How to Experience Oneness or Advaita

by Nirmala

Advaita is a Sanskrit word meaning nondual or not two. This fundamental oneness is a quality of everything that exists. Everything is made of one essential substance. The question that arises: If everything is really all one thing why isn't that my experience?

This question confuses oneness for everything looking the same. Something can seem different without actually being separate. Take your hand for example. Each finger is different from the others, but are they separate? They are all a part of the same hand.

It also turns out that everything that exists in the world including people, objects animals, and plants are connected at the source, even though they look and act differently. The oneness of Being has an unlimited number of different looking expressions that we then experience as different things.

It also turns out that your fingers are all made of the same substance. As you explore the nature of your hand with greater subtlety, you discover more and more similarities. Your fingers are actually made up of very similar tissues, cells, atoms, and ultimately subatomic particles. When your experience of reality becomes even more subtle, you discover that everything is just a different expressions of one field of Being.

What about right now? Can you find this subtle oneness in your present experience? You can, if you let go of any expectation of a profound experience of oneness and instead explore a little bit of oneness at a time. Every single drop of water is wet, and so you can experience Advaita or oneness in every little part of existence. This oneness is fundamental to everything that exists.

Let's try something: look closely at your fingers and then at the palm of your hand. Where do the fingers start and the palm of your hand end? Or are they really one thing? Going even further, where exactly does your hand end and your forearm begin? Can you experience how your hand and forearm are really one thing?

If these are not separate, then what about all the other parts of your body? Are your feet and your ears really one even though they are so different? Now notice if there really is a separation between your thoughts and your head. Where does your head stop and something else called thought begin? What about feelings or desires? Are they really separate from you or your body?

Now, notice the simple sensations you are having: the sounds you are hearing, the sensations of touch, and the objects and events you are seeing. If you are seeing something, where does the seeing stop and something else called the eye begin? If you are hearing sounds where does the sound start and the ear stop? Perhaps the hearing and the sound and your ear are all one thing. Yes, the ear is different from the sound, but in the act of hearing they become one thing.

Then the question arises, what about the source of the sound? For instance, if a dog is barking outside, where does the dog stop and the sound of barking begin? Or are they really one thing? If a dog and its barking are one thing, and your ear and the sound are also one thing, then you and the dog must be one thing also.

Advaita, or oneness of Being, is actually something quite ordinary and is not actually hidden and difficult to experience. Obviously a dramatic experience of oneness, where you are overwhelmed by the oneness of the whole universe, is a special experience. But why wait when this beautiful and fulfilling sense of oneness is always available right now?

Nirmala gives free ebooks & online videos at He's been a spiritual teacher in the Advaita tradition since 1998, and gives satsang (gathering for truth) and individual spiritual mentoring phone sessions. Click here for other unique 'spirituality' articles.

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