Gods pocket

Rummaging Around In God’s Pocket

Two Beloveds Disagreeing About The Beloved

There is a famous interview with the beloved actor and writer Stephen Fry by beloved Irish broadcaster Gay Byrne who, in his golden years, had a series on Irish TV called, “The Meaning of Life.” The format of the show was one-to-one interviews where Gay asked his guests the big questions in life.

Stephen wasn’t the first atheist on the show but he was certainly the most memorable. 

“Suppose it’s all true,” Gay asks, “and you walk up to the pearly gates and you are confronted by God. What would Stephen Fry say to him, her or it?”

Stephen replies, “I’ll say, bone cancer in children? What’s that about? How dare you! How dare you create a world where there is such misery that is not our fault! It’s not right. It is utterly, utterly evil. 

Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world that is so full of injustice and pain. That’s what I’d say.”

Gay, visibly shocked by Stephen’s answers, says, “And you think you’re going to get in?”

“Oh, but I wouldn’t want to,” replies Stephen, “I wouldn’t want to get in on his terms. They are wrong.

Now, if I died and it was Pluto, Hades, and the twelve Greek gods, then I’d have more truck with it because the Greeks didn’t pretend not to be human in their appetites, and in their capriciousness and their unreasonableness; they didn’t present themselves as being all-seeing, all-wise, all-kind, all-munificent; because the god who created this universe, if it was created by God, is quite clearly, a maniac, an utter maniac, and totally selfish.

We have to spend our life on our knees thanking him! What kind of god would do that?

Yes, the world is very splendid, but it also has in it insects whose whole life cycle is to burrow into the eyes of children and make them blind. They eat outwards from the eyes. 
Why? Why did you do that to us? 
You could easily have made a creation where that didn’t exist. 
It is simply not acceptable.”

God Botherers

I was raised as a Catholic, so for the first fifteen years of my life I was told all about God. Good God. Scary God. Loving God. Vengeful God. Forgiving God. The son of God. The mother of God. And the Devil. 
I had the pants scared off me by adults and priests alike about the Devil, and demons, and hell. The Devil was real, up to no good, and trying to get my immortal soul, whatever that was.

I thought I had a vocation to be a priest when I was eight years old. My vocation pleased my Grandmother greatly but only lasted two weeks which did not. In hindsight, my vocation was implanted in me by one of the persuasive recruitment priests who visited our school every year. 

I was an altar boy for a couple of years too, so I was up to my neck in it. Lots of heaven and hell and mass on Sundays. 

By the time I hit puberty the whole idea of God and the Devil, as it was being presented to me, didn’t ring true.

Looking In The Right Place

I can understand Stephen Fry’s perspective. Looking at God, or for God, from within existence is very disturbing because terrible things happen in existence all the time. Nature seems cruel and heartless. There is the meta crisis, the globalist agenda, the Illuminati, the IMF, the great taking, division everywhere, fake news, invasions, and on and on. As you look for God in existence you can’t help but have the sickening feeling that maybe God has lost control.

Luckily for me, I don’t have that perspective. Not because I am super clever or above it all or anything like that.

I have had two profound realisations in my life so far. One was getting enlightened in 1996 and the other was a direct knowledge of God in 1978. Both have remained solid and constant through the years which is saying a lot considering how much I have grown and changed internally since then. 

So I don’t share Stephen’s perspective either because I was lucky enough to have a profound experience of God when I was fifteen. I wrote about in my book, Maya Noise

“It was the night sky.  
Being in the country it was particularly clear without the light pollution from the city and somehow I couldn’t see it as clearly with the others around either.

Often the night sky looks like a big black sheet with pinpricks in it, but this night it was different, three-dimensional in the extreme. I could feel the depth of the heavens I was looking into acutely.

I’d like to say that I looked into the vastness and the vastness looked back, but I didn’t register it like that.  

What I did register was that something was being communicated. Without any premeditated thought a very clear knowing came to the surface. 
It was simple, definite, and unequivocal. 
It was this.
God is. 
No fanfare.  No burning bush. 
But solid as the ground beneath my feet. 
In an instant, God went from being a concept to something I knew. Plain and simple. 
Not the fierce old man with a white beard sitting on a cloud in heaven.  
Not even a person. Not really.  
But something big, something tangible.

It was like the first time I touched down at the airport in New York. Up until that moment America had been a story, an idea, something that in a way I took on faith.  But once I stepped out of the terminal building and smelled the air, felt the concrete, and saw the people, America stopped being a concept.  America was.  
Just like God was now.”

Ever since then, I have simply known God. It is not a belief, I don’t believe in God, I just know God. Which sounds lovely, and it is, but that knowledge is very different from knowing a person or anything else for that matter. 

I know God in the way a person might know Enya, Terrence Malick, or Daft Punk, or in the past maybe David Bowie, J.D. Salinger, Salvador Dali, or any other mysterious and enigmatic person.

You might go to their house for dinner, or you might have tea with them every now and then, so in that sense, you know them, you know they exist, you can be in their presence, but in knowing them you also know that what you know of them is only a small part of who they are. As close as you might be to them, you know that most of who they are is a mystery to you.

That is how God is for me. I know God and in the knowing of God, I know that most of God is a mystery to me. From what I do know of God I know that framing God in the context of existence is looking in the wrong place.

Location Location Location 

Picture this, I am in my kitchen in Ireland having a Zoom call with my friend Mick in Australia. While the call is in progress I start to look for evidence that my friend Mick is actually in my kitchen. I can’t find any. 
All there is of Mick in my kitchen is his image on my laptop screen and the sound of his voice from the speakers. 
Mick could be telling me the meaning of life but if I am hung up on finding evidence of Mick in my kitchen it will be lost on me.

“To the man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” 

To the person in existence, everything is seen through the lens of existence.

This is not some special hidden knowledge. Existence is very ordinary and familiar. It is what we wake up into every morning and has many names in different cultures, Maya, Mithya, Alam al-Mithal, the Eagle’s Feathers, and so on. 

Since the release of the movie, “The Matrix,” and the advances in video games and virtual reality, the current evolution of this understanding is that existence is a holographic virtual reality or simulation. 

This is a useful model because it makes it easy to point to what is in existence and what is not in the same way that it is easy to point to what is in virtual reality and what is not.

God is not in existence in the same way my friend Mick is not in my kitchen. God is out of existence in what I call, for want of a better word, the mystery.
If existence was a virtual reality holographic simulation, the mystery would be what is there when you take off your virtual reality headset. 

The mystery is very ordinary and familiar too. It is the place you and I go to every night in deep dreamless sleep when we take our headsets off. 
The mystery is the place I go to consciously in meditation.
It is not in existence.

In my experience God does not originate from existence and is not confined by existence so trying to understand God from the perspective of existence is never going to make sense and why people like Stephen Fry understandably default toward atheism.

I think Stephen recognised this on some level with his reference to the Greek Gods and how he appreciated them for admitting to being human in their appetites. Greek Gods make sense because they originate from and are confined by existence.

So What!

So how helpful is this knowledge? How does it help with Stephen’s concerns about bone cancer in children and eye-eating insects?
How does it help me in lambing season when every spring these incredibly sweet little lambs appear, full of joy and innocence and aching vulnerability? Every year not all of them make it. Some are abandoned by their mothers and some are taken by foxes or minks. 
How does knowing God help that?
How does knowing God doesn’t originate in existence help? 

Well, in a number of ways that go to form a whole lot of help. 

Duality 

I am not burdened with the sickening feeling that God has lost control because the idea of a battle between the forces of good and evil is an existence-based perspective.
In existence, there is good and bad, right and wrong, dark and light, left and right.
Out of existence, there is none of that. There is no duality. No good and bad, no right or wrong, no dark and light, no left and right.

Perspective

I am also helped by having a sense of scale.
God is big. Very big. Compared to me at least. A big pulsing thing. God has a movement to it and God is doing something. I don’t know what it is but I can see the fingerprints of what God is doing in hindsight. 

Ownership

It also helps to know that I am part of God. 
“You are not a drop in the ocean, you are the whole ocean in a drop.”
Runi was right. You and I are both drops of the ocean that is God. 

Focus 

The most practical help is knowing that there is no fear in the mystery. You know this too because all your fears disappear every night when you go into the mystery in deep dreamless sleep.
This helps me because I can see fear for what it is, the sticky molasses of existence, and very hypnotic if I allow it. 

Holding it all

I can hold this knowledge of God, help the lambs where I can, and feel my heart break for where I can’t. 
I don’t understand the pain and suffering in the world. It doesn’t make any sense to me. 
I don’t know what God is doing. 
I also know my perspective is very narrow compared to God’s. 
What I do know is that God knows what God is doing and that helps me a lot.

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Photo by Travis Grossen on Unsplash


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