Demiurge

Sometimes I think I really must be mad for keeping this blog. Not just because I’m trying to write about what can’t be written, but to do it publicly! Yet, when I feel that no one can possibly understand what I’m saying, seems to be when people understand me best. It’s strange, but freeing. So here’s a teensy story about something I did recently and what I learned from it.

On New Year’s Eve, I happily cursed "God." (And happily told him I loved him too, but that’s another story.) What was interesting was the rightness I immediately felt about it. For I while, I considered this the union of opposites, yin and yang, action and rest, blessing and blasphemy. God encompasses all, nicht wahr? But the word Demiurge came to mind soon after.

What was the "God" I lost when I had the "empty holodeck" experience?

What was the "God" I wanted to be free of?

What was the "God" Meister Eckhart prayed God to destroy?

If there’s one useful concept from Gnosticism that applies to those on the path today, it might be the Demiurge, though not in a literalistic way as many of the Gnostics apparently did. Gnostics believed there was a false God, the Demiurge, who erroneously thought himself the Source of all, and who demanded worship and sacrifice. Christ came to show us the way to the Father and escape the Demiurge. There’s something to that… False gods are the greatest bane to humanity. All concepts of God tend to be Demiurge.

Cast off concepts of God, and what is left? Nothing that can be imagined, nothing that can be named, but only what is always there, all the time.

It’s easy to show (facetiously, at least) that atheists and monotheists and Zennists believe in exactly same true Creator.

Atheist: God doesn’t exist. (Nothing created the Universe)
Theist: What came before God? Nothing. (Nothing is the ultimate Source).
Zennist: Emptiness is the true nature of everything. (Nothing is ultimate reality.)

There something about that Nothing. Even atheists, monotheists, and Zen practitioners can see that Nothing or No-thing is the real Power, the real One, ever-present, and with all the power to make Everything appear. Images and forms, mental or physical, are not that.

The God who can be cursed
Is not the eternal God
(with apologies to Lao Tzu)

20 thoughts on “Demiurge

  1. Nothing is strange or weird about any human being’s experience. It’s only programming (wherever that came from) that tries to tell me so. I’m in an e-coaching course named roughly translated “Out of your mind” presented by a national newspaper. One of the requirements is to journal about the exercises each day. The exercises go pretty deep and several times I’ve thought: oh no, I’m not going to write about this. But I did and found many more people you could call mystics than I thought.

    It pains me to realize that (I think) all conflicts arising from religion are caused by a false image of God, or emptiness, or nothing, or whatever you wish to name the unspeakable. It’s not a christian thing either. I’ve spent two months trying to explain to a Buddhist that her image of the Judeo-Christian God as the great puppet master is false and much more akin to the Buddhist concept of emptiness. I’m not sure if she has got it.

    My next e-course is entitled “Why Jesus?” presented by the Dutch catholic churches. The mystic answer would perhaps be: why not? But my thoughts on this is that we all need someone or something we can relate to. Whether that be Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Mohammed or science. In the end all those lead to that what cannot be spoken, thought, felt and yet is somehow experienced.

    Well, some more rantings of mine which don’t even come close to what I really would like to say.
    Enjoyed your post. :-)

  2. Hi Jon!

    If you haven’t read the “His Dark Materials” trilogy yet (don’t see the movie if you plan to read the books), go into it with the Demiurge in mind. If you have read the trilogy, perhaps you understand what I’m saying?

    Not wanting to be too cryptic here. I don’t want to give anything away is all. I really loved the books.

  3. Hi, Margreet. You’re right, they’re are many mystics out there. We all were mystics in our infancy… I think more and more of us are beginning to recover that, and share it.

    Kay,
    Quite right about “His Dark Materials.” I felt the trilogy had an unsatisfying ending, and at the time I read it, I was offended that Pullman was trying so hard (it seemed) to insult so many people’s sacred images without presenting any alternative or real explanation. But you’re quite right about it being a great expos of the Demiurge. If I read it again, I’d probably enjoy it more.

    And I liked The Golden Compass… my only criticism was that if moved to fast, and Lyra was just too perfect to ever seem to be in real danger and involve us enough.

  4. Have you ever wondered if we all don’t really have a clue what the other is saying, but think we do, and our responses to each other are such that we all *think* we are having a coherent conversation?

    Hmm, let’s see… false gods, nothing, unity of seeming opposites. Good by me.

  5. Good point, Julie the Formerly Anonymous.

    I remember reading a poem or something a very long time ago that had something like this:

    We see a shade and call it green,
    But I have no idea of what you see.

  6. “All concepts of God (tends) to be Demiurge.”

    Yes, it came to me some time back that *lots* of Christians are in effect “reverse Gnostics” in that they worship a finite God with human attributes (including the worst!), i.e., the Demiurge, thinking he’s the real deal (and of course in the process commit idolatry). Cheers and a prosperous new year.

  7. Some good things to think about… And with a great majority of them indeed agree I do. Also that citation at the very end.
    Some disagreement with the core of the “Nothing-Creator” theory, though.

    (1. An atheist may feel inclined rather to think that the world simply “always existed”, or is of some undescribable and incomprehensible origin, etc..
    2. A theist would think rather that God is fully eternal, i.e. does not have any beginning, any genesis; nothing was before him (for there is no such moment in “time” “before h(/H)im”.
    3. Concerning the zennism my knowledge is about none, thus no commentary…

    And… alright: “Nothing” “created” God/”God”, or somehow out of the “Nothing” the God somehow emerged – fine, but where then would be the genesis of the “Nothing” itself..? Or do we simply come to an equation that “Nothing”=God/”God” (the Eternal, OnlyTrueOne, one of whom many (also me) think as of the one of which Jesus spoke)?)

    Anyway, “keep up the good work”, so to say. Very pleasant to encounter such a treasury over the Net. Koran Saluton… kaj “Dio Vin gvidu kaj protektu”, kien ajn vi iros, so to say (ete citante el la bonega anime-filmo “Trigun”, oficiale cxi tie de mi rekomendata al cxiuj legantaj cxi tiujn vortojn).

    (EN: little official recommendation of the “Trigun” movie (an “anime” one))

  8. Hi, Nuthriz,

    Thanks for your comments… point well taken about “Nothing.” However what I really mean is not that nothing created This, but ultimately all we really understand about the Source of all is nothing… No-Thing or “Nothing” is a Zen expression that even some Christian mystics, such as Meister Eckhart also hit upon… it expresses that in Godhead or Ultimate Reality there is nothing the mind can grasp or the senses can apprehend. It is Nothing, experientially… yet EVERYTHING comes from that, and this is a wonder beyond words.

  9. The thing that helped me truly understand the Buddhist idea of Emptiness (and its corrollary, Interdependence) was, paradoxically, a paraphrase of the ancient book of Ecclesiastes by a rabbi, Rami Shapiro: “The Way of Solomon: Finding Joy and Contentment in the Wisdom of Ecclesiastes.” It also helped me truly understand the myth of Sisyphus! I highly recommend it for a Zennist perspective that transcends Zen.

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0060673001/wildfaith

  10. Hi Jon and all,

    Ex-Christian (given the present day definition).

    It seems on my journey I’ve killed “God” (i.e. religion’s or belief systems God) yet in doing so I’ve come to experience God more. Seeing God as Life has expanded my understanding and experience of God because I experience God (Life) every moment. Truth enters into the equation as a plumb line of determining whether my experience is God or the absence of God evidence by error’s (my opposite of Truth) affects. When I’m experiencing perfect love, peace, freedom, contentment, etc I’m experiencing God (not all of God to be sure but certainly an a part of God – as if God can be divided). when I’m experiencing lack of any of it’s affects (anxiety, bondage, disease) it’s a red flag that I’m not conscious of and dependent upon God/Truth.

    I’ve found I can experience perfect love, peace, freedom, Life independent of circumstances because I see myself as part of God (not the tree but a branch – sorry for the biblical analogy 😉 ). When I walk into a room where nobody gives me the time of day I don’t have to feel insecure, I can choose to be totally secure because I AM part of perfect security.

    The above has simplified Life dramatically.

    Does the above make any sense to you folks, maybe saying the same thing in a different way. Thoughts, observations anyone?

    Rick

    P.S. Jon, thanks for your site!

  11. Why do you keep using the term “God”? It is loaded with theistic connotations and just reinforces people’s mistaken idea that there is a separation between the Supreme Identity and oneself when in fact there is none. But then all attempts to communicate the idea of Spirit involve definition and in the act of definition one sets limits and Spirit is really limitless. Maybe the last word on “God” is really just to shut up and say nothing at all but rather just experience It.

  12. Good point Jon. I used it because I thought I wouldn’t be understood otherwise. I know that doesn’t make sense in light of what you just said but alas that’s why I used it. I would much rather talk about life, love and freedom. So I will. :)

    p.s. do you think similarly about the terms buddha, zen, etc? why/why not

  13. “False gods are the greatest bane to humanity. All concepts of God is tend to be Demiurge.”

    Wow, wow. Great post, Jon. Important stuff here. The day of peace and also of understanding the Ground of Being is the day we lay down our images and concepts of God.

    Thanks so much for this post.

  14. Hi Jon and everyone.

    How do you name the Nameless? How do you represent what has no form? Thank you for wonderful posts on an important and beautifully frustrating topic :-)

    It’s complex stuff. Not least when you recognize the non-dual relationship between the formless and the world of form (or between God and the universe). And the less-than-dual relationship between the Divine and human consciousness.

    Christian apophaticism and the dialectics of Nagarjuna both stress the unspeakability of the Ultimate – its “beyondness”. Human thought cannot possibly comprehend It, and so should cease trying. All images of God are limiting distortions. Belief in any image becomes, in the final analysis, “worship of false idols.”

    And yet there is the Divine. There is human experience of the Divine, in a
    multitude of ways. Is it false to say that God is love? It is certainly “more true” than to say that God is not love, unless by that we mean “infinitely beyond any concept of love”, in which case it would be “apophatically true”…

    If we adopt a “Godview” (David Steindl-Rast) that is panentheistic, as I confess to have done myself, do we then more closely reflect the “truth” about God than do the theists? I believe so. Yet silence alone can be fully truthful. As father Thomas Keating has said: “Silence is the first language of God. Everything else is a bad translation.”

    And thus those of us that are moved to do so start to seek the silence, the stillness of consciousness free of thought. We meditate. We attempt to reach the true God, but in our attempts we miss an important truth: That the Divine is ever-present. Modern masters of Advaita are fond of pointing this out. And in the words of Shunryu Suzuki: “Waves are the practice of the water. To speak of waves apart from water or water apart from waves is a delusion. Water and waves are one. Big mind and small mind are one.” There is nothing that is not God (which to most minds, of course, sounds like a blasphemy the size of Holocaust or Hiroshima). Your very own ego, your very own thoughts, your shadows and secret places – all are expressions of God. Everything, without exception, is God. It is just a matter of relaxing into what is, into your own beingness, into the present moment. Something I myself need to be reminded of often…

    I’ll end with three quotes from Adyashanti, because I love his way of expressing these things:

    “This isn’t a battle against the mind. Eventually the mind realizes that it just wants to be in adoration of a truth and a wisdom that it cannot contain.”

    “Before you start to meditate, ask yourself a question: Is it true that peace and silence are not here now? With our intention to move towards quietness, the first step we take is away from it because we assume it’s not here already.”

    “The absolute truth includes duality.”

  15. Very glad to see you on this path, Jon. The examined life is worth living. My journey led to Blake; his poetry is in effect his spiritual autobiography. He progressed through the deminurge and the O.T. God (who comes with “a thump on the head” to Jesus, the “healing palm” and came to the Everlasting Gospel. He tried for years to explicate that poem, but never was satisfied with it.

    Jesus the Forgiveness: thoughout Eternity I forgive you, you forgive me; “as the dear Redeemer said, “this the one and this the bread”.

  16. Again, Jon; thanks for yourcomment to my post on tribes. Reading all the comments here I’m struck by the fact that all of them are saying the same things that Blake said. There’s no other God than the one in your mind, nothing of anything except our images of it.

    You’re doing good work; keep going, man.

  17. I’ll have to check that more often. hey, thanks for stopping by again!

  18. Hi Jon,

    Thanks for this sharing. Your contribution to the truth is most admirable!

    Yes, the Demiurge is what most religious people are worshipping

    These people fail to be that the Presence (which is their inmost state of Being) is the real God.

    God has been decieved by a false God.

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