By Robert Atkinson
The summer of 1969 afforded me with opportunities for experiences that formed a foundation for my emerging worldview: the moonwalk, with the photos sent back, gave me a vivid sense of the Earth as one planet with no boundaries between us; sailing on the maiden voyage of the Clearwater with Pete Seeger gave me a strong sense of social and environmental justice; and attending Woodstock gave me a taste of humanity as one family.
Then, in early 1970, I met Joseph Campbell at one of his Cooper Union talks. A few weeks later, I found myself sitting with him in his Greenwich Village home, under the guidance and mentorship of a most uniquely worthy teacher.
He had given me a signed copy of The Masks of God: Creative Mythology. When I later read this passage from the frontispiece — that the completion of this four-volume series confirmed for him “a thought I have long and faithfully entertained: of the unity of the human race, not only in its biology but also in its spiritual history which has everywhere unfolded in the manner of a single symphony, with its themes… irresistibly advancing to some kind of mighty climax” — my emerging worldview became clarified: the interconnectedness of all things gives a direction to our evolving consciousness.
Flash-forward — after a second master’s, a doctorate, a few books on life story interviewing, personal mythmaking, and soul-making, a more defined worldview, and an academic career — The Story of Our Time: From Duality to Interconnectedness to Oneness has blossomed from those seeds planted back then, a big-picture narrative of humanity’s conscious evolution tracing love’s unifying power throughout history and in our midst today.
We live in times of massive change. What feels like a dark night of the collective soul, with things seeming to get worse with every turn, is actually a twofold process: the breakdown of an old, worn out worldview and the unfolding of a new way of seeing the one planet we all share. Both are part of one evolutionary process leading to a global transformation of consciousness.
In a little over a century and a half, we have seen a leap of consciousness from the previous norm of nation building to the new vision of an interdependent global community. The consciousness most characterizing our time is the consciousness of the oneness of humanity. Our greatest challenge is to disregard the fleeting notions of the day, to move beyond the dualities that separate us, and focus on the oneness that embraces all.
The good news is, as the perennial philosophy has shown, evolution is a process of inevitable progress — with its ups and downs — and there are shared principles guiding us toward unity, which also frame The Story of Our Time.
When things get out of balance, the principle of justice comes into play to help maintain the inherent balance of life. Justice, as the cornerstone for building a culture of oneness, is intended to be a force for unity, just as love is the only force that can eliminate all forms of prejudice.
Opposition is needed as a catalyst for transformation. Light and shadow represent the essence of the core oppositions. The day after the inauguration of a president embodying what many would call shadow qualities, the global Women’s March took place simultaneously in nearly 40 countries raising the voice of oneness, in solidarity, as all the human rights issues of the past centuries converged into one cause.
There always has been and always will be one universal law governing all of nature. Reality is an organic whole; everything in it is connected to every other thing. We are on the verge of realizing we are one human family. Yet never has there been a greater opportunity — and need — to participate in and take action on behalf of this process; it needs us as much as we need it.
It’s time to take the Oneness Pledge, to commit to becoming part of a growing global community of spiritual activists building a culture of oneness. A new call to action is being raised; the way we get to our desired future is dependent upon us. We must take on our responsibility as proactive midwives to manage this painful transition period and bring about the rebirth of the planet as gently as possible.
A culture of oneness means living in unity within our multiplicity, honoring our diversity within our common heritage as human beings, and safeguarding our differences while recognizing we are more alike than unalike.
This and more is fleshed out in The Story of Our Time: how a new life, a new chapter in humanity’s story is emerging from the decay of yesterday; how world unity is a realizable goal as we build a culture of oneness; and how a growing network of worldwide interfaith and interspiritual groups, along with social movements, are putting into action the much-needed unifying principles of our time. The book ends with “A Meditation for Living in Oneness,” providing a regular practice that can change the way we think about and live in the world.
On my website I offer a simple but profound way of shifting our consciousness from the part to the whole, and from forces in opposition to the force that unifies. Consider taking the Oneness Pledge — “In all my thoughts and actions, I pledge to look upon all things with the eye of oneness” — and using this as a regular mantra to establish the habit of thinking, speaking, and acting with a consciousness of oneness, which will create a pattern that will enable us to live in oneness. By taking the Oneness Pledge on my website, you can join the global movement of our time — building a culture of oneness — and receive a full-color, frame-worthy, downloadable PDF of the Pledge.
Robert Atkinson, PhD, an internationally recognized authority on life story interviewing, personal mythmaking and soul-making, is professor emeritus at the University of Southern Maine. His nine books include The Story of Our Time: From Duality to Interconnectedness to Oneness (2017), which Michael Bernard Beckwith called “… A must read by the widest of global audiences…” Mystic Journey: Getting to the Heart of Your Soul’s Story (2012), was called “an exquisite exploration of the spiritual craft of soul-making” by Jean Houston. Of his memoir, Remembering 1969: Searching for the Eternal in Changing Times (2008), Thomas Moore said it was “profound, friendly, inspiring, and nostalgic… I loved it.” Visit Robert’s website by clicking here.
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This article appears in:
2017 Catalyst, Issue 14: Inspiring Positive Social Change