My conception of God has slowly migrated from the edges of my consciousness…
…and arrived somewhere else.
Its migration begins in classical philosophical theology.
St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) claimed he had proved God’s existence.
The key to his proof is knowing what kind of entity God is.
In Anselm’s words, God is “that being greater than which no being can be conceived.”
This kind of being necessarily exists. Not as a physical being, of course; but as an idea, an intuition, a moveable boundary at the edge of consciousness.
Is this a correct definition of God?
I’ve always thought it was a good one, at least.
Imagine a circle representing your consciousness. Beyond the circle’s boundary lies infinite possibility. As your consciousness grows, the edges of the circle stretch. And still beyond the boundary lies infinite possibility. Within the circle, all your conceptions congregate. Beyond the circle lies that being greater than which no being can be conceived.
I’ve long been a fan of Anselm’s proof.
But recently the circle of my consciousness has changed. I don’t feel drawn by an exciting edge of possibility.
Instead: When I pause, and pay attention, I feel that someone is present with me.
Not like the “ghostly” presence I experienced at a mountain cabin some years ago. Every visitor felt it, in two specific rooms.
Not like the “watchful parent” presence I often experienced as a teen. Only when I was secretly breaking rules, of course.
More like the “companion” who surprised me the day my 6-week old infant took a developmental leap and reached out to me with social awareness.
Now I think I’m the one who has made a developmental leap, reaching out with spiritual awareness.
When I reflect on the circle of consciousness, my attention goes to its center, and that’s where the “greater being” shows itself.
Philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) said, “The ‘I think’ must accompany all representations.”
He meant: during any experience, we are also aware that it is our experience.
For me these days, “The ‘God is’ accompanies all representations.”
If my writing were directed solely by logic, I would now say: During any experience, I am also aware that it is an experience of God.
Except that’s not an accurate description of my experience these days. I’m only aware that God is present.
Can I play at Anselm’s philosophical level?
Can I say in a single clear sentence what kind of entity accompanies me? And then explain why this sentence offers a definition of God consistent with theology or spiritual practice? Can I express what is real for me, rather than quote a famous book, or choose a familiar slogan?
But I’m working on it.