Who or What is "God"? (The Real and the Phony)
The LiveReal Quiz. Can You Take It?
article by LiveReal Agent Thomas
Who, or What, is "God"?
If, as Orwell said, "We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men" - then let's try to be, well, intelligent about this.
Meaning, let's try to state the "obvious."
Before we start arguing and debating, contemplating and seeking, praying to and pleading with, let's get as clear as we can: what, exactly are we talking about?
What, in all the fog and frenzy around this little three-letter word, is real?
Phase I of our mission: simple data-gathering. Our task here is to exhaustively collect into one place all the various candidates that have been proposed as answers to the basic question...
Who, or What, is "God"?
(multiple-choice format God )
A) A big, bearded authority figure (like the one in the picture below) who makes the rules.
B) A fantasy, illusion, imaginary idea, or wild concept that mankind created in their own ideal image and likeness, which helps them cope with a life of inevitable suffering and death.
C) Whatever It (or He, She, etc) is, It (He, She, etc) definitely has a sense of humor.
D) Something that people pray to when they get into trouble, and forget about shortly after.
E) A "Something" who created mankind in order to teach them a few lessons.
F) A word that refers to something mysterious, genuine and sacred.
G) "Something" that created the universe.
H) Thomas Aquinas: The unmoved mover, the uncaused causer.
I) "I don't know, never will know, and think I don't want to know. Do I know that for sure? No."
J) An absolute, infinite, eternal, transcendent, immanent, intelligent, omniscient, omnipotent, good, something.
K) Richard Rose: "A being we conjure up that surmounts all space and time, and then pretend to know on a first-name basis."
L) Something that seems to have been very active a long time ago (in the days of the burning bush, parting of the Dead Sea, etc), but more recently has stayed hidden.
M) J. B. S. Haldane: "He seems to have an inordinate fondness for beetles."
N) A name we give to anything we don't understand or to anything that feels more powerful than us.
O) A something that has many human characteristics: desires, emotions, pleasures, jealousies, dislikes, and so on . . . to the extent that it seems as though we basically create It/Him in our own image and likeness.
P) Job: Something that bargains for your soul, lets you go through utter hell, and if you endure and pass the test, gives you a lot of sheep and cattle and other things.
Q) A highly effective name to drop when trying to win an argument.
R) Something that has a will that we are supposed to figure out and follow.
S) An absolute state of non-duality which is the root of being, unknowable by the mind which cannot be captured by words.
T) "Love." (And what is "love"?)
U) T. S. Eliot: "The still point of the turning world."
V) Voltaire: "If God did not exist, it would have been necessary to invent Him."
W) Something that gives birth to us, and soon after, kills us.
X) Something that is, at various moments in history, angry, jealous, loving, threatening, forgiving, wrathful, comforting. intimidating, and confusing.
Y) A single actor who appears in many plays using a different stage name ("Allah", "Jehovah", "Tao", "The Void", "God", "The Absolute", etc).
Z) Something that enjoys praise and adoration.
AA) The answer to The Problem of Life. And, the one who created The Problem of Life.
BB) It is the Ultimate Advantage that each side of a war thinks is on their side.
CC) Something that created and gives us life, health, love, and sight, as well as death, disease, hate and blindness.
EE) Something that is "outside" and "transcendent to" the world.
FF) Something that is "inside" and "immanent in" the world.
GG) Something that makes some people blind, sick, maimed, and crippled, and occasionally takes credit for healing a few of them.
HH) H. L. Mencken: "A comedian whose audience is afraid to laugh."
II) Something that created only the good things, and created something else which created all the bad things.
JJ) Something which "saves" very few and "damns" many more. (Also, Walter Kauffman (quoted out of context): "Surely, he must have some weaknesses if he saves only those who eat his son."):
KK) Thomas Szasz: "If you talk to Him, you are praying; if He talks to you, you have schizophrenia."
LL) Pindar: "What is God? Everything."
MM) Something you are born knowing, but soon forget.
NN) Something you are born knowing nothing about, and must find.
OO) Something that can be known, found, or experienced after death.
PP) Something that can be known, found, or experienced during life - for example, in "spiritual enlightenment".
QQ) The guy who lit the fuse on the "Big Bang."
RR) The "something" that created the whole of the immensity of the universe, the incomprehensible origin beyond the most staggering reaches of the mortal imagination, the designer of the splendor and magnificence of all of creation, and is only able to communicate with humans through a book.
SS) Meister Eckhart: "Why, oh why, do you prate of God? Whatever you say about God is untrue."
UU) "God is sex, unconscious and buried in the body."
VV) The Force: "...is what gives a Jedi his power. It is an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together."
WW) Nyogen Senzaki: "You cannot see it with your eyes. You cannot hold it with your hands. You cannot smell it with your nose. You cannot hear it with your ears. You cannot taste it with your tongue. You cannot form it in your thoughts. Here it is!"
XX) Whatever It is, if you are in touch with It, you'll be happy; if you're not in touch with It, you'll be miserable.
YY) Alexander Pope: "Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of mankind is Man."
ZZ) Something that can be found by: chanting, lighting incense, praying, having sex, hugging, meditating, stretching, reading, being still, observing, worshipping, bowing, doing nothing, introspecting, immense effort, no effort, dying, sitting, being quiet, all of the above, none of the above, or various other methods.
AAA) Saint Augustine: A "circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere."
BBB) It is what is there when we - our "egos" - get out of the way.
CCC) Lee Lozowick: "The Divine is not meant to be discovered in heaven. If that were the case, we would be in heaven, not here."
DDD) Ananda K. Coomaraswamy: "...an incessant multiplication of the inexhaustible One and unification of the indefinitely Many. Such are the beginnings and endings of worlds and of individuals beings: expanded from a point without position or dimensions and a now without date or duration."
EEE) Meister Eckhart: "To get at the core of God at his greatest, one must first get into the core of himself at his least, for no one can know God who has not first known himself. Go to the depths of the soul, the secret place of the Most High, to the roots, to the heights: for all the God can do is focused there."
FFF) God is "IT".
GGG) The Old Testament: "I Am that I Am."
HHH) Something that must be known and understood in a very real way if we are to find any true happiness.
III) I don't know.
JJJ) Richard Rose: "We take too big a step when we conjure up a God that surmounts all time and space and then pretend to know Him on a first-name basis."
KKK) Ranier Maria Rilke: "My God is dark, like a knot with a hundred roots that drink in silence."
LLL) Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov: "We can sense the presence of God, but we cannot say who He is. Even the greatest initiates will not be able to tell you. And if you ask them, they will answer with silence, because only silence can express the essence of the Deity. Indeed, it is not enough to try and say everything God is, and to say what He is not is not enough either. To say He is love, wisdom, power, justice . . . is true, but these words overlook the divine reality, they say nothing about the infinity, the eternity and the perfection of God. We cannot know God by talking about Him or listening to others talk about Him. The only way of knowing Him is to enter deep within ourselves in order to reach the region of silence."
MMM) Simone Weil: "It is not for man to seek, or even to believe in, God. He only has to refuse his ultimate love to everything that is not God. This refusal does not presuppose any belief. It is enough to recognize what is obvious to any mind: that all the goods of this world, past, present, and future, real or imaginary, are finite and limited and radically incapable of satisfying the desire that perpetually burns within us for an infinite and perfect good."
NNN) None of the Above
OOO) All of the Above
PPP) Other _____________
What Is Your Answer? ________
When you finish your quiz, please pass your papers to the front.
This is a quiz that, whether you know it or not,
you're kind of already taking;
and you will probably be graded, but may not be;
we're not sure when or even if you'll ever find out what your grade is,
and we might know who will or won't be grading your papers,
- but then again, we may be wrong.
"You can never learn the answer;
you can only
become the answer."
- Richard Rose
Appendix: OK, so, who or what is "God"?
The above is "Phase I."
"Phase I" was scouring the world, looking under every rock, trying to find every single major definition, insight, comment, or relevant clue about the question that we could find.
It meant an investigation into the greatest minds and hearts that have ever lived, finding their best answer to the question that could fit in a small space (this is mandatory these days), and bring them together here, in one place.
That's Phase I.
Sorting through them all.
We're still working on that.
In the meantime, let's back up a minute, and ask a basic question:
Has everything that needs to be said about this question already been said?
Obviously, this question has been known breed just a tiny bit of debate every so often (sometimes resulting in arguments, fights, wars, and mass slaughter). In general, the way it usually works is...folks tend to form one kind of opinion or other, and divide up into camps, and go about their business generally pretty much thinking that their camp is right and most of the other camps are wrong.
These pseudo-intellectual debates between entrenched camps, where each side imagines that they have the right answer, and the other side is wrong, honestly, isn't really all that interesting to us. It's usually endless (it never gets resolved); it's pointless (no one ever winds up convincing anyone else of anything); it's tactless (it deals with such a sensitive, subjective, personal area that arguing about it rarely gets to the real point, and when it does, it's usually won only by the loudest, meanest, and most committed voice in the argument, not the one that's most right); so basically, while various trends become more or less fashionable from time to time . . . for the most part, - at least this debate in the public arena - is stale, dull, and unproductive.
But sometimes, it gets interesting: when somebody starts asking, "am I really in the right camp? Maybe I'm not. What do I really know, after all? What do I really know for sure? I mean, seriously - who, or what IS God, really?"
That's where things get interesting.
In this case, really sorting through the above ideas can be pretty fruitful. (And turbulent, for the individual person who is honestly sorting through them.)
But when someone does this, aren't they basically arguing with themselves in the same way the above camps are arguing with each other? Doesn't it always result in a stalemate?
Well, not necessarily. But how?
Well, if there is any real "answer" to this whole matter . . . the way we see it, it's just not going to be solved merely with the intellect alone, through rational argument, or through one person or group shoving their conclusion down everybody else's throat.
So the only way it will ever get resolved, for the individual who is wanting to figure it out, here, now?
Here's an answer we like:
"When you travel to the Celestial City,
carry no letter of introduction.
When you knock,
ask to see God -
none of his servants."
- Henry David Thoreau
- "Go there"? Go where?
Where is "there"? And how does anybody get there, if "there" is, in the end, real?
"In what concerns divine things,
belief is not appropriate.
Only certainty will do.
Anything less than certainty is unworthy of God."
- Simone Weil
Well, this is a pretty big cookie. After all, what we're talking about here is a resolution to the "God" question - if there is such a thing - and when it becomes a matter of truly resolving it (as opposed to just landing on a certain belief and digging in), what we're essentially talking about here is "spiritual enlightenment," or whatever words you'd want to use to describe it. And in these waters, the current can be deep and swift. Things can get pretty hairy, pretty fast. Buyers beware.
That said, here are a few things that have proven themselves helpful to us.
First of all, a good place to do some digging might be around the area of knowing yourself.
After all, if you don't really know yourself . . . how are you ever going to know "God"?
Plenty of people - from Jim Baker to Jimmy Swaggert to David Koresh to Osama bin Laden - thought they really knew and understood "God," inside and out. They "knew" the "answer." And they also really seemed to be pretty deluded, in our humble estimation. If they had focused less on "God" and more on understanding themselves, I think we'd all be a little better off.
But we've got to eat our own cooking - so, along the same line . . .
if you do think you've already found or already know "God" . . . how do you know that you aren't just fooling yourself?
"It is not enough
to explain that the finite mind
will never perceive the infinite,
we must prove
that the finite mind
can or cannot ever be less finite..."
- Richard Rose
- which brings us to our second suggestion, which lies in this very direction:
If you can't really know "God" until you know "who you are"...
- then this brings up the whole issue of "spiritual enlightenment"...
- which, if you're wanting to be really rigorous and scientific about this, means running some experiments of your own.
- and stay tuned
to the ongoing adventures
of your brave and hearty LiveReal Agents.