I've been focusing lately on the importance of deepening your connection with the Divine.
But, what exactly is the Divine? Who is God (or the gods)? What is the Universe?
After all, how can you hope to connect to something you're not even sure the nature of?
So, this week, I'll be focusing on God / the Universe. Today, I'll discuss in general my view of the nature of Divinity. On Thursday, I'll discuss the process of choosing a specific deity, if that is your path, and I'll give you my own experience in choosing mine.
But before I start, I want to give some caveats:
Firstly, these are all my opinions. If your view of the Divine is different, that's great. I've come to my conclusions through a lot of meditation and research. But, they are my conclusions.
The Universe couldn't care less how you see Divinity. You have to find what works for you. But, read through this post and see if what I say resonates. If not, let's discuss it in the comments. 🙂
Secondly, my practice is also my own. As I said in last Thursday's post, you can have a devotion to a god/goddess, angel, master, or whatever else you feel drawn to. I do suggest a devotion of some kind, but the nature of that devotion is totally personal.
In Hinduism, there are four basic paths to the Divine:
- Karma yoga: the path of action
- Bhakti yoga: the path of devotion
- Raja yoga: the path of meditation
- Jnana yoga: the path of knowledge
These paths, however, are not mutually exclusive. For instance, you can have a devotion to one or more deities (bhakti yoga), which inspires you to perform good works (karma yoga). Your mode of connection might be through meditation (raja yoga), and you might also inquire into the nature of the Self (jnana yoga).
But, they will all help you to connect with the Divine. As long as you are doing something, that's really all that can be asked. The rest is between you and the Universe.
With all that said, let's get started.
The Universe as Non-Duality
The essence of the Universe is non-dual. When I say the “essence”, I mean prior to all creation, or even all concepts.
Before there was anything, there was One. That One was undifferentiated and whole in itself. It neither moved nor was moved by anything else, because there was nothing outside of itself.
This One is called by many names: the Tao, Brahman, Stillness, Silence, the Numinous, the Void, etc. All names are insufficient. As the Tao Te Ching says:
The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.
(Tao Te Ching, ch. 1, translated by Stephen Mitchell)
So, all names or concepts of this one fall short.
But, God is particularly not a good name for this One. It simply holds very little in common with anyone's conception of God, besides, perhaps, the quality of being infinite.
It is neither benevolent nor malevolent, because duality simply does not exist on this level. It does not care, because there is nothing to care about. It is totally, absolutely impersonal, because personhood requires concepts and ideas, which do not exist on this level.
It might have some in common with the idea of God as Prime Mover, but that's really about it. Most people's idea of God includes personality, or at least some idea of compassion, and that is not held in common here.
Yet, it is pointed to in almost all cultures, but especially the eastern religions. One's identity with this One is called nirvana in Buddhism, and moksha in Hinduism. Even in the Abrahamic religions, there are some who point to this unity.
In Paganism/Wicca, one doesn't speak of enlightenment so much. Instead, we focus on the present life, and walk the path of self-growth using magic (not for all Pagans) and devotion to the gods of our choosing. But, the end-result is the same. I have, however, heard some Pagans speaking of a Universal substratum beyond all of the gods.
This One has almost no real-world applicability to your life. Some people can get lost in philosophizing about the non-dual nature of the Absolute. But, in practice, it is too far removed to really be of everyday use.
Even if you were to realize your identity with this Stillness in this lifetime, you would have to come back down to earth, as it were, which would necessitate losing that awareness somewhat. You cannot be totally aware of the One, while simultaneously living in the physical world.
The Universe as Total Duality
I might seem to be contradicting myself here, but I promise you I am not. 🙂
Let's call the non-dual level #1. All that I said above applies to this level.
But, though we can never quite understand how or why this happened, indeed something did happen. A spark of creation arose out of Stillness. Something moved. How it moved, we cannot hope to understand. But, it moved. It sparked.
And so at level #2, we have creation.
But not only do we have creation, we have absolute duality. From level #2 downwards, everything is dualistic. There is masculine and feminine, light and dark, warm and cold, etc.
This is what the Chinese were referring to by the concept of yin and yang. Everything falls somewhere along this spectrum.
For simplicity's sake we divide the initial duality at level #2 into yin and yang, feminine and masculine. In Wicca, this is why we refer to a single Goddess and a single God. Balance is necessary, so you must have both the male and the female parts of Divinity.
In the Abrahamic religions, this balance is disrupted. God is purely male, as is the priesthood in many sects. Eve (the feminine) was the one to commit the first sin. In a sense, they attempt to exalt the masculine while denouncing the feminine.
That's why in Paganism, there is no concept of evil. There is certainly light and dark, but no force of evil. That which some would call “evil” is just the other side of that duality. You cannot have light without dark. You cannot have day without night. You cannot have life without death. They are two sides of the same coin.
So, some people say the Universe is non-dual, and others say it is dual. And, it so happens, both are right. They are just speaking on different levels of truth. At level #1, the Universe is non-dual. This is true. But at every other level, duality is an inherent and even necessary part of existence.
Who Is God?
So then one asks, “Who is God?”
There are far too many answers to that question, depending on your perspective. As I said, I don't like calling the Stillness at level #1 “God”, because it holds nothing in common with our common idea of God.
In the past, I've used two general terms: the Universe, and Universal Flow. For reasons that would lengthen this post far beyond anyone wishes to read, the Universe generally refers to the masculine side of that duality, and Universal Flow refers to the feminine. They are not exactly the same thing. I go into much greater detail in The Art of Reality Creation.
In Wicca, as I said, we call them the God and the Goddess, and it is exactly the same idea. The God is associated with the Sun and its annual cycle of the seasons, and the Goddess is associated with the Moon and its monthly cycle of the lunar phases.
So generally if you say “God”, “Universe”, “Source”, or even “Creator”, you're generally referring to either the God or Goddess aspect of level #2.
But, this isn't the complete story. You then have other gods, such as the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Norse, or Celtic gods. You could call this level #3.
Who are these, exactly? Are they real beings, or just aspects of the God and Goddess discussed above?
They are definitely real, just as you and I are real. They simply exist on another level of existence.
Some people believe that they are simply archetypes of Universal or natural forces. However, I disagree. I've communicated with several of these gods, and they all have their own very distinct personalities. And, they are not all light and fluffy. They have real preferences, and real opinions, and depending on the god, may let you know in no uncertain terms.
In other words, they are real beings to be respected and valued. They are far more powerful than us, or even than our own spirit guides or angels. They are not necessarily omnipotent, but that does not mean that they do not wield incredible power.
They are, in a sense, descendants from the God and Goddess of level #2. However, that does not make them somehow aspects of the same energy, or undifferentiated from that energy.
It would be like saying that because I'm a man, and you've met other men before, I must have the same qualities as other men. Obviously, that's untrue. I may share some qualities in common, but I have my own personality, quirks, and flaws.
How many of these gods are there? Oh, millions, at least. One does not need to worship them all, obviously. Choosing one or two that resonate with you the most is sufficient, and even preferable. You will form a unique bond with each god or goddess. It is a real relationship, and should be treated as such. If you respect them, they will help and guide you in return. If you disrespect them, they may not give you their aid, or may even retaliate in some way.
So, With Whom Should You Work?
I know it can get a bit confusing. To summarize, there is the Tao, Stillness, Silence, at level #1. Then, there is the God and Goddess, which is generally referred to by names like Universe, Creator, Source, etc. Then there are the countless gods and goddesses from various cultures, each of whom has a real existence separate from you, and each of whom has their own personality.
Beneath even these (level #4 and under) you find the ascended masters, your personal spirit guides, and other advanced spiritual beings. If you believe in angels, they would also be at this level. I'm lumping all these together, but some will be at a higher level than others.
I almost never recommend connecting with only level #1. Even enlightened masters will still often have a devotion to one or more gods. It is simply far too impersonal, and difficult to sense in your everyday life.
Many people, especially in the law of attraction community, will simply say they work with the Universe, and call it a day.
However, I also do not necessarily recommend that, unless it is really working for you.
The reason is, well, again it is pretty impersonal. Can you have faith in the Universe? Can you trust the Universe? Do you know that the Universe will always support you? Do you feel guided by the Universe?
If your true answer to the above is “yes”, then that's great. But for most people I encounter in my work, this is not the case. They do not trust. They do not have faith. They do not feel supported. They do not feel guided.
If this is the case for you, then you may need to connect with some divine beings who can help you in a real, practical way.
Personally, I believe in the God and Goddess and see them as represented by the Sun and the Moon. I follow these cycles and celebrate their progression.
But for personal devotion, I have chosen (or possibly have been chosen by) two specific deities: Hades and Hecate. Both dark deities, which I will explain more about in Thursday's post.
But, they have helped me to take the necessary steps I was previously missing. They've shown me resistance I was holding on to. They've given me sign after sign that I'm on the right path. They've been there for me when I needed help.
I feel far more support than I ever have. I always had a decent amount of faith in the Universe. But, this is helping me to take it to the next level.
You'll have to do some inner work to discover which level you'd prefer to work with. I've heard of people who just wanted to work with the God and Goddess, and then were called by a specific deity in a way they couldn't ignore. Again, this is a relationship. It's a give and take.
However, I suggest at least opening up to the idea of doing something more to deepen your spiritual connection. Again, if you're 100% happy as-is, then you're fine. But even if so, you might enjoy the journey of working with some specific beings.
But, if you feel you need more personal help, then I especially recommend opening up to see who might want to work with you. They will definitely show themselves to you, if you are open and ready.
How About You?
Now it's your turn. Who is God to you? Do you like keeping it general, or are you open to working with some more specific beings? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.