What is God?

godGod is a personification of that world-creative energy and mystery which is beyond thinking and naming… [So] ….God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought. It is as simple as that.
Joseph Campbell.

All gods are homemade, and it is we who pull their strings, and so give them the power to pull ours….People believe in God because they have been conditioned to….[But] … It is natural to believe in God when you are alone – quite alone, in the night, thinking about death.
Aldous Huxley

God is in everything.
Baruch Spinoza (1632-77)

God is only an idea. And if horses have ideas their God will be a horse….[But] … If God exists, or anything similar, it has to be found inside you….[So] … God is not a thing but an experience ….the ultimate sense of well-being that “I belong to this world and it belongs to me.”

God is a concept of the mind that either empowers or disempowers you i.e. “God loves me so I shall go Heaven when I die” or “I am a sinner so I am going to Hell“.
Tom Chi, former Google X leader.

I searched for God and found only myself. I searched for myself and found only God.

I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong.
John Lennon

The highest revelation is that God is in every man…. [which leads]  …to the injunction Revere Thyself.
Ralph Waldo Emerson.

God dwells in you, as you, and you don’t have to do anything to be God-realized or Self-realized, it is already your true and natural state…. Heart is merely another name for the Supreme Spirit because He is in all hearts.
Ramana Maharshi

The human being is nothing but the manifestation of God.
A.H. Almaas

Any talk of God that doesn’t comfort you is a lie, said the 13th Century Christian mystic Meister Eckhart, and poignantly asked, How long will grown men and women in the world keep drawing in their colouring books an image of God that makes them sad?

The first four levels of the upper world represent four stages of your own awareness of your own nature. In the first stage, you experience God as outside yourself, which is common to most religions. In the second, you discover that God is within you through a process of self-enquiry. The classic question here is “Who am I?” and, later, “Who is it that is asking this question? In the third stage, you experience God as working through you; while in the fourth, you discover that God is working as you. God is no longer working through you, there is only God working, playing and praying…. you’re God masquerading as God.
Alberto Villoldo, shamanic teacher.

Wake up and find out eventually who you really are. In our culture, of course, they’ll say you are crazy or blasphemous…. But … in India … [they’ll say] …”Oh, congratulations, at last you found out.
Alan Watts

…Shiva does a dance in which the universe is finally destroyed. The moment of cosmic death is the waking up of Brahma, the creator, for as Shiva turns around and walks off the stage, seen from behind he is Brahma … and the beginning of it all again. And Vishnu is the preserver, that is to say the going on of it all, the whole state of the godhead being manifested in many, many face…. Suppose that god is the one playing all the parts, that god are the children being burned with napalm … [suffering cancer, being in a concentration camp. Then] … there is no victim except the victor. All the different roles which are being expressed, all the different feelings which are being felt, are being felt by the one who originally desires, decides, wills to go into that very situation….
Alan Watts citing Krishnamurti

Ken Wilber’s innovative Integral Theory is based on three fundamental perspectives: First person, “I”; Second person, “You/Thou”; Third person, “It”. So, for Wilber, “First person Spirit/God is the great I AM, the pure radical subjectivity or witness is every sentient being. Spirit in second person is the great Thou, something that is immeasurably greater than could ever possibly be in your wildest imagination, something before which surrender and devotion and submission and gratitude are the only appropriate responses. And Spirit in third person is the great web of life, the Great Perfection of everything that is arising. i.e: God as our deepest Self: God as the great all knowing Other; God as the entire Cosmic Process“.

Next, in analyzing God’s role in the story of The Angel and the World’s Dominion, which comes from the pen of the great Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, Parker J. Palmer writes: The truth about God in this story – and, I believe, about God in our lives is … unsettling: God is in this mess with us and has the same unfulfilled yearnings that make our human hearts ache. If reality is a continuous process of co-creation between ourselves and God, as I believe it is, then God is not a fixed quantity in some cosmic equation. Instead, God experiments, succeeds, fails, changes, learns, suffers, enjoys and grows – just as we do…. Buber’s story … describes a God who yearns for a better world, who pushes against the limits of things, who needs us as companions in this pushing, and who gets lonely when we don’t respond. Of course, Palmer continues, I am now describing a God who, in pushing against the limits of things, is pushing against the part of God’s own self…. [But] …If God is ultimate reality, then God must surely embody the paradox of destruction and creativity….At the heart of reality, we and God together … [the Oneness] …are stretched by the creative tension between death and life, finding ourselves tugged sometimes this way, sometimes that.

And then this heart-felt conclusion which I feel too: I find a profound flaw in the image of a God who has set everything up, past and present and future; who knows exactly what has been and is and will be; who has absolute power to control and change any of this; but who simply lets the script play itself out into eternity. In part, such a God is boring, quite unlike the God I experience. But the deeper flaw is that I cannot love such a God – nor can I feel that such a God loves me. Love is a dynamic relationship, a two-way exchange of energy. When God is conceived as an omniscient and omnipotent Prime Mover, no such energy is generated. Entropy ensues, the universe becomes a cold and empty place and the Great Work will never be done…. Only a God who is vulnerable and even needy will evoke our love in a way that completes the circuit of human-and-divine, the circuit in which each of us becomes a carrier of love’s energy, a co-creator of the Great Work to be done. Whenever that circuit is completed, we are jolted out of our illusion of isolation and into the knowledge that we can find right action only in relationship, in communion, in community. [For] Whatever else the Great Work will be, it surely will be a work of community … a communion that is the rebirth of the Messiah on earth. The mission of everyone on earth is to realize our relationship with the Creator or the source. In Hymns to an Unknown God, Awakening The Spirit In Everyday Life (Bantam books, New York, 2005).

Sam Keen, supporting Parker J. Parker’s thesis on community, writes: The final test of the spirit is not to be found on the mountain heights or in the depths of the solitary journey. Individual men and women of all ages have accomplished this. The great challenge is to learn how all kinds and conditions of human beings can dwell together peacefully in the valley of the shadow of history. Notwithstanding the shortsightedness of our modern spiritual cartographers and guides, most of the maps left by the great classical explorers indicate that, just past the mid-point of the journey, the road takes a 180-degree turn – away from the self and towards the community, away from the cultivation of the private realm and toward compassionate action in the public realm. Once re-membered and re-collected, the self must be forgotten and a new search undertaken for a communal home that lies somewhere beyond the horizon. To state the matter in a less metaphorical way, the development of a spiritual perspective involves two steps. First, I must aggressively affirm my unique individuality. Second, I must continually resist the nearly inevitable illusion of ego-centricity and explore the ways in which I rise out of, and take my life from, an encompassing sea. In the spirit dance, we continually go back and forth from “I” to “We”, from subjectivity to intersubjectivity, from solitude to communion.