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The path to finding God, paradoxically, appears to lead to the assumption and belief that a God does exist—and that we need to somehow find a way to commune with that Supreme Being.
This apparently requires the simple and basic affirmation that God is and that God’s Spirit calls to us.
Once we recognize that fact, putting aside our concerns and feeling God’s energizing spiritual call, we can learn to approach God in awe with our hearts, rather than in skepticism with only our minds. In a curious Mobius turn of reality, a paradox of knowledge and belief, the experience of God requires that if we can learn to accept God’s existence and perfection, God shows us more of it, and that if we can learn to lose our self, God reveals more of His.
The Baha’i teachings put it this way:
If a soul of his own accord advances toward God he will be accepted at the Threshold of Oneness, for such a one is free of personal considerations, of greed and selfish interests, and he has taken refuge within the sheltering protection of his Lord. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization.
Finding God by first acknowledging God, of course, sounds like a poor rational proof, its logical structure, both in setting up the proof and in defining its consequence, seemingly flawed. Further, as it asserts that the Creator is ever-present, we soon reach a conundrum, because we cannot know something ever-constant. Coming and going, the variation and change in physical life, allows us to assert that something is with us or not. So, how can we know God’s presence?
Well, because we vary – both within ourselves and across different selves – in this variation we can experience a kind of absence, a yearning. In the worst case, we experience a total ignorance of divine presence, a pervasive alienation and aloneness. That ignorance or lack of knowledge starts in the human spirit, but then spreads:
The root cause of wrongdoing is ignorance, and we must therefore hold fast to the tools of perception and knowledge. …
Then will each one of God’s beloved shine out as a bright moon with qualities of the spirit, and the relationship of each to the Sacred Threshold of his Lord will be not illusory but sound and real, will be as the very foundation of the building, not some embellishment on its facade. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha.
Perhaps this is why all religions proclaim that the foundation of all wrong is ignorance. You can see this, for example, in Buddhism where ignorance – avidya – forms the root of all suffering. Buddhists do not call this knowledge that ends suffering the knowledge of God, but there is little doubt that the light which fills the souls on the Buddhist path of enlightenment is the light that we all seek and that we call God.
This argument that belief begins by accepting that God is supported in Scripture. Consider the testimony of Jeremiah, the Biblical prophet who lived around 600BC. Jeremiah supported the reforms of King Josiah, and he attempted to turn the Jews away from idolatry, forewarning them of the coming destruction of Judah and Jerusalem by the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar. Hear what Jeremiah said that God said about coming to know Him: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” – 33.3.
Will God really answer those who search for Him? The Baha’i teachings say yes:
Only when the lamp of search, of earnest striving, of longing desire, of passionate devotion, of fervid love, of rapture, and ecstasy, is kindled within the seeker’s heart, and the breeze of His loving-kindness is wafted upon his soul, will the darkness of error be dispelled, the mists of doubts and misgivings be dissipated, and the lights of knowledge and certitude envelop his being. At that hour will the mystic Herald, bearing the joyful tidings of the Spirit, shine forth from the City of God resplendent as the morn, and, through the trumpet-blast of knowledge, will awaken the heart, the soul, and the spirit from the slumber of negligence. Then will the manifold favours and outpouring grace of the holy and everlasting Spirit confer such new life upon the seeker that he will find himself endowed with a new eye, a new ear, a new heart, and a new mind. He will contemplate the manifest signs of the universe, and will penetrate the hidden mysteries of the soul. – Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude.
Does this work? In my experience, yes!
It does not take much to find the Kingdom of God. The world of beauty, light, goodness and caring is astonishingly near. It is at first a Platonic kingdom, but it is pressing its way into ours. Every time we act with love, compassion and understanding, it advances and you can feel it. This Baha’i prayer exemplifies that feeling:
O Lord! Verily, we are weak, but Thou art mighty. Verily, we are poor, but Thou art rich. We are the seekers, and Thou art the One sought. O Lord! Have compassion upon us and forgive us; bestow upon us such capacity and receptiveness that we may be worthy of Thy favors and become attracted to Thy kingdom, that we may drink deep of the water of life, may be enkindled by the fire of Thy love, and be resuscitated through the breaths of the Holy Spirit … – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace.
The Kingdom is coming! Indeed, it has always been coming, for all people, at all times, and I think it always will. This discovery rewards us for the small act of faith, of believing in a God you can approach, and then trying to.
Are these phantasmal assertions? There’s no way to prove that they are not. But believers do find that other proofs usually follow what may be called “first contact” with the consciousness of a Supreme Being. Indeed, it may easily follow as the Psalmist (19:1) so beautifully wrote that “the heavens [begin to] declare the glory of God; the skies [start to] proclaim the work of His hands.” Paul also wonderfully echoed this sentiment, writing:
Since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. – Romans 1:20.
These are powerful proofs, if you can see them, but it takes trust to begin to see.
To summarize, you find God by opening your heart to belief, and then learning to recognize and experience God’s ever-active presence.