there are no problems externally: it is all about our thoughts. That is why A Course in Miracles teaches us that we can only be hurt by our own thoughts (W-pII.281.1:5).
And that is what I mean by content: and that level is available to all of us, and it is a shared level. We aren’t aware of all of it, but so what? You aren’t aware of all of your personal thoughts either – until somebody asks you to recall the birth of your daughter, you aren’t walking around thinking of the birth of your daughter. But it’s there. And that is true of what we are calling the “one mind” too – all of the information is there, all of it is shared, and all of it is available to all of us.
This is just a way to think of it – maybe it is helpful and maybe it isn’t. I’m not trying to argue with anybody who’s happy taking another approach. God knows I have a long way to go myself. But I am saying that when I give attention to how thought works, and how projection works, this is what I see. I see shared content that readily transcends or flows through what we are calling material containers (bodies, brains, etc.). I see that in very simple and practical ways, there is one mind, and that its salient qualities are love and what flows from love – peace, balance, sanity, equality and so forth.
Of course, the only way to make contact with this one mind is to stop projecting our own specialness (and the specialness of others) onto it. That’s what gums up the works. Hence the emphasis A Course in Miracles places on ending projection as the way to liberate our brothers and sisters and our selves (e.g., T-9.VI.3:1-5). Hence David Bohm’s emphasis on suspending judgment as a critical facet of dialogue. To wit:
If we can all listen to each other’s opinions, and suspend them without judging them, and your opinion is on the same basis as anybody else’s, then we all have ‘one mind’ because we have the same content – all the opinions, all the assumptions. At that moment, the difference is secondary (Thought as a System 204).
Of course, this was why Tara Singh repeatedly emphasized that life was not personal.
For the wise, the externals are never the issue.
Action always starts
with one’s own internal correction.
It is the action of Love,
independent of personality,
that effortlessly transforms relationship.
There are beneficient forces at work in Life.
(Love Holds No Grievances 10).
Attention reveals to us that our separate lives are in fact more in the nature of a collective: at readily accessible levels, we are one. In order to realize this, we have to stop projecting our own ideas and opinions outward: we have to stop judging life. This is a literal application that we are called to make moment by moment. For example, when we think that someone is behaving wrongly at work or in our family or in the public sphere, we have to see the judgment inherent in that thought, and become responsible for seeing what is unloving through to love itself. No matter what action we take or don’t take at the material and external level, we have to to the internal work of coming to impersonal love.
This is hard work! And opportunities for practice abound, at least in my life. I am never not astounded at how selfish, mean-spirited and casual I can be. But I’m not alone, of course. Eventually we all see as a result of our practice that there are no problems externally: it is all about our thoughts. That is why A Course in Miracles teaches us that we can only be hurt by our own thoughts (W-pII.281.1:5).
So, you know, there is nothing especially mystical about this, which can come as a let down! It is really about the hard work of loving in a loveless place, and about becoming responsible for own unlovingness. We don’t have to solve our unlovingness – but we do have to see it, and we do have to become willing to be done with it. Until we sincerely reach the Thetfordian insight – there must be another way – then healing will remain simply another projection, a good idea that we polish alone, cherishing the secret dream of specialness.