Question: I have two questions. First, I hear a lot about how the goal is to merge back into or to recognize one's oneness or being part of this undifferentiated whole, but I am very fond of the idea of the other that is someone to hug- if we are all this undifferentiated whole where is the joy of the other person?
If you ponder over when you want to hug and when you find that joy, you really find the joy when you feel the oneness. Suppose you have a friend you want to hug within your mind. When you feel the oneness only you feel the joy. If you don't feel the oneness, you don't even feel like hugging also; so this real feeling of oneness is the real joy actually. Part of it, just like I keep telling, parents love their children when they feel oneness, children as their own. Children might feel with the parents if they also think as their own, friends, husband, wife, every relationship is like that only. So ultimately the oneness can give the supreme peace and joy that comes only. So the thing that you visualize by hugging that you get the joy, you would get much more the supreme joy by remaining in that. When you experience, it is such an amazing wonderful experience; that oneness also gives that happiness.
Question: Is it sort of like sometimes when I wanted to be so close to someone that I wanted to be inside their skin? Is it like that feeling, only realized?
So while alive in this world it is always good to have, and when you practice you can always have. Just like even after becoming a Yogi, after experiencing the oneness, we do love to sing the devotional songs in praise of God, in praise of my Guru - all these things we do enjoy every time. So like the great Adi Shankaracharya who was the great exponent of advaita philosophy or non-duality. However he also advocated the bhakti marga - devotional path by composing so many devotional songs and stotrams to the Divine. So both are equally enjoyable, the oneness the actual thing that gives you. But as long as you are in this physical body you can always feel that one. When you feel this oneness, you would really love to hug somebody and enjoy. You see God everywhere and you would like to hug equally everyone, meaning, be friendly with everyone. If you simply visualize a physical attachment, you are limiting that joy to someone only, somewhere only, then you won't feel that happiness with the other. So if you are able to visualize that oneness everywhere you will be able to enjoy. Everywhere you will find simply friends. There is no such thing that, "I have only one friend. I don't enjoy anybody else," -is not that a limited one, when I hug my friend. So when you have friends all over the world, everywhere it's only friends that is possible when you visualize that oneness. All are mine.
Just like I keep telling, the oneness is, suppose you live in this town of Salem. So if I ask you, "Where are you from?" you will tell your street name or your house name, number, something like that. So when you go out of Salem, when somebody asks where you are from, you won't be mentioning your house number or street name. You will simply tell, "I'm from Salem". So the oneness increases, expands. Suppose you go out of Washington or Oregon state, "Where are you from?" somebody asks. You won't be mentioning 'Salem' or 'Portland' or any such thing. You will say you are from Oregon or Washington - like that. So if you go out of the country, you will mention "I'm from America" or "U.S.A.". See the consciousness increases. You'll feel the oneness, you are an American. Anybody who is an American, if he happens to meet you in India, you'll be so happy, "Oh! Are you an American? I'm also from America". Suppose you get a chance to go out of this planet Earth, to somewhere - Moon or somewhere - then you won't be mentioning America or your State or Salem or your street number. You will simply tell, "I'm from planet Earth". Anybody from planet Earth will be yours. You will feel the joy, "Are you from planet Earth? I'm also from planet Earth." The day that you are able to visualize that all of us belong to this space, imagine the joy. You will feel the oneness. "You are from this space. I'm also from this space."
There is a beautiful example that we always read in Adi Shankara's life. The legend says, at one time he felt a little bit of ego. Then God, Lord Vishveshwara, the presiding deity of the pilgrimage town of Kashi, came in the form of an untouchable person. Taking a country made alcohol in an earthen pot on his head He was coming, so Adi Shankaracharya was going towards River Ganges to have a bath, looking at him he says, "Give way!" The untouchable then says, "In this space you also exist and I also exist. Show me if there is any such space beyond this space. Then I will go away. You can then live happily in this space". When he heard this, Adi Shankara immediately recognizes, "You cannot be an ordinary person who has visualized this knowledge and wisdom that we all belong to this one space called Brahmananda", so he prostrates to Him and says, "I consider you to be equal to my Guru". The legend says thus the untouchable disappears. It was the Divine that gives him that lesson.