Why is it so difficult to find God? -
and what Alan Watts missed
(on the question : is there a God?)
This is for people of faith or experience
It's often not possible for people to find God even after a lifetime of selfless devotion. It is often said that enlightenment is the hardest thing in the world to find. St. Paul told us it comes only through the grace of God. And Bodhisattva's instant enlightenment was only maybe possible, after years of dedicated practice, by chance, with the appropriate mind boggling zen koan.
The goals of oneness or emptiness or finding God are, to our present way of thinking, something which can't be guaranteed and we can't control.
Over time, rational explanations for this have developed. Modern thinking suggests the problem is because trying to find, or wanting God or enlightenment is still an attatchment, a selfish ambition, and thus automatically binds us to our state as an isolated self, and so separates us from our goal.
In practice, all the usual ways humans get things done, by trying, hoping or wanting, usually so effective, just don't work on a spiritual level, simply because they stimulate the same system which we're trying to get out of. It's very hard to get out of the box when we are still stimulating the box.
Alan Watts marks the start of western thinking, that the basic problem was our habitual way of thinking and feeling in terms of subjects and objects, things which 'do' or are 'done to'.
He explains that a state of oneness is a state where subject and object co-exist. We have lost the feeling of how life is intergrated.
He explains our questions on 'free will or fate', as a natural consequence of dividing our lives into things which do, and things which are done to, are we the puppeteer or are we the puppet? Are we a subject or an object?
He draws a picture: A stone hits the water. We think automatically: without the stone the ripples wouldn't exist, but he points out, without the ripples the stone wouldn't exist. Subject and object are inter-dependant and belong together in everything which happens.
Alan Watts (The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Chapter 3 How To Be a Genuine Fake)
"The truth is that in looking at the world bit by bit we convince ourselves that it consists of separate things; and so give ourselves the problem of how these things are connected and how they cause and effect each other. The problem would never have arisen if we had been aware that it was just our way of looking at the world which had chopped it up into separate bits, things, events, causes, and effects.
It is, then, as if the human race had hypnotized or talked itself into the hoax of egocentricity. There is no one to blame but ourselves. We are not victims of a conspiracy arranged by an external God or some secret society of manipulators. If there is any biological foundation for the hoax it lies only in the brain’s capacity for narrowed, attentive consciousness hand-in-hand with its power of recognition—of knowing about knowing and thinking about thinking with the use of images and languages."
And because we are thinking in the box, it's hard to get out of it.
Watts was undoubtably brilliant, but he never followed up his idea "If there is any biological foundation for the hoax it lies only in the brain’s capacity for narrowed, attentive consciousness." He identifies the fact that all this only exists because we focus, but he never said it simply as 'focussing', and he never asked if there was anything else we could do with our five basic senses, ... and he never considered how animals look and listen without focussing.
He explains how life literally disintegrates when we see it as selected bits which we then put together again in terms of words, grammar and concepts.
He discusses the taoist and zen ideas of 'just sensing' (a term which can also mean 'focussing without thinking'), but he sees this as a psychological state which we arrive at when we have fully seen through the abstract mirror images of our human condition.
But my point is that wanting, ambitions, and since Watts, subjects and objects, all only exist because of focussing. God and ego, self and the world are based on focussing, they are focal points. We understand life in terms of the relationship between focal points. Our entire abstract thinking system is based on focussing.
And so whichever way you look at it: wanting, trying, attachment, expectations AND since Watts, subjects and objects: Focussing is the first step, the a priori reason, the root cause (in terms of what we do and can do to influence our life) of the problem. Trying to get out of the box by focussing on something special, is still using the focussing system which got us into this mess in the first place.
Now, - enigmatically, but not paradoxically, focussing is the necessary first step for doing anything, and that includes finding God.
Focussing is the only way we know how to get things done. So we focus on something eternal or sublime, a God, Jesus, prayer, or Krishna, mantras, chakras or the breathing etc.
And, in the attempt to avoid all the distractions involved with the pleasures of the senses, - most people close the windows to find peace in silence, close the eyes to look inwards, and breathe without smelling.
I think it's vitally important to focus on higher things, it's necessary to love God. But it's not necessary to close the senses in order to find God. Closing the senses is irrelevant, and i believe a big red herring, a blind alley. It's as impossible to see the big picture by focussing, as it is to see it by stopping focussing, ...
If we don't even use our three basic external senses, seeing, listening and smelling, we can never see, hear or smell the whole big picture ... there's a lot we're simply missing out on ...
Closing my senses and going inwards opens up one dimension of our awareness. Focussing opens up yet another dimension, where we understand the relationships between subjects and objects. And broadband sensing connects me, it's more than a relationship, it's a connection with the immediate environment. I believe it is only possible to get the big picture, by combining all three perspectives.
Lots is still up to the Grace of God, but some things we can do ourselves. And a big practical first step for us, is to be now and feel connected with what's actually happening by opening the senses in a broadband way, and consequently stopping the everlasting thoughts going round in circles. We need to learn from animals, and how they use their broadband sensing.
The blackbird teaches us, any focussed activity must be coordinated with periodic broadband activity, in order to secure survival. The hare teaches us even when dozing it's better to keep the ears open.
This way of combining broaband awareness with the rest of life is ingrained in, and fundamental to life.
Perhaps some ancient cultures had a name for it, but no-one in our modern culture has even got a name. So we can realistically expect a whole collection of unrecognised and unresearched psychological effects which seeing the world like this has.
And one amazing thing is : trying to go broadband, being attached to it, wanting it and even expecting it to happen, doesn't prevent it happening! It actually encourages it, it helps and stimulates it happening. Why? Because it was built that way. It was built to stop thinking for a moment and feel immediately connected with the world around us. There is no better simpler or more natural way of feeling connected with our immediate environment.
There are other perameters to this way of sensing. It doesn't lead to the same mental problems or have the same creative potential that focussed sensing has. Anyone with an interest for human psychology is missing something here, if they miss this.
Broadband sensing is more than practical and efficient, it is a reliable, secure and natural (no hokus pokus mysticism), relatively easy way of starting the 'oneness-process' in our present human condition. A first step, to feel connected, balanced, even contented.
And then it clarifies the whole picture. We can be now and connected, that's up to us to do. Then if we want something eternal and absorbed in oneness, then we need to focus on something eternal.
1 Corinthians 2, 9 - 10
However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived” —
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
So it follows that what our eyes see, and ears hear, and what our minds can conceive, are the things which belong to us, the things we can do, and are responsible for.