A student asks:
“God is within us. Are we separate from that God residing inside, or are we one with it? “Whatever God is, I am” implies two separate entities. If we are one, then why do we pray/talk to it, rather than talking to ourselves?
God is all there is, including the molecules that make up all living things. But all living things are unique, individualized aspects of that one infinite all. This too implies that God and I are separate within the one whole. I believe that as we grow, evolve, we get closer to the all-knowing God until we eventually merge with it. At that point we cease to exist as an individual entity.”
What a powerful question, and I think you may have even answered part of it without realizing it! Let’s look at it in sections:
“God is within us:” We use this expression regularly, sometimes expressed as “You are the light of God Consciousness manifesting and expressing in and through a physical body.” We see God as Infinite Intelligence that pervades everything. Unfortunately, our physical brain has trouble understanding the idea of infinity. Maybe we aren’t meant to fully understand it in this life. The way we see it, we are all an expression of God, collectively. Our “separateness” or individuality is simply a perception of our physical mind.
One way of looking at is is that we are all petals on a chrysanthemum (or rubber bands stretching from a central rubber ball, or tentacles on an octopus, or tendrils on a sea urchin, or whatever metaphor resonates with you). God is the flower, and we see ourselves as the individual petals. Even though from our point of view, each individual petal appears to be a distinct being in itself, it is still part of the entire flower. One could not exist without the other!
It is our perception that makes us think we are separate. It is our ego, our human mind, trying to maintain individual superiority over our higher consciousness, our true nature, which really doesn’t care one way or the other! It is said that “ego” is an acronym for “edging God out.” Our human brain and physical awareness want to be the center of our Universe, and will stop at nothing to keep it that way. That is what gives us the perception of separation. Fortunately, our higher self knows better!
Every thing from the tiniest quark to the largest galaxy cluster, is part of All that is – that great universal Consciousness we call God. There is nothing else!
Prayer: It is also our perception (and social conditioning) that causes us to believe that we are asking a being outside of us for what we need. If we are part of all that is, we cannot be praying to anything outside of ourselves. In effect, you are right, we are praying to ourselves, even if our limited language implies otherwise.
Wait a minute! We are praying to ourselves?! Well, let’s look at prayer. Prayer is not asking (there’s that social conditioning again!). Prayer is putting forth an energy of intent – affirming what it is we need. But that intent starts with us and expands throughout the whole.
Think about The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4), which is Jesus’ example of how to pray. There is not a single “ask” in the entire prayer. The prayer states and affirms what is wanted, and what is to be avoided. It puts our physical mind in balance with our higher self and the Universe – all of God in alignment – so that our efforts are more focused. Kind of makes you look at prayer a little differently, doesn’t it?
“Whatever God is, I AM:” This phrase sounds like it is talking about two separate entities: “God” and “I,” but if you read carefully, there is an equal sign in there represented by the word “is.” It is saying that God and I are the same thing. There is no difference, other than how we perceive it from our human point of view. Remember, our higher self is fully aware of what we are. When our physical understanding starts catching up with the idea, that is called “self-realization:” our awareness that we are within God and God is within us, and “God-realization:” understanding that we are God, manifesting in human form!
Growing, evolving and merging: Based on what we’ve already discussed, I imagine you are already looking at this differently. Yes, our conscious awareness is growing and evolving. What we are perceiving as individual experiences are in fact experiences that we all benefit from, even if we have never met in each other’s physical presence. In other words, what affect one affects all, because we are “All.” We perceive it as an individual experience, but the collective Consciousness we are a part of is also having a collective experience. In other words, God is growing, and evolving – that flower opening and expanding to its fullest beauty.
There is nothing really to merge into, because we were never separate! What changes is that as we reach ultimate understanding of the dynamics of the Universe, the need to experience this physical life is no longer necessary. We may choose to come back and teach others, but eventually, every petal is fully formed, and there is no need to open any further. That is what some call the “Godhead.”
It’s helpful to constantly remember that there is nothing that is not God. Again, social conditioning has led us to believe in opposing forces: Good vs. Evil, and in some ways, God vs. Us. Good and evil are adjectives that we place on things based on our judgment. We judge it, and in accordance, our physical mind sees it the way we have judged. But God isn’t good or bad. God just is – there is no favor or preference over anyone, either as a whole (Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11), or as individual expressions of that God presence (James 2:9). Anything else would be a self-contradiction!
So now we return to your original question. In a nutshell, what we are dealing with is semantics. Limitations of our language make it impossible to describe what God truly is, just as our human brain can never truly understand what infinity is. We are neither “separate from” nor “at one with” God. There is nothing to be “separate from” or “at one with” or “returning to” when we already are an integral part of “All that is:” God.