“There is no Messiah, and You’re It.”
This curious quote by contemporary Jewish writer, Rabbi Robert Levine, is featured in the book I’m reading now by Jay Michaelson, “Everything Is God: The Radical Path of Nondual Judaism.” I didn’t know what to expect from such a book, since I’m not, you know, Jewish, but the title intrigued me enough to give it a try.
I was concerned about such a book getting boring or mired down in law-abiding details of Torah, but two-thirds of the way in, I haven’t regretted one page. In fact, Michaelson has nearly convinced me (in addition to other beloved Jewish works) that somewhere deep inside me lurks a Jew.
Don’t get me wrong. Michaelson has no intent of proselytizing or converting anyone to Judaism. Quite the opposite. He affirms the beauty and God-ness found within all traditions, which he refers to as “masks” of the Divine. Everything we know about “God” from our world is shrouded in costume and mask, since “God” is not definable, utterable, or capturable from tangible, earthen vessels. We only learn hints and shadows about what Is God through symbols, beliefs, myths, and even the material world around us. And while Michaelson doesn’t believe anyone has to go searching for God in religion, he has chosen to follow one tradition of the many within Judaism—the religion of his ancestors—quite simply as a way to experience community, the preservation and practice of meaningful symbols, and cohesion in efforts toward social impact.
In classic, contemplative, Jewish Kabbalah (mystical) style, Michaelson brings some novel and beautiful suggestions to the table related to the unfolding revelation of what Is God and where history is taking the awakening humanity. In short, God does not “exist,” God is existence itself, and everything created is God-substance—a manifestation of the Divine—as the Psalmist articulated, “Where can I go from God?”
On topic, I was intrigued by his handling of the age old tradition of a long-awaited “messianic age,” where it is historically believed that a utopian society will at last converge upon mankind, resolving creation’s ache for deliverance from an unjust system where death, greed, and suffering prevail.
Says Michaelson, “There has been a longstanding Jewish tradition to regard the messianic age as one of evolving consciousness rather than revolutionary history…(p. 139)” In other words, the long awaited messiah just might be the manifestation of the Christ in You, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27). Though he’s not dogmatic about anything, he develops the notion that humankind could be evolving toward a messianic consciousness, whereby we realize that We—individually and collectively—are the solution to our problems.
“The messianic age,” suggests Michaelson, “…is a time at which the consciousness that all is God will fill the earth. And it is a time which will come gradually, as more and more people begin to transcend the illusions of the separate self and realize the truth of their natures. …[It] is the culmination of the one huge evolutionary learning process which was conceived with the Universe, born with the emergence of Life, and becomes mature when Humanity easily achieves Divine Inspiration (p. 139-140).
Does this conscious realization happen at the hands of any one faith tradition or religion? According to Michaelson, no, each tradition must have a share in the dawning through peaceful, equitable realization, which is the whole point. In that day, unity-consciousness could so captivate the planet that even the lion would lie down peacefully with the lamb.
This thought is captivating to me because I have come to suspect that God’s plan for earth and humanity must somehow line up with reason and nature (as opposed to supernatural events). To me, a global messianic consciousness (set in motion by the prolific global information sharing and all its possibilities) seems to suggest a way that it might actually be conceivable for a crossroads of a utopian society, reason, and science, even if all the details are not yet worked out. If humanity awakens collectively to Love, where they began to see themselves as expressions or manifestations of a benevolent God, and a part of the solution to the world’s problems through justice and equitable treatment of others, real change could take place on our planet earth. Add in scientific and medical advances being used for the good of all and well, the possibilities are mind blowing.
“Imagine a world in which everyone understood that all of us were God,” says Michaelson. “Not one in which each person thought he or she was God alone—that would be disaster. But one in which the nonduality of Being was understood, in some form or fashion, by all human beings. This would be an entirely different world from one we now inhabit, free of the conflicts and crises, petty and grotesque, which fill our moment. And imagine what it would be like, right now, to believe that, as Ramana Maharshi has said, ‘civilization…will finally resolve itself…in the Realization of the Self’” (p. 141).
Sound blasphemous? Impossible? The Bible offers Jesus as our “prototype.” To me that means he was a pattern of what we are all to become as fellow children and expressions of God. If Jesus was a messiah (Hebrew for “anointed one”), so are we also to be messiahs of the generation in which we find ourselves. When we wake up to this realization, and to the profound opportunity we have to bring hope and healing to the world, we just might finally move into that long awaited messianic age.