There are many ways to understand the concept of a supreme or ultimate divine reality. Spiritually grounded and socially motivated individuals and groups around the planet celebrate and amplify the Nameless One in which we all exist.
We are people of words though, and still like to name concepts, so we continue to use words like God, Universal Consciousness, Presence, Self, Brahman, Atman, Allah, Source, Life, Infinite One, I AM, Tao, Being, the Whole, Divine Mind, the Beloved, Great Spirit, or Creator. However we refer to this un-nameable or many-named Power, it remains universally known and accessible to every human being.
Plotinus (250 BCE) taught that there is a supreme, totally transcendent ‘One’, containing no division, multiplicity or distinction and beyond all categories of being and non-being. His One ‘cannot be any existing thing‘, nor is it merely the sum of all things but ‘is prior to all existents‘. Plotinus identified his One with the concept of Good and the principle of Beauty.”
Today, such a Being “perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshiped as creator and ruler of the universe” may also be seen as “a Quantum energy and force that is available to all in the form of Love“. In Names of the Divine there is a list of over 50 names humans use to describe the Higher Power.
When Jesus, or Muhammad, or Moses spoke about the divine they would have used the Aramaic word “alaha’, which means “oneness”, “the ALL”, “ultimate potential”, “sacred unity”, or “the one with no opposite”. Such meaning is consistent with the Hindu Brahmin, or the Tao Te Ching. The word for such Unity is also known as Allah (Used in the Middle East by both Islam and Christians), Elohim (ancient Hebrew for “Unity in Diversity”), and Elat ,the female form emphasizing “Unity as One Embodied in the present moment”.
The divine essence or source is also recognized in the form of breath itself, expressed as “Yah-Weh”, or “All-ah” (in and out, yin and yang) the essence of all life. It is therefore not surprising that most traditions have names like “the spirit of God”, “the Holy Spirit”, the “Great Spirit”, “Breath on the water”, which are metaphors for the force breathing life into creation, into humanity and to all that is good in existence.
Some traditions, such as the Jewish, do not allow God to be named as such, because God is “nameless and unknowable”. Richard Rohr says “God is a process rather than a clear name or idea, a communion, Interbeing itself, and never an isolated deity that can be captured by our mind”.
The concept of universal love as a being is too enormous to comprehend without mystery. God is in everything, and life itself holds a basic sanctity, it is the visible sign of the invisible presence of love.
Whatever we experience, our emotions, our dreams and our intuitions, our senses and our interpretations, they all hold windows to what we know deeply, but cannot fully comprehend.
Many ways of understanding the concept of God have been developed through the ages. These are listed under philosophy, and include different bases of belief including pantheism monism and panentheism.
God as Sacred Unity
We can do well to be open to the concept of God as the Abrahamic religions did, as a sacred Unity. Here are two examples from the Bible, which in the original aramaic (As Jesus would have spoken) the word ‘Alaha’ was used, which can be translated as ‘sacred unity’:
A Short History of how humanity has seen God
Axial (philosophic) consciousness emerged in the centuries around 500 BCE with the rise of the Greek philosophers, Eastern sages like Laozi (Lao-Tze), and the Jewish prophets. They brought with them systematic and conceptual thought, both the holistic Eastern forms (Hinduism, Taoism and Buddhism) and individual-mind-based Western reason and philosophy (Abrahamic religions).
The Christian Common Era from 0-1000 CE ushered into the West the vastly divergent views of both dualistic (right-wrong thinking) which allowed religion and power to merge, and Jesus Christ’s teaching about human union with oneself, the tribe/nation/society, and the outsider/enemy.
Both views had their own definitions of God,
- an “owned God” that supports punishment, power and war, controlling its members by threats, judgment, shame and guilt
- VS a God of grace, love, compassion, an energy flow/presence that opposes all violence and hatred.
From the middle ages to the present the views of God became even more divergent, and the previous unheard of issue of God’s ‘relevance’ (in the form of atheism) emerged with discoveries in science and the experiences of inhumanity, culminating in the world wars of the early 20th century. To many, their logic led to them thinking God was dead.
Fr Richard Rohr
This love energy is increasingly present today in the emergence of multifaith acceptance, in messages such as John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, and in the congruence of scientific and metaphysical understanding of mystery.
Perhaps we are returning to an ‘inner unity’ understanding of God “which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all.” St Vincent of Lerin – 434CE
from Frederick Laloux, “Reinventing Organizations”Full Glossary Index