There is One Mind and each of us is one of Its Ideas.
Not just us humans, however. The animals, plants, mountains, and rivers. The stars and atoms, galaxies and electrons. Everything is an Idea of the One Mind.
It is difficult for some of us to say "God thinks each of us into being" without feeling like we're falling back on childhood Sunday school stories. The aftereffects of coming to terms with the need to break out of naive belief systems can cause us to knee-jerk away from pat answers and anything resembling the old bearded patriarch sitting in Heaven.
I know I don't care for the word God unless I really work it into a fuller frame of reference.
I met an Aborigine in the Outback many years ago who asked me, as we sat on a red rock in the middle of nowhere smoking hand-rolled cigarettes and baking like lizards in the mid-morning sun, "What are you going to be when you die?"
I confessed I'd never thought about it quite like that and passed the ball back to him. He replied, blowing a cloud into the sky: "Out there," he said, pointing deeper into the desert, "there is a hidden stream coming out of a mountain. It runs through great red boulders and between giant white gum trees. Every morning a breeze washes up that ravine and every evening a breeze washes down that ravine. I will be that breeze that runs down the ravine in the evening when I die."
I took this in, adding it to what little I already knew, and asked, "So the red boulders and gum trees and breeze that runs up the ravine in the morning and the stream itself--all those are your relatives and other loved ones?" To which he merely nodded matter-of-factly, as if I'd asked if he'd seen any sand lately.
The first law of thermodynamics is that matter-energy can neither be created nor destroyed--only transformed. The laws of nature are no different than any of the other Ideas within the One Mind. They all reflect one another in the Indra's Net world view: existence is an infinite net with a perfect jewel at each of its knots and the net is arranged so that each jewel reflects every other jewel and is reflected by every other jewel, all at the same time that the whole of the jewels is reflected in every one of the jewels.
My friend in the Outback had grasped the axle of existence. As an Idea in the One Mind of what he calls Dreamtime, he can neither be created nor destroyed, merely transformed. He saw, too, that each of the Ideas--ravine, stream, boulders, trees, wind, humans--is equal, interchangeable in form, eternally incarnating in new bodies of the Beloved, light reflected among all the infinite jewels of the Mind Net.
Nowadays we have the neo-animist movement which uses the phrase "other-than-human-persons" to reflect the worldview of the presence of the One Mind. It is a
... phrase coined by Irving Hallowel, Influenced by the Ojibwe of southern-central Canada. It refers to the widest possible community of living beings. For example, in the Ojibwe Language not only are humans, animals, fish, birds, and plants living, relational beings, but so too are objects-persons such as rocks and certain weather systems (the thunder-beings). The word spirits is sometimes attached to other words, as in rock spirit or tree spirit, to suggest that some rocks or trees are different from others. Hallowell's phrase has gained currency because it does not misrepresent the indigenous thought and experience that some rocks, trees, and storms, act as persons: that is, as relational, intentional, conscious, and communicative beings. This worldview and lifeway is now being called animism (Graham Harvey and Robert J Wallis: Historical Dictionary of Shamanism)
This leap of faith, away from seeing the world as dead matter and all its plants and animals as mindless resources, carries us into a new appreciation of the emotional connectedness with the sacred. Far from experiencing our life as alienated beings in a hostile world, we find ourselves in the ever-moving center of an omnipresent sphere of communion. The atoms and electrons that make up my body are fourteen billion years old. They come from other humans, animals, plants, soil, water, air, other planets, the sun, other stars. They make up this body but they come from the very Big Bang itself, just like all the other Ideas in the One Mind. And, just like all the ideas in my mind have a life of their own and intermingle to form more complex ideas, the Ideas in the One Mind have a life of their own and intermingle, electrons and cells and growing flesh and consciousness itself arising from the ever-evolving array of more complex Ideas.
A rabbi long ago was asked, "What is the secret of life?" To which he replied, "Everything is God. Live well. Die easy."
Everything is God. I champ at the bit at this. Until I put it in terms of neo-animism.
Moses stands on the holy mountain and is confronted by a burning bush. He doesn't recognize it, so it announces itself, "Am That I Am." I get it now. We are all standing on the holy mountain. We are everywhere confronting the radiance of spirit-in-matter announcing it's uncreated and indestructible presence, I Am That I Am. I get it now. It is all a burning bush and it is always speaking to us. May we continue to learn to better attune our senses to its voice.
What will I be when I die?
I'm still working on the answer. But it goes without saying that it involves sinking deeper into the spirit-matter that miraculously makes up the One Body of this One Mind that is thinking me.
The Toltec I Ching, by Martha Ramirez-Oropeza and William Douglas Horden has just been released by Larson Publications. It recasts the I Ching in the symbology of the Native Americans of ancient Mexico and includes original illustrations interpreting each of the hexagrams. Its subtitle, 64 Keys to Inspired Action in the New World hints at its focus on the ethics of the emerging world culture.