THEOSOPHY, Vol. 11, No. 5, March, 1923
(Pages 227-230; Size: 12K)

WHAT IS GOD?(1)

THE whole world now, as always, has within itself some sort of a perception, not by sight or hearing, but by feeling, that there is something back of all that is; that if only we could know and understand that, all the problems, all the miseries, all the seeming cruelties and inequalities in life, would be ironed out. Every man by virtue of this causative seeking something in himself, must forever be asking this question: "What is God?" He never can rest until he has found for himself the true answer.

What can we form in the nature of a concept of the Deity -- of that Causeless Cause, as motionless as Space, as changeless as Space, as undisturbed as Space, by whatever comes in or whatever dissolves? Let us consider that the greatest power the Deity can have is the power of direct perception. We too, have that power; so has every other being in the universe. The range and exercise of that power is very limited in some beings, very great in other beings, but all beings have that power, are that power itself. However we have changed in body, however we have changed our minds, the power of perception that is in us as adults is the same power that was in the new-born infant; and coincident and concurrent with the power to perceive, is the power to act in accordance with our perceptions. If the highest cognizable aspect of the Unknown Source of all is the power to perceive, then the power of action may be called the second aspect.

What is the third aspect? Every religious scripture, without exception, shows a God who sees, a God who acts in accordance with his perceptions, and after having acted in accordance with his perceptions repented of some of the things he did; he changed his mind, just as we do. Why did he change his mind? It is because of the third aspect of the Highest that we can imagine -- not only the power to perceive, not only the power to act in accordance with the perceptions, but also the power to experience the results of the action and to determine by those results whether the perception was true or not. Each one has that power to perceive, the power to act in accordance with his perceptions, and each one is incessantly experiencing the results of the dual play of those two powers; the greater the perception, the greater is the action in accordance with the increment acquired.

So, in a universal sense, in an eternal sense, every being high or low, is in his true essence God: he is Spirit, if by Spirit is meant the Highest. No man can imagine anything more fundamental than the power to perceive; no man can imagine the power to perceive unless conjoined with it there is the indispensable power to act in accordance with the perception, because perceiving is an action itself. No man can conceive of a being who is able to see, able to act in accordance with what he sees, and yet incapable of learning and gaining something as the result of his actions. Upon reflection each one can see that all he knows has been acquired in just this way -- by experience -- yet it is possible to benefit by another's experience and avoid thereby having to go through the same experience himself.

We have to revise our idea of God to where we see that "God" has a definite, an exact, a scientific meaning that anybody can understand without any intermediary; for the first true perception of the Deity is that it is in one's self. If one examines the Christian Bible he will find no basic power ascribed to Jehovah or Christ that he himself has not. Christ knew that; the priests and pharisees did not. If we have that power, what are we? Divine in our basic nature; but that gives us an immense basic separation from what we all want to be separated from -- pain, sorrow and despair. The moment a man sees that the power which lives and thinks in him is identically the same power that lives and thinks in every other man, at once the personal notion falls off him, sloughs away. What makes us unhappy when the conceit is driven out of us is the fact that we are isolated, believe ourselves to be alone in the universe; and when it does happen to us that conceit is destroyed, something worse even than that -- despondency -- takes its place; or perhaps pride effervesces: "If I am separate from all others, solitary, unique, why, then, there are three classes of beings I can look at; those who are higher than I am; those who are lower than I am; those who are on the same step of the ladder of life as myself." Which do we like to look at? We all like to look down and every time we make that kind of a comparison between ourselves and every other being, it is always to his disadvantage.

But when I gain the true, primary, primitive, axiomatic perception, "I am the Deity myself; the only God I shall ever know is the God in myself;" that "I AM THAT," then my observation of my fellows throughout nature shows me that the same God is in everyone of them; then I see that God as Being is infinite in numbers; God as the Source is that unconditioned Unity in which all these Gods exist. No wonder, then, H. P. Blavatsky once wrote that the day was coming when finally men would perceive that monotheism and polytheism are not irreconcilable. God as the abstract, unconditioned, uncontained Source of all is one, indivisible, omnipresent, the witness invisible; but God in manifestation is the Gods. Every being is a God; the ant is a God, because in him is the same divine power to perceive directly on his own account, to act directly on his own account and, in accordance with the range of his perceptions, to experience the results of his actions, just as much as in Christ, just as much as in that idea of God which makes Him "an infinite being."

What we need, then, is first of all to clear up our concept of the Deity; co-existent with that we shall get a true concept of ourselves, what our identity actually is; contemporaneously with that, we shall get the perception that every other man is from identically the same Source, has the same power of perception, and is a perceiver on his own account; only one power to perceive, but an infinite series of perceivers; only one power of action, but an infinite host of actors; only one law of effect following causation, but an infinite series of effects brought about by every causal being. The moment a man gets the fundamentally ethical perception of the nature of the Deity -- God -- the fundamentally clear perception of his own nature as being identical with IT, what then? Then, he sees embodied Divinities on every hand, all from the same Source, all undergoing the same processes, all at work in the vast school of life, eternally changing classes, changing teachers, changing lessons, but always going to school, to gain Self-knowledge. It behooves us, then, to take our stand upon our basic divine nature.

A saying in the Upanishads puts it, "What room can there be for sorrow and what room for doubt in him who sees and knows that all creatures are the same in kind, differing only in their degrees of intelligence?" No man can then ever look down on another being, not merely another man, but any being below man, because he knows that as they now are, he once was. Who would despise a child because he himself happened to be an adult? He knows that there was a time when he also was a child, and that adultship is not a sign of superiority, but a sign of responsibility; that whatever the child may be, he once was. We see a being who is higher than ourselves; what he is now, we may become. From this point of view the Christian Christ becomes not a unique figure, but a majestic figure: not an objective revelation but an example for our inspiration. What Christ is, any man, every man, may become; what we are, Christ once was. Every kingdom below man contains souls, spiritual beings, who are climbing the slow ladder of evolution, gaining an ever-increasing fund of knowledge and experience in regard to Self. Some day they will arrive at man's estate. And every man is attending a higher grade in the same school; some day he will see the truth of these things as thousands of men now do see it, and will act according to what he sees; then he will become a Christ himself.

What is the difference between Christ and us? A difference in degree of knowledge, not in kind. What is the difference between the longing in the heart of every man to understand the mysteries of life and death and all that goes between, and the knowledge of a Christ? A difference in degree, but not in kind. The whole of the sorrows and woes of civilization springs from one source -- fundamental misconceptions as to Deity, as to man, as to Nature, as to Law, as to duty, as to life; all this vast amount of horrors that life presents to every man is due to ignorance in the spiritual sense. Spiritual ignorance is misconception as to the nature of Spirit -- to think that to be Spirit that is not Spirit; misconception as to the nature of Soul -- to think that to be Soul which is not Soul; misconception as to purity -- to think that to be pure which is in fact impure; finally, misconception as to Reality -- to think that to be Real which is phenomenal, to think that to be enduring which is unenduring. Therefore the sacred chanters of the divine measures of the most ancient Upanishads had one single refrain for all their exhortations: "Seek not for the enduring in the midst of unenduring things; the Self is to be known by the Self," not by books, not by prayers, not by churches, not by faith; the Self is to be known by the self which affirms that It is: "That Thou Art."


COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:

OCCULTISM -- TRUE AND FALSE

Occultism is not telling of the inward psychic life, but the power of silence.

Occultism is not the pretence of knowing more than others know, but the willingness to appear to know less.

Occultism is not to appear always to be right. But a readiness to accept correction from those less wise.

Occultism is not in writing finis to one's learning, but finding every man and circumstance a teacher.

Occultism is not the following of a policy, but the maintenance of a principle in all policies.


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ONE (1) FOOTNOTE LISTED BELOW:

COMPILER'S NOTE: I added this footnote; it was not in the article.

(1) There is another, but different, article with the same exact name. It is the one just before this one. It provided the "Next article" link to here so that there might be less confusion.
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