A couple of years ago, my church invited a local physician to come talk to our congregation. Aisha is a practicing Muslim.
During her talk, in a soft and patient voice, Aisha explained the pillars of Islam and why Muslims pray five times a day. She said, "Because we kneel and touch our heads all the way to the floor when we pray, for us practicing Muslims that is symbolic of the kind of God-consciousness we are trying to form within us -- that of being a servant to God."
When I heard Laila's words that day I experienced a depth charge explode in the core of my being. Perhaps you've experienced something similar -- it's a profound experience. I felt the reverberations continue inside me all day long. I had never thought of the concept of "God-consciousness" in quite that way before.
Later that night, I lay in bed and typed "God-consciousness" into the search engine of my laptop. I spent some hours reading, and was reminded that this notion of God-consciousness lies at the center of much of the writing about many of our world religions.
The Real You
When we have an experience of God-consciousness, we are momentarily but momentously reconnected with our loved and loving selves. We have access again, in that moment of stillness, to the Beloved within us -- that core of light that shines in all of us, no matter what religion we may or may not follow.
And experiencing God-consciousness may feel different to different people, of course. Whenever you have a flash of love, innocence, acceptance, inspiration, awe, wonder, or when you're moved to tears or filled with joy, remind yourself: This is the real me. This is how I was created to be. This is a moment of God-consciousness.
Don't let such moment pass you by. Stop and appreciate them. Act upon them and ask that you receive more of them in the future.
This is what Muslims are doing when they pray five times each day, when they study the Koran, when they fast during the holy month of Ramadan, when they take a moment to remind themselves that they are a servant of a higher power. As Aisha said, "Being a servant of God means being of service to other people." It is this understanding of God, of a higher power, that helps us recognize our interconnectedness, and the urgent need for us to behave as though we are all part of the family of humankind.
Most of us don't experience this in one illuminating flash of comprehension. Spiritual rebirth is rarely a blinding epiphany that causes our lives to change instantaneously. For all of us spiritual transformation is a life-long process, not dissimilar to the journey we take when we go from being a child, to a young person to a maturing adult. Growing psychologically and spiritually does not happen overnight. Genuine growth is on-going throughout life.
Let us take the time -- through stillness, prayer, meditation, community engagement, volunteering, listening to music, whatever it is brings you back to that core of love inside you -- to engage in the adventure of this kind of God-consciousness.
We Are Not Separate, We Are One
Deepak Chopra has said, "Evil is a wound inflicted in separation and only healed in unity." It is the separation agenda that lies at the root of evil. Jesus prayed that humanity would discover its unity as he had discovered his unity with the Beloved. That means that you and your enemies are one, you and people who are poor are one, you and people who are called "sinners" are one -- we must recognize that we are all part of the same family, and then live this truth by aligning our behavior with our awareness.
As we reel from recent deadly events caused by religious intolerance, as we approach the November election, as we navigate this unexplored and daunting economic landscape, let us remind ourselves of the unifying, integrating power of the Beloved within us. We are called to carry inside us a God-consciousness in which everyone is part of the same family.
When people would divide us, polarize us, fill us with fear and make us defensive, when we are encouraged to spend trillions of dollars killing our enemies instead of praying for them -- let us remember in those instances that we are not separate, we are one. Truly, we are all one family.