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How can I talk about God

3 November 2010

When I was a child I believed what I was told. Revelation was being told the truth about an Ultimate Reality that had already occurred. In terms of religious belief, I believed God had planned out the history of life from the beginning. Then God caused the prophets to experience something who then put that revelation into words and images and proclaimed it as the ultimate truth.

As a young person growing up in the church it was a bit like learning at school, it was rote learned. The Bible and Christian Doctrine was the final word on things and all we needed to do was learn what the bible taught as interpreted by the church.

Of more recent years, I have come to understand the contemplative/mystic tradition of both the east and the western thought, that sees revelation more as an experience in the moment, the divine ultimate reality revealed in the happenings of the present.

When I was child I wanted to grow up to have the knowledge and the wisdom those older and wiser than I contained. After all, they were always telling me “When you get to my age”!  The problem was, when I got to their age they were always older and still telling me something about “when you get to my age”!!!

So I would say that I have always been a seeker, seeking to acquire knowledge, insight, understanding.

About 4 years ago I had a catharsis. The outcome of that experience was to grow up! I stopped seeking. There wasn’t an ultimate truth that had been revealed for all time that anyone contained; what I was seeking was already unfolding within me, in my consciousness, what I needed to do was wake up, to grow up.

I thought I was on the quest for God. In waking up I have discovered that it is God, the presence I call God, that is the seeker. Life seeks itself, life discovers itself, life evolves itself and is continually coming into being in new forms. Life is being and being is revealed in me and in all manifest creatures.

When I was a child other people contained the truth; parents, adults, ministers. The ultimate truth that had been passed down to the prophets and apostles was passed down through the ages by the authority figures in my life. When I lost faith in the authority figures I went in search of God. I imagined God as a separate being, a greater authority and power. I had earthly parents, God was my heavenly father.

I would guess that there have been times when for many if not all of us that this God has vanished from our sight and we have had no image to cling to. This often happens at a time of great grief.  What happened for me when this absence occurred was to lose the idol of my worship and it wasn’t because anyone told me God didn’t exist anymore, no one told me that God wasn’t true. My experience and seeking for this other made this true. The other didn’t exist.

When Moses asked the mysterious presence for a name there wasn’t one. “I am who I am”. “I will be who I will be”. God is the nameless one, the presence, who will be in all things, in whom we live and move and have our being.

Science says that the universe as we know it probably has been in existence for around 17 Billion years. In this context how can we possibly talk about God as if life and its meaning revolve around the earth and our existence as human beings?

The Christian faith has largely been interpreted through the rational ego, making us homo sapiens the centre of cosmic events. Jesus’ life and teaching have been personalized to reinforce the human self as the centre of the universe and God’s concern, giving rise to dogmatic statements about ultimate truth. When looked at through the evolution of 17 Billion years, what sense does the death of Jesus for the redemption of our sin mean? The concept that we were made perfect and some how disobeyed God’s eternal plan that was formed from the beginning cannot be taken literally when reflected on in the history of the Galaxies and universe. What do my 70+years of existence mean in the face of billions of years of life’s evolution, the infinite dynamic energy?

For the contemplative or mystic, meaning is not found in the rational linear thought. There is no end point to which everything is aimed. Within Christianity the esoteric doesn’t see life pointed towards some final consummation called heaven, the resurrection of the dead, some Omega point. Life is alpha and omega together, dynamic energy in the constant rhythm of birth, death, resurrection as simultaneous experience, it is the way evolution works, coming and going, being born and dying, life in perpetual flow of which each form becomes a unique expression of the whole.

The Theologian and Philosopher, Paul Tillich, who uses the term when referring to God as “Ground of Being”, talks of life being the constant experience of separation and reunion. Life separates itself and then seeks itself and is reunited to itself to become the whole to which it belongs. In the process, new forms of being evolve.

Genesis can be read literally to an extent, not as seven 24 hour days, but as seven chapters of a book. Before life as we know it was, there was emptiness, but emptiness doesn’t mean nothing; emptiness should not be confused with nothingness. Emptiness is essence that is not attached to form, but is the space for form to take shape and life.

Using Tillich’s concept of separation and reunion, and a lose scientific exploration of the Genesis story we might say that life separated, a supa nova, primordial explosion occurs and star dust results. Gases, gravity, dynamic energy works to form from the dust earth. Star dust as separate elements, micro-cosoms seek life, seeks reunion in such a way as to evolve life in a variety of forms that we now experience in our solar system and earth. The earth was formless and void. We know the earth was covered by water, and out of this water came life in new forms.

Plant life, animal life comes into being, all from star dust! Animal life gives rise to other forms and eventually homo sapiens come into being. We too are from star dust. Our elements have their origin in that primordial explosion.

And there are period when creation rests. The rhythm of birth, life, death burial and resurrection or rebirth to newness of life makes absolute sense here. Burial is a rest, it is time for life to stop before launching again into its newness of life, its rebirth. It needs to rest in order to create. How much more wonderful and dynamic does the biblical account of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus become when viewed Cosmologically as part of evolution.

What the Genesis account also does in the Adam and Eve story is describe the evolution with homo sapiens, a few hundred thousand years ago, as the development of life to have the capacity for self reflection and conscious awareness.

Rather than being stuck in some static state (the unaware or unconscious self one with the elements) the self-experiences itself as separate, separate from others, separate from the ground of being. There is I and there is other. Each separate form is a different perspective of the whole, a unique expression of the one cosmos, a unique reflection of the Ultimate Reality and Divine Energy.

When I was a child, I thought like a child, spoke like a child, reasoned like a child. Now I am growing up and waking up!

How then can we speak of God?

A God I can describe, conceptualise, intellectualise, rationalise, can never be God. Concepts work in the realm of specific time and space. Ultimate Presence is not subject to the limits or confined to time and space. Ultimate presence participates in and also transcends.

God, the ground of being, is, in my limited awareness, the infinite dynamic energy of life itself – Ultimate presence
always creating
always evolving
always one in unique forms
always life, past present and future.

Life seeks itself, which is a rhythm expressed in every form. Life in me seeks life in you; God in me seeks God in you, life seeking itself, coming to awareness in all forms of life.

Awaken to a new perspective. Emptiness is form – an eternal/infinite dynamic energy in which all things live and move and have their being, in which all things are a unique expression of the one life; In the rhythm of birth, life, death, burial and resurrection, the Cosmos in motion.

Peace be with you

Greg

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