Universal Brotherhood

By Scott Osterhage

At times it may be difficult to believe that brotherhood is the basis of our human family. Generally we think of brotherhood as manifesting in agreement and cooperation among various factions of humanity. If oneness is a fact, why is this accord so often lacking? Universal brotherhood, however, runs deeper than a mere surface agreement: it means that humanity is inherently one. In fact, all beings at their inmost are sparks of the divine essence, enshrouded in vehicles corresponding to their present stage of evolution.

As humans we have built up invisible and visible karmic bodies around our inner selves. In our physical body we generally feel and seem separate from others. We sometimes have trouble realizing the critically important part of us which is immortal -- our higher self, inner god, or Father within. Today the widespread feeling of separateness is due largely to the fact that we have forgotten our spiritual essence and identified ourselves only with our grossest body. This illusion of separateness also springs from selfishness, something that unfortunately is strengthened each day by attitudes of competition. The unselfishness of the altruistic teachings of the world's great sages and seers has become theoretical for many.

If we look at oneness, we see that at the core of our very lives we are divine, and that divinity is ultimately one -- all things interweave, interrelate, interpenetrate. Therefore, we are all one as a fact in nature, not merely through association or agreement. Essentially we are one with all beings -- humans, animals, gods, plants, planets, minerals, comets, stars, continuing up and down, in and out, beyond and within. If we go far enough within, we will eventually meet the grand vistas of the kosmos -- again, ONE!

Illusion causes us to seem separate from all other beings and things -- seem to be, with physical eyes viewing physical things. What of the causes and essences beyond or behind the physical? Scientists now believe that "empty" space contains substantive matter that may account for most of the material in the universe. Theosophy speaks of invisible worlds which house congeries of lives, the inner worlds being the origin of the physical world. A majority of these beings, as well as some portions of our own constitution, cannot be observed by us at present because their rates of vibration are beyond our perception. This opens up grand visions of a comprehensive reality. In the Bhagavad-Gita we read, "I established this whole universe with a single portion of myself, and remain separate"; the Tao Te Ching offers, "The Tao that can be expressed is not the Eternal Tao"; the Chandogya Upanishad declares, "Thou art That"; and the Bible states, "I and my Father are one" and "we, being many, are one body in Christ" (the Chrestos spirit).

We can try to follow the Greek injunction "know thyself!" and enlarge our idea of universal brotherhood by identifying with our family, neighbors, and associates. But we need not stop there -- we can go on to humanity in general, with its diverse population and tentative national boundaries, and identify ourselves with each of its members, those we admire and those we despise, for we are all One! We are intimately connected with all of them, the saint and the sinner, the wonderful and the wretched. There are no boundaries in the inner worlds except those we create within ourselves. By raising our own self, we are also raising that of all humanity by ever so small an amount, affecting the thought-life of each member for good.

But we need not stop even there: we can reach out to the other kingdoms of nature, the plants and animals, planets and stars, for we are inseparably connected with the heart of each being in the universe. Continuing this thought to its ultimate, we can reach up to the highest God or Unknowable Creator, of whatever our faith, and identify ourselves with that Being. THAT is where we all ultimately meet, in the unending source of ALL. When we can intimately relate ourselves in this manner, how can we still see each other as separate or opposing groups or individuals with insurmountable differences?

Although to some this may sound utopian, universal brotherhood is a fact in nature, and each of us can bring it home to our ordinary self and, as a result, to humanity as a whole.

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