Oneness is not a concept. Duality and multiplicity are concepts. The reality is that there is no separation or otherness. “Why don’t I see or realize this,” one might ask. Simply, it is ignorance and misunderstanding. Oneness is not recognized because it is unknown.
How many trees do you see in the picture above? You might say that you see hundreds of trees. This would be ignorance and misunderstanding of what you see. This is a picture of the Pando in Utah. The Pando is a clonal colony of an individual male quaking aspen. It was determined to be a single living organism by finding identical genetic markers and is assumed to have one massive underground root system. This plant is one of the largest organisms in the world and one of the oldest known living organisms (by the age of the root structure). In a way, think of it as one tree with the trunk underground and the branches sticking up.
This is a more modern discovery (via genetics), but without this knowledge, anyone looking at this forest would say there are thousands of trees over this 100-acre area. Some are taller than others. Some have more green leaves than others. Some may have bugs infesting them and appear to be dying while others appear quite healthy. Unknown to them is that they are looking at one tree. The variety of conditions of the “various” trees would be apparent, and yet it is really only one organism. Variation does not equal otherness or separation.
It is the same with Oneness, as well. We see all these different people and beings (animals and plants), but what is not seen is how they are all One. In India, this teaching is known as advaita, which translates to not-dual. In the West, we know it as nonduality. Nonduality (or Oneness) is realized when the illusion of duality is seen through and the misunderstanding of otherness and separation is dispelled.
The fundamental division is “me” and “other.” To help realize nonduality or Oneness, I often recommend self-examination. This is a contemplation and observation focused on questioning this “I” we think and feel we are. The purpose is to shake up our identification and loosen our attachments to who we think we are — basically, to clearly see who or what we are not. It is a process of demolition for our identities.
Self-examination will not lead to realizing nonduality or Oneness. Self-examination is merely questioning and doubting the duality and multiplicity that is seen and taken for reality. Self-examination simply weakens the illusion of duality — of “me” and “other.” This is often helpful if one is very attached to the idea that he or she is an individual entity. Also, if one really wants to practice or do something, then examine the “me.”
However, I also recommend just being still and being silent. Don’t do anything. If you notice you are doing something, cease doing it. We do a lot of things and this includes even subtle levels of identification and manipulation. Cease identifying and cease manipulating. Just be still and silent. This is the direct path to Oneness and nonduality. You are not allowed to go anywhere or do anything. Just be silent and still.
This may not be easy, but a pointer to help is to attend to or stay with the experiencing of the moment. We have no choice to be aware or not aware when conscious. When conscious, the ears hear. If a dog is barking, we can’t choose not to hear it. However, we can cease all activity around being aware. We can not label it, not judge it, not critique upon it, not commentate on it, etc.
If you are 100 percent devoted to the feelings and experiencing of the here and now, you might find thought slows or ceases. In that silence of mind, the inner silence and stillness is easier to notice. Abide in the silence and stillness. In that silence of mind, the revelation of Oneness may occur.