tumhe attanāva lokesa

What is “God?”

Some might answer simply that God is that which created the universe and set time in motion. Others would likely focus on commandments handed down by God, saying that God brings order to the chaos or that God tells us how we can best live our lives (both for our own benefit and for God’s glory). Others yet might expound on God by saying it is that which is unknowable because it resides outside of creation.

There are certainly as many opinions on God as there are beings which hold opinions. Counting humans alone (our world’s most obviously opinionated beings), that’s over seven billion. If we count animals (a monumental undertaking, no doubt), some estimate we’re talking about 20 quintillion (20,000,000,000,000,000,000) beings, although I doubt most of them have much concept or concern about God. If single-cell organisms count, well…

So there are a lot of opinions…

Perhaps God is not something which lies outside at all, but something innate to all beings. At this point, we’re certainly not implying that God is somehow all knowing and powerful, but that all beings manifest some feature of divinity, even if only in a limited way due to their own proclivities. This being so, each instance in which we perform negatively charged actions we also negatively affect God, all other beings, and possibly the entire cosmos in some small way. Inversely, positive activity would glorify the same. This sheds a small light onto what the Buddha seemed to claim was an intrinsically moral universe (Kamma).

Perhaps some might call this explanation of God an extension of the doctrine of “Interbeing,” although others might see it as a bastardization of it. It seems fitting to the writer to see all beings as inherently linked to each other and the physical universe by their minds and volition. Perhaps this is to say that beings only exist in the same plane, space, and time if they are sufficiently similarly linked in this way. Beings on the periphery of the human plane (animals, and sometimes “ghosts”) are often barely perceptible to humans, and as such our understanding and interactions with them tend to be much more limited. Similarly, a human living in our time would not “fit in” if he had arisen 2,571 solar revolutions ago (the approximate time of the historical Buddha Gotama).

Perhaps, to borrow a phrase from Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), “Thou art God,” isn’t so far from the truth. The Buddha is said to have taught that the objective world is a manifestation of the mind (“mind made”); maybe the world we share is the collective mental construct of all beings who come to exist within this plane.

Maybe we are God.

strangeland

Stranger in a Strange Land Cover Art ’91

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Shared Divinity

The absolute disdain with which we often treat our fellow beings is in direct opposition to our shared divinity. In as much as we are each a manifestation of the divine, we necessarily take equal share of the damage inflicted by our own will upon those around us.

While the strongest of us should always stand up in defense of the weak; in defiance of that which opposes the divine, it is more often that those in positions of power behave in abhorrent ways with little but contempt and prejudice in their heart.

A jealous, contemptuous mind cannot truly love; neither may a loving heart harbor ill-will. It is in this way we are conflicted, as only one of these dispositions may gain expression in a single moment yet our innate delusion yields us to either almost at random.

Remain aware of the state of your mind — one continually remakes the world in his or her image.

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