by Michael Ketterhagen
By means of all created things, without exception.
The Divine assails us, penetrates us, and molds us.
We imagine it (the divine) as distant and inaccessible.
In fact, we live steeped in its (the Divine’s) burning layers.
--Teilhard de Chardin
When we transform our minds, as I mentioned in my last blog, one of the most important mental changes that we must make as humans is to think of ourselves as divine beings. In other words, we are made in the image and likeness of God (as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam’s scriptures state) and are “pure consciousness with a fiery manifestation” (as Yoga, Hinduism and Buddhism believe). Our true self is not our small ego or our animalistic human nature. We must begin to think of ourselves as truly beings of light and truth and not “sinners” (as some Jewish and Christian traditions say). We are never separated from the Divine Ultimate Reality.
That transformation in thinking is a mighty task—to change our identity—especially when we are caught up in so many physical and mental challenges. Yet, it is an identity to which all spiritual traditions are calling us. I am convinced that our response to this vocation will be our salvation and our planet’s salvation. We are totally submersed in a spiritual reality to which we must sensitize ourselves if we are to truly move toward the spiritual purpose (the total purpose) of our lives.
One Christian spiritual writer, Margaret Mary Funk, agrees with de Chardin’s statement above. Let me quote a brief part of the preface to her book, Humility Matters:
One of the pillars of spiritual teaching in Eastern Christianity is deification (Greek: theosis), which means participating or sharing in the divine nature. This is our inheritance...; it is an inborn spark of divinity like a light burning deep within our hearts, within the core of our being, guiding us as we discern what pleases God, and illuminated our journey upon this earth. Christ speaks about this same light when he says we are not to hide our light under a bushel but bring it into the light of day. In this broken world, however, this inner light, this divine sensation, is often covered up by the cares and concerns of our daily lives and by our conditioning from early childhood.”
Yoga, in my experience, teaches us how to experience that “inner light.” Yoga’s meditation practice, in particular, brings us to the direct experience of that inner light. Other spiritual traditions’ meditation practices can lead to this direct experience as well. However, the difference with yoga is that one does not have to believe in the spiritual world to truly experience that world. Yoga’s meditative tradition allows the practitioner to know that spiritual world and all the divine beings within it. It allows us, according to the Yoga Sutras, to experience unity with the Source of Life and to experience this Source of Life as a reality beyond ourselves. In yoga, this reality is called “Ishvara.” In English, “Ishvara” is the Sanskrit name for the all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful reality called “God” God/Ishvara is the true world, the divine world in which we live our lives.
We can truly be another Christ, or Buddha, or Moses, or Mohammed. We can truly experience God and our oneness with God.