Martin LeFevre: Feeling the Breath of God
Feeling the Breath of God
The cycles of birth and death in nature collapse into the timeless present as I sit on the bank overlooking the stream. As meditation deepens, there is the insight that the birth and death of the universe are but the exhalation and inhalation of the breath of God.
Not literally of course, since there is no deity, no creator apart. But if monotheism is as immature as polytheism, then does it make any sense to talk about God at all? Is there something beyond the human brain, which only the human brain (on this planet anyway) can consciously contact?
The park is quiet; there is a distinctly different atmosphere after the long holiday weekend that marks the end of spring and the beginning of summer. (The ostensible purpose of Memorial Day is to remember war dead, but with so much killing and mayhem in the news, the flags are limp and lifeless.)
Summer has truly begun, and the languid, luscious ambiance of the rainless season settles over this part of the Central Valley. Most of the college students, numbering about 20,000 in a town of about 100,000, are gone, and there is a noticeable feeling of more space. Younger students are still in school, so that in the mornings the park belongs to itself, and to those who appreciate it as more than a large recreation area.
The foliage hangs full over the water and road, heaving sighs of relief with the intermittent breeze under a hot sun. There is a quality of stillness and beauty that is in the very light and breath upon the land. Even a couple of loudmouth college guys, holdovers from the mass exodus, carrying a deflated raft and yelling about how cold their privates are, are enfolded within the quality of affection and joy that seems to permeate everything.
In total awareness there is an emptiness and nothingness that hold all space/time and energy/matter. Without space there is no being. Yet there is less and less space on earth and in the world. There are too many people and too much rubbish, too much violence and too many clutter-heads.
To feel the essence that people have sought since time immemorial, there has to be space and emptiness. Space in the sense of solitude, being alone, including a bit of relatively unspoiled nature, if only a patch of grass and sky. One also has to completely let go of the projections of the mind as beliefs and ideas about God, whether from conditioning, society, or one’s own experience. To come upon the infinite, the petty past has to easily, effortlessly fall away in a gathering intensity of attention to the present.
But if God is synonymous with awareness, do human beings matter any more than mice or mackerel? Yes, because the human brain is the only brain on this planet capable of awareness of the sacred. By ending the increasingly dark shadow of the past and self-centered activity, we have the capacity to awaken an awareness within us that merges with the awareness within and beyond the universe.
In short, when the mind is quiet and empty, and the heart is clear and open, we participate in the awareness that is God. So from stillness and emptiness, is there a ‘divine intent’ that manifests through some, and potentially all people? Perhaps, but it can only operate through the individual, not as a separate ‘divine intervention.’ That perhaps begins to explain why such things as the horror of the Holocaust and the hellishness of Iraq can happen. It is up to us, not up to God, because ‘God’ can only work through us.
One feels there is an intrinsic intent in the universe to evolve brains capable of awareness of Mind. However, once such a brain evolves, such as it has in humans, evolution has nothing more to do with it. Psychologically and spiritually, there is no gradual development, and the very notion of such progress sustains time and prevents the negation of useless content. And being totally in the present is the prerequisite for receiving the grace of the sacred.
Does the awareness of an immanent God precede the universe? Yes, if the birth and death of the universe are, metaphorically speaking, the exhalation and inhalation of God.
Does the awareness of a human being who has completely died to the past join cosmic awareness after his or her death? Perhaps, and then no more reincarnations are necessary.
- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The author welcomes comments.