Equal vision means seeing everyone in the same light. Many of us cannot imagine being atheistic, but we need an understanding of spirituality that embraces everyone, including atheists. How can enlightenment occur otherwise? Contemplating some basics concerning God’s inscrutability (as we will also do later—Ch.3,S.1) provides us with this understanding.
Everyone is aware of this connection at some level. We’re all in the same boat. If atheists are in denial about God, then in a sense believers are just as deluded concerning the nature of God, because God/Self, after all, isn’t anything the senses can know or which the mind can fathom. We will be getting a better sense of this shortly.
1. SUPERFICIAL REASONS FOR ATHEISM
Most reasons given by atheists for their lack of belief are not at all profound. Some of them are: 1) the bible doesn’t always make sense and is often inconsistent, 2) God is described in contradictory ways, 3) the teachings of the religions are contradictory, 4) the gods described in the religions resemble human beings too closely to be plausible.
Such reasons imply that the person’s understanding of religion is merely cultural, tied to superficial phenomena involving language and politics. If those things were all that religion was, then of course the atheists would be right. Such skeptics who end up getting something out of this book, however, will be radically rethinking their entire orientation to spirituality.
(I do a lot of atheist bashing in this chapter—not so in Chapter 3!)
2. CORE IDEALISM, SPIRITUALITIES AND THE GOD CONCEPT
All unenlightened humans possess what we can call a core idealism—their own, unique interior sense of perfection and beauty. That core idealism is not itself associated with any form. It is an abstract but felt combination of ethical and spiritual qualities. This is the closest thing to God/Self that most people are in touch with.
And we associate that core idealism with different things in our minds. To some degree, we associate it with human experience and form, allow-ing us to equate it with a kind of perfect, larger than life person: God. This basic idea1 is common to people in all cultures. People who don’t believe in God merely have different primary associations with their core idealism: philosophy, poetry, literature, music, drug use, science and technology, or—perhaps most commonly—friends and family.
From the monistic perspective, in which everyone returns to God/Self eventually, all these “choices” are different types of spiritualties. However, it is easy to see why religious spirituality, associated with the God-concept, is the most popular alternative worldwide. Whether or not the individual’s spirituality involves teachers, spirituality has always manifested most powerfully though particular human beings, so most people ended up associating their core idealism, again, with “human form”—that is to say, with certain special teachers. That’s how God became the most powerful and important of all universal archetypes.2