“There is only God.”
I was reflecting on a theme from our faculty Ignatian Evening last week: “Finding and Serving God in others.” I remembered a 3 stage process that Father Thomas Keating talks about in our spiritual journey. In my own words, paraphrasing him from memory, it goes something like this:
- We discover that there is God in the world and in us.
- We discover that there is God in everything we consider “other”.
- We discover that there is only God and no “other”.
Rumi, the great Muslim poet wrote:
“Sometimes afraid of reunion, sometimes of separation: You and I, so fond of the notion of a You and an I, should live as though we’d never heard those pronouns.”
You can see how both Keating and Rumi are saying the same thing. Sometimes I think this is mystic mumbo jumbo and it does not really apply to my life as husband, father of a 2 year old and teacher of adolescents. Then, I pause…. This is how the world is really wired according to 21st century Trappist Father Keating and 13th century Muslim Jalal ad-Din Rumi. In other words, if we had eyes to see and ears to hear the world in this way, we would act according to the Golden Rule – “love others as yourself,” because you really see others as yourself. What would this mean for me as a husband, father, teacher, son…what would it mean for you? If you don’t see the world this way and you can be honest about that, how can you act in such a way that brings this awareness from the periphery to the forefront.
How would I respond to my wife or friend when I am frustrated?
How do I respond to my tennis partner or opponent? Do I really see my opponent as not an “other”?
I often think of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer and their deep respect for each other. I wonder if they do not see each other in themselves, if they sense the reality that they really are God playing God on that tennis court and what is displayed is the brilliance of the game. I know this may be a stretch, or not, but I do think we sense the presence of God in each other when there is a real respect exchanged. We are being present to Presence and that Presence senses that in the exchange.
What would our daily life look like if we lived from this awareness that there is nothing but God and there is no other. My sense is the mystics are trying to tell us something…the big secret we keep missing. Is it really a secret anymore? We can buy any book from any great teacher in history from Amazon.com or any bookstore (give your local bookstore support). The secret is out, it’s just up to us to have the courage to carry it out and see what world we can create. As Jesus says in his famous prayer:
“Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be Done on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
I will try to go to bed tonight, seeing my wife and son as God reflecting back to me.
There is Only God, There is no Other.