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Out of Many, One?

August 22, 2011

Huanchaco Gazebo in the Sun

The Rag and Tree has written a series of beautiful posts exploring the climate and writings of the ancient Middle East–with a focus on the writings of the bible and the changes that occurred during the time of the Israelites.  These posts have got my brain running and I highly recommend reading of  his work:  here, here and here.

What this has got me thinking of is the notion of oneness.

In the US our coins say:  out of many one–and we adhere to the notion that one large state with many small parts is much stronger than if each part were working completely independently.  To me this notion of Oneness is truly the notion of cooperation.

As RT relates, the Z-Revolution took the Assyrians from a broad polytheism to a dualistic monotheism and brought with it an accompanying change in monarch strategy:  unification by force.

Sound familiar?  This pattern to my mind plays out again and again in other forms.  Constantine for example, unified his power by unifying Rome under a single God.  Welcome the Holy Roman Empire.

Let us contrast this with a more Eastern view of Oneness.

Enlightenment.  The Buddah refers to a sense of oneness with the universe coinciding with a dissolution of self–a full embodiment of the principle of anatta–no soul.

Oneness in the Hindu sense follows closely with that of the Buddah–all Gods are a manifestation, an incarnation of the same God, the same I Am divine force in the universe that resides within each person.

From the Katha Upanishad we have: When the Truth shines clearly in the heart of the knower, then he surmounts the apparent duality of his nature and becomes convinced that there is but One, and that all outer manifestations are nothing but reflections or projections of that One.

So I pose the question to you:  Is true Oneness a unification under a single ideal? or the realization that all systems are truly the same?

More on this soon…

5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 24, 2011 3:09 pm

    Wow, CI, thanks for your enthusiastic responses to my Z Revolution/Elohist posts! I haven’t really stopped to consider the connections w/ Hindu religion yet (tho Wikipedia indicates there are deep connections w/ early Persian polytheism)…I’m looking for a good history of the Persian Empire (and maybe India, too)… deep roots, these! RT

  2. Rick permalink
    August 25, 2011 8:08 pm

    Its always a interesting to make the leap from politics to religion. Constantine used Christianity as one vehicle to unify an Empire but it did not define Christianity. Christian unity is rooted in God’s creating everyone in the imagine and likeness of God. Politics never lives by this truth even though it can recognize it and even use it.

    • August 25, 2011 9:34 pm

      I would argue that Constantine did in a large way define Christianity, not necessarily on a theological level, but in the way Christianity functioned as a mitigating force in Europe for centuries–as a political body and as a foundation for developing social structures. My primary point in bringing up politics and religion is not to argue whether politics genuinely reflects the true nature of any understanding of the divine but rather to elucidate how the structure of a religion influences the universal outlook, the mindset and the social structure chosen by those who adhere to it.

  3. Rick permalink
    August 26, 2011 8:23 pm

    It is always a mistake to confuse Byzantium and European Christianity. They are remarkable different. Each adapted to to centuries of political change, yet very different. Just consider the differences between The Greeks and the Romans.

    • August 28, 2011 5:47 pm

      Good point, but I’d ask you to consider as well how deeply tied the Greeks and the Romans were–they may have been very different but they deeply influenced one another and the interplay of those two cultures defined the classical era and there is no doubt that reactions and interpretations of Greek culture defined large portions of what it was to be Roman.

      A similar relationship is true for Byzantium and European Christianity. The fact that Constantine held the first Ecumenical council before the full East-West split tells us that his influence was widespread on both the Eastern and Western sides. He may have moved the capital to Byzantium but his move to unify Rome under Christianity had a great impact on the church and states in both the east and west. He was the godfather of the tradition of having a “Holy Roman Emperor” which carried on into Europe well after the fall of Rome and formed the basis for much of the language, tradition and justification that surrounded (and surrounds) European monarchies and ruling classes. It’s not just that every king wanted to be Caesar, they weren’t really going for Julius, they were channeling Constantine. Politically, I see the evidence of this in the actions chosen by European leaders throughout Europe’s political and religious turmoil: how they dealt with Luther, Calvin, Papal disputes and unruly populaces. Constantine was big and affected Europe in a significant way by how he changed the Roman empire.

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