People of all times and places have had, and currently have, different views of the Divine. Some conceive of a male God, sitting in heaven, making divine plans for all of the universe. Others think of an amorphous Being who, having created the universe, now sits benignly by, watching the universe operate, perhaps according to Divine law or not. Others may believe in a female Goddess, or multiple divine beings. Or the Divine as a non-gendered force. Within the multiplicity of Divine concepts and the wondrous variety in beliefs, there is an underlying theme to explore, which is the Divine Within and the Divine Without. In other words, is your Divine living within you, or external to you?
The Divine Within is the deep stillness within each of us, accessible when we listen to our intuition, when we pay attention to the synchronicities in life, when we are in meditation or in centering prayer. It is the true self’s voice within us that demonstrates positive virtues such as faith, hope, compassion and love. It can be fierce when needed, but the Divine Within is pure and untainted by the ego’s demands.
The Divine Without is the force of the universe that binds everything together. It is the mastermind of the cosmos, the creator of us all, the ground of our being. We can pray to an external God and receive comfort and support. We might even expect this being or power to intervene on our behalf, as when we pray for healing.
Some scholars believe that this is the dividing line between different faith traditions, and that people usually believe one or the other. Instead of drawing a line between them, I’d like to suggest a "both/and", perhaps paradoxical, perspective. The Divine is both within and without. When you think of the zero point field - the minute but ubiquitous energy that can be measured in a vacuum container in which the temperature has been reduced to absolute zero - it is both within and without. It is within, because our bodies are made of matter that can be viewed at the sub-atomic level, where this zero point field is active. And, it is without, because all of the universe contains this energy. So we are all connected at both the lowest and highest levels of conceivable thought. We can listen to the Divine Within, to our truest self’s voice, and we can pray to the Divine Without, knowing that there is an energy that courses through all of creation.
So, I continue to pray and to meditate. I pray to the external, connective force that I perceive as Divine Without, and I meditate to connect with the Divine Within. And yet, both concepts get mixed up inside me, producing something that is one and the same. If I soften my gaze at this subject, the duality becomes a unity. The Divine Without is actually the Divine Within, and the Divine Within manifests also as the Divine Without- they only appear to be different from my limited, humanly point of view.