When I first read this poem over 20 years ago, I immediately understood it. I “got” it both spiritually and anthropologically. I once shared it with a couple I encountered, but when I got to the part about Hitler, the woman snapped, “I don’t agree with that at all” and stormed away, followed sheepishly by her partner. I was flummoxed by her reaction, because I saw the poem as a statement of the human condition as a whole, whereby we human beings do possess the capacity for both good and evil.

Most of us, thankfully, possess more benevolence than malice, but that development is really the end product of empathy, which does indeed reveal our essential oneness. The lack of empathy also defines human psychopathy, unfortunately. Our quest, then, should be to become increasingly more empathetic towards each other and other sentient beings. In this quest, we must critique and reform ideologies that cause division, including and especially organized, monotheistic and intolerant religions.

Interestingly, this poet indicates that such an experience of oneness is in fact “religious,” which represents another insight: To wit, organizing religion produces an un-spiritual and anti-spiritual experience that could ironically be deemed un-religious as well.

What do you think?


I am one with all things-
in beauty,
in ugliness,
for whatsoever is-
there I am.

Not only in virtue
but in sin too I am a partner,
and not only heaven
but hell too is mine.
Buddha, Jesus, Lao Tzu-
it is easy to be their heir,
but Ghengis, Taimur, and Hitler?
They are also within me!

No, not half-
I am the whole of mankind!
Whatsoever is man’s is mine-
flowers and thorns,
darkness as well as light,
and if nectar is mine,
whose is poison?
Nectar and poison-
both are mine.

Whoever experiences this I call religious,
for only the anguish of such experience can revolutionize life on earth

~Osho, A Cup of Tea #54