Spritzophrenia

humour, music, life, sociology. friendly agnostic.

How to Find God

Posted by spritzophrenia on August 30, 2010

Before setting out on a journey, it would be wise to decide how you will travel. Having a good map will help. I’d like to explain a little about my map.

If you’re going to find g0d, how will you know what she is like, and how will you know when you’ve found her? Broadly speaking, there is the way of the intellect and the way of experience. My method is twofold, I need both. I value truth, and I value connection.

By the way, that word “God”, has lots of baggage, so please substitute Brahman, spiritual reality, or another term if you prefer. In this post I’m not too particular about the nature of the goal I’m seeking. Reality, or Truth will do. I’ll use g0d.

Desert landscape

Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play. ~ Kant

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. ~ Albert Einstein

I value the intuitive mind, or “experience”. I’ve been dipping into Carlos Castaneda’s Teachings of Don Juan, an ethnography of his time with a Yaqui shaman, taking peyote, datura and magic mushrooms. I like the idea of going into the desert, getting high, and meeting g0d. After all, I like deserts, and I like getting high. This seems like an experiential path that would be good for me. The problem is, how could I trust I was experiencing true Reality, rather than just curious experiences in my mind? Experience without reason could quickly lead me astray.

Most religions have a mystical element, a part that allows an experience of g0d. I’ve learned quite a lot about all kinds of approaches, and there is one thing I can guarantee— if you follow a spiritual path, you WILL have an experience. People all over the world, in significantly different faiths have had very trippy experiences. What I cannot guarantee is that your experience will be True. It’s quite possible that many mystical experiences, or even all of them, are false. Nice experiences, sure, but not experiences that actually connect with eternal Beauty. I think if the society of our time makes any mistake, it is this one.

Alternatively, it may be that I can discover “the g0d of the philosophers” through reason – science, philosophy, psychology, history, sociology… In brief, through the doorway of the mind. I’m not looking for proof. As I’ve written, we rarely get that kind of strong proof for most things in life. But I AM looking for reasonable evidence. Just because guru Mudinmipants says he experienced it does not mean it‘s true. (Do you think it would help to think about what “reasonable evidence” might be? I have a sense of it, but haven‘t written out explicit details.)

I ended up in this “mere intellectual” state the other day, saying to myself, “OK, so right now, intellectually, it looks like g0d might really be there. What now?” If there is good reason to think that g0d exists then it seems natural to try and make contact with this Reality. A dry assent that the Infinite exists, followed by life-as-usual, seems somehow flat.

Now, there are some assumptions I’ve made which you’ve probably spotted. Perhaps you think it doesn’t matter which path I take, all of them will lead me up the mountain? I think the evidence points away from this, but that’s for another time. It’s also possible that g0d is there, but we are not able to experience him. Mystical experiences on their own prove very little. These ideas are worth considering.

For me, I need both mind and heart. I hope that a path can be found which improves my life beyond mere intellectual satisfaction. And I cannot follow an experience that is not supported by reason.

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What about you? Are there any ways of finding Reality that I’ve missed?
I generally start with reason and end with experience. Should I try the other way around?
Are there problems you can see with my chosen method?

Respond

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11 Responses to “How to Find God”

  1. Iain said

    An interesting post. You point out the problems and pitfalls with making un-cautious assumptions while taking some of the potential paths to spiritual knowledge and yet you turn back to the comment, “OK, so right now, intellectually, it looks like g0d might really be there.”

    What does that look like for you? What changed? I notice you say “intellectually“, so what new data do you have to share? I, for one, am extremely curious. 🙂

    • Well, I plan to write another post about this Iain. I’m not sure when. I find my life and my experiences are travelling faster than my ability to write about them.

      Briefly, from my current reading (and my thought-life up to now) it looks like a deist g0d might exist. I think versions of the argument from causes (cosmological) and argument to design (teleolgical) might be valid. This, coupled with arguments from probability (the unfortunately named ‘anthropic priniciple’ of science) seems to indicate a g0d might be there, to me.

      Tho’ I have interesting ideas, I haven’t got further from a personal First Cause, but that is sufficient, for now. 🙂

  2. Sugarpop said

    I for one LOVE the teachings of the guru Mudinmipants – she reminds me I am human and fallible and teaches me humility. Mud In My Pants has a way of doing that… ;D

    Like you, both my heart and mind require satisfaction. I’m concluding from your final statement that for you thinking precedes your choice of experience… Unlike you, then, I tend to dive into experience and follow that up with intellectual unpicking. If I were to relate this to that beautiful quote from Einstein, I perhaps honour The Gift before Summoning the Servant. I don’t know. What I do know is that I typically act on what *feels* like the thing to do, even if that flies in the face of reason. I have faith that I’m making the best choice, even if in that moment I do not reasonably understand it. I trust that at some point I will.

    Another great and provocative post. Thank you 🙂

    • I think that thinking precedes my choice of experience, but in thinking a bit more that’s probably an ideal for me. In reality it’s probably a bit mixed up.

      I do have experiences that I later reflect on to see if they make sense. So I think it’s the experience and reason together thing that is important to me, not so much the order.

      I do think peoples’ personalities make a difference in the way they find Truth, which I find interesting – and at times frustrating.

      Thanks 🙂

  3. leesis said

    For me lately, particularly in sharing my thoughts in words, the first question must be what is it exactly we are looking for?

    I have found I need to clarify this particularly in relation to the religious and the atheist. Otherwise I face their definitions that relate more to religion or psychological imperative…both irrelevant to me.

    Oh and…reason followed by experience? Personally I do think the other way works better for me at least. I experience, I think and reason, research, then experience again in a never-ending process. The wiser I get the more discriminatory I may be in what experiences I chose, yet I keep aware of the fact that intellectual processing can hinder the purity of experience and hence should follow rather than precede.

    Again, many religious and atheists have had a go at me for this. The latter seeming to demean both emotional responses and just the presumption of there being non-material reality, and the former that stepping outside the box is somehow against ‘truth’.

    Many moons ago I had the opportunity to chose between psych nursing and psychology. I chose psych because it was hands on real life experience rather than psychology that was six years of book work. I have never regretted that choice.

    just some thoughts…cheers…Leesa

    • As I said to Sugarpop above (which could also be my reply to your comment, Leesa) I think it’s the experience and reason together thing that is important to me, not so much the order.

      I did wonder how many people would reply “I prefer experience first”. The question of personality types and spirituality interests me, and with your psych background you might have some thoughts on that?

      Asking what exactly we are looking for first seems sensible to me.

      I do know that sense of being caught between believers from both sides, both atheist and theist. It’s why we agnostics have to support each other in being “OK” in our beliefs 😉

  4. leesis said

    I remember in my early twenties standing in an art gallery listening to a bunch of folk talking of what a particular painting said to them. Some of the responses were absolutely bizarre to me which got me thinking.

    Personality types as per psychological theory leave a lot to be desired. However there is no doubt that information received is perceived according to the inner being of the individual taking it in. So….

    I was in a postion once to watch a psychic healer. I went there to actually challenge my friend in her acceptance of such. Instead, after witnessing this, checking out that there was no tom-foolery, I had to confront the fact that what I’d just experienced was ‘real’ and yet I had no rational framework at the time to make sense of it.

    My friend, accepted it without question, and another, shocked as I was by the evidence before his eyes, chose to reject it completely with a “I don’t know how but it must be fake” response.

    I on the other hand spent many a year researching, learning, experimenting etc.

    Three personalities effected differently, making different choices. So to me the importance of personality lies in self-awareness. What are my inherent tendencies as a result of my story and can I limit these biases so I can be open to all possibilities.

    • I do find personality types give me insight into myself, and others. I’m only really aware of Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram. Both of them are only tools ‘tho, and shouldn’t be treated as religions 😉 I think people are always bigger and more complex than their “type”.

      Your story of three different people taking three different conclusions from the same experience illustrates to me just how hard it is to “prove” a particular point of view. Let’s say, for example, I come to the conclusion on Spritzophrenia that Vedanta is true. I bet most of the regular readers here would not agree with me.

      I’m thinking here too of the Christian idea that unless God enlightens us, it’s impossible for us to meet her. We require g0d’s mercy to discover the truth. I do feel that if g0d is there, he is very merciful. “Seek and you will find” is a very comforting thing that Jesus once said.

      • leesis said

        Yeah soz Jon…I didn’t mean they have no place. Some people swear by Myers-Briggs. Personally I find it a great tool for employment :).

        If you are looking to get your readers, using your example, to agree with you that Vedanta is true then you’ll achieve your outcome. Some will. And some won’t. I used to hope ‘seek and ye shall find’ to be true; now I know it is. But I also know what’s true today regarding my suppositions of what reality is and isnt will be different tomorrow beyond a couple of base ‘knowings’. And every individual is on a different (yet similar) journey. Nor can anything replace straight in the face experience where one faces the experience of Numinous explained beautifully ( I think) in the introduction of ‘The Problem of Pain’ by C.S. Lewis.

        This being the case I can only share my journey with a level of reason that I am happy with and throw it out into the pool of human thought hoping someone will have a ‘moment’ for themselves that will lead to their and thus all of our growth. Equally I read for those same moments. Thanx for providing some of them 🙂

        • I very much agree. I allow myself the freedom to change my mind about what I think is “true today”. I do feel at present my “base knowings” are becoming more firm. But even then, I’m open to having some of them discarded.

          I love the writings of C.S Lewis, tho I haven’t read any for some years.

          Having special experiences via others is… fantastic. I’m happy to have provided some for you 🙂

  5. ‘Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one’. ~Albert Einstein

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