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(Diversity: The Divine Manifestation)

          If God in Her original state is viewed as a singularity where all opposition merges into a oneness of being; then, creation can be seen as the manifestation of that singularity into a reality. Thus, in a sense, the Creator is one with the creation. If the Essence of God is all that is, then all that is, is a manifestation of that Essence. It takes the diversity of the universe, the complexity of the cosmos, and the diversity of life to manifest the complexity of the Force from which it proceeds.

          If we can see the paradox to the Divine, we will have no problem recognizing that not only man is in the Image of God, but all of the Creation represents the Image of a God which transcends form or image. Reality then becomes, our individual conscious 'perception of the Eternal Being from which we come. We become aware of God by experiencing what is of God in our miracle of being. God is reflected in the stars and planets. She is part of the forces that drive the galaxies. The smallest quark and the largest black hole are visions of the same singularity, which make them possible. The fundamental Forces, which make up the universe, are manifestations of the power of Being. Liquid, gases, matter, and all which proceeds from them (which includes all life) become one with that which makes them possible.

          We cannot behold God in His singularity; but She does become visible in our experience of Her in reality. In the Diversity of Creation we can see the complexity of the Divine, and in doing such all that is of God's Hand becomes SACRED. When we begin to see the sacredness of what "is", we will truly be worthy of anything that may transcend it. If we were to recognize creation as being of God, then we would realize that what we do to that creation (be it the environment or each other) are in fact what we are proclaiming to God.

          We search our theologies for miracles to prove God's existence. Yet, the biggest miracle which is ever present with us is often ignored - that being, the miracle of reality itself. To phrase it in the question of philosophers, one which has driven the science of physics: 'Why is there something instead of nothing?' No matter what our answer to that question, the existence of reality is more profound than any supernatural event recorded in all our sacred text. Not even the resurrection of Jesus supersedes the miracle of something coming from nothing. The parting of the Red Sea is nothing compared to a universe that continues to expand into nothingness to this day. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah are paltry alongside an erupting or exploding star. And what are legions of angles next to the numerous galaxies that span billions of light years across the heavens.

          In the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas, Jesus tells us:

His disciples asked him: "When will begin the repose of the dead? And, when will the new world appear?" Jesus answered, "THE SANCTUARY YOU EXPECT IS HERE, ALTHOUGH YOU CANNOT RECOGNIZE IT."

(logion 51)

His disciples questioned: "When will the kingdom come?" Jesus answered, "It will never come if you are expecting it. Nobody will say 'look here' or 'look there'. YET THE KINGDOM OF THE FATHER IS SPREAD THROUGHOUT THE EARTH AND NO MAN SEES IT.

(logion 113)

 

          Our religions are filling us with a desire for more; often, at the expense of an appreciation for what is. Ministers speak of a KINGDOM TO COME with little regard for the Kingdom already upon us. Western Theology has so concerned itself with God in the transcendent; it fails to promote Her in the reality around us. We have sacred words, sacred books, and sacred places; but that which is most sacred of all, the creation of which we are part, is declared merely a testing ground over which we claim dominion.

          Psalm 139 tells us:

     Where can I escape from Thy Spirit (Oh God)?

Where can I hide from Thy Presence?

     If I climb to heaven, Thou art there;

If I make my bed in Sheol, again I find Thee.

     If I take flight to the frontiers of the morning,

or dwell at the limit of the Western Sea,

even there Thy hand will meet me and Thy

right hand will hold me fast.

     If I say, "Surely darkness will steal over me,

      night will close around me," darkness is no

darkness for Thee and light is as luminous

as day.

      TO THEE BOTH DARK AND LIGHT ARE ONE.

(VERSES 7-12)

 

David's heart was telling him, there is no escaping God. The miracle of God's presence stems from the farthest reaches of the heavens into the bowls of the earth itself. It spans the largest galaxies to the smallest of particles. In God, light and darkness are one - for God is the singularity from which they proceed.

 

          While many often chose to ignore the sacredness of the Divine in the Diversity of that which is around us, others have come to see it quite readily. While Europe and its Christian theology forced itself upon the Native peoples of America, they missed the golden opportunity to learn and grow in their own faith. The Native Peoples saw the sacredness to the earth, and it was an intricate part of their religious beliefs, one that was woven into the fabric of their everyday lives.

          Our material quest has caused us to remove from reality our spiritual evolution. We talk of morals and values, but they become empty words, for, according to so much of our theology the world itself has only limited value in our religious belief structures. Many find themselves looking forward to the jeweled walls and golden streets of the heaven in Revelation; missing, the sacredness of a rose or the treasure of the bee which pollinates it.

          Religious emphasis on the supernatural and the spiritual aspect of the Divine also helps to feed a belief structure where God is actually viewed on a much different plane of existence than we ourselves exist. This has the effect of blinding us to the reality of Her Presence in the people and things around us. Such attitudes can often be used to justify the mistreatment of people because they are seen as heathens or living under the direction of the devil. These views also allow us to approach aspects of the creation we find distasteful (such as, snakes or wolves) as being evil - giving us a right to eliminate them. Often these attitudes are carried to extremes, and that which merely inconveniences us is seen as evil; thus, we become justified in ridding ourselves of it. Such attitudes allow us to view those things, which differ from ourselves as odd or crazy at best, and perverse or evil at worst. All of this feeds the intolerance and indifference, which is becoming all the more pronounced in our world.

          While no Christian religion would preach such directly, the psychological suggestion which is planted in the minds of so many believers, is that the earth is some type of game board where God tests us and the devil challenges Her for the prize of our souls. Salvation rests outside us in the Blood of our Savior. Mortality becomes inferior to immortality. The great hope, which is offered, is beyond life, in death - in the destruction of what is and the creation of a "new Earth." But the real psychological danger of many of our present doctrines is that they deter us from looking for God in the beauty and glory of everything that is around us. They often impede our ability to see the potential, both spiritually and socially, which could be gained from mutual respect of our differences and acceptability of our diversity. Too many of our religious beliefs tend to stagnate one’s growth because of their reluctance to entertain the new, the different, and the unusual. They offer us "Projection" and scapegoats by justifying the persecution of that which differs from us, under the pretense, that it is evil and not of God. We pick and choose what we deem to be sacred and everything else becomes ours for the taking, or, to be declared evil and not of God.

          But peoples, such as the keepers of this land before the Christian/European influence, saw the presence of the Great Spirit, or the Creative Force, in everything that surrounded them. They realized that diversity itself was the sacred - that nothing exists solely for itself.

          D.H.Lawrence, speaking of Native Americans of the Southwest, explains:

It was a vast old religion, greater than anything we know; more darkly And nakedly religious. There is no God, no conception of God. ALL IS GOD. But it is not the pantheism we are accustomed to, which expresses itself as "God is everywhere, God is everything." In this Indian religion everything is alive, not supernaturally but naturally alive.

(D.H. Lawrence, THE VAST OLD RELIGION Of TAOS, 1936)

(Quoted by: Jamake Highwater, THE PRIMAL KIND, l98l,p82)

 

Joseph Campbell tells us in "The Power Of Myth":

When you see that God is the creation, and that you are a creature, you realize that God is within you, and in the man or woman with whom you are talking, as well. So there is a realization of the two aspects of the one Divinity.

 

And this is the way Native peoples viewed all things. Diversity was for them, different aspects of the same Divine. This Creative Force was an intricate part of every man, woman and child; of every plant, animal and rock; of every form of energy of which they were aware. Often this very Essence sacrificed itself in order that other things may live, such as, in an animal giving up its life in the hunt to supply food to the tribe. In short, these people viewed the transcendent Essence of God in the totality of the earth itself.

While I stood there, I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I say: for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes, as they must live together like one being.

(John G. Neihardt, BLACK ELK SPEAKS, University of Nebraska Press, cl979)

 

          While we can accept a concept of God sacrificing himself upon a cross, the native peoples realized that God sacrificed himself in the buffalo, the corn, the land and all that sustains our lives. Maybe the whole metaphor of the "Body and Blood of Christ" refers to the constant sacrifice the Creator makes for the creation. God's participation in our world is not a one-time event that took place on Calvary; it is an ongoing process by which time continues to exist in eternity.

 

          Such vision, as that of Black Elk is common among aborigines’ peoples. Needless to say, our world could benefit greatly from incorporating such a view of God's Image into the theologies that ignore or deny the connection of the Creator to the creation. Our preoccupation with heaven and hell and our eternal salvation can cause us to loose sight of the Creator's Presence in the creation. But common sense should tell us: what right do we have to a heaven, when we abuse the earth? What kind of selfishness motivates us to look for more from God, when, She has already given us the splendors of this world and the life to appreciate it? In the Gospel passage quoted on page 70 of this text, Jesus tells us that 'not a sparrow can fall to the ground that the Creator doesn't notice.' Is that consistent with a portrait of a Creator who is indifferent to the treatment of Her creation?

          There is nothing wrong with belief in eternal life, or a heaven. But when that faith causes us to take the world around us for granted, then, it is ignoring that this creation is the work of what we call the Creator! So many of our religious songs, rituals, and Sacred writings give praise to the Creator for His creation; but they become empty words indeed, when we abuse, desecrate, and foul our earth for profit and convenience.

          So often theology, and many of the religions based upon it, concentrates their effort on the God of a spiritual realm - a realm that is apart from the realities of our everyday life. Progress and profit have become the fixation of the everyday reality. God as a caring Creator does not fit well into a philosophy that is driven by profit; so, we remove Her to the supernatural; thus, we eliminate any practical use of religious ideals in terms of solving our real life problems. There is little in our Western theology to help us act with any spiritual ethic in matters of environment, conservation, or acceptance of social responsibilities for others - and many existing Christian sects demonstrate this sad point. We have reduced our actions to proclamations of faith; and reduced personal responsibility to the rhetoric of words; which is the psychological consequence of removing God from the diversity that is of Him. We eliminate the "taking up of our cross" by a belief structure that tells us that Jesus did that for us. A belief structure that replaces our actions with the writing of checks.

 

          Aside from the Native Americans, the concept of the oneness of God in all things is also prevalent in eastern revelation. Karen Armstrong in her HISTORY OF GOD conveys a parable from the Chandoga Upanishad:

A young man called Sretaketu had studied the Vedas for twelve years and was rather full of himself. His father, Uddalaka, asked him a question which he was unable to answer, and then proceeded to teach him a lesson about the fundamental truth of which be was entirely ignorant. He told his son to put a piece of salt into water and report back to him the following morning.

When his father asked him to produce the salt, Sretaketu could not find it because it had completely dissolved. Uddalaka began to question him:

"Would you please sip at this end? What is it like?" he said.

"Salt."

"Sip it in the middle. What is it like?"

"Salt."

"Sip it at the far end, What is it like?"

"Salt."

"Throw it away, and then come to me."

He did as he was told but [that did not stop the salt from] remaining the same. His father said to him: "My dear child, it is true that you cannot perceive 'Being' [in the Eastern ideal as the essence of all things] here, but it is equally true that it is here. This first essence - the whole universe has as its Self: that is the real: that is the self: that you are, Sretaketu.'

(p30)

 

In this parable, while one cannot see the salt, its presence is in every droplet of water. We know it is there because we experience it in the taste of the water, no matter what approach we might take in tasting it. By seeing the Divine in this manner, we quickly see the reality of the concept that God is part of us; as some theologians might explain it, we are temples of the Holy Spirit, a profound metaphor for the Divine Essence which gives us being.

          The Divine Salt is a part of us. But the concept transcends that - and the Divine Salt is all of its creation in the same way as the salt is part of the sea. If we were to separate the salt from the seawater, it is no longer seawater; but, something different that we know as freshwater. When we separate the creation from God we create an insurmountable contradiction, because, the creation could not be, for being flows from that from which it emanates. If God is the source of reality, She is also part of it, for all reality would proceed from His Being. The very fact that God created in such diversity could be construed as a manifestation of the complexity of the Creative Force. Removing God from reality could be one of the contributing reasons as to why we are so blind when we approach the temporal world around us. We see the creation, as we desire to see it; not, in the truth of which it exists - that is, in the Image of the God Who created it! We also see God, as we desire, not, in the truth manifested in the creation that is of Her.

 

          Armstrong goes on to explain that God cannot be reasoned, but can only be experienced, a point Carl Jung also emphasized. One does not detect the salt in seawater until they experience it in the taste or through some other sense. In the same manner, we will feel the oneness of God if we learn to see Him in all that is of Him. If we strive to see God in reality more than believing in Her in the supernatural, we will begin to move closer to God's Inspiration. When we seek to remove the Creator from any of the Creation, which many religions do, we lessen our ability to experience Her in that particular manifestation. The more we equate God with the diversity, which surrounds us; the more we are apt to experience Him.

          The paradox once again comes alive here. When we look to creation with an eye toward God, we find Him; and when we look for God with an eye turned toward creation, we once again find Her.

          The Buddhists express the same motif in another parable:

Legend tells of a net owned by the great God Indra. It was unique in that it was made of highly reflected gems, and the wonderful effect of this is that when one gazed at a single gem one could see at once that isolated stone in its beautiful particularity; and yet, reflected in it, the entire net.

(Douglas Fox, BUDDHISM, CHRISTIANITY AND THE FUTURE Of MAN. 1972, p48)

 

Part of the problem with seeing the Creator in the creation comes from some of our interpretations of Genesis. Unlike many other religions, Christianity sees us as having dominion over the earth, rather than, being a loving part of it. Such logic is based on the following Biblical verse:

And God said: "let us make man in Our Image, after Our Likeness, AND LET THEM HAVE DOMINION over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth.

(King James Version, Genesis 1:26)

But, as it has already been established, there is another creation account recorded in Genesis where it seems God does not give us dominion, but rather, makes us caretakers.

And the Lord God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden TO DRESS IT AND TO KEEP IT!

(King James Version, Genesis 2:15)

Viewing this with the knowledge of other religious cultures, this would seem the key to a basically responsible theology. We were put into God's world to help take care of it! We have the potential to add to the beauty of the earth and enhance the creation - if only we were to see it as the sacred garden that God planted.

          The concept of dominion over the earth is not only false, but defies logic. We cannot control the forces of nature. We are completely dependent upon the earth to survive. And any woodsman who has encountered a bear, or diver a shark, will quickly see the folly to our dominion over animals. The long and short of it is: we can protect ourselves, we can effect our surroundings, and we can shape things in our world better than most of the other animals - but we are a long way from having dominion over that which we are dependent upon. Dominion is a self-serving delusion. The Earth is what gives us life; we cannot live without it. But the natural order could continue long after we are gone - and this could hardly be called dominion!

          So by religiously seeing ourselves as protectors and keepers of earth, we go a long way in planting a psychological suggestion that could make us much more responsible to the world in which we live. It would also create a theological basis for a more active recognition of the Creator as reflected in Her creation. Accepting a greater responsibility becomes a way in which we can pay meaningful tribute to God as well as working to improve our own human condition. By recognizing the Creator in the reality of the diversity of Her creation, we add more incentive for acceptance of responsibility to take care of what we have been blessed with. God knows of the sparrow's fall because the sparrow is part of Him. She knows the number of hairs upon our head because we are a part of Him in the physical reality in which we exist. The world is important to God because in all its diversity it is of Him! Care of each other, care of our world, is caring for God in the only manner we can show love or concern for Her.

 

          We have a tendency to try to place things in categories of absolutes based on opposition. But the only thing that is absolute is the opposition - and reality becomes a blend and harmony of that opposition. The paradox is what is absolute and truth becomes a balance of the paradox, as we can best perceive it. The famous physicist Stephen Hawking tells us there is no such thing as absolute time:

Up to the beginning of this century people believed in an absolute time. That is, each event could be labeled by a number called "Time" in a unique way, and all good clocks would agree on the time interval between two events. However, the discovery that the speed of light appeared the same to every observer, no matter how he was moving, led to the theory of relativity - and in that ONE HAD TO ABANDON THE IDEA THAT THERE WAS A UNIQUE ABSOLUTE TIME. Instead, each observer would have his own measure of time as recorded by a clock that be carried; clocks carried by different observers would not necessarily agree. Thus, time became a more personal concept, relative to the observer who measured it.

(Stephen Hawking, A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME, 1988, p143)

 

If such a common shared experience as time cannot be declared in absolutes, how is it theologians seek to declare the Personage and Mind of God in terms of absolutes? The logic and folly behind such declared absolutes are self-evident, but the danger and consequence of their dogmatic truths are much subtler.

 

          In seeing diversity in the attributes of God, we are not only more apt to see His sacredness in our creation, but we also foster a sense of tolerance which is never possible in dogmatism. In the realization that God may choose to reveal Herself in different ways to different peoples, according to their needs and abilities to relate to Him, we actually can improve our knowledge of God by being able to share in another's experience of Her. We are also more likely to see possible mistakes in our own faith, which may be potentially harmful to others or ourselves. Diversity aids us in respecting the religious ideals of all faiths, not because every faith interprets their message correctly, but because every faith has its foundation in sacred revelations even when such revelation might be misused. This diversity of God's revelation will be considered in much more depth when we discuss sacred revelation.

 

          Theology cannot hope to explain the oneness of diversity any more than a good Christian could hope to explain the Trinity. But the Trinity can be used as the motif by which we can recognize the diversity of God. If we can look beyond the literal interpretation of that doctrine, we can see a much wider picture of God that is portrayed in it - a picture which fits with the religious observations of faiths worldwide.

          The Creator or Father is the paradox, the void as the Buddhist describe it. He is all opposition merged into one singularity; a phenomena that even the physicist can grasp. The Father represents Being itself, and from that, everything else proceeds. All exists because of Him, and She exists because of herself. It is male and female, yet not male and female. It "IS" and "IS NOT" - in a state of Being that is Being itself with no real explanation possible with our limited intellects and their perceptions. The arrogance of human beings that claim they can pronounce anything about the First aspect of this Trinity is pure foolishness. The most we can ever hope to convey is what we feel of it within ourselves, and what we experience of it in the creation of which She is a part!

          The Son becomes the creation itself; God manifested in reality. Jesus gave us a blueprint in the Gospels of how we as sons and daughters of God should live life in fulfillment. But this blueprint does not separate the Creator from the rest of Her creation, and it doesn't have to. If God can be three in one, God could also be all things in one. Christ is the symbol for God incarnate in His creation. "The Word became flesh" when something was begotten out of nothing. God's word IS the reality that exists throughout the cosmos. It is the symphony she has set in motion.

          The Holy Spirit is the power of God in all things. If the cosmos is the saltwater, the Spirit is the salt:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the SPIRIT of God moved upon the face of the waters.

(King James Version, Genesis 1:1)

 

    When we abuse others, when we neglect others; we abuse and neglect the Spirit of God. When we use or exploit the creation in arrogance and selfishness, we abuse and exploit the Spirit of God! The Spirit of God moved upon the void and created all that we can see and all that we cannot see. It is the Spirit of God that allows it to continue. We are all temples of the Holy Spirit, and the creation is more sacred than any of our sacred places or inspired words.

 

          The Divine paradox and God's diversity help us to make sense of a world that is full of opposition and pluralistic in our observation of reality. Concepts such as these help us to celebrate the wholeness of creation without crushing the individual differences within that wholeness.

          Seeing God in diversity prevents the theological mistake of pigeonholing God into a neat little package that excludes anything which doesn't fit.

          People need to be encouraged to experience God in the manner She chooses to reveal Himself to them. Our religious values must come to recognize this if religion is to serve the Will of God rather than the self-serving proclamations of men. It is time that our faith in God was used to unite us instead of divide us. Religion should be offering us useful ways to solve our social problems; instead of, making judgments and offering metaphysical justifications for them. Faith should make us more responsible in matters of environmental concern; instead of, being used as a sword to control and manipulate people. God's love is expressed in tolerance, brotherhood, peace, equality and diversity - not in war, bigotry, condemnation, rejection and dogma. Until our religious ideals can serve all men, they cannot truly serve God!

 NEXT CHAPTER -5-Love, The Divine Essence

 

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