There is really just One Ultimate Substance. We can call this energy, or light. We can also call it consciousness, or mind. We could call this matter. We could call this Spirit. Or we could call it the One Ultimate Substance, which happens to manifest or be experienced or be known as either matter, spirit, mind, consciousness, light or energy. But to understand this we have to begin somewhere, so let us begin with energy. Energy substance at its highest levels of frequency is consciousness. This is the highest quantum energy range. The lowest level of energy shows up as basic matter, or materialization. The consciousness level of energy exhibits variations of frequency which are its various kinds of Intelligence. The matter level of energy exhibits variations of frequency which are its variations of material substance.
Also, we need to understand that this One Ultimate Substance/Energy has both an Objective and Subjective aspect. The Objective aspect is how something appears and is experienced from outside of it. The Subjective aspect is how something is experienced from itself. The Objective aspect relates usually with the matter aspect of energy, and about what a scientist can observe. The Subjective aspect relates usually with the consciousness/mind aspect, or what is experienced from the inside, and so this is hidden from outside observation. For example, material behavior is objective but its intelligence or mind is subjective. Light is objective, but the consciousness within the light is subjective.
There are different levels of energy frequency within the human. The highest might be called our own ultimate individualized consciousness. This fundamental consciousness is the very most inner essence of who we are, and we call this our spirit. The next level is soul, which is the container of our innermost intelligence and power, and also container of all divine qualities though not necessarily fully developed. The next level is personal mind, which includes our life’s accumulation of knowledge and practical intelligence. The next level is our emotional structure, which is how our energy flows and how we experience this flow. The next level is the formative physical energy field, sometimes called the body’s etheric field, which holds an energy pattern to guide physical form and health. And the final level is the physical body. These add up to six levels; yet there are seven levels if we include the Ultimate One Consciousness/Being, which we are calling God or the One, and this level has no multiplicity. At each level (except for the level of One) there are multiple occurrences and sub-levels of expansiveness; for example, there are multiple individualized souls and various levels of soul expansiveness – such as the hierarchy of Over-souls of souls.
Here is metaphysical model. There are two poles, opposite yet in relation. These are like two diametric aspects of the One Reality. There is a pole of Formlessness and a pole of Form. The Formlessness is Spirit and the Form is manifestation. Now as it is, Spirit is seeking to manifest as Form; while Form is seeking to return back to Formless Spirit. This beautiful dialectic makes the dynamism of Reality. From the pole of Formless Spirit is a creative urge to manifest, embody, and enjoy form. Yet from the pole of manifest form is an aspiration to be liberated and return to the unlimited Formless Spirit. So Unlimitedness seeks limitedness, while limitedness seeks Unlimitedness. You have to deeply ponder on this with intuition, in order to get it. Limited form seeks, by its own innate nature, unlimited Knowing and unlimited Being. Limited self naturally seeks Unlimited Whole Self. Limited mind naturally seeks unlimited Whole Mind. Yet, in balance to this, The Unlimited Whole Being-Self-Mind seeks to know itself in pluralistic limited parts. Unlimited Whole Mind, or say God-Spirit, seeks to know itself in limited ways. It seeks to focus on more specifics and detail. Unlimited Whole Being-Spirit seeks to manifest in smaller portions, in limited parts. The Unlimited Spirit is seeking to manifest as the limited; while the limited form is seeking to realize the Whole Unlimited Spirit.
So the human being arises, who is able to know and manifest various limited portions of each Divine Quality. This gives rise to incredible variations or possibilities of diverse colorations of human manifestation.
Spirit is the inner consciousness of Matter, and Matter is the outer embodiment of Spirit. One without the other is like a man without a woman. And love is involved here, because Spirit and Matter are actually in love. They are actually in a greater Reality of Love. They are actually the two polar sides of Being, Reality, Existence. Spirit is the inner, the hidden, the subjective, the consciousness. Matter is the outer, the manifest, the objective, the embodiment. These have an essential and necessary relationship, and each are equal in value. Yet so many people have taken sides throughout history, religion and philosophy; they have taken sides about which one is better and more supreme than the other. On one hand, the religionists, spiritualists, and mentalists have placed supreme importance on Spirit while degrading the value of Matter. On the other hand, materialists, physical scientists, and existential atheists have placed supreme importance on Matter while denying the existence of Spirit. Each of these positions are radically wrong and prejudice in respect to the other. Spirit and Matter have equal significance and are necessary related. Certain ancient beliefs knew this; they believed in a Great Father Spirit and a Great Mother Matter. These are the two sources of ourselves, Father Spirit and Mother Matter, the inner consciousness and outer manifestation. Give thanks to both; worship both. Life comes from both Spirit and Matter.
Without Matter, life cannot be; and without Spirit, life cannot be. Ponder on that. So we are a synthesis of Spirit and Matter. And at this point we must bring in the notion of soul, for this is what lives between Spirit and Matter. The soul reflects Spirit like the moon reflects the sun, and the soul acquires experience from living in Matter. The soul is also an intermediate between Spirit and Matter, in that the soul receives inspiration from Spirit and then manifests this through Matter. Now because of this, some have figured that Spirit is more important than Matter; but Spirit without Matter would be like an idea without a means to express it. Surely, an idea and its medium of expression are both equally important. The former would lack any means of embodiment, and the latter would lack an inspiring idea.
Spirit is hidden in Matter, but Matter lacks consciousness of its Spirit. This begets the universe of duality. Matter is actually the beginning of Spirit expressing itself, yet Matter at first lacks consciousness and intelligence of this. So the two poles of Reality are related, rather than strictly opposing as some earlier theologies believed. Spirit is an inner, hidden urge in Matter to become conscious and intelligent. This is the esoteric secret. Matter is actually a womb for Spirit to emerge. There is intelligence in Matter, but it begins as latent before it gradually unfolds through Matter. As Spirit, being consciousness and intelligence, gradually emerges from Matter, this is evolution. Matter is becoming conscious and intelligent; this is the evolutionary process. And humans mark an important milestone in this process, though not all who appear as human really are at that level.
The deeper that Spirit or a soul goes into matter, the deeper it can become hidden and even forget itself. Yet the deeper into matter, the more possibility for gradual spiritualization of matter. The very purpose here is to spiritualize matter, evolving matter into ever-finer beauty or intelligent form. Spiritualizing matter is also a process of spiritual intelligence and beauty emerging from the inner potentials of Matter. For remember that Spirit is hidden within Matter, and thus it is always seeking to unfold or grow out of Matter. These are not really two different process, but rather the same. The seeming difference is just due to the respective perspective. So from one perspective, Spirit is spiritualizing and refining Matter. From the other perspective, Spirit is already within Matter as its inherent Potential, and thus Spirit emerges from Matter. One can find these two perspectives in the history of spiritual metaphysics and theology, but paradoxically they are both equally valid descriptions.
Matter and Spirit
Matter is God/Spirit but in definite form. Most often, matter-atoms-body is asleep (unconscious). Matter become awake is consciousness. It is the actualized consciousness of matter, from the potential consciousness of matter. Consciousness is matter awake. So I-matter am now awakening, now being conscious. This is God Spirit, awakening from matter asleep. Then, the greater the body consciousness, the more harmonious and perfect the body manifestation.
In other terms, Nature-Intelligence is slowly at-work in process, but it can work unconsciously, repetitively, automatically, habitually. But when there are sparks of consciousness in this Nature, there are often transformative evolutionary leaps. Consciousness creates the leaps out from automatic repetition. So Nature-Intelligence (usually asleep and functioning automatically) can awaken, be conscious, and consciously manifest.
Spirit is another name for Presence. Spirit, Presence, is made of Light. It is Light, and this is essentially Consciousness. So we can also understand Spirit or Presence as Consciousness. This is not merely our own individual consciousness; rather, it is the Greater Consciousness in which we are living. All space around us is pervaded with this Greater Consciousness. In other words, Spirit is the Greater Consciousness all around us, pervasive in the space around us and also through us. The portion that is in and through us is known as our own individual consciousness.
We can understand Spirit as an underlaying dimension in this physical existence.
The material view of existence sees only the physical, material world, and this is all that is real. This is the world of the five senses. It is a beautiful, magnificent world. Yet there is more to the world, more to our existence, than just this. Spirit is that added dimension, or better described as the inner dimension, which is only knowable through inner senses of mind and heart. (the mind and heart senses can be added to our five senses to make a total of seven). Spirit is knowable through mind and heart.
Physical science does not recognize Spirit and it is not accepted in its theories, but this is understandable since science is just studying physical material existence. Any spiritual teaching, or spiritual science as it were, recognizes Spirit as essential in the full description of Existence. Spirit is what distinguishes spiritual beliefs from reductive physicalism – (reductive, meaning that nothing more than just physical properties are believed to be real). There are, by the way, some spiritual teachings which are spiritually reductive – meaning that only Spirit really exists, and matter is merely a secondary phenomena of Spirit-Energy.
In this presented metaphysics, any reduction of matter to Spirit, or vice versa, is avoided. Instead, both dimensions are accepted as being Real and also having their own primary, intrinsic value. But this is not a merely a Dualistic understanding, because the two dimensions are intrinsically related.
In spiritual science the ultimate source of the material world is Spirit, which is spiritual energy or consciousness energy or divine energy. Thus, Spirit has an efficacious relation to the material world. If there were no efficacious relation, or some kind of causal relation, then Spirit would not actually matter at all – it would have an insignificance to this physical world. Spiritual causality in the physical world is not at all obvious, which is another reason why modern science is skeptical about it. Modern science seems to do fairly well explaining all causality in this existence by just physical forces and relations; so their point is that any supposition about spiritual energies or Spirit is simply unnecessary and would have no significance. The causal efficacy of Spirit is not obvious; rather, it is subtle and hidden. Some can see the Spirit at work, but most cannot. Where one can most directly realize Spirit at work is right in one’s own self. This is the most direct way to know the working of Spirit; though one has to be somewhat open-minded to the perception. Also, physical beings do have a relational connection to the Spiritual; for instance, as physical beings we have some capacity to realize Spirit and relate with it. So there is a relational connection between the Spiritual and the physical.
But now, in reciprocation, is the physical causally efficacious in relation to the Spiritual? Even the efficacious power of Spirit working through the physical world is somewhat dependent on the physical conditions in which the Spirit works. So, the power and presence of Spirit is somewhat dependent on the conditions and capacities of the physical locality (or the state of the body, bodies). In fact, the physical acts as a kind of container for Spiritual energy (Spirit), whereby the degree of Spirit possibly manifesting depends on the development of that container or that local area. Spirit is partly responsible for the development of this container, but the container itself is also partly responsible, and the spiritual efficacy will depend partly on what happens and develops in the physical realm – developments and occurrences which are not absolutely controlled by the spiritual power itself – in other words, relative freedom exists in the physical realm.
God as having two fundamental poles
God has many aspects. The most fundamental aspect is God as Creator-Power. God Creates this universe and sustains it. But from a higher understanding, we do not see God as doing all this from some place distant from here. Rather, the universe and the world of life is the physical manifestation of God’s evolving expression of Itself. This world that we know, including our own self, is part of this evolving-through-time expression-manifestation of God. We ARE the Divine Self in its evolving expression. Life all around us, including ourselves, are the evolving manifestations of God. Each being, each life, is somewhere along this evolving continuum. Some are closer to the beginner’s stage, and some are at a more advanced stage. We look around the world and see quite a mix, from the beginners to the more advanced-mature.
So we can understand God as having two fundamental poles. One is being the Eternal Originator-Creator-Source, and the other pole is being the Expression-in-progress. Know that you and everyone is the Divine Expression in-progress. And please don’t make the mistake of thinking that everyone is evolving towards the same form of expression. This would be a wrong view. There is no singular expression that the Divine is aiming for. Rather, the Divine is in progress towards manifesting through innumerable diversity. As well, but greatly unrealized, the Divine Self is in an creative adventure.
Inner and Outer aspects of the One
First understand there is only One Being. Everything and everyone is this One Being, because there is no other, or at least understand that everything is in the One Being. Everything, everyone is God, and God is all there is. For convenience we can give this a name, such as God, Allah, Brahman, Great Spirit, or we just say the One Being.
This One Being has an Inner and Outer aspect. There is a duality in this distinction, but the Unity is not lost. For example, gold has an inner aspect, which is its composition, its atoms and electrons, etc,; but gold also has an outer aspect, which is how it looks and how it physically is in the world. I have an inner aspect, which is my subjective mind and how I inwardly feel, and I also have an outer aspect, which is how I appear to others and my actions in the world. Everything has an inner and outer aspect. This is simply the way Reality is. We also call this the subjective and objective aspects.
The Inner (subjective) aspect of the One Being is Consciousness, Experience. It is also Beingness independent of expression; that is, before expression there are the inner potentials of Being. This is an understanding about God, yet also ourselves. The Outer (objective) aspect of the One Being is the manifest universe, the world, and the expressions in it. This would also include the differences in our world, so that the outer aspect of God includes plurality, differences, and diversity. The Innerness of God is an undivided singular Consciousness-Beingness. Yet the Outerness of God is pluralistic, relatively divided, and expressively diverse. The Innerness of God is Mind Itself, and it’s transcendental in and through all forms and all activity. The Outerness of God is Manifestation (or we say, The World), which is all outer phenomena, which are outer expressions of God-Beingness.
An important qualification, though, is that the Outerness, the manifest world, is a world becoming. It is a becoming of Being. In other words, it’s a process of Divine unfoldment, so we should not make any conclusion that the world in this moment is complete or perfect, since it is really a becoming. That is, the Divine expression is still working its way out. It’s still evolving. It’s still in process.
The Divine Qualities are actually powers. For example, in the Quality of Beauty has the power to evoke aesthetic enjoyment. This is different from thinking of beauty as a content-something, like something you can see. One does not really see beauty, nor grab it; rather one realizes this power is an attribute of something perceived. It is a power, not a something. Love is like this as well. It is not a something; rather it is a divine power expressing through people, a power that moves others and changes the world. Beauty also moves others and changes the world.
Goodness in things or events is like this as well. The goodness itself is not a thing, nor is it any particular content; instead, goodness is a certain kind of power, a power/quality, that can make people and the world better. When a positive effect is found, we know that a goodness power/quality is somewhere causing this. Now back to love, we also find that love is an ability. So love can be either a power or ability. It is a power when care is brought to others or when others feel a heart attraction. This is one mode of love. But it can also be an ability found in a person, an ability to love others. So in one mode we are moved by this power of love, and in another mode we have the ability of love to move others.
Finally, let us bring in wisdom as an example. Wisdom is an ability to know or realize truth. Intelligence is a similar concept. Wisdom and intelligence are not things, like something one could picture in the mind. Instead, wisdom is an ability. So when one finds that wisdom came to them, this means that the ability called wisdom suddenly came alive. Now you can see or know what you previously did not; because your innate spiritual ability of wisdom awakened from its slumber. The wisdom was not a something that came down into you; though poetically we might call it the rain or fruit of wisdom. Rather, what ‘came down’ was an awakening of an ability to know truth – that to which you previously were blind.
To summarize, this has been a short discourse on divine qualities as powers and abilities, which will require further pondering to understand it better. What about peace? This is a certain power of a person or event, which evokes what we call peace. Where does a feeling of peace come from? It comes from a divine power/quality of peace. What about patience? This is an ability/quality. It is an ability given from the divine potential, which can be a very useful ability in our lives. The complement of patience is perseverance. Both are needed together. And both are divine abilities/qualities.
Divine Qualities are also abilities, as in the ability to know truth which is the Quality of Wisdom or Intelligence.
Wholeness is greater than the sum of its parts; for wholeness has more to it than the sum of its separate parts. Unity is greater than the sum of diversity. Thus, wholeness and unity are transcendent in relation to the parts. The Source of Light is transcendent in relation to its radiance and effects. Likewise, God as Wholeness and Source, is transcendental to the creation; even though God is nonetheless in creation and creation in God. Furthermore in this meta-logic, the qualities of God are in creation, except for the qualities of God’s transcendental Majesty. The Qualities of Majesty are those which can never be found in any particular being of creation, but only in the transcendental Wholeness, the Absolute Unity and Source. Qualities of Majesty are, for example, the Absolute, the Wholeness, the Unity, the Source. Though one can logically notice that any of these can be relativised, in order to be qualities of creation. For instance, there are whole things or whole systems or whole beings, within the Absolute Total Whole. As well, there are unities and sources of life, all within the Greater Absolute Unity and Source.
God, Essence and Attributes
In mystical Islam the Divine Being, which we can call God, has the name of Allah, but the sound of Hu is also referring to The Divine. Allah and Hu are not two different Gods, obviously, but they refer to different aspects of the One Being. Understanding this will also shed light on two different meanings of God. Allah refers to the Divine Who realizes His/Her own Attributes and is actively emanating these into the manifesting world of form and persons. So to Allah one can pray or ask for love, healing, guidance, help, etc. and we can say that Allah is Power, Love, Wisdom. This is the more used meaning of God, in Christian terms as well.
Yet the mystics also say and practice with Hu, which is the Divine as simply Essence. What Essence means is God-Beingness in Just Itself, without any distinctive Attributes. In a sense, this could be called the abstract meaning of God, but this Essence is Real and not merely a nominal abstraction in our intellect. Hu Essence is the Absolute Transcendental Being, without Attributes or prior to Attributes. In using the word prior we must carefully note that this is not about time, but about Ontology or Dimension. The Divine Essence is before Attributes arise into distinction. This is the Absolute Essence from which Attributes emerge. Also note that the Divine Essence, however Transcendental, is nonetheless emanating and pervading our world, our lives; so transcendental doesn’t necessarily mean outside of immanent manifestation.
Hu Essence is also understood as the Divine Presence, which is pervading our hearts and our world, yet the Hu-Presence is beyond or prior to attributes. This Presence is from where all Goodness comes. Presence and Essence are the same, so it is true to say that Presence is how we describe the Divine Essence pervading our lives and this world. Then from this Essence, Qualities of Goodness emerge. Hu is the sound of this Presence, or the pervading Essence, in its most pure formlessness. But then, when we experience a particular Quality of Divine Presence, such as Love, we can say that this Love is a Quality of Allah, a Gift of Allah, or we could also say that this is the Presence of Love, or it is how the Presence-Essence emerges into experience and manifestation. Consider the meaning of all this and how it is experienced.
Vedanta Hinduism also makes a distinction between God-Essence and God with Attributes. Brahman, best understood as the One Universal Self, has no Attributes in its Pure Self, though all Attributes and even all forms emerge from Brahman, because Brahman IS the origin and Essence-Spirit of all things. There really IS only Brahman, the One Self, which is God, so we are all none other than THIS. Brahman can be understood as Transcendental, yet IT is also pervading all existence. And according to the Yogi mystics, IT is not beyond experience. For to be fully experiencing THIS, is enlightenment. Brahman is also fundamentally the same as Purusha, because both names mean Universal Consciousness, Pure Spirit, or Self-Essence. This is the Omnipresent Ground of Being, and the Essence of all Existence. Remember that Hinduism encompasses and accepts many Names for the Divine, and also different narratives describing Truth, but this doesn’t simply mean that these are different Deities.
God with Attributes, on the other hand, would usually be called Ishvara, because Ishvara is the kind of God that one can talk to and listen to, and experience a personal relationship with. Ishvara is has Power, Love, and Wisdom. So Ishvara has the same meaning as Allah, while Brahman and Purusha are essentially the same as Hu. Ishvara is known as the Supreme, Who loves, guides and protects His/Her devotees (Ishvara is really beyond gender distinction). Then of course there are many other Divine Powers within the diversity of Hinduism.
Remember that Hinduism is more of an overall acceptance of religious diversity, rather than being a singularly focused religion where followers all worship a vast plurality of deities. Most Hindus have one particular Name or Image or Deity, as their most significant personal connection with the Divine, but they can also accept and celebrate a larger diversity of other Deities/Powers Who might be more significant to other people. So it’s more like an acceptance and respect of diverse perspectives and visions regarding Spiritual Reality.
Personifications of God
Theological views about God often vary between two extremes, and then there is a debate between these two extremes, as though there were no reconciling alternatives. An example of one of these extremes is the overly personified image of God, whereby God is portrayed or described with human like attributes, though with super human powers. Even if these attributes are recognized as metaphors, the images still have an efficacy in thought and there is still an assumption that God is merely like an extra super version of the human being. On the opposite extreme is the absolutely, abstract, and totally impersonal view of God, which denies any attributes at all and, moreover, even claims that all descriptions and conceptions of God should be abandoned. So in the extreme of God personified, there seems to be too much human projection and theological naivety. But in the other extreme of God Abstract, there seems to be such a thinning out of description that God turns out to be such an abstraction that there is nothing there to have a relationship with.
Yet, there is an answer in the middle of these extremes, which is that God-Being does have qualities, which we as human beings can relate to and even understand somewhat in ourselves; but that all images and specific personifications of God are relativistic, culturalistic, creative projections of the human imagination. This middle view denies the naivety of the personified notion of God, but also rejects the completely impersonal, abstract notion of God. Instead, God is known to have fundamental Qualities, such as love, intelligence, consciousness, creative power, peace, and caring.
Having said this, there is a kind of beauty in the various personifications of God, those images or those beings who represent God, or at least an aspect of the Total God. Hinduism is especially fond of the many images of gods and goddesses. Besides beauty, these gods and goddesses also have a capacity for relationship. A completely abstract God is hard to love and relate to, while these image-rich gods/goddesses are much easier to love, worship and relate to. So they provide devotees with beauty and divine relationship. Few devotees actually believe that any one of these is the Supreme and Absolute God, yet each God or goddess is nonetheless revered or even worshipped as being Divine, at least as an aspect or quality of the absolute Divine Being Itself.
Each personificated god/goddess possesses true divine qualities, and each has its own unique emphasis. Yet these forms are ultimately human conceptions. They are visions of the Absolute Divine Being, with emphasis on certain qualities and powers. The vision is seeing a certain aspect or quality of the One Total Being, and the visionary’s imagination is providing the form, the image, the look, the clothes, etc. How the vision or image is, of the divine being, depends on the clothes and also behavior of that particular culture, and it also depends on our human perspective about life.
So it might then be argued that this distinct god or goddess does not really exist independently but instead is merely a creation of human imagination or cultural imagination. The right answer to this is nuanced. There is a true divine quality or power, of the One Being, which is being envisioned and imaginatively portrayed. The truth of this quality or power is independent of the visionary, but the portrayed form of this is dependent on the visionary’s imagination which is influenced by their culture and the needs of the time. But then, one might ask, why did the visionary seer actually perceive this aspect of the Divine in this particular way? Why did the visionary dream come in this particular form? It is partly due to the cultural collective mind at that time, but also partly due to how the Universal Creative Mind imagines its own Self. For we must also remember that the Absolute Divine Power, the Source of all imaginations and creations, is certainly influential in how Itself appears to the finite human imagination. Ponder on this.
God, Allah, Brahman, the One,
made Itself manifest and expressive,
made Itself plural and diversified.
The One Brahman Conscious Self manifests,
expresses, and diversifies pluralistically.
This universe, this world, this life IS the One Self.
All forms of life, therefore, are the One Self.
Yet this is not simple pantheism. Each form of life IS Brahman, God; just as each piece of gold is none other than Gold, and each bucket of water is none other than Water. Each life, each part, contains God Essence. Each is an emanation from the One Self. But no single piece of the whole is the Whole Itself, and any particular individual is not exactly identical with God Brahman Itself. Even the sum total of all manifest forms is not the sum completeness of God. We have to be cautious so that language does not confuse the real meaning of this understanding. The emanations, manifestations, expressions of God, as we find in this pluralistic diverse world, are containing God Essence, but are not God-essence Itself.
The One Being-Essence pluralizes and diversifies. It manifests pluralistically as different forms, all interacting in some way. The Essence lives in each of these diverse forms, but the Essence Itself is never limited. Imagine water spreading in many directions and being contained in many forms or places. The water is all over the place and is in many limited forms, but water itself is still the same, just is as it is. Thus, God-Essence is always One, God Consciousness is always One. Pluralism and diversity does not change that. Changes in life does not alter God-Essence. The various forms of Essence do change, but Essence Itself does not. The manifest world changes, but Essence does not. The manifest world is made of God-Essence, and this Essence is inherent in all forms. Yet forms change, while God-Essence remains what it always IS – eternal, conscious, loving, and powerfully creative.
Thus, full REALITY is sort of a duality; for there is Formless Essence and there are forms, God and universe, Pure Being and Its creative expressions. Yet this is not really a dualism, because all that is manifest is an emanation of Essence-God, such that God is the very substance of all life. As well, these distinctions, as between Essence and form, involves necessary relationship. All of life is filled with God, since God is the true innermost substance of all life, and each individual of life is in necessary relationship with the One, with God. Now from God’s View, there is undivided Unity. But from the limited view of individuals, dividedness and separations seem to be real. From here, the path to the Real is first by way of relationship – relationship between others in the world, and relationship with the One Itself.
Relationship with God
Relationship with God, Brahman, the Divine Absolute, does involve some sense of separation. People’s usual spiritual view is separative in some manner. But this is alright, as long as there is heart-mind relationship involved. Relationship experience is dualistic because there is seeker and sought, I and Beloved, individual and Whole. There is a separativeness in these relationships, but it’s not an absolute separateness with absolute distinctions. Thus separative experience can still be a profoundly spiritual, but only if there is conscious relationship involved, because relationship is connective. And in this connective relationship there can be a play of separation and mergence. It’s like two lovers in a dance, which moves back and forth between seeing one another’s beauty and then embracing towards union. In one moment you are experiencing the beauty of the Other, which you could only do in this separative mode of perceiving; and then in another moment you embrace towards mergence, towards union. This is the relationship dance of love between devotee and the Beloved.
Another reason for relationship experience is that each of us is only an individualized microcosm of the Macrocosmic Self. A microcosmic individual may indeed have all of the Macrocosmic qualities inherent within, but it still not the complete Whole Macrocosm. So one aspect of relationship experience with the Divine is this humble realization that I am not Totally God, which brings us back to a humility of being as a child of God, or in some sense as a servant of God, or we can think of our self as a part in relation to the Total Whole, or as a divine micro in relation to the Divine Macro.
After a loving relationship is realized between self and God, the next step is realization of God Unity by a complete cessation of all separation. This next step is more mystical. For instead of God being thought of a distinct from oneself and from this world, as if God were Other, the realized Mystic experiences God all around and within everyone and everything, including oneself. God is here, as it were. So in this mystical experience, separation and distinction ceases between God and self, God and world. God is right here, right in this world and right through one’s experience. Speaking about this might make it sound apparently separative, but this is just because of the limitations of language. God as separate from oneself ceases. And oneself also ceases. So even the sense of relationship ceases. The mystic then looses himself completely in God-Being, so that right here and now is only God. But this is a rarified mode of experience; usually the relationship experience will come back, and that’s quite alright. Even the greatest mystics seem to vacillate between a completely non-dualistic mystical experience and a relationship experience with the Divine Absolute.
The Divine Love Compassion is continuous and everpresent. It’s like a reservoir that is always full and ready to give, yet from a dimension just beyond the world we usually know. We just have to be open to it. It doesn’t hold back. Rather, we often hold it back by our negativity, doubts, and trivial preoccupations. It can work through us without our knowledge, but then we are merely lucky when it happens. It is better to contact and consciously open to this Divine Benevolence, rather than wait and rely on it happening through our subconscious. For with conscious and intentional contemplation, we can directly connect with this Divine Source. Then we are building a direct relationship with the Divine Source, and the Divine can directly work through us.
This belief in the Divine is different from a belief that God is like a King who decides to give to this person but not to that person, or that God is deciding when to give and when not to give. Those believing in the everpresent and continuously giving God do not believe in a God who holds back. We just believe that the Divine is always in a mode of radiant benevolence and giving, and that it is up to us to successfully make the contact, make the opening, and enter into a receptive relationship with the Divine Source. God’s Will is continuously loving and compassionate, healing and enlightening. We do not believe it is God’s Will that some good happens to one person, while another gets smashed with troubles. It is not God who is deciding and making these differences in goodness; rather, we and our social and physical environment are the factors.
When one is connected or in relationship with the infinite Source of Love-Compassion, one is naturally radiant with open-ended generosity. When one experiences a continuous overflowing from Divine Love, One naturally overflows this Love to everyone else.
God is the Supreme Power behind creation. Because of this, some call God the Ruler. Ishvara is also known as the Ruler. But we need to be careful about assuming too much in this; for God is not an absolutely Controlling Ruler. Instead, God the Supreme Power is Guiding. This is different from absolute Ruling. God is not an absolute Ruler, controlling and dictating everything. But God is Guiding, which means God is Influential. Now, we are not God and can never be God, in the sense of being the Universal Ruler; and nor are we like God in the sense of being the Supreme Universal Guide or Influence. Yet, we can be like God in a limited sense of being guiding or influential to others and the world. We can be guides and good influences to others. So in this sense, we are limited microcosms of the Supreme, with even the Divine Attribute of Creative Influence. We are even sometimes rulers in some areas of our little lives.
Consider about God. There is a life-essence in all living things. What is this? We can simply call it the life essence, necessary in all living things. So we who live, all of us, must have a living essence. And this life-essence would be at the very deepness of our livingness. So consider what this is. Experience what this is, this life essence, this life vital. This is God. Of course it is. So discover this life, and you discover God. Yet a mistake would be to conclude that God is no more than this. This kind of philosophy is the mistake of many; that God is one essence and this only. It is true that God is life, life itself, the life essence. So discover God this way. This is very direct and very profound. Sufis call this al-Hah? Say, God is this life, God is my life. Related to this is God as the living breath of life. I breathe in life. Consider this. Meditate on this. I breathe in life. It is so close to us. This life is God. The essence I breathe in is Life, is God. God is my life. These are profound truths, and these are profound practices. But also remember that each truth about God is only a particular aspect of God. Overall, we hope to consider and work with all the many aspects of God, including life, consciousness, love, wisdom, beauty, and creative power.
To most modern western philosophers ‘life’ is simply an abstract concept or generality of actual particulars. There are real particular living beings, but life is simply a word used to speak about all of these lives. So if you were to ask where is life, there would not be just a single place to point; and even if one could put all of the living beings of the universe in one place you still could not point to all of these and say that this is ‘life’. You could say that these are examples or particulars of life, but not even the sum of all particular lives means exactly the same as the concept ‘life’. Plato grappled with this issue, but most modern philosophers see this as just an issue of language and description.
Yet a metaphysical question about life cannot so simply be answered. For what if there is a real life essence? Then life, or this life essence, is a hypostasis reality, a level of reality that transcends the sum of particulars; though particulars are derived from this essence, reflect properties of this essence, and concretely exemplify this essence. This is how spiritual philosophy understands life essence – that it is real; just as gravity is real, or just as love is real, though no one can directly point at it and say that’s it. Yet we can find examples of it, or examples of its effect.
So first we will declare that there is a real life essence. Modern science argues against this metaphysic for three main reasons. One is that no one has found a way to capture the essence in a controlled environment or test tube. Two is that no one has found a way to verify it, if it cannot be captured. And three is that modern biological theories do not find any need for this life essence in order to explain how living things function, survive and evolve. So modern science has not disproven life essence, but it has declared that life essence is an unverifiable metaphysic and unnecessary in modern explanations. We make no argument against this, but instead reserve that right for a later time. At this time, our intention is to describe the life essence and elaborate on its meaning. Proofs may or may not come later.
First, besides what has already been stated and hinted at, the life essence is what keeps living things alive. It is the Source and Sustainer of all living beings. Each living being holds some of the life essence, though of course not all of it, and this is what makes the being alive. All particular lives are derived from this essence, reflect properties of this essence, and concretely exemplify this essence. Any this life essence can increase or decrease in any particular being. For human beings, certain efforts and decisions can play a part in this increase or decrease; that is, we have a possibility to affect this increase or decrease.
Second, the life essence is not merely an energy. It is an energy and is very often experienced as an energy, but it is not just an energy. For example, with various breathing practices and moving practices it is possible to increase the life essence inside oneself, where upon one may experience more energy. In addition, an increase in life essence will produce objectively measurable increases in health, well-being, and overall energy. So life essence is often simply spoken as life energy, and energy is certainly one of its main properties. Yet it is not merely an energy. It is also a Being. In fact, it is The Being. As such, this life essence is also a conscious energy, which is why life has consciousness. Life has experience. All living beings have experience. All living beings have some consciousness.
Now let us jump to a mystical religious view of Life, or life essence. We can call the Being of Life ‘God’; meaning that the Life Essence is God. In other words, God is Life. This Life Essence, from which we came and of which sustains us, is none other than God. Life is God. But remember that we are not speaking merely about an inanimate energy; on the contrary we are speaking about the most animate energy of all – the most animate and the most conscious. God is the Life-Essence, or simply called Life. Now this is not just meant to be understood intellectually. You have to go out and experience it, or go in and experience it. Find God by finding Life. Find the Essence of Life, the Life-Essence. And it is not just an energy. It is a Conscious Being. Life is a Conscious Being. The Life-Essence is a Conscious Being, which is God. THIS is what is really animating you and all living beings. It is the God-Life. God is the Spirit of Life, what gives Life. Partake of God, partake of Life. This was the message of Jesus. It is what is given to us, it is what we are, this God, this Life.
Now make a practice to experience this Life Essence, God. Find it, experience it, and be consciously in it.
The Divine Contrast: JUSTICE AND MERCY
Let us now consider two great Divine Attributes, Justice and Mercy. These have been called the Divine Contrast, and they are fundamental poles in the original Cabala. First thinking about these in a philosophical way, they represent two fundamental beliefs about God, and sometimes these beliefs seem in contrast.
God as Justice means that the Power of God manifests in our world as Laws. Since these Laws are immanent and pervasive throughout the world, they have been called Natural Laws, though in modern times we usually mean only physical Laws by this term. However, these Divine Laws are more than just physical laws, as in the theoretical scientific laws of nature. Divine Laws primarily concern ethics, but we should also include in this Laws of thought, which have been termed metaphysical laws, and also include Laws of learning, and Laws of action-reaction.
How Justice comes into this, is that the Divine Power (or Attribute) of Justice either rewards us positively for following the Laws well or, conversely, it scolds us negatively for not following the Laws well. In other words, Justice reflects back to us what we have either positively earned or negatively deserved. Also, this is an impartial power, in that everyone is treated fairly by Justice, so that it only gives out what people deserve, whether nice or not. You do bad, then bad will come back. You think bad, then bad will come back. You have positive thoughts and faith, then good will come back. The world responds correspondingly to how one treats the world. That’s how it is, in nut shell. In eastern philosophy this is simply known as karma. While in western monotheism, this Law of Justice was personified as God’s Judgment after death. The mistake of an overly simplified belief in karma, though, will be covered later on.
The other Divine Attribute is Mercy. This is the Power of God to grant forgiveness of our sins and to heal our sicknesses. Mercy is a redemptive power of Love, forgiving the sinful and healing the sick. This Power of Mercy contrasts Justice, in that Mercy seems to forgive and absolve what Justice might otherwise decree to us. Everyone seems to make mistakes and also sin – when we define sin as hurting others, even if non-physically, or as not acting sufficiently to help those who might need our help. Everyone knows negative and worry thoughts; though masters have eliminated such un-needed and un-helpful thoughts. So how would anyone ever get out of this stuff, if karmic justice always sent us reactions to this? If there were only the Power of Justice at work, then we couldn’t really get out of the hole we have dug ourselves in. Thus, praise to the Divine Mercy; for Mercy is like having a very loving Friend who comes around ever so often to help us out of some difficult situation. We cannot simply rely on this Mercy; but when it occurs there is much to be thankful for.
So, Mercy bails us out of what we might be stuck in if only Justice were to rule. This is why in some older systems of thought, Justice was the stern Father, while Mercy was the kind Mother. Justice is a kind of even-handed you get what you deserve. But Mercy takes us higher than we would normally have any right to. Yet without Mercy, there would be no Evolution towards Divine Perfection. Mercy is that great aspect of the Divine which emanates Divinity Itself, with all of Its Ideal Qualities, so that we have some potential to realize and actualize the Divine through ourselves and into manifestation. Mercy is God’s Generous Love. Mercy is how Love makes Itself immanent in the world. Mercy is God’s Emanation of Herself, such that we can realize Her and become as She is.
But of course, Justice is all around as well. And we should simply think of Justice as a negative, nor fear Justice. In fact, the Way of the Masters is to embrace and work wisely with Justice. This is wise cooperation with Justice is accomplished by intentionally working with the Laws of thought and manifestation. The Masters control thoughts, like a charioteer controls the reins of its horses, and they know that all positive thoughts bring forth positive results. They uphold and live by the highest ethics, knowing the joy of living good and doing good. Do unto others as you would want others to do unto you. They understand the Laws of learning; that we only learn if we are open to learn from, and we can learn from every moment and every circumstance and every challenge. And the Masters understand the Laws of action-reaction; that whatever kind of action we make, in relation to others, will probably come back to us in a like manner. But sometimes not; that is, sometimes one produces negative actions but doesn’t receive any immediate flack. Well, maybe this is because the other person is practicing their own mastery of self-action or expressing the Divine Mercy.
Now briefly, how can Justice and Mercy work together? Mercy heals or absolves negative burdens of Justice (karma). And when a person expresses Mercy, those expressed to are blessed with this change of the otherwise negative fate. An example would be when one person expresses anger at another, while the other responds back with loving Mercy. This is a change in karma: for both persons! So we might see how karma can be healed by acts of Mercy. Moreover, the Laws of Justice can affect the Power of Mercy. This can be seen when someone intentionally changes a negative thought into a positive thought,1 which then results [by the Thought Laws of Justice] in positive outer effects. Then, more possibility for Mercy is available. This is subtle to realize. It might be easier to view it all backwards, as it were. Here we go. Divine Mercy is available, and divine Mercy happens, even when Justice would otherwise demand no rightful reward. However, Mercy is more available if and when the person is more receptive to it. So this receptive condition, in contrast to a non-receptive blocked out condition, will make Mercy more easily available. Thus, Mercy more easily comes to us when we are in a receptive and positive faithful condition, in relation to it. And this is how the Laws of Justice actively relate to Mercy. Blessed Be.
Metaphysics and theology
Let us not get into an either or thinking.
There are not just 2 alternatives: God (in some envisioned manner) and science.
Neither is it between : God Power or not. divine power does not have to be absolute. It is merely influential , and exists among other various existential factors .
It is just guiding but not controlling.
The Divine Trinity2 could be understood as Will, Consciousness, and Intelligence. Manifestation would be a fourth aspect of Divinity. The Primal Divine Power is the Will-to-create; more specifically, it is the Will towards creative order. Consciousness is not just the capacity to know or to experience, but also the direct knowing of Being Qualities – fundamentally, Love and Wisdom. Thus, it can be called the Love-Wisdom Consciousness. Divine Intelligence is the capacity to know Principles of Truth and develop Processes for successful and sustainable manifestation (or creative order). So all in this trinity are necessary. There must be an initial Power of Will. Additionally, there must be Consciousness of Being. And as well, there must be Intelligence, in order to accomplish original creation and further creative processes.
The Divine Breath
The Divine Breath is the Holy Spirit, which moves through life and the world, but only by conscious breath can this be realized and purposefully applied. This Breath is the movement of Divine Life, making possible divine life on earth. As when one receives divine inspiration [of the Breath], there is then possibility for divine expiration [of the Breath] or divine expression. One of the messages of Jesus was to know yourself as a real divine Child of God, for each life is the divine child – (hoping to not be killed or imprisoned by worldly powers) – And feel perfectly fine to be blessed by all of God’s Abundance of Treasure and to consciously breathe in all that one needs for a healthy and wonderful life. So the Christ Child is the one (or any-one) who realizes the inherent God-divinity and can consciously breathe Holy Spirit (Divine Breath) – allowing in the divine inspiration and then expressing it out. Thus, the Christ Child is the one who the Divine Breath moves through – that is, the living vehicle and expression for this Breath, the Divine Spirit immanent. God is the Absolute Source and Substance of the living Divine Breath/Spirit and the Divine Child. God is the Spiritual Substance of the Breath moving through this world, and also the Real Self incarnating and manifesting.
"I am a hole in a flute through which the Breath of Christ comes through..."
This can go along with what I just said. The Breath of Christ is the Divine Holy Spirit Breath as breathed in and out by the Christ – (Who is the Soul of our soul; or Who is our real inner Spiritual Being). Now, when the Breath of Christ comes through, we are spiritually inspired and filled with Love, forgiveness and service. I think that Hafiz was poetically expressing what was moving through him – a very deep feeling of Love – as the Breath of Christ coming through him – and also that he is being inspired to express spiritual poetry as the expression of this Breath. ‘I am a hole through which….” reminds us that being empty and allowing are necessary for this Breath of Love to come through into expression [through that instrument]. In addition, forgiveness requires a letting go, which is somewhat like being a hole or emptiness, and not holding on to grievances or whatever.
At this point one of my disciples asks, “But I still have flatulence. Does this defile Divine Breath? I say, “Good question, hummingbird.” Everything that comes out from us may not all smell like roses, but the heart of good intentions and the breath of Hope is always a wonderful beauty.
And as you mention (from your perspective) – there is no above and below. Yes. Thankyou. For that is important to remember. Though there is truth in the above and below – for example, the heart is above the solar plexus and sexual zones; and there is a sense in my experience of Light coming down from above. And there is a sense of floating higher into higher levels when one lets go of weights and attachments of the material world [below me].
But the below-higher is mostly just a model. The inner-outer model is closer to the Reality. So where is one resurrecting to? Is it upward or inward? And where from is the Breath? Is it from out there, or is it from in here?
God is in you and comes from within you. But also God comes to you from outside, because God is also all around you. Both is true. But we probably only notice one perspective at a time.
extra notes: should also add about karma as another kind of causation, and explain it without the usual separative sense but rather show inter relational karma.
Also there should be a place for arguments against usual karma thinking (law of karmic justice) just as I have arguments against the God done it cliche.
1The usual kinds of negative thoughts are either obsessive worry about negative occurrences, or negative thoughts or negative judgments about others (as in negatively categorizing them). Note also that ‘negative judgment’ is a generalization. It is one thing to judge a specific act or performance as pos or neg or somewhere between; but it is different to generalize or categorize.
2Which was labeled by the Church theologians as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.