The Well of Onlyness

In the Trillium Dharma, Onlyness is defined as the quality of seamlessness of consciousness with phenomena; the recognition that all phenomena, objects, and others are of the “same essence” as your conscious embodied, non-separate nature. For many of us, myself included, Onlyness is easiest to experience with phenomena and objects, and not so easy with the other.

In our work, we encourage ourselves to recognize the other as Consciousness manifesting as that. When we find ourselves getting triggered by another in our interpersonal relationships, it’s Onlyness that we need to recognize.

In the Buddhist tradition, there’s a popular form of meditation called Metta in which we practice sending loving-kindness to all beings. First, we start with ourselves, then we move on to familiar others, neighbors, friends, and relatives, even strangers with whom we have a benign relationship. From here, we reach out to those with whom our relationships may be difficult. In my experience, this practice had the effect of opening my heart to those whom I found challenging.

This came back to me this morning when I drew the Onlyness card from the Trillium Self-Inquiry deck for contemplation. As what I jokingly call a “recovering transcendent,” one to whom transcendence and seamlessness with phenomena and objects came very easily, I was moved by the contemplation question, Do I feel a sense of continuity of connectedness with other people. The answer is mostly yes. But who among us does not find some people difficult? Difficult to hold, to be with, and to love?

In my meditation, I let those people come into my awareness, and holding them there I said this is consciousness arising as so and so. In each instance, I felt a deep shift in my reluctance, my resistance, my own triggered personality that has held those people as somehow difficult or challenging instead of holding them as a manifestation of consciousness. It’s a shift from making them wrong to seeing them as that which is.

Now it’s important for me to say here that there may be people in our lives who have caused us harm, and sometimes that harm has been traumatic. I’m not suggesting bypassing those feelings in order to achieve Onlyness. It can’t be achieved. It can only arrive over time as one deepens in their realization of embodied consciousness. For myself, forgiveness has shown itself to be an organic process. I can’t make it happen, but if I stay attuned to my own and others’ emergence as a manifestation of consciousness, the ground of Being softens, and forgiveness sends up its delicate, vulnerable shoots.

In Tantra Illuminated, Christopher Wallis describes objects and phenomena as Consciousness painting herself on the canvas of herself. To me, this is the realization of Onlyness in a nutshell. In Hamlet, Shakespeare says nothing is good or bad but saying makes it so. When we decide that something is bad, we presume to know what is essentially unknowable. So by realizing Onlyness, we are trusting in Being, living as embodied Consciousness AND relatedness. There is no one that is not a manifestation of Being as itself in the moment. They’re Only That.

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