Reframing the Divine

[Through] non-dualistic thinking, or “third eye” seeing… God becomes more a verb than a noun, more a process than a conclusion, more an experience than a dogma, more a personal relationship than an idea. – Richard Rohr, The Naked Now, p.22

The way I think about the concept of the divine has changed dramatically over the last few years. This change has largely come about through the discovery of non-dualistic thinking. Non-dualistic thinking dissolves the image of tribal god who is for “us” and against “them,” as we begin to see the divine in everything and in everyone. The dichotomy between god and humanity fades away, and the “two become one.” For me, one of St Paul’s letters captures this concept of the Divine, the Cosmic Christ, who connects and sustains all things.

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He is the image of the invisible god, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17)

This passage is helpful for a number of reasons:

First, it notes that “the invisible god” (or Cosmic Christ) is made visible through humanity. So, the Divine is integrated into and active through human action. Specifically, in this passage, Paul is referring to Jesus as “the firstborn of all creation.” For Paul, Jesus represents a new type of humanity who, having moved beyond dualistic thinking, are connected and animated through the Cosmic Christ. When viewed from this perspective, the Divine is no longer an aloof something (or someone) in a far away place, who imposes his will on powerless creatures, but rather the immanent force that inspires all human creativity and beneficence.

Second, the Cosmic Christ is a creative force that brings new worlds in to being. The Cosmic Christ is always propelling humanity forward towards love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Wherever we see these virtues that is where the Cosmic Christ is at work, and the “invisible god” is being imaged through humanity. Through the Cosmic Christ, humanity creates new worlds of hope and prosperity.

Third, the Cosmic Christ is the glue that holds everything together. For generations, people have talked about an apocalypse in which the whole world will fall apart. So why hasn’t it? In the West the apocalypse seems perpetually around the corner as new adversaries, be it Nazis, communists, or Al-Quaeda, spark new fears of annihilation. Yet, in spite of all these threats, the Cosmic Christ continues to hold everything together. The Cosmic Christ brings an element of stability to the world, and an assurance that history is moving forward in a positive direction.

For me, this is a good place to start when we think about the concept of the Divine. Even those of us who are less inclined to view the world in a spiritual sense can embrace the concept of a mysterious force that unites humanity and propels us forward in pursuit of a better world. The Cosmic Christ also challenges us to move beyond the categories of “us” and “them” to see all people as, well, people. To do this, however, we need to get over the different vocabulary we use to describe the Cosmic Christ, be it the Holy Spirit, human spirit, Qi, Allah, or “the force,” and begin to view all of these constructs as a means of describing the divine animating force that draws us all together, and inspires us to create a better world together.

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