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..:: God ::..


Alan Schneider


              Probably the central feature of Faith, the last essay subject, is the belief in the existence of that unified, single conscious force superseding and eclipsing all others in the universe frequently referred to as “God”.   This next essay will treat this subject from a variety of perspectives. 

            We are rarely neutral about this concept, generally demonstrating fervent advocacy for, against, or about God, and the Divine effect on this Physical Plane of Expression.   It is one of the saddest observations regarding human awareness that we have (and continue to) commit so many atrocities in the name of what is presumably the highest Presence of existence.   Why is this so?   

            Although I do not agree with this statement, it has been said that, in fact, man created God in his image, not the obverse process as the Biblical Book of Genesis maintains.   Certainly the naοve image of a Grand Old Man sitting on a cloud in the sky as He oversees human affairs would seem to support this contention.    In fact, mythology is filled with just such images of the Supreme Being – male, elderly, wise, superior, and distant from this Earthly sphere – a patriarchal form that has been handed down from generation to generation from distant antiquity.   This is the first clue to the human psychology that supports such a model of the Divine, and we shall begin our investigation with this ancient and primitive conception of the Supreme.   

            Now, the role of human beings in human affairs has always been a matter of hot debate from scholars right down to paupers and fools.   The general presumption of common and civil law is that we are the architects of our own destiny and actions – I determine the outcomes of my life through my personal attitudes and behavior as the exclusive carrier of responsibility in personal existence.   This is a functional, if deeply flawed and overly simplistic, view of things that, however, tends to establish and maintain a certain degree of social and financial order.   If we attribute the developments on this Plane to supernatural influences, not the least of which our own behaviors, then the door is flung wide open to every kind of chaos and destruction in consequence.   Yet, the ultimate truth of the matter is that the locus of human control is evidently located beyond our personal ken.   So much of this life is clearly and obviously determined by apparent chance – whether called Fate, accident, Karma, or chaos – and this alone militates against the exclusive free will hypothesis outlined thus far.  

            So, in our child-like innocence and frustration over the seemingly arbitrary foundation of existence, we were, and are, compelled to postulate either an absolutely brutal and mechanistic universe, or a possibly intelligent one that might somehow be swayed by our appeals.   And, since the first model of authority and order that any of us have is the Parental one, it is not surprising that the unsophisticated mind then extrapolates this model to the universal level, and, viola, we have the original anthropomorphic Father Deity.   And, witness the Old Testament and many other texts of antiquity, this was often a wrathful and destructive Deity, much like the original human model of behavior upon which it is based, but still one that could be solicited for mercy and possible preferential treatment – producing the origin of prayer and worship.   But, this is a fear-and-ignorance based philosophy of belief that creates fanaticism and cruelty in its wake, not kindness and compassion, and is to be regarded with great suspicion for those reasons.   It is very sad indeed that the vast majority of believers in the world today have this type of fear-oriented faith as the basis of their spirituality, and the proof of this is seen in the ongoing manifestation of religious prejudice, intolerance, and violence around the world.   

            It is one of the marks of a hard-earned emotional maturity (that we, in some cases, actually attain to) that the arbitrary nature of this existence is accepted as just that – logically inexplicable – and life is carried forth from that perspective just the same, if somberly so.   In fact, we are customarily born, possibly survive, and certainly die as the only guarantees of this stormy and turbulent existence, and, if we so choose, challenge the assignment of life by rising to the call for sense and meaning for the duration.    As the Buddha said, all of life is Dukkha – suffering – and the first step to the resolution of this fundamental aspect of the human condition is the restraint of desire for all of the transitory and illusory objects of existence.   If this restraint is practiced diligently enough the eventual result is the cessation of suffering through the inception of Enlightenment in the perceptual condition of Satori – the ego-free, non-dual state of pure spiritual freedom.   Unfortunately, nothing is more central to basic human nature than the desire for seemingly external objects, processes, and conditions.   So it is that, much like Christ, Buddha was sent here to save us from ourselves...and the lesson to be learned is to suspect what we seek.  

            Although there is certainly much that they have in distinction, one of the things that both Buddhism and Christianity have in common is their relative evolution away from the original wrathful, parental, anthropomorphic image of God.   This is at least a step in the direction of acceptance and understanding of a more purely spiritual vision of Deity and the Divine.   If we follow the sequence of additional steps along this path, we eventually come to the various conceptions of Spiritual Intelligence that form the cutting edge of contemporary spirituality around the world.   At the risk of leaving much intermediate development out of the picture, and for the sake of brevity in this essay, I am going to progress directly to this advanced stage of belief and faith today, by examining some of the better examples of modern, progressive spiritual thought before us.  

            Among the more insightful systems of spiritual thought of which I am aware is the philosophy and practice of Yoga, and its central premise of Karma as the primary determinant of events on the Physical Plane of Expression – the world we know of through our senses.   In the Yogic system, suffering is born of ignorance – the naοve and foolish acceptance of the sensory world as being the only world of human experience, and the most important one, at that – when it is the world of spiritual Truth and compassion exemplified by the Soul that is the real origin of consciousness and physical events.   It is the task set forth by our spiritual destiny – our Karma – to confront the essential ignorance of our condition through suffering until we discover the underlying Truth that is really motivating all of the superficial events of the senses.   Yoga prescribes many techniques for the attainment of this level of realization that constitute a lifestyle of Enlightenment and supporting practices, many of which became incorporated and upgraded in subsequent Buddhist practice.    The cornerstone of both philosophies is the practice of meditation – the willful and intentional turning of awareness inward to locate and contemplate consciousness at its source – the Self – essentially God and the Kingdom of Heaven within us.   As this is attained, the corresponding perception of the Kingdom of Heaven around us develops through the projection of the Christ Consciousness into the world of human affairs, resulting in Salvation through the spiritual focus of the Soul while still alive on Earth – living Salvation and Sainthood.   

            When enough Karma has been converted into Dharma – Divine perception – through suffering and eventual Enlightenment, we are taken off the Wheel of Endless Transition and transported into the consciousness of Samadhi and Satori, although this is very rare in the Western world, and even rare in the East as well.   One must literally declare war on one’s physical, animal nature for the duration of incarnation, and relentlessly pursue and destroy every vestige of desire in the process.   So, why should one even bother with these harsh and austere measures anyway?

            The answer to this question lies in the nature of God as knowable from the refined, purified human perspective.   At least in Eastern thought and practice, there is an ultimate reality to God that can be Known and experienced while in Samadhi and Satori, the comparable Yogic and Buddhist states of religious ecstasy and of the supreme level of human conscious awareness.   What is the experience of reality at this highest stage of spiritual development?  What is God like when encountered in person without the veils of ego interpretation that we so often take for the Truth?   

            I have often described my experiences of Samadhi in these essays, but perhaps another brief description will be appropriate here. The Supreme Being had the appearance of an infinite, omnipresent field of intense white light, the sensation, or feeling perception, of unconditional perfect Love and positive acceptance, and a yet deeper sense of infinite, omnipotent, omniscient Presence – there was an unseen, yet underlying and universal, manifestation of Being associated with the experience.   I have heard this Being referred to as the I AM Presence, and have never lost my sense of it operating in my life following my last experience of full Samadhi, for better or for worse, because this forces a complete reassessment of consciousness and awareness in its wake.  I have never again had the frivolous luxury of supposing that I am in control of my life – I found out where the control really is, and why it is – the deliverance of the Soul by God.  I now know that only the Divine Self is real, and all other modes of experience are subordinate expressions of that single Truth radiating forth in Love both from within and beyond space, time, and thought.   This includes the apparent existence of my physical form and that of the physical world and universe – both are secondary, transitory, and illusory in comparison to the Ultimate Truth of God.   

            It can be taken as a given that most of humanity will not attain this level of perception in a specific incarnation, whether one believes in reincarnation or not.   This is the great strength of Christianity – through the acceptance of the Sacrifice of Christ represented by the taking of Communion, and living in line with the spiritual principals demonstrated by Him, we can participate in a similar state to that of Samadhi.   The difficulty here lies in really practicing the Gospel of Christ, as opposed to simply paying convenient lip service to it.    Again, we are at war with our own nature when we decide to follow the Love, Light, and Presence – the great battle of Karma that is this existence, forever.   Yes, the meaning of life is that it is a Battle.  It always has been, and always will be, just as Jung so insightfully observed.   

            Personally, I believe as an article of my Faith that Christ, Buddha, Patanjali, and all of the other human vessels of Divine Love in history were sent to this world by God as gifts of Grace and Compassion, that anyone wishing to follow the Light would at least have examples of how the process might be attempted and consummated.   Possibly the ultimate gift of this lifestyle, in spite of all the harsh sacrifices it demands, is the final attainment of inner peace through my forgiveness of myself and others. 


                                                                                  - With Love, Alan -

                                                               (Copyright 2010, by Alan Schneider)


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