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God’s Boredom or Why we are not Enlightened. . .

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Why are we not enlightened? In this case I mean why do we not experience ourselves, from the moment we are conscious, as an inalienable part of the Divine, with all Its resources and presence? Our fears and worries tell us that we are not immortal, omnipotent, omniscient, etc, etc. . .even when we know we are part of the Divine. We don’t feel it, at least at first. I think there is an explanation, and it’s a good one, if a bit weird. But, it requires a suspension of our assumptions to understand it. So, please give me a chance to lay it out. You see, God was bored. . .


Reason is only so helpful when dealing with the Divine; imagination is required here. First let’s start by imagining we are God, or rather that you or I or anyone of us is God or if you prefer, Goddess. One, alone. There is nothing else, nothing ‘outside’ or elsewhere. Just what is, and you are That singular being. Being the One that is All (yes, this is a pantheist framing), you are and have all the knowledge and power there is. Also, you have all the love and wisdom there is, especially since there is nothing but you. Now, let’s get creative. . .

When You create the Cosmos You do so with the only materials available: Yourself. The mythology we use to describe this process is a matter of choice. For the sake of discussion we’ll use the “Big Bang” model and so the cosmos, (i.e., You) goes through its phases of expansion, cooling, star-making (1st & 2nd generations), planets form, life emerges, etc. Eventually, sentience aggregates to ‘human-level’ complexity and begins to look back at its origins and You are there. But when one of those beings begins to speak, since they are just an extension of Yourself, you are just talking with yourself. They are no more than a sock-puppet. They can’t surprise you, can’t tell you a joke. Because they are simply a manifestation of you their animation, their sole volition is Yours. If you think about it since everything is a direct manifestation of Your will, the Cosmos is completely deterministic: nothing can surprise you. You already know the end of the story.

Please consider this for a moment. How does it feel to be in a world that can’t surprise you? Where everything dances to Your tune, but you are the piper, the dancer, the dance and the dance-hall. Where’s the fun in that? In contemplating this potential state of affairs, a deep sense of horror filled me. It was like being trapped in a mirror-box where everything was merely a reflection of myself. Truly a solipsistic situation, all talk is monologue, all sex masturbation. Interest lasts only so long…

Imagine, having the power and the time (you are God after all), You try innumerable ways of configuring and reconfiguring the Cosmos, but each time you end up with sock-puppets. But you are All-Wise, All-Compassionate, All-Powerful. Would you not have the Self-Love to want to end this misery?

We have the tale of the Fall in many cultures. Before the Christian Hegemony instituted the Biblical folk-tale as the universal cosmogonic myth, a fair presentation of the more common understanding of the nature of that ‘Fall’ can be found in the Platonic story in the Phaedrus. Loosely following that text (in short), we dwelt with or were created by (or alongside) the Gods and then descended into the realm of matter, usually because of some degree of error or a failure of capacity. In this process we lost our intimate contact with the Divine. Myth often bespeaks an intuition of truth. In contemplating this tale, I kept finding myself asking, Why the failure? Did the Divine really screw up and produce a bunch of half-wits? Or are we wrong in understanding this Fall as a failure? (BTW, the Timaeus tells a different tale, but that’s for another post.)

What if the Fall was not a failure on our part, or an error of the Divine? What if it was intentional and, however uncomfortable for us, actually an act of good? This brings us back to our imaginal scenario in which You are God. Having tried everything else, what if You came to the conclusion that the only way for Your creations to surprise You is for them to forget that they are part of You? To sever the connections between a part of Yourself and the rest of You. I can only imagine that for an All-Feeling Being like Yourself, the pain of division would be, well, cosmic, both for You and for Your creatures. Imagine the Self-love required to divide Yourself so, and the Love you would have for those separated Parts, even as you traumatize them into amnesia. They arise now, born without memory that they are part of You. What can You do?

If You interfere in their lives, it is no better than them being sock-puppets, just at one step removed. So, to stay with Your Divine Strategy, You have to let them grow up on their own, making their mistakes, earning their accomplishments. Being God, you still feel all that they do, but they don’t feel You. Separated, they have their own volition. Here we can see the sanctity of that individual will, necessary for Divine purpose. But since telling them what to do will subvert Your purpose, in your compassion, could you not seed the world with clues to your nature and intent? Could you not weave the world with threads that lead back to You? Is not the entire World You have created for them an integrity, and as such a self-documenting system? Self-authorizing too: as they learn, they can learn and do more. Without interfering, without imposing upon their will, You surround them with Your Providence, luring them back to awareness of You. Does this sound familiar?

So, what this all comes down to is the idea that we have been separated from the Divine in our immediate experience so that we can individuate, become self-directing volitional beings. Part of the task of being, perhaps of being incarnate, is to explore our world and eventually find our way ‘back’ into (re-)connection with the Divine, the Whole of Being.

Was God bored? Some will object that such a ‘bad’ feeling could not be attributed to the Divine. Are you saying that we have a power, the ability to have a certain feeling, that God does not? All we are and all we experience comes ultimately from the Source of Being, for lack of a better term, God. So let us attribute to God all we feel, including our boredom at knowing the end of the story, already knowing the punchline to the joke. Let us ask ourself what we would do when confronted with cosmic determinacy and sock-puppets for all of our companions. Would we not gnaw off our own foot to escape such a trap? Would not God be more creative?

The cosmic trauma of Individuation becomes then an act of compassion. Self-Compassion on the part of the Divine that It may have worthy company, and compassion to us, that we are given the chance to become free and worthy to look God in the eye and tell Her a really bad joke. Let us see then the Divine sacrifice in dividing Itself, as the thelemites say, “for the chance of union”, and learn to see the love in which we are still held by Divine Providence, even when we are still too traumatized to notice.

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Sam Webster is a Pagan Mage, one of the very few who is also a Master of Divinity, and is also currently a Doctoral candidate in History at the University of Bristol, UK, under Prof. Ronald Hutton. He is an initiate of Wiccan, Druidic, Buddhist, Hindu and Masonic traditions and an Adept of the Golden Dawn founding the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn  in 2001. His work has been published in a number of journals such as Green Egg and Gnosis, and 2010 saw his first book, Tantric Thelema, establishing the publishing house Concrescent Press. Sam lives in the San Francisco East Bay and serves the Pagan community principally as a priest of Hermes.

Comments

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Wednesday, 06 February 2013

    Great article; loved it.

  • Diotima
    Diotima Thursday, 07 February 2013

    Sam, you make this "Lonely God" argument well, and it’s one I’ve considered carefully. It certainly gets high marks on my list of “metaphysical theories of what might be”, but, over the years, I have come to reject it, primarily for personal and experiential reasons. For me, the major issue with it is that it places too much emphasis on separation as a problem to be overcome so we can make our way back to the Source, after we have become conscious individuals, though I do agree that individuation is a goal, and a good one.

    While I have become acquainted, through my spiritual work, with a number of gods and goddesses, when we are talking about the really big picture, as you are here, I prefer to drop the terms God/Goddess entirely and use terms that are less personalized, like All That Is (ATI), Tao, or — if one wants to get all Gardnerian — Dryghten. I do this because I think that the whole idea of creator and created is, in itself, limited, and I’m not sure we can extrapolate the concept of a creator separate from its creation that far out. Yes, I do think goddesses and gods are creators: they create and we create — in fact, I believe creativity is the hokey-pokey of metaphysics, but thinking in terms of a single omnipotent being who split Itself into smaller parts so it wouldn’t be lonely is projecting a very human emotion onto, well, All That Is. And ATI is not something we can fully comprehend with our limited, time-and-space oriented focus.

    But, oh, what we can do with that limited focus! We surprise ourselves constantly. We delight in creating new ideas, new things, new methods. We work to expand our worlds, our minds, our knowledge. We look around and see infinite variety — if there is a Creator, variety must be something It values highly — and we create yet more varied and wonderful things in every moment of time. The limits of time and space, and our laser focus within it, leads us to avenues of creativity unavailable to those without this focus, these limits — including ATI, which can only experience being human and living in time and space insofar as it IS human and living in time and space.

    But to think that all of this wild creativity, this crazy joy of life, this ability to bring into being, ends when we finally realize our oneness with the Source, when we become truly enlightened, because then we will experience the loneliness of the Creator, is an idea that just doesn’t work for me. Yes, we have problems here in the world of time and space, and yes, our view of ourselves as separate from each other and from Nature is at the root of many of our problems. But I prefer to see this world, even with all the pain and horror, as an ongoing, wild and free experiment in Consciousness, in which we — each and every individual consciousness — are the experimenter, the subject and the laboratory, all in One.

    Does All That Is really know it All? Can we surprise It, or ourselves? Can we even begin to understand what the Tao knows or feels? I don’t think so. And so, it seems to me, we must make peace with not knowing it All, and learn to create well with what we do know, what we can know.

    One of the things it appears that you and I — along with many others — agree on, is that Consciousness, in one form or another (God, Tao, the Observer) created physical reality, not the other way around. We may even agree that the reality of Consciousness is more “real” than physical reality. This is why it is so important for us to expand our individual consciousness, to consider how we can maintain individuality while recognizing connection with a greater Reality, because then we will come to a better understanding of the process of Creation, of how we can more fully participate in it, steer it on a path of love and joyful manifestation. But this expansion into the Source is not, to my way of thinking, the same as “returning to” the Source.

    I think love and creativity are at the heart of All That Is, not loneliness, and this ongoing and infinite creation urges us to keep creating, not return to the Source and sit in contemplation of our lonely navel. That's how I experience the greater reality. I think that all the pain and problems of this world are simply a result of Consciousness creating with free will, exploring what is possible, and that we can and will continue to create worlds of infinite variety — and perhaps eventually learn that the pain and problems are in no way necessary. But I don’t see any “Fall”, or a deliberate separation of Creator from the created — I see All That Is continually exploring infinite avenues of creativity.

    Ack. I also see that I have written a comment almost as long as the original post. I’d better stop now. :-) Thanks for a thought-provoking post, Sam!

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