Coexistence and Essential Oneness

Coexistence is a way to experience our Essential Oneness in our daily life. It is a beautiful word, a worthy ideal…like an elegant dance where we live our own life while accepting the ways of others.

Yet coexistence can also be much more difficult to attain than we think, because our unique way can often feel threatened by the ways of others. This may lead us to compare ourselves with others and even attempt to define our way as somehow better.

But it can be done. When I was in Chile over a month ago, I gave a seminar in a town whose mayor is trying to bring the reality of coexistence into practice. The town hopes to build temples for the three major religions of the western world—a synagogue, a church, and a mosque. Two of them, the church and the mosque, have already been built. And it was interesting to see that his inspiration actually worked. People from different religions participate peacefully in their spiritual practices at their corresponding temples. In addition, the mosque has a library that can be used by people of different religions and backgrounds to offer talks and seminars.  I had not been in a town before in Latin America with a conscious intention to practice coexistence, so I felt hopeful and impressed. I have heard there are other towns and cities like this one around the world…but not enough yet.

Buddha by Dr.S.M.Anwer.jpg

Coexistence is not only about learning to live with other people, but  also with animals and plants and the land. Life naturally coexists; ecosystems are a form of coexistence.  Plants and animals share their existence with the land. They are not separate from the universe, or each other. They are an integral part of everything. In their own way, they live in paradise.

But as human beings develop the capacity to differentiate from our environment, when we develop a sense of I and you, we leave the natural way of being and enter the realm of separation from life. Then we begin to see ourselves as different from everyone and everything else. We experience our uniqueness; and frequently in this process we forget our similarity with all.

In this way coexistence confronts us with the difference between our idea of essential oneness and the here-and-now reality of living it with other unique beings. Coexistence demands a quality of tolerance, of looking at what we have in common rather than stressing our differences. It means to live with one another in an open and respectful way towards both ourselves and all.

Coexistence does not mean to give up one’s traditions and ways, but rather to enjoy the diversity and uniqueness that the whole of life is, while perceiving the oneness that unites us underneath the variety of forms of expressions of existence. It means experiencing our essential oneness by consciously coexisting with the whole of life on this plane of reality—the plane of the opposites—on our own. We can try it, enjoy it, and encounter its difficulties.

Coexistence is a way to live our individuality within diversity. It is an experience of sameness and difference at the same time.  It is an experience of Reality.

Universal Worship Mandala, Art by Amara Karuna

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