Epilogue: Experiencing God

What is God? | Total Comments: 0 | Total Topics: 0

			It was not easy to think of a fitting conclusion to this portion of our project. God-talk, in the ‎rare times that it does happen in Jewish circles, tends to be heavy on the intellectual. We’ve ‎had enough intellectual God-talk in this project to satisfy all but the most intellectual of God-‎talkers. It’s time to get experiential. Let’s leave off the questions about who, what, where, ‎and why God is, and get down to the brass tacks of how to experience God. ‎
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Let us venture out beyond the normal bounds of rational inquiry. Let us drop standard ‎assumptions about the purely physical nature of the world and the purely chemical/electrical ‎nature of the mind. Let us assume that another dimension exists which is not purely physical. ‎Let us assume that a bridge exists between the physical and this other dimension upon which ‎the mind can travel. Suppose for a moment that the method to cross that bridge is with the ‎faculty of imagination. This does not mean that every time the imagination goes off one is ‎communicating with God. It simply means that there is a bridge between the two dimensions ‎and that the method to go from the physical to the other dimension is through the ‎imagination. It is a matter of going through the subtle and fine-tuned process of training the ‎imagination to reach its higher purpose. ‎
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This process should not be looked upon as an intellectual exercise. It is a process of the mind ‎that runs parallel to the intellectual but works by a completely different logic and ‎methodology. Instead of focusing the mind on a particular intellectual problem that one wants ‎to solve, it entails letting the mind go free to wherever it chooses. It is through the use of the ‎greatest tool the mind possesses – the will – that both processes take place. In the intellectual ‎pathways, the will restrains the mind from going off as it focuses the mind in a particular ‎direction. In the imaginative pathways it is just the opposite. The will must use its mysterious ‎power to allow the imagination the leeway to venture out, while maintaining enough control ‎over it to keep it from falling into the chasm of randomness. ‎
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Where does the imagination go? To the typical scientific type the question is silly – it does not ‎go anywhere. It just wanders around by subjecting itself to the random fluctuations of the ‎memory. But to those who are not bound by such rigid scientific dictates, the field is quite ‎open. Perhaps the imagination is a means to journey deeper into the mind to access areas that ‎are inaccessible under normal modes of consciousness. Or perhaps it goes elsewhere – outside ‎of the normal borders of the mind into that domain that cannot be defined by the usual ‎restrictions of time and space. For lack of a better term, we shall call this domain the ‘spiritual ‎universe’. ‎
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It is a universe that lacks many of the restrictions of the physical but retains some ties to it. ‎Even something as fundamental as time plays a peripheral role here, as many explorers of this ‎region can testify. This is a domain that lies parallel to the ‘normal’ universe of the physical, ‎overlapping it in many areas, but completely distinct in others. The spiritual is a world ‎awaiting discovery and the vehicle to get there is the imagination. ‎
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Using the imagination to access the spiritual is a daunting challenge. Focus too hard to control ‎it and one is merely thinking intellectually - a wonderful thing to do, but not the goal at hand. ‎Letting go too much and one is simply spacing out and not really going anywhere at all. ‎Accessing the spiritual through the imagination is more like walking a tightrope than crossing ‎a bridge. It is by walking across that tightrope that the mind experiences God. ‎
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The essence that we call God is more present in the spiritual than in the physical. In the ‎physical, God is so completely veiled as to be of debatable existence. In the spiritual this is ‎not the case. Those who are confident of their journeys in the spiritual realms, frequently find ‎the presence of a ‘source of being’ undeniable. They may also find that this reality carries over ‎into the physical and takes the form of a spiritual presence that permeates all. For those with ‎considerable experience in the spiritual dimension the debate on God’s existence is nothing ‎more than an intellectual sideline that makes good conversation but is of little real substance. ‎There is something ‘there’ - what we call it is immaterial. ‎
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How does one get ‘there’? To begin with, it is absolutely essential to create an environment ‎that is free of disturbance. No matter how much one is convinced of one’s ability to ‎multitask, it is of little value in genuine spirituality. The ultimate goal is the singular quest of ‎God-consciousness, in whatever form or image it takes. It is not a goal that can be achieved ‎while surfing the net. It requires purity of thought and a high degree of dedication to a ‎personal quest – qualities that are sorely lacking in today’s world. The gadgets must be turned ‎off. Even a thought in the back of the mind that some message must be read or sent is enough ‎to overwhelm any true sense of spirituality. There are no short-cuts on this quest. There is no ‎substitute for dedication of time and will, and complete devotion to the goal. ‎
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Once the proper environment is achieved, one must clear the mind of all distractions. This is a ‎standard feature of all meditation. In fact, it almost defines the meditative process. When this ‎has been accomplished to a satisfactory degree, one is ready for positive input from the mind. ‎The mind must send the imagination on its path. This is a matter of personal choice and each ‎person must be his or her own guide. The various images of God that have been discussed in ‎this project may be of help here, but they are no substitute for inner feelings. One’s own ‎religious or spiritual background will probably work better than something from a different ‎time, place, or culture. ‎
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As a possible image that may help in getting started, one may consider the ‘out there - in ‎there’ image that emerged towards the end of this project. We shall work with this image as a ‎model. There are three directions to go with this image, none of which is mutually exclusive ‎to the others. One direction is through sensing the presence of God in creation. Another is ‎through sensing the ‘essence’ of God – the Source of Being. The third is through the very ‎personal path of finding meaning and purpose. ‎
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The path of creation is the most familiar and should probably be tried first. This path uses the ‎fullness of the world - the vast panorama of everything that is - as a means to detect the ‎unifying force that binds it all together. One can use almost any combination of physical or ‎mental experiences to aid in this process, though some are more conducive than others. ‎Natural settings work best, preferably those that are free of distractions. Try to contemplate ‎the fullness of whatever setting you find yourself in – the forces of nature at work, the ‎various systems interacting with each other, the infinite processes taking place in all their ‎complexity and simplicity. ‎
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Gazing at the heavens evokes feelings of vastness, yet it brings that vastness right down to ‎earth. The sensations associated with darkness come into play – fear and awe, even fright of ‎the unknown. But these feelings are also part of the fullness of the universe. It is all there ‎awaiting our awareness and our acknowledgment of its vastness. It is our bridge to the ‎infinite, though in truth it is no more infinite than a blade of grass. They are both members of ‎the cast of the play called reality. We also play our part. We sense our vital role as those who ‎can animate the inanimate and give it the power to let its speech be heard and acknowledged. ‎The song of nature, and the even greater song of reality, is played by all. Permeating it all is ‎the unifying theme of subtle oneness that at sublime moments becomes revealed in the form ‎of glory. ‎
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This glory is God. It resides in the fullness of all creation. It cannot be detected by a machine, ‎but it fills the mind with wonder. It is tasted in the indefinable taste of water and felt in the ‎murkiness of fog. It infuses the fragrance of a flower and tunes the sound of the wind. It is ‎everywhere and everything. It passes between the continuity of moments of time and is the ‎energy that gives movement to all things. It is thought and emotion and the very sense of ‎awareness that one is part of it all. It is every note of the song and it is all the notes together. ‎It is God filling the world with godliness. The fullness of the world is God’s glory. ‎
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The Source of Being path is not as familiar. We readily accept that creation exists and that we ‎are part of it. We are not as prepared to disregard created reality and descend down to the ‎level of simply being. One route to this state is through journeying into the nebulous and ‎somewhat unsettling state of being known as ‘nothingness’. Nothingness is a state of mind ‎that is so contrary to what is deemed normal that upon first encounter it seems frightening. ‎But it allows the mind to zero in on its own essence, and to be temporarily free of the ‎limitations of the ego. ‎
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The Source of Being can be sensed through freeing the imagination from all personal desires ‎and experiences. What is left is only the awareness of being. ‘I exist’ – that is all. Nothingness ‎allows the imagination the freedom to discover that on the most basic level, there is only ‎Being. Everything else is superfluous. My own existence is a consequence of the reality of ‎Being. “I’ am a part of Being. ‘I’ am not distinct from Being. Experiencing such a state is to ‎experience God, for God is Being. ‎
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There is a third path to experience God. Thankfully, this path is much easier to access and ‎requires no extensive training in meditation or spiritual perception. It only requires an open ‎mind. This third path seeks to experience God through seeking out meaning and purpose in ‎life. Being as this is a crucial element of how God permeates all creation it is really just ‎another side to that path. But instead of looking at the vastness or wonder of creation, the ‎mind (imagination) is directed to one’s personal experience as a part of creation. ‎
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We all sense that we are the most important part of all creation. This is a natural feeling that ‎can only be overcome with great willpower. But this feeling is so fundamental to our being ‎that it must be there for a reason. In addition to using the will to overcome this feeling, we ‎can use the will to gain great spiritual insight from the feeling. That spiritual insight comes in ‎the form of sensing our purpose in life. It means the awareness that we matter, and that ‎everything experienced is one more purposeful event in our personal universe. ‎
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A chance encounter with another person is not just an accident. It is an integral part of ‎the purposeful journey of life. A deep relationship is an opportunity to experience the ‎godliness of another person on a parallel journey to your own. Together, two can climb to ‎heights that may have been inaccessible to one alone. The emotions of love and shared joy are ‎windows into the mind and experiences of another. What could be more meaningful than ‎feeling the love of someone else and reciprocating that feeling with one’s own love? Every ‎person one meets along the journey is another source of purpose in life - another opportunity ‎to give of one’s self and to grow from a fellow traveler. We are all here to experience a sense ‎of purposeful being. Each person is a unique road to God. ‎
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But other human beings are not the only path to meaning. The rest of the world, from living ‎things to rocks, from powerful energy to profound stillness, is pulsating with purpose. God ‎lurks in it all, even in the unseemly things. It is simply a matter of opening up one’s mind and ‎soul to all that exists and sensing that it is there for a reason. We all share in the amazing ‎journey of existence, the revelation of the mind of God as it is played out according to some ‎divine plan or some open-ended story. Everything that happens, every moment that passes, ‎every bit of space, is another part of the great unfolding of reality. ‎
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The world drips with purpose; it bursts with meaning. God created it all to let it experience ‎what it means to exist with purpose. Experiencing that purpose is the royal road to ‎experiencing God. God waits patiently for us to seek out that purpose and experience the ‎ultimate. It is entirely within our hands to begin the search, to set out on the quest. What are ‎we waiting for? ‎
		


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