At best many of the current debates about God are noisy and ill-humoured; and more often than not they are spiteful and cruel. At worst they are despicable inversions of any notion we might have of righteousness or ethical behaviour. In the West, aggressive materialists appear determined to stamp out all expressions of religious faith from public life. From their perspective, belief in God is an outdated superstition, delusional, and incompatible with a modern civilised world. Some of them openly argue that religious faith is the root of all evil. Because of the corruption and decay of religious institutions and practices, these detractors have been able in large parts of the modern world to make steady progress towards achieving their mission. In other parts of the world fundamentalist religious tradition-keepers are making every effort to turn back history by eradicating all manifestations of modernity, particularly the modernising and materialistic influences of the West. If some of the attacks on traditional religions by materialists are hypocritical, malicious and ominous, the religious communities themselves can hardly claim the higher moral ground. Child abuse, the treatment of women, sectarian hatred and the slaughter of innocents are too common and widespread for that.
However, we are free to reject these and all similar perspectives as distortions of the truth. We can leave the degraded followers of a wrathful god and the nihilistic atheists to their profitless hostilities; and if we prefer, we can choose to explore more positive aspects of our nature. For we can connect instead with those who have drawn on fine and elevated ideas about the Divine, and in so doing arrive at the more inspiring conception of God as the eternal source of all Truth, all Love, and all Life itself.
Belief in and worship of God is not the exclusive privilege of organised religion. The mushrooming growth in popularity of the confused and confusing new age teachings proves that this is so. The main religions, in the West at least, are failing to strike a chord in the hearts and minds of their potential congregations. This is not really surprising because while there are many precious echoes of the ancient truths in the teachings of all of the major faiths, they have too often become distorted and the institutions themselves corrupted. The modern seeker of the True Religion must be a good miner indeed to bring to light that which the priests of early civilisations, now long gone, passed down within their inner circle from generation to generation. Each passing of the torch of truth reduced the purity of its flame as through cycle after cycle the priests tragically allowed the glories and treasures of their great religions to be lost. So much so that some observers now pray for the renewal of the modern religions which in their fallen state have done so much to distort and misrepresent the original true and simple faith.
We need to be careful here though. There is still enormous value in the best of all the great world faiths. To reject our religions out of hand would be foolish indeed. Better that we learn to detect in them what remains of the original wisdom.
Also, there has never been a time when humanity as a whole has been in possession of the Truth about God. True wisdom has always been in short supply on Earth. In whichever period in history we choose to investigate, the vast majority of us would have been justly identified by one or other of Bacon’s definitions of the declinations from religion:
“heresies, when we serve the true God with a false worship; idolatry, when we worship false gods, supposing them to be true; and witchcraft, when we adore false gods, knowing them to be wicked and false”
It’s hard to imagine a time when most men did not stray from the true worship of the True God. For, given the limitations of human nature, such worship must always have been beyond all but the wisest and strongest of minds. But having said that, it’s equally as difficult to imagine a time when so many of us can have managed to have strayed so far.
The founders and rejuvenators of our great religions were great men. Each periodic renewal of the Truth provided new opportunities for men and women to free themselves from their limitations – if they really wanted to. However, it’s likely that then, as now, most did not, for they were, as now, too much in the grip of their lower selves. The primacy afforded to material riches and the gratification of every desire to the exclusion of spiritual ideals makes it difficult for a person to break free. Who knows, perhaps it is more difficult today than it has ever been. Whatever the truth of this, to establish the proper balance between the material and the spiritual aspects of life requires a sustained and sincere effort – an effort most individuals are incapable of making. But who among us cannot at least make a start? Who is so imprisoned that they cannot take the first faltering step towards true freedom?
It is up to each one of us to begin the journey. We cannot just sit on our hands blaming others for our predicament. We cannot absolve ourselves from responsibility and instead heap all the guilt on our public institutions of faith. It is individual men and women who allow anger, greed and hatred to take hold within their communities. But by trying, as best we can, to establish a more balanced way of life for ourselves we contribute our part. By quietly changing ourselves we help to change the world. And this quiet change cannot take place without the assistance of God, whatever our conception of Him or It.
A sincerely felt and simple faith in God as the Divine source of all Goodness takes us a step further towards our inner guide who yet patiently awaits to lead us further on. It provides an inexhaustible reservoir of good thoughts, words and actions; and by turning our heart towards God we open ourselves to his Light which is all Peace and Love and Wisdom.
We cannot know God with or through our physical senses, however much we extend them with technology. The purpose of these senses is to experience material life. However, many of the ancient teachers, sages and messengers confirm that a wondrous jewel from the Treasure that is God lies hidden within the heart of man, and that this can be known intuitively by the sincere and pious mind. The great trailblazers and renewers of the Light down through recorded history have ever urged the seeker to commit his heart and soul to God. For only thus can the dreadful cycles of rebirth be broken; only thus can we rise above the world to eternal life in the heavenly realms; and only thus can we win the fullness of the inner peace we all seek.
If we search within the silence of our innermost being, we can discover the Truth that God is a God of Light and not of Darkness; and that He is not an angry God, but one of Compassion and Mercy. If we learn how to meditate peacefully we can discover for ourselves that ultimately God is the Holy Source of all that is best in human nature: of gentleness, patience, kindness, sincerity, and a myriad other powers of our spiritual Self. If we sit as students at the feet of those great men who have shed light upon the true path, and if the best part of ourselves is able to sincerely seek the Truth within our hearts we will come to know God as the basis of all true virtue and the greatest possible Good. Thus we can come to know that we are ever accountable to His eternal Laws; and that when we try to calm and tame the worst of our lower selves, we do His Will, and we contribute our part in fulfilling His Purpose.
But we will also learn to recognise that there can be no ‘solving’ of God’s Mystery, for the Supreme Being must forever remain incomprehensible in its essence. Unlike the ever-changing worlds of man, God is unalterable and changeless. As the Divine Cause it embraces the All, yet is not itself circumscribed. It is at once the all-creating Spiritual Father, the pregnant Womb of Universal Nature, and the ever-coming Saviour and Good Shepherd. It is these and all other manifestations of its own Divine Nature. There could never have been a time when it was not; and there never can be a time when it shall cease to be. Neither is there a place in which the Divine is not present. It is pure Goodness beyond conception. It is all Grace and Love and Mercy. It is the Protector of the good and virtuous, Redeemer of the lost and wayward, Teacher of the seeker of Truth, and the Healer of all ills. It is infinite Power and Justice and Majesty; it is above all possible Beauty and Joy and Kindliness.
So lofty was the conception of God in parts of the ancient world that many of the priests refused to even speak of the Deity, which they deemed so far transcended any possible notion of man that it was blasphemous for us to worship the Divine Being in any other way than in silent adoration. So let us all, in the spirit of the wise ancients, leave aside disputation and contention. Let us above all cease from our vain and conceited imaginings that belief in God is no more than an infirmity in the human mind. Let us also shun the fierce followers of an angry god. Let us turn our back to such profanity and instead let us gather into the most silent and peaceful part of our nature the simple and sincere thought of utter gratitude for the Blessings and Mercies bestowed on us by the Lord and God of All.