Oneness A Spiritual Solution for Turbulent Times
By Pauline Baumann
I had been living in semi-conscious despair over the condition of the world. I could only envision a catastrophic future for our beloved planet, one that is being driven by uncontrolled population growth, the ever-present threat of nuclear terrorism, and materialism run amok. This dread had become semi-conscious because my conditioning and preferences mandated optimism—so I pushed my despair to the back of my mind where it hung like a malevolent cloud.
I have known for years that the only real solution to the problems that we face as a species is a spiritual one—a radical reconfiguration of the human being wherein love is power and inspiration arises from true enlightenment. However, all my spiritual training asserted that enlightenment comes only after a long arduous spiritual practice, perhaps for many lifetimes. It was clear that humanity just didn’t have that kind of time left. As my despair deepened, so did my resolve to focus on spiritual awakening; and so I found myself encamped at this crossroads in my spiritual life, praying for guidance and direction.
Meanwhile, daily life was happening. My husband had developed a neurological condition that eluded the best effort of numerous physicians, so we checked into True North Health, a fasting center in California. While we were there we met Rani Kumra, the senior teacher of the Oneness Movement for North America, Australia and New Zealand. I was very impressed by her heart and dedication and decided to attend a 5-day retreat with her in Connecticut.
At the retreat, I experienced a well-rounded and seamless confluence of meditation, self-reflection, and release of the shadow. This was combined with hatha yoga, exercises to open the chakras, and teaching, all held in a sacred container of music. The core of this retreat was diksha, a hands-on energy transfer for awakening that is supposed to raise a person’s state of consciousness and transform their brain function so they can maintain a constant state of enlightenment. These practices were woven together skillfully with the recognition that the shadow side of the personality must be dealt with effectively if people are to develop spiritual balance.
A Plan for World Awakening At the retreat Rani spoke of her teachers, Sri Bhagavan and Sri Amma of Andhra Pradesh province near Chennai, India, and their incredible plan to bring enlightenment to the world before 2012. I thought this preposterous but, as I listened, many things converged to give me hope that this claim could be true. For one thing, I met eight fairly ordinary people who had completed a 21-day Oneness Process at Oneness University in India. All seemed clearly to be in various states of enlightenment.
Later, as I read and asked questions, a picture began to emerge. The Vedas speak of the Kali Yuga, an age of darkness in which selfishness overcomes the world. Apparently, the Kali Yuga is predicted to come to an end in convergence with the end of the Mayan Calendar. Both of these time measures, though they come from very divergent cultures in different parts of the world, presage a major change in consciousness for the planet around 2012. Sri Bhagavan’s plan is to help enough people become enlightened by 2012 to uplift the entire consciousness of humanity, coinciding with this and other predicted events.
Diksha Sri Bhagavan talks of diksha (energy transfer) as a “rewiring of the brain” that allows for a permanent state of enlightenment. He says it is a neuro-physiological change that involves decreased activity in the parietal lobes (the area of the brain responsible for discursive thought and our sense of separation), and increased activity of the frontal lobes (the area associated with ethics and higher states of awareness). According to Sri Bhagavan, though a person may experience enlightened states from time to time, stable enlightenment requires these changes in the brain to become permanent. He goes on to say that one enlightened person can positively affect one million people through the thought field. In a rough restatement of the 100th Monkey theory, his goal is to create the conditions for some 64,000 beings to become enlightened by 2012. That is roughly one in ten thousand people on Earth. Once this number is reached, he says, enlightenment will spread like wildfire across the face of the planet.
Sri Bhagavan’s dasas (monks and nuns) claim that several thousand people have already become enlightened through “Oneness Processes” and through receiving diksha. Some of these are local villagers in Varadayapalem. This village was known for being a dark place full of alcoholism and wife-beating, and many questioned why Sri Bhagavan set up Oneness University there. His response was “Where else? If we can make a difference here, we can make a difference anywhere”. As the villagers are being transformed, so is the village. As their awareness is changed, people are naturally making improvements in the sanitary conditions, and in overall village life.
Others who have benefited from Sri Bhagavan and Sri Amma’s diksha are the hundreds of foreigners who have attended 10 and 21-day processes and whose consciousness has been changed. These people have been trained to give diksha so that they may bring this to their home countries and spread the blessings outward. Good examples would be Freddy Nielson and Madeleine Rahm from Sweden who have spent the past several years traveling throughout the former Soviet Union and Africa introducing thousands of people to diksha and higher awareness. Effort is made to include people from every country including indigenous peoples. The goal of the Oneness Movement is to create a core of enlightened people in proportion to the population who can give diksha in every country of the world.
The Oneness Process It’s March and the beginning of the hot season in South India. I am in a large meditation hall at Golden City II, a campus of Oneness University. The hall is filled with a hundred people from 14 countries. We are beginning a “21-day Oneness Process”. Twenty-one days is long enough that I can’t even imagine the end of the retreat, so I immerse myself fully in each step as timelessness opens up around me. The Process begins by focusing on inner purification—the cleansing of karma, patterns, deep hurts and guilt. The first day I investigate my most extraordinary joy and my deepest pain in one of many processes called “samskara shuddhi”—essentially, a cleansing of the seeds of karma that have arisen from past actions. I find myself going deeper than ever before into areas I had thought I had cleared and experiencing profound healing, coming up from the bottom overflowing with joy and love.
The Process is lead by seven male and female dasas, or guides. The dasas are young, mostly under thirty years old. Yet, as the retreat progresses, they consistently demonstrate levels of presence, wisdom and transparent self-acceptance that I have rarely encountered.
Throughout we are asked to maintain mauna (sacred silence) in order to stay focused on our own process. We can ask questions of the dasas and often cry or even yell during some of the release processes, but we walk back and forth to the dormitory and eat our meals in silence, at least most of the time. Mauna is not a rule, but a recommendation, left up to each individual to freely choose to follow or not. Apart from a young woman from Sweden sitting next to me, it will be day 14 before I learn anyone’s name, even though I sleep in a dorm room with twenty other women.
Self Acceptance The Oneness Process is comprehensive, covering all aspects of the Self. It requires me to unequivocally surrender to my pain, accept my imperfections and failures, and be authentic. Each day unfolds a new process of self-surrender and samskara shuddhi in a well-ordered sequence that covers all aspect of this life from conception forward. Surprisingly, little focus is placed on “karmic issues” while considerable attention is placed on experiences in this life, including pre-birth experiences.
A key teaching is that our relationship with our parents determines our relationship with God. If we are blocked to our mother we will be blocked to the feminine aspect of God and will find ourselves beset with obstacles of all kinds. If we are blocked to our father, we will be blocked to the masculine aspect of God and will suffer financial difficulties. We are the only ones that can heal ourselves in relationship to our parents. Setting right our relationships is essential to enlightenment. The Oneness Process offers the most powerful container I have experienced for resolving these issues, so I can not only “forgive” my parents, but truly fall in love with them. Deeply held yet subtle constrictions I had felt for years in my belly and solar plexus released during that first week. These constrictions had resisted all other therapy and spiritual process. I now feel wonderfully relaxed, joyous and at peace, and this has been reflected in permanent changes in my breathing pattern.
Enlightenment Around the eighth day of the Process we enter into the enlightenment phase. Though enlightenment is poorly understood in the West (if you ask ten people you’ll get ten definitions), here it is considered to be the beginning of true spiritual awakening, and often starts with the emergence of the witness consciousness. Witness consciousness is the ability to observe one’s emotional and mental states from a position of compassionate yet neutral objectivity. When this state arises people often experience it as a “declutching of the mind,” as the mind relaxes its grip on consciousness and a sense of expansion or spaciousness arises. Other stages of enlightenment may include states of deep peace and serenity, or states of causeless joy; states of oneness and peace; states in which one perceives everything in creation to be part of one’s own body; and even states in which one does not have a body. There are innumerable other mystical states, including very high states of absorption in the Divine, called samadhi, in which one loses awareness of the external world. Enlightenment is a dynamic process of spiritual expansion: a doorway rather than a destination.
During the enlightenment phase of the 21-day Process, we receive diksha regularly—often twice a day—and although teachings and meditation exercises are interspersed, our primary goal is to relax our minds and bodies and allow the energy to do its work. Some people who are visual and mystical types have remarkable visions and experiences. In India, mysticism is a way of life for many people and so the dasas emphasized this aspect of the experience. However, for many westerners, whose minds are much more strongly developed than the local villagers who lack formal education, the process is slower and more subtle. The villagers often seem to attain enlightened presence in one day, whereas it takes us longer to let go of our minds and open to higher states. Many of us have experiences involving “declutching of the mind”, an increased sense of inner peace, enhanced witness consciousness, or a sense of oneness with all things. During this period of the retreat I spend hours after each diksha lying on the floor in shivasana (the corpse pose in hatha yoga) and surrendering to the energy and the sensations in my brain as my body unwinds and age-old tension releases.
Divine Descent The third stage of the Process involves opening to Divine consciousness in whatever form best suits our individual nature. I contemplate various spiritual energies such as the Christ consciousness, Buddha consciousness, the Kalki consciousness (all of the Hindu Gods and Goddesses), the Imam consciousness, and any and all saints I admire. I am asked to invite Divine energies into my being and I choose the consciousness of the ecstatic poet Mirabai and then ask that God select any others for which I am suited. In the end, four energies merge into me: Mirabai, the Christ, the Kalki and the consciousness of Sri Ramakrishna (an Indian saint for whom I have great love and admiration). These energies are now an integral part of me and I look forward to a lifetime of deepening relationship with them.
Since I have returned from India, people that I have known ask me what I have been doing, saying that I look more radiant and alive. I often have experiences of oneness—even driving in traffic—that move me to tears. I now live in joy with renewed hope and a greater sense of purpose. Sometimes I feel waves of sadness wash through me. Even if I do not know the source of these feelings, I surrender to them knowing the path to peace and joy lies in fully experiencing whatever is happening in the moment. Yes, the world has many problems, but I know that the solution is a spiritual one and that I have a tangible role in creating a life-giving future for this beautiful, trembling planet.
Enlightenment doesn’t mean having to become a spiritual teacher. A person trained as a plumber can become an enlightened plumber, a doctor an enlightened doctor, a farmer an enlightened farmer. Imagine all of us bringing spiritual insight to our lives and work that leads us to new solutions that embody oneness consciousness. Imagine all of us knowing that we are one and treating each other with love and respect, allowing that deep understanding to inform all of our endeavors in the world. Imagine…
We may have the next few years in which to make a profound difference in the direction of conscious human evolution worldwide. Either we will make that difference and our presence on the Earth will undergo the fabled transformation of consciousness—or not. Either way, what else would I want to do with my time here?
Pauline Baumann, ND is the founder of OneMedicine Institute and the Chair of the Board of Directors of National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon. She has been trained to give diksha at Oneness University, near Chennai, India. She enjoys offering diksha to groups of all faiths and is particularly interested in serving children and diverse populations. She can be reached at (503) 709-2188. www.trueawakening.org