The God Conundrum (10)©

THE ETERNAL SEARCH FOR GOD (5)

We of the mundane world are standing in front of another sphere where there is Being, Power and Justice; where there are no limiting factors as Time, Space or Plurality. Only Pattern exists. The Pattern itself has power and the God of this Creation is Pattern. Beyond this is a third sphere without form, where one can no longer speak even about Being; where the nearest word we can use is Will. There is a Sphere of Will that is not involved in Being, not involved in any particular Pattern or Purpose and not involved with achieving anything. All of this is beyond our understanding, but what is not beyond our understanding is that this sphere is so completely free that it is not subject to the laws of cause and effect, and it is able to override karma. This allows for the possibility for interventions of a certain kind, in which the consequences of normal action are averted.

Sacred Images arise from these incarnations. The Sacred Mission is the only thing that can give us hope in the present situation of our race on Earth. It is apparent to everybody that if we were subject entirely to the laws of justice and cause and effect, we should be heading for destruction. For it would be impossible for man so completely to disregard his obligations on this Earth and not suffer retribution, if there were not for a Higher Compassion.

If the third sphere exists, it is from this Source that Compassion must come. For it is only from this Source that salvation can arise, where the consequences of destructive actions can be averted and the world given a new start. As students of the Work, contacting this Source through development of our Sacred Image is our duty and it is towards this end that we should pray and meditate. When we pray and meditate, we are creating our own Sacred Image because doing otherwise is impossible since we are dealing with subjects beyond our intellectual understanding. Each and every time we enter into communion with the Celestial Sanctum, we add light, life and love to our Sacred Image.

As you can see, creating a working Sacred Image is our Holy Chore and is the real purpose behind our years of Rosicrucian study. From the above we see that intellectual effort must be expended to create a Sacred Image. But the existence of a static image is insufficient, to be of use to ourselves and our fellow travelers our images must be imbibed with life and love. In other words, we must use the faculties of our higher emotional centers to make our Sacred Images dynamic and purposeful. When this is done, the real power of the Divine will come into the Image and make it Live.

This concept was appreciated by the Ancient Egyptians who understood that the stone and metal statues of their deities, an intellectual creation, could be infused by the Light, Life and Love of the deity through conscious effort, focused attention and emotional intent. These Holy Relics represented to the Egyptian priests an objective presentation of the mental and emotional Sacred Images we have been discussing.

Therefore, let us now spend some time showing how our mentally created Sacred Images can be made to live through our higher emotions. Providing emotional life to our Sacred Images is a simple matter and occurs whenever we allow ourselves to experience the Love of God. Such events can happen in meditation, in sincere selfless service or from listening with our hearts to stories of high purpose. Let me give you some examples.

The God Conundrum (9)©

                                 THE ETERNAL SEARCH FOR GOD©

The importance of an image can be immense when it is a really sacred image. Even though, Saint Theresa, the little blossom of Jesus, was not seen by anyone during her life to be at all extraordinary, through her writings and actions, an image was created that had an extraordinary power after she died. Her image was so powerful that for a long time thousands of people were converted and healed simply by visiting her shrine. The power wasn’t in the girl that died young and more or less unknown, but in the image that was created by the intensity of her own faith and love and complete conviction that she did converse with and know Jesus as a person. This was so powerful that the image that came out of her conviction had really extraordinary power–literally the power to perform miracles.

Another form of a Sacred Image occurs whenever a Sacred Individual incarnates in human form with a very high and special mission, the working of which is not visible in this world and which can only be perceived by specially prepared disciples. This mission is not performed in this world, except insofar as the Being who is engaged in it is incarnated in human form. A certain possibility which was absent on this Earth is introduced from a realm where the impossible can exist. It is something new that doesn’t belong to the previous filaments of cause and effect of this world, therefore changing the future. Though the doing of this and how it is done is unseen, it is necessary that something should manifest in the visible world amongst people with ordinary perceptions. To fulfill that second part of the mission a Sacred Image is created; an Image having near Unlimited Power, because its source is beyond the confines of normal existence. Men see the Sacred Image as the founder of a religion, as a prophet or as an incarnation of God, introducing new hope into the life of man.

The Sacred Image is more than an existing thing. The image of Christ is more than any man, because Power has been transmitted to the Image that is very extraordinary. It is something that is in the world but not of the world. To bring about such Sacred Images very extraordinary things have to happen. Often those involved with the promotion of a new Sacred Image have to pay for it with their own lives, returning to the Existence beyond this world by way of a violent death.

I think it is difficult for many persons to understand that which is more than this world doesn’t have the same kind of existence that we have. If it had, it would be perishable, isolated, separated and subject to all the laws of our mundane existence. Because the Source of the Sacred Image is beyond normal existence, it is possible for each individual to have direct communication with the Being through his or her Sacred Image. It is necessary to remind you of this fact I have experienced so that you begin to realize that this is not a matter of superstition, or something that is of comfort to people because they have nothing better. This presence of Sacred Images in this world means that there is Something that is beyond the laws of this world, beyond the laws of materialism.

But for us there is a need to go further. As students in the Work, we want to go beyond the confines of the existing world, that there is Something we have to Attain. This drive does not come from our objective faculties; it comes because we feel the pull of a Higher Source. There is an action in us coming from another sphere. This Something can only be understood and approached by working with and advancing our Sacred Images.

The God Conundrum (8)©

THE ETERNAL SEARCH FOR GOD (3)

In most religious belief systems, behind everything is an Unknown Being who can be known only through His manifestations. For Muslims, God can be known because the Koran is his own utterance. When you listen to the Koran, you listen to the Word of God. For Jews, God revealed Himself to Moses giving him the Commandments. In the Hebrew prophetic period, the Word of God was transmitted through the prophets. Even though some reported they saw and spoke with God, still there remained the feeling that God was something mysterious and completely out of reach of man’s intellect; that God was utterly different from any possible image a man could conceive.

For the student of Hermeticism, God is a reality beyond comprehension; for man cannot know God in the way that man is able to know Nature. For God is beyond Nature and is the Source from which Nature comes. For the conscious being, the ultimate image of God is not as a personal deity. In Buddhism, the liberated man is able to know the Dharma and reveal it to other men; but all beings, even gods, are limited and subject to the laws of separation and transience belonging to the finite and time-limited universe. When the Buddha was asked the question, “Are there gods?”, he replied, “Of course there are gods. I know very well that there are spiritual beings.” Again and again in the Buddhist scriptures, the spiritual beings, even the supreme deity Brahma, are represented as appearing and talking to the Buddha person to person. They are also shown as being limited, and after the completion of an age having to be reborn. But the Dharma is beyond time and renewal; it is the Source of Everything.

There are many notions of the Absolute Source, which is beyond Being, of which nothing can be known. An impersonal character is always ascribed to it, because if it were personal, it would be knowable and would be too much like us to be called Absolute.

Now what are we to make of all this? Can you see that all these things are true, providing you look at them in the right way?

First, one can say that so long as one’s attention is confined to the existing world of objects, then the materialist view is correct. If it were not so, the laws wouldn’t be invariant. This is the world of law which can only be known through its laws; it is a world of separation for it’s very structure manifests discreetly as explained by quantum mechanics. It is a world of transience in which everything perishes.

Even the personal Image of God is not incorrect. For we are taught that our material universe is the work of either a Sole, Manifested, Creator God such as the Hindu supreme deity, Brahma or of the Manifested Agents of the One God, the Hebrew Elohim. Such happenings provide an explanation for how can it be that God is a person Who can be talked to, Who will listen to us and do something to help us because He cares for each one of us as individuals? This simple belief may not bring one to Cosmic Consciousness, but provides assurance that takes away anxiety and many other things for many people during their early stages of spiritual development. It would be terrible if that were to be disturbed by someone saying that it is naive to think that God is really like that and that he or she listens to silly little petitions and so on.

Now there is a tradition in the mystical literature of the existence of two quite different Gods in the world: one God that has created this world and rules it according to law and justice; and another God who is beyond this world, who has no power and authority in it, but whose characteristic is love and compassion is an ancient one. Knowledge of this distinction is preserved in the Ancient Egyptian texts, in the monasteries of Central Asia and through certain Buddhist and Sufi traditions. The God of Love and compassion is concerned with the consequences of the Creation. It is this God of Love that incarnates as an Avatar in order to compensate for the consequences of the God of power having created the world.

What we have to understand is how our limited world is connected to the Unlimited Expanse of God the Unmanifest. For that we must study the nature and content of our Sacred Images; for these Sacred Images are our personal mental and emotional pictures of God. They are the fruit of the closest personal experiences we have had with God.

Unfortunately, the difficulty with thinking about an image is that an image appears less than the object for which it is the image. Whenever we see an image in the mirror, we don’t think of it as really being there; what is “really there” is ourselves standing in front of the mirror. Our preprogrammed attitude towards images is that they are somehow less than the reality they depict. But looked at it in another way, you can see how powerful images are. Even in the simple case of an image in the mirror–if you are shaving or brushing your hair or arranging your clothes–it is the image that is the source of your actions. You see your hair is untidy and this makes you move your brush in a certain way. It is only because you are able to see the image that you can do something.

This principle can be applied a great deal further. For example, whenever you have the image of somebody as being wise or as able to do something, it is this image that makes you ask for help or advice. If a doctor doesn’t present to you the image of a man who is able to heal, he will have very little power to do something good for you. A great part of a physician’s work is to create for the patient the image of a healer in whom they can have confidence. Such images do more to heal than all the medicines given. When you really analyze the situation, it is that the image of the doctor which attracts you, not the man. Many people are alive today, who would otherwise be dead, because they really believed in the power and truth of an image. This enabled the doctor’s treatment to have a power over them that in somebody else’s hand the treatment would not have had. The contrary is also true, persons who see the doctor’s weaknesses and foibles destroy their image of a good and wise man and the medicine ceases to work. Therefore, you see that the details of our own Image of God determines the path we take in life and the place we end up.

The God Conundrum (7)©

                                          THE ETERNAL SEARCH FOR GOD (2)

Based upon the above, my perception of the eternal must be related to my perception of the changeless Now. Regardless of the details of my environment, Now always feels the same. Therefore, any consciousness existing outside the confines of Space and Time must be in the Now. I am in the Now whenever I stop looking at the details of the actualization of events in my immediate surroundings and just be. Sometimes I think that being in the Now must be the feeling of awareness one has whenever one’s attention is directed to the gaps existing between our normal thoughts rather than to our thoughts themselves. I have never found sadness in the experience of the Now, only in the experiences of life events. Being in the Now leads to eternal awareness, eternal bliss and eternal existence.

The word search is derived from the Latin words circus and circare which mean circle and to go about. Therefore, a search must be an activity involved with looking for something or examining something in an organized and complete manner. Searches come in different flavors. For example, I have learned that oftentimes when I search for a lost object, I experience distress and anxiety. Whenever, I find the lost object I experience happiness. Consequently, one aspect of at least some kinds of searches is to eliminate pain and increase pleasure. Usually, however, it is elimination of the suffering which fuels my searches.

Another kind of searching entails looking for an explanation to explain how some process works in Nature. Even though, such searches are not dysphoric, suffering is involved because I have to dedicate time for exploration and make conscious efforts. Sometimes other persons interfere in the accomplishment of these searches because they are threatened by new knowledge. In these cases, one obtains pleasure by answering the question posed.

In both types of searches, only ignorance and lack of conscious effort prevent me from immediately obtaining the desired fruits of my actions. Maybe the act of searching, the act of relieving pain and increasing pleasure, are responsible for keeping me trapped in the world. Perhaps, my ignorance and my lack of conscious effort are keeping me from God?

Therefore for myself, the eternal search for God has similarities to the transient search for a lost object or the process of answering a scientific question. If I want to regain a state of Unity with God, assuming I had such a state previously, I must allow myself the experience of intentional suffering so to uncover the Path of Reintegration. My suffering and my acceptance of it will provide the inner strength necessary to accomplish my search. I cannot grow without consciously applying super-effort. I cannot let the unpleasant details of life’s experiences and the resulting dysphoria to rule my life. Since I continue to search, for me, the act of searching is best portrayed by the geometric figure of the spiral, rather than that of a single circle.

I have observed the following statement to be true in my life: happy is the man who has not tried to develop a soul, miserable is the man who attempts to make one. Fortunately, and as you will eventually come to know, direct experience in the matter tells us that the man or woman with a fully developed soul is in an unperturbed state of peace, joy and clarity, happy in his understanding of what Existence Is and his or her place in It.

Let us now direct our attention to our individual understanding of God.

When we begin to speak about our personal concepts concerning God, we must remember the mystery school adage, “God of my heart, God of my realization”. In other words, we are being instructed to look within ourselves for our personal Sacred Image of God, to seek our answer from experience and understanding available from our higher emotional and intellectual centers. What you can expect to find when you follow this advice is not God the Actual, but God as a personal Sacred Image. Let us explore this notion further; first intellectually, then emotionally.

Since I am asking each of you to search for your own personal understanding of the Sacred Image of God, I expect to hear many different views and beliefs. Whenever these views are based upon your own hard won efforts and suffering, I know they are sincere and it would be a mistake to think that some views are true and other views are false. Many different views exist because no one is able to experience God broadly enough; therefore, each of us calls a partial truth, the whole truth. For it is impossible for us to conceive of an impossibility. Perhaps we can overcome our individual limitations by creating a composite picture that will show where all these different and quite conflicting views fit in?

First, there is the materialistic or atheistic view that God is just superstition. Proponents of this viewpoint see nothing in the universe, but the working of material laws. They feel that the only successful way to deal with the world is to know the laws better. Such persons believe it is possible to structure their lives into a perfectly satisfactory order by learning to know enough of the laws and how best to adapt themselves to them. Therefore, the problems of life are ones that we alone can solve, and if we are clever enough, we can go a long way to solve these problems. If we are not clever enough, we will make mistakes because of individual and group ignorance.

Another, equally simple kind of belief held by many people is that God is a person whom we can picture like ourselves, only much better, infinitely greater and wiser. He is infinitely loving and compassionate. Moreover, God can be spoken to, and is spoken to, in prayer in the form of Christ or Krishna or Zoroaster, beautiful persons symbolic of all that we love and worship.

There is another kind of belief about God, which is expressed by St. Paul, who says in Corinthians that God is a spirit and can only be worshiped in spirit and in truth; no man has seen God and no living person can see or understand God; for God remains altogether different from anything that can be experienced directly. However, as the result of His Endless Love for His Creation, God reveals Himself through the prophets, through sacred books and by incarnation as an Avatar or Savior. In the Baghavad Gita, Krishna is an incarnation of Vishnu. Krishna is a man who can be seen by everyone, but differs from ordinary people in his perfect wisdom. When Arjuna asks him to show himself in his real form, he appears as the terrifying all-devouring power that swallows up all Nature–Arjuna sees God as time. Many descriptions in the Gita refer to the Unknowable Being that can be manifested in many forms.

The God Conundrum (6)©

                         THE ETERNAL SEARCH FOR GOD

Today, we return to the Path of the Heart in our journey towards a more satisfying understanding as to the wisdom of mankind’s questioning as to God.  If you feel that I seem to ‘ride the fence,’ do not worry overly–for the fence is the most neutral vista.  Again, I remind you to return to my Wisdom Story of the Great Library containing all possible points of view–the Tower of Babel.

The wise questions are not, “Does God exist or not exist?  Is God present in the Universe?  Is God Being or a Being?” and so on.  The wise question is,”If God is and not God is, if neither God is nor God not is, then, what will you do with your life?”

For what I do with my life is the final Answer, regardless of the Path I travel. I might suggest that all of you go to The Strange Life of the Good Doctor and read the page.

Friends, at the present moment of time each one is paused in time and space, standing upon familiar stones–stones forming the bedrock of a personal pathway traveled mechanically since physical birth. Immediately ahead, the path bifurcates–each separate segment leading onto a different and currently unknown future. Which path will you choose? Will you step boldly and confidently onto the path less familiar? Unfamiliar, though necessary if you are to experience the beginnings of a new segment of human evolution and a new direction of Work. A path demanding from you a thorough and merciless reevaluation of your previous life and goals? Or, will you choose to continue as always? You must choose your future path! Indecision is a choice–a choice of default to the path of mundane existence.

This first lesson is provided so to help clarify the nature of the choice you have asked to be given. I call this bifurcation point in the life of a man or woman, the moment when a person commits to THE ETERNAL SEARCH FOR GOD; a subject of special interest to every student in the great Work. After all, the purpose of consciously traveling the pathway to immortality and the formation of a soul, or higher being body, is to uncover an avenue for escaping from our worldly prison and reuniting with the One Super-Substantial Source responsible for creating and maintaining not only our Ray of Creation, our Universe, but all other Rays. In order to discuss this goal in a meaningful manner, it is necessary to understand the significance of each word contained within the title of this discourse.

Therefore, I am going to ask each of you to consider what each word means. Try to see what you really know about each of these words; see what sort of life experiences are brought to mind when you contemplate each word. Don’t limit your understanding to definitions others have told you or you have simply read in a reference book; for you can only claim right understanding after expending conscious effort; in other words, there are no free lunches in the Cosmic.

Let me give you an example of what I am suggesting. Suppose we take the subject of the influence of the Sun in our life. For myself, an influence is a motivating force which induces me to think, feel and behave in a certain way. An influence may be external or internal, I may or may not have much control over it or my response to it. Fortunately, I realize that I do not have to automatically be controlled by these influences, I can learn how to exhibit choice, learn when and when not to respond to a particular influence. I have learned that I am not, and can not be, the originating cause of influences, for influences are simply the flow of energies controlling the probabilities of certain actions coming to life in God’s Universe. All actions come from God because God is the Sole Creator. All I can do is to consciously apply will so to redirect some of these energies contained within this wonderful Creation so to aid in the fulfillment of God’s Hidden Plans.

Second, what do I know about the Sun. What have I learned through my own efforts and experiences? One thing I know is that the Sun is the center of our Solar System and serves as our source of light and life. I know that the earth revolves around the Sun because I perceive the cycles of the seasons. The Sun provides warmth to the earth so that water can exist as a liquid; for it was in liquid water that life first began and it is liquid water which maintains the health of a living cell. I know this because I have studied the fossils left by early life forms. I know that the mummified remains of the Pharaohs are dry and lifeless. The Sun baths the earth in visible light which is utilized as the energy source for plants producing carbohydrates and oxygen by photosynthesis. I know that plant carbohydrates and oxygen are necessary for metabolism to occur in plants and animals. I know that all cells must have the capacity for metabolism to be considered alive since plants die in the dark and I lose weight when I don’t eat enough. I know that metabolism of organic compounds produces energy for movement, reproduction and mental activity. I know that mental activity eventually leads to more complex forms of consciousness and that advancing consciousness and understanding will be the bridge allowing me to return to my God and even Beyond. I know that the Sun is the source of light and life for our world and that experiencing light and life teaches us love. Therefore, the Sun is our closest representative of the Light, Life and Love of God Who is the real Source.

I trust each of you is beginning to understand what I am asking you to do? Important questions to ask yourself in such situations are: What do I already know about this word or concept? What is my ordinary understanding of it? In what connection have I heard it used before. How has it affected me? What do I want to find out about it?
Let us begin to see what we understand about the expression–the eternal search. To begin, I am going to ask you to try and separate yourself from what you have heard or been taught concerning eternity, the act of searching and God; ask yourself what kinds of internal images actually come to mind from your own being when you use these words or when you hear them used.

For me, the eternal represents something which exists outside the ordinary boundaries of Time. Eternal means forever–without a beginning or an end. Eternal is something that is perpetual. The word eternal comes from the root word Eternity. Before I can understand the eternal, I must understand Time. But since Time and Eternity seem exclusive of each other, I know that Eternity exists in a dimension perpendicular to the flow of Time.
From speaking with other persons, I understand them to believe that Time represents a measure of the directional flow of events occurring in a particular Space. This flow is perceived as being directional as the result of causality operating in the Past; that is, events which have occurred before the current moment of mind activity are thought to have lead to the events of the Present. This chain of causality seems to project back into the very beginnings of Creation and generates the notion of the Future, that is, the expectation that a novel set of events will manifest. Such persons firmly accept the law of cause and effect; and if introspective, will spend much time trying to relate Future effects to Past causes.

An analogy might be helpful. Try curling the fingers of both hands into your palms so to make two tunnels through which you can see light. Place your hands so that the two tunnels are aligned in sequence and hold both hands up to either your right or left eye such that you can peer through the tunnel to the room ahead. As you sight down this tunnel you quickly notice that only a small portion of the room ahead is visible to your eye. This situation is representative of how most persons perceive the flow of Time in their lives, that is, they continuously are looking into their Future along the tunnel of the Past. Consequently, they introduce a number of erroneous beliefs into their lives.

As a result of the “tunnel effect”, such persons perceive Time as a linear sequence of narrowly prescribed events for which Future possibilities are limited at best. Therefore, they become discouraged about the Future since they perceive that even though life is causal, their ability to be consciously causal is virtually nonexistent. They fail to grasp the notion that in actuality the Future determines the Past.

For the general man and woman of the day who is asleep as to his or her actual presence, life is composed solely of the his or her personally recorded events of the Past and his or her expectations of the Future. Instead of being simultaneously Present to oneself and one’s activities, such persons exist only in Imagination and Fantasy, prey to the Automatic Laws of the Universe. Such persons are impotent in directing even the smallness of their day to day Future, they cannot be entrusted the task of directing the greater Future of Adamic man’s spiritual evolution.

Since the average persons lacks the appreciation and the ability to be in the Now, they are unable to see that Time is not a linear sequence of Past causes leading to Future effects; but in reality represents the order of actualization of events occurring in the Now. Consequently, such persons fail to grasp the fact that Causes can only exist in the Future, that Future causes manifest as effects only in the Present. Subsequently, while hindsight may show the tunnel effect as described previously, this new notion of Time constates that the tunnel is only an illusion–the flow of Time is better perceived as the eye of a needle being moved through an infinite set of causes. Once we understand that the Future more appropriately represents a set of causal possibilities rather than the effects of Past causes, we understand how we can insure the continual renewal of our Beloved Order through Work such as that now being done. Because we are taught how to be present in the Present, we can develop an inner unity which is eternal and which has access to the power of the Cosmic necessary to accomplish such ambitious goals.

The God Conundrum (5)©

Why do most people experience ‘supernatural’ beings as distinct entities?

Today, we will delve into the pscyhoistic (this is a word I coined to refer to our mental lives) properties of the “standard” human mind, i.e., what people think, feel, and image during a typical, day-to-day, conscious life, so to arrive at a rational explanation as to why historically, the great majority of people in the great majority of cultures report that God, gods, demons, angels, devas, and so on are experienced as supernatural beings possessing distinct, though mutable, form (rupa) as a matter of course, rather than being a formless, limitless, unbounded (arupa) presence.

The answers are not so difficult to uncover.

First, at the most fundamental level of existence, the most basic composition of the physical world consists of discrete bits of energy and matter, i.e., the various quarks and leptons. Each element consists of composite protons and neutrons, and electrons forming larger atoms and so on. Each one of our bodies is formed by countless numbers of individual atoms and molecules, invisible to all but the most powerful microscopes, but none the less particulate.

Second, at the macroscopic level (objects we can see them with our naked eyes), the world is experienced as big and small bits of matter separately arranged in three dimensional space. This is here and that is over there. Our prey and our predators come as discrete animals. One food type can be differentiated from another by smell, taste, touch, or sight. Even the ocean is experienced as a separate object–at least is it different from you when you fall into it.

As nature is discrete and not continuous, the evolution of the nervous system from the neural net of the first invertebrates to the virtual world creating human brain was guided by the survival need to deal with objects and not a continuum. As our mental images and the resulting virtual world arose under the epigenetic influence of the objects in our physical surroundings, so too did the operation of our mind.

Subsequently, the central nervous systems are synaptically-wired to take the information entering into our brains, sorting and evaluating such, so to present it to our conscious awareness as object-object experiences. If the brain failed to convert the experience of verbs into nouns (objective content), most people would not benefit as they seem unable to process information directly so to see verbs as verbs and nouns as nouns.

Whenever, the brain is not able to convert an information stream into an object which can be seen, it will attempt to present such using another sensory modality. Reading through the prophets of the Old Testament, one finds many examples when God was present, but not seen. Doing its job as best it can, the brain objectifies the experience so that prophets relate that God was not seen, rather, he heard the word of God and felt a wind, was surrounded by light, smelt a pleasant fragrance, or saw a burning fire. Nowhere does a prophet experience God as providing direct knowledge to him.

I think the above is sufficient to explain why so many persons experience or want to experience God as a supernatural being (the ultimate Proper Noun) and have difficulty of experiencing God as functional, fundamental qualia present in our universe. For me, regardless of objectification, God is the Grand Verb!