Conceptions of God|
It may be portrayed as a jealous god, who rewards and punishes the believers. It may be presented as a source of divine love, which cares for its followers. It may be thought to be impersonal, simply a source of inexhaustible energy, but energy with consciousness : gentle, infinite and eternal. Ultimate reality may be felt to be non-dual, so that the worlds of duality (the material worlds) are believed to be illusory.
The idea that god is love often brings with it the belief that we have complete choice of how we want to lead our lives. We are completely responsible for everything that we experience in life, both for our successes and our failures, as well as for our tragedies. This belief is an attractive one (to someone who is successful in life), but it does not seem to fit ordinary experience. Where is its limitation ?
Traditional theorists about god have had little or no understanding of the subconscious mind, and so have not been able to adequately address the problems of determinism, confusion, and karmic restrictions. Understanding the ways of the subconscious mind is basic to the issues of free will, choice, and divine love. Within metaphysics, traditional theories see only part of the problems, and thus provide only part of the solutions.
I am both a metaphysician and an empiricist. It is very difficult to reconcile both traits, since they develop contrary abilities. It is rare for them to combine in the same person. When they do then the possibility arises for the creation of new ideas on spirituality that are based more on realism than on need. I give my views on the structure of creation, fitting my understanding of the mind into the metaphysical landscape.
In the background, as the matrix of reality, is a monist world governed by an impersonal god. This god is not concerned with evolution. Hence evolution carries no ultimate, built-in message or meaning. Since there is no ultimate meaning, so each life form that can exercise choice, such as humanity, is free to evolve in whatever way it chooses. Freedom of choice is paramount.
Evolution necessitates change, but change is difficult and very slow. Therefore, evolution is a very slow process, and time is unimportant. A human being changes only a little in a single lifetime, since change is always resisted by the subconscious mind. This means that many, many lifetimes are required in order to experience great change in personal growth. So evolution functions within the scenario of reincarnation.
The monist world is governed by the impersonal god in three ways, those of will, mind, and feeling. This triad is reflected in the human personality, which has the same three factors. The attributes of this triad are :
Will – this gives rise to power, which is the energy that sustains evolution.
Mind – the divine mind creates the world as an idea. The theory that reality is just an idea is called philosophical Idealism.
Feeling – since the impersonal god is not concerned with evolution, so its feeling is the neutral one, which transposes into equanimity. When this subjective feeling is objectified within physical creation, it creates the life force. Since the feeling is neutral, so the life force (or Nature) is amoral.
These attributes are impersonal. Hence power is neutral and is available for anything that needs it, without limitation of good or evil influences. The world as idea is impersonal – it imposes no constraints on how life forms may develop it. Feeling fluctuates ; whence nature has its cyclic forms, or seasons.
The positive and negative feelings are formed by splitting the neutral feeling, and so help to generate the emotions that drive evolution. The centering on equanimity means that the evolutionary play of emotions is unrestricted : any emotion can be given its head to see where it leads.
However, humans regularly go wrong in their development : violence, neglect, absence of care and lack of respect, etc, all too often arise. Evolution needs guidance. Therefore, superimposed on the monist background is a world of dualism. In the world of dualism, evolution is controlled according to a pre-set ‘blue-print’. This requires the supervision of a personal god. For this view of dualism I broadly accept the general tenets of Theosophy, as presented by Madame Blavatsky : human evolution flows through ‘rounds’ and ‘root-races’.
Yet what is more important for me is how good and evil fit into this scenario. In my view, each self-contained feature of the universe has its own personal god, rather as a big organisation has one chief executive. For humanity, the solar system is self-contained. Hence the personal god for this system is the deity that uses the sun as its physical body (in the same way that a human consciousness uses a physical body to house it). So I call this personal god the solar deity.
The solar deity imposes guidance on evolution by controlling karma. Karma (or ‘fate’) is usually considered to be a system of spiritual justice. Each person’s life, in any incarnation, has superimposed on its process of growth and learning the inducements of reward and punishment ; these inducements become the basic form of morality. However, besides karma, humanity has imposed on it three factors that are the source of much sorrow. These factors are those of illness, the process of abreaction, and the nihilism inherent in the process of reincarnation. No person is responsible for any of these sorrows, but only responsible for the manner in which they handle them. Therefore it is inaccurate to say that ‘fate’ is simply justice. Much better is to view ‘fate’ as a learning process.
In physical creation, evolution is controlled by the polarities of attraction and repulsion. On the higher octave of mental evolution, these polarities transpose into love and hate. So love and hate, in the shape of reward and punishment, are the primary ways by which the solar deity controls the evolution of all life forms. Divine love is impartial ; it is a flux of emotion that does not attach itself to any object, but flows through them. It has a magic of its own, being very different from the kinds of love within narcissism and jealousy. Any life form, good or bad, can experience it. Similarly, divine hate is a flux of emotion that does not attach itself to any object. Hate is always the basis of separation, whereas love produces union. In the scenario of evolution, both love and hate are needed.
The solar deity institutes morality, within the framework of karma, as the central restriction on human freedom. Human incarnation involves a long period of immaturity in childhood that creates patterns of bonding, together with forms of confusion (this confusion is usually the source of any severe psychological distress that the child may experience once it becomes an adult). This manner in which incarnation happens becomes the basis of the transmission of morality from one generation to the next one. Morality is not fixed. Since abilities develop over many incarnations, so humans need better guidance as time goes by. This means that morality has to be continually updated. Bonding also creates determinism, which restricts freedom.
The scenario of human evolution thus revolves around the interplay of freedom, determinism, confusion, and morality.
The Shining White Light
In the course of mankind’s history the need for an image of the personal god has always been paramount. The image favoured has usually been either a sun image or an anthropomorphic one. The view that the personal god is a sun god has tended to produce abstract religion, with a following restricted to priestly devotees, as occurred in ancient Egypt. The sun image is also likely to be favoured by intellectuals.
By contrast, a popular religion requires that a person be in the place of honour. By having an image of god as a man (or a woman), so the devotee can use the psychological mechanisms of projection and introjection as means of handling his deepest needs. It is easy to identify with attributes of a personal god, but almost impossible to do this with an impersonal god.
In actuality, both images represent a limited understanding of the formless nature of existence, because creation centres not on light but on the heart. This was indicated to me by a dream that I had in 1988.
At the time I was studying Buddhism, and one of the early Buddhist saints was named Chandrakirti. I liked this name, and one night I used it as a mantra when I was in bed, chanting it till I went to sleep. The Buddhist ‘god’ Manjushri must have smiled on me and given me grace. In the dream I approached the dweller on the threshold, who let me pass. I entered a cave. Within the cave a shining white light was radiating. It was not a steady radiance. Instead, it pulsated like a heart. The personal god cannot be seen visually, but visual experiences are very important to humanity. So the personal god is seen only as an image, and its image is that of the shining white light. Hence the most appropriate image for the personal god is that of a heart radiating the shining white light.
Human evolution oscillates around two main aims :
The primary aim is the creation of a unique course of development, following personal choices and freedoms.
The secondary aim is the acquisition of a code of ethics, and this may well inhibit some choices and freedoms.
These aims are set within the constraints and influences of determinism, confusion, and the rewards and punishments of spiritual control. The constraints can often be severe, leading to the experience of much suffering in life. This sorrow impinges on freedom. Because of the sorrow of existence, people usually prefer a life of regular habits and familiar routines to a life of uncertainty and freedom.
Farthing, Geoffrey. Deity, Cosmos & Man. Point Loma Publications, 1993 USA.
An outline of theosophy and the ideas of Madame Blavatsky.
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Copyright © 2002 Ian Heath, owner of a map of psychological spirituality suitable for modern times.
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