In many ancient cultures, individuals were known by their tribal or clan name. Their individuality melds into the group identity. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Tutu expressed this reality through their Ubuntu philosophy: “I am because we are!” They took Ubuntu beyond the boundaries of South Africa and invited people from all over the world to embrace Ubuntu.
We find Ubuntu in the Quran, “O Mankind, we created you from a single pair of male and female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another” (Sura 49:13). We realize our interconnectedness by recognizing our single source. In other words, “I am because we are.” The Quran goes further in revealing our individual and collective identity in the Divine Essence. “We have created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than his jugular vein” (Sura 50:16). And Jesus revealed his mission when he prayed for all of humanity, “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 21:20).
How do we realize our Universal identity?
When we see the Divine in us we are individuals; when we see ourselves in the Divine we become universal. Being a drop in the ocean we are individuals, when we see ourselves as the entire ocean in the drop we become Universal. The more we live in the now and here the more we realize oneness with the Universal Divine Essence. This present moment now is part of every moment from the beginning and the end of time; therefore, this present moment is part of eternal time; and the place where we are at any moment is part of the entire universe.