Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Problem of God.

In the Judaic/Christian Bible, within the Book of Genesis, is the statement about the creation of mankind: " So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."

The reality here is more like the reverse; man created god in his own image. I realize that the Hindu Gods represent a variety of forms and meanings, but I know little of the gods of India, having my upbringing in Western Christianity. From an absolute standpoint there is only One, both our"selves" and God being lost in it's "isness".

From a relative standpoint, God is separate, yet we intellectually understand "he" is "our" "selves". Advaita would say, not two. From a relative standpoint, we can practice devotion. But we must always keep our hearts on the "pearl of great price"; that Oneness of the Absolute.

I recently read some advice that said that "householders" and "beginners" on the spiritual path should stick with Bhakti and the Gods, as non-dual, self inquiry was not for them. Those with true earnestness, regardless of position, station, or birth can engage both Jnana and Bhakti in this "search for God".

When I was a boy, I lived with my family halfway up a steep hill. Everyday I would walk home from school, and look up at that hill, and think how steep and far it was. One day, when walking home with my Brother, I mentioned how awful climbing that hill was, and he pointed out that we only lived halfway up the hill, and that every day he imagined he had to climb to the top. This caused him to double his effort, and he came to the house before he knew it! I found that this method worked for me too, not only on the hill, but in life and the spiritual search.

The realization of the Absolute seems like quite a struggle. Devotion to God is much easier by comparison. Our minds understand a "physical" God. Our minds understand "submission" to a "higher power". Yet our minds also understand the "I AM", and the concept of the Oneness of reality. Devotion to God, if complete and self sacrificing, will lead to the ultimate Truth. But it is the devotion that leads to the Truth, not God. For only if we recognize that there is something beyond, that requires devotion, because it IS Devotion, can we sustain ourselves until it is uncovered.

We must see and desire only the top of the hill, to muster sufficient effort to reach halfway.

When we lose our "selves" in devotion to God, we lose our "selves", and that is the point of worship; to lose the "self". This applies when we "lose ourselves" in helping others, or in silent meditation. But somewhere along the line, we need to reconcile the separation we create in the act of worship and devotion.

We need to understand that worship has to become, not just what we do, but what we ARE. Our substance is Love. We are created by it, sustained by it, and swim in a "sea" of it. Love, in it's universal and impersonal functioning, is the Absolute. Like the perpetual opening of a perpetual Rose, the manifestation, and it's underlying reality, unfold into the wonder of "life". Both our "selves" and God unfold in this wonder, but only arise when consciousness is aware of itself. Separation begins with the "I AM" when we mistake the "I" for the body/mind. But how do we reconcile this separation?

Bhakti; the devotion to God is the starting place. The devotional practice toward an "other" gets us to step out of our egocentric self long enough to become "empty". Emptiness of this kind attracts grace, and the emptiness becomes filled with Love.

This impersonal Love is the soil in which true Jnana grows. When the mind reaches it's limit at the "I AM", the question arises; why is there love and devotion for a God, an Absolute? And what draws those who seek beyond, some to extreme asceticism and struggle?

And in that struggle, the mind and Love itself, come together and you realize that God and yourself are flowing with the Love, not the other way round. The Love being the only reality. Love is the One. Tat Tvam Asi.

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