Change as the single truth fills gaps in our understanding of being that current spiritual frameworks cannot. However, it is not enough to build a transcendent philosophy of meaning and value alone. The single truth illuminates our circumstance for what it is and clarifies to us the realities that we are and are not ultimately bound to. It also reveals the individual and collective oneness with the relational universe we share. Our experience of time as the totality of a single moment is an inseparable commonality we share with all other observing beings. When we embrace oneness with the relational universe, we acknowledge the deep connection we share with the world around us. We are both inseparable from the other and at the same time independent of them. The impacts of our actions ripple throughout the universe, just as the actions and event chains of others insert themselves into our personal experience. These circumstances play a significant role in defining the perspectives we adopt throughout our journey and are worthy of consideration in our development of transcendent philosophies of meaning and value. Oneness with the relational universe is real and inherent to being in a universe governed by the single truth.
Where the single truth helps us conceptualize the infinite nature of the universe, our expression of oneness with it provides a framework for identifying our individual divinity. Two sources of infinity are presently observable in nature: the perpetually evolving universe and the human imagination. In sharing this source of creative power with the totality, each of us is divine, equally as powerful as the gods and messengers in mythos past. The individual expresses their embodied infinity to direct the flow of information within the infinity that is our physical reality. This shared embodiment of the whole is a direct bridge between the internal and external human experiences. It identifies a fundamental basis for transcendence, the alignment of individuals with the single truth and the relational universe. Within now is the essence of infinity, our access to awareness of the totality of experience and our relation to it. The further we align individual and system around the expression of imagination, the more closely we embody the totality of being in the moment. In doing so, we align ourselves with nature and provide a foundation for human oneness unachievable with existing spiritual philosophies.
Being is the experience of time through relationships, interactions with others, and the world outside ourselves. The biological tools we use to make sense of the world are finite, so we rely on our infinite imaginations to construct frameworks for understanding. Until recently, information moved slowly, as did the individual time experience. Now, both grow exponentially but struggle to fully express themselves under the limiting beliefs and systems of the past. Our physical evolution limits our capacity to grasp change while also isolating us from an experience related to but ultimately disconnected from all others. The single truth shatters this illusion and empowers us to embrace our oneness with the relational universe. Happenings occurring outside of the individual are an inseparable part of them; they are the individual as much as the individual is themself. Everything we think, say, and do exists in context to our circumstances. To know and embrace this reinforces the foundation for our journey toward self-actualization in the age of crisis.
The idea that we exist in a relational universe is not new, but it’s not something the majority of humanity practices.* According to early texts, Buddha developed the law of dependent origination, Paṭicca Samuppāda. It states that each event comes out of another, arising from prior happenings. We are constantly grappling with the consequences of prior decisions in the immediate present, a process that we perpetuate indefinitely due to our lack of awareness. Confucianism arose in China around 500 BCE as a spiritual technology emphasizing the importance of the family and social harmony—a philosophy rooted in the idea that humans are fundamentally good, able to improve, able to learn, and can become greater through individual and collective effort. It is wasteful practice to focus on life beyond the present when the ultimate respect an individual can pay to the godhead is the expression of their inner divinity through love and focus. The idea of valuing our relationships with others as a supreme good is a recognition of our common humanity and instills purpose into the moments we inhabit. The philosopher Alan Watts said, “You can’t have this without that. You can’t have here without having there.” The space and the intervals between experiences separate one happening from another.
Viewing individual experience as inseparable from external happenings rejects frameworks of meaning and value derived from past mythos. Our social and spiritual frameworks have long reinforced the idea of individual exceptionalism. Each exists as an independent actor responsible only for themselves and, to a lesser extent, their families. We worship the individual who rises above circumstance to craft a destiny for themselves while shunning those of equal potential but lacking access and agency. We idolize success stories carefully curated for our viewing pleasure as brief escapes from the drudgery inherent to survival for the many. We are blind to the fact that these narratives serve as tools to justify the extreme inequity so common throughout the world. Our present social, legal, and economic systems are designed around misunderstandings of Newtonian physics and Darwinian evolution. We equate survival to a pure form of competitive event chains where choice is the sole determining factor of prosperity. Those unable to adapt are weak links destined to be filtered out by nature's great process—humanity perfected through competitive ideals. Programmed ideas of value and wealth spread through religious and political institutions, championed by a majority who suffocate under the weight of their own dogmas. Self-actualization in the age of crisis is a process of embracing our oneness with the relational universe. Through this practice, we confront existing narratives as falsehoods.
In an informational universe, all experiences imprint upon us. The individual is always interacting with systems that encourage specific ways of thinking about the world. All life occupies a unique conscious coordinate, perceiving inputs and directing energy from a place no others can. We are each subject to the fact that the space we inhabit and the values we believe are inseparable. If any one of us were born in a different place, moment, or within other frameworks of personal access and agency, the developmental direction of our character and consciousness would be different. All of our creations imprint upon us specific ways of thinking and being bound to the moment of their creation. Overcoming the age of crisis begins with recognizing this relationship. Our creations are always bound to the time experience of their birth and will forever reinforce the past visions of the good they were intended to support. Here we confront the fallacy of the individual’s independence from their environment. Presently our struggle is overcoming networks of organizational technologies encouraging a form of life inadequate to overcome the crisis. It is accurate that choice within the immediate present plays an outsized role in shaping individual destiny, but different individuals always have access to different choices based on the event chains defining their history. Can someone born and raised in an environment of material insecurity, emotional stress, and lack of love ever conceptualize the world in the same way as a secure, stable, and loved individual? No, they cannot. We could create many examples, swapping adjectives, and the answer would always be the same.
Our oneness with the information relationships surrounding us is visible in every society. The systems controlling information within a society shape the behaviors and beliefs of its participants. They create the frameworks of interaction with others, rules for a game we’re unaware we’re playing, and behaviors that reinforce themselves every time we act them out. If the total information an individual receives in their time experience denies or omits the knowledge necessary to develop their personal capacity, then options others may understand as real become nonexistent. Behavioral sciences explain how formative the experiences of youth are for the individual. In these time experiences, we craft worldviews—for better or worse—that will stay with us for much of our lives. We can illustrate this by imagining that every individual is born with a personal toolbox. From birth till death, they accumulate knowledge through observation, informational inputs that become tools added to the toolbox. When a problem requires solving, they pull from the available knowledge tools. Each choice initiates event chains that continue to expand throughout the relational universe. If the individual time experience is one where problems most commonly appear as nails, they will develop many hammers. So, what happens when that person faces a challenge requiring a saw? They are ill-equipped because no points within their journey added the concept of a saw to their toolbox. We do not know what we do not know. Therefore, we must reject the dogma of personal choice as the primary determiner over our fates. Instead we should acknowledge the interwoven experience of individual and system as a single self, manifest in the moment. Our creations are just as much a part of us as our individual egos.
Ignorance of our oneness with the relational universe can often warp our personal perspectives to prioritize meaning and values in opposition to those encouraged by the single truth. My partner and I once joined a couple for dinner who self-identified as staunch individualists. In the immediate present, they enjoy material abundance, but both had their independent struggles in the past. That evening the conversation shifted toward a discussion about the relational universe and how reimagining the systems surrounding humanity would redefine us. Imagine my surprise when my friend shared his perspective that we should abolish all public institutions. When I questioned the logic of stripping away the very public systems that equipped him with the tools to transcend his personal circumstances, I was met with dismissal. He said he earned his success through sheer willpower. He insisted that the trajectory of his life would have been the same if he did not have access to public schooling, roads, and a wide variety of other social welfare systems. Now in a position of means, his perspective prioritized eliminating the funding of education systems so that he might have slightly more capital. Putting aside the inconsistencies of believing that any individual’s life trajectory would be the same despite rewriting eighteen years of experience, it is an anecdotal example of how personal circumstances shape perception. Our operating within systems that fetishize wealth, power, and rabid individualism develop a form of humanity that denies our oneness with the relational universe. They separate us from and subjugate us to our own creations, giving reverence to an order of life of our own making while denying the possibility of alternatives. Self-actualization in the age of crisis is the process and practice of deprogramming ourselves from the ideals projected onto us by the institutions surrounding us. It is a denial of the past’s dominion over the present. We embrace new values that will support defining new systems.
It seems peculiar that we inhabit a relational universe but find so many ways to deny its influence on ourselves and others, but it’s not difficult to understand why. Our immediate present is filled with laws, systems, and social norms derived from ideologies deeply rooted in conquest and dominion. History’s most recognizable names are often those whose primary influence on the world consists of violence and death. Our popular culture fetishizes soldiers and war through our games, entertainment, and politics. These systems craft narratives of strength and individuality that defy logic and contradict reality. Humanity’s greatest achievements have been the product of mindful cooperation with others.
Our scientific understanding also supports that individuals' information streams define their values.23,24 The relational universe extends beyond frameworks of imagination; the consumption of identical information streams between two individuals creates physical events like the synchronization of heart rates.25 The connection between how our perceptions of the world influence our being highlights our oneness with the totality of experience. There is a direct correlation between our informational relationships and who we are as individuals. Considering our oneness with the relational universe alongside the single truth helps us understand the keys to unlocking humanity’s latent potential.
When we consider the influence of systems on the individual, there is no better example than our bodies of law. All laws are forms of measurement. They provide a static image of what interactions with others and objects are supposed to look like, giving us a relational understanding of happenings—not unlike a mathematical equation. Society judges adherence to laws by comparing the actions of an individual or organization against the standards we create. General codes of conduct provide frameworks of behavior that we internalize as right and wrong. Laws impact individual behavior by creating the context by which we process our observations. So how do we reconcile the power of institutions to shape reality when they promote inequity through the nature of their design?
Many of the laws presently governing us draw heavily from spiritual philosophies dictating the conduct of life that is driving us closer to crisis. These roots give our creations a sense of permanence they do not deserve. The ethos is further reinforced with a pseudo-religious dogma regarding the sanctity of laws and false narratives about equality of justice. It doesn’t take a legal scholar to understand that the people creating the laws across the globe are those with the most wealth and power. Unsurprisingly, our laws and the systems they guide disproportionately favor the wealthy and powerful. The idea that an overwhelming majority of individuals should acknowledge, obey, and support laws that distribute unequal justice has long been part of global social programming, typically reinforced through the state’s monopoly on violence. Consider also the concept of financial penalties as a means of justice for breaking the law. If the penalty for a crime is a fixed dollar amount, then that law only exists to punish poor people. The blatant corruption in high finance further reinforces this example. When investors overextend themselves, the costs of their failures are socialized through government bailouts, but the gains remain in the hands of the few. When we see a corporation paying hundreds of millions in fines for breaking the law, it is a ruse. These numbers seem astronomical to the average individual but are small fractions of these corporations’ ill-gotten profits. It is a mockery to imbue a sense of supernaturality into any human institution that intentionally shapes different time experiences for the wealthy and the poor. Legal organization is a single example that highlights how the systems we inhabit enforce specific ways of living for different groups. We find natural divinity only within the immediate present, available to all, and expressed through our ability to create change that better aligns our species with the collective whole.
There are no separate events in nature; everything exists in a single state of perpetual motion. Within every observable moment, things have specific and unique places at all scales, just as you and I occupy a space now that none other can enter. Our independent perspective is one of billions, all inhabiting a fixed position within and alongside the universe in a given moment. Every happening directly relates to other happenings, expressing itself as a single fluid time experience in the moment. By conceptualizing individual success through an adversarial lens, we deny our connection to the larger whole. The single truth and our present scientific understanding paint a picture of reality that sits in stark contrast to the narratives of being prioritizing hyper individuality, but these values are embedded in the systems surrounding us. The relational universe positions the individual as an independent node within a larger network of intelligence that they cannot access. It is similar to the experience of bacteria living inside a human body. We play a role but are unaware of our larger significance. However, we are different because we possess the capacity to leverage our infinite imaginations to shape the universe in our own image. Our conditioning does more than exacerbate otherness. It also disconnects us from totality. We are born into cultures reinforcing the idea that what exists outside of our perspective is foreign and adversarial, something to be overcome. In truth, it is directly connected. Everything outside is also inside; we are reflections of one another. When we explore the injustices and inadequacies of our present global and local organization, we must also consider how these circumstances diminish us as human beings. Embracing our oneness with the relational universe aligns us with all happenings past and present through the pursuit of individual actualization, which in turn empowers systemic actualization by decoupling social organization from a philosophy of rabid individualism.
Oneness with the relational universe isn’t purely spiritual philosophy; it is the material reality of existence. Quantum physics has brought about the theory of unified and quantum fields. The most foundational level of our physical reality is the quantum field from which all is created. It can be observed but not predicted. Underlying this quantum field is the unified field that exists in a singular state of perfect equilibrium. Events in the quantum field occur through fluctuations from the underlying unified field. The unified field can best be described as a single state of pure potential, which similarly describes our application of the single truth. There is beautiful poetry to the knowledge that the smallest thing humanity can observe is also the largest.
We know that there is no such thing as a zero-energy state in our present universe. Even in the vacuum of space, a quantum field is gently vibrating, and sometimes these vibrations produce enough energy to create sets of virtual particles and antiparticles that appear from “nothing” in our physical universe.26 When we talk of time being a wave state as a literal interpretation—all beings within our relational universe emerge from a wave of possibility. Even more intriguing, quantum field theory suggests that these happenings only occur when not being observed. Our present understanding tells us that creation is abundant in the physical universe, just as it is within our personal experience. Individuals are an extension of a universe, existing as a wave state of creative possibility, each containing an aspect of infinity within our imaginations. Therefore, it is likely that if we can transcend the crisis, humanity will eventually advance to a time experience of understanding where we may freely manipulate this wave state of possibility. Oneness with the relational universe is a philosophy that nature has shared with us for millennia, but our present conditioning has blinded us to this reality. Alongside the single truth, oneness with the relational universe completes the unified spiritual philosophy necessary for human transcendence. Our shared being is both inside and out. Self-actualization in the age of crisis is the process of changing our nature. We reject the narratives and beliefs that separate us from the infinite and reclaim our totality as one.
To be one with the relational universe is to embrace our experience of being as time. We are the moments we inhabit. We use the language of time experience to describe the individual’s awareness of and connection to the immediate present. Connecting the individual experience with the immediate present imbues humanity with a divinity inaccessible through the dominant spiritual institutions of the present. It also brings focus to the extreme varieties of time experience available to humanity in our immediate present. The disparities of material stability among collective humanity are so great that individuals occupy extremely different realms of possibility and thought. Primarily determined by where we are born, these perceptions are formed and reinforced through our foundational experiences and shape how we approach the universe. They seem absolute because we believe the time experience to be a totality of past and present intermingling in the now.
Living in different time experiences forms our understanding of what is and is not. Oneness and the relational universe teach us that diverse and conflicting perceptions of reality are no less authentic to the observers inhabiting them. The varying degrees of individual access and agency within time experiences place artificial limitations on individual imagination. If someone can't consider an option because their experiences offer no frame of reference in that moment, then that option does not exist within their time experience. It’s as if it is not real because no possible combination of their event chains could produce an alternative to what they presently perceive. This example applies to everyone. Every individual inhabits a unique set of conscious coordinates within this universe. None of us can know everything in all moments because an inherent aspect of being human is uncertainty.
It is commonly argued that hierarchies are natural and necessary, but we know them to be recent inventions in relation to the total time experience of our species. Nomadic humanity was highly egalitarian, relying on cooperation and collaboration to grow and prosper. The advent of agriculture brought with it the opportunity for surplus. When resources surpass needs, specialization arises, and members take on responsibilities outside of the production of necessities. Throughout history, abundance has typically been highly concentrated, the majority of benefits from collective progress supporting the few and excluding the many. Authoritative structures create perspectives of hierarchy that seem inescapable. It was not that long ago when the human experience lived under a narrative of the divine right of kings. Living in the age of crisis creates a similar sense of dread in many of us; the institutions and people governing society continue to proactively worsen our problems. Our systems of change have been captured by an extreme minority, denying the collective a voice in its destiny. They reinforce the priority of the few over the majority in a different direction but to a greater degree. The single truth tells us that even these moments lack permanence. Hierarchies misalign with the natural democracy of the universe. As everything exists in a relationship with all others, each act in accordance with all else. Alan Watts went as far as to call the universe a democracy, and he wasn’t wrong. Consider measuring the direction of movement of an object in empty space. We cannot tell if a single object is moving without something to compare it to. We can tell if two objects are moving toward or away from each other, but the observer is not aware of which of the two objects is moving—whichever one they focus on seems to become the static object. Only when we observe at least three objects moving through space can we determine which object is moving in relation to the others. This phenomenon of observation also applies to our individual experiences. Our beliefs about ourselves always form in relation to others. We define individual meaning, value, and love by observing what exists outside of us instead of creating it from within. We develop personal value through comparison because the systems surrounding us imprint the idea of a zero-sum universe onto us. Progress directly relates to overcoming others; for winners to exist, there must always be losers. Democracy is inherent within the relational universe, an inescapable aspect of being that we have ignored in past constructions of social and legal frameworks. Self-actualization incorporates our understanding of the democratic universe into our personal practice and shared process.
Believing that our individual time experience reflects the universe surrounding us reframes our understanding of the age of crisis and our opportunities for transcendence. To embrace our oneness with our relational universe is to embody life at the edge of meaning. The subjective nature of individual time experience highlights why self-actualization in the age of crisis is a journey toward aligning individual and system. We inhabit a perpetual relationship with the outside and others, a single experience of being. With this in mind, we recognize that our present global organization and systems reinforce separation and are therefore inadequate in the reimagination of human divinity. Through individual practice and collective processes, we can reshape ourselves and the world around us. We enhance and empower the individual by crafting a world that maximizes their opportunity to leverage imagination and creation in the directions of their choice. In doing so, we free ourselves and our concepts of value and meaning from the binds of a past we had no say in choosing.