What is Oneness and how does one get into it?

A Very Interesting Morning Meeting While a Soldier on Active Duty 

When I was on Active Duty with the California National Guard, my unit would train extensively at Fort Irwin, California. Fort Irwin has large open areas suitable for training Armor units. Indeed, there is plenty of room to maneuver whole Tank Brigades. Back in 1981, I was a member of 2nd Mech Infantry Brigade for the 40th Infantry Division. As our Brigade had two Armor Battalions, Fort Irwin was more often than not our go to training area.

Fort Irwin is a truly amazing piece of geography. It is always strikingly beautiful. As well because of the extremes of weather, it can be strikingly deadly. It is situated in what is considered California High Desert as the western part of the Mojave Desert. 

Though quite arid today, during the Pleistocene Epoch, the wide flat expanses formed a number of lakes. When the weather began changing to a drier and warmer climate about 18,000 years ago, snowpack no longer built up on what would later be named the Tiefort Mountain Range. Without the snowpack, the lakes gradually dried up leaving large wide swathes of open flat land populated by little more than Creosote bush, reptiles, coyotes, rodents, and various birds of prey including owls and hawks.

Fort Irwin began back in 1942 when President Roosevelt ordered 1000 acres to be set up as the Mojave Anti-Aircraft Range for Gunnery training. Though the camp was deactivated after WWII, in 1951 the Army established an Armored Combat Training Area there. In 1971, Fort Irwin was deactivated and transferred to the California National Guard which used the base as a training area exclusively until 1981. It was at that time the federal government saw a need to train force on force armored warfare exercises because of the potential threat of armored warfare with the former Soviet Union. Again, the Army chose Fort Irwin, with its exceptionally large open areas as the site of its National Training Center for Armor warfare. Eventually in 2000, the Army obtained an additional 133,000 training acres to enhance and support Armored Brigade Training force on force exercises. Today, Fort Irwin continues to serve as an exceptional National Training Center to keep our troops on the front line prepared to defend our country.   

Because of the altitude of this high desert at 2454 feet, when the wind is not blowing, the atmosphere has a clarity of visibility that can be quite challenging to understand unless you have experienced it. On my first trip to train at “Irwin”, I was assigned to drive a six-wheel drive vehicle with 2.5-ton capability that we commonly called a “Deuce and a half”. It had a six-cylinder diesel engine. Notoriously slow, it had great low-end torque and could plow up and through virtually any terrain.  On the road, slow and loud was the only description that could be used to describe it’s one function of moving from one location to another. Hence, any drive from San Diego to Fort Irwin was always an exercise in endurance and patience.

Going to Fort Irwin, the drive is straight north up Interstate Highway 15. Just after passing Barstow, California the Fort Irwin Road exit will take you to the base. That exit and a two-lane road led to some rolling hills. Once through the rolling hills, our convoy would exit out into a vast expanse of land that is perfectly bare of anything but sand, rocks and the occasional home of the local “desert rats” residents refer to themselves as. 

From that point, Fort Irwin Road is a perfectly straight line that declines to a low point half way between where you exited the rolling hills and then begins an incline toward more rolling hills in the distance. As you cross the open basin, on your right, you can see a dry lake bed known as Coyote Dry Lake. Crossing the open area next to the dry lake bed, my initial thought was this is cannot be more than a couple mile slog and we’ll be rolling into Fort Irwin proper in no time. The true distance was almost 11 miles to cross that open space by Coyote Dry Lake. You could swear the distance was only a couple of miles because of the clarity of the air and the lack of anything to give proportionality to the distance.

During the summer, when you are doing a maximum speed of 35 mph, as that was all the pre-Viet Nam war vintage diesel “deuce” could muster, eleven miles become an interminable endurance of noise and hot air blasting through the cab that one just had to suffer through. And that training period for me took place in July. So, it was always a hot two weeks in the High Desert during our Summer training.

It was during one of those training periods I was to have a beautiful experience of connecting with the One Spirit. At that time in my life, my normal morning routine was to rise from my cot, get cleaned up for the day and before breakfast do my morning prayers. Interestingly, my morning prayers were not like the prayers of most of my Christian friends. I was Eastern Orthodox Catholic. Frankly, I was also from a part of the spiritual life of the church that was even mystical in our application of how we lived our spiritual lives. That mystical side of the Church, or any church for that matter, should be the practice of entering into a state of Oneness with Spirit. The difference in these mystical practices is only based upon the differences in understanding through-out the world on a mechanism of how to do it and what terminology is used to attain it.

For me, my background dictated when I prayed. I focused my thoughts by using some of the most ancient prayers of the early church. But I did not just repeat those words, I made those words my entire being. I was using the guidance of the original Desert Fathers of the Orthodox Church in Egypt to make each word of the prayer not only my words; but also, my very state of being. 

As each word was said, I would take into myself the fullness of the meaning of each word and that particular word would become my identity. Everything I was would become that word in all the fullness of what I understood the word to be. And with each word in the prayer, I would repeat the process. At the end of the sentence or phrase, I would do the same thing. I became the phrase. I became the sentence. I became the paragraph of the prayer. Then, I would repeat it all again with the fullest INTENTION of maintaining complete immersion in the holy state of the meaning that could be accessible. My goal, as is the goal of many mystical practices throughout all faith systems in the world, was always about complete union with the One. 

What is that Union with the One and what does that mean?

Up until that point in my life, that particular practice was everything. Indeed, it was beautiful in and of itself. Completion of my daily prayers would set a positive psychological and emotional foundation for the rest of the day. 

Just having that foundation created a beautiful state of mind that enabled me to meet the day’s challenges with balance; enabled me to meet those challenges with love. By itself, that was reward enough for the daily practice.

But this one day in that High Desert Warfare Training area of Fort Irwin, something happened that changed my life forever; that left an indelible and pristine memory I have lived with since. In fact, the words indelible and memory cannot describe the state of presence that never leaves me to this day. When I reflect on that moment, I relive the moment. I am not back in time. In some incredible way, time is suspended and that moment and event continues to resonate and I directly experience the whole of it again as if it cannot stop. 

On that day as I was going through my prayers, I saw a little desert flower not far from where I sat. Suddenly, this little flower started glowing with a light that seemed to shine from it. Fully catching my attention, I watched as the light spread out on the desert sand surrounding the flower. The sand itself began to glow with the same light as the flower continued to shine. Then spreading rapidly, the light rushed across the entire desert expanse and Tiefort mountain range was now shining. Everything, everywhere was filled with a shining light and suddenly I was filled with an expanse of Love so great tears began flowing from my eyes as I recognized the God of “all that is” was filling everything in that desert with all the power and glory of God’s presence. Everything from the tiniest grain of sand to Tiefort Mountain itself was filled with the fullness of God. I felt as I was part and parcel of the entire expanse of God’s love in the world. However, there was nothing exclusive about this experience. Everything and all things in the entire universe were infused with this love. And I was completely overwhelmed by the love.

As I sat there in an incredible state of ecstatic union and bliss that I had never even remotely be able to imagine before, my unit’s Chaplain just happened to be walking by headed down to the mess tent for breakfast. I could see he was also filled with the light as tears continued to stream down my face in perfect joy. He suddenly looked over and asked me if I had ever seen a more “…God forsaken place in your life?”

And I started laughing as I responded to him that I had never seen the glory of God so bright before. “Truly, truly, I say to you. I have never seen the glory of God so bright as I can now see.” I know I heard those words in my mind. I think I said them. I don’t know that he heard me. He just continued on toward the mess tent. In fact, as I relate this story, I find myself back there again sitting in the sands of a Fort Irwin Training area next to the flower. I am not sure that I have ever left there. It all just continues to be right now.

I had the sudden revelation that everything both visible and invisible is filled with the perfect presence of God. There is no place where the Divine Spirit is not permeating from the largest object to the infinitely smallest quantum field within the object. There is no place where the Divine presence is not shining with all the power and glory of the Divine presence within all space and time. 

And curiously enough, when Chaplain K walked by, Spirit taught me another lesson. Even though the Chaplain was filled with the Divine presence also, he could not see it. And I suddenly realized there was the root of the human condition. We see. Yet, we do not see. Even Chaplain K…. 

Chaplain K was a GOOD GUY. He was former enlisted who left active duty and went to College. While raised a Catholic, he had found a spiritual journey that made sense to him in becoming a Charismatic Pentecostal Christian. He went to seminary; then, rejoined the military in the Chaplaincy. As a Reserve Chaplain he would only serve one weekend a month and a couple of weeks during the summer. In his regular job, he was the young Pastor of a Pentecostal congregation in Mentone, CA.

We would have talks in times when we were not operationally tasked. He shared with me how he and his wife lived in the Church. The neighborhood where it sat was not the best. If no one was in the building there would be break ins by some in the neighborhood looking for something of value even though this little church had little to nothing other than a meeting place. One time, he shared he and his wife had to sleep in back of the church as on the odd occasion bullets from drive by shootings would hit the building. They had bullet holes in the front of the church to prove it.  

His concern for his Congregation included not just their spiritual journey. But also, he worked in family counseling for them helping his congregation to live the best life possible through mentoring and counseling to address the very real challenges of living life here and now.

He was the kind of guy I saw as a modern-day hero. It does not matter what your faith system is. There are those who work tirelessly to help their brothers and sisters to live a better life. They come in all shapes, sizes, and professions. They are Teachers, Ministers, Counselors, and mentors. They do not need a title or job position to be such. They could be Mothers, Fathers, Engineers, scientists, garbage men, laborers, store clerks, or anyone. They can be any person who fills the role and lets the voice of Spirit speak through them in a moment when others need a helping hand or word of encouragement. Chaplain K was that.

Yet on that day, he could not see nor feel a power and light around and infusing him of a glory and love that I clearly do not have the words to describe adequately. That is the human condition. That is the situation for most of us.

That is not the way it has to be though. But it takes a several things to completely reverse the situation. 1) Believe Oneness with Spirit is possible, 2) set the Intention to rejoin with the Oneness, and 3) pick a method to grab hold of that Oneness with Spirit.

The least important of the three factors is picking a method to do it. Virtually any method that involves Love, Joy, and Peace in every faith system will allow the spiritual adventurer success. In fact, it takes less work than one imagines. I have a personal experience that I will share later that directly speaks to that point of how much work one needs to do. I am telling you that it is not a lot. 

In Mary Magdalene’s Spirit Walkers, we have been using Guided meditations that successfully help many to reconnect with Spirit or loved ones who have transitioned.  For those who are interested, leave your email address and we will connect you up with a group session so you can experience the energy of a group session. For those who cannot find the time to make our group session. Meditations are available on our meditation page of our website. For those who have never done a guided meditation before consider joining our zoom sessions the added energy of team journeying is a great support. Till the next blog when I share how incredibly easy Spirit makes it to get into a state of Oneness, have a great day.