A few years back a famous actress had an awakening, wrote a book, and starred in her own movie about the experience. The last scene of the movie she twirled on a beach, hands and face raised heavenward and shouted, “I am God!” over and over. As one can imagine, the book and movie raised and eyebrow or two. She dropped out of sight for a while after that. Apparently, the world wasn’t ready for her revelation.
I’m not going to lie, I was put off by the scene as well. At the time I was a churchgoing, inerrant Word of God gal, and I thought it blasphemous, as did much of fundamental Christendom. These days I have set my offense aside; I understand where she was coming from, which is not to say that I entirely agree with her.
We are a part of God, we are not God. Whatever name one chooses for the Divine, the Eternal Source, or Wisdom, humanity is part of the whole. John 15:5 says, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” (The Complete Jewish Bible) Here again in the subsequent verses there is evidence of man’s meddling; the remainder of the chapter is centered around obedience and if/then. In other words, if one obeys, then he/she gets, and if one remains close one will be loved. The Bible states God is love. Love is pure, eternal, never changing, and the Divine Source is Love. Within love there is no judgment, there are no demands, no if/then; there is only love. The purity of Source Love transcends the need for discipline, punishment and judgment. When we unite with Source Love, with God, we choose to live within love as well. We are still human and won’t always get it right, but we have a much higher probability of success than having judgment and discipline hanging over our heads driving our choice to love and, like errant children, behave!
Connecting with God, living, breathing, and moving from our spirit-self instead of our ego-self, we see others as spirit beings, living in a body, and having a human experience. The need to compare ourselves to others, compete as if life were a race and the first one to cross the finish line with the most toys wins, or believing ourselves more important than another, fades away. Life isn’t a race, it isn’t about who has what or is better than another. Life is a journey with God, an opportunity to learn, to experience, and to continually deepen our understanding of self to improve relationship with others.
The other day I was listening to a radio seminar on spirituality and the speaker made a statement I have tumbled around in my head several times. She said, “the one is part of the whole”. The subject matter was much more complex, but I centered in on that statement because it made so much sense. A few simple words strung together to describe the relationship between man and the Divine, and for me, the impact of those few words was profound. Not only are we connected to the Divine, but we are connected to everything in the universe, no matter how seemingly insignificant, or powerfully life-changing it may be. Spiritually, most of us can agree, we are connected, but think about the detail of our daily lives. We do not wake each morning and go about our day as an individual entity, an island, as it were, having no impact on or relationship with the world as a whole. We sit down to watch the local and world news while we drink our first cup of coffee, drive to work along with hundreds of others, board an elevator, or take the stairs nodding to others as we walk to our offices, attend meetings, chat with coworkers around the water cooler, send emails, return telephone calls, check our Facebook accounts, update our LinkedIn profile, and Tweet our feelings and thoughts to our followers. Even the bodies we live in function as a whole. Do your lungs take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide apart from the whole of the respiratory and circulatory systems? How about each brain synapse carrying and transmitting billions of bits of information through the nervous system every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day to form our thoughts, store our memories, to signal our glands and organs to function at just the right time, and our muscular and skeletal systems to produce movement? There is relationship within and between everything in the universe. We are never disconnected, and yet many in our world feel isolated, alone, and unheard. How is that possible?
For many their focus is predominantly from the ego-self. It’s all about me; how I will get ahead, what I have, how to get more, how I will get recognized, or appear to work harder than another. The ego-self isn’t all negative, however. It serves as a warning system that danger is close at hand. We need the ego-self in small doses, but ego needs to take a backseat to the spirit-self, not the other way around.
Organized religion dictates believers are to gather together in a place of worship. Once inside the doors the idea is to join with others who are like-minded, edify one another, receive yet another message on the wages of sin, and be told what the next rung of the ladder will be to attain heavenly status. We are encouraged to draw inward and search our hearts for roots of bitterness that need pruning, but as long as our heads are bowed and eyes closed how many actually take part? A cynical look at church life, I know, but it isn’t unrealistic. Much of church life is centered around the appearance of piety, fluency in Christian-ese, and “doing” to receive reward and recognition from God. Is that so very different from how many “in the world” act? Appearance takes precedence over heart motivation; ego clamors to be noticed.
Spiritual maturity, recognizing our oneness with God, the practice of gratitude, is heart work requiring us to take a hard look at attitudes and patterns of behavior, the words we use to describe self and others, and the thoughts that consume our daily lives. For the most part this work is solitary. We can reach out to others for guidance and help, and we should at times, but the bulk of the heart work is between the individual and God. Does the butterfly attend transformation gatherings as it is shaped and formed within the cocoon? The universe is our textbook, our professor is Divine wisdom, but it is our job to tune in. How we tune in is individual, as well. Some meditate, which is just a form of prayer, some read, attend classes, pull inward to search the soul, there is no right or wrong way.
Spirituality teaches we are all at different places in our journey, and why wouldn’t we be? Each has a thread from the overall tapestry. We needn’t all be at the same place, or tuned into the same frequency. There is room for all to grow, to improve, to experience, and we all will learn from one another. When I am reading, listening or researching, I don’t agree with everything, and we aren’t expected to. Some things I tuck away in my mind for later, others I accept, or only partially accept. Kind of like the “I am God” statement: safely tucked away for now…..