“If we are made, as we are, in the image of God, let us become the image both of ourselves and of God, or rather let us all become the image of the One whole God, bearing nothing earthly in ourselves, so that we may consort with God, and become gods, receiving from God our existence as gods. For in this way the divine gifts and the presence of divine peace are honored.
“Love is a great blessing and of all blessings the first and supreme, since it joins God and men together around him who has love, and it makes the creator of men manifest Himself as man through the exact likeness of the deified man to God, in so far as this is possible for man. This is what I take to be the actualization of the commandments, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might, and your neighbors as yourself (cf. Lev. 19:18; Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37-39).” ~The Philokalia
In the Image of God
I have covered this before, but I will repeat it. Being made in the image of God refers to our spirit and soul, not our physical bodies. It should be obvious that the physical bodies are not in the image of God, otherwise, we would all look the same. It would also mean that God has a physical body, which He doesn’t. It would also mean that the physical body couldn’t die because God cannot die, yet we all know that the physical body does die unless we are living in a fantasy.
One Whole God
The author of this section of the Philokalia (the book has many authors) advises us to “ become the image of the One whole God.” That is just another way of saying that we must become one with God and share in His Wisdom and Knowledge. It does not mean that we should, with arrogance and excessive egotism, declare that we are God and have no need to develop or change since God is, obviously, perfect.
Become Gods from God
Yes, we can become gods through becoming one with God, but this comes from a great effort of spiritual growth and development. We can no more declare that we are gods simply because we believe we are than we can declare ourselves doctors simply because we buy a used stethoscope. In fact, most spiritual schools and mystery schools frown on us saying that we become gods because it tends to promote egotism in those who are not sufficiently developed on the spiritual side to understand what it means. They generally prefer to say that we become angels, helpers of God, or co-creators with God, rather than saying we become gods. So while what the Philokalia says here is true, it is better to say the same thing with different words to prevent any hubris.
Beginning of One Whole God
Becoming part of the One Whole God is a very advanced stage of spiritual development. But it is possible, even in fairly early stages, to briefly experience a connection with God that allows us to be part of the One Whole God for a second or two. This brief connection can result in a profound change in the person, even though it is generally not remembered in detail, except by the awakened soul.
If you have been practicing spiritual growth techniques for years, and have not yet had one of those temporary experiences of being part of the One Whole God, don’t despair. It comes to each of us when we are ready for it. And it isn’t unusual for it to have happened to us, and the soul knows but the mind doesn’t. In fact, you see people on social media asking in various spiritual groups, “How do I know if I have awakened?” They are given various answers which may be true but often are not. The truth is, you can never know for sure because the soul may be fully awakened, yet not communicating with the mind. Developing a connection between the mind and the awakened soul is an advanced spiritual discipline that helps us achieve being part of the One Whole God, and being aware of it.
Love Joins God and Men
Love does connect us with God. We have strayed far from our beginnings in Heaven. We have sunk into matter and materialism to the point where many no longer even recognize that anything spiritual exists. Either that or they expect spiritual dimensions to simply be other dimensions of matter where similar activities occur. But God reaches down to us and summons us to return home to Him because He is a loving parent. He is the source of all love. And when we become part of the One Whole God, we too will experience that total love of all beings, all of existence, even the fallen dimensions created by the Demiurge, because even in those places, a spark of God’s Light remains.