DOES GOD EXIST?

The word EXIST, like all words, stands as a symbol of a symbol, in this case an idea of phenomenon. As a word, it is, itself, a phenomenon. As a word it points for me to something that I am experiencing, that can, therefore, be said to be a phenomenon. The word God and Exist in the same sentence, for me, falls away, awkwardly, to the degree that I am leant to declare, God doesn’t Exist.

In the Baha’i Faith there are two words that stand for the idea of God: UNKNOWABLE and ESSENCE.

Unknowable, in the sense it is used for God, is an absolute feature. It is not like the idea that I know I don’t know, or even that I don’t know that I don’t know. It is not the mathematical idea of nothing in the set, zero. It is an idea that anything I can be, anything a sentient being will be, will not come any closer to knowing. It is that there is no set to hold no items. The word God, itself, is a placemark for the unknowability of, and here the second word comes into play, Essence.

Essence is the idea of the merest hint, the barest sense, a fleeting awareness. The fleeting awareness is a register of an ocean of power that is itself something manifest, something phenomenal. This ocean of power exudes both an awesome potentiality as well as a deeply inviting calm. An awareness of the ocean of existence only points further to the hint of an infiniteness of existence that, nonetheless, has certain regulations, a way that it works. And, there, as the way it works, lies the essence of the unknowable. The bringing of existence into existence is tangible as that it works the way it works, and that it is not ours to expect differently, nor decry that it works the way it works, for it works for we.

When I bring up the word exist, it is if essence ceases to exist. The word ‘exist comes up like an impenetrable wall which shuts out all merest hint, all barest sense. Exist not only has no capacity to speak of, to point to God, it is a heavy veil between my sense and the essence. To seek for the merest hint of the unknowable essence, put away all thought that God exists. Sit with your sense of being, ranging widely and seekingly, without any more purpose than just broadening the range across the ocean of power.

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The Big Me Dances

The universe, the world, is how it all occurs to me as a happening, an event, a contingency.

Recalling the words of Baha’u’llah as I would apply them to myself, “… the world is my unawareness of the Godhead and my absorption in aught else…” and that truth is founded in the primary spiritual attitude of the unfettered search: detachment from tradition; avoiding backbiting, boastful people, and evil-doers; cleansing the heart from love, hate, and pride; and living in prayer, patience, resignation, and forgiveness.

My experience gives me the sense that the Godhead operates for me through my declaration (to myself or others) in abandonment of all untrue considerations, for an enthusiasm, passion and joy.

fom_scene26

I believe that I am living in the world, a universe of elementary materials, from which has derived my organic construction as a capability for the flourishing of a metaphysical being. I am the root growing through the soil of human life, drawing sustenance for that budding fractal splicing and looping through all the dimensions beyond time and space, all the dimensions of eternity. I believe I am both contingent and eternal, always to be “unaware” and “absorbed by”, yet also to be a sense of Godhead through how I am in truth.

And so , I dance.

Being Fearless as Being Human

“O Son of Man!
Thou art My dominion and My dominion perisheth not; wherefore fearest thou thy perishing? Thou art My light and My light shall never be extinguished; why dost thou dread extinction? Thou art My glory and My glory fadeth not; thou art My robe and My robe shall never be outworn. Abide then in thy love for Me, that thou mayest find Me in the realm of glory.”  The Hidden Words.” Baha’u’llah

We grow into fear and shame from the earliest days of our lives. Our childhood environments can either minimise or amplify these affects. There is no judgment here, about these affects, just that they are. We could even say they are for good reason. Nonetheless, in the main, fear and shame can distort our growth into fully developed humans, and retard our growth.

Acknowledging fear and shame seems to me to be the first authentic attitude that can lead to it’s disappearance. The hiding of fear and shame is, I think, at the heart of separation, prejudice, scapegoating and war. Baha’u’llah’s words, then, draw attention to that next possibility, that we could be fully engaged as a human being with others, so long as we are able to stand where we might be killed or die because we have no defenses against such happening.

Even after many years since first thinking about this teaching and working with many people at many levels of society and politics, I find myself just much more aware of my own prejudice and separation from others. I have a great fear of being alone. I have a great fear of suffering that even finds me avoiding the step that might lead to a failure to predict the money I have, the resources for the life I want to live, of anything like homelessness or being a burden on others. My independence, therefore, seems driven by separation and, in that I have to question that independence. Can I be truly independent if I cannot face the a life in which tomorrow may have many unknown outcomes for my personal life, many problems requiring solution. I can only say that I don’t know what needs to show up or let go or otherwise happen, to be the person Baha’u’llah invites me to be in this teaching, and maybe in that “I don’t know” is a conversation opening up with everyone, with Baha’u’llah’s teachings, that will lead me to being human, being fearless.

Placental

EmbryoShe noted, “You seem happy and buoyant this evening”

I replied, “Perhaps I decided to be an adult.”

She retorted, “Whatever that is.”

“Perhaps”, I gathered as quickly and cleverly as i could, “it is being happy and buoyant.”

I woke the next morning with the soul on my mind,
the query of a philosopher,
“There is so much wonder in the universe,
why ask that there has to be something else?”.

Death.

The desire to lift the fear of gone
with a belief there is something
within us that can live forever.

My teacher, Baha’u’llah, had another take,
that life is vastly beyond time and space.
The universe is wonderful, contingent, a womb.
A womb is wonderful,
an embryonic exaltation
in its universe.

A fantastic germ catalyses
the ooze of a root
in its warm, watery womb,
growing a fascination
until the day of realization,
the womb cannot contain it,
the child being is expelled,
freedom preceded by one last constraint,
one last reassuring connection with the womb,
then the root separates,
the placenta dies.

Through infinite dimensions
the fascination reflects
or maybe a reflection of the whole
ancient, imperishable, everlasting
dominion.
In one domain oozing
base elements.
In another, oozing,
from the placental born one,
elements of consciousness,
outside of physicality,
outside of time and space,
the fascination grows
until uncontained,
released onto that imperishable domain,
the placenta dies.

HOW TO KNOW EVERYTHING

There is a concept in the facilitation of Baha’i Study, of elevated conversation. Elevated conversation is something that anyone can enter. It does require knowledge of certain things but, those things being known or understood, it is not necessary to be knowledgeable about other things and still be able to enter elevated conversation about those things.

Well those couple of sentences are, I am sure, just baffling. So lets look at it through a specific principle of the Baha’i Faith: religion and science are in harmony.

The first thing i would say is that, while scientific knowledge is useful for an elevated conversation around this principle, it is only that it can be a tool of elevated conversation, not a tool of scientific knowledge. This is a distinction that is important to make.

Let’s drill down into the ideas.

Conversation can be described as being in play with another or others. Play, for those who have forgotten what that is, is the to and fro without expectations, but from which something flourishes. It is mostly a very enjoyable experience for everyone.

‘Elevated’ in the context of Baha’i empowerment training might be defined as the transformation of complaint based issues to generative Baha’i Principle based conversation. Baha’i principles are socially transformative concepts based on the vast array of spiritual principles exhorted by Baha’u’llah, with implications for individual empowerment and action.

In elevated conversation, the facilitator can be thought of as holding a space for the other(s) and themselves to be working as with these generative principles. “As with” meaning both that the participants ARE the principle, and work WITH the principle. The facilitator could ask whether the other(s) agree with the principles as they are presented. Alternatively, the facilitator could request that the other(s) just try the principle on, like wearing a coat, for the duration of the conversation.

So, in regards science or any scientific idea. The Baha’i principle is that Science and Religion is in harmony. So, as Baha’is we don’t need to know everything there is about religion or science to explain the harmony. In fact, if you think about it, that would be a ludicrous expectation of ourselves and others. Rather, we as Baha’is have accepted to wear the coat of ‘science and religion is in harmony’. So the elevated conversation with scientific friend can be in the form of a request. “Brianna, can I request that you ‘wear’ this idea around for a while?” “You can always take it off, later on, if it doesn’t feel comfortable” Because as we know, we can only guess at what is wearable by looking at it on the rack. Until we try it on, we don’t really get a feel for it. And there is very little reality in a conversation about things. Reality is only what comes into being as a structure, an action. Conversation of course, is an action, so the distinction between conversation (play with another) and ‘about things’ (imagination), is important.

Once a person has agreed to ‘wear’ the concept of science and religion are in harmony, then the conversation can progress in the space of that concept. In that generative (creative) space, which you as facilitator are holding open for the conversation, there are only things that are ‘science and religion are in harmony’. Complaints about science and complaints about religion are not possibilities in that space. So, when complaint rises, the facilitator can notice it to the other(s). “So, can you see that, when you move the conversation into complaint about the past, or science or religion, that you have moved to a domain of ‘nothing new or transformative is happening here’. This human tendency to move to complaint is more often not about truth, just a social tendency, an habitual domain to get us into social engagement, upon which we peg some rationale, after the fact. So ‘holding the space’ means that the facilitator requests, “How about we come back to the arena of science and religion are in harmony,” “Okay, now what comes up for you in this arena, this space.”<

A note on generative language. Generative language is future and creative based language. It gets life from words that are about creating into the space. It might not be surprising to see that these words are the same as what we call 'virtues' or names of God, in the Faith eg enthusiasm, love, courage, beauty, wonder, questions, service, contribution, etc etc etc.

So, in practical terms, in the space of 'science and religion are in harmony' you can present the quotations from the writings that seem to link to a scientific idea, existence, the universe, even the limitations of human knowledge. In the spirit of conversation you might try a couple of quotes with an interaction in generative conversation. What comes up for you and the other(s)? What comes up dictates the next conversation, the next writings you might use. So be in play, in enjoyment. Then it never needs to stop.

If a conversation is always in play, does it have any purpose? A generative conversation would be expected to realise some milestones in development. By inference, if the conversation fails to develop, it is not generative, perhaps looping, certainly stagnating and eventually will stop. Within any branch of a conversation, it may indeed stop as the participants find no further point of generation. Yet, often another branch, another choice of direction, can be taken. Any conversational direction with another may yield fruit. Fruits of the tree of conversation are a form of contribution to the world, a service to humanity. The new contribution in the world is that the person has been transformed, that they ARE something new. The generative or elevated conversation can take advantage of any milestones in transformation that shows up as a new contribution.