Episode 4 – God Is Pure Openness

God is pure openness, the essence of unlimited infinities. And there is a reason that God does not reveal itself directly: because an individual human being would be led to madness if they understood the fullness of God in a single moment, not to mention beholding the face of the Godhead without a divine intermediary. With what eyes could a person ever see God’s supernal glory? Not with human eyes, and not any eyes evolved of light, because the power of every sun is but a shadow cast from the luminosity of God’s creative activity, the absolute unity for whom universes are lightning bolts to be struck.  

The direct presence of God would annihilate an entire solar system, not to speak of a single person being presented with the fullness of God in a few moments. Such an idea, that God ought to be something easily known, and available to human senses to be objectively understood, this line of thinking is not only one of great misunderstanding, but saying it almost amounts to blasphemous speech as well, almost. Maybe you thought blasphemy was dead, or some kind of joke, like people often joke casually about karma, the karma police coming to get you. But blasphemy and karma are simply words from monotheistic and Buddhist dogma which represent fundamental laws of nature. In this case the laws of nature are psychic laws, because they are laws which govern conscious thought. These psychic laws represented by blasphemy and karma derive from the reality that there is a supraphysical force at work in the universe, and this force reflects every conscious action, word, and intention into another dimension, a subtler dimension which is more like undifferentiated, clear light than materiality, although this dimension is definitely consequential even if non-physical. These psychic laws do not operate like the physical laws of nature. The exact chain of causality is impossible to predict exactly, sort of like the quantum world, and yet these psychic laws are there, somewhere deep down, yeah I guess very much like the quantum world, very much homologous to the quantum level of nature’s functioning. Blasphemy is to deny the reality of this supraphysical force which governs the interactions of human wills and intentions.  

And so now back to the proposition at hand, the proposition that the subjectivity of any regular person should be able to make God into an object of thought, this idea that the insignificant, flawed, and hopelessly bounded condition of a single individual person ought to be able to sense the fullness of God, well that kind of claim would be a serious insult to God—if it were not so blantantly foolish and small-minded, that we should see it instead as an occasion for compassion. You’re sort of doing your blasphemy wrong there, by being so superficial you can’t even deny the deeper mysteries. And yet superficial atheists and true believers do share a belief: they both deny a superficial God. The superficial person then laughs at the true believer and how hard they are trying for something that’s probably not even real. While the true believer has faith that they will laugh last, this confused laughter of the superficial person is also an occasion for compassion, not something they hope to be able to taunt the non-believers with in the world to come. Because when the true believer does laugh last, they are not laughing at superficial people’s lack of faith. No, if I had to guess I’d say that final laughter of the true believer would probably be at. . .knowing. . .that no matter what they gave up in order to become Spirit, whether it was their entire fortune, or whether they gave up the last half of their life, or their favorite intoxication, or whatever it is, whether they just gave up trying not to be made fun of by others, or even if they only had to give up a sense of superficial certainty which bypasses the challenge of Spirit—they would laugh knowing that no matter what they had to offer up to begin down the path of Spirit, what they will end up with is God, who gives life and who sanctions joy, to rest in the presence of the living God in all its fullness. 

But what is this fullness of God? How can we know that we can’t know it if we don’t know what it is? How could we ever be certain we know we don’t know it, if we can’t ever know exactly what it is? 

But I say that we can know a shade of this fullness of God, because it is a fullness of emptiness, and we can sense this emptiness within ourselves. And so what could a fullness of emptiness be—except the very definition of openness? 

So that’s where you can first notice the openness for yourself, within yourself. Now let me tell you what tradition says. It has been passed down to us that no person has ever experienced the fullness and the direct presence of God and lived to tell about it, except Moses, who was given an appearance of God’s image on Mount Sinai, and of course the Christ, who was revealed to be himself part of the elemental fire of God’s presence. 

You might ask, If God is pure openness, and openness is goodness because it permits of infinite transformative potential, then why doesn’t the Old Testament just say that? Is it supposed to be the same God? 

I began this speech by saying that God is pure openness. And I can see why from that you might ask if I’ve even read the Old Testament. God does a lot of creating and destroying and judging and outlawing in that rather long book, most of which is not about, or does not even seem to be in line with this “pure openness” of yours. Is it supposed to be a New Testament thing only? But there again, why didn’t Jesus just say that over and over again? 

Instead of pure openness, Jesus talks a lot about what you can’t do and what you ought to be doing, basically forcing a value-system on everybody that you either have to accept or reject. That doesn’t sound like openness. Do you have some quotes from scripture for this pure openness thing? Because if not I don’t see how it’s useful to use the designation “God” for something which is both what the Bible is talking about and a thing which is pure openness, pure non-polarized energy, as was claimed at the outset. 

In order to answer this refutative interlocution, I will admit first of all that I have read the Old Testament, and although there was much of it that I wasn’t able to follow very closely, there are many places where the text is crystal clear, and I’m going to point to one of them, where the sense of pure openness is on full display, because I don’t see what other message you could get from the saying of Moses, as he began to speak to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6:4, having just come down from the mountain, he says to them: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord!” Do you hear it? You have to know the code first. And the key to the code is this: oneness is openness. The one Lord Moses speaks of is oneness itself, and there is only one, it is its own kind of thing, nothing else is like it. And this One is pure openness, eternal undifferentiated energy, and absolute unity. That’s the best way to describe this infinite force, the One above which is connected to everything. God is the creator, but not just once, God recreates the world every moment, every moment of existence is open-ended, every atom is open, every life is absolutely open, the universe is not a closed system.   

Is the beginning of that rather long book we call the Old Testament not a description of God opening up the world? Does not the whole Torah open up with the eternal One creating in this way, in Genesis 1:3, “Then God said: let there be light, and there was light.” Now close your eyes, and keep them closed, and then say to yourself with all the passion and desire within you: let there be light. What do you see? 

The light is like a door. If you want to open a place, one does not say “Let me make an entrance over here and an exit over there.” One says: “Let the door be open.” 

The God who said “let there be light” and connected our solar system’s sun to the heavens, that is the same God that lets a pure light shine inside you, when you practice turning inward with humility and reverence, and when you feel yourself in the chaotic darkness that is your fearful mind, God is that something which allows you everyday to say “let there be light,” to let yourself be open to goodness. This one source of pure openness is the opener of worlds, who says: let yourself be unified with oneness.  

And how about a gospel passage now, since you asked, how about Mark, Mark 7:32-36—“And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”) And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it.” 

Mark 10:24-27—“‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.” 

That for which all things are possible is an absolute openness. 

Mark 12:28-29—“Now one of the scribes had come up and heard their debate. Noticing how well Jesus had answered them, he asked Him, ‘Which commandment is the most important of all?’ Jesus replied, ‘This is the most important: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one.”’ 

If you were in a religious history class, they would probably teach you that originally this saying about the one God was about establishing monotheism vs. polytheism, or it was about a people and a culture being united by an idea of a single top god, or something like reconciling the solar deity with a moon deity tradition, something like that. But far from any political meaning, and beyond any philosophical meaning, the essential part of this teaching, which is the very core of the Torah, is about as far as you could be from such mundane matters. Embedded within this saying, that the Lord our God is One, is the mystical teaching par excellence. That is, if you’re ready for it, if you’ve prepared the ethical groundwork for it, then you’ll realize that everything is contained within this single teaching: God is the One, the holy One and the only One, oneness itself. The mystery of faith is right there staring you in the face. When you pray to the One, openness opens within you, so that you can receive the love of God, which is pure openness. And if you can receive the love of God, that means that you are connected to God, through love. Feeling this love in prayer is what lets you know God is present as a subtle form of energy. It is those times outside of the contemplation of prayer that you must rely on faith, which is knowing that God is there even when you don’t feel it.  

Faith is a conditional place, a place which requires an acceptance to get there. First you must accept that God is the absolute good, solely and singularly above all else, pure openness in comparison to everything else that exists, and that in comparison to that absolute goodness you are nothing. Once you’re there, then there is another place you can go to, which is an intermediate ground between that first conditional place and the question which soon follows. Or the question may even come upon you in that intermediate space between acceptance and the next level of faith, before you reach the destination, which is a new middle place that you are meant to explore creatively. The driving question of this conditional place is thus: What is the One anyway? What does that even mean? How can God be one and all, everything and nothing, here but not here, there but not there, outside and inside, the absence above and beneath all dualities; and yet also the creator of me? 

And I say to start your search for that answer with this certainty: the One is pure openness. And when you relate yourself to that openness, and continue to relate yourself to that openness over extended periods of time, that relationship between an individual person and pure openness is Spirit. 

You are a limited, finite being, and God is pure openness, and so through the process of relating yourself to God you can destroy everything within you that gets in the way of Spirit. Just that inkling of the openness of God will burn off every obstacle along the path of Spirit. This is the path that connects you to the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is the dimension which preserves every individual route toward openness, which people embark on in search of pure openness, which only exists as God. These singular routes toward openness are the only way to true freedom. True freedom is eternal co-determination with the absolute good, absolute unity, which is pure openness in a form the ethical subject can comprehend.

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