In the past couple of days I have become unexpectedly engaged in a Facebook discussion about the Israel-Palestinian Gaza tragedy. I find myself moved to say something about my personal guiding perspective. Go back about 13.8 billion years and you arrive at the infinitesimally tiny something coming out of nothing – an explosion of light that was the beginning of everything and has never been less than the entire universe. The explosion itself apparently lasted almost a million years. No wonder it is called the big bang! There is no end of evidence. Here, for example, is a very quick and easy place to start: http://www.universetoday.com/109210/how-old-is-the-universe-2/
So we all began as ONE. By we I mean all that is, has ever been and ever will be. Knowing this intellectually is one thing. Experiencing it is the real eye-opener! Whether it happens in deep meditation, on drugs, in putting your life on the line, at the moment of death, watching the sun rise, listening to music, making love, waking up to your real self or for no apparent reason, the experience of being one with all is personally liberating and life-transforming. It makes you aware too, that you are playing your own unique part in the universe’s ongoing and awesomely creative evolution. It seems that language, music, consciousness and the capacity to think, imagine, invent, appreciate beauty and be self-aware are very recent developments, at least in our vast galactic speck of the universe where they have appeared only since we human beings arrived on the scene. How creative is that!
Inevitably, our human faculties bring in fear along with all the pleasures and delights of our sensing-feeling-thinking-creative magic. Seeing how indifferently it annihilates us, we fear death, and the mystery with which it confronts us. Like a reversal of the big bang, life is taken out of time. Into nothing? That is the question – and not just Hamlet’s.
Enter God! In retrospect, (s)he is predictable. I don’t know if there is a single human community that didn’t discover or invent him or her. Naturally, the stories that illustrate, prove and exemplify God’s existence differ from culture to culture and nation to nation. What they all share in common is the adamant certitude that their own God is a discovery, while everyone else’s is an invention. It is baffling testimony to the power of belief that so few religious believers have cottoned on to the simple realisation that if they had been born in a different land or culture, they would worship a different God and practise a different religion.
With dreadful regularity throughout human history, believers have persecuted, dominated, tortured, enslaved and slaughtered in the name of their faith. Such crimes against humanity come too in the name of tribe, race and nationality; of political persuasion; of social class; of US AND THEM. But the worst offender has to be religion with its long track record of holy wars, crusades, jihads, inquisitions and so on. It is immensely ironical. All the God-stories contain fairy tales that belong to kindergarten – except that they are sometimes horror stories no child should have to hear. Yet whilst the religions are apt to bear witness against each other, they in fact all worship the same mystery – THE ONENESS that brought us all into being. Spinning it into their own God-story, they make outsiders of those who don’t believe or have woven a different God-story. THE ONE is effectively split into different ONES. In reality this is of course absurd, since all that is, including the splitting, the Gods made out of it and their makers’ passion to wage war against each other, is all part of one ever-evolving whole. Experience the whole and there is no them. There never was. We all began in the same singularity. Brothers and sisters does not capture our unity. Even twins separates the inseparable oneness of us all.
If it were not so tragic, Gaza and all the other religious quarrels still going on all around our highly informed world would be merely farcical. It is questionable whether humanity will survive its current insanities – the global climate catastrophe becomes more imminent every day and that too owes some of its blind destructiveness to religious beliefs that have no need of truth and reality. But if somehow we do come through, it will be because enough people wake up, befriend their fears – which is how we come to love – and so get to experience the full mystery that integrates time and eternity in our being, reconciles us with death and frees us to celebrate life fully. Yes, we will still need to disempower the fanatics, extremists, psychopaths, sociopaths, dictators and the money-and-power-mongers who perpetuate the mayhem; but serving our essential oneness, we will do so more intelligently and compassionately than we do today.