divinity beyond our grasp

October 31, 2015

God is the most obvious thing in the world. He is absolutely self-evident – the simplest, clearest and closest reality of life and consciousness. We are only unaware of him because we are too complicated, for our vision is darkened by the complexity of pride.

God and union with God are Reality; nothing is more real, more concrete, more actual, and more present. At the same time, Reality is infinitely alive. It, he, cannot be grasped in any finite form, whether physical, mental or emotional.

Therefore, as long as we try to grasp God, we shall never realize him. Life itself, as we experience it moment by moment, proceeding as it does directly from God, is the perfect analogy of this truth, for to grasp life is to kill it, or rather, to miss it, and more than ever is this true of God – the Life of life.

Pluck a flower, and it dies. Take up water from the stream, and it flows no longer. Pull down the blind, but the sunbeam is not trapped in the room. Snatch the wind in a bag, and you have only stagnant air. This is the root of every trouble: man loves life, but the moment he tries to hold on to it he misses it. The fact that things change and move and flow is their very liveliness, and the harder man hangs on to his life, the sooner he dies of worry.

Religion, as it is generally practiced, is simply an attempt to hang on to life and the still more lively mystery which informs it – God. Hence religion as generally practiced is idolatry. God cannot be held in theologies; theism, deism, pantheism – none of them can grasp his truth. Nor can states of mind and feeling contain him; ecstasy, rapture, quiet, Samadhi – these are only the secondary and unessential effects of his presence.

Our various intellectual and emotional idols, our doctrines, holy books, sacraments, religious feelings, creeds and churches, are of use so long as they are understood as approximating and pointing to God. But when we try to possess him within them, they must sooner or later become millstones about our necks.

~ Alan Watts, “Behold the Spirit”

2 Responses to “divinity beyond our grasp”

  1. feralmonk Says:


    2 2. Hymn and Psalm: ‘A Simple Song’ (Bernstein’s Mass)
    Sing God a simple song:
    Lauda, Laude…
    Make it up as you go along:
    Lauda, Laude…
    Sing like you like to sing.
    God loves all simple things,
    For God is the simplest of all.
    I will sing the Lord a new song
    To praise Him, to bless Him, to bless the Lord.
    I will sing His praises while I live
    All of my days.
    Blessed is the man who loves the Lord,
    Blessed is the man who praises Him.
    Lauda, Lauda, Laude,
    And walks in His ways.
    I will lift up my eyes
    To the hills from whence comes my help.
    I will lift up my voice to the Lord,
    Singing Lauda, Laude.
    For the Lord is my shade,
    Is the shade upon my right hand,
    And the sun shall not smite me by day
    Nor the moon by night.
    Blessed is the man who loves the Lord,
    Lauda, Lauda, Laude,
    And walks in His ways.
    Lauda, Lauda, Laude,
    Lauda, Lauda di da di day…
    All of my days.

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