Oneness and Division

Post Date: January 19th, 2014


I’ve been musing about the conundrum of oneness and division since it was introduced during a contemplative Christmas service hosted by a friend. There are so many turns of the prism here.

The late mythologist, Joseph Campbell, described a cave where the exact center of a wall represented oneness which immediately became duality to the sides of the center with one side holding a mask of the feminine and the other a mask of the masculine.

Certainly we know the pain of political divisiveness, although a New Year ray of hope is Congress’ bipartisan passage of a federal budget. Like Campbell’s cave, bipartisanship is the middle of the two sides.

Vesture can be divisive. Consider a minister’s vestments, a judicial robe, Goth clothing, haute couture. It can be unifying. Consider uniforms, business attire, athletic team gear.

Individuals have divisions within themselves and spend a lifetime integrating various aspects of self as well as life experiences. The process leads to one tapestry made from many distinct threads. The better the integration, the clearer the depiction on the tapestry.

Vibrant ethnic groups exist under the umbrella of Milwaukee. Various languages divide, yet there is one meaning for different words, e.g., soup, sopa, soupe, zuppa, suppe.

A theory of psychophysiology uses a framework of different languages describing a single illness: medical language – rheumatoid arthritis, psychological language – rigidity and a feeling of being tied down and struggling to be free; medical language – hypertension, psychological language – suppressed hostility and a perception that one’s environment is dangerous.

Christians speak of body and soul, meaning the physical, destructible part of a person’s being versus the immortal part. They also have the enduring mystery of the Trinity – one God in three separate Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Christian churches are divided into Catholic, Protestant and Baptist yet come to some level of unity through the ecumenical movement. Three monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – come together in interfaith efforts.

The Buddhist expression for the relationship between the divine and human is “not one, not two.” Depending on one’s beliefs, a pregnant woman is also not one, not two.

A parent shares a degree of genetic oneness with a child. A marriage is considered one unit comprised of two separate individuals. The presence of deceased loved ones can be perceived by those living on this side of the veil.

The Lakota Sioux have a beautiful expression of oneness which encompasses ancestors, family, friends, people unknown, and members of the animal, fowl, plant and planetary worlds – all of creation: mitakuye oyasin, “all my relatives.” They use it to end their prayer in a sweat lodge.

It could aptly end all of our prayers.