We Are God
Stepping into the Dance
“The very nature of God, therefore, is to seek out the deepest possible communion and friendship with every last creature on this Earth” — Catherine LaCugna
Have you ever seen it put this way: We are God?
Not “I am God”, or “You are God” or “He is God”, or “That is God” or even “This is God”.
Rather, “We are God”.
Unlike “I”, “You”, or “This”, “We” is a word that denotes something so universal and all-encompassing that we can pretty safely go ahead and equate it with God. In other words, we can use this word to entirely re-define our notion of God: as us!
No longer a God “out there” or “up there” but down here, in here, in all of us, living and suffering through us and as us.
A vulnerable God, a suffering God, a God in the process of becoming – and each of us a fundamental participant and artist of that ongoing incarnation (divine embodiment).
We means us, you and me, this entire global family – and beyond… all of this infinite unknowable us —never-ending, never-beginning, never lost, and never ever alone.
I am fundamental to the life of God (the life of the We), just as is every single being, dead or alive or yet-to-be.
I am needed, I am necessary, I have (and I am) a unique gift to the whole that no other can bring into this world. As I give, so I receive.
(You might want to try writing that out, and see if anything opens…)
Infinitely diverse, infinitely connected, the Universal We encompasses all beings and all relationships. It is a term that can embrace the mystery in its wholeness — especially when we recognise that no physical matter is actually dead or inert (as materialism led us to believe), but is imbued with living spirit, just as we are. Cups, rivers, trees, and stars… they are all part of the we.
“To the bodhisattva the universe consists only of living beings”- Vimalakirti
This resurrection of animism enables a re-union of matter and spirit. It heals a split in the psyche, allowing us to once again see know and experience everything and every being as divine and miraculous – as specific, personal and particular expressions of the Universal We (a.k.a. God, if you like).
The Universal We captures both the unity of all being and the plurality of innumerable unique and different beings. Across all time and space, all realms, there is only US, eternally co-creating, co-discovering, co-awakening, co-emerging… it’s too amazing for words.
The Universal We is a way of seeing that inclines our hearts to open to their fullest extent: an infinite openness, including everything and everyone in unconditional love and compassion. We can feel every part of ourselves as already included, held and embraced in such a love. To experience this is communion = com-union = shared oneness. A revelation that we exist in both total unity and total diversity, that the only way we can possibly exist is in relationship.
Without the life of others, we would not and could not live ourselves. Without the love of countless countless others, we simply would not be here. And without your love, my love, our love, these countless others would not be able to live, either. Each of us is absolutely fundamental to the life of the We. This radical inclusivity is utterly healing because it re-minds us that we all belong, always and forever. Antagonism, illwill and jealousy give way to forgiveness, solidarity and sympathetic joy.
We are meant to be here – only why we are here isn’t fully worked out, and discovering that why is part of our creative process of eternal self-becoming, (which is always a gift to the We, bringing new life, beauty and insight to the whole).
In living, you are always giving, and you are always receiving, too. Giving and receiving, partaking in this infinite flow of love from being to being, a flow which is bringing us all home to remembrance of our freedom and belonging in the We.
For the Universal We is eternally free, without beginning or end, without source of destination. Utterly transcendent, yet immanent in all. The We is no other than infinite unbounded love, bringing all forth, holding all, and absorbing all. Everything you ever experienced was actually experienced by Us, All of Us. All suffering and all joy are shared by all. There is no question or even possibility of disconnection, alienation or aloneness. When we realise that the basis of our life is the life of the We, we can let go all fear of aloneness, death and loss of the personal self. In the eternal and universal We, nothing is lost, and all will be reconfigured, transformed – and resurrected. To paraphrase the apostle Paul, “we are not all going to die, but we will all be changed”.
I am temporary, but We are eternal.
This life is temporary, but Life is eternal. Then we might see every temporary form as an expression – a face, an incarnation – of the eternal formless (the fertile void, the dharmakaya, perfect emptiness, Allah).
We have been given life by love, and will again. Why not? Can you sense the ease of knowing that, at the core of one’s being? When we return to that ease, we continue to consciously give life to the We by virtue of our own miraculous ability to create-by-loving. “All you are is love in action” said Nisargadatta.
Every “I” is a gift from the We to itself, a co-creation into which unimaginable (com)passionate love and energy has been poured. This includes you!
Every “I” gains freedom when it remembers its belonging to the We, and how the We has given everything to that “I” so that it might live, breathe and experience.
Suffering comes when we neglect the “We” and deny our fundamental inseparability and interdependence with all beings (which never works). It’s so unimaginably painful to actually feel the suffering of all beings that most beings do not allow themselves to. At least, not yet. In time we are softened, our hearts open, and we gain the supreme beauty of the selfless self, the one who knows they are the many, the being who is one with all beings. The We who is God.
We are, of course, so interdependent and inseparable that there cannot be said to truly be any independent “I”, any independent beings (or impersonal being) that exists without the “We”.
We co-arise, co-emerge, and co-liberate. We cannot exist without God (without all beings), and God (all beings) cannot exist without us. You wanted a meaningful life? Here it is, baby.
We couldn’t do much better than to read these words over and over again until they are imprinted on our hearts:
“The whole of the spiritual path is friendship. Enlightenment is the ability to be a friend.” — Soryu Forall
Some might protest that this amounts to a suffocation and denial of the individual, or that it runs the risk of herd mentality or group-think. Not so! The We only flourishes when every I flourishes: when every being finds their unique soul expression, their unique creative gift and contribution to the We, to alleviating the suffering of the We, and increasing its joy, delight, and ecstasy (for which their is infinite, inexhaustible potential). In turn, the I only flourishes when it lives in conscious and loving relationship to all other I’s: in recognition of shared oneness and shared diversity.
There is no need to deny the self, to efface it in the collective or universal (as many religions, meditative traditions, institutions and social movements attempt to do). Because each “I” is needed for the life of God, the Universal We, every self – every part of our confused, fragmented and suffering selves – are re-instated as meaningful, divine and necessary.
What might happen if we each oriented our lives towards the Universal We? What might emerge from groups pursuing a consciousness of the We, actively employing “we ways of seeing” in order to best serve that We (through the flourishing all its interconnected I’s).
We can trace how this is a different approach to religions of the past:
- Monotheism: service and worship of The One.
- Polytheism: service and worship of The Select, The Few (Highest Gods).
- Pantheism: service and worship of Us, The We, The Infinite Many, the Divine in All Beings, the Eternal Cosmic Community. Alternatively called pan-entheism, or “the divine within all”.
This begs the questions: what might a “Religion of the We” look like? Have we seen such attempts before? If so, what could be done differently? What would religious processes, rituals and ceremonies without any authority, hierarchy or exclusivity — no being or perspective being taken as more valid (more divine) than any other?
Perhaps Buddhism’s devotion to “all beings” is the closest thing we have to a Religion of the We. But it is still often taken as a personal path; it isn’t explicitly stated that it is the We that is Awakening (or transforming, or evolving). Because there is no individual mystic or prophet or revelation, not really — that’s a limited and limiting view; it’s the natural way we interpret religious history through the lens of our own individualistic perspective.
Buddhism addresses very, very well the how of awakening. But it says very little about the who or why of awakening. This is far better addressed by Abrahamic religions and by indigineous-pagan spirituality.
Now what might happen if we combine the how of Buddhism with the who (the God, Gods, demons, daimons, spirits, souls and angels) of Western traditions?
To me that is the most exciting thing that is suggested by Rob Burbea and Catherine McGee’s pantheon of meditation teachings called Soulmaking Dharma.
We are each and all awakening as God, suffering living and dying as God, as the Holy Mystery itself. And Buddhist practices give us an astoundingly powerful toolkit with which to undertake that soulcraft, for the liberation of all beings (the flourishing of the We, God, All of Us).
I leave you with a vision.
Imagine: groups, collectives and communities that serve the Universal We, or God, in all they do. Knowing that their lives are fundamental to the life of all beings, and living all the incredible responsibility, beauty, heartbreak and oneness that such a perspective brings. They may be devoted to the creation and discovery of the God-images and symbols that emerge from their collective unconscious (through dreams, visions and fantasies), bringing these symbols into the world as means for personal and collective transformation. Practically they may engage in group soulmaking, co-creative artmaking, ritual and ceremony…
I haven’t yet found a more beautiful sketch of what this level of collective awareness might actually look like than Zak Stein and Marc Gafni’s notion of “Unique Self Symphonies”. I want to end this piece with a long quote describing how they imagine this unfolding:
“When a group of individuals identify with their Unique Selves it lays the ground for the emergence of a Unique Self Symphony. To understand the true significance of Unique Self Symphonies a prefatory remark is in order. The sciences of complexity and emergence tell us evolution has a telos, a trajectory. The trajectory of evolution appears to be towards ever-greater complexity, ever-greater consciousness, ever-greater uniqueness, ever-greater synergy, and ever-greater intimacy. These qualities are inter-included and inextricable from each other all as a part of evolution’s arrow. The fifth quality — intimacy — is the one we will focus on briefly as a way to frame the nature of Unique Self Symphonies as an evolutionary emergent.
Beginning with attraction at the subatomic level, one might accurately say that reality is defined by allurement, all the way up and all the way down. From electromagnetic attraction and gravity in the physiosphere (physical reality), to the dynamics of symbiosis and mating in the biosphere (life), to the dynamics of mimetic evolution in the noospehre (culture), reality self-organizes towards every greater levels of interconnectivity. The interior of interconnectivity is intimacy. When Unique Selves are connected to each other in small groups new levels of intimacy are achieved. From this intimacy a kind of collective intelligence emerges which is greater then the sum of its parts. Likewise, when Unique Selves gather via the Internet and connect into larger synergistically integrated collectives then a new quality of intimacy is born. The quality of intimacy found in a Unique Self Symphony is a kind of collective intelligence or enlightenment, representing a local apex in the expression of the evolution of intimacy.
A genuine Unique Self Symphony contains a complex motivational architecture that is richer and more potent than any known system of economic or social incentives. One is motivated to participate in evolution itself, to give one’s unique gift, and to experience the vital Eros and joy of evolutionary community. Even more motivating is the innovation and creativity that is seen to be unleashed from Unique Self Symphonies. This is a bottom up, self-organizing expression of human creativity, soon set to emerge at scale as a new evolutionary form or structure.
Unique Self Symphonies occur in a state of shared non-duality as individuals cooperate beyond ego. This means all members experience a certain quality of interaction and reflection. Terms like reciprocity, democracy, transparency, and natural hierarchy all come to mind. There is a sense that all individuals are profoundly important and that their unique contributions are essential.
There is no voice in the group that is marginal. There is no hidden discontent among those who feel used, undervalued, or coerced. Talk to anyone in the group and you will get the same kind of positive statements about their participation: they feel like they are a perfect fit in the group, they are empowered and autonomous while also deeply merged in collaboration and communion. Trust and honesty create an opening in which almost miraculous group phenomena begin to occur, sometimes referred to as “Collective Enlightenment.” ”
Perhaps this is what Earth already is, only most of us have forgotten or overlooked it…
A gathering of dreamers… the divine creative expression of a universal mystical tradition, a multi-dimensional multi-species lineage of supra-intellectual imagination, insight, discovery and eternal creativity…
Perhaps this is what we see when we become lucid to our shared waking dream…
Perhaps this is what we see when we remember, at the deepest level, that we are God.