Thursday, November 07, 2013
What’s All This About “Personal Empowerment?”
I thought this week I’d expand a bit on the idea of “personal empowerment.” In the past few weeks I’ve discussed how self-care is not selfish. I wrote about how making decisions that are right for us personally doesn’t mean we don’t love our family and friends if they disagree.
But what exactly is “personal empowerment?” In New Thought personal empowerment is God empowerment, since we are that which God is. To the evangelical Christian and Orthodox Muslim that might sound like heresy. Many people are taught not to rely on themselves, but rather only on God as that Supreme Power outside of us. Interestingly enough, as religious scientists we rely on ourselves first because we rely solely on God as our only Source. That may seem like a paradox, but in the unity of all creation it makes perfect sense.
We often hear the saying we are “one with God.” Unfortunately, being one with anything already implies a reunion of two or more entities healing a separation, which in true oneness can’t exist. English is perhaps one of the most difficult languages in which to express unity or the concept of oneness. Arabic poetry is some of the most beautifully intense writing I’ve encountered. I have a Lebanese friend who has opened my eyes to the beauty of expression in Arabic and I asked him if his language was any better than English. Unfortunately, in this case, Arabic is about as helpful as English! Here’s what my friend told me:
There is no expression in Arabic that I can think of at this moment that would not imply some sort of separation between God and his creation. Muslims do believe in the oneness of God, but they haven't used expressions that would show a unity between God and the universe. Sufis on the other hand are more daring, because they understand that oneness of God includes everyone and everything. They understand that they are the seed of God on earth - that they are actually God. They know there is no separation between what we call God and the universe in its entirety.
There is definitely a sense of separation when someone says, “I am one with God.” But this separation can be removed once someone says, “I am God.” Unfortunately though, most people are afraid of saying such a statement and that's mainly because they are unaware of who they are. In Arabic, there is a story of a Sufi mystic who once said, “I am the truth/Ana Al-hak,” and Truth is one of the 99 names of God in Islam. Orthodox Muslims misunderstood what he was saying, so he was condemned to death. Sufis believe in the concept of “Al Fanaa” which is the death of one’s ego and/or self so that nothing remains but God. When the Sufi mystic said, “I am the truth,” he was simply saying, “I as a self don’t exist - Only God does.”
The words we use in our everyday life, our prayers and our meditations have whatever power we decide to give them. Like a talisman, our words become imbued with the power we assign to them. We can decide to use our own words and thoughts to empower ourselves to higher and better expressions of ourselves. In doing so, our power can never be taken from us because it comes from within, not from some outside source.
Take time this week to feel the unity you share with all creation, rather than seeing the separation and differences the media and society in general wants us to embrace. Understand that this unity of life provides the basis to know the power you may seek must come from within. Then, use whatever words work for you to express to others the peace you feel inside to make your world a more loving place to be.
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
P.S. My friend also sent a link to “In Every Tear, He is There,” by British-Iranian singer/songwritier Sami Yusuf, that you might also enjoy as part of this discussion.