Reply To: The Sense of the Sacred Worldwide

  • Don Salmon

    December 30, 2022 at 12:52 pm

    “God as a being makes no sense to me”

    I’m not aware of any religion, philosophy, mystic tradition, contemplative practice, yogic teaching, etc – anywhere on the planet, at any time in thousands of years of history, that genuinely takes “God” to be “A” being.

    It’s kind of amusing. If you had never taken a class in physics (and perhaps you haven’t, or maybe you were a physicist, but imagine you had never read a book or taken a class on it) I’m willing to bet that you would feel somewhat hesitant to state your beliefs regarding the nature of gravity, electricity, the laws of nature, etc. Similarly with neuroscience, or engineering.

    yet most people feel that religion/philosophy/psychology/yogic understanding is so superficial that it’s easy to dismiss it all while knowing essentially nothing about it.

    In the bibliography of both of iain’s books, I would say that the best book of all is David Bentley Hart’s “The Experience of God: Existence Consciousness Bliss.” The last 3 words (Existence consciousness bliss) are a translation of the Indian name for Absolute, Infinite Being – Sat Chit Ananda.

    one of the first points Hart makes in the book (and he repeats this many other places in his writings) is that most people who know little about philosophy speak of God as if it were A being. God is not A anything. the Word “God” refers to unthinkable, inconceivable, infinite, Being utterly and infinitely beyond all concepts.

    Now, most people ignore the modifiers here, but the first step toward having even an infinitesimal glimpse of what the words in the previous sentence point to is to take seriously that this infinite Being is:



    infinitely beyond all concepts

    in a sense, that might substantiate your claim that it’s useless to discuss God. The key word which is correct here is “discuss.”

    The first thing you learn in Contemplation 101 is all discussion goes out the window. Plotinus is famous for saying “From discussion let us go to vision.”

    But vision also is unthinkable, inconceivable, infinitely beyond all concepts.

    Now, all that you’ve written is within a kind of left-hemisphere conceptual box. But unthinkable and inconceivable are beyond the right hemisphere too.

    So basically, the way I put it, to simplify things, is there’s no point in even having a conversation about infinite Being unless you’ve developed the capacity to be fully, vividly aware while at the same time verbal thinking is completely silent.

    When you can do this for at least one hour, then it actually IS possible to have a genuine conversation about infinite Being. But it won’t be ABOUT infinite Being, it will BE infinite Being!