I lit a tea-light, plopped it in a little glass ramekin and placed it at my bedside. I flattened my paisley pillow, turned onto my left and watched as the flame, the ramekin’s ridges and the breeze through the skylight worked together to create a nighttime dance of flowing light.
From here, I was surprised to see not one, but two flames dancing there. Every now and again, the two would meet and merge in a quick kiss, before gently parting ways and returning to their solo shows.
I lifted my head and the two flames became one. I lowered myself and found two once more.
The One can look like two, yet remains always the One. In our case, the One can look like several billion and endless separate objects, yet remains always the One. Seeing the reality behind the illusion is a kind of beautiful shock, coupled with a feeling that this is something we have always known.
If the two flames are taken to be reality, the world can seem a terrifying place. A Course in Miracles describes it beautifully like this:
“The body is a tiny fence around a little part of a glorious and complete idea. It draws a circle, infinitely small, around a very little segment of Heaven, splintered from the whole, proclaiming that within it is your kingdom, where God can enter not.
Within this kingdom, the ego rules, and cruelly. And to defend this little speck of dust it bids you fight against the universe. This fragment of your mind is such a tiny part of it that, could you but appreciate the whole, you would see instantly that it is like the smallest sunbeam to the sun, or like the faintest ripple on the surface of the ocean. In its amazing arrogance, this tiny sunbeam has decided it is the sun; this almost imperceptible ripple hails itself as the ocean. Think how alone and frightened is this little thought, this infinitesimal illusion, holding itself apart against the universe. The sun becomes the sunbeam’s “enemy” that would devour it, and the ocean terrifies the little ripple and wants to swallow it.
Yet neither the sun nor ocean is even aware of all this strange and meaningless activity. They merely continue, unaware that they are feared and hated by a tiny segment of themselves. Even that segment is not lost to them, for it could not survive apart from them. And what it thinks it is in no way changes its total dependence on them for its being. Its whole existence still remains in them. Without the sun the sunbeam would be gone; the ripple without the ocean is inconceivable.”
Coming to know the Oneness of all things dissolves the fear that arises from believing in a reality of separation. It brings peace and a trust in the always unfolding flow of life.
But we must know too that seeing the two flames is not wrong, bad, or ugly. As the knowing of the One flame permeates our hearts, we can return our attention back to the two and delight in the way the One casts itself out in an endless and endlessly varied expression of itself.
In this knowing, we are free to truly dance our own exquisitely unique dance, all the while also knowing that it is not really us who is dancing, but the One who is dancing us into existence.
Love and courage,