Speculations on Cosmic Consciousness and the Love of God
by Roland Stahl
A while ago (March of 2015) I saw on the news the videos of the soldiers of ISIS destroying all the ancient art, artifacts, and architecture from a museum in Northern Iraq. As I write this, I seem to recall that that was even before the unbelievably egregious destruction of Palmyra a bit later on. All of that is way beyond inexcusable. War is a bad enough business, and, most of the time, both sides seem to be convinced that they are in the right, but wanton destruction of our heritage of ancient art is totally senseless. I am still in shock over the burning of the library at Alexandria, and now this!
Religious beliefs are hard to argue with when people believe on faith the religion they were taught at their mother’s knee. When someone else comes along with different beliefs which he also accepts on faith, there is no common ground for any discussion. Well, here I am trying to establish some common ground. My first proposition, which I offer for acceptance as an axiom (accepted without proof) is that “the meaning and purpose of religion is to get closer to God.” I believe that is a pretty fundamental idea which most people would accept regardless of their religious backgrounds. Buddhism is not specifically theistic, but I think most Buddhists would accept the proposition anyway, when they see how I understand the concept. (In other words, what I mean by “getting closer to God” turns out to be identical with the goals of Buddhist practice, the attainment of enlightenment being simply equated with union with God.) I can hardly imagine anyone claiming a different purpose for their religious practices, but if they do (e.g., to propitiate an angry God) then my present remarks just do not apply to them).
But, if one accepts my starting premise, then I introduce my second premise, which is that the best way to measure a person’s closeness to God is to consider the degree to which they love everyone. I suggest that the most clearly distinguishing feature of the most religious or spiritual people is the love they feel for all of life. Most recognized “holy men” or “holy women” or spiritual teachers are famous for radiating an oceanic love for all life. Once again, it is hard to engage “proofs” for this idea, so I will call it another axiom – “The more love one feels for all of life, the closer one is to God.”
So, if we can accept these two propositions, suddenly we have an objective measure of comparison for religious beliefs and practices. Simply look at your religious beliefs and practices and ask, “Do these beliefs and practices bring me closer to God, or do they drive me further away from God? As I continue on the way of my religious observance, am I becoming more loving to all of life, or less?” If one is looking for a spiritual teacher or guru, simply seek one who most clearly radiates the love of God. In other articles, I have repeatedly described a three dimensional continuum which goes from a center of peace, love, harmony, joy, and clarity outwards in all directions towards increasing tension, anger, disharmony, sorrow, and confusion. God is at that point at the center, and the further away one goes from that point, the more one is distant from God (“distance from God” is an old and very good definition for the Devil).
So, to make my conclusion, I say to those soldiers of ISIS, “No, you are not obeying the will of Allah, as you pound those ancient artifacts to rubble, consumed with your passion of anger and hatred. No, you are lost in confusion and error. I am not an Islamic scholar, but I am sure that a diligent search of your Koran will suggest new directions for your energies that might bring you closer to God than your present course of anger, violence, and hatred. It is not necessary to convert to Christianity or Buddhism; all you have to do is seek for those interpretations of your Koran that lead you closer to the love of God.”
Of course, it is not only Moslems who drift away from God, seduced by false prophets – plenty of Christians (as well as others) have lost all understanding of the original teachings of the founders of their Church and are just as lost in confusion and error as any Moslem. I call upon the leaders of every religion to clarify for their communicants the path which leads to the love of God.
Many people are uncomfortable with any expression of religious belief. When I was a child, unbelievers would prudently conceal their unbelief. Now, it is religious believers who hide their beliefs out of a fear of ridicule. Well, the important aspects of my own ideas are quite independent of the religious component. My principle image describing the spiritual state of human beings (a sphere with a center of peace, harmony, clarity, love, and joy extending outward towards increasing anger, disharmony, confusion, hatred, sorrow, darkness, and death) may be applied without any mention of God. If I label the center “God” and the outer reaches of confusion “the Devil,” that may be understood figuratively rather than literally. Certainly the labeling of confusion, distant from God, as “the Devil” is intended to disavow, once and for all, the idea of the Devil as a kind of conscious and deliberate “evil god.” And, whether you think of God at the center as a conscious being of some sort or just a figurative image to describe the quality makes no real difference. Just as Buddhist meditation can bring you to a state of peace and serenity, so the effort to become “closer to God” can yield the same benefits of peace, clarity, joy, love, and good health, regardless of any theological ideas pertaining to that mysterious point at the center.
The crux of the whole matter is consciousness. I suggest that consciousness increases as you get closer to God (or “to the center”) and decreases as you move away into confusion, error, and darkness. So “union with God” would mean the attainment of cosmic consciousness, as well as enlightenment, Nirvana, limitless love, and total bliss. This, of course, is entirely speculative. I am suggesting, by analogy with the consciousness of animals and human beings, that the more complex and highly evolved the organism, the greater the consciousness. To postulate that the entire field of life energy on the planet is all inter-connected and, in fact, comprises a single living being, is also speculative, but it is an extremely interesting and provocative concept, and offers no theological problems whatsoever. It is the suggestion that this being (“Gaia”) is fully conscious and is responsible for the nearly universal belief in some sort of God, that is the most radical idea here. If it were true, it could account for a great many unexplained and/or psychic phenomena as a medium for the transmission of all kinds of energies of communication and even telekinetic activity, as well as prayer.
At the same time, it is an idea of God that avoids the deal-breaker concept of an Almighty God Who is responsible for everything that happens in the world, good and bad. When theologians try to explain The Problem of Evil by attempting to shift the blame onto humans, when the Deity should have known better, I don’t find their arguments very convincing. I think God is evolving along with Our Cosmos, and We are doing the best We can.
Consciousness is a very astonishing reality. But if human beings can enjoy the kind of consciousness with which we are familiar, I do not find it too much of a stretch to imagine Gaia as a conscious being, trying hard to stay alive but losing the battle due to the endless and growing confusion of her parts.
But, whether you believe that Gaia is a conscious Being, an unconscious being, or even just a random and unconnected confusion of unrelated beings (human, animal, and vegetable), the path towards an evolutionary growth that can sustain the fragile envelope of life on this planet is all the same – a concerted effort for all sentient beings to move closer to that center of peace, clarity, love, and joy, regardless of whether you endow that point with any theological significance or not.
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