Sometimes I feel that, if I don’t spend some time of a day reflecting on God, I’ll burst. And today is such a day.
There is no forgetting God. The Father has built a longing for liberation into us that will not allow us to forget him for long. (1) No matter what we fasten onto, no matter what addiction we escape into, no matter what routine we bury ourselves in, sooner or later the desire arises for more.
Nothing satisfies us for long. Absolutely nothing. Not cruises, climbing a mountain, starting a new relationship, coming into wealth – nothing.
Except God. God is all that can fill that longing. I think I must be hit by the longing at this moment and the only way to satisfy it is to think and speak of God.
God is all there is. He dreams and the world arises. He dreams and beings come into existence. I personally love listening to the sages describe God.
Here is Pseudo-Dionysius, a Greek Christian living in the late 5th and early 6th centuries. His enlightenment is one of the highest I know of and his poetic exposition of the nondualist point of view has always thrilled many.
“The Cause of all is above all and is not inexistent, lifeless, speechless, mindless. It is not a material body, and hence has neither shape nor form, quality, quantity, or weight. It is not in any place and can neither be seen nor touched. It is neither perceived nor is it perceptible.
“It suffers neither disorder nor disturbance and is overwhelmed by no earthly passion. It is not powerless and subject to the disturbances caused by sense perception. It endures no deprivation of light. It passes through no change, decay, division, loss, no ebb and flow, nothing of which the senses may be aware. None of all this can either be identified with it nor attributed to it.” (2)
Is not, is neither, endures none of this, can be identified with none of that. Not, none, neither: the via negativa or way of negation. All that we can say of God is what he/she/it is not.
God is both beyond the material domain and the source of it. Moreover everything material is, in a manner of speaking, made from God. Krishna pointed to the mystery of how God could be everything and yet remain nothing.
“This entire universe is pervaded by me, in that eternal form of mine which is not manifest to the senses. Although I am not within any creature, all creatures exist within me. I do not mean that they exist within me physically. That is my divine mystery. You must try to understand its nature. My Being sustains all creatures and brings them to birth, but has no physical contact with them.” (3)
Of everything that exists, and I’m speaking from the relative level, only God is non-physical. That includes the God in us, which is the soul, which the Mother coats in matter lending form and substance to the soul much as we clothe the body.
Jesus said that I am in the Father and the Father is in me and the Father is greater than I. What difference is there between that saying and what Krishna says here: “Although I am not within any creature, all creatures exist within me.”
One could say, well, no, the soul exists within the creature. Yes and no. Only in a manner of speaking. The soul is conceived of as existing within the creature and yet it does not. It’s not material and so has no physical location. It would be more accurate to say that the creature exists within the soul because the soul, which is one with everything, also includes everything that is. That is why sages say to us, as God in Heavenletter did recently, that “I am” is everything, that each of us is everything.
“What is Eternity? You are. What is Infinity? You are. What is Vastness? You are. What is everything? It is you. You are It. Anywhere you look, it is you. Anywhere you don’t look, it is also you. There is nothing in Creation that is not you.” (4)
The problem we encounter, which leads to so many paradoxical sayings, is that we constantly compare apples and oranges. Souls are spiritual; bodies are material. They cannot be compared. Even to say “souls” is a paradox because there is really only one Soul.
We cannot take one step in this realm without tripping over our feet and yet nothing is more fun to speak of than these spiritual verities.
We look from our vantage point and remake God in our own image. We use our senses and so recast God in the metaphors of the sense. And to a certain extent we get away with it because God is also the senses and what is sensed. We know only other people so we make God a person. Whatever is highest in our hearts, minds, and imaginations we make an attribute of God.
But God is so far higher than our hearts, minds and imaginations can reach (right now) that we fail, fall short, never succeed. But then in the next moment, we pick ourselves up and try again. Estimating God, appreciating God is something we never tire of. Does anyone ever ask why?
When we say God is not, we’re really thinking of God in his/her/its original transcendent being. But God is not only transcendent (the Father); God is also phenomenal (the Mother); and God is also immanent (the Self, Child, Christ or Soul).
There is nothing God is and nothing God is not. How else could it be with something … errr, nothing … that is everything?
Every master has tried his or her hand at describing God, probably for the sheer enjoyment of it, not because they think they’ll succeed. No one ever has succeeded.
And so here is Sri Aurobindo’s try, probably one of many. Each master tries to fail better than the last. Take a deep breath because Sri Aurobindo has a wonderfully long attention span.
“That into which we merge ourselves in the cosmic consciousness is Satchidananda [Awareness, Existence, Bliss Absolute].
“It is one eternal Existence that we … are, one eternal Consciousness which sees its own works in us and others, one eternal Will or Force of that Consciousness which displays itself in infinite workings, one eternal Delight which has the joy of itself and all its workings, — itself stable, immutable, timeless, spaceless, supreme and itself still in the infinity of its workings, not changed by their variations, not broken up by their multiplicity, not increased or decreased by their ebbings and flowings in the seas of Time and Space, not confused by their apparent contrarieties or limited by their divinely-willed limitations.
“Satchidananda is the unity of the many-sidedness of manifested things, the eternal harmony of all their variations and oppositions, the infinite perfection which justifies their limitations and is the goal of their imperfections.” (5)
No via negativa here. Strictly via positiva. Affirming what he thinks God is or knows God to be from his enlightenment.
OK, someone tell me to stop because I could go on and on describing the indescribable, wafted on the wings of love, discussing my favorite theme.
That is indeed my fix for the day. Nothing rewards a person more than paying a little attention, whenever the unscratchable itch arises, to the one thing … or no thing … that will never go away, never let us forget, never stop singing to us through everything around us and everything within us – God.
(1) See “The Longing for Liberation” at http://goldenageofgaia.com/spiritual-essays/the-longing-for-liberation/.
(2) Pseudo-Dionysius in Cohn Luibheid, trans., Pseudo-Dionysus, His Complete Works. New York and Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1989, 141.
(3) Sri Krishna in Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, trans., Bhagavad-Gita. The Song of God. New York and Scarborough: New American Library, 1972; c1944, 80.
(4)”Eternity and Inifinity,” at http://goldenageofgaia.com/2013/09/eternity-infinity/.
(5) Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1983, 395.