The Spiritual Enigma

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or those of us aware of the possibility of realising God-consciousness, there sometimes arises the dichotomy between our own metaphors, as to the nature of this specific journey.

For some of the time, it appears to be a journey of self-discovery and at other times the journey seems to be a reverend devotion to and appreciation of God.

Both of these metaphorical representations of our journey often borrow from each other's vocabulary - the result of our own fascination and our constant drawing of support and inspiration from a wide variety of sources.

Is this a case, as it were, of simply mixing our metaphors - or could there be weightier considerations as a consequence of this possible confusion?
Is it an example of burning the candle from both ends, tackling the quest from opposing directions - hoping that they will both coincide at the point of imagined destination?

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The two questions above already remind us that we should observe great caution - to never lose sight of the reality - the actuality - which is our subject matter.
We are exploring reality itself - ourselves - and must constantly seek to place any use of metaphors in their correct context - purely as metaphors.

Here we have arrived at the very reason behind this discourse - our inability to communicate with each other, and importantly to ourselves - without resorting to subtle or more obvious metaphors.

Metaphors are bridges or containers for meaning - however, they have a more insidious side to them, in that they influence perception - they determine perspective.
Words are metaphors - cultural memes are metaphors - a journey is a metaphor - even the pristine and precise languages of mathematics and physics - perceived objects - everything is a metaphor - a bridge or a container for an underlying meaning.
Nevertheless - that meaning can be derived from a belief, a consensus or an acutely intimate observation - the understanding of which may itself be influenced by the metaphorical context in which it was perceived.
This poses the intrigue - can meaning exist outside of any metaphorical context?
Do our metaphors allow us to filter and detect meaning, or do they actually invent & impose meaning?

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Ultimately, metaphors are constructed to bring order and lend a rational framework to two great unknowns, two mysterious enigmas and their relationships with each other, whether we realise it or not - everything alludes to two central themes.
To journeys of discovery & realisation, involving God and ourselves.
Journeys, rendered in metaphor - between metaphorical subjects - the reality of both journey and subjects being unknown.
Can the meaning be independent of the metaphor?

I feel that it is vital that we never lose touch with our original inspiration, a fundamental fascination - generated by the awe and wonder that we naturally feel, and the resultant inquisitiveness that compels our attention - aligning our lives to the quest for truth.
The journey that we are upon.

Along the way we will have encountered numerous disciplines, philosophies, creeds, theories, theologies, religious dogma, rituals, cults, orders, establishments - all setting out their own perspective, their own prospectus on truth - in their own metaphorical language.
Some we will have dismissed - one or two we may have adopted for ourselves, and become bent on adhering to a prescribed methodology to lead us towards our avowed goal - or simply find them useful tools of visualisation.
For truth appears to be approachable via any suitable metaphorical means, including our own, personal perspectives.

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If sincere and containing deep relevance to our desired journey, these metaphorical perspectives are about our individual relationship with the absolute - and contradictions in our relationship with ourselves - with echoes back to our first, emerging inspiration, surrounding the relationship between ourselves and the existence that we find ourselves in - about the inspiration to cultivate an accurate and living perception of truth, hopefully to end all contradiction in our being.
It connects to our first stirrings, our first awakening moments - moments which spoke to us directly or indirectly, hinting at an association with something spiritual and mysterious - bringing a curiosity to our assumptions about God.

At such a time we were possibly very much the natural products of our culture, and reflected a mix of inherited, indoctrinated cultural and societal memes - having already countless deep and unconsciously formed influences on our perception - a naive vision of God fashioned from the raw diet of parental authority and formal or socially subtle indoctrination - a vision that naturally engendered skepticism, seeming incongruous as our lives lead us away from those early influences and into our own search for liberty and independence.

Something was stirring in the friction between fear and love - and out of this - our spiritual journeys were born.

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The friction we felt, the questions we felt stirring in our hearts and minds - being generated by the constant movement of two gigantic and permanent states of being - like tectonic plates within reality - our relative and absolute states of existence.
Both in constant co-dependence with the other, both living side by side - as closely related as an object and its own reflection.
Our being in both states simultaneously, causing the fault lines to appear within our paradigms - stirrings - questions.
Questions which arise from our subliminally subjective and our demonstratively objective perspectives - questions arriving from our supplication to emotion and intellect.
Questions for which answers may bring all manner of confusion.

A beautiful and auspicious confusion.

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The mud has been well and truly stirred up, the detritus of our discarded paradigms, of all the metaphors we are outgrowing.
The mud of expectation and presumption - the brown murkiness of anticipation.

An impenetrable gloom, seen often through eyes that are blinded by the black hood of spiritual ego.

Another auspicious observation - for clarity beckons.

In our sincere and devoted attempts to further ourselves along our chosen spiritual path - it is often inescapable and unavoidable, that we actually increase the influence and insinuation of the ego - by the very willfulness of our own intent.
Our own previous revelations and insights can play a large part in blinding us, by causing anticipation and expectation.
Our own earnest application in re-educating ourselves, in updating our living paradigm - often results in an accumulation of objectification, as we shape each new discovery to fit within an existing, established or emerging pattern or metaphoric visualisation.
These metaphorical objectifications often insinuate themselves, re-conditioning our perspective and therefore our perception - drawing a subtle veil of the already known over the very truth we wish to experience - which is always freshly unknown.

Similar to driving a car at night - you cannot follow any course other than which is illuminated by the beam of your own headlamps.

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We may observe all of this process of the mind - and find ourselves discarding one perspective - one metaphor - for another.
We may oscillate between the perspective of God-consciousness (implying God) and self-realisation (implying self) - and whatever the metaphor chosen, that will become the beam - the journey proceeds along that imagined trajectory.

Again, let us refer back to our original inspiration - and see ourselves then - although we may well have been subconsciously cluttered, we had not yet formed our spiritual ego.
We found ourselves arriving into a conscious relationship with our naive concept of God, we found ourselves at the start of a journey in which we would approach and try to understand more about truth - and at this point, our egos refashioned themselves and started to become cluttered with all manner of spiritual detritus.
For we were deluding ourselves if we thought we would ever be able to understand - if we thought we would ever be able to satisfactorily objectify truth and simultaneously live a life that was consciously enlightened.

What has happened to our relationship with God?

Have we abandoned that at times, to be replaced by a metaphor of self-discovery?
Have we substituted a naturally progressing, mostly unconscious life with a subliminal awareness of God - for a self-conscious and pretentious life, filled with self-ordained ritual and stuffed to the brim with accumulated "new wisdom" & pseudo-science - and an ego that is more restrictive and inhibiting than ever our "old selves" were - obscuring any trace of God, rather than illuminating His presence?

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At a certain point along our journey - we may well have had that epiphany, that moment of enlightened vision - that "Yes - in truth we are all indeed God" - and our earnestness to live our life as to bring forth the full awareness of that implication becomes an over-riding obsession, the supreme challenge - for we know that somewhere, somehow - we have as human beings the means to realise that knowledge, to inhabit a living heaven on earth with every waking moment.
We have become trapped by our desiring the lure of some imagined state of bliss and enchantment, the cause of our ego's earnestness - and are side-tracked away from reality.

However, I am more and more convinced - that in order to witness that perpetual majesty, magic and mystery in our lives - of knowing, of seeing for ourselves that living realisation - we must include the ultimate gift of self-hood.
We cannot enjoy the blessings of that self-hood - by attempting to obliterate it, or destroy it with nihilistic philosophies of annihilating the ego - we merely need to understand why it arises - to penetrate and avoid its phantom lure.

Do we imagine that by closing the mesh of our perceptual filters ever tighter, by attempting to intercept reality with understanding, that we remove the residue of ego from our awareness?
No - by imposing strict metaphorical filters in that stream we simply are made more aware of ego - it is the grasping and clutching nature of the ego that has insisted on those restrictive filters being in place - in order for it to observe its very own predictions and expectations.

If we open the filters completely - remove them entirely - all the detritus ceases to exist - the phantom has no cause to appear - and its reality was only ever in its appearance.
Ego is born from no more than an individuated point of awareness within the field - and the mental habits caused by mis-perception.
It is no more than the crest of an ever rolling wave - a vantage point, harmless other than the waste produce of its own intent.
Without that vantage point - there is no point to being human.

As human beings - the most suitable metaphor is surely one that revolves around our relationship with God in some way - calling it whatever we may - the Great Other, the Tao - realising that "human being" and "God" are after all only metaphors themselves, representing this experience which we cannot possibly understand - but nevertheless is a very real experience.
A relationship with an absolute respect of that reality - a relationship that permits us the blessings of human appreciation - of discovery - of peace - of love - of joy - of the awareness of being human - the ultimate gift of self-hood.
Rather a paradox - an enigma - but without it, by denying God in our metaphor we deny ourselves the possibility of any blessing.

So yes - we are God - and we are also God's witnesses - the perspective which permits the relative to gaze upon the absolute.
That self-hood is God's own unique perspective - allowing a restricted and pin-hole view into the totality - only possible through the focused awareness of individuated perspectives, creating the impression of separate observers, separate beings.
Yes - these unique perspectives are designed in such a way as to attract all manner of confusion, all manner of distortion and bias - but ultimately, they are none other than God's own confusion, God's distortion and bias of Himself.
Are they not God's own metaphors as well - tools to assist our journey - some, which we may find more appropriate for ourselves than others?

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Our journey is one that takes us back to its starting point - our relationship with God - still unknown - but unknowable in every moment - our journey has been no more than a focusing, an awakening, a cleansing of perception.
God - now unknowable consciously - a perpetual and awesome mystery still - an enigma living & breathing with us - and whose blessings we can only share in, with humility.

Having thrown aside all metaphor, or at least peeked beneath the surface of them - perhaps, at last - we will be able to see the truth clearly - in and all around us - understanding (standing-under) its nature as blessed human beings, with humility in our common relationship with the living and ever-emergent truth.
For we will never comprehend God and His mysteries intellectually - and attempts to do so merely obscure the reality - so we might as well simply just open ourselves to receive & share His many blessings in the sweetest way we can - as human beings - in His universe.

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"There was once a Hassidic fund-raiser who set out to raise funds for a worthy cause.
Knowing that in certain towns the Misnagdim (opposers of Hassidism) who lived there did not welcome Hassidim, who were considered a near-heretic cult, the Hassid took pains to disguise his Hassidic behavior, realizing that otherwise he would be thrown out of town without a penny.
On passing through one such town, he posed as usual as a misnaged.
His disguise paid off and he received generous donations, however one of the leaders of the community got inkling that maybe this fundraiser was actually a hassid. In order to try to discover his real identity, he went over to the hassid and asked him very bluntly, "What do you have to say about this Hassidic cult?"
The hassid thought for a moment and replied, "The cult? I know some of those hassidim, all day long they think and talk about themselves, and they don't talk about God at all.
The misnagdim, though, they think and talk about God all day and they never talk about themselves."
This answer pleased the community leader very much and he gave him an additional contribution.
Once the hassid had received all the money and was ready to leave town, he called the man over and said, "I'll explain now what I really meant before when I replied to your question.
You see, for Hassidim, it is obvious that God exists, God is an axiom, the question they ask is 'Do I exist?'
So all day long they are contemplating whether or not they exist, because God certainly exists.
But for a misnaged, the opposite is true, the fact that he exists is obvious to him, but whether or not God exists, that is the question, maybe God never existed?
If God exists is He present in my life?
Is there Divine Providence?
The misnaged questions this all day long, so he is always thinking about God.
That is what I meant." The hassid then took to his heels and ran off as fast as his legs would carry him.... This story clearly illustrates two different perspectives of our Divine service relative to our Creator.
The contemporary debate whether or not there is an Intelligent Designer to the universe, exactly pinpoints the position of the general public in America today. In Hassidic terminology this is called, "elokut behitchadshut" meaning that God is a conscious novelty, for were it not so, then God would be taken for granted and man would be questioning his own existence.
Hassidism offers the reverse perspective, seeing God as being obvious while man's own existence is a constant novelty, my own experience of existence is not the core of reality; it is merely some exterior shell that hides the true essence of reality, which is God."

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