Being God

It is an article of faith among many spiritual paths today that men and women are in some way part of God, are capable of being God, or a manifestation of God, or have a divine component in their nature. Actress Shirley MacClaine took a lot of flak for stating her belief that, “I am God!” Many New Age paths proclaim that all are God, that all have a divine nature at the core of their being.

So how about you – do you believe it? Do you believe that perhaps there might be something in you a little better than all those things that you did, but would be horrified for anyone to know about?

The Unity Church expresses it this way:

 We are each individual, eternal expressions of God. Our essential nature is divine and therefore inherently good. Our purpose is to express our divine potential as realized and demonstrated by Jesus and other master teachers. The more we awaken to our divine nature, the more fully God expresses in and through our lives.

Religious Science, which like Unity is an offshoot of the New Thought movement, says that:

We believe in God, the living Spirit Almighty; one, indestructible, absolute, and self-existent Cause. … We believe in the individualization of the Spirit in Us, and that all people are individualizations of the One Spirit. We believe in the eternality, the immortality, and the continuity of the individual soul, forever and ever expanding.

United Centers for Spiritual Living, What We Believe

A Course In Miracles (ACIM), a modern book aimed at achieving spiritual transformation, was first published in 1976 and makes no bones about claiming that humanity and God are one and the same:

The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself…

 A Course in Miracles, p. 147

A lot of people today probably see the Mormons or Latter Day Saints (LDS) as being somewhat old fashioned in their beliefs, but their founder Joseph Smith was a lot more New Age than most people realize. In one of the LDS scriptures we read:

The elements are the tabernacle of God; yea, man is the tabernacle of God, even temples;

Doctrines & Covenants 93:35

If that doesn’t sound radical enough to you, then try the following from a sermon given by Joseph Smith, Jr. in 1844:

Here then is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God. You have got to learn how to make yourselves Gods in order to save yourselves…

The King Follett Discourse, Joseph Smith, Jr.

One could argue, though most traditionalists would deny this conclusion, that the Christian Bible itself supports the conclusion that man has a divine nature. In the Old Testament:

I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

Psalms 82:6 (KJV)

Jesus in the New Testament seems to grant validity to the above passage in Psalms when he quotes it while arguing that it is not blasphemy for him to claim to be a son of God:

Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

John 10:34-36 (KJV)

The above quote from John is even more clear if the very last line is correctly translated. The definite article “the” does not exist in the original Greek and we should read that Jesus says “I am a son of God,” not the one and only son of God.

The Apostle Paul wrote also

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

Philippians 2:5-6 (KJV)

These views of the divinity of man or the existence of divinity in man are in strong contrast to traditional Christian beliefs which largely see man as created by God and in no way part of God, or containing any part of God’s nature. Traditionalists mostly see these ideas as arrogance. In order to humble ou they might quote from Job in the Old Testament:

Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Job 38:4-7  (KJV)

The traditionalist hopes to humble you with this quote. Who do you think you are? But in truth we were there, and before. That which has no end has no beginning. In physical life we forget these things so we can do a new thing.

Author Joseph J. Dewey has a powerful analogy where God is the wave (think of a wave in the ocean) and we are a drop of water in that wave:

A drop of water is insignificant when it is removed from a giant wave, but when it is joined back into the wave and cooperates with it, it then becomes the wave. We are like drops of water that have separated from the Life wave we call God. When we join back in with the God wave we become one with it and we can say with all the other billions of lives: “I am the wave” or “I AM God.”

Gods of the Bible, The Nature of God and Christ, Joseph J. Dewey

We may only be a “drop in the ocean” that is God, but if even only a molecule, we are still of God, and capable of being one with God. We can go with the wave and not fight it. That is the secret of being God.


Is God Perfect?
What Is God?
Who Is God?
What Question Would You Ask God?

Illusion and Reality

What is illusion and reality? Kenneth Wapnick, a prominent teacher of A Course In Miracles (ACIM) and founder and President of the Foundation for A Course in Miracles (FACIM) says that:

“…there is no world out there and projection makes perception…”

A Course in Miracles: A Hope-filled Spirituality

There is of course a lot more to this quote than this. For example, Wapnick also writes that:

“Many other spiritualities, especially in the East, talk about the world being an illusion. Yet none of them talks about the purposive nature of the world, why we made the world, why we choose to be born into this world, why we continually choose to have all these thoughts, however illusory they may be. There is a reason for all of that: We are terrified of disappearing into the Presence beyond the veil.”

In other words we are afraid of being one with God and perhaps losing our illusion of separate identity. Indeed the idea that the world is largely illusion is a well known meme in spiritual teachings.

Proving that our perceptions contain a fair amount of illusion proves nothing about the reality of what we perceive. Those, like ACIM, that wish to convince that all is illusion have no real argument because if what they say is true, then what they say is also an illusion and there is no point to it.

I choose to go on the assumption that there is something “out there.”  It is entirely possible however that our perception contains significant illusion manufactured by our mind, not to trick us, but to help us survive.

What evidence is there that at least some part of our perception is illusion, that is, not the “real” reality but an imperfect representation largely constructed by our brains? Well, modern science as it has acquired the means to truly investigate how the mind works tells us a lot about how the mind constructs our picture of reality.

Quoting from How Your Brain Works:

Your brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves make up a complex, integrated information-processing and control system known as your central nervous system. In tandem, they regulate all the conscious and unconscious facets of your life. The scientific study of the brain and nervous system is called neuroscience or neurobiology.

In studying this scientists figured out that this “information processing and control system” adds a fair amount of what I would call “interpretation” to the data it receives and processes. Our eyes receive information in a single plane but create the illusion of depth and 3-dimensionality to our perceptions.

If we exist at all, an assertion which some ACIM seems to question, we as individuals are individual biological machines to a large degree, machines programmed to optimize that reflection of reality we perceive in ways that guarantee we will survive and reproduce.

Given that there is a real world out there then those “machines” that give us a picture of reality most conducive to survival reproduce and those less well optimized most often do not.

Way back in the mists of pre-history you have two early humanoids and both hear a noise in the bushes. The processing computer of one said, “That sounds like a lion prowling through the grass looking for dinner!” The processing computer of the other said, “I wonder what this is? I think I’ll go have a look!” Guess which one you are most likely descended from?

We hear and see many things and our brain filters this and interprets and it sometimes inserts something (“that sounds like a lion“) that is optimized for survival. Google “optical illusion” and you will any number of ways our mind adds “interpretation” to perception.

So yes, a lot of what we call “perception of reality” is created by the mind. You might say our brains are optimized to perceive reality in ways that help us survive. Well, at least to help us survive in a more primitive world.

Now as we become more sophisticated and understand far more about how our minds work, we need to augment the primitive constructs of our perception with constructs of the mind that truly seeks to understand perception and reality.

We, as the “ghost in the machine,” need to learn to use our machines better and to understand them better to get a truly accurate understanding of what is “out there.”

Perfection Is An Illusion

We are always searching for perfection,  but never finding it. We invent theories of how perfection exists, just not here, not now. Perfection is an illusion.

For the Greek philosopher Plato perfection only existed in Forms and everything in the material world was merely an imperfect image of those Forms. Real perfection existed somewhere other than where we live.

For Christians perfection resides in God. God is perfect and all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful. If perfection is an illusion, what is God? Not an illusion, but not an unchanging image of perfection either.

The ACIM (A Course In Miracles) folks have an answer. The world is not real and it is only a dream.

[ACIM] states that everything involving time, space, and perception is as illusory. It presents a nondualism which states that God is the only truth and reality: perfect, unchanging, unchangeable, extending only love, though not in time and space, which can not really be comprehended from a dualistic perspective. –Wikipedia

Dualism” or “duality” is a big no-no to many into this kind of philosophy. Perfection has to be unchanging (which in itself makes sense) so anything that changes is neither perfect, nor real.

I come to a different conclusion.

At some level the world exists and we live in it. A lot of how we perceive it is an illusion at some level too. We see solid objects but know from science that a lot we perceive is just empty space, occupied by tiny atoms, or particles, or something – possibly just waves or vibrations that feel solid.

To me the world is self-evident proof that absolute perfection is an illusion. God is not perfect and has never been so. That is not a bad thing.

The real God, of whom the Christian Apostle Paul said that “in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28) is not an absolute, finished, perfect being. That God is “becoming” that which it choses to be. God has goals, plans, and purpose in this existence, and you are part of that plan.

Supposedly God gave his name to Moses thus:

“I will be what I will be” (Exodus 3:14, alternative translation)

The above is the alternative translation in the NIV (New International Version) that usually goes along the static line of “I AM THAT I AM” that most are probably familiar with.

Author Joseph J. Dewey has argued that the most accurate translation would be:

I am becoming that which I choose to become (I AM BECOMING)

This takes into account, as does the alternative NIV version, that the underlying Hebrew verb is in the future, not present tense. If you think about it a bit, that kind of God or being is a lot more likely to sympathize with our problems than some absolute, perfect being beyond duality.

We too, like that God, are in a process of becoming something more. Maybe that is because we are part of that God? Think about it.


11/3/2015

A Course In Miracles (ACIM) seems to believe that which is not perfect is not real, or something like that. I would like to suggest another possibility. Nothing which is real is perfect. Nothing, not even God.

Perfection is an illusion, a belief about what something can be without any objective evidence to show that it is possible. It is an imaginary thing, much like medieval theologians arguing about how many angels could fit on the head of a pin.