That piece of news required a major rejiggering of the worldview.
I don’t know about you, but I managed to skate through an Orthodox Jewish childhood and a 20-year practice of Buddhism without ever once imagining that God might really exist.
(In my own partial defense, Nichiren Buddhism doesn’t address the question of God as we know it. Sure, it has a few allegorical gods who show up in the Sutras now and then, but they’re treated more as symbolic functions of the universe than actual deities.)
As I began to learn about non-dualism – the teaching that we’re all one – for the first time in the spring of 2006, I felt the unmistakable resonance of its truth deep within me. But I was knocked flat on my butt by its central concept: God is real and the world isn’t.
Of the 2 halves of that statement, you’d think the assertion that the world isn’t real would have been the more shocking – and in some ways it was plenty shocking. But it was the God part that completely blew my mind. Not only that God is real, but that God is the only thing that’s real. Because God is the only thing. Period.
Maybe this is old news to you, but I sure as hell had never heard anything like it.
This is part of a diary entry (from my book) in which I chewed over these ideas:
April 11, 2006
Leatrice lent me a book almost two months ago, a dog-eared paperback called Realization of Oneness by Joel S. Goldsmith. I didn’t like anything about the look of it. The grimly earnest, band aid-colored cover positively shouted “Eat your alfalfa sprouts!” circa 1973.
She’d said I’d probably find it interesting, but it turned out I just couldn’t get past those visuals. (Yes, I am totally that shallow.) So I slipped it discreetly to the bottom of the homework stack, where it languished for at least six weeks. And then the guilt of keeping the book too long finally got to me. I pulled it out and began to read.
Wow. This ugly little volume turned out to be jam packed with electro-buzz recognition, even as it spoke of completely alien concepts like: God is real and the world isn’t; (Really? Seriously? God is real?) And: We are not separate people who live in separate bodies. In truth we are one Being.
And then there was this one, which seemed the total opposite of everything I’d ever been taught: It doesn’t matter what we do (or do not do) in this world, because none of it is real; only God’s perfect unconditional love is real. And nothing can exist outside of God, because God is everything. So only unconditional love exists…
Yet, as it turns out, all true.
I swear, you can’t make this stuff up.