Friday, May 2, 2008

the Vision of Wholeness

I’m back, blogging again after giving up the effort 13 months ago in the face of complication, depression and technological cussedness. I think – I think – I will be blogging at least once a week, maybe more. I have a backlog of potential material.
This is largely inspired by a correspondence with a young lady named Kate who is writing a paper on Paganism for her college philosophy class. Her paper is quite good, she will undoubtedly publish it herself and I’m not trying to steal her thunder.
But, as often happens with me, trying to explain myself to other people, I came to understand more clearly just what I was thinking. So, although I am indebted for Kate for helping me clarify my thoughts, she is in no way to be blamed for any foolishness that maybe detected here in.
The question is this: are all the gods and goddesses but aspects of one central principle, or are they distinct entities existing within the multiverse along with the rest of us entities, phenomena and things.
The unity of the godhead is a widely held belief among Pagans and many others who would not be at all interested in calling themselves Pagans. It is, as I understand, a major line of thought in Hinduism.
It’s a tenable position and one that I adopted at one point in my explorations. However, I have come to reject it, mostly because it simply seems alien to my personal experience of the gods. To me the gods are in no sense abstract, but real, distinct, and, in Richard Eberhardt’s phrase, “as sensual as tears or dreams.”
(Not to the say that all the gods and goddesses don’t sometime bleed into each other, but then I think most human are blurrier around the edges than they imagine themselves to be. We are, after all, only a set of more or less high probabilities.)
Of course, it sort of attractive when one is among dominant monotheists to be able to say “I really am like you guys because all the gods are just one god.” It makes small talk less complicated.
But I think there is a real metaphysical experience that lies at the root of this feeling of the oneness of the gods and of oneness with the gods.
Anyone who has gone very far in any mystical practice will have had a vision of the wholeness of the universe/multiverse, which is very comforting. I believe this vision is that which is called Ain Soph Aur in Kabala, Brahaman in Hinduism, or the Tao of Lao-Tse. When mystics confuse this with their local war god, the monotheistic error arises.
As it happens, just after I started thinking about this, I watched an episode of “Battlestar Galactica” in which the sometimes-treacherous Gaius Balthar, now prophet of the “one god” told his follower “something loves me.” I understand what he means: I’ve had that feeling myself, and I think the ease with which people who have been raised to believe that there is either “God” or nothing confuse this vision with the local war god who operates the Abrahamic religions, accounts largely for the continued credibility of those churches.
But to my mind it is a mistake to understand this wholeness, however harmonious and comforting it may be, as “God” or “the Gods.” The gods are part of it, but so are you and I and so are the cockroaches and viruses and clouds of gas in space.
More importantly, this “wholeness” doesn’t DO anything, because every action and all of its consequences are already complete in it.
It may love you, but not anymore than it loves itself or your opposite. It may be some creator god staring at itself from each end of time, like Narcissus enthralled by its inflection. But it cannot be your guide or your companion or your protector or your lover. This is what the real gods are like.

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