Any concept, description, or name of the Divine limits the Divine
By Jim Hatton
Throughout history, humans have searched to find the deity who some of our more modern spiritual teachers are calling “God-Source.” Writings, songs, books, lectures and fables are some of the seemingly infinite ways in which humans try to find and connect with God-Source.
Other ways may include prayer (in various forms), chanting, asceticism, going on pilgrimages, taking addictive drugs, or abstaining from addictive drugs (including food, sex and gambling and self-mutilation, etc.) In all of this searching, almost everyone is looking for God in some physical form, especially a human form—which, of course, can never be found. This is because God-Source does not appear in any particular physical form, including human form. (Anthropomorphism is the practice of making God in human image and likeness.)
“It is difficult at first to know God aright because we think of God in terms of our concepts of God. It may be Jesus’ concept of God as father or the father within. Or it may be Paul’s concept of God as the Christ. It may be your own concept or your client’s concept or your church’s concept, or it may be the metaphysical concept of God as mind, life, or principle. All these concepts are only facets of God. Love is only one of the many ways in which God presents itself. Mind is only one of the ways in which God presents itself. Law is only one of the many ways in which God presents itself.”
—”Invisible Supply” by Joel Goldsmith, pp 53–54 (edited for gender neutrality)
In Eastern thought, any concept of God-Source is considered to be missing the mark, as any concept, description, or name of the Divine limits the Divine. Since the nature of the Divine is unlimited, it cannot be defined or named or limited.
So, if God-Source is not located in human form and it cannot be found in concepts, what about the natural world? Nature can, indeed, be considered to be an aspect or a reflection of the Divine, but despite its multitudinous forms that reflect the Divine — the sun, the trees, the oceans — Nature itself should still not be worshipped because God is never to be found in a physical form.
So how do we find God-Source? Everyone needs to start by looking within, and that means becoming completely still physically, withdrawing attention from the physical world or human activity, and quieting the mind as much as possible. How do you do that? By focusing mental attention on one thing only. That could be (among many forms) the breath moving in and out of your body or a mantra that you repeat over and over again. The intention is to open up in consciousness to receive a sense of the Presence. That sense might occur as a stirring within, or you might hear the “still small voice” of your indwelling Spirit. This sense is not anything like the human emotions of happiness or peace — although you might feel happiness or peace as a result of making contact with the God-Source within you.
When we become familiar with that sense of the Divine Presence within, we might begin to recognize that Presence in our outer world too. The more one is open and receptive — but not necessarily looking for God-Source in the human realm or in the mental realm of concepts and theories or in Nature — the more one begins to recognize the evidence of the Presence everywhere.
One must keep in mind that these glimpses of the Presence in the physical realm are only aspects or representations of God-Source. God-Source is what animates or allows the physical to exist. But, because the physical is defined in time, distance and space, it is limited. It can never represent the infinite fullness of the Presence. As finite humans, we tend to project all of our unconscious limitations on to God-Source, and we are left wanting. It is impossible to find God-Source outside of ourselves.
Consider the following ancient Hindu parable: A group of blind men heard that a strange animal, called an elephant, had been brought to the town, but none of them were aware of its shape and form. Out of curiosity, they said: “We must inspect and know it by touch, of which we are capable.” So, they sought it out, and when they found it, they groped about it. The first person, whose hand landed on the trunk, said, “This being is like a thick snake.” For another one, whose hand reached its ear, it seemed like a kind of fan. Another person, whose hand was upon its leg, said, “The elephant is a pillar, like a tree-trunk.” The blind man who placed his hand upon its side said, “The elephant is a wall.” Another, who felt its tail, described it as a rope. The last felt its tusk, stating the elephant is hard, smooth, and like a spear.
And so it is in the search for God-Source. So many have found a single aspect of the Divine expressing itself in a particular way. Did any of the blind men find the essence of the elephant? Of course not. Even if they were sighted, they would only see the elephant, they would not see the life force or essence of the elephant.
To find God-Source one must have non-physical eyes — not to simply see things and people, but to see the Life, the Essence within every particle of physical creation.
Blessed be your journey.
The World is not broken, Be in Peace…
Jim Hatton is an author, spiritual teacher and speaker. He makes his home in the Rogue Valley, Southern Oregon. Contact him at email@example.com. Send 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Richard Carey (firstname.lastname@example.org).