The Experience of Transcendent Oneness
A 6-Year-Old Boy Experienced This…
“In a brief, single full moment, I was allowed to see how the vast contraption of nature all round me . . . was bound into a single vast ongoing wheel by one immense power that had willed us into being and intended our futures, wherever they might lead through the pattern, the enormously intricate woven pattern somehow bound at the rim and cohering for as long as the Creator willed it.”
A 41-Year-Old Astronaut Experienced This…
“The biggest joy was on the way home. In my cockpit window, every two minutes: The Earth, the Moon, the Sun, and the whole 360-degree panorama of the heavens. And that was a powerful, overwhelming experience. And suddenly I realized that the molecules of my body, and the molecules of the spacecraft, the molecules in the body of my partners, were prototyped, manufactured in some ancient generation of stars. And that was an overwhelming sense of oneness, of connectedness; it wasn’t ‘Them and Us’, it was ‘That’s me!’, that’s all of it, it’s… it’s one thing. And it was accompanied by an ecstacy, a sense of ‘Oh my God, wow, yes’, an insight, an epiphany.”
Who Were They?
Who was that boy? Reynolds Price, a Southern writer who taught at Duke University. “Since that childhood vision,” Price said later, “I have felt that either the Creator was interested in me, and had certain hopes and expectations of me, or that I was more sensitive than a lot of other people to forms of knowledge that are out there waiting to be stumbled upon. Maybe that’s part of what artists are, they’re stumblers, they’re people who stub their toe on something and say, Wait, what was that? Wait, that was a vision of the unity of being, and I saw it! Maybe some people are going so fast that they don’t even bother to stumble.”
Price calls himself a renegade Christian. Yet he has written of his faith in two volumes of memoir, a number of poems, a published response to a dying young man, and a study of the ethics of Jesus. He said, “The Christian tradition is the one in which I continue to acknowledge and negotiate with that Creator, though since my early twenties I’ve done it so outside the walls of an organized church and in ways that might seem heretical to many.” His spiritual exercises consist of private prayer, reading, meditation, reflecting his understanding that “the chief aims of any mature religious life are union with the will of God, as opposed to one’s own will, and the finding of ways to assist other creatures on their own lonely routes.”
Who was that astronaut? Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon. Here’s an except from a Rory Fitzgerald article on the HuffingtonPost.com…
After leaving NASA in 1972, he founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences in California to explore the frontiers of inner space. This was the beginning of a new journey for Mitchell: Since then, his aim has been to find an understanding of the universe which encompasses both science and spirituality.
As he researched his spiritual experiences of “oneness,” he says, “I began to realize that this type of experience has taken place in every culture throughout history. In my opinion, this type of experience is the basis of all religion.”
“[Religions] begin with some type of transformational type experience like that…a mountaintop experience, which moves you from your normal way of thinking…As a result of my experience, I think that the evolutionary path of humanity has to be away from violence and towards caring and oneness.”
He says that most anyone can have such a transformational experience, if they seek it: “The time-honored way is through traditional meditation techniques, where the mind is stabilized and cleared. That seems to open the way for the transformation-type experiences to take place. In many of our religious traditions, the cloistered aspects of the tradition has featured that.”
However, he says, as well as their mystical aspects, many religions also contain “a branch which says ‘onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war’… to me, that’s exactly the opposite to what these transcendent ideas are all about.”
“It seems to be always the case that, from the evidence we have of these ancient transcendent events, that the early spiritual leaders had the same notions as we’re talking about. But somewhere along the line, the followers who hadn’t had the original experience reverted right back to the same old political maneuvers, social and cultural bickering…so eventually religion becomes part of the problem, and not part of the solution.”
In recent years he has worked with several prominent scientists in developing the theory of the “quantum hologram,” which posits an energy field infusing all objects and living things. They hypothesize that this “quantum field” contains information about each object or being; and that it, in turn, interacts and connects with a single unified energy field that pervades the entire universe.
He says that “the quantum hologram [could be] a mechanism for psychic information, which we call in English our intuition, our ‘sixth sense.’ It should really be called our ‘first sense’ [as] quantum information flow is very fundamental in nature.”
He agrees that this conception may in some ways correspond with the theological concept of the “One God” of Judeo-Christian tradition, but he adds, “in the Judeo-Christian tradition they personify and anthropomorphize the deity, and I don’t…this newer interpretation that seems to be unfurling before us is with nature as the creative force, embodied in the natural law of the universe. That certainly seems to fit, in my mind at least, better than most other models.” But he chuckles, “We still have a ways to go before we understand the universe…we won’t have the answers before tea time.”