Message of the Month
A few days ago, someone posed an interesting question: "How much of your self-importance do you keep, when you are thinking about God?"
My initial response was that I did not find the question a valid one, because it had a fundamental assumption - the assumption of separation.
But I found the question interesting enough to reflect and meditate upon. And some clarity emerged.
As long as we need to lose any sense of self-importance, we are assuming that we are nothing, and God is everything. Well, if God is everything, then God also includes us… hence the saying "God is within us".
And, if God is within us, then God must be within me, within you, and within every creature, animate or inanimate. Which then takes us to the next question – namely, if God is within me, then is there one of us, or two?
If the initial question is supposed to indicate that we should lose all sense of self-importance, then we must not give any importance to the God within, unless we choose to separate the "me" from the "God within me". And hence the assumption of separation.
Many spiritual traditions make this separation by naming the "me" within me as "ego", and the "God" within me as "Soul" or "Spirit" or "Divine". But if God is in everything, God must also be in the "me" within me, even if it is called the "ego".
I don’t have any problem with creating these distinctions in order to communicate more precisely. But to make the self, unimportant has many other consequences – besides the spiritual one.
When I make the self, unimportant, I also make the other, unimportant. Because if the "me" within me is not important, then neither is the "me" within you, nor the "me" within the whale, dog, or chair for that matter.
By separating ourselves from God, we also separate ourselves from each other. And if I or you or the chair is not divine, then how can it be treated with reverential respect? And if it cannot be revered, how can we ever expect to live in a harmonious world?
As for the spiritual consequence, so long as I long for divine union, I have imposed this separation between the divine and myself. It does not matter what labels I choose in order to create this separation. Whether I use "ego" to separate myself from the divine, or I choose to make myself a "nothing", or I assume that I have not attained the "spiritual consciousness to be worthy of this union", I am still separating myself from the divine, as well as all creations of the divine.
Presumably, if God were to look upon us, God would not see any separation – not from "me", nor from my "ego", nor my "something-ness", and nor from my "state of spiritual consciousness". For God, presumably there is no disconnection and no separation. So if we need to assume something, why not assume this?
Which brings to mind that Persian poem:
Water was in the jug, while I searched with a thirst untold
Beloved was at home, while I searched around the world.
© Shahriar Shahriari
Los Angeles, CA
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