"Teresa and John speak expediently of finding God and growing toward union with God. They do not believe this is something that can really be achieved, however, for the simple reason that union with God already exists. Everyone always has been and always will be in union with God. This union is so deep and complete that seeking God must include self-knowledge, and self-knowledge must include the search for God. Teresa heard God's voice in prayer saying, 'Seek yourself in Me, and in yourself seek Me.'

"As did St. Augustine twelve centuries earlier, Teresa and John maintain that God is closer to us than we are to our very selves. We are born in union with God and we ' live and move and have our being' in God throughout our lives (Acts 17:28). In keeping with the root meaning of 'nature' (natura, 'birth'), this union with the Divine is our human nature. It is so essential to our being that John says we could not exist without it.

"Moreover, this essential unity applies not just to the saints or the pure of heart, not only as Christians, and not even only to human beings. To quote John directly, 'To understand this union of which we speak, know that God is present in substance in each soul, even that of the greatest sinner in the world. And this kind of union with God always exists, in all creatures.'

"The problem for most of us is that we don't realize how united we are with God. Except in rare moments of mystical experience, most of us don't generally feel intimacy with the Divine. Even if we believe devoutly that God is present with us, our usual experience is that we are 'here' and God is 'there,' loving and gracious perhaps, but irrevocably separate. 'We just don't understand ourselves,' says Teresa, 'or who we are.' "”