It was early December, I was hurrying to fulfil an invitation given to me by a friend two weeks earlier. His parting words echoed in my mind: "Whatever you have done to get closer to who you really are, this will be the best gift of all." He handed me a plain white card with The Oneness Gallery, 1530 Dyson Avenue, San Francisco neatly typeset in gold.
I had actually forgotten his suggestion and the card until a series of incidents led me into the most hectic week of my career as a multi-media designer. It was in the midst of this deluge of activity that the memory returned, like a high-pitched bell ringing from a distant mountain monastery. I stopped midstream on the copy I was writing and marked the following morning out on my calendar.
As I arrived at the door of the gallery, I felt an extraordinary peacefulness overtake me. The building was classically styled, not ostentatious. I entered the foyer and was greeted by a pleasant woman who sat behind a desk.
"Go right on in. Please leave your shoes in the reception area." This seemed a bit weird, but I proceeded to remove my shoes and set them into one of the hundreds of cubicles designed for the purpose.
Over the inner door was carved the words: "To all who would accept their Beauty and remember their Magnificence, We Are One." I opened the door and beheld a long, dark hallway, lit by recessed lights along the edges of the floor. A faint scent of sandalwood hung in the air, and peaceful, compelling sounds called from a distance. I walked forward, expectant and excited, yet mysteriously calmed at the same time. Sacred images and objects from many cultures were inset into alcoves and softly illuminated niches along the hallway.
I entered the Oneness Gallery as what seemed to be the first light of day broke through the upper windows, shafts of sun pouring onto the multi-textured floor, illuminating the earth mandala sand painted at the floor’s centre. A spiral ramp led gradually around the circumference of the room.
I was reminded of cathedrals, kivas, temples, and the cave of St. Francis- all somehow rolled into one. I felt the contact of the textures on the floor with my stocking feet- smooth stones, wood, and shells blended in a tapestry of earthiness. The fragrance of plumeria mingled with sandalwood, while from hidden audio speakers the murmur of a gurgling mountain stream provided sweet background orchestration for exotic woodland bird sounds.
Several people were in the room before me. One sat quite still upon a cushion, another was standing with eyes closed. Still, two others were dancing gracefully with each other while an elderly woman slowly circled the perimeter.
As I slowly descended into the room it was as if I was remembering the first moment of consciousness upon the earth, bathed in absolute, unconditional, and joyful celebration of beingness. It was then that I noticed the moving, changing images upon the white walls, strong and beautiful images. Although the sunbeams illuminated the central portion of the room, the light became weaker towards the edges, creating a darkened-theatre effect upon the gallery walls. This allowed the images to radiate with an inner intensity, projected upon large, ultra-thin video monitors. What I saw was a panorama of sacred art pieces, mandalas, and the faces of people- the kindest, saddest, and loveliest people I have ever seen. It seemed as if they were all my relatives, and I was safe in my family, in my tribe. These images faded to be replaced with animals in the wild, dolphins, and flying birds, interspersed with vistas of natural splendour.
Through the corner of my eye, I observed the "sun" crawl across the “sky”, causing the shafts of light to change their angle. Yet now I saw the sky was made of glass, and the sun was a brilliantly designed, computer-controlled full-spectrum light. Rotating slowly in the very centre of the room, twenty feet above the floor, a sapphire-blue hologram of the planet earth appeared. Above it a waterfall appeared to begin flowing, passing right through it. Then a fire arose, superimposed upon it. Lastly, holographic images of puffy cumulus clouds began to circle the earth.
The light dimmed, and the most gorgeous music began. A woman’s voice arose like that of an angel- and a chorus joined in behind her. Then softly, insistently, deep drums began with a light orchestration. The words I could hear were chant-like and clear. In various languages the message was sung, over and over. In many ways, in many keys, words of oneness poured forth. Then, softening, the music became a backdrop for the voice of a man, obviously an elder, as he spoke simply of the underlying truth that we are one. Again, the song arose, and again, was replaced by a spoken voice, this time that of a woman. Filled with love, she asked for the listener to pause and feel the wonder of the moment. One by one, some dozen different voices spoke, intermingled with the music, each one speaking of oneness, peace, and healing. There came the sound of laughter at one point, at another the sound of weeping. Silence descended, and the light grew brighter at the centre. The images on the walls began once more, and the music continued on. I found an empty cushion on the floor and sat down, closed my eyes, and listened.
It must have been several hours that passed before I got up to move. Never had I been so immersed in the state of Beingness- the closest experience was making love, yet here it seemed endless, and I was partner to all creation. I left, leaving a contribution in an open basket at the door, certain that I would return.
Since that day in early December, I have returned on several occasions. To my surprise and delight the music continues to change, and so do the voices. Yet the message remains constant.
On one visit, I noticed that there was an adjoining room, a studio, from which the sounds, lights, and smells were monitored, adjusted, and programmed. It was, like the Gallery, a beautiful, refreshing space.
“Hello, I’m the Gallery program director. Can I help you?” A pleasant man with a British accent looked up from a high-tech control booth and extended his hand. The low rumble of an aboriginal didjeridu accompanied by an Indian flute rose from behind us, deep in the heart of the Gallery.
“I... I just happened to look in and see this room. I hope I’m not disturbing you.” He invited me in, and for the next half hour proceeded to show me the vast library of recordings stored there. I discovered that the tapestry of lighting effects, aroma, environmental sounds, music and spoken words were continuously shifting, an endless continuum montage. He said that the criteria for the music and words were “that which reflected the One Being We Are”. In attempting to clarify this meaning, I asked if this referred to religious works. He smiled and said the Spirit and Earth were united in the Heart, and it was from this Heart that all the music and words of the Oneness Gallery were born.
When I asked what process he used for selecting material, he simply said that it was energetic- whatever words and music produced the experience of inclusion, embracing, welcome, beauty, peace, inner harmony, gratitude, prayer, and healing- these would be woven into the tapestry. Music and words that emphasized duality and separation, without evolution toward oneness, were not selected. Words and music of need and desire that leads us ultimately toward oneness were interspersed with prayers and chants of the absolute connection that links all things.
“So”, I asked, “You are not dismissing human needs for love and connection in your desire to create a place for contemplation on oneness?”
He paused and said: “I once heard that ‘yearning may be the gift that no other gift provides’. The prayer of the heart for reconciliation, for healing, for peace, is often expressed as a calling to something greater than ourselves, beyond the limited version of Self that we identify with. These prayers are like streams which rush into the ocean of Oneness. If we only allowed the ocean experience, many people would come to the Gallery and feel unmoved. As each person, each path, each culture and religion has it’s own language and symbology of access to the Ocean, we vary the prayers, the words, the voices, of the stream”.
I reflected back to my first visit to the Gallery. How my emotions were so enlivened with the choral music and drums, and how this subsided into a blissful quietude of healing silence. Then, the music began again, yet the words were in a language foreign to my ears- though the meaning was clear to my heart, and tears came to my eyes. The visuals were stunning, seeming to perfectly synchronize with the ever-changing music.
I came back to the present moment, just as I could hear the strains of the Mozart Requiem rising in the background. Through the two-way mirror of the control room, I could see a large group of Japanese and Russian tourists begin to slowly walk through the Gallery.
“Tell me, how did this begin? And how long will it be going on?”
“In the early ’90s, as you will recall, there was an increasing sense of urgency on all fronts of human survival. A recognition was dawning amongst the intelligent ones that only through joining together would we avert catastrophe. Many had serious doubts and believed it was already too late.
“A movement began, simultaneously in various parts of the world, for the convergence of human intelligence with divine, or intuitive, wisdom. Due to research confirming the benefits of right/left brain harmony and the severity of the challenges facing us, those who previously had held firmly to a rigid logical approach to problem-solving were less sceptical of alternatives. Thus a proliferation of problem-solving gatherings began which included accessing the spiritual/intuitive dimension as well as the pragmatic, business modes. A foundation began focusing on this approach and helped to accelerate the legitimization of the blending.
“At the same time, in the religious community, there seemed to be a growth of fundamental, narrow-minded movements, claiming millions of adherents and vast media inroads. These ideologies, purportedly wanting to turn people towards God, we're often caught in their own scriptural form and closed to other interpretations. The experience of a God without the human attributes of wrath, jealousy, and special love, a God of pure bliss and unconditional blessing, was not in their belief system. Meanwhile, untold millions wandered through their lives without any sense of connection, either to the old traditions or to any life-enriching awareness.
“It was in response to the need for an alternative healing temple, a place of remembering essence and offering healing of the belief in separation, without any dogmatic or traditionally religious emphasis, that the Gallery was founded. The result of a collective of artists, musicians, designers, architects, and philanthropists, it was created as a perpetual trust for the survival of the Spirit/Earth bridge, a Gallery of Prayer and Oneness, a Sanctuary of the Heart.
“Designed to honour the aspiration and essence of all people, it is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Funding is provided by both those of great wealth and the donations of all who see the value in it. The first gallery opened in San Francisco in 2021, the second in Washington D.C. in 2025, and others since have been endowed in London, Tokyo, Moscow, and Rome.
“The idea began originally as an artfully created recording of music and chant interspersed with the voices of one man and woman speaking poetic words of spiritual teachers from many cultures. Entitled Prayer Garland, the tape was distributed in a limited way.
"Then someone played the tape for the board of directors of a major philanthropy foundation interested in healing and the arts, and the response was dramatic. Apparently the central topic of interest for the foundation at that time was the cultivating of the sacred without the controlling dogma of traditional religion, and Prayer Garland spoke directly to this need. After much discussion, a suitable listening space for this message was considered essential. This led to a meeting now known simply as The Convergence, an invitation to architects, designers, composers, spiritual teachers and artists to create a legacy for future generations.
Since then the words of hundreds of great living masters have been added, along with a comprehensive collection of music, chants, and songs from around the world. Each Oneness Gallery is both unique and similar- the library of recordings is shared amongst them, but the architecture varies, as of course the emphasis. In Tokyo, for example, the predominant language of the words and chants is Japanese, with other languages intermingled yet subordinate. Although the first two Galleries were independent structures designed expressly for the purpose of housing the ongoing experience, the later Galleries are set up as permanent exhibits within existing museums, considered as the "healing arts wing" and dedicated in honour of great men and woman who lived their lives in pursuit of this understanding.”
In the distance, I could hear a chorus of men chanting the many names of God in the African languages. “Is there any new dimension planned, or is this the final vision?” I asked, awestruck by the beauty and breadth of the plan.
“Actually, there is more.” He paused. “As of next September, we will begin broadcasting on 500 FM stations worldwide. No commercials. No interruptions. The exact same program as is going on within the Galleries will be offered to listeners in their homes and cars. Music and words of oneness, intermingled with the sounds of nature. The cost is tremendous, but we have recently been endowed with a cumulative $100 million budget for the next three years of operation. Apparently, the founders feel this is more important than anything else- a multi-dimensional, culturally eclectic, Spirit/Earth-honouring consciousness program for the human race.”
“With this kind of commitment on the part of the contributors, there must be some hard evidence of a positive effect these Oneness Galleries are having on the people who come. What are you finding out?” I was curious. “What began as a small influx of spiritual seekers and the curious shifted in a big way when several celebrities announced their commitment to supporting the project in 2020. Since then, a wider audience has been drawn. When polled, visitors to the Galleries represent a spectrum of the population both in religious views, economic and cultural backgrounds, and political persuasion. A remarkable number of distinguished religious and scientific leaders have publicly endorsed the work as ‘a profound tribute to the very best of our planetary spiritual traditions blended in a distinct and artful way using the best of 21st century technology’.
“As an example of the influence, it has been observed and verified by statisticians that the crime rate has dropped considerably within a 5-mile radius of the Galleries. This phenomenon appears as soon as a Gallery is announced to open, and increases after we created a permanent meditation floor beneath the walking Gallery, for those who wish to come for extended sitting practice.”
I breathed deeply, taking it all in. This was more than I had imagined was happening! I had been enjoying my visits to the Gallery, never realizing they were part of such a large program for shifting consciousness. “Is there any way I can participate in this project?” I asked, feeling humbled before the possibilities.
“Actually, there is. We are inviting volunteers and also hiring staff to initiate and facilitate twelve new Galleries in the next three years, all over the world. Many of these will be near traditional sacred sites, and many will be indoor/outdoor facilities. A few will function as retreat centres in remote locations, allowing people to come for a week at a time and immerse themselves in the Oneness experience, along with more process-oriented work with trained psychologists, bodyworkers, healers, art/dance/music therapists, and spiritual teachers. A fee will be charged for these services, but to make them available to all scholarships will be available through all the Galleries worldwide.
“So you see, there will be a need for much help, depending on your particular skills. If you want to apply for a training session, in which a deeper integration of the Oneness experience is presented, see Yuri Ivanovich, our personnel director, in the front office.”
I thanked him and reached out to shake his hand, but he smiled and embraced me in a heartfelt hug. “I have a feeling I’ll be seeing you again,” he said.
And he was so right.