Theosophy Northwest View

The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society

December 2010 – Vol. 13 Issue 10

Making Something of the Nothing I Was

Twenty-seven years ago I was nothing, and ever since I have tried to make myself worth while. I had just passed my forties when I had a massive stroke. This was a severe blow, for I was a minister becoming prominent in ecumenism, preaching in churches of many denominations. For two months I was completely paralyzed and not to be under-stood by any one. I was too weak to receive therapy. When I came home from the hospital, my dear wife Leona gave me the therapy I needed. After a year I could not only speak well enough to be understood but my voice came back com-pletely. Only my right leg and arm remained permanently affected so, for writing, I type with the middle finger of my left hand. But since my brain was also affected I could not think of the words I wanted to use. When I spoke, I would use a word I did not mean. Only the simplest words would come to me. I had to use the dictionary constantly.

But how to use the dictionary? I had forgotten the alphabet, which I had to learn all over again. My weakness made it impossible to read more than a few pages a day. In twenty-seven years I have read only six short books through to the end. Besides, most every sentence I have to read at least twice to get its meaning. When Leona read to me, she had to read very slowly for me to understand. I sold my piano for I could not use my right hand, and could not read music; I still cannot. Besides, the right side of my right eye was blinded, so I cannot see to the right. Leona had to always drive the car. I certainly had become a “nothing.”

But my thinking was not affected in the least. Religious questions demanding abstract through were easy for me to solve. I wrote two articles that were published. Leona helped me with the wording.

There was one thing that was almost impossible for me to accept in my illness. I had always spoken my concerns to the Spirit of the Universe, whom most call “God.” I could no longer put into words my thoughts without writing them down. Therefore I could not pray. I still cannot. It was as if the Spirit of the Universe had stopped listening to me, and I was desolate. As I thought through the Reality which is behind all things in the universe, knowing that the atoms are made of His electrical energy, with intelligence making all parts cohere and work together, I concluded that all is a part of Deity. Pantheism is the answer. It was no longer necessary to put words into the form of prayers. I had only to think of the presence of the Spirit of the Universe: I was in essence Him. That was my prayer.

The Roman Stoics were pantheists as was Spinoza and many of our great poets. In a pantheistic world, as Spinoza asserted, “Each of us is but a very small part of God, yet each of us is equally an important part. . . . In God we live.” Now when I pray I think not of combining words which is hard for me to do, but I feel that I am a part of the Spirit of the Universe, which surrounds me and is within me, the essence of my soul. Every man, woman, and child, as well as every animal, plant, and atom, is also a part of the Spirit of the Universe. I may do wrong deeds or right, and I’m surrounded by people who may do evil and good. I may have taken into my body germs that are both harmful and beneficial. This is a free and changing world, constantly evolving new things, where evil or good may come to pass. But the Spirit of the Universe makes good eventually predominate.

I am alone now without my beloved Leona who died two years ago. For the first time in my life I do everything for myself: wash dishes, keep the house clean, wash clothes and hang them out – with my left hand. I get help from others. But I give myself to others. Life is a two-way street. Like myself, everyone is a part of the Spirit of the Universe. And at last I have made something important out of the nothing I was. Now I would tell the multitudes that we have the same challenge that challenges the Spirit of the Universe, whose creativity is seen in the constant effort to bring perfection out of an imperfect world. – Edwin Arthur Goldsworthy

Interfaith Discussion: Tending Adam’s Garden Study/Dialogue Circle continues Sunday, December 12, with “How Does One Find Inner Peace in a Changing and Challenging World?” It meets from 3:30 - 6 p.m. at Temple B’nai Torah, 15727 NE 4th Street, Bellevue. For more information or to RVSP, email (flier)

Great Ideas Discussion Group

Join us one Tuesday a month for informal conversations exploring major ideas that have influenced human thought and actions through the ages. This month our topic is God/Gods/No Gods? We’ll be discussing such questions as: What do we mean by “god” and do such beings exist? What about angels, demons, ancestral and nature spirits? What draws people to worship the supernatural? Must you believe in God or gods to be spiritual? What are the pluses and minuses of pantheism, polytheism, monotheism, agnosticism and atheism? Are divinities a necessary source for morality? In what ways has belief in god(s) been beneficial, or detrimental, to human life and thought? (Quotes on this topic.) We hope to see you there!

  • When: Tuesday, December 7, 7:30 to 8:45 pm
  • Where: Bellevue Library, 1111 - 110th Ave NE, Bellevue
Upcoming Topics
January 18: DNA and Genetic Engineering
February 1: The Bill of Rights: The First Amendment
March: The Subconscious and Unconscious

Theosophical Views

God: Differing Perspectives

I believe God is our Protecting Friend, and is involved in everything that happens to us and this planet where we now reside. It is given to us as a Trust to utilize our talents, time and energy to encourage and promote truth and justice and look for the goodness in every situation. In the end my accountability is to God on how I rendered this trust. As a consequence I am grateful to the Almighty Creator who has guided me to this faith and appreciate whatever happens as a purification for my soul's journey in this life and hereafter. As the Quran says, "All goodness or beauty that man meets or (mankind experiences) proceeds from God.”

My belief in God helps me follow His Guidance in my daily life to fulfill my obligations to myself, family and community. In addition I am conscious of the many blessings I enjoy and wish the same for others: to live, learn, love, be grateful and joyful each moment with each breath I take. I want to treat others as I would like to be treated, with kindness, love, respect and compassion so that we can live in harmony in our circle of support and around the globe. – F. Hakim


The notion of god(s) is one that has no substance in reality. Its only validity is the fulfillment of a need that has evolved as our knowledge of our world has increased, constantly adapting to fill the need of the moment. To create gods to answer the unknown, to give comfort, to provide a tribal identity, and then shroud them in spiritual superstition creates more questions, more anomalies, more disappointments than if we face the world as it is and accept it. Religions have a sense of the goodness of man which they attribute to their god(s), a sense of our need to cooperate to survive and our connectedness with each other, but the trappings of rules, rituals, hierarchies, and exclusivities lead to wars and oppressions and terrible atrocities. While the Western religions pride themselves on the love and benevolence of their gods, they are in fact mainly malevolent, giving justifications for slavery and violence and punishment.

There as many gods as those who profess to believe in one, yet each believes they have the true understanding of their god. If I wanted to submit my thinking to such a notion where would I start? I work with assumptions about the world around me and its inhabitants, and if they work I keep them. If they don’t I discard them. I maintain the assumption that we are all basically good, intelligent, caring, talented people, connected with all things on this planet, and must therefore accept responsibilities in that regard. – J. Stock


I believe in an imminent God: Creator, Redeemer/Mediator and Life-Giver. I believe, not through superior intelligence or an amazing fantasy, but rather because God has first revealed the Godhead to me through Word and Person: the Word of inspiration and the Person who is the Christ. I also believe God to be relational within the Godhead and within all of creation. I believe God is revealed through all of creation for the purpose of union with creation and in a special, personal way with all mankind. It is a union of love in this lifetime and in the life to come. – M. Robertson


For millennia humans have projected their fears and hopes onto nature and the invisible, striving for control, certainty, consolation and significance. But whatever unifying factor may be behind the universe, it is no more consciously concerned with human lives than I am with the individual atoms in my body. Surrounded as we are by endless mystery and wonder, to me the best course is to seek steadfastly to grasp reality as it is in itself, being open yet critical, rather than personalizing, humanizing or theologizing it. – S. Dougherty


God … one, many, none? Can mere mortals claim to know? Do we simply believe? Can we come to know God through spiritual experiences? Do we believe because we’ve been taught to? I believe there is one many-faceted God, known to – understood by – each in his or her own way. Paramahansa Yogananda said, “Everything in creation has individuality. The Lord never repeats himself. Similarly, in man’s divine search there are infinite variations of approach and expression. The romance of each devotee with God is unique.” Scriptures provide clues about God, but do not tell all. All the words in the world cannot define or describe the Infinite, the Absolute. Swami Vivekananda observed that “Man is to become divine by realizing the divine. Idols, temples or churches, or books are only the supports, the help of his spiritual childhood.”

I believe there must be a power responsible for all that is good in life and feel a need to express gratitude for all that goodness or my joy cannot be complete. That to which I owe my gratitude many people call God. Similarly, my sorrow cannot be assuaged until I turn it over to the Almighty, Most Merciful Creator, Sustainer, and Cherisher of all. – E. F. Lambert

Current Issue

A few quotes reflecting different views, to help get the conversation started:

Fear of things invisible is the natural seed of that which every one in himself calleth religion. – Thomas Hobbes


You ask me of God: to define the Nameless, to place in your palm the ultimate secret. Do not imagine that this is hidden somewhere far from you. The ultimate secret is the most open one. Here it is: God is All. … What we truly are is God manifest in time and eternity. Know this, live well, and be easy. . . . Some would argue that God is a divine spark inside each being. Others would argue that God is above and outside Creation. I teach neither position. God is not inside or outside. God is the very thing itself! And when there is no thing, but only empty space? God is that as well. – Rami M. Shapiro


In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such great power in the hands of priests. In their labors they will have to avail themselves of those forces which are capable of cultivating the Good, the True, and Beautiful in humanity itself. This is, to be sure, a more difficult but an incomparably more worthy task. – Albert Einstein


Superstitions are not always dark and cruel; often they add to the gaiety of life. I received once a communication from the god Osiris, giving me his telephone number; he lived, at that time, in a suburb of Boston. Although I did not enroll myself among his worshipers, his letter gave me pleasure. I have frequently received letters from men announcing themselves as the Messiah, and urging me not to omit to mention this important fact in my lectures. . . . There is in England a sect which maintains that the English are the lost ten tribes; there is a stricter sect, which maintains that they are only the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. Whenever I encounter a member of either of these sects, I profess myself an adherent of the other, and much pleasant argumentation results. – Bertrand Russell


I am an atheist, if by God one means a transcendent Person who acts willfully within the creation. I am an agnostic in that I believe our knowledge of 'what is' is partial and tentative – a tiny flickering flame in the overwhelming shadows of our ignorance. I am a pantheist in that I believe empirical knowledge of the sensate world is the surest revelation of whatever is worth being called divine. I am a Catholic by accident of birth. . . .

All personal gods are idolatrous, especially any personal god we dignify with a capital G. The great service to humanity of science has been to sweep the anthropomorphic gods away, or, at the very least, to show them for what they are, phantoms of the human brain. What we are given in their place is not Truth, but reliable empirical knowledge of the world, tentative and evolving. To be sure, science does not exhaust reality, or even begin to encompass the complexity of our interaction with the world. The religious naturalist seeks a language of spirituality that is consistent with the empirical way of knowing. – Chet Raymo


God is not limited to time and space. God’s consciousness is unlimited. He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. He is not bound by time as we are, but is present everywhere past, present, and future. Whatever this Infinite Spirit does has been accomplished and realized in eternity, not time. The salvation of the entire human race is a fait accompli, including those who have yet to be born. Only our theologies insist there is conflict, one that they manufacture and sustain. . . . We can be reconciled because we were all originally part of God and still are. We just got disconnected in consciousness, causing the illusion of separation. I had always assumed that reconciliation is exclusive to Christians. A fear- and guilt-based reading of Scripture offers ample evidence that this is the case. However, unbiased observation of Christian theology makes it clear that Christ’s purpose was to redeem the whole of humanity. . . . Sin or no sin, God is love, and He loves all people without their permission – and also without their knowledge. – Bishop Carlton Pearson


We would argue that the more you meditate on a specific object – be it God, or peace, or financial success – the more active your thalamus becomes, until it reaches a point of stimulation where it perceives thoughts in the same way that other sensations are perceived. And if you exercise an idea over and over, your brain will begin to respond as though the idea was a real object in the world. … Thus, the more you focus on God, the more God will be sensed as real. . . . The thalamus makes no distinction between inner and outer realities, and thus any idea, if contemplated long enough, will take on a semblance of reality. Your belief becomes neurologically real, and your brain will respond accordingly. But for someone else, who has meditated on a different set of beliefs or goals, a different reality will seem true. – Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman, How God Changes Your Brain


. . . inclusive spirituality relates to the realization of Oneness, the Oneness toward which each of our faith traditions [Judaism, Christianity, and Islam] leads us. The One we seek is a shared One – there is only One. We believe the One, usually called "God" or "Allah" in our three faith traditions, is the One Universal Life that contains all that exists, yet is infinitely more than all that exists. To the extent that we realize ourselves as integral parts of that One, we are moving toward the spiritual side of the [faith] scale . . .

This inclusive spirituality is crucial because it leads to a very particular way of being in the world. When we are connected to each other and interconnected with all beings, we naturally begin to care better for others and for our planet. This spiritual consciousness allows us to see ourselves in all others and to understand that when we bring pain to another, we are actually bringing pain to ourselves. When we support another, we are also supporting ourselves. A strong ethic naturally flows from an inclusive spirituality, and this is the ethic we seek to celebrate together. In our interfaith work, we have realized again and again that the more deeply we share, the better we are able to appreciate the Universal we all seek to serve. –Interfaith Amigos, Getting to the Heart of Interfaith


I should emphasize this, to keep well-meaning but misguided multiculturalists at bay: the theoretical entities in which these tribal people frankly believe – the gods and other spirits – don't exist. These people are mistaken, and you know it as well as I do. It is possible for highly intelligent people to have a very useful but mistaken theory, and we don't have to pretend otherwise in order to show respect for these people and their ways. – Daniel C. Dennett


God, in the sense of an extra cosmic personal creator, has no place in the Jain philosophy. It distinctly denies such creator as illogical and irrelevant in the general scheme of the universe. But it lays down that there is a subtle essence underlying all substances, conscious as well as unconscious, which becomes an eternal cause of all modifications, and is termed God. . . . – Virchand Gandhi


We need a trans-God … one that transgresses all our ideas about who and what God is and can be, one that transports us to new possibilities of how God can incarnate in the multiplicity of human embodiments, one that transfigures our mental images from limitations, one that transforms our ideas about our fellow humans and ourselves, one that transcends all we know or think we know about God and about humanity [as made in God’s image]. – Rev. B. K. Hipsher


To God belong the East and the West;
and wherever you turn, there is the Face of God.
For God is omnipresent, all-knowing. – Quran