“The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that its center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.” ―
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reading a fascinating book about the saying of Jesus from The Gospel of Thomas, which seem to consistently speak of our Oneness with God, and with one another. So, when I ran across this quote from the great Native American holy man, Black Elk, it really struck a chord in me that I couldn’t deny.
This message of our oneness with God and everything else resonates throughout nearly every religious tradition across the globe. Traces of it can be heard in the teachings of the Buddha, and in Native American spirituality, and, yes, even in the New Testament epistles and the Gospels themselves.
Yet, this message is largely downplayed and drowned out by the religious gatekeepers who benefit from keeping everyone separated from God, suspicious of their own Divine connection, fearful of losing favor with God, and constantly striving for an atonement that they never really needed in the first place.
Whenever I hear echoes of Jesus in the words of other spiritual voices, it confirms for me that the same Holy Spirit has been whispering in the hearts of humanity in various tongues, times, and epochs throughout history.
What Black Elk realized is what Jesus knew, and what Buddha found, and what the mystics of every religion have told us for centuries:
“The Holy Land is everywhere” – Black Elk
This is what God said to Jacob in his dream of the ladder to heaven: “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go…” [Gen. 28:15]. Meaning, the “Holy Ground” Jacob walked on wasn’t merely that place where he had the dream, but anywhere and everywhere he set his face to go.
When the Gospels speak of the veil in the Temple being torn in half at the crucifixion of Jesus, it speaks to this same idea that the Holy Presence of God is not hidden away, but is now unleashed upon everyone, everywhere.
This is also what is meant when it says that the Spirit of God was “poured out on all flesh” at Pentecost – old and young, men and women, everyone…everywhere.
Or…the Holy Land is everywhere.
Black Elk knew what Jesus knew: the secret of wisdom was to become like little children, as he said:
“Grown men can learn from very little children for the hearts of the little children are pure. Therefore, the Great Spirit may show to them many things which older people miss.”
He also knew that everyone is connected to the Spirit of God, even if they’re unaware of it:
“Peace will come to the hearts of men when they realize their oneness with the universe. It is everywhere.”
This quote reminds me of when Jesus told us that whatever we do to others, we do it to him. Loving God and loving others are the very same thing. The Kingdom of God is within each of us. We don’t need to go out and find it, or search for it. The doorway is within us.
I also remember how Jesus stressed his oneness with the Father, and our oneness with him, and the Father, too:
“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” [John 14:20]
I also love the way he describes the reality of the spirit world and this one:
“Crazy Horse dreamed and went into the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things. That is the real world that is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that one. I knew that the real was yonder and that the darkened dream of it was here.”
I love hearing this spiritual wisdom from such a variety of sources, don’t you? It’s a beautiful confirmation that this still, small voice within us is speaking a universal truth to us about who we are, who God is, and what matters most in this world.
So, whether I read it in the Gospels, or in the writings of Carl Jung, or Socrates, or Alan Watts, or Eckhart Tolle, or even the Gospel of Thomas, or Black Elk, I recognize the same wisdom, and my inner tuning fork reverberates with the same frequency, regardless of where, or who, it comes from.
In the new year, I’m planning to write a blog series for an upcoming “Inner Circle” of subscribers to look a bit closer at The Gospel of Thomas, and perhaps even the Didache, to start with. More news on that in the coming weeks.
Until then, I hope you’re encouraged in your own spiritual journey by the wisdom we find in the writings of the great Black Elk.
Where else do you find these whispers of truth that resonate with your heart? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
Are you up to sharing a Second Cup With Keith? My brand-new podcast is live on the Ethos Radio App [Apple and Android], Spotify, and Google podcasting platforms.
Episode 4 is out now: “3 Lies Christians Believe” w/ Introduction from Derek Webb
Keith Giles is the author of the 7-part best-selling “Jesus Un” book series from Quoir Publishing. His latest -and final book – in this series, Jesus Unarmed: How The Prince Of Peace Disarms Our Violence is available now. Keith is also the host of Second Cup with Keith [a new solo podcast available now on the Ethos Radio App, for Apple and Android and on Spotify; and the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast [along with co-hosts Matthew Distefano, Dr. Katy Valentine, and Derek Day], and the new Imaginary Lines YouTube Channel with poet Darrell Epp. He and his wife, Wendy, currently live in El Paso, TX and work with Peace Catalyst International.