Wednesday, July 12, 2017

BE STILL AND KNOW

The Bible makes it clear that stillness leads to knowledge of the Divine (that is, the sacred and holy), for it is written, ‘Be still, and know that I am God’ (Ps 46:10). They are wonderful words, especially the first two words—‘Be still.’ You see, there is really nothing to do. Justbe still. Start with the body, and the mind will become still as well.

When conducting retreats or leading group meditations I often take the abovementioned verse and progressively break it up, as follows:

‘Be still, and know that I am God.’

‘Be still, and know that I am.’  

‘Be still, and know.’  

‘Be still.’

'Be.'

Who or what is God, you may ask? Some theological construct, unconnected with reality? Well, if you think that God is a giant man or woman 'up there' or 'out there', that is, some supra-personal, supernatural person or being with a face, body, arms, legs and genitalia, then you are horribly mistaken. Here is an insightful passage from the 3rd chapter of the book of Exodus in the Bible, in which Moses enquires as to who or what God actually is:

13 Then Moses said to God, ‘Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?’ 14 And God said to Moses, ‘I AM THAT I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’’

In other words, God, the Great I AM, is saying, ‘I AM pure Be-ing,' 'I AM the Great No-Thing,' 'I AM unformed, undifferentiated consciousness.' That is the name and nature of God. Being the All Being, the Great I AM is the infinite, incorporeal, self-sufficient, self-perpetuating, ever-present Being of all. I AM that which is. I AM that which I AM. The words 'I AM' refer preeminently to the subject of all existence (namely, the unlimited and ineffable, egoistically conscious Omnipresence), although the words also refer to the object. The subject and object are one. The Bible says that I AM is God. In India the I AM is called Om. God – the very essence and be-ing-ness of life itself – becomes, or rather is, what God has said that which God is. ‘I AM THAT [WHICH] I AM.’ I AM = I AM. God is. We are. We are all children of the Great I AM, the Divine Fire, the basic ALL of existence.

Mitre Peak, Milford Sound, New Zealand

I AM THAT I AM. That is the nature of God as revealed in the Hebrew Bible and expounded in metaphysics. The words describe and encapsulate the Omnipresence and Omnipotence of the Divine declaring Itself---to Itself. This is the self-knowingness and self-consciousness of God, the Great I AM. We, too, can be conscious – or rather self-conscious – of that very same I AM-ness, because each one of us is a divine spark, and that same I AM-ness is the very ground of our be-ing-ness. It is the ground of all be-ing-ness. It is the ALL-in-all ... the ALL-ness of all. 

Yes, God – pure Be-ing – is the one formless, sourceless, essenceless, unlimited, unsearchable, self-existent, self-knowing, self-giving, absolute, omnipresent, indestructible, and abundant existence that forever takes form, that is, incarnates, as you, me, and everything else, but which is never even for a moment absorbed by the innumerable objects of its self-expression. What I am trying to say is that the I AM within you, and within all living things, is the only Presence there is. That Presence, which manifests itself as the Eternal Now, is forever creating, by an endless process or renewal of the present moment, an infinite number of centres of its own consciousness. The Great I AM is the creativeness of the universe as well as being the source of own our creativeness.

God – if you choose to use the word at all, for that's up to you to decide – is the life that is the subject of true existence, the very life that lies within, and otherwise manifests itself through and as objects, being all persons and things---the very livingness, or rather self-livingness, of life itself. Put perhaps more simply, you are I AM in expression, as youIn the words of the minister and author Eric Butterworth, you are an 'eachness' within the ALL-ness of God.


Here are some words from Joseph Benner, from his book The Impersonal Life:

I AM You, that part of you who IS and KNOWS;
WHO KNOWS ALL THINGS,

And always knew, and always was.

Yes, I AM You, Your SELF; that part of you who says I AM and is I AM;

…       …       …

But I AM not your human mind, nor its child, the intellect. They are but the expression of your Being, as you are the expression of My Being; they are but phases of your human personality, as You are a phase of My Divine Impersonality.

…       …       …

… I AM because You Are. You ARE because I AM expressing My SELF.

I AM in You as the oak is in the acorn. You are a phase of Me in expression.

…       …       …

I AM the Tree of Life within you.

Each one of us is both an inlet and an outlet of life's self-expression. The ‘us’ in us – the ‘AM-ness’ of us – is not separate from life, rather it is life, or being-ness, itself unfolding from one moment to the next. Whenever we affirm ‘I am …’ we are affirming our being-ness, our I AM-ness, our true spiritual identity. We are saying, 'I AM alive. I AM here. I AM aware that I AM alive and that I AM here. I exist.' You see, the 'I AM' is both universal and individual, for whatever we attach to our I AM-ness, we become. Yes, what we put after those two words 'I am ... ' shapes our reality for better or for worse.

Now, trained as I was as a lawyer and scholar (ugh), I used to think that one could come to know God through academic study and the use of reason and the intellect. Well, that will take you some of the way, like to the end of the proverbial runway but not up into the air. After many years of suffering and self-defeat, I have learned this — the best way to know God is to be … still! 

Meditate. Get really still. Be silent. Say nothing. Let the mind go into neutral, so to speak. Let composure creep all over you. Feel your AM-ness pulsate through your arteries and veins. Breathe in more of that AM-ness. In time, you will come to know your very AM-ness as the ALL-ness of existence individualized in and as you. God is pure Be-ing, and we have our be-ing-ness in God, as the Christian mystics say. 'For in him we live and move and have our being' (Acts 17:28). There is only one way of be-ing. Call it the ALL-ness of God, if you like. Your AM-ness, which is a small part of that immense, boundless and infinite ALL-ness, enables you to say, ‘I am …’, and ‘I know … .’ 

Know this, 'I AM come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly' (Jn 10:10). What's more, this I AM-Presence within you and as you is with you always, even to the very end of the age (cf Mt 28:20). 

I AM is the Eternal Now, unbound by time and space. 'Before Abraham was, I AM' (Jn 8:58).

Be still! — and know — I AM — God.


The photographs of Mitre Peak, the lotus flower
and the cactus flower were taken by the author.

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