The Universe as One Living Being

From The Thoughts of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antonius , by Marcus Aurelius Antonius. (Written circa 170 CE; translated by George Long in 1862).

Constantly regard the universe as one living being, having one substance and one soul; and observe how all things have reference to one perception, the perception of this one living being; and how all things act with one movement; and how all things are the co-operating causes of all things which exist; observe too the continuous spinning of the thread and the contexture of the web.

The Two Halves of Human Consciousness

From Creative Meditation and Multi-Dimensional Consciousness (1984), by Anagarika Govinda.

Only he who, while fully recognizing and understanding his Western heritage, penetrates and absorbs the heritage of the East, can gain the highest values of both worlds and do justice to them. East and West are the two halves of our human consciousness, comparable to the two poles of a magnet, which condition and correspond to each other and cannot be separated. Only if man realizes this fact will he become a complete human being.

Wholeness Responding to Wholeness

From The Essentials of Zen Buddhism (1963), by Daisetz T. Suzuki.

To find one’s way home would be to undo the Fall and to achieve a re-entry into life. The outer world would then no longer be outside ourselves, and nothing would be seen as simply an ob-ject, i.e., as something which we re-ject or dis-own. In the union with life which overcomes man’s alienation, the universe becomes his very own; he lives in it even as it lives in him. Life is no longer a collection of fragments externally and accidentally related, but a living whole in which the parts retain their identity as parts and yet at the same time are fully united with the whole. And the unity of all things is reflected in the wholeness of his inner life. His left hand knoweth what his right hand doeth, and his name is no longer legion. With his energies no more diminished by the warfare of the segments of his own being, man is then, for the first time, able to give life his undivided attention from moment to moment. His actions can then be truly characterized as wholeness responding to wholeness, and his life is then no longer, as heretofore, a matter of fragments pushing or being pushed by other fragments.

The Interdependence of All Things

From Poems from the Divan of Hafiz (14th century), by Hafez, translated by Gertrude Bell in 1897.

The conception of the union and interdependence of all things divine and human is far older than Sufi thought. It goes back to the earliest Indian teaching, and Professor Deussen, in his book on Metaphysics, has pointed out the conclusion which is drawn from it in the Veda. “The gospels,” he says, “fix quite correctly as the highest law of morality, Love thy neighbour as thyself. But why should I do so, since by the order of nature I feel pain and pleasure only in myself, not in my neighbour? The answer is not in the Bible (this venerable book being not yet quite free from Semitic realism), but it is in the Veda: You shall love your neighbour as yourselves because you are your neighbour; a mere illusion makes you believe that your neighbour is something different from yourselves. Or in the words of the Bhagaradgitah: He who knows himself in everything and everything in himself, will not injure himself by himself. This is the sum and tenor of all morality, and this is the standpoint of a man knowing himself a Brahman.”

(Bhagaradgitah is an alternate spelling of Bhagavad Gita)


The Sufis were forced to pay an exaggerated deference to the Prophet and to Ali in order to keep on good terms with the orthodox, but since they believed God to be the source of all creeds they could not reasonably place one above another; nay more, since they taught that any man who practised a particular religion had failed to free himself from duality and to reach perfect union with God, they must have held Mahommadanism in like contempt with all other faiths. “When thou and I remain not (when man is completely united with God), what matters the Ka’ba and the Synagogue and the Monastery?” That is, what difference is there between the religion of Mahommadan, Jew, and Christian?

Kindling the Flame

From The Vision of Asia: An Interpretation of Chinese Art and Culture (1933), by L. Cranmer-Byng.

The artist allows the life without him to penetrate within, and from the mingling of two vital flames new life is engendered and produced in new form. Since the Universal Spirit pervades all things, there is nothing that is incapable of co-operating in the purpose of Creation. And the final test of every work of art lies in the appeal of its vitality to ours; not in the flower but in the flame that kindles it into beauty and ourselves into recognition and response. Thus the art of life consists not merely in the ability to see the flame but to bear the flame, to liberate and let it pass from us into a future beyond our day.