God part 2.
Well it’s been fifteen minutes since I wrote the title of this blog and I find an inner peace and serenity coming over me and the realization that I have little to say.
I keep coming back to an experience I had several years ago. An experience of not knowing. Here is what happened: I was sitting in my car—in a shopping center I think—when I felt a warm glow in my heart chakra and a very soft, loving voice telling me, “you don’t know anything.” To which I readily agreed. The warmth began to spread downward and ended in my base chakra and the voice spoke again, “you have never known anything,” from which I came to understand that everything I thought I knew since I first could know, I have never known. I was filled with a deep sense of peace and bliss which lasted for several hours. I was then told not to tell anyone about this at the time. As I write this I am filled again with that same peace and bliss.
I’ll get back to ya latter.
All is such a simple word. Everyone in every language knows what it means and how to use it, so much so we don’t really think about it. There are two uses for ALL one which refers to describing a quantity within certain parameters and the other used when speaking of the Deity. This in itself is a revelation of the nature of our relationship to deity.
Used as an adjective, pronoun or adverb all of us know what it means when we use it. A quantity of people or things that we wish to communicate about, as something’s included and therefore excluding the rest of a certain class, event or action. For example: “All the food in the refrigerator;” as opposed to all the food not in the refrigerator or; the first being a limited amount of food and the second is an enormous amount, if we don’t limit it again with another qualifier such as; all the food outside the refrigerator but in the house, as opposed to all the food outside my refrigerator which is in the rest of the world. So with the temporal things in the world all is always used as a qualifier to denote this as opposed to that a setting of boundaries to limit the things we are talking about and make ourselves clear.
We also use the synonym of whole: The whole apple means the same thing as all of the apple and every whole number between one and ten means the same thing as all whole numbers between one and ten. We may drop the qualifier of “whole” number to say all the numbers between one and ten which then includes fractions to as many decimal points as we wish which would make a huge amount of numbers but the last one would still be ten.
When it comes to God, we must first decide, as part of our definition, what are God’s parameters, if any. Are we talking about a God with limitations or one without limitations? Our current level of theological sophistication is rather new in the history of God talk. For centuries, God was always local and limited a God of boundaries. In many cultures throughout history and even today God—in some orthodox theologies, as we will discover—God is still considered local, partial, limited and only acts within a particular range of power. This local God treats his people better than those others by providing and protecting his people as long as they meet his requirements whatever they may be usually some form of acceptable moral behavior accompanied by sacrifices, worship and penance if required, further cementing the tribes identity as favored of their God. Not only was God limited but his adherents were also limited in number. Us few against the rest of ya.
In the Old Testament, the one God written about was considered local to the Hebrew people, who considered themselves the chosen people of the One supreme God, and all other gods were to be vanquished and put away from the camp, thus separating the deities and those who followed them. Does God have boundaries? Has he limited himself or have we anthropomorphized God by claiming we are the special people whom God only loves and cares for? This is an important question to answerer. If answered in the affirmative we actually create a limited God. If we say that God is love we limit his love to us his “special” people chosen by him to go to heaven and the rest be damned. We can see very easily by this the cause of all wars, strife, conflict, hatred, prejudice, and a love which has been turned upside down. In this view of God, God actually gives us permission to hate the “other” which of course is not love at all.
The breaking of this limited nationalistic God was the first hurdle the infant church had to jump over. We see this in the stories of Peter and Paul in the book of Acts. Peter was shown a vision three times of a blanket filled with unclean animals and was told to eat them. When Peter refused because it offended the religious teachings he was raised in, God told him to not call anything unclean; “When God says that something can be used for food, don’t say it isn’t fit to eat.” Of course this was talking about the gentile centurion Peter was later to meet. Being a gentile was bad enough but a centurion as well? God was really breaking the boundaries the Jewish religion had placed around themselves.
Paul, an example of the limited nationalistic view of God, may have gotten wind of this new vision of God, a God without boundaries. He saw it as his mission to wipe out the heretical new sect who had a different view of God than the one of the his “chosen” people. His conversion and subsequent assignment to the gentiles—those “unclean animals”—was the second step in the revelation that God is a God for all people and nations. But the idea that God had a special people did not die out, it was just moved to another group. The seeds of specialness did not take long to reemerge. In I Corinthians 1: 10-13. the ego/sin nature—which loves separation—had the Corinthians quarreling about what group they belonged to. People have a natural tendency to attach themselves to strong charismatic leaders and in doing so find pride in the feeling of being in the elite. Paul asks a very important question; “Is Christ divided?”
In the Christian tradition Christ is God. Therefore we can just as well ask; “Is God divided?”
I will leave you with one last quote by a contemporary Rabbi:
Deu. 6:4. Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God; the Lord is one.
“The basic credo of Judaism is that G-d is One. Not just that there is one G-d, but that his Oneness precludes the existence of anything apart from him. This is what I mean when I proclaim the Shema, Judaism’s central declaration of faith; ‘Hear, O Israel, Hashem our G-d, Hashem is One.” One. Alone. Nothing else.”
By Rabbi Yakov Asher Sinclair from Lens Work Extended # 84 Seasons of the Moon