So here we are in this world, surrounded by the universe and an even greater cosmos beyond the limit of what can be observed in our corner of the space-time continuum.
Understanding this is a life's work. Well, many lives.
From the dawn of recorded history, and certainly well before that, humans have been extending the boundary of what is known. Of course, as physicist John Wheeler said, "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance."
However, for various reasons religions, philosophies, spiritual belief systems, and mystical practices aren't willing to accept the mystery of what is.
They want us to embrace a fantasy of what might be. In Möller de la Rouviere's intriguing book, "Spirituality Without God," he calls this the Great Other.
In Christianity, it is God. In HInduism, Brahman. There are countless other names for this concept, all relating to some transcendent ultimate ground of reality. Each distracts us from the immediate experience of what is here and now.
However, if we could remain realistic and practical about this matter, and become alive to the deep conditioning power of all the historical propaganda that surrounds this notion of God (or any other form of this metaphorical Great Other), we may remain open to investigate things in a clear and unbiased way.
In the process we may discover that we are indeed capable of enquiring into every aspect of our living reality for ourselves, and from within our own human perspective alone. And this free and open-ended spirit of enquiry will ultimately prove to be perfectly capable of revealing the truth we previously imagined to be vested only in God.
Without exception, all spiritual, estoeric or religious paths present us with a vision of the Ultimate or God.
...Part of this vision will generally also include descriptions of the ultimate nature of things. We are taught about the nature of God or Truth. We are offered ultimate explanations for our suffering, our unlove, our disorder. We may be told that this world is of a lesser status than the Ultimate Essence of existence, or that the physical universe is the result of the determinations of a creator-God.
Often our world is described as a veil of sorrow and tears, caught in a perpetual destiny-creating web of karmic consequences. We learn about reincarnation, past lives, karma, the wheel of birth and death. Heave and hell are explained to us.
In short, we come across many concepts, explanations and descriptions, all attempting to explain the deeper context of life from the point of view of some presumed First Principle or Primordial Cause.
...From a humanistic perspective, the entire notion of some God as the Great Other, whether ultimately separate from us or to be merged with in mystic unity, is based on the fundamental error of mistaking a projection of thought for reality.
...Both Judaic and Hindu descriptions imply a dualistic vision of God and humankind. And in terms of holistic living, such a vision creates endless confusion and misdirected forms of practice.
...If the insight that guides our path of self-enquiry and inner exploration has the slightest sense of duality woven into it, where the ultimate is explained in Otherworldly terms, we should take great care.
...If, on the other hand, we could come to an integral understanding of things, where truth is not seen as something separate from our human situation, we will direct our search not at what we presume is the Great Beyond, but rather investigate what it is we do that obstructs the integration between ourselves and the undivided truth of human experience.
I first read "Spirituality Without God" back in 2006, as described here. Recently I started re-reading it. I don't agree with everything de la Rouviere says, but I like his overall message a lot. The guy has studied all kinds of spiritual teachings, finally coming to a conclusion similar to mine:
Toss them. Get rid of them. Dump gurus, masters, prophets, and everyone else who claims to know the Great Other. Examine and learn from your own human experience.
The Spiritual Humanism web site reports that de la Rouviere has written another book, "The Only Awakening." I've ordered it. I'm curious to see if his approach toward life changed in the five years between publishing his first and second books.
He has an interesting take on meditation, judging from some quick skimming I've done of the final chapters in Spirituality Without God. I've never stopped meditating during my evolution from churched to churchless.
So this is one reason I enjoy de la Rouviere's writing -- getting some fresh insights into what meditation is good for.