As some of you may know, I worked for quite a few years with traditional Navajo (Diné) healers and counselors. While working with these men and women, I noticed that they rarely if ever used the word God. Rather they would refer to what we might call God as “the Creator”. This curious difference is what I am discussing in this post.
I don’t believe in God. I guess this would make me an atheist.
To me, the word God conjures up a person “up” there that makes things happen. He or she is someone we can speak with. We can bring to her our fears and dreams. She is a direct part of our life. Perhaps, she is our life.
I know that how people visualize this God varies a lot. Some people think of him as an aged Patriarch, like the one painted by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. There are others who imagine a fertile woman whose life brings about all that is. And then there are others who, like Einstein, do not project a material God, but see it as the faceless force that allows everything to be as it is. But even in Einstein’s view, God was an entity – a kind of unseen being that conforms to the rules of physics and science in general. Einstein’s God was consistent and ultimately predictable.
When I walk in “nature”, I see everything as the Creator. Even walking in mid-town Manhattan, this too is the Creator’s work, but it differs from a forest, a place marked by diversity and complexity. In Manhattan, the force is entirely generated by the behavior of human beings. But we are as much a part of creation as the oaks, brambles, bugs, birds, bushes that make up part of the world outside of my home.
The Creator is that which is. It has no rules. It is complete in itself as itself. The Creator is no different from what is. The Creator doesn’t play favorites. A cockroach is as much an expression of the Creator as Donald Trump.
But why does the “idea” of the Creator matter? Is there anything here that can draw us to our Authentic Being?
That which is – is prior to all thoughts. While thoughts are also expressions of the Creator, they are always secondary to what actually is. But even more importantly, they tend to be artifacts of our cultural and social conditioning. They are reflections of our personal and unique self. This is why your thoughts will be different from mine at any given time. How you think of a song will always be different from how I think about that same song.
Unity with the Creator happens when we stop grasping for this thought as opposed to that thought. Unity with the Creator only asks us to accept the invitation to be open and that which we need to be most open to is our own unwillingness to be open to certain types of thoughts and experiences. That which we close down to is our lord and master.
Who is your Lord and Master?
While we see the Creator in the objects of the universe, we touch the Creator at the source of all of these objects.
Where is that place?
It is in the Open Ground. This is the place of Nothingness. But it is anything but nothing. Creation happens in the place that is utterly objectless, but possesses the ability to make any object. This is the Source and we are that.
This place cannot be grasped or visualized by the mind. It can only be as it is; mysterious and unknowable.
So how can we realize this place?
This is where the Journey takes over. We must go, first, to a provisional place. To get to this provisional place, we are required to assume temporarily that every object is an illusion. No exceptions. Nothing whatsoever is real. When we truly cease grasping onto any physical object, thought, or feeling as real, that which is the Source is sensed. This is sometimes called the Zero Point, the pivot, the Tao, and even the Creator.
To understand the illusory quality of every object, we need to understand, completely, that nothing can exist independently from its context. Thus nothing whatsoever possesses independent existence. Rather everything is connected to everything else and as everything it cannot be “known”. Because “everything” is in constant change, it is utterly empty of set substance of identity. It is all flowing in one seamless mass.
It is at the Source where we get centered. It is the place that we have never left and has never left us. It is the universal home – the place of no identity. Thoughts and feelings continue to arise, but they are seen to without substance or reality. They arise from invisible Source to ephemeral “isness”.
Then once we are centered in this place, we are able to welcome Home the infinite objects of this universe – the artifacts of the Creator in our immediate experience. When we are truly free of any identity, we are free to be any identity – the passing show. We return home – to the “thingness” of this moment.
The Buddha said, “Form is emptiness and emptiness is form.” What does this mean?
It means two things that are complimentary. One, that all objects – physical, mental, and emotional – arise out of emptiness. And two, when we remove the discriminating conditions of language, everything that is seen, heard, and felt is One as the totality. As One it reflects the emptiness from which it arises. The illusion that things can be separate and exist independently as themselves is something that happens only through the dissection of the totality by the mind through thought.
Thus, the emptiness that we truly are is reflected in the Oneness that we perceive. It is one and the same. They are the two sides of the same coin.
In this way the Creator experiences her(him)self and you are that.