The Vision of Universal Oneness
H. H. Swami Chinmayananda
Love for oneself is natural. From the top of the crown to the tip of your toe, you love yourself. Even though the hands are not the legs, the legs are not the toes, the toes are not the fingers, the finger is not like the nose, the nose is not like the ears, you love all of them — the whole body. Each part is different in shape, in name and in function. What the eyes can do, the ears cannot do. What the nose can do, the tongue can never do. What the hands can do, the legs cannot do. Each has a different function. Within myself, there are so many different shapes, forms and functions. And yet, am I not one?
From the tip of the toe to the top of my crown, am I not one? How do you feel this oneness? The hand is not the leg, the leg is not the thumb, the thumb is not the nose. And yet I say I am one. How?
I pervade every cell in me. You may be a 250-pound six-footer, but if I bring a small pin and say, “For what you have done, we have decided that the pin must be put in your body. Since this is a democracy, you can choose where it should be put.” Try choosing! Think of each place: No, no, no… until at last you say, “If you must put the pin, why not try it on my neighbor!”
You love every cell in the body equally. You know that it is all your own self. Suppose your own finger happens to poke your own eyes. Or your own teeth bite your own tongue. Even if you are the chief justice of the Supreme Court, with a strong sense of justice, will you say, “This finger unnecessarily hurt the eyes which have always served the finger while it did any work. It is unprovoked aggression. Chop off the finger as an example for the entire body politic. There must be discipline in the body.” Will you say that?
When it is your own finger that hurts your eye, immediately all the five fingers together, as a committee, go to the eye and start rubbing it, silently saying, “I am very sorry. I never meant it.” The eye, though watering and red, looks at the finger and silently says, “I know it,” and forgives the finger. Isn’t it?
Suppose it is the finger of the man who is sitting next to you that poked your eye, your sense of justice becomes merciless: Cut his finger off! This is because he is other than me, different from me.
When you start analyzing deeply, you realize that the whole world is your body. Just as every cell in you is sacred, every living being in the outer world, every inert particle in the world outside, is also a part of you. It is not anything other than you. With this understanding, there comes a sense of goodwill towards all living beings and service becomes spontaneous.
It is not service before self or after self — it becomes service for my own self. If my calf muscle is itching, my hand goes naturally, unthinkingly, to scratch and relieve the itch. The joy of relief is joy for the whole body.
In the same way, wherever I see sorrow, I run to relieve it. I try to wipe off the tears of others, because they are my own Self. This is the universal vision of Vedanta. Devotees see their beloved Rama or Krishna everywhere and serve Him in the various forms. The sense of plurality goes away. All the distinctions at the national level, communal level or even the individual level are wiped out. They merge into the one Divine Presence.
This unfoldment in yourself will assure that the world is preserved. You will stop destroying yourself, your own world. In fact, the world can never be destroyed; it will reorganize itself once you stop creating havoc. Learn to serve others without selfishness.