The split between humanity and Divinity, which many are now seeking to heal, occurred many thousands of years ago, long before the organized religions that dominate society today emerged. This is most obvious when we look at the root of human, which derives from Latin humus ‘ground, earth’, from the PIE base *dhghem- ‘earth’. This etymology shows that our forebears some 7,000 years ago conceived of human beings as earthlings in contrast to the divine residents of the heavens.
Going further back—some 25,000 to 10,000 years ago—many images of female figures in Europe and Asia indicate that our forebears experienced themselves as the children of Nature, in relationship with all beings, part of the whole, as Anne Baring and Jules Cashford narrate in their beautiful book The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image. As they point out, no male figures have been found, similar to the Goddess of Willendorf, found in Austria.
But in the patriarchal epoch that began with the first civilizations and the dawn of history some 5,000 years ago, the way we relate to God, Nature, Universe, and hence each other began to change radically. In terms of Christianity, the defining moment came in 325 ce, when the Roman emperor Constantine convened a council at Nicaea in Turkey to “work out a standard formulation of Christian faith”, creating a catholic church, literally ‘concerning the whole’, as Elaine Pagels tells us in Beyond Belief. At this meeting, the bishops formulated the Nicene Creed, declaring that Jesus of Nazareth is “the only-begotten Son of God”, thereby reinforcing the great gulf between the rest of humanity and the Absolute, denying the innate experiences of the Gnostics who followed the Gospel of Thomas.
In contrast, Rishis in the Indus Valley, who narrated the Upanishads with profound mystical insight, well understood that Brahman, as God, and Atman, as Self, are one, declaring Tat tvam asi ‘You are That’. To try to understand this quality that has no name, as Taoists say, Buddhists denote it with Shūnyatā ‘Emptiness’ or Tathatā ‘Suchness’.
But the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam know little of this, declaring that God is other, trying to prevent their followers from realizing their True Nature, Authentic Self, and Genuine Identity. Leaders in these religions thus attempt to come between God and the people, dressing in distinctive clothes and giving themselves special titles, as if they alone know the so-called word of God.
For instance, Yehuda Berg tells us in The Power of Kabbalah that the Zohar “warned that the ‘governing religious authority’ would always try to prevent the people from claiming the spiritual power that was rightly theirs.” Such authorities would “act as an intermediary between man and the divine”. For if they allowed people to “connect directly to the infinite, boundless Light of Creation” that “would mean their demise as gatekeepers to heaven”.
This situation is particularly critical at the present time with the global economy about to self-destruct as evolution passes through the most momentous turning point in its fourteen billion-year history. For the only sure way to be free of the fear of death is to constantly live in union with the Immortal Ground of Being that we all share. So if we cannot cocreate a society whose principal purpose is to recapitulate the Cosmogonic Cycle before the deaths of our bodies and species, people are going to suffer terribly.