When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment is, his answer resonated with his audience of fellow first century Palestinian Jews, and it has since resonated with many other people of many other backgrounds.
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
That’s from Mark 12 in the NIV
In some other Gospels, some smart aleck then asks Jesus who his neighbor is, and Jesus famously replies with the story of the Good Samaritan.
The motion of wisdom is a dual-motion: inward to the Light within with a whole-being opening-to and embracing; outward to open to and embrace that same Light as It shines out of everything, including the core of each human conscious moment.
“God” is a word, a concept, a notion. God is both the One spiritual Reality that underlies, creates, sustains, and shines through all things AND the interconnected flowing-together of all created things. God is not an idea. Wiser ideas about God point with more poetic Truth towards God than less wise ideas do. Pointing better towards God is more helpful than pointing worse towards God: we are all fundamentally the same and can thus more clearly and profitably understand a good poem about being in love or a moment walking on the beach or the experience of holiness than we can clearly and profitably understand a poor poem about such fundamental existential aspects of human life. But in the end, all ideas and even all feelings about being in love or a moment on the seashore or connecting with God are just poems. They can help one get a sense of what to look for and what to expect; but only if one is at least wise enough to interpret them with a modicum of success. All good poems presuppose that human experience is fundamentally universal. A good poem about God works because everyone already has God shining through them, just as everyone has some inkling of what it would be like to be truly happy giving one’s full delighted devotion to someone who returned the favor, and just as everyone has some inkling of what it is like to breathe deep and feel the lull cradled within each moment.
We say “God is Love”; “God is Light”; “God is everything”; “God is What is”; “God is the underlying spiritual Reality shining through everything that is also everything, and everything runs together as one”
But what is God like? Does God have an individual presence as well as a universal one? Does God get angry? Is God lonely? Poetry about God becomes less effective when you try to hone in on such details. They aren’t the point. They aren’t helpful in the work of orientating one to better and better organize one’s feeling/thinking/acting around the Light within. And that is the point of spiritual poetry.
Still, I wonder about the last of those questions. Is God lonely? God is an infinite explosion of joyfully selfless infinitely overabundant giving/cherishing/compassionating/uplifting. That is to say: God is Pure Love. Human love contains within it a wound for the loved one. One needs to love and be loved by one’s loved ones. Maybe enlightened humans no longer have such a need for a reciprocative tenderness within love, but most of us aren’t like that. So don’t we most of us need God to be wounded for us to feel loved by God? Does God then cut Godself with a wound for each sentient moment so that those sentient moments can feel loved by God in a way that makes sense to them? Or are our spiritual cores arranged in such a fashion that we can feel loved by God without God hurting for need of us?
Is such speculation helpful or harmful? I am lonely, that doesn’t make God lonely.
Mostly in spiritual poetry, one gets the sense that God is enough for Godself, that God is life overflowing, that God is pure joy. Could God be all that and yet choose to suffer along with us? Would God do that just so we — at least in our non-enlightened states — could more meaningfully feel God’s love and more meaningfully connect to God? Or could this suffering-along-with go deeper than that? Is there of necessity suffering within compassion? And does God feel compassion for us, not just to be nice to us, but because God is Love and Love is compassionate?
But is Pure Love compassionate? Or is it only human love that reaches its apogee in compassion? If God is all there is, what does God need to feel compassion for? There’s nothing outside God.
I fear we are wandering too far afield. God is Pure Love. We can experience God more and more by better and better loving the Light within with our whole being and recognizing and fully embracing the Light shining out of everyone else. We can experience better and better God by getting better and better at organizing our feeling/thinking/acting around the Holiness within that alone Knows that and in what way it is True to say, “We are all in this together.” We can experience God better and better by better and better pursuing the universal values: aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, compassionate, loving-kind, joyfully-sharing. We can experience God better and better by relaxing, breathing deeply, pushing out from within, turning ourselves inside out, listening from the pit of our gut out, opening to the Light shining through all things and ultimately blurring-together everything as One.
So what is God? God is the starting point, the path, and the endpoint: God is the Love that calls us to seek the what is truly best for everyone; and God is the opening to that Way of being; and God is the conclusion of the Way: Pure Love creates, shines through, sustains, and love-lifts everyone and everything; but even more than that: Pure Love is the infinite fire that melts all things into one thing. This is not a future melting, but the current and eternal state of things — it is how Reality and reality relate to one another.
Why does the poem, “God is Love” work? Because you already know that God is Love. If we did not all have the seeds of wisdom within us, we would have no hope of growing in wisdom. Because wisdom is the conscious experience of Reality, and the tool for experiencing Reality is wisdom. We seek to grow in wisdom. We seek to open up to the Light within, to work with It to get better and better at feeling/thinking/acting aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, kind, loving, compassionate, joyfully-together and joyfully-sharing. We can only make sense to ourselves to the degree that we do this; we can only make sense to ourselves to the degree we follow our own inborn rules for feeling/thinking/acting. We can only make sense to ourselves to the degree we develop our inborn wisdom. Our inborn wisdom is who we really are; we need it to make sense to ourselves.
Authors: The usual crew of restless wannabe astronauts
Editors: Bartleby the “Never Mind” Willard & Amble the “What? No, but seriously, What?” Willard