In 1971, Thaddeus Golas published a counterculture classic, The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment.
The first sentence of the first paragraph of chapter one is potent:
“We are equal beings and the universe is our relations with each other.”
I originally read that sentence in the early 90s. All this time later, and it continues to provoke a pronounced alchemical process of change and evolutionary growth. It’s been an unwavering spiritual catalyst.
The rest of Golas’s book discusses human life from the perspective of that first sentence and continues for a short 80 pages (prior to the revised and expanded edition). I like spiritual books that don’t get carried away with long-winded, cosmic verbiage.
It’s the words used sparingly that hold the most power.
That first sentence is a stand-alone testament to the book’s powerful overall message. It can be a path unto itself.
What if we made it our spiritual practice to fully live from the idea that we are equal beings and the universe is our relations with each other? I imagine we would work diligently to be more aware and responsible in our relations and ensure we’re acting from the empowered intention of recognizing the equality of all beings. That would change the world in short order I imagine.
When I was growing up, I was taught about how exceptional America was—the greatest country in the world. This, of course, is an insane teaching. We are part of an interdependent system whether we like to admit it or not. The biosphere does not support flags, boundaries, and the rights of nation-states to impose their will onto other nation-states. The biosphere is us, all of us, plain and simple. And it supports a balanced approach to life that takes into account the entirety of life.
We’ve veered from that empowered, natural approach and it’s easy to see the results in our own little slice of the universe.
It’s crazy what the current state of our relations with each other has wrought. Our relations, for the most part, are abhorrent, tragic, and self-destructive. Just look at the state of the world and the dismal future of our grandchildren. We are so out of balance as a species in our relationship with life that it’s a wonder we are still standing.
The good news is there are pockets of peace, beauty, and a reverence for the natural rhythms of the universe. There are people who are demonstrating impeccable balance within its dynamic and endlessly creative system. And maybe we’d be better off focusing on the views they offer rather than the apocalyptic trajectory of our times.
Maybe that’s a way to inhibit the dark momentum a bit, by focusing on the life-affirming space shared by the great mystics, poets, shamans, and wisdom teachers that have graced us. They have all suggested, in one form or another, that it’s probably a more skillful approach to live from the notion that we are equal beings and the universe is our relations with each other.
I’m a fan of the mindfulness teachings that are popular today. The fact that so many of us are awakening to that internal, quiet observer of thoughts, that witnessing presence within, is bringing in a current of stability within the dystopian landslide.
Mindfulness teaches us that we are not that voice inside our head. It’s that egoic voice, our incessant internal dialogue, that seems to be creating all the ruckus and likes to identify itself with things like flags, nation-states, and exceptionalism.
The practice of mindfulness invites us to directly experience the energy of we are all equal beings and the universe is our relations with each other. When we are truly present with another being, sharing breath in the now, we are freed from myopic judgments and the mad stories of past and future that we usually carry around like a well-worn security blanket.
When we share mindful breath, our relations are above par and the universe manifests as a friendly and beautiful place where all kinds of joyful and wonderfully mysterious happenings cross our path.
The universe is a verb. There was never an instant when it was a static place or thing. We are verbs as well—constantly changing and on the move. We have recently learned about the plasticity of our brains meaning we can create new neural pathways, think in new ways, despite our mental habits of the past. This should give some hope.
Perhaps the ship of civilization is already turning toward a more relational construct, a more loving sphere of being. Maybe the divisiveness of today is just the birth pangs of new ways of thinking and being, a struggle to free ourselves from the chrysalis of egoic exceptionalism.
Maybe enough of us are learning the value of trying to live every day from the energy of, “We are equal beings and the universe is our relations with each other.”
Maybe it’s not too late to usher in something truly incredible for our world, our grandbabies, and all equal beings.