In some parts of the world even talking or writing about God can be dangerous. Some of our behaviors related to the ideas we have about God are pathological, not because many of us feel one with God but because we feel separated from and afraid of the God in our story. We began telling ourselves this story very long ago of course.
From the Psalms in the Old Testament we have Yahweh “who with his ‘loving-kindness,’ ‘longsuffering and compassion,’ pours ‘smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth,’ promises that ‘the wicked shall be turned into hell, laps up flattery [Psalms is a Greek word, meaning “song of praise”], and threatens to ‘cut off all flattering lips.’”
In the myth of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we supposedly have a story of rebellion. From a P-A perspective we can see both Adam and Eve and God more profoundly. “It is understandable that primitive storytellers would be unable to distinguish between constructive self-consciousness and rebellion, considering the fact that many people even today find it very hard to make that distinction. Furthermore, the God in the myth is Yahweh, the earliest and most primitive Hebrew tribal deity, who is notorious as the jealous and vindictive god. It was against the cruel and unethical ways of Yahweh that the later Hebrew prophets protested.”
We would probably not be writing this article if we lived in a nation or community contained in a fundamentalist religious paradigm unless there was a witness-protection program. But on the other hand a “seeker after truth” should not embark on such a quest without the understanding that in Simple Reality there is no risk. Nevertheless, we would rather not encounter a fatwah hit man until this Simple Reality Project is complete.
If you are contained in a conventional religious community and are happy with your God there is no reason for you to read this article. Or as Mark Twain put it, “I would not now try to unsettle any person’s religious faith, where it was untroubled by doubt …” We can, however, offer this all-important principle behind any attempt on the part of humanity to create a sustainable community and to be in harmony with “God’s plan.”
There is one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all, and in you all.
This article on God begins with what amounts to the Biblical definition of Oneness quoted above. The religions of the world as practiced in the context of P-B have been unable to grasp the profound identity inherent in this definition. If God is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent as most religions believe, then wouldn’t we be a part of what would have to be a “perfect” Creation?
The kingdom of God cometh not with observation … the kingdom of God is within you.
The religions of the East make similar claims as to the nature of God or the “Lord,” but also fail to influence most of their practitioners’ behaviors; namely, to accept their identity as divine “creations.”
The Lord is One without a second. Within man He dwells and within all other beings. He projects the universe, maintains it, and withdraws it into Himself. Katha Upanishad
Theology is the science or study of God, treating the subjects of God’s existence, essence and attributes. This knowledge comes from ordinary processes of observation and reasoning or natural knowledge or supernatural or sacred knowledge based on divine revelation. This knowledge exists in the two domains of reason and faith. Simple Reality does not affirm either and transcends both. The controversy begins.
In addition to being one of the most controversial articles in this book (encyclopedia), it is one of the most important because: “More consequences for thought and action follow from the affirmation or denial of God than from answering any other basic question.” God suffers from being a projection of humanity and therefore contains all of the strengths and weaknesses of homo-sapiens sapiens. “Boethius had defined a person as ‘an individual substance of a rational nature,’ or as Locke later said, ‘a thinking intelligent being.’” What is wrong with being rational and intelligent? Plenty, as we shall see; it is simply not enough.
To make amends for our hitherto inadequate descriptions of both God and man (lest we offend God), we must add that conscious man and God are not only intelligent and rational but also need to be “awake.” Since most of us have yet to wake up (live our lives in the present moment without reacting), the common projection of God is not that of an “awake” deity. Throughout our history we have struggled with how to define God. Which position feels right to you? Trust your intuition.
Atheist: There is no god.
Polytheist: There are many gods.
Monotheist: There is one god.
Agnostic: I don’t know if there is a god or not.
Mystic: There is only god.
Eastern religions often posit an imminent god within each person and throughout all of creation which can lead to a worldview of Oneness for those who can internalize and take their identity from it. Western religions posit a transcendent god leading to a dualistic worldview.
“The various ideals of God which devotees worship according to their spiritual tendencies or inclinations may be the Personal God with attributes, under the aspects of Vishnu, Shiva, Kali, Jehovah, Allah and so forth, or incarnations of God, such as Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Christ, or Ramakrishna.” “Psychologically the God-concept includes every idea of the ultimate, of the first or last, of the highest or lowest. The name makes no difference.”
Fear thou not; for I am with thee … I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee.
The God of religion as expressed in the “Beatitudes” as well as in early Christian communities was later effectively destroyed by the distortion of the Gospel of Jesus by the false self. That and many more profound insights are found in the writing of Thomas Sheehan. “The radicalness of Jesus’ message consisted in its proclamation of the end of religion, taken as the bond between two separate and incommensurate entities called “God” and “man.” That is, Jesus destroyed the notion of “God-in-himself” and put in its place the experience of “God-with-mankind” [Oneness or Simple Reality].
C. S. Lewis, the highly respected Cambridge professor and considered by some to be the most original Christian writer of our century, reveals to us how the anthropomorphic Old Testament God of conditional love is being kept alive. “To ask that God’s love should be content with us as we are is to ask that God should cease to be God: because He is what He is, His love must, in the nature of things, be impeded and repelled by certain stains in our present character, and because He already loves us He must labour to make us lovable.” Thus the insidious worm of sin eats its way into the human brain.
We get into psychological and spiritual trouble when we attribute to God the qualities of man that the Creator would not logically have. For example, jealousy, anger, the need for revenge, the desire to punish, favoritism, capriciousness, etc. “The attributing of an impossible individuality [anthropomorphizing] to the Universal Mind is one of the two grand errors which we find sapping the foundations of religion and philosophy in all ages.”
“The problem of reconciling God’s omnipotence and omniscience with human free will springs from an anthropomorphic conception of God. We have seen that Muslims had come up against this difficulty during the ninth century and had found no logical or rational way out of it; instead, they had stressed the mystery and inscrutability of God. The problem had never troubled the Greek Orthodox Christians, who enjoyed paradox and found it a source of light and inspiration, but it had been a bone of contention in the West, where a more personalistic view of God prevailed … The latter-day Calvinistic theology of predestination showed what could happen when the paradox and mystery of God were no longer regarded as poetry but were interpreted literally instead of symbolically, the idea of its God becomes impossible. The ‘God’ of the Bible ceases to be a symbol of a transcendent reality and becomes a cruel and despotic tyrant. The doctrine of predestination shows the limitations of such a personalized God.”
Belief in a God that favors one human being over another stems from an immature, ignorant and wholly human worldview; it is a childlike view of a paternalistic father-god. Projection of the fear-driven human mind onto a deity only strengthens the irrational and unsustainable narrative that is the origin of all human suffering.
Projection explains the Freudian explanation of God. “Freud … regards religion as an illusion to be explained in terms of man’s need to create gods in his own image—to find a surrogate father, on whom his infantile dependence can be projected … [and] looks back to the memory image of the overrated father of his childhood, exalts it into a Deity, and brings it into the present and into reality. The emotional strength of this memory-image and the lasting nature of his need for protection … in relation to the external world he is still a child.”
Human self-centeredness, the inability to conceive of a source of creation that was not anthropomorphic, resulted in the myths of gods and goddesses. Once the myths are taken literally then God becomes responsible for floods, famine, earthquakes, etc. and must be feared. The feckless, capricious and vengeful God of the Old Testament would indeed create anxiety among those who believed. Humanity had projected its own identity (false self) onto the mythological gods or god. This is the God that the Hebrews had a love-hate relationship with and the one that Job encounters—this is an unconscious God.
Joan Borysenko’s research indicates that one of the toxic effects of living in a P-B story is low self-esteem. “Those with low self-esteem—guilty, pessimistic people—had punitive, rejecting images of God. The human tendency to view God as a projection of ourselves—literally made in our own image—is a serious trap for the guilty, whose separation from love occurs on every level, including separation from the Self, separation from others, and separation from God.”
In the story of Job, God is also being manipulated by Satan and this God is most definitely lacking in compassion. In the encounter with Job, God is all ego trying to prove Satan wrong in order to save face. Satan had said that Job would lose his faith in God if his suffering became too great. Job remains equanimous in the face of adversity and raises the very self-awareness of God, and in a sense is responsible for a transformation of God. We are all Job, of course and it is our choice to transform God or continue living with a deity that reflects our false-self back to us when our True self would serve us much better.
C. G. Jung, the father of “depth psychology” goes deeper than Freud in understanding the relationship between God and a neurotic humanity. “Yahweh is a phenomenon and, as Job says, ‘not a man’ … The naïve assumption that the creator of the world is a conscious being must be regarded as a disastrous prejudice which later gave rise to the most incredible dislocations of logic … ‘This is I, the creature of all the ungovernable, ruthless forces of Nature, which are not subject to any ethical laws. I, too, am an amoral force of Nature, a purely phenomenal personality that cannot see its own back.’”
“… he could not help breathing his own mystery into the Creation which is himself in every part, as every reasonable theology has long been convinced. From this comes the belief that it is possible to know God from his Creation … God is Reality itself and therefore—last but not least—man.”
“The life of Christ is just what it had to be if it is the life of a god and a man at the same time. It is a symbolum, a bringing together of heterogeneous natures, rather as if Job and Yahweh were combined in a single personality. Yahweh’s intention to become man, which resulted from his collision with Job, is fulfilled in Christ’s life and suffering.”
“Speaking in psychological terms, the ego takes responsibility for the evil promptings of the Self [God] in order that it (the Self) may be transformed … Another aspect of Jung’s revolutionary realization is his interpretation of the myth of incarnation. Since Yahweh had suffered a moral defeat by Job, man was elevated above God and God must therefore become that superior creature, man. In Jung’s words, ‘the immediate cause of the incarnation lies in Job’s elevation, and its purpose is the differentiation of Yahweh’s consciousness.’ This differentiation is evidenced by the complete separation that Yahweh undergoes with the advent of Christ. His two sides represented by his good son Christ, and his evil son Satan, are totally separated, indeed dissociated, from each other. Christ becomes identical with Yahweh through the doctrine of houmoousia, while Satan is cast out of heaven and thus condemned to live the life of a dissociated, autonomous complex.” [Houmoousia—the Council of Nicaea’s Trinitarian definition of Jesus the Son of God as consubstantial with God the Father. A complex is an eternally recurring human pattern of behavior; an exaggerated or obsessive concern or fear; reactions with the function of reducing tension by reviving memories of past events and objects that are associated in some way with gratification.]
“The unconscious wants to flow into consciousness in order to reach the light, but at the same time it continually thwarts itself, because it would rather remain unconscious. That is to say, God wants to become man, but not quite.” This fundamental choice to remain unconscious, our failure to find the courage to let go of our conditioned behavior associated with our survival strategy, is where the bulk of humanity is “stuck” today. C.G. Jung had a worldview atypically profound for a psychologist but we can only hope the study of human behavior will evolve toward his profound insight that “God is reality itself.”
“Since a creation without the reflecting consciousness of man has no discernible meaning, the hypothesis of a latent meaning endows man with a cosmogonic significance, a true raison d’etre. If on the other hand the latent meaning is attributed to the Creator as part of a conscious plan of creation, the question arises: Why should the Creator stage-manage this whole phenomenal world since he already knows what he can reflect himself in, and why should he reflect himself at all since he is already conscious of himself? Why should he create alongside his own omniscience a second, inferior consciousness—millions of dreary little mirrors when he knows in advance just what the image they reflect will look like?”
“After thinking all this over I have come to the conclusion that being ‘made in the likeness’ applies not only to man but also to the Creator: he resembles man or is his likeness, which is to say that he is just as unconscious as man or even more unconscious, since according to the myth of the incarnatio he actually felt obliged to become man and offer himself to man as a sacrifice.” We leave Jung, his brilliant but challenging worldview and psychology and turn to philosophy.
God is being itself, not a being. Paul Tillich
Representing philosophers, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, would have found himself in agreement with Jung. “‘Spirit is present at each and every stage of the evolutionary process, as the very process itself.’ Schelling’s point is that nature is not the only reality, and mind not the only reality. Spirit is the only reality. But in order to create the manifest world, Spirit must go out of itself, empty itself, into manifestation. Spirit descends into manifestation, but this manifestation is nevertheless Spirit itself, a form or expression of Spirit itself.” This last opinion is that of American philosopher, Ken Wilber, building on Schelling’s opinion. Wilber has no “brief” opinions (which we all love) so, of course, he is not yet finished.
“This non-dual synthesis [Oneness], according to Schelling, is also the identity of subject and object in one timeless act of self-knowledge, of Spirit directly knowing itself as Spirit, a direct mystical intuition, says Schelling, that is not mediated through any forms, whether those forms be the feelings of objective nature or the thoughts of subjective mind.”
“… when you realize your supreme identity as Spirit, then you are autonomous in the fullest sense—because nothing is outside you—and therefore you are also whole or unified in the fullest sense—because nothing is outside you. Full autonomy and full wholeness are one and the same thing in the supreme identity.” If we dare make a summation, we would say that intuition makes the direct connection through the heart (the experience Simple Reality calls “feeling”), beyond the illusion of either physical form or thought forms.
“For all these thinkers [several early Greek philosophers], God, the informing spirit of the world, is rational and absolutely good. Nothing, therefore, can occur that is not—in the frame and totality—absolutely good.” For example in the words of Seneca: “Not what you bear but how you bear it is what counts … Within the world there can be no exile, for nothing within the world is alien to man.” This is the early foreshadowing of Simple Reality in the western world.
Thomas Aquinas speaks of the importance of divinely revealed truth such as the Bible. “… men would have no knowledge of God ‘free from doubt and uncertainty’ unless all divine truths were ‘delivered to them by the way of faith, being told to them, as it were, by God Himself. Who cannot lie.’” In the interest of being consistent we would say that the faithful “hear” God as the experience of “feeling” without any need for “belief.” Contained in P-B Aquinas would of course, speak in the limited and error-prone language of that context.
Many of the sacred texts of the world’s religions conceive man as “made in the image of God.” In truth the God we “see” is our own image reflected back to us as if from a mirror in the heavens. “… our life will take its whole form, tone, and color from our conception of God, whether that conception [projection] be positive or negative …” Spending much of his career as a British judge in India, Thomas Troward had the advantage of being both an eastern and a western mystic.
If Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was not a resident in P-A he must have visited that paradigm regularly. “As Hegel would … put it, the Absolute is ‘the process of its own becoming; it becomes concrete or actual only by its development …’ ‘The Good,’ says Hegel, ‘the absolutely Good, is eternally accomplishing itself in the world; and the result is that it need not wait upon us, but is already in full actuality accomplished.’” Thank you, Ken, and now we move on.
An atheist believes there is no God only the reality of the world. A primitive theist believes that God(s) and the world are real and that God(s) are active in the world. Classical theists believe that God and the world are real and separate except for miraculous activity from God in the world and that God is independent of the world and is changeless.
A pantheist believes the world is an illusion and that God is all and is changeless. Pantheism holds that everything is God and the world is real as a part of God. God changes through interacting with the world. It is the Platonists as well as the pantheists who affirm the Simple Reality principle that reality is that which does not change with God being synonymous with P-A, “that whatever is changeable is not the most high God …” More in accord to the Hindu conception of Brahman, Pascal says, “if there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible …”
The Lord God is subtle but malicious he is not. Albert Einstein
There is a kind of futility in even writing this article, an intellectual endeavor, because the intellect cannot grasp “intellectually” the process or product of Creation. Nevertheless, we may end up eradicating some of the most toxic aspects of P-B which makes it all worthwhile. If God is “infinitely incomprehensible” how can the mystics speak of the experience of Simple Reality? “The first lesson that the sages of the Upanishads teach their selected pupils is the inadequacy of the intellect. How can this brain, that aches at a little calculus, ever hope to understand the complex immensity of which it is so transitory a fragment?” The answer is that it can’t; but pessimism of any kind can find no home in P-A.
Maimonides comes close to the view of “first cause” found in Simple Reality when he says: “… we comprehend only the fact that He exists, not His essence … there is no possibility of obtaining a knowledge.” Disagreeing with the Jewish philosopher, in Simple Reality our “experience” of God transcends knowledge. Simple Reality is intuitively apprehended, it is “felt” to be true and profound.
Descartes also affirms the impossibility of the human intellect being able to conceive of God and “concludes that his own imperfect mind cannot be the cause of the idea of a perfect being.” [Nevertheless] “the idea which he has of God … is that of an absolutely perfect being.”
We are not at the mercy of the Old Testament’s judgmental “God of old” because we were created in the image of the compassionate “God of Mercy.” Since the delusional false-self experiences a P-B world which is not as it seems to be, it doesn’t make sense to create suffering unnecessarily. This leads us to J. Krishnamurti’s axiom on how to deal with the illusion “out there.” His simple “I don’t mind what’s happening” is his way of saying he places the highest priority on responding to life in the same way that “God” responds to life—by creating more life—with a continuous all-embracing, non-resistant flow.
“If God is a metaphysical term, if, that is to say, He belongs to a reality which transcends the world sense-experience … to say that He exists is neither true nor false. This portion … is neither atheist nor agnostic; it cuts deeper than either, by asserting that all talk about god, whether pro or anti, is twaddle.” We know academics like professor Joad to be prone to underestimate the power of humans to engage in Self-transformation, so on with the twaddle.
Karen Armstrong, former nun and student of religion, found her way to a similar conclusion. “Like Plato, Spinoza believed that intuitive and spontaneous knowledge reveals the presence of God more than a laborious acquisition of facts. Our joy and happiness in knowledge is equivalent to the love of God, a deity which is not an eternal object of thought but the cause and principle of that thought, deeply one with every single human being.”
“The idea was that when we spoke about God we were speaking of something that lies beyond words,” [says Armstrong]. “People like Thomas Aquinas would say we can’t talk about God as a creator because we can only have in our heads the idea of a human creator and that can’t apply to God. We can’t even say that God exists because our notion of existence is too limited to apply to God.” So rather than talk about that which we cannot possibly comprehend why don’t we work with what is within our power to create—the present moment—and in doing that we will have an intimate experience of the Divine which requires no explanation.
“Seth said that God is neither male nor female, but is ‘more than the sum of all the probable systems of reality. He has created, and yet He is within each one of these, without exception.’ Human concepts of personality are too limiting to comprehend God’s multidimensional existence. God is responsible for All That Is, the inconceivable energy that gives validity to the multidimensional self.”
As humankind we are expressing or creating our own reality and we are an expression of creation itself at the same time. “We are gods couched in creaturehood.” “If you are a part of God then He is also a part of you, and in denying your own worth you end up denying His as well.” Words of wisdom from Seth.
Getting closer to the conception of Oneness or God in Simple Reality we have the “attributes, such as the divine causality, omniscience, omnipresence, omniscience, love, justice, and mercy … as ways of considering God’s nature in relation to the world or to creatures.” Philosopher and Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, expressed his profound view of Oneness. There is “… one God who pervades all things, and one substance, and one law, one common reason in all intelligent animals, and one truth.”
Spinoza defines God as both imminent and transcendent. “God is the infinite and eternal substance of all infinite existences, an absolute and unchanging one underlying the finite modes in which it variably manifests itself.”
What God’s Will gives
He takes, and is contented.
Pain follows pleasure,
He is not troubled:
Gain follows loss,
He is indifferent. Bhagavad Gita
The Gita contains wisdom but also ignorance. God is consciousness itself and has two major attributes. Those are immanence (compassion) and transcendence (law). God is not uninvolved (indifferent) but inseparable from the human experience because He is the human experience. We could not have compassion if God were not compassionate. If God creates, we create, if God is love, we are love.
Thomas Troward affirms that the fundamental nature of God is to “create.” “If it were not creative nothing could come into existence; therefore we know that its purpose, or Law of Tendency, must be to bring individual lives into existence and to surround them with a suitable environment. Now a power which has this for its inherent nature must be a kindly power. The Spirit of Life seeking expression in individual lives can have no other intention towards them than ‘that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.”
The wisdom of Thomas Sheehan is always life-affirming, love-affirming. “Jesus’ preaching, like the Jewish tradition of which it was a part, was entirely about God—but not God as a nationalistic deity who intervened in history on Israel’s behalf, not as the somewhat legal-minded divinity of the Pharisees, nor as some apocalyptic avenger who would soon destroy the world, Jesus preached God as a loving Father who was already reigning among his people.” The compassion of Jesus’ god was available in the present moment and was freely available to all of humanity without condition.
There is evidence that we can all experience about the nature of the source of Creation. Thomas Troward begins a description of that experience: “Let us start with one fact regarding it about which we cannot have any possible doubt—it is creative. If it were not creative nothing could come into existence.” Secondly, as to our personal relationship to the Creator, Troward identifies another principle: “… the purely Affirmative and Life-giving nature of the All-originating Spirit is an unavoidable conclusion. Now what name can we call such an inherent desire to add to the fullness of any individual life—that is, to make is stronger, brighter, and happier? If this is not Love then I do not know what else it is …”
And finally we can add beauty to the qualities of creativity and love. “What Form, then, should Love give to the vehicles of its expression? By the hypothesis of the case it could not find self-expression in forms that were hateful or repugnant to it—therefore, the only logical correlative of Love is Beauty … demonstrated by all that is beautiful in the world in which we live.”
Johhannes (Meister) Eckhart was a 13th century Christian mystic. “This Godhead (or what Eckhart also calls ‘God beyond God’) is radically free of any finite or created thing, whether of matter or nature or mind or visions or Soul or God. Eckhart refers to this completely transcendental, free, or unmanifest state by words such as ‘Abyss,’ ‘unborn,’ ‘formless,’ ‘primordial origin,’ ‘emptiness,’ ‘nothingness.’”
Karen Armstrong agrees that reality is simple and Seth agrees that this most central aspect of reality is beyond comprehending by the intellect of the false self. “This utterly simple being upon which the whole of multiple, contingent reality depended was what the religions called ‘God.’ Because it is the highest thing of all, it must be absolutely perfect and worthy of honor and worship … His thought is so perfect that thinking and doing are one and the same act, so his eternal contemplation of himself generates the process of emanation …”
In P-B God evolves as a projection of cultural consciousness. The insights of mystics in P-A reveal a timeless, unchanging source of Creation.
|604—531 BCE||Lao Tsu stated that “Tao”—the Way—is a mystery that is beyond our speech, beyond our thought.|
|354—430 CE||St. Augustine wrote: “We conceive God, if we can … without location, being wholly everywhere without a position, eternal without time … If you understand God, it is not God you understand.”|
|1260?—1327 CE||Meister Eckhart wrote: “Whoever perceives something in God and attaches thereby some name to him, that is not God. God is ineffable.”|
|1225?—1274 CE||Thomas Aquinas said that (God) exceeds by its immensity every form which our mind attains … The highest understanding we can have of God in this life is that we realize that God is beyond everything that we might think of him.|
|Some people want to recognize God only in some pleasant enlightenment—and then they get pleasure and enlightenment, but not God.|
In the Bible God evolves from the war God who brought Israel out of Egypt and lawgiver of Mount Sinai into a God that has a vision of peace for the world.
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
and the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:6
Of course, it is humanity that is evolving and the projected God of P-B must change in lockstep with us. Ken Wilber instructs us as to what the experience of the un-projected and unchanging God would and would not be like. “One should keep before one’s eyes the strange fact that the [P-B] God of goodness is so unforgiving that he can only be appeased by a human sacrifice! This is an insufferable incongruity which modern man can no longer swallow, for he must be blind if he does not see the glaring light it throws on the divine character, giving the lie to all talk about love and the Summum Bonum [highest good].
“Since the Self [True self] cannot be objectified, not being cognized by anything else, and since the Self is the Seer seeing all else, the subject-object relation and the apparent subjectivity of the Self exists only on the plane of relativity and vanishes in the Absolute. There is in truth no other than the Self, which is neither the seer nor the seen, and is not involved as subject or object.”
“Absolute Subjectivity [God]—It cannot be thought about because it is doing the thinking; it cannot be looked at because it is doing the looking; it cannot be known because it is doing the knowing … in the same way that fire can burn other things but cannot burn itself. Thus, the level of Mind is “Unconscious” in two similar yet slightly different senses: unconscious because we cannot know it dualistically—we know Mind by being it, and in no other way.”
“Regardless of their universality or specificity, deities appearing in the transpersonal realm fall into two distinct categories: the first associated with forces of light and good, such as Christ, Apollo, Isis, or Krishna; the second associated with darkness and evil, such as Satan, Hades, Set, and Ahriman. In many instances, a single deity may embody both the light and the dark, the good and the evil. This is particularly characteristic for Oriental deities, while the mythology of the Western world tends to be strictly dichotomized. Examples of such deities that transcend polarities are the Hindu Brahma or the five Buddhas described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead.”
We can see that Simple Reality provides the same profound context whether East or West and therefore results in the same profound insights. Wisdom is universal whether God is speaking or in this case, Krishna. “Even those who in faith worship other gods, because of their love they worship me.”
“I know all that was and is and is to come, Arjuna; but no one in truth knows me.”
But Krishna (God) we do know you or at least we can if we are willing to let go of and transcend P-B. Many of the people we have met in this article have done so. The proof is in the “feeling,” which announces the omnipresent Divine within each person and we will conclude this article with a little stroll with Karen Armstrong who will demonstrate what we can all experience. Ironic, isn’t it that such a conscious person would emerge from such an unconscious institution.
“The idea of a personal God, like one of us writ large [a projection], is fraught with difficulty. If this God is omnipotent, he could have prevented the Holocaust. If he was unable to stop it, he is impotent and useless; if he could have stopped it and chose not to, he is a monster. Jews are not the only people who believe that the Holocaust put an end to conventional theology.” The end of conventional theology would be a good thing but unfortunately religion helped create the holocaust and is only strengthened by human catastrophe. The unconventional “theology” of Simple Reality would be a great comfort to those disillusioned Jews and to all of us who are estranged from our True self.
Why have the “theologians” of the world’s religions failed humanity? “To make such human, historical phenomena as Christian ‘Family Values,’ ‘Islam’ or ‘the Holy Land’ the focus of religious devotion is a new form of idolatry.” In her book A History of God, Karen Armstrong concluded that, “there is no objective view of ‘God’: each generation has to create the image of God that works for it.”
“We shall see that it is far more important for a particular idea of God to work than for it to be logically or scientifically sound … One medieval mystic went so far as to say that this ultimate Reality—was mistakenly called ‘God’—was not even mentioned in the Bible.”
“This drive for unity is fundamental to the way our minds work and must, Plotinus believed, also reflect the essence of things in general. To find the underlying truth of reality, the soul must refashion itself, undergo a period of purification (katharsis) and engage in contemplation, as Plato had advised. It will have to look beyond the cosmos, beyond the sensible world and even beyond the limitations of the intellect to see into the heart of reality … But this Silence cannot be the whole truth, Plotinus argued, since we are able to arrive at some knowledge of the divine. This would be impossible if the One had remained shrouded in its impenetrable obscurity. The One must have transcended itself, gone beyond its Simplicity in order to make itself apprehensible to imperfect beings like ourselves. This divine transcendence could be described as ‘ecstacy’ properly so called, since it is a ‘going out of the self’ in pure generosity: Seeking nothing, possessing nothing, lacking nothing, the One is perfect and, in metaphor, has overflowed, and its exuberance has produced the new.”
Many children in Roman Catholic churches memorize the following catechism in response to the question, what is God? “God is the Supreme Spirit, Who alone exists of Himself and is infinite in all perfections.” “Martin Heidegger (1899-1976) … developed a number of ideas that had already surfaced in the work of Plotinus, Denys and Erigena. Since Being is ‘Wholly Other,’ it is in fact Nothing—no thing, neither an object nor a particular being. Yet it is what makes all other existence possible … Theology believed that it had the answer and traced everything back to Something Else, to God. But this God was just another being rather than something that was wholly other.” Hence the need to transcend religion when people contained in that paradigm fail to behave as if they had internalized a profound definition of God.
“When John Robinson, Bishop of Woolrich, published Honest to God in 1963, stating that he could no longer subscribe to the old personal God ‘out there,’ there was uproar in Britain. A similar furor has greeted various remarks by David Jenkins, Bishop of Durham, even though these ideas are commonplace in academic circles. Don Cupitt, Dean of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, has also been dubbed ‘the atheistic priest’; he finds the traditional realistic God of theism unacceptable and proposes a form of Christian Buddhism, which puts religious experience before theology. Like Robinson, Cupitt has arrived intellectually at an insight that mystics in all three faiths have reached by a more intuitive route. Yet the idea that God does not really exist and that there is Nothing out there is far from new.”
“You could not say: ‘I am now having a special ‘religious experience,’ since the God which is Being precedes and is fundamental to all our emotions of courage, hope and despair. It was not a distinct state with a name of its own but pervaded each one of our normal human experiences. A century earlier Feuerbach had made a similar claim when he had said that God was inseparable from normal human psychology. Now this atheism had been transformed into a new theism.”
“An early tradition has God say to Muhammed: ‘I was a hidden treasure; I wanted to be known. Hence, I created the world so that I might be known.”
“The reality that we call ‘God’ lay outside the realm of sense perception and logical thought, so science and metaphysics could neither prove nor disprove [the existence of God] … We could speak about God’s activity in the world in positive terms but not about God’s essence, which would always elude us.”
“This god was not an alien object but our best self. It comes ‘neither by knowing, nor by Intellection that discovers the Intellectual beings [in the Mind or nous ] but by presence (parousia) overpassing all knowledge.”
“Men have experienced God as transcendent (the Father, Hidden in inaccessible light), as creative (the Logos) and as immanent (the Holy Spirit). But these three hypostases are only partial and incomplete glimpses of the Divine Nature itself, which lies far beyond such imagery and conceptualization. The Trinity, therefore, should not be seen as a literal fact but as a paradigm that corresponds to real facts in the hidden life of God.”
To err is human, to persist is diabolical. Seneca
Yes, the vast majority of the people contained in the world’s religions engage in a devilish persistence, despite the many wise voices such as those contained in this article, imploring them to entertain the reality of a more profound, less toxic God. It matters little what name we give to God as long as the Ultimate reality is in harmony with the Universe we actually inhabit and not a self-destructive delusion.
“In fact, it is more accurate to call God ‘Nothing’: we should not even call him a Trinity since he is ‘neither a unity nor a trinity in the sense in which we know them. He is above all names just as he is above all being. Yet we can use our incapacity to speak about God as a method of achieving a union with him, which is nothing less than a ‘deification’ (theosis) of our own nature.
We will let Karen Armstrong have the last word on God—she earned it.
References and notes are available for this essay.
Find a much more in-depth discussion in books by Roy Charles Henry:
Who Am I? The Second Great Question Concerning the Nature of Reality
Where Am I? The First Great Question Concerning the Nature of Reality
Simple Reality: The Key to Serenity and Survival