ζ Unspoken Questions about the Divine ζ
It may be hard to believe, given the present divisiveness of our world, but there once was a time when the entire human race agreed on something. Starting well before the time of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, long before the Old Testament, and extending far into the 20th century, there was a remarkable consensus among our forbears. They believed, universally, that the will of God was manifest in and through natural disasters. “God-fearing folk,” whose ranks included virtually everyone, viewed catastrophes—like a “hundred-year flood” or a “five hundred-year earthquake"—as signs of the wrath of deity.
In fact, early religions arose out of a sensed need to appease the gods so that people might be spared the ravages of nature (as well as invasions from marauding tribes). Human beings always had weapons to fend off their enemies, but mankind was defenseless when it came to the implacable forces of Mother Nature. The destruction of homes, crops and livelihoods through natural disasters evoked a spirit of atonement in our ancestors, as they turned to their God for forgiveness. Central to all religions was the idea that “acts of God” were precipitated by unrighteous behavior. A sense of the subtle workings of the laws of cause and effect was intrinsic to the beliefs of pre-modern peoples.
Then along came the scientific revolution. Modern science was concerned solely with visible causes and effects subject to repeated physical proof. The religious idea that an invisible “higher power” could affect human life was, over time, cast into the realm of superstition. Within the scientific paradigm, earthquakes were caused by the movement of the earth’s tectonic plates. Torrential flooding resulted from shifts in oceanic temperatures and winds. By treating natural forces purely as physical phenomena, science loosened the grip of traditional religions. First dogma and doctrine came under assault; later, with the exposure of hypocrisy, the moral authority of religious hierarchies declined.
Virtually all human hierarchies suffered a similar fate in the latter part of the 20th century, as a great leveling process occurred. Long-established pecking-orders lost moral legitimacy while movements for justice and freedom surged. The north star of people’s liberation struggles was the freedom to live as each person chose. So it was that by the end of the last century, the old man with a flowing white beard seated on a throne in heaven—the highest Authority on Earth for millennia—was barely a blip on the screen. The God conceived in man’s image was declared dead by Western intellectuals in the 1960s. By the time the new millennium dawned, Deity had become almost imperceptible in the common culture.
God Reappears from Within
Out of this vacuum there arose a new facet of divinity, unnoticed initially by all but a relative few. Because it was born of inner experience it remained hidden from the larger world. Starting in the 1960s, individuals across the globe began to awaken spontaneously to the reality of the higher Self—the inner spark of God that is the soul, the part of us that senses the oneness of all souls and the reality of unseen dimensions of life. Many thousands of Westerners who had left behind the judging authoritarian Father-God of their youth began to experience divinity as the flickering light of spiritual understanding and the nascent love of the divine Self. But questions about the Source of this swelling tide of higher consciousness were off the table.
Even as the new stream of universal spirituality turned into a wave encircling the Earth, it remained outside the context of modern Western culture and thus invisible to the global media. It took the escalation of natural disasters in the new millennium for the emerging Soul to appear in headlines and on TV screens. Images of compassion, love, and sacrifice flashed around the globe as people voluntarily reached out to help strangers in the wake of each disaster. Increasingly, faces of goodwill peered out from the wreckage of neighborhoods, villages and towns across the planet, revealing the higher Self entering the world and recognizing itself in others.
There are, of course, countless other signs of the Soul's emergence: the swell of books and websites related to the soul; the untold thousands of NGOs devoted to serving human need and protecting animals and the environment; the growing recognition of Beauty, Truth and Goodness as “the divine triad”in the world. The budding soul of humanity is also evident in inspired works of creative artists using sound, light and color to evoke inner realms; in the work of healers who treat the subtle energy body—the soul’s vehicle in the world; in scientists’ explorations of subtle energies and invisible dimensions. Each “flower” of higher awareness is a harbinger of the coming era when awakened souls will together create an enlightened culture.
The Evolutionary Impulse Has a Source
The circle of people who recognize the spark of God within the human soul is ever widening. Yet the God who creates and pervades all of life is largely missing from contemporary spiritual writings, giving rise to curious anomalies. There is a popular idea, for example, that an “evolutionary impulse” is responsible for the spiritual awakening of our time. But this impulse is portrayed as self-originating—as if it were independent of any source. Likewise, the reality of a path of spiritual evolution is gaining recognition, but the question of where this path leads receives scant attention, leaving many contemporary seekers with a partial sense of the nature of God.
A more inclusive understanding is presented in the modern wisdom teachings, written for seekers in this transition to a new era. These teachings describe two aspects of divinity: God Immanent, residing in the human soul, and God Transcendent—the creative Life force, the Higher Power that determines the course of evolution, the emanating source of the divine attributes of Purpose, Love, and Intelligence. It is revealed in these teachings that God Immanent and God Transcendent converge on the path to enlightenment through inner experience. As a result of spiritual practice, a relationship is forged between the Self and the Source. Over time, belief in divinity is replaced with conviction, and conviction is supplanted by direct knowledge of God.
We are told that such direct experience and inner knowing will become more common as the Aquarian Age unfolds. At present, however, the word "God" remains mysterious to the post-modern mind. Old definitions and associations have fallen by the wayside with nothing to replace them. Yet as threats to life on earth intensify, this issue confronts us with growing immediacy. Staggeringly powerful forces of nature press themselves into our awareness, leaving us with a host of unspoken questions. While meteorologists ascribe devastating events to the whims of Mother Nature, the “God question,” long under quarantine, returns with new insistence.
Silently we wonder who or what is ravaging Earth? Is it by chance that some regions suffer from torrential flooding while contiguous areas experience severe drought? Who or what determines the circuitous paths of hurricanes and tornadoes that devastate one part of a city and leave the rest intact? If an All-Knowing, All-powerful Intelligence is complicit in such events, what is Its purpose? Our ancestors may have posed similar questions when, for example, lightning destroyed their homes and livelihoods. Later, with the invention of the lightning rod and similar devices, human beings began to feel safe from the forces of nature and to believe that we controlled our destinies. But the ferocity of natural forces has made it clear that our security no longer lies in manmade devices.
A New Science Offers Answers
Nevertheless, the old order plods on. World leaders continue to ignore the fact that a massive change in course is needed to avoid the tipping-point that scientists warned of years ago. We're accustomed to thinking of our species as rational, yet we seem immobilized and at a loss to explain why. Is it inertia? Self-interest? Hubris—resistance to acknowledging forces more powerful than ourselves? Or is it fear of squarely facing the consequences of our actions? Whatever the reasons for ignoring the demand for change, each cataclysm brings us closer to realizing that ordinary human consciousness is insufficient to the existential challenges facing us.
A new set of answers, along with a new understanding of divinity, is found in the modern wisdom teachings. Just as the God of the Bible was exiled from modern culture for failing to satisfy the rational scientific mind, we're learning that answers issuing from that level of mind are insufficent to solving the global crisis. An esoteric science, contained in the ageless wisdom, explains that the answers we need lie at a higher level of mind informed by the loving intelligence of the soul. This body of knowledge, called "the science of the soul," focuses on inner causes of outer events and explains that the scale of change now needed must arise from the causal level of soul consciousness.
In this science of subtle realities, God is a unitary Being—an all-embracing Life in whom "we live and move and have our being.” As this Life evolves, all the creatures contained within it are impacted by the evolutionary impulse. In accordance with a divine plan and in keeping with spiritual laws, Earth is now passing from one age (with one set of cosmic influences) to another. Hurtling toward a new “incarnation” in a field of higher vibratory frequencies, every cell in the planetary body is impacted. Each of us is a cell in this body and our awakening is integral to the divine plan. From the level of the soul, we will together formulate a higher order of civilization.
The only “proof” of statements like these is the resonance they find within the individual soul. But even where there is resonance, the seeker is faced with another set of questions. If the destruction taking place on Earth is in keeping with a divine plan, then what is our responsibility? If our species had responded promptly to threats of global climate change, would it have made a difference in the outcome? Can we still make a difference? Or are things spinning out of control because we’re approaching the end of an age of material selfishness and entering an age influenced by the evolutionary forces of synthesis and oneness? If the latter is true, then should we focus less on the world of matter and more on the subtler realities of the soul?
That brings us back to “acts of God.” While our ancestors saw them as punishment for deviation from higher will, the wisdom teachings assert that natural disasters reflect the workings of the law of cause and effect, which is the main stimulus to spiritual growth. To grow in consciousness we're required to reap what we’ve sown in the past—as individuals, citizens of nations, and members of the human race. The fact that humanity is awakening in a time described as apocalyptic tells us something significant. The Greek word "apocalypsis" means “revelatory.” In the Bible this word indicates the revelation of divine purpose. Is it possible that the divine purpose of our time is to reveal a higher way for humanity? If so, and if what the the ageless wisdom holds is true, we can look forward to a new world fashioned by the wisdom and compassion of the divinity that is the human soul.
Nancy Seifer and Martin Vieweg