A goal of our common spiritual heritage is the resolution of the paradox that reality is both one and many. We are born into the realm of dualities, but we had our origin in the realm of oneness. Did we leave that behind and come into a different world?
Wait, aren’t they both part of the same reality? Isn’t there only one reality? That would mean our perspective changes as our consciousness changes – and evolves. We start to become self aware in the world of dualities, so we first see all the dualities around us. And that is the way our life continues to unfold and evolve, until, one lucky day, we get a glimpse of the way things really are meant to be, even here in this mostly physical world.
Most of us have those experiences of oneness, but we may not always recognize them for what they are. And they are pretty difficult to hang on to, anyway. This is where the mystic way comes in, that timeless, universal path and pattern that can return us to our original state of union.
Of the many models out there to guide us in this journey back to oneness, Baha’u’llah’s mystic treatise, The Seven Valleys, depicts the journey of the soul, literally focusing on finding and maintaining unity. It starts with the Valley of Search, where we need great patience to find unexpected aid. We are then led to the Valley of Love, where our awakening begins, leaving us desiring more. Then, in the Valley of Knowledge we recognize the inner significance of all things.
This leads us to the Valley of Unity, where “the veils of plurality” are pierced and we enter “the heaven of singleness.” With “the wrappings of illusion” stripped from the heart and “the lights of oneness” manifest, we understand for the first time the meaning of the Hadith of Muhammad: “Knowledge is a single point, but the ignorant have multiplied it.” The important thing about this particular valley is that it is the needed bridge between the realm of duality, the temporal world, and the realm of oneness, the eternal world, which confers upon us a lasting understanding of the divine unity of all created things.
The last three valleys, Contentment, Wonderment, and True Poverty and Absolute Nothingness, engender emotions that come from the soul, contribute to continual spiritual happiness and a sense of inner peace, and inspire heightened spiritual empowerment.
Ultimately, this mystic journey of the soul resolves the paradox of the One and the many by leading us back to the realm of oneness, where we can stay as much as we consciously make it happen. What we had thought of as opposing forces suddenly become essential helpmates in assisting us to maintain a hidden wholeness. The endless dualities of life, in the end, exist only in our mind, or in a limited consciousness, and on the physical plane, cleverly camouflaging an eternal oneness that defines the spiritual realm, or the entirety of reality.