In “Practicing Love” [March 2000], Hugh Prather proclaims the virtues of oneness. I am always surprised when sensitive and intelligent writers on the extrahuman — what the religious call “the spiritual” — emphasize the need for oneness. Oneness is not a challenging concept, but rather the comfort of religion. It takes little to see its attraction, as it establishes a home for all, absolute unity.
As a tremulous, intelligent, faithful atheist, I found much to agree with in Prather’s notes on marriage. My husband is both my lover and my best friend. Although our differences are immeasurable, I have faith in difference, faith that because no two people are exactly the same, there will always be room for adjustment, growth, life. I feel no need to make up for our differences with oneness. My faith in multiplicity keeps me from judging my partner against a universal model and allows me to experience him in new and exciting ways.
Prather’s words show him to be someone who has lived through love and allowed it to shape him. He isn’t lying when he says, “Oneness is a deep act of the heart.” I simply believe that what he experiences as oneness isn’t oneness, but the complete affirmation of and tenderness for all living creatures, which is, in my experience, the strongest feeling a person can have.
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