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We just might require a divine plan to get us out of the planetary mess we’re in, and for this we’ll need to at least consider a belief in divinity itself – a Creator.
Of course, many find it difficult to talk about the existence of a Supreme Being in Western culture these days. Those who feign knowledge of the divine can seem pretentious, and discussion of the divine often divides rather than unites us. Aquinas got it right when he explained:
In the last resort, all that man knows of God is to know that he does not know him, since he knows that what God is surpasses all that we can understand of him. – De Potentia
So we are not really up to the task of talking about God, though we are bidden to try. This attempt to understand the true nature of divinity has never reached any real conclusions, and probably never will – but each person usually struggles with it at some point in their existence. As one of the truly big questions of life, everyone faces that quest, and grapples with it in their search for life’s true meaning.
The Baha’i teachings suggest searching for the answers to those big questions in a unique and unexpected way – by detaching ourselves “from the external forms and practices of religion,” clearing away anything that would clog our steps on the way to truth:
If a man would succeed in his search after truth, he must, in the first place, shut his eyes to all the traditional superstitions of the past. …
We should, therefore, detach ourselves from the external forms and practices of religion. We must realize that these forms and practices, however beautiful, are but garments clothing the warm heart and the living limbs of Divine truth. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 135.
God, whatever or whoever that is, calls to us in many ways, and we feel an inner need to articulate this perception. Believers of all stripes and types have created an ocean of thought about God with varying depths, interesting currents, and dramatic encounters, many of them worth exploring.
But to talk about God, we’ll need a definition – and given the richness and variety of thought on the subject, simple is best. How about this: God is the ever-creating author of all that is.
To use de Chardin’s phrase, God is the ground of all being, the source from which we come and to which we return.
In Judaism, God is the one who speaks to Chosen Ones, proclaiming to Moses “I am what I am,” that is, the One who has an existence unexplained, unconditioned and primal.
In Christianity and Islam, God (Allah) is the Author of all.
In Hinduism, He is the ultimate source of being, Brahman. In Buddhism, God seems largely absent as a personal Creator, but the Buddhist goal of spiritual existence, nirvana or suchness, feels for all the world like the same heaven we seek in the West – a place of extraordinary presence, alive with Being.
For Baha’is, God is all these things and an unknowable essence:
God in His Essence and in His own Self hath ever been unseen, inaccessible, and unknowable. – Baha’u’llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 118.
To every discerning and illumined heart it is evident that God, the unknowable Essence, the divine Being, is immensely exalted beyond every human attribute, such as corporeal existence, ascent and descent, egress and regress. Far be it from His glory that human tongue should adequately recount His praise, or that human heart comprehend His fathomless mystery. He is and hath ever been veiled in the ancient eternity of His Essence, and will remain in His Reality everlastingly hidden from the sight of men. – Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude, p. 97.
Regardless of what you think about a Creator, though, we all acknowledge the existence of creation itself, since we live in it every day. If you accept the science of cause and effect, and recognize that nothing comes from nothing, you know that every effect has a cause. So that First Cause – Aristotle’s term for a Creator – definitely merits your consideration.
Though words and terms vary, all cultures have ways of identifying this extraordinary and ultimate Being that underlies all.
If, after searching for answers to that big question and determining what you think and feel, you come to the conclusion that you do believe in a Supreme Being, then consider this: every creator must have a plan. What might that plan look like?