In part 1 of this series I talked about how (seemingly) difficult it can be to integrate all aspects of our life in one unified, harmonious whole, especially when we think of certain things as spiritual and some as not. In part 2, I observed that it is precisely the ideas we have about what spirituality should look like that can cause us to feel different, separate or superior to others. The word "spiritual" is often surrounded with a sense of mystery and specialness. Yet when we look at scriptures and classical texts from all traditions we find a lot on the subject of Oneness, that all is one, and the one is all, micro and macrocosms intertwined, all made of the same "stuff" and readily accessible.
Intelligent Consciousness Pervades the Entire Universe.
More accurately, the entire Universe is a manifestation of Intelligent Consciousness. The latter goes by many other names and it’s important to not get stuck on words as they only matter to the degree that we can relate to them. Quantum physics talks of the Unified Field, Buddhism of the Such-ness of Reality, in Star Wars The Force is It, in spiritual philosophy we read about Source and Truth. And of course all religions convey the Word of God who Himself goes by many names – Adonai, Allah, Jehovah and Brahman to mention but a few. Yet the message is the same everywhere: all is one. Sometimes All is Love. Meaning that all of creation is made of the same stuff, whether we call it consciousness, energy, love, god, or even “That”, as in “Thou Art That (Tat twam asi)”, one of the Grand Pronouncements in Vedantic Philosophy.
One of the Bible’s most famous line tells us that nothing exists that is not essentially the God force:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1)
Or again in Corinthians 12:4-7 we read:
"Now there are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are different kinds of service, but the same Lord; and there are different kinds of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good."
Descriptions of the Oneness of all things also abound in Indian scriptures. In the Svetasvatara Upanishad 6.11 we read:
"He is the one God, hidden in all beings, all-pervading, the self within all beings, watching over all works, dwelling in all beings, the witness, the perceiver, the only one, free from qualities."
And in the Hindu Scripture Vishnu Purana:
"Just as light is diffused from a fire which is confined to one spot, so is this whole universe the diffused energy of the supreme Brahman."
The illusion of Separation
Brahman is this Universal Consciousness out of which everything manifests. The world as it appears, the world of form, is an expression of Brahman. Science has even demonstrated that matter is nothing but energy, manifesting in infinite ways according to the speed at which it vibrates. So although we see a multitude of forms when looking around, all appearing different and separate, they are, we are, essentially made of the same substance. Separation is an illusion. This trick that the Universe plays on us is given the name of maya, in the Upanishads, the force of illusion, delusion even! Maya is a mighty force that makes us all appear different as if existing independently from one another. Maya causes us to believe that events in another town or country, do no relate to us, that how I act, speak or think cannot possibly affect people I will never see on the other side of the world. Seeing through this veil of delusion, through the dualistic nature of the material world into the non-dualistic nature of Brahman, is the highest goal of the spiritual seeker. Or, as Pierre de Theillard once famously said, it is to realize that “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience but spiritual beings having a human experience".
For me the take-home message here is that we don't need to try and become spiritual, we already are!
Each and every one of us a unique reflection of Spirit. And so, living a spiritual life is not so much about doing more, adding, changing or subtracting anything to our life on the outside. Rather it's about un-doing and releasing whatever obstructs our innermost beauty, our Soul (the Atman). As we do, it will shine forth into the world and infuse our every moment, however mundane, with its distinctive authenticity, creative power and radiance.
I'll close this piece with a quote from the Bhagavad Gita that beautifully describes the all-pervading nature of Spirit, at once manifest and unmanifest, "as known by the wise."
"I will tell you of That which is to be known, because such knowledge bestows immortality. Hear about the beginning-less Supreme Spirit - He who is spoken of as neither existent nor nonexistent.
He dwells in the world - enveloping all, everywhere, His hands and feet; present on all sides, His eye and ears, His mouths and heads;
Shining in all the sense faculties, yet transcending the senses, unattached to creation, yet the Mainstay of all; free from the gunas (modes of Nature), yet the Enjoyer of them.
He is within and without all that exists, the animate and the inanimate; near He is, and far; imperceptible because of His subtlety.
He, the Indivisible One, appears as countless beings; He maintains and destroys those forms, then creates them anew.
The Light of All Lights, beyond darkness; Knowledge itself, That which is to be known, the Goal of all learning, He is seated in the hearts of all." (Chapter 23 v. 12-17)
Beautiful, don't you think?