The One

To our modern eyes the concept of the One or Oneness is mystical and Eastern in origin and there will be found truth in this. But we can perceive this reality with our Western eyes. Try to imagine yourself as a grain of sand. You are nestled upon the beach, one of trillions and trillions of grains of sand. You are quite separate and yet also part of and similar to the whole. All you see around you are other grains of sand. But whilst you concentrate on those, you neglect to see the sky from which falls the rays of the sun that contain life and the drops of rain that feed the ocean that formed you. You do not see that those other grains of sand were formed in the same way as you and that they too come from the same rocks; you are all the same. And one day, in millions of years you will form as ancient sedimentary rock one again.

In this way, we are all formed by the same methods, with the same energy. We all eat the same produce of the earth and drink the same water. We shall all return to this same earth from where we came and the earth shall one day return to the universe from when it came. Ultimately it will all 'roll-up' in the Big Crash and all be one again. In truth, it is all one anyway. It is all connected and via quantum entanglement every piece of information is everywhere from all time in one place and in every particle. Imagine that! It's like a hologram plate. When we look at it the picture placed there by light energy is three dimensional. When we smash the picture into a thousand pieces, every piece has the picture of the whole! This is what the holographic universe is like, but this time we have more dimensions such as time itself. So imagine, you as an individual are really part of a multi-dimensional holographic universe where you are everywhere in all-time!

Well, that's kind of what the one concept is about in a really simple way. So did ancient man understand this principle and what lessons for us can we draw? For an answer to this I just knew from my own research that I should turn to my Sufi friends and their ancient wisdom.

There is a tale told by the 19th century Sufi master Ghuath Ali Shah and today re-told by Sufi masters across the world. To many the teachings mean nothing. They are just nice stories re-told again and again and have in the re-telling lost their value. But this is not true. Those with the eyes to see can understand the many meanings behind the tales and in this respect my years listening to and learning from various 'teachers' of the Gnostic loop, including Sufi's, has seen me in good stead. The tale I speak of is known as The Four Travelers and I will now myself in all humility to the ancient masters, re-tell the tale and offer some explanation for our modern eyes. Understanding of course, that in each tale, there are many levels of understanding and so you can find truths within for yourself.

There was a forest, black as midnight and thicker than thieves. It was a favorite route for many, but suffered from highwaymen and robbers and so it was that four travelers found themselves needing to rest for the night, but fearful for their lives and possessions. They were good friends and had three of them had been so for many years and so after discussion that they decided to take turns to watch around the campfire. They settled down and the first watch went to a carpenter and wood sculptor. He sat for a while and then noticed a small length of wood and so decided to pass the time carving a beautiful image of a woman. By the time he had finished it was time for the next watch and so he placed the wooden lady down and woke his friend.

His friend was a tailor and after a while he too not noticed the piece of wood and decided to make some clothes for the image of the woman. He produced a dress of silk and finished off with small leather sandals. Now it was time for him to sleep and he woke the next man who was a jeweler. Again to pass the time the jeweller decided to adorn the little figure with beautiful jewels. The final watch was summoned, but this time the man, a new friend the others had met on the journey, had no skills at all and so felt very ashamed of himself. He saw the wooden lady and agreed the art and craft of his new friends. He wanted to show that he too was capable of improving upon the wood. He decreed the only thing he could do was to seek the help of God and so he prayed:

"Oh, Almighty and Merciful Lord, give us some portion of your glory and as the Giver of Life bestow upon this humble figure the gift of life."

The fire finally went out and all was dark, all was one black place. Then the sun rose and crept across the landscape, revealing the countless forms that had been part of the darkness. One of these forms was now new to human life – the wooden woman was a living, breathing creature. The four men now wake were aghast and in awe at their creation. The wood carver accredited the contours; the tailor was gushing with pride at the serene silken dress and the jeweller thought the fine gems were full of inspiration. And yet the fourth man claimed the upper hand for himself, because it was he who had asked God to provide the life force. In truth, the four men, who just the night before had been friends, were now sworn enemies, each one claiming ownership of this thing of beauty.

And so, because they could not decide who owned the stunning mute female they made for the near town where they bought out the judge. Unfortunately the judge and the towns people simply thought they were fools and so sent then to see the king. Again, the king, thinking them to be fools sent them to the Sufi master who this time took all five out to see the Tree of Knowledge and with an assembled audience began to ask the tree for its wisdom. No sooner had the Sufi begun to speak than the tree opened up before them and as if by magic the young lady walked towards it and was swallowed whole. They never saw her again.

This marvellous tale reveals many 'truths', but I wish to concentrate on just two of them here. The fact is that the woman had come from wood and would there before go back to wood. She returned to the place from where she came, just as we all shall. This is the concept of the One. It is the unity of the cycle itself. Not only are we part of the whole whilst in this part of the cycle or that part of the cycle; we are the One before and after and always will be. As cosmic dust, solar rays and universal energy feed our planet and us, so too Shall we ourselves return to cosmic dust, solar rays and universal energy one day. We will return to the place from where we came, we are part of a great unified universe. There is no tomorrow, no yesterday, neither exist. The only place in time and space that exists is now and that is a slice through the whole.

But there is much more to this tale and for me there is a strong personal lesson for each and every one of us that can only be learned truly if we understand our 'place' in the greater whole. We are no different to that wooden woman. We came from the One into the One and so we are the One. Who is it that thinks they can form us, dress us and then give us life? Nobody owns us. To own is an anagram of now and in the now we exist. Whether your family, your town, your school or your employer or even your political or religious leaders – they all claim ownership at one time or another. And yet not one of them owns you just because they talk you ,ave you life, cave you reason, clothed you or employed you. No ruler rules you. You are the same as everyone and everything else and no matter what another gives you it does not empower them above you.

You may be a small piece of the holographic universe, but within you is the whole picture right now.

Permission to reprint this article is heby given by Philip Gardiner, 2006.

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