There is a famous and often-repeated quote: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” These words, sometimes mistakenly attributed to Nelson Mandela, are in fact those of Marianne Williamson, in her book A Return to Love. She touches on an important truth of our human existence: we are far more capable than we realize.

One of the ways we are most capable, often without realizing it, is in co-creation. This is a gift, allowing us to act in interconnection with all that is. We are born into co-creation. We live through it. Yet rarely do we become conscious of it and the extraordinary opportunity it provides our growth at all levels. Along the path of personal development, we come into understanding of this essential gift and how we are using it in every moment. In so doing, we gain sight of a powerful guiding star on our way to limitless joy and unconditional love, which are our true nature. We become of greater benefit to each other and to the world around us. We can be instruments of grace.

Co-creation means different things, depending on our perspective. At the most practical level, co-creation is the bringing together of two energy systems in order to create a greater whole. When we take pause and look closer, we see that in every moment of our lives, co-creation is already taking place. We are not isolated islands, but within a vast and intelligent whole. We naturally engage that which is around us, at multiple levels. It could be as apparent as a conversation in a business meeting, where our words and ideas come together with those of others. It could be as subtle as the emotional energy we emit, how people, plants and animals around us respond, and how we in turn react to them.

On one hand, co-creation may seem to be about collaboration, whether it be for the highest good of all or not. But co-creation expresses the complete range of human choices, from violent and hateful disconnect to a complete merging into unconditional love. Through co-creation, we access profound power. What we do with this power separates the wise from the ignorant, for it strongly informs how we choose and amplifies the ways we choose—consciously or not—to perceive and identify.

The various types of co-creation could perhaps be better understood if we think of them as existing along a continuum ranging from extreme unconsciousness to pure consciousness. At one end, we would be fully identified with the idea of life as suffering, with the perception of our separateness and with the voice of our ego. At the other, all aspects of our lives would arise from absolute unity with the light that we are, the very fabric of life itself.

The potency of co-creation is like a vehicle we have been given. At one extreme, we would see a driver who jumps the curb, floors the gas and is hell-bent on harming everyone and everything he can reach. At the middle of the co-creation continuum, a driver would choose to follow the laws of the road, focused on getting to his destination safely.

But at the other end of the continuum, a driver would be in a state of compassion and joy because he knows that in fact, he is not and will never be the driver. He is at the wheel, fully awake and clear. He drives well, knowing the laws of the road. But he does not navigate from his individual self. He is in total service to the whole. He knows that he arrives most safely, efficiently and joyfully at his destination when he chooses to unify his will with the greater will of the universe.

If co-creation is like a vehicle we need to use wisely, how do we learn? We can think of a novice driver, who first must know the rules of the road to get a learner’s permit and get behind the wheel. In this case, the rules of the road are to understand the nature of reality and the power of perception.

My grandmother helped me to understand the power of choice. She taught me that we each have two channels within us to which we can attune: one that leads to suffering for all, and one that leads to love, service and interconnection. It was up to us to choose where we place our attention. Today, I like to say that we have two primary energies with which to co-create: the positive possibilities and the impossibilities.

When you are in the positive possibilities, you know that you are a loved, welcomed and an integral part of everything that is. You know that your essence is love—not sentimental romance, but the expansive and ever-present reality of wisdom-compassion, the force of life itself. As such, you love yourself and others unconditionally.

This is not about wilfully thinking positively, as though life is adverse and you need to fake cheerfulness or unconditional love when you are not truly feeling those things. The positive possibilities are not something you have to superimpose over your reality. They are the nature of reality. In the positive possibilities, there is only love, underlying all time and space. You may not yet be a Buddha, merged in that unconditional presence. But when you are in the positive possibilities, you are humbly present and grounded in this reality moment to moment. You know that loving yourself and loving others are both vital, interconnected expressions of the love that always is. You choices arise from this awareness. In this, there is limitless potential for co-creation with everyone and everything around you, for the benefit of all.

Though humans are uniquely gifted with the power of choice in co-creation, Nature shows us many beautiful examples of positive possibilities co-creation, because nature exists as a balanced expression within the whole. One in particular that has deeply impressed me for years is that of whales.

In what is known as the “whale pump effect”, these huge sonic creatures stir the ocean waters in a way that benefits all life. They do this not through any particular effort, but simply because they dive deep to feed, then return to the surface to breathe and excrete. In this way, they bring nutrients from the depths, where the sun does not reach, to fertilize the phytoplankton in the sunny waters at the surface. Then the phytoplankton grow and capture carbon from the atmosphere. They feed the fish that whales and other marine life feed upon, so that the entire food chain is enriched.

The very existence of whales nourishes and sustains the species on which they depend. They selflessly give far more than they take. They co-create with the waters, the phytoplankton, the other fish, the air, the sun, with gravity, with all life. In so doing, they benefit everyone and everything, including themselves.

The magnificent example of the whales inspired the vision for MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary. MAPS is a co-creation in the positive possibilities with Nature and all life. By stopping all activity in the Arctic Ocean that harms the vulnerable polar ice, we begin to work in harmony with Nature rather than against it. We catalyze a global shift to renewable energies. We safeguard our planetary life support system that keeps weather cool and balanced. We protect the many threatened species, including whales, that live in this critically vulnerable ecosystem. We make space for life, including our own.

Given the beautiful results of co-creation in positive possibilities, we may ask ourselves: why is this not happening in our lives? What is misdirecting our course? Why are our choices today resulting in suffering? The answer lies in the nature of impossibilities co-creation. In some way, whether obvious or subtle, you have lost your orientation to the nature of reality. Next week, we will look at how and why co-creation in the impossibilities happens—and how to remedy it and return to joyful presence.