Thursday, September 29, 2011

Why Would He Want That?

I received this in an email from a friend…

“I had this great idea for a blog for you to write — it’s a question actually. A big question that I would love to know the answer to and I bet LOTS of people would love to know the answer to as well.

“So God had the whim to know Himself and so He created us. Why did He create us/Himself with this limited ego mind, the source of all our troubles? Why would He want that?”

I have heard this question many times before, in one form or another, from many different people, and so I think my friend is quite correct when she says, “… and I bet lots of people would love to know the answer as well.”

And so I will attempt an answer, based not on my own “limited ego mind” but based on the teachings of the Masters, most particularly, in this case, the teachings of Avatar Meher Baba.

But before getting to the meat of the question I want to first address the assumption my friend makes. “Why would He want that?” That wording sounds just a little too anthropomorphic to me. It makes me picture God as some really big guy with flowing white robes and a long white beard sitting on some cloud in heaven wanting and not wanting various things.

But if God is not that — not some sort of super-sized person, made in the image of man (to turn a phrase) — then who, or what, is God? In His book, God Speaks, Meher Baba begins with a discussion of the various states of God beginning with the first state He calls the Beyond the Beyond State of God. He uses the word Over-Soul as a synonym for the Vedic term Paramatma and compares the Over-soul to an ocean. But this ocean is not an ocean of water; it is a shoreless ocean of Eternal Existence, with no end to it depth, unlimited in every way.

And what is the material of this Ocean? What is it made of? And the amazing answer that Baba gives us is souls. The Ocean is made of souls. He says,

“All souls (atmas) were, are and will be in the Over-Soul (Paramatma).
Souls (atmas) are all One.
All souls are infinite and eternal. They are formless.
All souls are One; there is no difference in souls or in their being and existence as souls.”

So, returning to my friend’s question, changing the wording slightly, why are we — why is the creation — born into the state of limited ego mind, the source of all our troubles — the source of our suffering?

There is a line in the Gospels of Jesus Christ, “In the beginning there was the Word…” When I read this for the first time I asked myself, “the beginning of what?” Because if God was Infinite and Eternal — without beginning or end — then what is this beginning referring to? I concluded that “In the beginning…” was referring to creation, and this suggested to me that there must have been a state of God that was before the beginning — a time when God was and creation was not yet.

In God Speaks, Meher Baba calls this state the Beyond Beyond state of God and says that in this state God is like an Ocean that is infinitely still, with neither consciousness nor unconsciousness manifested. It could be said that in this state the Ocean (God) is in the deepest sleep state, the sleep without dreams state and is totally without any awareness, consciousness, or knowledge of Itself.

The question then becomes, “How does, how can, the Ocean wake up? Here Meher Baba uses the Hindi/Marathi word lahar (which means ripple, wave, fancy, urge, and whim) and says that this word comes the closest to conveying what happens to the Original state of the Ocean to cause the beginning of the process of Its Awakening. He says Lahar or whim comes the closest. The Ocean (God) unbelievably gets the urge, the whim, to awaken — to know Itself.

To wake up means to be conscious and in the Original state of Paramatma there is no consciousness — neither is there unconsciousness — because in the Original state of Paramatma nothing is manifested and everything is latent.

So the Whim that somehow manifests, spontaneously and without any cause — the Whim of the Ocean to know Itself — is the manifestation of the first desire and that desire is the desire for consciousness.

Meher Baba says, “Let us now think of one unconscious soul.” In other words, Meher Baba is asking us to look at the awakening of the Over-Soul from the point of view of one soul — one drop of the Original Ocean, the material of which the Original Ocean is composed.

Speaking about this one unconscious soul Meher Baba says, “This infinite, impressionless, unconscious tranquil state of the soul reverberated with an impulse which we call THE FIRST URGE (the first urge to know Itself).”

In other words, when the Whim manifested in the Ocean of Souls, all souls were affected and all souls began to wake up.

Now let’s imagine this process of waking up. It is not very different than what we experience when we wake up. First we are in a deep sleep state, without any dreams; then there is a transition into the dream state which pushes us closer to the state of waking consciousness; and then we open our eyes and begin to experience our lives in the waking state.

But let’s back up here so we can examine this progression a little more closely — specifically the transition between the dream state and the awake state. Often the process gets rushed and we don’t see — the alarm goes off, we’re vaguely aware of some lingering dream, we jump out of bed and stumble into our day.

But sometimes, especially when we are allowed to wake up more naturally, we can sometimes become aware, as the dream state approaches the waking state, of the intrusion of stimuli from the waking state in the form of sounds or smells or sensations.

Our eyes may still be closed and for a moment we may not be aware of where we are — or even who we are. If we have been traveling a lot, we might not remember whether we are waking up in America or India. Then, as our eyes begin to open, for a brief moment we may not recognize the room or particular things in the room until we become more fully conscious in the awake state.

This description closely parallels the experience of the sleeping soul after the whim manifests in the Over-Soul. Though the soul is Infinite and Eternal, its first experience of itself is most limited. It does not awaken fully and at once as God, but instead as a most limited form of creation — the stone form.

This is the “contrariety” that Meher Baba speaks about when He says;

“Simultaneously with the reverberations of the first urge, the most gross first impression emerged, objectifying the soul as the most opposite and most finite gross counterpart of the Infinite.

“Because of this most gross first impression of the first urge, the infinite Soul experienced for the first time. This first experience of the infinite Soul was that it (the Soul) experienced a contrariety in its identity with its infinite, impressionless, unconscious state.”

So the answer to my friend’s question, “Why would He want this?” would seem to be this; that the process of the evolution and the involution of consciousness through creation that began with the Whim of the Over-Soul in the form of the question “Who am I?” never was in any way dependent upon a personal, conscious God.

And that would seem to end it were it not for that one, to paraphrase the words of Al Gore, the former Vice-President of the United States, “that one inconvenient but,” in the form of the question, “But what about personal God — the Avatar — the Messiah — the Christ —, why would He want this?” This does seem to be a legitimate and inconvenient but. Even if we were to moderate the question to, “why would He allow this?” the but still does not go away, in fact, maybe makes the but even bigger.

Meher Baba says that the Avatar takes a human birth every 700 –1400 years. “Why does He want/or allow this?” Remember my friend first asked, “Why did He create us/Himself with this limited ego mind, the source of all our troubles?” In other words, even if the whole thing started by the Whim was and remains mechanical and the limited ego mind formed in the process is the source of all our troubles — meaning the source of all our suffering — is there not something He can do to change it?

Now I do realize that I am beginning to wander further and further away from my friend’s original question; but is the question of why God allows us to suffer the real question behind the question?

So first things first; the Avatar is the incarnation of Vishnu, the second state of God with regard to creation. Brahma is the Creator, Vishnu is the Preserver, and Shiva is the Dissolver. Vishnu as the Avatar is the personification of Love. The Avatar never ever wants us to suffer — never. God, as the Avatar, never punishes, is never vengeful, and never destroys. God, as the Avatar, in fact, takes on our suffering to lighten the burden of our journey to Him — to Self — to Infinite and Eternal Bliss.

And God, as the Avatar, can do anything and everything — or so it seems… Once a candidate for the priesthood was being examined by a church elder and the question of God’s Omnipotence arose. The candidate said, “But God cannot do everything.” The elder responded with, “And what is it that God, the Almighty, cannot do?” To which the candidate responded, “He cannot beat the ace of spades with the deuce of clubs.”

For to do so would destroy the game and when the game is destroyed there is no longer any question of winning or losing.

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