The Divine Unity

I believe that the worlds of limitation and differentiation, and the world of Unity, are things we already fully understand. Maybe not in spiritual terms, but indeed viscerally, in physical terms.

Consider my own body. It represents the world of differentiation in that it has many parts, each with its own aspect and purpose. My hands and feet couldn’t be more different, are located separately, and have no direct communication. The loss of one is nothing like the loss of the other. Their sense of touch is not equally sensitive, nor is their manner of use similar.

Yet the variety and plurality of my body in no way inhibits the perception of each part as integral to an indivisible whole. When I examine any aspect of my body, ‘I contemplate nothing whatsoever but that I see myself therein’. Even if it’s just a useless flap of skin near my least significant toe, I still consider those cells “me”, without contemplating that my brain cells are more valuable or useful. Self-perception is immediate and unbiased. It takes an effort of will to see myself as “many”, since my instinctive, gut reaction is to regard myself as one.

Put another way, I would say that the unity of my being cannot be explained as the ubiquity of my selfhood appearing within my body parts. It is much more fundamental than that; fundamental enough that it feels odd to question the unity of my being, or the multiplicity of my body, as if they were separate realities. My spirit is one, and does not suffer if you remove a hand or a leg; the manyness of my form does not impact the singleness of my reality. And yet the nature of my form, no matter how it appears or changes through time, is at all times an expression of the potentialities of my spirit. This oneness and manyness are bound together to such a degree that they represent a greater unity in which this singleness is not different from its manyness: “In this Valley, the wayfarer leaveth behind him the stages of the ‘oneness of Being and Manifestation’ and reacheth a oneness that is sanctified above these two stations.”

To translate this from the physical realm to the spiritual: The oneness of my body is plain to me because of the singularity of my consciousness. I do not ascribe a similar unity to inanimate things, where I’m persistently aware of their separation into parts. Only when it comes to people and animals – only when there is an animating spirit – do I resist dividing the subject. I don’t pet the hairs on a cat’s back, I pet the cat; I don’t talk to a friend’s ears, I talk to my friend. But when I use my computer, I’m always typing at a keyboard and looking at a monitor. A computer is just a group of parts working together; I perceive no transcendent unity.

This same bias applies to God’s creation. When seen as inanimate, it is just an amalgam of innumerable, separate-yet-related things; but even as my spirit animates my body, using it as the seat of its manifestation, so too God’s Spirit animates the world, and all the souls within it.

Beholding the Divine Unity, then, is to perceive God’s creation in a similar manner to how we see ourselves: absolutely single in its relationship to His Essence. In my own case, there is a hand here and a foot there, but there are not two beings. Or there is Jesus and Muhammad, but in truth only one Ancient Being. This world and the next, all of Creation, at root expresses a Oneness which does not admit of differences. On an outward level one can say that this or that thing has a special rank or station; but at the level of true meaning, it is impossible to draw any distinction between them.

From Gems of the Divine Mysteries:

In this station the truth of the unity of God and of the signs of His sanctity is established. Thou shalt indeed see them all rising above the bosom of God’s might and embraced in the arms of His mercy; nor can any distinction be made between His bosom and His arms. To speak of change or transformation in this plane would be sheer blasphemy and utter impiety, for this is the station wherein the light of divine unity shineth forth, and the truth of His oneness is expressed, and the splendours of the everlasting Morn are reflected in lofty and faithful mirrors….

Hast thou not borne witness to the truth: “No difference wilt thou see in the creation of the God of Mercy”? Yea, by My Lord! They that dwell within this Ocean, they that ride upon this Ark, witness no change in the creation of God and behold no differences upon His earth. And if God’s creation be not prone to change and alteration, how then could they who are the Manifestations of His own Being be subject to it? Immeasurably exalted is God above all that we may conceive of the Revealers of His Cause, and immensely glorified is He beyond all that they may mention in His regard!