In this writing, I use both anthropomorhic and abstract images of God. I invite the reader to substitute what works for herself. I acknowledge many cannot relate to anthropomorphic images of Spirit, or spirit. For me, "God" indicates the Whole we are within as parts and expressions, while personal and impersonal arise within this Whole-with-parts. Yet, as noted below, notions are never That that is. Consequently, all thought leads us into Silence, and only in Silence do we know, rather than think we know. We go through the mind-capacity, and thinking dissolves into knowing - thinking is indirect, reflectional, representational; knowing is direct. We know the Whole through the Whole. In this, God knows God.
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Today's Saying: When persons argue about God, they argue not about God but the god in their heads - which is not God at all. How unfortunate! Persons kill others over a mere notion, a mental heirloom handed down generation to generation without any substance whatsoever.
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[T]he Buddha heard a group of disciples discussing whether or not he had said such and such, and he told them, "For forty-five years, I have not uttered a single word." He did not want his disciples to be caught by words or notions, even his own.
There are things that even a child can see but we ourselves cannot see because we are imprisoned by our notions.
*Thich Nhat Hanh. The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching.
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As a little lad, I was religious; as a teen, I was very religious. I became so zealous my maternal grandmother told my mother how she was concerned I would go insane. My mother told me; so, I think she was concerned, too.
Living in a conservative, evangelical, Baptist home, church, and evangelical community, others told me of God. They passed the faith down to me in word and example. I inherited a bag full of answers to questions one could pose about God. To doubt God or God's existence was taboo - sin. To doubt what the Bible said was disallowed. I am not criticizing this upbringing. I am thankful for this beginning, a start many do not have the benefit of. I learned to grow to a somewhere; we need to have a somewhere to grow from. The early training in faith was a somewhere. I cherish how others loved me enough to pass down their best understanding of faith. I remember them with love and gratitude.
I grew more religious over time. I became a clergyperson at age fifteen. Though I had many experiences of God, it took me many years to see no one knows God through being told who or what God is or is not. I, also, learned experience can be misleading. I saw one can equate emotion with an experience of God... emotion like what persons might experience cheering for their preferred sports team or at a concern of their favorite rock band.
Exploring Contemplative Christian spirituality, Christian mysticism, Jungian psychology, Transpersonal philosophy, and Eastern wisdom paths led me on the way of unknowing. During this time, September 1996, I was vowed to the Contemplative Life. I began to taste knowing through not-knowing. After years, not-knowing and knowing were united in a single communion of heart.
Now, one could ask me, "Do you believe in God?" A logical reply is, "Yes, but not necessarily One you can ask me about believing in?" So, now, I see theists and atheists are speaking only notions. The Middle Way is neither and between. Yet, few are humble enough to be led to that place. Neither theists nor atheists seem able to drop the arrogancy of opinion to welcome the Presence as Presence.
The Way is and continues. I anticipate there are depths of the taste of Spirit presently beyond my preparedness to taste. I pray to grow into more of that depth, that taste - into God. For me, life is from God to God.
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She asked the Sage whether he believed there is a God.
Do you believe there's a God or not?
Not the one you're asking about, but the one you're not asking about.
How can that be?
How can't it be?
I don't understand. How can you believe God exists and doesn't?
Again, I'm confused - totally!
Stop seeing your notion; then, you see God.
You know when you don't know.
But I don't know; yet, I still don't know.
Good. That's a good place to begin.
The Sage proceeded to give the seeker a cup of tea. He asked, before releasing it into her hand, "What flavor of tea is this?"
"What flavor?" I don't know. What flavor is it?
"Taste and see. So, don't know, until you know. Taste. Otherwise, it's a notion, not a knowing. As you see the flower by the flower showing you itself, you see God by God showing you God.
How do I taste God?
The way you taste the tea to know the tea. Find a wisdom path and practice tasting. Practice gives you the experience of taste, until you know God without experience. In time, life becomes the taste of tea - of God.
*Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."
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Notions of God easily veil the seeing of God. This seeing is knowing. Dropping the notions, one begins to see. She may think she does not see, for she does not feel she sees. By relaxing with this sense of non-experience, she will, in time, value the non-experience above the experience. She will know the meaning of the following: There is a taste within the taste.
In pure knowing, the notion of God as an object to be known or believed about or in drops. It arises and falls as the play of Life. Spirit dances in and out of experience; yet, God remains. Hence, the knowing of God is in the non-experience and vice versa.
So, duality and nonduality are notions; neither have any substance. And God's play is not one or the other. Spirit moves equally as transcendent and immanent, form and formless, time and timeless, and place and placeless.
At one time, you may sense God as your Beloved, immanent, closer to you than you are to yourself. At another time, you may sense Spirit as transcendent, far away, even hauntingly distant. God is God, while we taste God in many ways. Pour the same tea into many cups, and you have the same taste.
Be with the sense of absence, and you will come to find the unity of the sense of absence and presence. Taste absence deeply, and you will discover presence. Absence and presence are not two tastes; they are one taste. If the one who says God is not and the one who says God is meet in the space between the opposing notions, Truth will be seen in Its unity - as the Unity-of-All.
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*© Brian K. Wilcox, 2021
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse. The book consists of poems based on wisdom traditions, predominantly Christian, Buddhist, and Sufi, with extensive notes on the poetry's teachings and imagery.