No, Bette Midler, God Is NOT Looking at You “From a Distance.” The Divine Could Not Be Any Closer, It Is Identical to Your Very Own, Immediate, Experience
I use the terms, God and the Divine, to refer to the Highest Reality, the Reality Itself or That Which Essentially Is.
Cognition is not the Reality itself any more than a picture of a beach is the actual waves hitting the sand or the feeling of the beach-goer basking in the sun.
You cannot have any “revelations” if you only allow in the thoughts you already have.
If “looking within” does not mean looking into one’s direct experience, what could it possibly mean?
Experience Is Divine
Since the terms God or the Divine are usually associated with what is most real or what is the highest reality, I use those terms (God and the Divine) to refer to that Reality, Highest Reality, or That Which Essentially Is throughout the text.
So since Reality can only be that which is directly experienced, and we can know nothing other than that, then Experience is God. Experience is the Divine, cognition is essentially illusion. I do not mean that the experience of cognition is illusion, for that itself is Experience, not simply cognition. When I say that cognition is illusion, I mean that the contents of cognition are illusion; and even more so, the results of cognition or reason are illusion. They are maps solely—reflections only of the That Which Is.
Now, maps can be useful. They can reorient us and send us back to Experience in a manner that allows us to experience What Is in a different way, maybe even a better way. But they are not the Reality itself any more than a picture of a beach is the actual waves hitting the sand or the feeling of the beach-goer basking in the sun. Yet a picture of a beach may allow someone experiencing a beach to have the thought of looking around for prone bodies and may open them to a different experience of beach because of that, whereas otherwise one might continue having the same, or similar, experience again and again. It is in this way that maps are part of our experience of the Other, are part of our direct experience, which “impinges” on us and leads us, ultimately, into greater beingness.
If, furthermore, that Direct Experience has other characteristics associated with the Divine—e.g. , it guides us in living, provides us with values, assists and “saves” us, and basically helps us to grow and be better beings ourselves—then essentially that Reality is acting as God and deserves to be called by that name and worshiped as such.
That Experience might have these characteristics is not something that can be deduced rationally or in the traditional scientific manner—it is outside those domains. But it can be empirically tested on the individual level, much as Ken Wilber (1977) has described that mysticism can be tested empirically on the individual level—i.e., if you as an individual follow these particular steps, such and such will happen to you, or will be observed by you. It is in this sense that one can say that an assertion such as that Experience provides values and assists us can be tested in a scientific manner. Once that experiment has been accomplished, one can go to the spiritual literature and see if Experience As Divine does not make sense of much of what is found there, indeed much of what is incomprehensible otherwise. This experiment is one that can only be done by each person for him- or herself.
While this conceptualization of God as Experience or Reality as Experience may seem unusually phrased, I explain that I am meaning the same thing by these statements as I believe is meant by phrases such as “Reality As Consciousness” (Wilber), or “I Am the I Am” (the meaning of Jehovah in The Bible). I believe it means the same as saying in Hinduism that Brahman (the ground of all Being) is equivalent to Atman—the “ground” of one’s individual being. As explanation of this statement, Satya Sai Baba explains that the only reality is the “I” or “the witness,” which is the watcher and Experiencer preceding all maya or illusion. But if this is so, then the Experiencer is Experience itself, is Awareness itself, for how can one distinguish the Experiencer from the contents of Experience—a point that is also made in these traditions.
Also, what else is to be meant by the terms that one should “look within” or “search within” when seeking out the presence or guidance of the Divine? If “looking within” does not mean looking into one’s direct experience, what could it possibly mean?
This is also no different from what Nietzsche meant in describing the empirical basis of all true knowing. He pointed out that what was truly real could only be that which one directly perceived. But he did not mean what one perceived only with one’s major five senses—i.e. , seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling—as his famous assertions have been taken to mean in the founding of modern science, but rather he meant a radical empiricism that could be founded only upon what one perceived in the sense of the totality of one’s experiencing.
Continue with Why Scientists, Unless They Are Einstein, Make Lousy Mystics: Being Able to Control and Predict Reality Is Hardly the Same as Understanding It
Return to Fearful of Looking Directly at Experience, We Defend Against It with Ego and by Creating Time: Experience Is Divine, Cognition Is Illusion, Part Six — The Shield of Perseus
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