Wednesday 6 January 2021

Oneness is The System approved spirituality - why?

The possible spiritual paths in The West seem (in practice, if not in principle) to boil down to a choice between Oneness and Romantic Christianity

Oneness comes in many guises. It is the standard basis of New Age spirituality. Oneness is also the extracted essence of Westernised Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi mysticism and the like. 

And it is the core of that highbrow, relativised, symbolic, amoral-leftist derivative of mystical and ritual Christianity, popular among intellectual liberal 'Christians' such as Rowan Willams (sometime Archbishop of Canterbury).  


Oneness is (as a minority possibility) taught and supported by the Establishment. For instance some major state bureaucracies, educational organisations and private corporations offer Oneness teaching and/or therapy under various titles such as counselling and 'mindfulness'. 

And, at the intellectual and high cultural level; there are variants of the eclectic, syncretic 'perennial philosophy' derived from Theosophy with its anything-but Christianity tendencies - e.g. Prince Charles's Temenos academy or the Schumacher society. 

Positive features on oneness can be found in mainstream Leftist newspapers, on TV, in movies - its practitioners are at least acceptable, and may be accorded official honours and prizes.


What are its characteristics? Oneness teaching is against 'the Self'/ Ego, and against 'thinking'

It regards all men as One, indeed evrything that is - is One. 

The intention is to lose the thinking self into an apprehension this ultimate One-ness.

(In practice, this state-of-being is intermittent, recreational and therapeutic; and in-between times the Oneness practitioner will typically be well integrated into 'normal life' - which nowadays means The System and all it entails.) 


Why does Oneness fit-in-with The Establishment agenda of evil? 

Well, quite simply because the thinking Self - when that Self is our divine nature inherited as sons and daughters of God - is the only thing about us that stands outside of The System

The thinking of this divine Self is what we use to discern, judge and evaluate in accordance with God's values. The thinking of this divine self is what motivates us from a source in harmony with God's creation. 

The intention of Romantic Christianity is to locate, become conscious of, use and strengthen this type of intuition, this form of direct knowing.


Naturally, The System wants our divine, thinking Self dissolved away into nothingness! 

And is happy to encourage any philosophy which assists in such work!


William Wildblood said...

The inadequacy of Oneness as a spiritual path is (as you know) one of my concerns. Its great weakness nowadays is that it cannot fight evil because it doesn't recognise evil and is therefore absorbed by it. Its practitioners won't admit to that but that is the outcome of a Oneness doctrine. In a way, Oneness is a sort of spiritual materialism as it focuses entirely on quantity (that quantity being 1), dismissing quality as somehow illusionary or, at least, on a second and insignificant level of reality. However, creation is all about investing life with quality. Oneness sees no need in creation and can't explain it.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - well said.

Another aspect is that Western Oneness advocates do not believe in the nasty kind of reaincarnation; which punishes suicide - but usually seem to believe either in annihilation after death or blissful absorption back into divinity.

In which case why bother with meditation training when meditation just simulates deep sleep, oblterative intoxication or death. Why not not kill youself ASAP, if suicide is not punished?

Why wait around in this state of suffering and illusion when you could join with the One straight away?

That this so seldom happens may suggest a lack of genuine faith.

On the other hand, I would not be surprised if suicide did become popular among Western Oneness adherents, when things get tough.

Adil said...

The Oneness philosophy is a sign of spiritual motion sickness. It tries to stand outside any particular viewpoint and claims neutrality. In this way it resembles the scientist, who subtracts himself from his own observations. But applying this logic onto life itself is akin to heresy, since subtracting the human subject to achieve pure objectivity is tantamount to self abandonment, our very own Christ center. Our phenomenological, qualitative experience of the world is always primary to the abstract notions of it. The modern world has put the abstract first, which ought to stunt self-development and spiritual growth. Perhaps this explains the disparity between our technical knowledge and lack of self knowledge.

I think it comes down to a form of spiritual escapism. In a sense, the entire western world has become like this, lacking the courage to actually take sides for anything (since politics have become so infected). We live in a homeless secular void. I believe the unity spiralling is actually a symptom of a spiritual deadlock and trauma based on fear. It is the sheep gathering in a collective to form a hive mind of conformity. Truth is scary, and in a way Jesus' death on the cross symbolizes the universal evil of the mass man, always ready to sacrifice the black sheep. Somehow democracy has made us believe that the masses are good, humans are basically good etc. It seems like an evasion of the fact that the devil lurks within and the good in a sense needs to be earned. And this is the hidden dirty secret of our self-congratulatory democracy, it just can't look itself in the mirror because it assumes Man is Good by himself.

To apply the logic of heaven (union) onto earth is a false goal. The dualities of earth can't be transgressed. I don't think the point of perennialism is formal religious syncretism but only to recognize a metaphysical primordial tradition. Physical binaries are not meant to be escaped at a material level but transcended at a spiritual level. This is why all calls for unity, pacifism or religious syncretism are luxury beliefs positing false wisdom and neutrality. The point of life is not to 'make everyone get along' and play God. This malaise results from not being right with God in the first place, the first fundamental relationship.

Epimetheus said...

Calls for One-ness and Unity always amount to, "Return immediately to our soul-destroying total-domination Nothing Cult."

It's nothing more than a demonic inversion of the Prodigal Son. But we are not the Prodigal Sons - they are.

Schleume said...

I'm commenting on the "not thinking" part of your article. I never read anything about Oneness (which is due to the fact, that I don't bother reading about this stuff). But reading your post I again realize, that what you call Oneness spiritual path is a huge misunderstanding of the eastern philosophies. The analogy that comes to my mind is the following:

A person who doesn't understand the complexity of one system (e.g. Christianity) is looking for an alternative. Why doesn't he understands the system? Because he wasn't raised by it (fully). Therefore he had no chance of embracing it. All he sees is a bunch of ceremonies/prayers/stories which he thinks he understands. He (or she, doesn't matter) doesn't, though. He only sees the outside shell, because his parents/closest peers(/and the church itself) couldn't explain him what the real, underlying meaning of those stories/rituals/prayers really means. They couldn't because of the same reason. There was a break in the past somewhere.

The need for some spiritual guidance is strong in him. So he looks at some other alternatives. He finds eastern philosophies which seem appealing. They seem simple: your ego is bad, get rid of it! Don't think! We are all one. He learns this lessons. He's happy and he teaches it to others. Everybody is happy.

But the problem is: This was lesson 1 of another very complex system (e.g. daoism). This is the misunderstanding. That this values are the core of this alternative. No, they are lesson 1. Not an easy task to learn, admittedly, but still the first lesson on a long spiritual path. He prematurely taught it to others. Maybe because it is the western style (to do things without being really firm in it) or maybe there was some money involved or both.

But what is lesson two, then?
Lesson 1 is basically a necessary step to empty the glass in order to see what's at the bottom. The water in the cup is muddy. You cannot see through it. So you need to get rid of it. You need to get yourself out of the equation to see what really is. Once god (the base of the glass) can be clearly seen the person can (and will) become an individual again. A very self aware, and creative person, btw. lesson 2 is to realize the base of the glass. Lesson 3 is to fill the cup again. But lesson 3 is implizit and not difficult because you "walk in the light".

With the above "Oneness" could be also understood as "First-Grade". (just a funny side note).

I hope I could express myself in a way that you (the reader) understands it correctly. There are so many parts that can be misunderstood.

Bruce Charlton said...

Thanks for comments.

I should add that some Western advocates of oneness teaching are Not 'neutralised' by the doctrine - for example David Icke; for whom I have considerable respect as a man and as a 'seer'.

However, I would argue that in such cases, people are Not following-through the logic of their metaphysical assumptions. In practice, they apply their oneness dissolving-acid to only certain aspects of their own lives; and leave much of their 'in real life' attitudes, motivations and behaviours untouched - which is what allows them to discern good from evil, and to take sides.

I am glad that the likes of Icke do Not follow-through on their oneness assumptions! But I would prefer that they dropped their oneness assumptions and attained clarity and coherence - not least because this oneness teaching has such a demotivating and enervating effect on so many who take it more seriously, or who lack countervailing motivations.

edwin faust said...

In the fourth Gospel, especially chapters 13 through 17, there are repeated statements and exhortations about our being in Christ and Christ in us and all being one in the Father. These chapters and their implications are largely ignored by mainstream Christianity but are sometimes cited by those familiar with Vedanta and other Eastern disciplines to show the correspondence of the deeper Christian teaching with the idea of there being one existence/consciousness from which we came and in which we subsist: the Logos from which all arises and in which all will be restored. The purpose of incarnate life is a problem no matter how one approaches it.

Bruce Charlton said...

edwin - It is - I would have thought - obviously not meaning the same! There is a whole Gospel to make clear what One does mean in these passages; and how Jesus, his Father, and Christian Men are to be regarded - i.e. as a family of distinct persons.

Francis Berger said...

It just struck me that spiritual surrender is a common mantra among Oneness-type spirituality/New Age movements. Another grand inversion.

Epimetheus said...

Good catch, Francis. They mean spiritual surrender [to Satan]. Remember that "Let it Go" song from the Frozen movie? Though spiritual surrender to Christ is an excellent idea.

Faculty X said...

Edwin is right, there is a great deal of oneness in the Bible.

The most important is the First Commandment:

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is One."

Deut 6:4

The NT in one of many places:

"There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."

Ephesians 4:6

Easily a dozen more quotes from the Bible on One-ness.

They Eastern view of Oneness and what is in the Bible are linked.

Bruce Charlton said...

@FX - You need to go beyond proof texting and think of the underlying metaphysical assumptions. OT Judaism is in many essential respects the opposite of oneness spirituality.

NT Christianity is about God as an incarnate mortal (later immortal) Man - not an avatar, but an actual person.

Owen Barfield in Saving the Appearances made this very clear to me - the quite extraordinary way that the Hebrews worked to suppress the immanence (everywhereness) of God that is so much a part of 'Eastern' religions (and the basis of Western philosophical oneness ideas).

Hatcher said...

This Oneness also allows practitioners to pull a trick that would under other guises cause much dissonance; It can take-in/absorb a given body/movement/culture because We Are One, but also reject or demonize another for being Not One.
The defining distinctions of the bodies don’t seem to matter: Islam in all forms is One, while most forms of authentic Christianity are Not One.
One cool trick to rule them!

Bruce Charlton said...

H - That's exactly right! They do indeed do that, and without apparent awareness of what they are doing - which allows them to deny they are doing it...

All of which is a spiritually hazardous position to be in, since there is no possibility of repentance.

Hatcher said...

The more I think of it, the more it seems like a Satanic mockery of something like the unity or wholeness of God

Faculty X said...

OT is not Judaism, which is mostly Talmudism, a vast set of texts of interpretation that is explicitly against the plain reading of the OT.

OT is about Israelites. Israelites means those who commune and struggle with the OT God directly.

OT is not modern oneness spirituality, totally agree.

It is about oneness though in the very unmodern form that is Yahweh or the highway.

Bruce Charlton said...

@FX - That is to use a word in two meanings. The oneness spirituality I am talking about is that Everything is one in a deist/ pantheist way.

The OT is about one supreme God, none other to be worshipped - and this one God is forbidden to be be depicted.

But in my view there is no evidence that the OT God was the only God in existence (indeed the opposite is stated more than once - ie. several or many 'gods'), nor that God was outside time, nor that God was omnipotent, nor that God created everything from nothing. These ideas seem not to have been conceptualizable by the OT Hebrews.

These ideas were apparently later included from Greek philosophy, and read-into the OT.