In my book, Experifaith: At the Heart of Every Religion, I unveiled Oneness and Goodness as the two mystical paths that are found in all of the world’s religions.
The discovery of such a convergence point does not mean that all of the world’s religions are the same, rather that human beings are the same, because of our ability to experience.
As I have written before, these two paths of spiritual experience are found in all religions and are therefore the foundation for all paths—even spiritual-but-nonreligious ones.
The Path of Oneness
Oneness is the fundamental nature of the universe. Everything is connected to everything else. We cannot see it with our eyes. We cannot feel it with our skin. Only when we dwell in silence, in meditation, can we come to this ultimate realization. Our essential nature is One.
Buddhists call it Emptiness.
Hindus call it Brahman.
Christians call it God or the Holy Spirit.
Beyond the world of lights and shadows, beyond words and forms, beyond names and shapes, the mystics have unveiled this Oneness and declared it to be the unchanging truth.
Oneness is not a philosophy but rather the numinous aspect of religion. It has been unveiled again and again to sincere seekers of every faith.
The firsthand realization of Oneness is not easily accessed. Veils, comprised of thoughts, emotions, energy, body, and external activities cloud our true nature and cause a perception of division.
The path is introverted in nature. It seeks to explore the veils and detach from them until nothing is left except that which is always present.
The Path of Goodness
Alas, Oneness is not easily accessed and duality is a powerful veiling force. We feel separate, alone, at odds with each other. That is why all of the world’s religions have primarily focused on the dual path of Goodness through the cultivation of love, compassion, generosity, and kindness.
These are not easy to come by. Our animal nature is strong. As human beings, we are intensely sexual, possessive, and more prone to violence than any other species on Earth.
We need to cultivate Goodness. Each one of us is born with the seeds inside of us—but they are only seeds. They need to be nurtured and cared for, otherwise, the weeds of anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, laziness, despair, pride, lust and gluttony will overtake our internal life. Strife on the inside will cause strife on the outside.
Religions of the world have asked us to be compassionate, fair, just, loving and giving. These attributes are not given. They must be nurtured and earned. Only when Goodness has reached a flourishing state can it be shared with the world. Only an overflowing cup of love can truly be shared with another. As Christ said, thou shalt “love thy neighbor as thyself.” If you do not love yourself, how can you love your neighbor?
Practiced Together or Separately
Most human beings have an inclination to practice one path over the other. Those who seek peace of mind are more likely to trek the Oneness path. Those who seek to be more loving, compassionate and relational are more likely to travel the Goodness path. Only a few have ever mastered both, but we call those who have prophets, gurus or exemplars.
Understanding and Acceptance
As I mentioned earlier, my Experifaith model seeks to show the experiential connection between religions and spiritual paths. For the longest time, I thought that all the world’s religions had the same goals, but when I unveiled these two paths during my studies, I realized that most theological conflicts, both internal and external, stem from an inability to discern between the two.
The paths exist side-by-side in all the major religions but they should not be conflated and seen as the same path. Neither path is wrong, because each path navigates a separate terrain. One is nondual in nature, the other dual. Therefore, both paths should be practiced and appreciated on their own terms.
Here is the main takeaway. Both paths are found in all the wisdom traditions. The Oneness path is usually reserved for the mystics while the Goodness path is preached to the general population. They each serve a purpose. We should respect them as such.
Pictures: Pixabay.com CC0 License / Flaming Leaf Press (cover photo)