(Excerpt from a lecture, 2018)
The problem of God, as well as the problem of evil, is based on our beliefs. A repertoire of beliefs acquired throughout your life from different sources, such as classical literature, your parents’ unconscious beliefs, and the so-called expert’s opinion, all work in concert to establish your perception of reality. These influences shape your expectations and become impediments to direct experience or direct exposure to what is called God, His Grace, His Love, and others of His attributes.
People often say that they do pray but receive no response—that they do seek God, but then nothing happens. God remains hidden, despite all their struggles to reach out in order to receive some kind of answer. This is somewhat hard to believe because this goes against actual experience.
Such complaints are missing something. If you strive to get the answer from God, you will get it. If you pray but get no response in return, that means that part of your mind doesn’t actually want it, and a concealed wish of yours is to stay in control of your own life and to accomplish everything by yourself, which is the main obstacle in advancing toward the direct experience of interaction with the Divine. The reason is always you: you are the obstacle.
It’s a tricky thing to get your head around. It seems odd that there is a supreme intelligent force out there, while your own life is far from happy and joyful. Even worse, it seems to be filled with all sorts of suffering. Naturally, the question arises: Why would not God just make our lives all a bit better?
In my experience, the Lord always helps people. Despite the fact that life is not perfect, all mystics who ever lived always served the people. That’s the one and only vocation that they have ever had. Mystics are the hands of God. Their job is to alleviate the suffering of others. If you study the biographies of mystics (true mystics, not those who are only purported to be such), you will see that all mystic traditions speak about the same thing: the fact that God is always here for us. You are the one who is not available to accept His help. You are always closed off, and that is why nothing is changing in your life. Your desires and illusions are of greater importance to you. They stand in your way and lead you astray.
Of course, if you take the stand of self-accusing nafs, you can accuse God. You can say: “Why would God give us these illusions?” Dear friends, the point is that you need to grow up, get your share of sufferings and pleasures, and walk this part of your path. Things available for free are never appreciated—they are taken for granted. Only as people move further down the path will they begin to value the things that they have. It’s an old adage known since ancient times.
How can it be otherwise? That’s the way the world is. A conflict should be there and a collision of diverse energies should be present—otherwise, there will be no development, no progress. Development inevitably occurs through conflict. If you have no need to change your life, you will never change it. And the need for change is born out of conflict. For example, this could be a conflict between your capabilities and your desires, or between the life, you’re living now and the one you wish to live. Or it could be a conflict between your current life circumstances and the things that you need but currently lack. No conflict means no evolution, neither inner nor outer.
At what point in time do we see growth in technologies? When there is a demand for a new weapon or a method of protection against it. And what do people who are overwhelmed with their fears and neuroses normally do? They straightjacket their life in tight boundaries and put real change on hold. They try to avoid communication and situations where they might feel uncomfortable. They preserve themselves, freezing their own progress in stone.
The Path won’t lead us toward a life free from conflict. When we go inward, we run into the many contradictions that live inside us and that stem from the conflicting ideas that we’ve absorbed. This creates conflict.
Let’s take the idea of fairness, for example. People want to see a world congruent with the idea that life should be fair, but this simply isn’t true. Here you are—that is a conflict at work. What you see around you doesn’t match what you would want to see. You may find yourself suffering because of what you see. But that would be your choice—made unconsciously, but still made by yourself. Otherwise, you would have to realize that fairness is an idea in your mind—a beautiful one, but still, just an idea that has nothing to do with reality. And it is not yet possible for you to see the higher justice of existence if there is any to be seen at all.
You have the choice to work with this idea and let go of its effect on you, i.e., to free yourself from your own desires. Only then will you be able to see reality unobscured. Not the veil, not the curtain over your mind telling us, “That is fair and that is unfair.” You’ll be able to see things for what they are: here is a situation that you’re in, and here’s a solution to resolve it. That’s it.
If you let go of the idea of justice, you won’t care anymore whether the things around you are fair or not. If you’re scared about feeling this way, then you have another idea that you should have an active life stance, and care about things, and shudder at the very sight of a crying child. But that’s a different problem. That’s another idea of yours. And this is the very mechanism that stirs the constant unconscious activity in people’s lives.
Once we understand that we pump and transform energies, we can see how things really work. If you take time to observe the functioning of your lower bodies, for example, you’ll see a continuous energy exchange process: we receive the energy of a certain type from outside, transform it into another type of energy, and discharge it back. That’s the whole meaning of the physical or energetic existence of humans—and the only one.
The unconscious activity of the mind, which is triggered by all sorts of ideas, generates all of this hustle and bustle in the world. A plethora of ideas, cultures, mutual misunderstandings, opposed interests, ongoing frictions, and conflicts (political, cultural, or ethical—doesn’t matter), all work to create a possibility for growth—together with the risk of degradation, of course. Because if you live with an inner conflict and make no effort to resolve it, and if you keep running away from it while trying to suppress it and forget about all of these energies in yourself, then you begin to regress, to slide down. Your unconscious will grow larger because you let it do so, and you will turn moody and jittery. Emotional reactions will start hitting you and casting gloom over your mood, feelings, and responses, and you will fail to understand why. You’ll be living with all of this in subtle misery.
Or maybe your suffering will be more acute: you will be carried away by sporadic depressive episodes and anger outbursts because your inner conflict will still be unresolved. It’s like adding fuel to the fire. The conflict will keep bursting out, and you’ll grow more witless and hard-hearted as a consequence.
When you suppress emotions and avoid really looking at your inner situation, at your ideas, and the beliefs inside you, then you grow dull and lose your sensitivity and perception. The more suppressed energies one accumulates inside oneself, the less sentient he or she becomes. The person will be unable to properly sense their body, except when it gets very sick; unable to feel energies, neither their own nor someone else’s. The person would live in a “shell” with a mind covered by veils. Foggy states add either grey or black colors to our picture of the world, or tint it in a rose shade, depending on the type of illusions one currently has.
God has nothing to do with all of this.
There is the environment we live in. Creation is unfolding, and life is born. Yes, there is pressure from the Descending Flow of Creation and the circumstances associated with it—there are desires. Yet there is also another side to the story. There are two primary needs that we have, which we discussed previously, but it doesn’t hurt to refresh our memories one more time.
The first need is a desire to free oneself from one’s limitations, this inner prison that we all live in. It’s as if we have a boiling kettle inside of us, a whole mess of energies that we fail to express. Very often, we even fail to find words to properly describe our feelings, which creates a sense of being isolated and disconnected from the world and others. We don’t understand what is happening to us, hence we are unable to explain it to others who are even less likely to understand us, as they are in the same boat as we are. What happens is that we project our internal states onto other people, and they do exactly the same thing, so successful communication is impossible. Or maybe it works in certain circumstances with only certain people.
Do you see how complicated things are? On the one hand, we want to prolong our existence, and on the other hand, we don’t want to live with the limitations thereof. For that reason, we always seek ways to connect with something else in order to escape feelings of detachment and self-isolation; in other words, to set ourselves free from the state of separation from everyone and everything. We seek to become part of a family circle, or a member of a club, team, or any other kind of group that shares interests similar to ours, whatever they may be. We look for like-minded people or a social environment to dissolve into and merge with, and we forget that we are completely alone in this world, shut in our inner space, helpless to find the way out. We wish we could truly bond with others and acquire intimacy that comes with love. We wish we could become absorbed and turned into something bigger. But whatever we try, we still ultimately fail. The reason for this is that we usually don’t feel whole within ourselves. We are being split apart inside. One wish navigates us in one direction while another wish drags us away, and fear would kick in, followed by anxiety, and so on. And all this keeps tearing us apart.
Breaking through personal frontiers and joining up with something bigger than ourselves is one of the two essential needs, of which people oftentimes are unaware. People are usually better at realizing more superficial things, like the basic necessities for their physical well-being. Simple life pleasures… But folks! Hello! What pleasures? All of this is so shallow! Here is the true need: to go beyond yourself, break your limits, become something bigger than you are now.
In reality, we see people seeking solutions elsewhere. Young adults tend to identify themselves with ever-emerging subcultural trends—goths, emos, etc… Obviously, the pressure of the Descending Flow is harder on them, but the true fulfillment of this need becomes possible only once you lose yourself completely and reach the source of yourself.
This is not the state of “higher self,” as I used to think, a concept that is still widely taught nowadays. What actually happens can be described as follows: when we go deep within ourselves, and when we make consistent efforts in self-awareness, clearing our inner space from suppressed energies, and becoming more and more aware and present at the moment, at a certain point we find ourselves missing the center that had previously been located in the mind. And almost simultaneously, we find a door inside—a door opening into infinity. The opening of the heart is the first door into infinity that we can open inside ourselves. And in that infinity, one discovers God. The reality of God becomes available immediately. Well, maybe not quite immediately, because there are certain processes that take some time to unfold. But the point is that we find God only on our way inwards, through the attempt to understand the origin of ourselves: who we are, where we are from, why we live the way that we do, what is so special about us, and what our true destiny is.
On our way inwards, we can suddenly find and open the door to God. There is no other way to find Him. You can study Him using your mind, write theodicy narratives, come up with hypotheses, and speculate about His existence or non-existence, but all of this is worth nothing in the end. This stockpile of words has no meaning until you have an experience of your own.
As soon as you discover this bond within yourself, everything becomes so self-evident, so simple, that these words are simply not needed anymore. That’s when a path to true merging or unity with God, as Sufi says, will be opened to you. In this unity, you lose yourself and discover the Divine. It’s hard to find words to describe this. They are of little use here, unfortunately, and long-winded approximations only make things worse. One can try, of course, to craft the message in a coherent and clear manner, but the subject is so wispy, so beyond any common life experience, that it’s ultimately very challenging to convey.
There’s another part of the story, which is the second essential need: the need to serve. A person pursuing a goal only to serve himself looks childish. Kids are the ones who usually get obsessed with the things that they really want to get. The Descending Flow affects kids and adults differently. In kids, it’s so powerful that it almost tears them apart; they’re overwhelmed with their energy, always in motion like the wind, and hankering for this and that. They just can’t give a damn about anyone except themselves. They have no choice: desires pop up all the time, something catches their eye and they ask for it, but then something else shows up and they badly want to have the next thing, too. They want to try just about everything or have everything for themselves.
However, if you develop further and turn into a more mature person, you come to understand that living life for yourself is similar to playing new games in your old inner prison. It’s meaningless. This is why people usually begin to serve something bigger than themselves over time, which again brings us back to the number one need—the need to go beyond oneself, and to overcome one’s own boundaries.
Usually, people make the choice to serve ideas, beliefs, or concepts. The concept of the family, the concept of a society, the concept of general welfare—these are all substitutes. Serving an idea is a substitute, including the one to serve God through following his commandments, like almsgiving, for example. One can note, by the way, that God’s laws teach us to serve others in one way or another.
I need to repeat that God always takes care of us and is always there ready to help. We are the ones not available to accept it—this is the ultimate truth, believe me. Unfortunately, in order to see that, you need to also come to see how it happens that you’re not getting this help. Your ego, your own will, for example, to win at life on your own (which sounds really funny) is ultimately what walls you off. This happens because you have free will given to you out of love. If you’re reluctant to know God, you simply will not know Him. He will not inflict Himself on you. If you want to do everything by yourself, no problem, go ahead! Do it!
True service is achieved not through serving concepts, but rather through direct interaction with God. Spiritual practices help you prepare yourself: they develop your perceptions, activate your energy centers, and clear your mind from veils, which are many. In fact, these practices also prepare you (to a lesser or greater extent) for that interaction to become more efficient, so that you could ultimately begin getting the sense of higher energies, receiving God’s Grace independently, and experiencing God’s Love. So that you could learn to pray effectively, for the pray to work, and it would not be like you’re talking to a wall. But you need to be able to keep a close watch and understand the state that you’re in at all times, which is hardly possible unless you reach a certain level of self-awareness. And God is always by your side. He is here, right now, always…