Hindu philosophy teaches that we are all intrinsically connected, and all part of one divine consciousness. Hindus call this divine consciousness Brahman, but other faiths may call this consciousness God, Allah, Jehovah or another name. Brahman is formless and exists in all things – animals, people, plants, trees, earth, water and fire to name but some – all things are a manifestation of the divine!
An ancient Hindu scripture, the Katha Upanishad (11.2.2) illustrates the nature of God as present in all things stating:
The Self is the sun shining in the sky,
The wind blowing in space; he is the fire
At the altar and in the home the guest;
He dwells in human beings, in gods, in truth,
And in the vast firmament; he is the fish
Born in water, the plant growing in the earth,
The river flowing down from the mountain.
For this Self is supreme!
Hindus call the Brahman that exists inside of us Atman, or individual self. If Brahman is likened to a huge ocean of water, Atman is one single droplet of that water. In essence they are identical, yet the ocean is far greater. If you were to place the droplet into the ocean, it would merge totally and become one with the ocean. This is like the individual soul and God. The Upanishads discuss the nature of the relationship between Brahman and Atman, teaching us that Brahman and Atman are one.
The Chandogya Upanishad (Vl.2.3) states:
Of everything he is the inmost Self.
He is the truth; he is the Self supreme.
You are that
Once the Atman has realised its true nature as an aspect of the divine, and that all of the thoughts, feelings and beliefs that it thought were who it was are unreal and an illusion, it merges totally with divine consciousness. This is called self realization.
Hindu philosophy teaches that self realization is the goal of life – the purpose for which we were born. God has created the world around us as a perfect vehicle for us to understand more about ourselves and our true nature. Everything is an opportunity for us to learn about who we are. God created everything perfectly, to give us as many experiences as possible so that we can one day realise that we are not our body, our thoughts, our feelings or beliefs – we are an aspect of divine consciousness. Every moment, every experience that we have is helping us towards this goal.
The world is one huge divine classroom, full of souls eagerly searching, seeking the truth. Everything that exists in this world teaches us about the divine, and is a reflection of the divine in us. Nature is a beautiful reflection of the divine, effortlessly displaying the countless wonderful qualities of God. Nature has a wonderful ability to simply be itself at all times, trusting that in doing so it is contributing to a beautiful whole. The stream flows and gives nourishment to all around, the worms aerate the soil, the bumblebees pollinate the plants… everything in nature serves the Divine simply through being itself! By recognizing the divine in the natural world, we can become more aware of the divine within ourselves, and connect more with our Atman, who we really are.