THE GOD BLOG
The following section has been created as a journal of sorts in which to record moments of thought pertaining to God and Spirit, and to our human relationship with the divine. I am installing it here, as a growing and evolving work in progress, built out of self-contained fragments, to possibly accomplish what a work more conscious of structure, coherence and consistency could not. Out of this archipelago of ideas not prematurely bound to presentability, a greater understanding may one day emerge. Although I may, at times here, employ the grammar of certainty, I do not presume, by doing so, to be the great unveiler, the great master of the unknown, only to be true to the confidence of moments that have given me insights that may later be in need of amendment. This section is, above all else, a personal resource for me, footprints of my own spiritual struggle, and its need to find ways of living in the middle of a storm of mysteries. I share these words, not as a prophet, but as a friend, in case anything I say, any stray remark, may be of use to you in your own spiritual quest for understanding. - JRS, April 2007.
Who or what is God? The giant man with long white hair and a long white beard, flowing robes and a staff, striding among the clouds, with love and lightning in his hands and eyes? The psychological projection of our most sheltering, protective, and fear-inspiring archetype, the human Father, onto a frighteningly unresponsive Universe? The self-insinuation of ourselves, through an imagined, superhuman advocate, into the texture of a barren, heartless cosmos? Our mythological shield against floods and drought, disease and death, an elaborate pep talk we give ourselves in the night, a fire we build in our minds to keep away the sounds of the dark, burning lies until the sun comes up? Is this who God is, a grand illusion necessitated by the curse of our foresight (that backfiring survival tool which has stolen us from the Now and bludgeoned our sensitivity with the fatal events of Tomorrow)? An illusion we have beaten and danced ourselves into believing, united in our fear, united in our smallness, pledged to the redeeming self-deception?
Who or what is God? A giant man, invisible in the grandeur of the Universe? A human mind in control of all things, DJ of the galaxies and stars, the planets and their histories, the fishes of the sea and fowl of the air, the lion, and the king who hunts the lion from his chariot? Are we made after God’s image, after God’s likeness, as the Bible says ; can we, therefore, see God by looking at ourselves? Is he nothing more than who we are, built on a massive scale? The one who lights the sun at dawn, who puts the moon up in the night, who wills floods upon the wicked, and parts the waters for the righteous? Is God our mind and our spirit amplified to the billionth power, an omnipotent extension of ourselves, placed in the driver’s seat of everything that is?
Can you put God into words, can you describe him? Can you see him? Does he have substance, is he energy? What kind of energy? How is it that that energy can manifest "mind"? Why do you call God "him"? Is God "she"? Is God "it"? Is God "he, she, and it"? Is God you talking to yourself?
"The cry of the stag is so loud in the empty mountains than an echo answers him as though it were a doe." 
Is this God? Your loneliness magnified into an institution? Have you split into two beings to keep yourself company, and given to the other all the qualities and powers you wish you had, but know you don’t? Is God your personified tantrum against the immutable?
"Ah, Love! could thou and I with Fate conspire to grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire, Would not we shatter it to bits - and then Re-mould it nearer to the Heart’s Desire!" 
Has God come to remake the world in the theater of your despair? Never has there been a more willing audience to suspend its disbelief.
With the battering ram of fantasy shall you knock down the door of reality?
In the story, the tiny boy befriended the mighty dragon. Then there was a child with the power of a dragon, and a dragon who was as gentle as a child. Is God the fire-breathing dragon who will protect you? And will your devotion and your love guide his flames away from your home? Is this a fairy tale, or your first step towards the truth that moves the Universe?
I believe in God, but I cannot describe or explain him.
I say "him" in loyalty to inertia, and to save my energy by taking refuge in custom. Why should I call him "she" just to be new, just to react against the obvious deficiency of saying "him"? And I will never say "it", because in our grammar "it" is cold and impersonal, and this is not how I experience God. But God is neither he, she, nor it; we need to invent a new pronoun to encompass God, then give ourselves a few centuries to get used to it, because God is also familiar.
Besides power and immense capacity, God is intelligence, and emotional connection. From where do these things come? There is not a body. There is not a brain. Is God some kind of enormous intelligent cloud, another life form beyond our current comprehension, perhaps the size of a galaxy, swirling with the new foundations for a mind?  Perhaps linked to the rest of the Universe through unknown passageways in the "structure" of space and time? Efforts to perceive God in this way flounder. They constrict something beautiful and natural with speculations that seem desperate, crush belief by dragging it out onto the floor of an unfamiliar dance that makes it seem absurd. Something supremely graceful becomes convoluted and awkward, something real is left feeling fake. Intuition, infected with needless apologies to reason, loses all its power. Tricked into defending itself in the wrong place, it is mauled and defeated. Every general has to know where to fight the decisive battle, whether it is for his kingdom or his heart.
Reason is like a boy king, put too early on the throne.
Science is still very far from God. The heart is closer.
Sink deeply into your feelings, in an effortless place it will seem right. What is not proved by the mind will be known by the heart.
You do not need to know how or why the sun rises, to be awakened by its light coming through your window. One day it would be nice to know the how and the why of it, but until then, why not let the light come in? Why draw your shades shut - your inner shades - because you cannot explain it? You don’t need to understand it to benefit from it.
Reason walks heavily over thin ice, and so it falls into the dark water. The heart and soul of man walk lightly, therefore they can cross over the frozen lake without falling in.
Reason starts from one end, spiritual belief from another. Together, they are writing a circle that will one day be joined. On this circle, still incomplete, we suffer and we quarrel; but contradiction is in the process of resolving itself. My patient opposites will not fight, they are, in fact, headed towards their wedding. Why make inner war, why not anticipate the inevitable harmony? Peace will come without smashing our mind into pieces, or tearing out our heart.
God is not in some distant place, not an immense glowing cloud of thought or invisible source of energy at the center of the Universe, or at its edge. God is decentralized. He is everywhere. The whole is implicit in the part, the vast is implicit in the small.  This "encoded omnipresence" creates an interconnection between everything that is, and the possibility of tapping into "the whole" by means of what is within one and around one. In this way, the vast intelligence of being more than we are - the intelligence of all living things, a great collective mind enriched by the "inanimate" and rooted in the deepest laws of the universe - is available for us to relate to. God is not billions of miles away, or even in another dimension, he is right here, and he is simultaneously a million light years away from us.
There is a Universe, and there are laws of nature. Since we believe God has a "mind", we can say that God is a potential within this Universe, and within these laws. God occurs when our personal mind connects with the implicit wholeness that is within our reach.  When God is reached by our heart and mind, we are able to access a beautiful sense of belonging, and we are blessed by deeper levels of insight. Untapped forms of power become available to us, as we are able to channel sources of energy from within us and our environment to create a variety of positive and sometimes "miraculous" outcomes. We are not necessarily conscious masters of this process, but we bring into being the forces that act as God, we configure our needs into a pole of attraction and point that pole towards sources of aid and comfort in the Universe; through faith we escape from solitude, we reconnect and network with the cosmos.
Divinity is a word of respect we have given to these mysterious potentials and manifestations which we can tap into, and unleash/permit.
God is, for each of us, the place where divinity intersects with our nature. If God were objectively, within the deepest reality of the universe, the color Blue, and I were yellow, then for me God would be Green. For a being who was red, God would be Violet. My God is not the same as your God, though he comes from the same universal source of divinity as your God comes from; the human God is not the same as the wolf God, which is not the same as the ant God. We each experience God from our unique vantage point, and absorb him according to the idiosyncratic permeability of our spiritual skin. Some of us are able or committed to absorb a greater dose of divinity through this "skin" than others, and to therefore mix God more fully into everything we are and do. Some human beings are not porous to God at all, they take a drop of him to serve their godlessness, then shut him out behind locked doors that bear his name.
God is subtle, living, fast, accessible, compliant, yet has a moral bottom. You will not fall forever if you are permissive. Order will blossom like a flower in its season. Hold God in the vice of a formula and he will wither. Lead him on a tether, and he will become what you are without him. Your mediocrity will know no limits, it will take giant strides across a deceived earth.
God is not a preposterous affront to science, but he is an unexplained mystery. These words of mine are getting closer to him, but they are not still there, and they will never be approved by the judges in black robes who condemn intuition for kissing the lips of the unknown.
God, as he is, has not yet been approved from the outside. He only makes sense within you. Be true to him, as though you were a mother pregnant with unborn child. One day, he will be born in their eyes, but he already is.
There is the obsessive compulsive man of science, bound to the neurosis of reason; he is tormented by the one-way power of his mind. Then, there is the vicious man of science, who uses his knowledge as an act of aggression, thrusting his paradigm like a knife into the entrails of humanity. He stabs hope, he steals happiness, he sets fire to the house of life. He is a learned thug. He smashes the ancient instruments of knowing before his have been perfected, takes joy in the misery he has inflicted upon the vulnerable. With relish, he leaps at his chance to be pastor in the Church of Ridicule, where everything sacred is laughed into oblivion. There he stands, a god to replace god, the God of Dark Comedy, upon the pedestal of the world’s depression.
Do not succumb to the flamboyant diminishers, or to the calculations of constipated souls. Connect with the divine.
When the bombs are dropping and bullets are flying across the field, keep your head down. Stay in the foxhole of your heart. Connect with the divine, and you won’t be dislodged by the arrogant, the mean-hearted, or the brilliant who are ignorant.
Although God is subtle and mysterious, he is also familiar and, for us, "human", because we connect with him through our humanness. He comes to us through the filter of our human sensibilities, and becomes an intimate part of our world through that process. Our vision of God is not "anthropomorphic", our relationship with God actually makes him human (for us), or partly human (as in the nature of a divine hybrid). He merges with us and we with him, so that we are able to meet on common ground.
It is not wrong to connect with God by means of metaphor. Although God does not look like the painting of the white-haired father-sage that Michelangelo left on the roof of the Sistine Chapel, or like the image of Jesus on the cross, if you relate strongly to these images, use them as conduits to God. Metaphors, by producing comfort and providing familiar routes of travel, may lead us into the heart of something abstract and incomprehensible that we could not otherwise relate to or even find. Every soul needs to develop its own lines to power and understanding, and metaphor, if it serves the individual or the culture, deserves respect. Religious metaphor is not a way of giving in to what is primitive, but a way of embracing and assimilating what is alien.  What counts is that each and every one of us finds a way to reach God across the terrain of symbols, images, approximations and metaphors which have meaning for us.
In this same regard, it can be said that the ancients who worshipped Zeus and Poseidon, Athena and Aphrodite, were not wrong. They were not simply idiots or poor doomed orphans born into spiritual poverty, cursed to come into the world before the revelations of Moses, Jesus, or Mohammed. The Gods of ancient Greece and Rome were the conduits of that age into the divine, their metaphorical portals to the sacred. Zeus and Hera were as real as Jesus and Mary (if not in their historical aspect, in their legitimacy as viable paths to sacred experience). So it was with Isis and Horus, pathways of ancient Egypt, and the gods of Assyria, India, Mexico, and Peru.
There are many who say that the polytheists (worshippers of multiple gods), were ignorant and even sinful. "We now know that there is but one God to worship: the God of Abraham, who is God of the Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims." And yet, I say: whether God is one or many depends on how you perceive him, or choose to relate to him. I have compared this to the ideal of the unified field theory, which hopes (and expects one day) to prove that the many forms of energy which now seem distinct and separate are actually related, and but multiple expressions of a common energetic source, or state. I have applied this to the study of divinity. If you fragment and take aspects of God, and embody them, providing each with an identifying metaphor, you will have a pantheon of gods and goddesses. If you leave God whole and undivided, you will have the one God, above all others, predicated by the Bible. The many are contained within the whole, and if at some time it is useful to splinter an aspect from the divine, and to use that aspect as your point of contact with the power and the comfort of God, what is the harm in it? It is a personal or a cultural choice, and what matters is the quality of the relationship with the divine, not the perceptual method used to achieve it.
The loyalty religions have insisted is owed to their God has really only been the loyalty they insisted be given to their society, their culture, their priests and their rulers. Specific perceptions of God have been bonding mechanisms meant to reinforce the group’s sense of identity, to promote cohesion, induce solidarity, and facilitate effectiveness in the face of competing societies. Fury around God and ways of worshipping him are expressions of political aspirations, which do not at all interface with the divine. All the Inquisitions and violent enforcers of doctrine, all the "you’ll burn in Hell" fanatics, are nothing more than herders with dogs and goads trying to keep a flock together, policemen of hearts that they must keep sharpened as their weapons. God doesn’t care whether you worship him as many, or as one, as a Muslim or a Jew. The divine supportive mother will listen to you whether you call her Mary, querida virgen, or Isis. God Almighty will come whether you seek him in St. Peter’s Cathedral, or in the ruins of the Temple of Jupiter.
Religions and spiritual paths are but roads to reach God. The roads come in from the north and the south, the east and the west, from the land of the Hindus, the Buddhists, the Muslims, Jews, Christians, and "Pagans." On each road, there are sinners, false prophets, bad and good, wise, saintly, cruel and fair, selfish and compassionate people traveling. Fools quarrel about the roads they are on; the sincerely spiritual concentrate on using the road they are on to get to God. As Rumi so brilliantly wrote: "Inside the Kaaba it doesn’t matter which direction you point your prayer rug!… The love-religion has no code or doctrine. Only God. So the ruby has nothing engraved on it! It doesn’t need markings."  One day, perhaps, all the good people traveling on different roads will realize that they have more in common with each other than with the corrupt and the fierce who are their companions, on their road. And the good Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, and Pagan will form a new religion, on the ground of the common God which they have reached by honoring their destination more than the road they have chosen to get there. This religion will be called the religion of sincerity, and it will unite the earth.
The Universe is an enormous web of relationships which operates according to immutable natural laws, and the law of cause and effect, as multiplicities of natures interact with each other according to their nature. God does not stand above this web, he is a part of it, and is diffused throughout it. He is another property of the Universe, an interactive property. Although the Universe, itself, and the laws which govern it and destinies which it contains, merits the description "divine" as a tribute to its astounding glory and magnificence, as an act of obeisance to the deep mystery of its incomprehensible and unavoidable existence, we probably do not mean to refer to this Universe when we speak of "God." For us, "God" is the "mind part" of the Universe, which depends upon the consciousness and sentience of the Universe’s living beings. He is scattered throughout their minds, and arises when these minds psychically or in some other energetic way connect with each other and with the physical forces of the Universe. God is contained within the Universe like salt in sea water. He is not the "driver of the machine", the one who turns the lights on and off, the one who says "stop" or "go." He is not the overseer in the tower, or the king upon the throne.
I once knew a great man who abandoned God, and then made war upon him, because the Church he belonged to was tripping over its feet, trying to defend its territory from science, and he did not want to be left out of the modern world ; and because he could not comprehend or forgive a God who could so neglect his earth, allowing it to be overrun with savagery and pain. This man lost his faith because he remained trapped within the ancient teaching that God is almighty. God is not almighty.
GOD is a higher understanding within each being and situation ready to unfold and blossom if permitted to; and an INTELLIGENCE and WILL permeating the Universe, that is not all-powerful, but constrained to act within the laws that govern the Universe. As water flows according to the terrain, GOD can only reach us according to the terrain of the natural laws that are both his medium and his impediment. He does not deliberately immerse us in torturous, heinous environments in order to test us or make us grow; we are not his playthings, and he is not a sadist, or guardian of a disguised benevolence coated with tragedy; he is there, in us and about us, to help us change those cruel environments if we wish to change them, and to help ameliorate the pain of living in those cruel environments with his offering of understanding, love, and enlightenment, if we (and he) cannot change them.
GOD most often intervenes through us and by means of us.
When we attribute to God the attribute of being all-powerful, it is because we wish to have a champion, a cosmic court of arbitration, capable of overturning any injustice and protecting us from any threat. But if God were all-powerful, we must also face the inexplicable fact of his perplexing tolerance for unspeakable cruelty, injustice, and monstrosity. The Holocaust, the carnage wrought by Tamerlane, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the genocide of the Armenians, the culture of torture of the Inquisition, the atrocities of the paramilitaries in Colombia, the ethnic cleansing of Bosnia, the slaughter in Rwanda, not to mention the devastation of earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, and floods, the mass starvation wreaked by war and drought, all the plagues of history, the incurable diseases and despair, the beautiful children run over by drunk drivers, flowers and blood scattered over the street… No "higher purpose" or "wisdom beyond our knowing" could justify any of this, since we are who we are, and experience pain and injustice as we do. "Oh, but in the vastness of eternity, even the agony of a whole lifetime is just a pinch on the way to paradise." We do not feel it this way, we suffer. (Even if God were to perceive these tragedies as minuscule within the greater scheme of things, he must judge us by our sensitivity, and not his imperviousness. Consider the following example: Playing loud music in and of itself is not cruel. But if you know someone has a headache and is vulnerable and will suffer because of your music, then it is cruel to play it in his presence, in such a way as to hurt him. In the same way, if you love to burn an exquisite incense, but your child has asthma and will become seriously ill from it, you do not burn it. Why should a concentration camp be the gateway to Heaven?)
Having experienced, in our intuitive and mystical ways, God’s benevolence and love, we can only assume that he is not all-powerful, or he would not subject us to these tortures. He is a guide and support for us, imprisoned within natural laws (which are more vast and malleable than we know at this time, and capable of generating "miracles" through gaps in our knowledge), yet he is also able to reach us by means of them.
God is the possible awakening within us, if we will receive him. God does not permit our crimes, we permit them; he is trying to save us, but we are blocking him. God is sending his energy of salvation to us, like an electric current. It is up to us to become good conductors of his electricity.
Belief in the "limited God" is a way back to God. It clears the table of a million outrages that make it difficult to believe in him, it frees him from the onus of being an abusive, monster-parent who we wish to run from. God has enormous power, but we must let it into the world. We must also learn more about how it is brought into being, how it flows through our lives, and find the places, the inner and outer levers, where its subtle touch can move the world.
In the old teachings, God was always the guardian of human morality, a voice that came through the prophets demanding righteousness, justice, and compassion; and a fist of punishment waiting to strike down the sinner and the transgressor nation with plagues, famines, and wars. Beyond this, on the other side of the all-too-frequent escape of the wicked from earthly consequence, God was said to hold, in reserve, the awful flames of Hell, and the torment of eternal immolation. The vile ones whose pleasure barge floated with impunity down a river of blood would be forever damned. Heaven and Hell in various forms, and Karma, were among the many concepts of reward and punishment said to stem from the divine, and these concepts were used by priests and holy men to instill a semblance of order into the chaos and turbulence of human relations - to reach a deeper level of the human mind than the mere decrees of kings. For if the royal policeman could be evaded, and the royal judge convinced or bought off, the eyes of God, which looked deep into one’s soul and read it as an open book, could never be deceived. God would see all and punish all. He was the ultimate enforcer, the ultimate reason to be good. Without God - without belief in God - the world would crumble into anarchy, the philosophers said. As if it’s not already drowning in chaos? If it’s this bad with God, imagine how bad it would be without him!
Is God involved with the issue of human morality at all? Does he make known laws for us to live by, provide us with a code of conduct, a set of principles to guide our existence? Or are we at the mercy of earthly laws only, with their loopholes and double standards, their institutional bias, their enshrinement of injustices, and their disgraceful blindspots ? Is there nothing more than the values of the strong, and their imperative to control their people and to promote order by means of laws which they, themselves, manufacture from within the depths of their will to power, utilizing the plausible material of their social history?
Some say God is nothing but a myth to sanction the institutionalized outrages of kings and elites. The Babylonian King Hammurabi had, carved into stone, a picture of himself receiving the tablet of laws which he imposed upon his people from the hand of the Sun God, Shamash. Moses was said to have received the Ten Commandments in the presence of YHVH, God almighty, on the burning peak of Mt. Sinai. Non-religious historians describe these forms of presentation as earthly devices used by human beings to acquire political legitimacy for their social projects and to inflate their own limited human power with the immense suggestion of the divine. As the discoveries of Darwin filtered into our perspective of history, and biological dynamics began to supplant religious concepts in our analysis of our behavior, this view of our moral codes began to gain support. For some, at this point, morality ceased to exist except as a form of bondage for the weak of mind. Extremist philosophers inferred from the Darwinian law of "natural selection", which was driven by the tooth and nail dynamic of the "survival of the fittest", that the only law truly indigenous to the Universe was this one - the battle of beast against beast and the subjugation of the weak by the strong. Nature was rife with savagery and cruelty, leading towards the only scientifically valid moral objective, which was genetic perfection, the "strengthening of the species", the attainment of the beauty of supremacy. Mercy was a stain on the path towards perfection. In this light, the lamb, long a symbol of Christian virtue, was rejected for his feebleness, and the tiger was placed upon a pedestal. Religion and the concept of divinely-designed morality was kept, but as a pure tool of manipulation to hold down the weak, so that the strong could rise. It was retained as one more tool in their arsenal for domination.
In this extreme form, the collapse of divinely-sanctioned morality led to the birth of Social Darwinism, which in America and much of Europe resulted in more callous relations between the rich and poor, business and labor; in a renewed sense of justification for the exploitation of "inferior" races by "superior" races, translating into the domination of Africans, Asians, and Latins by whites; and in an increased, and less morally-complicated, commitment to violence as a political tool, as an emulation of the natural principles of the animal kingdom. In its most extreme manifestation, this new emphasis on "biological thought" over "religious thought" led to the rise of Hitler and the Nazi ethos of "sweeping aside the Christian lie" and returning man to his animal roots, which led to the efforts to "purify" the German race, and later the human race ("accelerated natural selection"), by means of the extermination of the Jews, other "polluted" races, and the infirm and the unfit; as well as to the uninhibited application of bestial aggressiveness in the name of acquiring "lebensraum" (additional "living space", as a territorial base for the fullest development of the German people). For Hitler and his cohorts, the German Reich was one more animal in the jungle of human nations, and its Luftwaffe and Wehrmacht were but modern forms of teeth and claws. Sentimental notions of peace and brotherhood were scratched out of the calculations of the architects of the new order, such ideas were likely to be nothing more than self-sabotaging distractions from the real forces behind human history, the forces of growing by means of strife, of killing or being killed, of dominating or being dominated. In what they perceived as cold clarity, Hitler and his philosophers chose to ally their future to their misunderstanding of nature, and to turn all the power of their technology and industry in a primal direction. Without God in their hearts, they exalted the beast.
On the other hand, not all attempts to understand morality in terms of biology were so drastic. Less harsh philosophers did not attempt to ride over the West’s Christian heritage, only to explain it without God. For them, morality was a cultural invention of men, the same as the wheel, the lever, or language. It was a necessary invention if human individuals were to successfully coalesce into groups which would enhance their survival capacity. Although dynamics of dominance and submission frequently pervaded these groups (dynamics widely witnessed among many of the social animals, including wolves, baboons, and apes), the success of the dominant eventually depended upon his ability to "limit his dominance", that is, to respect a set of behaviors and prerogatives among his peers which would make his dominance palatable to them. No dominant could so antagonize and provoke his fellows as to have to constantly fight them off (he needed to conserve his energy for those threats that were truly unavoidable), and no group could stand strong in the face of outside challenges were it forced to constantly battle within itself. Out of this set of tolerated and expected behaviors permitted within the wolf pack or baboon troop, out of this primitive sense of rights first developed within animal groups, a human sense of morality emerged and grew, and was later elaborated on. In the same way that the dominance-submission pattern among the apes was later internalized into our own class and power structures, so the first traces of morality which appeared within our inhuman ancestors to bind them together in functional groups, were passed on to us, embellished by our minds, and then forced to expand exponentially under the challenge of the complicated new environments which we created.
Thinkers who adhere to this view do not, typically, dismiss our basic moral codes; they consider them to be not only useful but essential to the survival of our civilization. However, by taking God out of the construction of our morality, and characterizing our moral system as a mere human invention, is it possible that we will cease to respect it? Without God behind it, sanctioning it, defending it, what is to prevent rebellion? What is to prevent each and every one of us from reinventing morality to suit our own personal needs, since morality does not have a definitive source and is only an artificial product of our culture, not a godly command? Why shouldn’t I be Raskolnikov, and kill the useless little old lady to get the money I could use better than her? 
It is important to remember: even if the general moral sensibilities which have generated specific moral codes within the context of particular cultures and socialization processes did not come from God, but were biologically shaped in this way, they are now a part of our innate nature. Darwinian pressures have imbedded a moral sense inside of us. More than an artificial construct which has no basis, the general source of morality from which our diverse patterns of ethics originate is now deeply rooted in our nature. When one observes the laws of nations, and more importantly, the religions which have arisen to guide and inspire us, a massive overlap of perceptions and sentiments is seen, a great field of common ground that unites the Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Jew, Muslim, and Pagan, in spite of their differences, around certain general understandings of compassion, fairness, and duty. This shared ground of understanding points to an intrinsic commonality, an inner emotional compass by which we can all discern the basic difference between right and wrong. 
According to the biological theory of morality, the biggest problem with our moral sense is that it is primarily directed towards the management of relations within our group, as we perceive our group to be, whether it is our clan, our tribe, our nation, our creed, our class, or our race. Outside of the group, the power of our moral sense diminishes. Hence, the proliferation of wars throughout history. This makes sense biologically, since our moral sensibility arose genetically in the context of keeping our group intact, in order to better compete with rival groups for the control of resources, thereby enhancing our chances for survival and favoring the perpetuation of our genes. This does not mean that our moral sense does not apply or function outside of our group. It does. Witness the sense of guilt and horror of soldiers who have committed war crimes, such as My Lai, who were inwardly wrecked by their fall from humanity; or the shame felt by the United States (after the fact) for the massacres of Sand Creek and Wounded Knee. However, the innate moral sense is more easily quieted and manipulated when it comes to those living outside of the group, who may be believably demonized and targeted. At such times, morality, itself, is not so much ditched as it is cited and stirred within us to mask its suspension, as in the case of the Christian Crusade or the Muslim jihad, or the "war to protect democracy", which are all, on the surface, moral endeavors, whitewashed forms of barbarism that we could not openly perpetrate. Our need to believe we are moral is almost universal, we are simply more gullible when it comes to what we do outside of our group. Some have said that the solution to this dilemma is obvious: that our concept of what the group is must be expanded. However, Freud and others have argued convincingly that the larger the group we seek to bring within our moral borders, the more our energy of "social love" must be dispersed, until it is finally diluted to the point of uselessness; besides this, they have argued that it is psychologically impossible to bring the entire world into a single peaceful group, because the force of human aggression requires enemies for the purpose of venting, in order to satisfy and defuse the emotions which would otherwise blow up within the social group and cause it to unravel. There must therefore always be someone outside of the group to play the role of the enemy, in order to act as a safety valve for pressures within the group.  These ideas are both controversial and striking. I do not see hopelessness here, only an opportunity for imbedding new psychological spaces and social mechanisms into our civilization, in order to cultivate our inborn moral sense while relieving or redirecting the pressures which act to undermine it. 
For me, a basic moral sense of right and wrong exists within us. It is innate, biological, a part of who we are. Though we are masters of sabotaging this sense, and hiding from it, it remains within us, just the same. The inner compass needle may spin out of control in a moment of madness, but it always returns to point to this moral pole within our hearts. At times, great prophets and spiritual thinkers have come into the world and built such compelling visions from this material that religions have grown around them. Did these visions, these words, come from God? As I perceive God, he was engaged by the sincerity of the prophets, by the intensity of their calling, the power of their search, the open lines of communication into their minds. God occurred as they wandered through the desert, or threw themselves, without defenses, into the arms of the star-filled night. Great messages came into the world. The messages were not absolutely "pure", they were channeled by human beings and affected, sometimes strongly bent, by the personal and cultural circumstances of their birth; the messages were beautiful, built in the shape of a specific time, and therefore not utterly universal, but still impressive and durable, especially when allowed the benefit of adaptation. I would say that the strong basis of moral codes exists within us, and that God has frequently been used by man, or is it vice versa?, to reach into this emotional strata, and to come back from it with tremendous achievements of expression, capable of mobilizing tribes and nations to trod on upright paths. Whether this inner sense of morality, which both God and man work with, is purely Darwinian, beaten into us on the forge of our struggle for survival, or a higher intuition of the human possibility, a dream of who we can be and the aspiration to be that, linked to invisible proddings from the cosmos, it is hard to say.
…On another world, a higher consciousness than mine stands looking into the sky. The water of his mind reaches my shore, I want to be him. He knows that, that is why he stares into the night imagining my world. I hear prayers coming from all over the Universe, that is how I know that I can be more than I am, that who I am can expand…
I am not a lion or a crocodile, I am a man. My morality is therefore not the morality of a lion or a crocodile. The lion must kill the zebra, and he is moral to do so, nature has constructed his world in such a way that that is necessary for him to do so, it is his task, his sacred mission. Therefore, he must chase after the zebra, sink his claws into its back, bring it down to the ground, bite its throat, and rip out its insides. Do not draw the wrong conclusion! What we must seek to be is men, not lions, or crocodiles. We have different options, and are capable of a different morality. We can solve our problems without murder and war; and one day we will have to. God gave us the atom bomb to close the door of savagery. Beware the killer who says, "The lion does it, why not I?" All the creatures of the Universe are measured by the standard of what they are capable of. So it is that the angels pronounce the lion-lion innocent, and the human-lion guilty. Nature is filled with the truth; it also abounds with false lessons!
Where I came from does not tell me who I must be. Who I was before does not sanction who I am now. What was right in the past may not be right now. A good man who is frozen may be carried by time to a place where he is evil. Does the frog build an altar to the tadpole? Does the butterfly live by the code of the caterpillar? My forebear was a fish that crawled from the sea, dragging himself, one torturous inch at a time, onto the land. Today, I can run. My mind and my heart can also run.
Morality is not an invention; it resides within us, and God reminds us of its existence, and commits us to it.
Some complain that without divine punishment, the whole system falls apart. I do not believe in Heaven or Hell in the classic sense, though perhaps they exist in some dimension, or are experienced as emotional states by spirits.  I do believe in in Karma. And I do believe in the chains of guilt and shame which the transgressor, not caught by human laws, wears throughout his life, even beneath his bluff of callousness; and in the huge power of dying, which kisses the good man as he departs with the priceless knowledge that he has lived well, and spits upon the transgressor with disgust, ruining the most beautiful moment of consciousness as human life unravels into the great unknown. Let me scatter my atoms with joy, and give them to a sun, let me dance away from my bones, not clutch and cry and cling to the slippery rock of a fading life, with the despair of a man who has no choice but to hate himself, as the power to sustain his self-deception finally fails.  Death is a great moment, and I want to be blessed, not damned by it. Even were there no more than this single life to live, I would choose to discipline myself for my entire life so that I could face death in this way, and experience it with peace in my heart. Having felt death’s hands on me before, I know the importance of this commitment. This instant alone, for me, is the equal of Heaven and Hell.
God exists! He has limits, but he is great! He is here to do his part; now we must step forward to do ours! Together we are the perfect team! Without us, God has a hard time finding his way into the world; without him, we have trouble climbing our inner heights.
Science comes rumbling down the road like a juggernaut to crush God, but he is not there. Out from the hollow of the Great Buddha statue’s nose comes a swallow. 
 Genesis 1:26-27.
 Otomo No Yakamochi, translated by Kenneth Rexroth, One Hundred Poems from the Japanese, p.90.
 Edward Fitzgerald, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the first translation, LXXIII.
 See Fred Hoyle’s The Black Cloud, a science fiction novel, for an intelligent cloud scenario, crafted by a world-renowned physicist.
 See Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe, for interesting discourse along these lines.
 Compare this idea to the Hindu concept of the "akashic records."
 In the Journey of Rainsnow, the last two chapters deal extensively with metaphor, myth, and the ultimate reality of the universe.
 The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks (p. 167).
 See "Metaphysics to Live By" in the "Weapons of Depth" section, for a discussion of the damage religion has incurred as a result of choosing to fight losing battles on the field of the intellect.
 From Dostoevsky’s Crime And Punishment.
 There is no need to attempt to deconstruct this statement; there are exceptions, of course, particularly in the case of religions analyzed at specific moments on their developmental time line.
 Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents.
 See The Message of Rainsnow for a proposal to create a new form of culture which takes these dynamics into account.
 I do not believe in Heaven and Hell as permanent, eternal destinations for the soul. I do believe in bardos - interlife states - which could, in some cases, be temporary approximations of heaven or hell. (Without attempting to define the physics of souls, I do believe that, in some way or other, our consciousness is able to persist outside of our body before attaching to another body via reincarnation.) In a "hell-like" bardo I would not expect a soul to experience the sensation of being burned alive, as in the Christian version, I would merely expect it to be tormented by the power of self-knowledge, liberated from earthly lies-to-the-self: to understand how far it had "fallen short" of its potential, generating an almost unbearable sense of disappointment, once the reassuring illusions of the world were gone; and to suffer through its new ability to experience the feelings of those it had harmed (as the ego lost the strength to shut out the rest of the Universe).
 Many near-death-experiences have turned up tales of pain and misery for things done wrong, and some experiences of terrible darkness and fear.
 "The Great Buddha at Nara", translated by Harold G. Henderson, p. 147 of An Introduction to Haiku: An Anthology of Poems and Poets From Basho to Shiki. His version is actually: "Out from the hollow/of Great Buddha’s nose -/comes a swallow."
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