HEGEL AND THE SOLUTION TO OUR POSTMODERN WORLD CRISIS:
From Nihilism to Kingdom Come
Dr. Ken Foldes, Fulbright Scholar
[Part III] Introductory Essay. Two: The “God-Self,” The Solution to Our Crisis
THE “GOD-SELF” – THE SOLUTION TO OUR CRISIS
In this section, since it constitutes the center of the New Paradigm and is the solution to our postmodern world crisis, we will endeavor to shed more light both on the nature of this “New God,” “New Self” or, as we shall also call it, “God-Self”—which contains the old God and old Man/Self but in a unity—and as well on the proper meaning of such expressions as “We are God” and “I am God” used to express the fundamental Truth. This is especially needful as there are certain risks involved if it is not properly understood. But the benefits far overshadow the risks. The real danger is that this fact that the teaching involves risks or dangers may prove to be an insuperable obstacle to its acceptance. But, as said, this will not happen given the nature of our situation and the need for deep healing—something which is amply confirmed by the fact that not only does the teaching have solid Biblical support but it has already entered into the arena of mainstream Christianity.[i]
Now, as all Hegelians know, the propositional form, “A is B,” is inadequate for expressing the Truth, which can be grasped only scientifically or “speculatively.” This applies as well to the proposition “We are God” (which also has the nature of Vorstellen and Reflection). However, we maintain that in this case, though the latter is true, the propositional form is not only helpful but indispensable; for the reason that it permits the precise expression of the problem at issue and at once indicates its solution! That is to say, the elements of the proposition “We are God” are namely: “We” = the subject, “God” = the predicate, and “are” = copula. Thus, (i) while the “We” and “God” indicate that there are two things/entities, (ii) the “are” expresses that they are not to remain two or separate, but are to become one. —Behind this of course is the whole of Hegel’s speculative Logic, i.e., the dialectic of one/many, finite/infinite, identity/difference, etc. Now, even though the Truth which “We are God” expresses or embodies (viz., that of the Idea or Spirit) can only be adequately understood in speculative Logic—and not via Vorstellen or reflection—it is no less true, as Hegel says, that there are two ways the Truth can be accessed, viz., by Faith or Reason (Enc. §573).[ii] That is, because the human being is “Spirit,” he is in fact capable of penetrating through the “letter” to the “Spirit” or Truth that the letter is intended to convey, a Truth which pertains to his innermost self, being, or essence.
However, if an expression like “We are God” involves risks or dangers why must we use it at all? As said, it is because the benefits outweigh the dangers. The main reasons, which will receive elaboration in the following sections, are these: (i) The bottom line is: If indeed the God-Man identity reveals who we really are and is the Truth—and there is overwhelming evidence, indeed conclusive proof, as we will see, that it is—and forms like “We are God” are not merely the best way but the only way to convey the Truth to the general public (or non-philosophers), then we have no choice but to use them and, if need be, overcome any problems connected with them. (ii) We must use such expressions because the reverse, “We are not God,” as expressing the separation between the two and absolute untruth, keeps the Old Paradigm and dysfunction in place and prevents Kingdom Come, and a fully alive and healed humanity, from adventing. (iii) Another reason is that such expressions have “shock value” as they wrench one out of the stupor of one’s Old Paradigm consciousness, and forces one to think of and look for God in a completely different way: i.e., not outside oneself, but rather inside oneself—where the Truth alone can be found. The other way keeps one in bondage to one’s Ego or “false self,” with all its problems.
Lastly, (iv) it is true there are certain risks involved, but they can be safeguarded against quite easily. The main danger involves understanding the teaching/expression in a one-sided and imbalanced way which leads to what is called the “sin of pride,” self-aggrandizement and megalomania; i.e., the belief that the individual in his particularity is God. This problem is solved simply by recognizing and teaching (a) that the Truth about yourself, viz., the Idea, the God-Man, the God-Self, is an eternal Principle. It is first—while you (qua an empirical self that had a beginning in time) are second. Hence, you don’t owe your Truth to yourself, thus “ego-trips” and “non-humility” are ruled out. —And (b) that you are not immediately God or God-Self, but only potentially so, a process of mediation or “transformation” first being necessary (which is to say that the God-Man identity is an “operative” not an “ontological” identity). This means that it is not your empirical, finite, particular, natural Self that is God, but rather your NEW—Universal, Ec-static, transformed—SELF that is. So its not “You” at all, it is a totally different self; rather what is called “self” is, as it turns out, really a type of “awareness” or “Knowing.” (Language and semantics, here as always, seems to be a main stumbling block.)
THE NEED FOR A NEW CONCEPT OF GOD AND MAN: THE TWO PROOFS
We need to see clearly and distinctly why we are forced to use such an expression as “We are God” to convey the Truth and cannot remain with “We are not God”.
The main reason is that “God” and Man” cannot be two or kept apart, and thus there must be a point where they coincide. What is also involved is our seeing that a single term (e.g. “Spirit” or “Superman”) and not two terms (viz., “God” and “Man”) must be used to express and teach the Truth or the true referent of “God”—since God or Truth is a process in which one thing becomes another, or actualizes a potentiality within itself. In effect, both Man “dies” and God “dies,” and what is and remains after this double negation is a single undivided thing, viz., “Spirit” (à la Hegel).
The fact is that as long as one holds “God” and “Man” to be two separate essences or Beings—each capable of existing in and for itself and conceivable apart from the other, i.e., each not involving the other in its conception—one cannot conceive their unity or coexistence (even more: one cannot conceive them at all!). For no matter how one defines the situation this “two-ness” or coexistence can not be conceived, that is, we are logically forced to conceive a “unity,” that is, an Absolute and Infinite I or God-Self![iii] Moreover this is the case whether one starts “theistically” with God/with an infinite being, i.e., in addition to Man or myself as a finite being, or “atheistically” with only Man as a finite being, i.e. without the assumption of a God or infinite Being. For as we will see, to be “finite” is to be limited by an Other, which situation yields to the “dialectic” or logic of the “finite” whose result is, here too, the One Infinite.
There are two ways to prove beyond doubt that this is indeed the case.
First Proof: We will start with the idea (Vorstellung) of the common consciousness: Thus, there are two entities, myself and God. I (as “Man”) exist, am finite, and stand over here on one side, while God also exists, is Infinite, and stands on the other side and is, what is critical, “Other” than I am (other than Man). The problem is, this cannot be thought. That is, if God is truly Infinite, qua exhausting all of being, having no Other outside or beside Himself, then the following three scenarios occur, each equally untenable. (i) Only God is—for I (We) have disappeared into God, that is, I cannot and do not exist, since an infinite being leaves no room for any others. (ii) God disappears into me, has become me, and I am now infinite, that is, it is I who am really God Himself, though falsely believing that I am myself (“Ken”) and different from God. (iii) I am a part of God, of God’s Being.—But then, What does this mean? We are in fact back to the beginning! For to the degree that I have some being, and this being is mine, not God’s, then God at once becomes finite and not God! On the other hand, if this being which I am or have is not mine, is God’s (an “other” than I am), then we are back to (i)!—i.e., only God is, not me, or I do not exist—(let alone have a will of my own, responsibility, moral worth, etc).
The upshot is that one cannot think this two-ness, hence it cannot be! However, once it is seen that a logical category (and its dialectic) lies at the base of this Picture (= “Vorstellung”) as its essence, it then becomes possible both to resolve the problem and as well see how “God” (and the expression “We are God”) is really to be understood. —What Hegel does for us in the Logic.
The problem is soluble in that it reduces to the categories of Self (or something) and Other and their logical interaction (i.e., to the dialectic of the “finite” in Hegel’s Logic). The concept “Other” is the key which underlies all the previous difficulties; i.e., the premise that “God is different from or Other than myself, and vice versa.” The main point is that a Finite and an Infinite, when viewed as “two” things, cannot co-exist. That is, to the degree that I am and God is, or insofar as both of us are to be credited with “being,” God, the Infinite, is not, or suffers a reduction of Its being and is rendered finite—since God’s being stops where my being, no matter how insignificant, begins! That is, God ceases to be God! What we really have before us then, are just two finite beings, each limiting the other, none of which can be God. This is logically inescapable.
Of course what this also means, we should note in passing, is that much to his horror, the traditional “theist” who insists on maintaining a rigid distinction between “God,” on the one hand, and “Man and the World” on the other—something in fact that makes both “finite”—turns out really to be an “atheist!”—For the God that he posits is merely finite, and a “finite God” is no God.
And now the question becomes, is this the last word? Can we remain here with “two finites”? The answer is No. For when we reflect on the given we see that what divides us and makes both of us finite—viz., the Fact that I am “Self” and God is “Other”—is an illusion and thus overcomeable. This is because God, as it turns out, has no determination that I do not have! I am the same as God is; we are identical! This is because these two determinations, Self and Other, cannot be kept apart or fixed (as “Understanding” or Reflection would like); each one becomes or turns into the other, or has its opposite within itself!
That is to say: I am Self, true. But—I am also Other! That is, to the Other (that confronts me), it is I who am the Other! So the result, as Hegel says, is that the “barrier-divider”—which confines me to one side of the whole that is present, and which confirms me (both of us) in finitude—has been transcended! For I am equally on the other side of the barrier. I have “already passed over into the Other”![iv] And this—is the True Infinite; and the only one there is. This means not only, as Hegel says, that “only the Infinite remains and is” but that “Self” and “Other” as such—and by extension “Man” and “God”—have vanished! Proven to be untrue! They have become “moments” of the Infinite. That is, in reality there is no “Self as opposed to and other than the Other,” and no “Other as opposed to a Self”! Or: there is a Self which also contains an Other inside it (which is exactly the same as an Other which has a Self in it). That is, there is only one (dynamic and living) thing. Not “two.” And thus, since this is also applicable to “God” and “Man,” it follows that God and Man as such—as separated—do not exist. Only their unity and Truth does. That is, one thing; to be called—whatever one likes! For instance, Hegel calls it “Spirit”, Nietzsche “Superman,” and others yet other things. Two other points. Of course, this is not the whole story since what is, God or the Idea, is much more concrete than this, i.e., than the category of The Infinite or Being-for-Self. Indeed, the final category of the Logic (i.e., of God or Being) is the Absolute Idea qua Personality. Nevertheless, to the extent that “God,” to be God, has minimally and necessarily to be conceived as “infinite” and not as “finite,” these conclusions are absolutely valid and incontrovertible.
Second Proof: Then there is the “regress to the Absolute I” proof given by both Fichte and Schelling. It is based on the principle that “It is impossible to abstract from the I/thought/consciousness/the ‘I think’ and reach a Being or ‘Thing’ in itself or an Absolute ‘Not-I’ (whether as God, matter, or world).” As Fichte writes: “[W]e should long since been rid of the Thing-in-itself; for it would have been recognized that whatever we may think, we are that which thinks therein. And hence that nothing could ever come to exist independently of us, for everything is necessarily related to our thinking” (SK 71, and cf. 117, 98 and also BKE, “Aenesidemus” 144-150). The point is: “One cannot transcend the circle/sphere of one’s consciousness or thought.” Now, what follows from this is not that there are entities outside our thought and we are denied knowledge of them (and are trapped in a subjectivism)—but rather that there are no entities outside and other than thought! And because of this, thought (or awareness) is all reality and the only reality—or it is Infinite or Absolute I (and objective, or subject/object at once!). That there are no entities outside thought can be seen in that any attempt to transcend the sphere of thought just results in—another thought, and shows that there is nothing but thought or that this region is infinite, unbounded and unlimited. This is because one must always begin with and within thought—for “one cannot abstract from one’s I.” Thus to say, “I am thinking ‘God’ or ‘Matter’—(as instances of ‘Not-I’ or Non-thought)—and by doing so I have left the sphere of thought,” is a deception and untruth. For one has really only said, “I am thinking the thought of God, the thought of Matter!” And as just thoughts they fall within and not outside the region of one’s thought!
Of course the main Problem is that most people, scientists etc, are steeped in “dogmatism” or “realism”—i.e. in the custom of habitually and illicitly abstracting from their I/consciousness—a “master illusion/deception” that, as Kant says at B544 (see Essay 12, Postscript), results from “hypostatizing one’s ideas/representations” and forgetting one has done this. Because they have had little conscious exposure to idealism/speculation/criticism they are so used to thinking of sense-objects, e.g., pens, trees, cells, neurons, “electrons,” as beings and not as, what they are in truth, appearances only, and thus have an extremely difficult time in grasping the true nature of the case. Indeed most scientists falsely assume that everything—including consciousness/ thought—is made of e.g. “electrons”—and that electrons (atoms, quarks) are the fundamental realities that support all else; which implies that they are regarded as Substance, self-grounded, and absolute Reality (of course, they are totally unaware of this fact and of the peculiar metaphysics that lies at the base of all their theorizing and in which they “live move and have their being”). But the fact is that it is the opposite that is Substance, etc, viz., Mind/ consciousness/thought! Hence they need above all to clearly and distinctly recognize what it is that true Being or Being in the strict sense is, and that sense-things are not Being, and as such are merely appearance, in fact = 0! They have to realize that what is conditioned cannot be a true being, something unconditioned (or self-existent); that “Matter” or sense-objects (percepts) are in truth and always conditioned by consciousness/thought, and as such cannot be Beings; as in Quantum Theory, there is no such thing as the “observed” as such, only the “observed-as-observed–by-the-observer.” They must also see that because this is so, only Mind/consciousness/thought is true Being!
That is to say, they must on the one hand acknowledge the crucial difference between “Being-for-self” and “Being-for-another”—or that “all Sein (Being) is really Bewusst-Sein (Conscious-Being).” Only the first—Being that is aware of itself, of its Being—is Being, the second is not Being, in fact is nothing; or it has only a “Being-for-another,” the “other” it exists for being consciousness. Only the I or Mind is “Being-for-itself” and true Being. For “Matter”/sense-objects/phenomena, the whole physical universe (the sum of all galaxies ad infinitum) is or has only a “Being-for-another,” or as such and “in itself” = 0 (as Kant says, take away the subject and the space-time continuum vanishes, Kritik B59, and cf. Enc. §381). Moreover it is simply impossible for a “for-another” to be cause of a “for-itself,” for the former is always object, pure and simple, and never subject.
On the other hand, they must grasp the following simple yet devastating logic (à la Schelling) which shows what alone has true Being and is absolute or is the Absolute, and reveals that beneath one’s “empirical” self one has a pure/absolute Self which is one’s True or God-Self: (i) Normal experience demands an absolute or unconditioned ground in order to be. By “normal experience” is meant that of “the finite/conditioned/empirical subject or I in relation to the finite/conditioned object or world”; where subject and object are conditioned by each other, hence neither being unconditioned. (ii) However it is evident that this situation is impossible and cannot be unless at the same time something “unconditioned” exists, for conditioned beings do not have their existence through themselves and cannot maintain it by themselves, they are contingent and dependent on an other. (iii) Now, this unconditioned being that must exist for experience to be possible, must either be on the side of the object—as an “absolute Object or Not-I” (e.g. Matter or God)—or on that of the subject—as an “absolute Subject or I”: there is no third possibility! Since an absolute Object must be ruled out there must then be an absolute Subject as ground of experience! The former is so because “one cannot abstract from or eliminate the I,” and this rules out the possibility of their being an “object” that is “absolute” or not relative to an other (to an I)—not to mention that an “object” as a “Being-for-another” has no true Being and = 0.
This reveals something even more remarkable. For the conclusion is not that there is an “absolute I” that supports and makes possible experience (or “being-in-the-world”) and thus implying that three things exist, viz., an absolute I, a finite I and a finite object. Rather, the absolute I or pure self-consciousness is all that is and exhausts all of reality! Indeed what has been demonstrated is that the “finite I/finite object situation” is a completely false one, an illusion or deception, a condition from which one is to be released via true education (as Plato pointed out long ago). Thus education—to put this in a different way—is the process whereby the “conscious” aspect of the universe/whole overcomes the “unconscious” and appropriates to itself all the “being” the unconscious was initially believed to contain. That is, normal or “dogmatist” consciousness views the whole of reality as apportioned between ourselves, the conscious part, and everything else, the unconscious or material part, which is (held to be) far more extensive than its counterpart. However, the incredible truth that idealism/criticism reveals is that all the “being” believed to pertain to this vast unconscious domain of matter/object, since it has only a “Being-for-another,” is an illusion or = 0! (Note that we did not say that this domain is an illusion, but that the being of this domain is an illusion.) The result is that only the Conscious side is; the Unconscious side, stripped of its being (qua Being), having utterly vanished and been reduced to the Conscious: as said “Only the One Consciousness is.”
Further important corollaries of this—which we cannot elucidate here—are (i) this unconditioned absolute I/pure Self or God-Self is eternal or always existed, hence consciousness as such, as Fichte and others say, had no beginning—and did not “begin” with our physical birth—and has no ending; and (ii) once one has passed beyond one’s empirical I and accessed one’s Pure I one finds oneself in or at the beginning of all things or in the Now, i.e. eternal Now or Present.[v] Thus, one further realizes that one always existed and always will exist, that one can only be and never not be (= “Absolute Knowing,” the knowledge that one’s true self is the Absolute itself, the Unconditioned). Hence as “eternal” one realizes one is above time, or rather that time itself is an illusion, as it pertains to and is sustained by the finite I/Not-I experience and situation (cf. Fichte EPW 434, Schelling STI 14). Indeed, after successful regress to the Absolute I or God-Self, one clearly recognizes that consciousness as such is not in time.
In this way, in virtue of these two proofs, the most powerful objection that can be raised against us can be decisively set aside, namely: “OK, we will grant that all of this may be so, that we cannot escape the sphere of our thought, etc—BUT what if it really is the case that consciousness/thought is a product/effect of Matter (of neural/chemical/nuclear activity) and our situation is that we just cannot know or think it due to the limitations and nature of our cognitive faculties?” “What if Matter—viewed as the opposite of thought or as ‘non-thought’—really is the cause of Consciousness?”
First, simply put, the statement “Matter is the ‘cause’ of Mind/thought/consciousness” is completely meaningless or a “non-statement” which says nothing. For what it does is to illicitly abstract from or ignore the ineliminable presence of the I/consciousness/thought and then asks us to conceive or “picture” what it calls “Matter” as existing initially by itself, unconnected to and unconditioned by Thought and thus capable of being a veritable Substance and Cause (of all else). The point is: this is impossible! For one cannot have the “thought of a Being that is to be out of relation to thought—or is not to be thought!” This is a “non-thought.” It arises from or is constructed out of the erroneous dogmatist/Realist viewpoint whereby one takes one’s perceptions/ presentations of e.g., this blue mug, table, sky etc—perceptions ineluctably attached to/accompanied by one’s “I think” or consciousness—and then à la Kant “hypostatizes” them. That is, falsely regards what is one’s own and in oneself as having an independent thing-like existence (ignoring the fact of its relation to my I). Then one finally subsumes them one and all under the “universal” or abstraction “Matter,” something moreover that is not perceived (for I only perceive particular, unique items of sense such as this blue, this hot, hard, sweet, sonorous, etc, item), thus giving this “Matter” an independent existence it is not entitled to.
And it is of no avail to again repeat “But just because I cannot think of ‘Matter’ as existing independently of thought does not mean or prove that it in fact does not so exist or that there isn’t such an entity as ‘Matter’!” This is just another non-statement or non-thought. It is meaningless, for the phrase, “Matter (or one can substitute here anything!) as existing independently of thought” simply cannot be thought! The speaker is asking us to comprehend or grasp what cannot be comprehended or grasped! —We thus remain ever within the domain of thought or awareness or Knowing—and there is nothing but this domain! —As Hegel confirms in his account of Absolute Knowledge as the “[Gestalt in which] Spirit … realizes its Concept while remaining within its Concept [i.e., within the domain of thought] in this realization” (485). End of story.
Second, there is no such thing as “Matter” regarded as a Being in itself hence as a Substance and Cause of other things (e.g. thought) for the reason that as conditioned by another and as a Being for another it cannot be in itself. Indeed as we saw, “Matter” or Being for another = 0. Only Being-for-itself, or Consciousness/thought/Spirit, can be in itself, and hence alone is Substance, Being, Cause (cf. Enc. §384 zus[vi]) and the Absolute. So “Matter” in the end and in truth—i.e., metaphysically speaking—is nothing but “the thought of matter,” hence it is only a thought (as Hegel says, Nature and matter are only ideal, their truth is Spirit and thought[vii]) and as such incapable of being a “cause” or “ground” of thought, that is, thought cannot be “reduced” to matter.
Third, even if (per impossible) it were granted that there is such a thing as “Matter” and it was a Substance hence “Cause” of consciousness/Mind the dialectic of cause and effect (and substantiality and reciprocity) in Hegel’s Science of Logic clearly demonstrates that the cause has no primacy over the effect, rather the effect or manifestation of the cause is the truth of the cause—which results in a reversal of the dignity and dependence/independence relation between the two. Indeed, the substance, in manifesting itself as thought, only manifests its essence, hence shows that thought/consciousness is the true essence and being of Matter—something that is further demonstrated in the Logic when it is revealed that the categories of Substance, Causality, Reciprocity and Necessity are inadequate and pass over into their truth, viz., Freedom and The Concept, which is another name for the Absolute I or Subject!
Thus, in view of the preceding two proofs it is clear that it is wrong, misleading, and damaging to use the terms, “God” and “Man,” in their old meanings. So this is the reason we cannot stay with the old concepts and with the separation/“twoness” of God and Man, but must abandon them.
It is further necessary to remark briefly on the nature of the problem of “Vorstellung” (or “Image”) and the critical need for today’s “consciousness in transition” to transcend its inherent limitations. In ages past (before the advent of Science and The Concept) in order to facilitate connection with God the religious consciousness of Man had no other recourse than to use a “Vorstellung” or Image, that is, by placing it before his mind (Vor-stellen = “to place before”) etc. The problem this involves is that (i) the Image is not the thing Imaged. For what the Image does is to mediate between myself and God (the Imaged). In being in touch with the Image, I am not also in touch with God; or I am immediately in touch with the Image and only mediately in touch with God. In fact, God, the Imaged, is always taken to be “behind” or “beyond” the Image, and in a direction away from me (from my being, from what is in me), when in fact, it should be the reverse! For God (what the Image points to) is in truth—as we have shown—within me/us and one and the same as my/our innermost being, my/our pure certainty or awareness (cf. also, “The kingdom God is within you” and “God, as the still small voice within you”). (ii) So the Image really serves to separate me from, not unite me or bring me in contact with, God (from that which I desire to contact and know). (iii) Thus this shows the utmost importance of overcoming Vorstellen and Image thinking and replacing it with something else. It is a cause of alienation and involves complete untruth since it implies that what is really in us and pertains to us is not in us and does not pertain to us, but rather pertains to something outside us. At which point the problem becomes—what is the problem of the whole history of Christianity and religion—how to get (by coaxing, pleading with, badgering, etc) what is outside and separate from us into us! Thus the “Vorstellung” or “Image” keeps us from the truth. (iv) The problem, we would offer, is overcome and does not exist for The Concept or Thought and where the Truth is grasped by the same. This is because The Concept—and therefore the Concept’s Object as well—is immediately one with ourselves, and hence the aspect of “separation” or “doubling” does not occur. Also to be noted is that, it is Hegel’s view that though theological problems cannot be resolved at the level of Vorstellen, they can—one and all—be solved at the level of The Concept and the Logical.[viii]
Lastly, and all-too-briefly, as for the objection of the “atheist” who does not accept one of the premises of the first proof, viz., that there is a God or Infinite, and insists there is only the “finite,” or only finite things, himself being one of them—it is met most adequately by the Hegelian rejoinder that, “the finite as such does not exist and is a self-contradiction, for its nature is to immediately sublate itself and become the Infinite—the finite being only and in truth a ‘moment’ of the Infinite.” Thus the atheist had better get to work, stop giving excuses, and begin his process of transformation into the Infinite and his True Self (Enc. §194 zus).
TWO OBJECTIONS ANSWERED
A reviewer of this book has made two important objections to our thesis that deserve a considered response, viz., (i) Who is the “We” in the “We are God” phrase? Does it include all men who ever lived and will live? Moral and immoral, spiritual and “carnal” alike? The concept is problematic, to say the least; and (ii) that it is impossible to us or any given individual to actually be God, the Absolute, or the Totality of Being—rather only a “part” of the Whole. The reviewer calls this the “pizza-pie theory”—i.e., the whole pie is pizza, but a piece is not the whole pie, that is, “God is everything but not that everything is God.” His main worry with the doctrine concerns the prideful inflation of our ego’s that would result from its adoption, that is, the dangerous inversion of the proper relation between God and us that would exclude humility and a gratitude towards something higher than ourselves. As said, the “We are God” formula is primarily an “aid” to comprehension, but nevertheless needs to be clarified. In general, it is intended to “collapse the distance” between God—as traditionally and falsely conceived—and ourselves, and to indicate that God is not “up there” but rather in us, that “God” pertains to something within our being; what we hold does not destroy humility but realizes its true “agapic” form for the first time.
We will respond to these concerns in the course of a review of Hegel’s position on this matter.
- Hegel’s position is best captured in his statement that “Man is a moment in God’s Being.”[ix] There are two complementary sides to this. On the one hand, expressed in Hegel’s dictum is the critical distinction between the “Idea” and “Spirit,” that is, between the Principle and the actualization and actuality of the Principle; in virtue of which distinction all pride and arrogance is precluded! The simple fact is that we begin as a natural-empirical Ego or Self, and only under this condition do we then rise or come into our Pure, absolute God-Self (or Spirit, the One Consciousness). Thus, we are not and cannot regard ourselves as the First or Original, as that which has the highest honor and place, for we are derivative or second; we did not create the Idea, Spirit, God-Self—or the “godding” process we are involved in as a “Moment” or ingredient (see Essay 3, on the discussion of the Trinity and the “negation of negation”). The Idea or Truth exists by necessity, by logic, by Reason. Thus as the reviewer also holds, it is we (qua our finite selves) that have to conform to the Idea and not vice versa or, as Hegel says, “one does not possess the Idea, the Idea possesses him.” Thus, there is a definite and clear sense in which “Man is a moment in God’s Being” means that he is not the whole of God, for as a “moment” we are, when completed and as Spirit, a “production,” a “Son,”or an “expression” of God or the Idea, and not the entire Idea itself.
Yet on the other hand, it is nonetheless true that we are equally God himself. For God—since there is nothing but God—can only do or bring forth himself. As Hegel says of the Idea as Life: the end is the same as the beginning, as the fruit or product contains nothing but what was already contained in the Seed or Principle (the Idea). The other aspect, according to Hegel the theologian, is that God only first comes to Know himself in and as the Son.[x] For God, to Hegel, is not a lifeless static entity, but rather a “process,” according to which He must first posit an Other, or second, thus making himself into an Object, and then overcome this separation and individuation, by finding Himself in the Other or Son and thus becoming Spirit, that is, Love (agape). The real question is, can a balance be achieved between the two sides. We believe it can, indeed must be.
An important corollary of this that has just surfaced, is that it is Love (agape) that will constitute the core of our new God-Self and be the basis or spring of all thought, actions, and values pertaining to Foundation life. Love is the core of the God-Self because, when isolated lonely Selfhood and its problems are overcome, this isolated self becomes a Universal or “Ec-static” Self, i.e., a Self which includes the Other as an essential dimension of itself (see below). This provides additional confirmation that a God-Self can in no way be arrogant or “self-centered” and evil, i.e., since its essence or nature is agape-Love. Further,—what scripture also confirms as it holds too that “God is Love”[xi]—for someone then to say that he is God, or aspires to be God, is not such a terrible thing as certain make it out to be! For it is to aspire to, or become, Love itself—and to live in community with others in that condition! (Surely the World needs more people like this!) Indeed, Love only and always desires the best for the Other (see Enc. §159). This also affords a touchstone by which to evaluate whether someone has in truth achieved the God-Self or is only deceiving himself in this matter.
- God (the Absolute)—and this is another element in Hegel’s position—is not complete as such and apart from the process of producing an Other (Nature/Universe and Man) and then finding himself in this Other. As said, God or the Infinite is the negation of the Finite (Man/World) and hence presupposes the Finite or the descent into Otherness and limitation (and flesh). Hegel further holds that this process, and God Himself, only first became complete and actual in human History, particularly in Jesus Christ. It was at this “point” that the universe was ontologically “redeemed” and Christ’s universal consciousness pervaded and thus canceled, by reducing to unity, Nature’s entire multiplicity and externality—the One Consciousness or Spirit becoming actualized and permanently Now, obviously when it is said “We are God” the “We,” at this point, only refers to Christ, and can refer to other men only in a potential sense;—and thus what can only remain is for all other Men and Selves to raise themselves into this Consciousness, via Faith or Reason. It also follows that Christ and the One Consciousness, since—according to our general thesis and proofs—it is the Truth and Reality in an unqualified sense, is not “in another place or world” opposed to and distant from the “reality,” consciousness and world we inhabit. Rather, it is fully here Now and in fact is the only and one true Reality. What our five senses reveal to be the case, viz., the separatedness, outsidedness, and multiplicity of natural individuals—“Cave” consciousness, à la Plato—and taken by most people to be Reality, is in fact only appearance and reflective of the same.
Thus, Hegel’s position is that “We are potentially—not actually or immediately—God” and that the “We” that is potentially God is not our outer empirical changeable Self but refers to our inner being and Self;[xii] moreover—what is most important—that God exists in no other place than in our inner Being. This implies that “divinity” or “divine nature” is within us now and that we only need to, so to speak, “grow the Seed” or actualize the potency. True, at the same time, even before anyone has actualized his potency, God fully exists, i.e. qua Christ; however not “before” Christ; God “exists” only in Principle (as an “Idea”) before Creation (cf. §381 zus; and see Essay 3).
- Hegel further says that Christ, the God-Man, the first “God-Self,” is primarily an example of the Truth, “our Exemplar.”[xiii] He showed forth what God (as Spirit) is—namely, this process, or Love, as the negation of finite selfhood and the becoming of the Infinite (in Vorstellen-lingo, “I [Self] am in the Father [Other], the Father [Other] in me [Self],” and “I am the Son [Finite] of the Father [Infinite]”). It is a process or “history,” for Hegel, “that every man has to accomplish in himself in order to exist as Spirit.”[xiv] Yet all the same, Christ is the One Being or Consciousness in a special sense qua being the first to do/be it. Moreover, Hegel says there is a sense in which it cannot be done a second time or “can only happen once”[xv]; for as “all being” it signifies a being that cannot be added to, since this is what being a “Universal Self-Consciousness” means, yet it is a Being which nonetheless has “room” for all others, and for their individuality and intersubjective freedom as well.
As regards the reviewer’s objection that we can only be a “part” of God or the Absolute and not the “whole” (the “pizza-pie theory”) which leads to pride, etc, it also succumbs to the points discussed above. However, we will add two remarks:
- It is vital to grasp that Hegel, in the last analysis, holds unequivocally that God, Spirit, the Absolute Idea is nothing but finite natural-flesh consciousness—i.e., my own self-certainty—“transformed.” To support this it is only necessary to make two points:
(i) It is self-evident, via text and logic, that the Absolute Knowing and Spirit that is arrived at at the end of the Phenomenology derives solely from the immediate Consciousness (that of the student’s) with which the book begins. This is indicated by Hegel in many places, for example in the Phenomenology’s Introduction: “The goal [of the Phenomenology] … is the point where knowledge [i.e., the student’s] no longer needs to go beyond itself (51)”—and in the Preface: “[The conclusion of the Phenomenology is that] Being is then absolutely mediated … [it is] the property of the I, it is self-like or the Concept (21).” This is true also of the entire System that follows (See Essay 6). For example, the Pure Being at the beginning of the Logic that will ultimately become the Absolute Idea (God) at its end, is nothing other than, one and the same as, the Absolute Knowing that is the result of the Phenomenology which, again, is just natural consciousness transformed. Hegel confirms this for us in the Science of Logic:
The beginning [of the Science of Logic] is logical in that it is to be made in the element of thought that is free and for itself, in pure [or absolute] knowing. It is mediated because pure knowing is the ultimate, absolute truth of consciousness. In the Introduction it was remarked that [the Phenomenology] … has for result the Concept of Science, i.e., pure knowing. … In the [Phenomenology] immediate consciousness is also the first … and therefore the presupposition; but in Logic, is that which has proved itself to be the result of that phenomenological consideration—the Idea as pure knowledge … [Further] in the said result, this Idea has determined itself to be the Certainty [that of the student] which has become Truth, the Certainty which, on the one hand, no longer has the Object over against it but has internalized it, knows it as its own self … Pure knowing as concentrated into this unity has sublated all reference to an other and to mediation … what is present is only simple immediacy … or, in its true expression Pure Being [that is, ultimately, the Absolute Idea] (68-9).[xvi]
Thus, it is my initial “sense-certainty” itself that becomes the “certainty of itself” (reached in section B) that ultimately becomes and is the very Absolute Spirit, Truth, and God (qua Knowing) which appears at the Phenomenology’s—not to mention the System’s—end. So on the contrary, there is clearly a definite sense in which “the part is the whole pizza”—and my own Self-Certainty, albeit transformed or purified, is the Absolute Itself, whole and entire. Yes, one can argue that the I or Self that is the Absolute at the end is not me, my particular empirical I, for it is a transformed version of it, however, it cannot be totally different, qua underived, from it, for there is nothing else present at the beginning from which it could have arisen![xvii]
(ii) The second point is expressed by Hegel’s remark at Enc. §441, zus. To wit: “[F]inite Spirit is immediately a contradiction, an untruth. This struggling with the finite, the overcoming of limitation, constitutes the stamp of the Divine in the human Spirit and forms a necessary stage of the eternal Spirit. … It is Infinite Spirit itself that presupposes itself as Soul and as Consciousness, thereby making itself finite; and it is Infinite Spirit that equally transforms into a moment of itself this self-made presupposition, this finitude, the opposition … between Consciousness and Soul and Consciousness and an external Object.” What this singularly means is that the Eternal, Absolute Spirit or “God” only arises from the “struggl[e] with the finite,” that is, from Man or human consciousness and knowing (first completed in Christ).
- Nevertheless, the “oneness-in-twoness” aspect must not be forgotten; that is, the “dyadic” nature of the Truth. Spirit is not a sheer, amorphous, undifferentiated One. The “Other” is not done away with completely, but gets reduced to a “moment.” That is to say, the I/Not-I structure, or my I or Self as opposed to and thus in relation to something else, Other, not-myself (i.e., to another person, hence, “intersubjectivity”) always remains. As Hegel says, “[The Absolute Idea] contains the highest degree of opposition within itself”[xviii]—but as resolved. Recall that Spirit is “knowledge of oneself in one’s Other,” and that the True Infinite only is through the positing of a limit, and the negation of the same. Thus, even though the other remains, I know as well that it is no true i.e. excluding, other, but one in which I can find myself, and which permits me entrance into its innermost being. The upshot is that all sheer egoism, egotism, and aggrandizement of the finite, particular, empirical self is made impossible; one must give up this self to become and experience the God-Self that is at issue.
As a further aid for those who are concerned about losing the “Otherness” of God, it is to be observed that the difference between the initial and final “inverted” consciousness (the God-Self) is so great—indeed requires the whole Phenomenology to achieve it—that it can truthfully be said to be the former’s exact opposite or “Other.” As Hegel underscores in the 1803 Critical Journal, “to common sense the world of philosophy [absolute knowing] is … an inverted world,”[xix] and in the Phenomenology as well, “Science on its part requires that self-consciousness should have raised itself into this Aether to be able to live with/in Science … [T]he element of Science is for consciousness a remote beyond … [R]elative to immediate self-consciousness [Science] presents itself as an inverted posture” (14-15).
To the person who still objects that our view really results in atheism in that it takes away the “personal God” that alone can be worshiped we offer this. We have seen (i) that since it is logically impossible to think of God as an infinite person separated from oneself we must think of God as personal in a different way, one in which our own being is understood to be in fact inside and included within God’s, the Infinite’s, Being; (ii) that prayer and worship are in essence simply methods for getting established in the Truth, the Unity or Agape-God-Self; (iii) that the “objective” (not-I) side still remains but as something that exists within one’s Self. In essence one is made to understand what “God” really is, viz., a “process” which involves one’s own being and self. One understands that oneself (one’s Self) is absolutely essential to God’s being God, in that oneself is the “subject” or “subjective” side of the whole that is God. For to be “in relation with God,” with a second or Other, means that (a) one must exist or have Being (as the “particular”), and (b) that God, as Object and relatum, also has Being (as the “Universal”). Further, it is then seen that since God to be God must have infinite or all Being, and since oneself indeed also has Being, therefore one’s own Being must be an essential part/element of God’s Infinite Being! —As Hegel says, God knows himself only in and as Man or oneself. Hence one realizes that God is really a process or a dynamic—that of the “infinite”—in which oneself is implicated. Moreover, there is still room for worship and love, i.e., for “God as an Other Person.” For there is a whole of which oneself is the “particular” side or aspect and God the “Universal” side, which overlaps and includes oneself. The two sides “together” making up one Person—indeed, the nature of the Infinite demands and requires this. To express this in a more accurate fashion: there is really only one thing or being, not two, that goes through and is involved in this process which is God or the Absolute. My finite I or subject as, “part-icular,” is the moment of difference, the “part-ition” or “judgment” (Ur-teil) of the whole, which has split itself into a subjective and objective side. Moreover, the “particular” as such is evil and in a state which must be renounced and in which one should not remain. Only when the Particular is in unity with the Universal, that is, when the Particular has become the Individual, i.e., the Spirit or One Personality, is the Good realized and the Truth actual.[xx]
ON THE INTERSUBJECTIVITY OF THE GOD-SELF
Here we will try to further clarify the universal or intersubjective nature of the God-Self. It is to be understood that this God-Self, this “We that is I,” is simply a synonym for Hegel’s “Spirit,” which we shall also refer to as the “Ec-static Self”—all these names seem to be necessary to get at something which has never really been discussed before; this will change in time. That Spirit or the God-Self is not a “monadic” but rather an “intersubjective” Self that requires an Other and therefore involves the phenomenon of “Recognition,” becomes clearer when we look at some of Hegel’s definitions of “Spirit.” First in the Phenomenology:
- “[Spirit is the] absolute Substance that is the unity of the different Self-Consciousnesses existing for themselves in the complete freedom and independence [Selbststandigkeit] of their opposition: I that is We, and We that is ” (110)
- “Absolute Spirit” [is a] “reciprocal recognition” … ”the existence [Dasein] of the I that has expanded into a duality [Zweiheit]” … “it is God appearing in the midst of those who know themselves as pure knowing.” (408-9)
- “It is Spirit which, in the duplication of its Self-Consciousness and in the independence of both, has the certainty of its unity with itself … [Moreover] in its pure consciousness it unites all self-consciousness.” (211)
- “[Spirit is] the Self-Consciousness that is recognized, and which has its own self-certainty in the other free self-consciousness, and possesses its truth precisely in that other” (212). “Within the universal Spirit … each has only the certainty of himself … he is as certain of the others as he is of himself … I regard them as myself and myself as them.”[xxi] (213)
- And then there is Hegel’s oft-cited definition of the Trinity which is a perfect expression of Spirit, namely as “knowledge of oneself in one’s other,” or “the Father knows himself in the Son,” that again is best expressed in Hegel’s account of “Person” in the Philosophy of Religion. There he writes:
[In the case of the Trinity, the problem is that three persons, as such, cannot be one. But] the solution is contained in the fact that there is only one person, and this three-fold personality, this personality which is thus posited merely as a vanishing moment, expresses the truth … It is, in short, the nature or character of what we mean by “person” or “subject” to abolish its isolation, its separateness. [For example] Morality and love just mean the giving up of particularity or of the particular personality and its extension to universality … In friendship and love I give up my abstract personality, and in this way win it back as concrete personality. It is just this winning back of personality by the act of absorption, by the being absorbed into the other, which constitutes the true nature of personality (III, 24f).
We can bring all these definitions of Spirit or the God-Self together in the following way. My True Personality, as concrete and universal, is in its essence a Universal Personality, one that includes within itself the Other as such, hence all other persons. So construed it is the essence and basis of Love. For as Hegel says, it is the I expanded into a duality, a state where I regard all others as myself and myself as them, where I have my truth in them, and they theirs in me. The incredible implication of this is that this means that “you and I in truth are, constitute together, but one personality or person”: recall the phrase, “I am in the Other, the Other is in me.” This precisely is—Spirit, the God-Self, the True God. It thus involves the renouncing/negating of one’s separate self/ego/personality and, by so doing, making oneself a “Universal—(i.e., All-gemeine = All, all-common, embracing all; cf. Gemeinde = community; hence)—Communal, or All Self.” In this way one also becomes an active participant in the One Universal Self-Consciousness (“The One Consciousness” for short). Of course the other important point that must not be lost sight of is that within or as this One Self or Person, one still retains one’s independence and freedom; for Spirit is “the unity of the Selves in the freedom of their opposition.” Thus we must think “unity in opposition,” “identity in difference”—something that can only be done speculatively. It may help if one thinks of the state of being “in love with someone.” True, one is outside oneself and lives in the other, which is a great feeling. However, notice that one does not completely dissolve or disappear in the other, rather one maintains oneself while engaged in the very activity of giving oneself up! This experience of “ec-stasy,” of “standing outside oneself,” of continually being and living both inside and outside oneself at once that is characteristic of the New Self or God-Self may be—and to the natural self will be—at first somewhat “weird” and disconcerting; one has to gradually come into it or “gently put it on,” i.e., via the proper education, etc.
Finally there is the problem of the “One and the Many.” If it is indeed true that “I am the Absolute,” and “You also are the Absolute,” and “Every I is the Absolute,” How can this be or be thought—since, as all know (especially Spinoza), two Absolutes do not tolerate each other? Briefly: to solve this one must rise to “speculation” or Reason and not remain in Verstand and Reflection! Thus, the answer lies in (i) the dialectic of “Reciprocity,” i.e., in the “move” from Necessity to Freedom and The Concept (and “Spirit”); and (ii) in securing the proper meaning of “the I” and “the Absolute,” which latter is usually conceived as Substance, as self-grounded, -related, containing all determinacy within itself, etc. But, logic shows that one substance to be a substance demands a second substance, etc, the result being the identity of the two substances, i.e., “Necessity.” Or, in Hegel’s words, it is recognized that both are equally “in themselves” and “posited by the other.”[xxii] This further allows for a “One” which contains, and can accommodate, an indefinite diversity within itself. To express this in “reflective” form: On the Pure level we are One, sharing the same Universal Consciousness (cf. Fichte’s “Absolute I”), whereas on the Empirical level we remain and function as discrete individuals. (iii) Also the “I” in question (in “I am the Absolute”) is as we have seen not a particular exclusive I but a Universal inclusive I, i.e. a “We,” an “intersubjective I.” Let’s not forget that it was the precise function of the Phenomenology to answer the question, What really is the “I” (or Consciousness)?—as well as “What really is “Being,” the I’s correlate? The answer given to both questions, is that the “I” is not an individual I but rather is “Spirit,” a “community” or “commonwealth” of I’s; and “Being” also reveals itself to be “Spirit.”
FURTHER CONCERNS ADDRESSED
Here we shall deal briefly with several vital additional concerns or apparent “dangers” connected with the teaching of the God-Self and the formula “I/We are God.”
- Hegel would say that it is the extremes, the “left” and “right” construals of the doctrine (of the God-Man unity) that involve error and are harmful, while the mean or “center” interpretation is not and rather is absolutely beneficial and a “God-send.” The one extreme, “We are not God,” keeps a fixed “gulf” between the two and by doing so denies Man access to the Truth, to God, and fulfillment; this results in alienation and the pursuit of merely finite ends. The other extreme, especially in the form of “I am God” and as largely construed by “New Agers” and contemporary “cultists” of all varieties, though inherently closer to the Truth can lead, as Hegel says[xxiii]—and if not supplemented with adequate clarification—to the false view that one’s particular, natural, empirical I as such (as un-yielded, -negated) is God or the Absolute Being; which, according to Hegel, is precisely the standpoint of absolute evil.[xxiv] Thus it is the “center” alone that contains the True, viz., the unity and inseparability of the two; that is, so long as it is accompanied with the proper explanation that the “I” intended is one’s universal (ec-static), and not one’s particular I, and what this precisely means. The other well-known danger is the error of believing that one’s own I alone and no one else’s is God or the Absolute. But this can be easily avoided, viz., by recognizing the “universality” of human nature and selfhood (i.e., “what is true of You, must also be true of Me,” etc).
- Of course religious extremists or “fundamentalists” such as the “Christian Right” will (perhaps) never buy the doctrine that “We are God” or that God did not exist “prior” to Jesus and the Incarnation as, for example, they insist on an “absolute distinction” between God and Creation (Nature/Man). However, good metaphysicians that we are, we, with our “heretical” doctrine, can accommodate their view. (i) We can say, e.g., that the key lies in how one interprets “God’s begetting of the Son.” First, they will of course grant that God, as Father, is not God without the Son. Now, since it can be said (on the metaphysical or true level) that there is no time ( §258, PS 487, NM 366), it follows that the “time” of the “eternal begetting of the Son”—which “time” is instantaneous or eternal, i.e. logical (cf. “B must follow A”)—is therefore the same as the time that “elapsed” from the beginning of the Creation (in Genesis) to the Incarnation of God in Jesus Christ! So in a sense God did exist “prior” to the Incarnation; rather, there was no “prior” to the Incarnation, that is, from the eternal or metaphysical point of view. (ii) We can also accept their “unscientific” picture (Vorstellen)–version of the story (of the Concept’s movement), namely, “that Jesus, God’s Son, pre-existed, was sitting on the throne in heaven with the Father and Holy Spirit, with angels, seraphims etc etc, then later, after the Creation and Fall, the Father turned to the Son and said, ‘Now, go and redeem the world,’ whereupon He entered Mary’s womb, was born etc, etc.” We can accept it, that is, not only because we can decipher it via the Concept, recognizing that it does in fact portray the Truth albeit in a different (perhaps for some inadequate) form, but because the final result is the same as ours, namely, the “divinization of Man” and the “re-locating of God down here and in us.” That is to say, there is more than enough scriptural support for this à la Schelling “Church of John” or “God-Self” teaching we are defending. For example: “I [God] will pour out my Spirit on them,” “I will dwell and walk in them,” “I and the Father will make our abode in you,” “[we are to] grow up into the fullness of the stature of Christ [i.e. into God or Agape],” “be filled with all the fullness [pleroma] of God,” “[we are] partakers of the divine nature [hence, are divine],” and “I said you are gods and goddesses.” In other words, though the fundamentalists may not accept the doctrine “We are God,” they will endorse the teaching that “We can be (or are) one with God”—that is, by participation in God or Christ’s divinity.
- Another objection and possible danger is this: “If ‘We are God’ does this mean I can do and should attempt to do all the things God is said to be able to do?”—create worlds, control the elements, walk on water, raise the dead, heal the blind and diseased, read minds? Am I then omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, omnibenevolent, etc? This is a tricky and complex issue. Here we will simply say that this is an issue that we must discuss, we should keep an open mind and not rule out anything without prior investigation. It is by no means lightly to be dismissed; indeed, our discussions indicate that there must be some truth to this, seeing that God is or may be ultimately identical with our innermost self and being. The fact is that not only do all scriptures lend support to this, e.g. Christ says, “Greater works than these you shall do,” but things like “faith healing” are nothing new and are well-documented; moreover today there is widespread interest in and “scientific” inquiries into such things as telekinesis, ESP, parapsychology, “out-of-body” and “after death” experiences, etc. However, it is nonetheless true that all great teachers do advise their students not to seek these “powers” or put a premium on them, as they can be dangerous if used with the wrong motives (e.g. self-aggrandizement) and lead to set-backs in one’s spiritual development. Most say that love and service are to have priority over all else (see Hegel on ESP, etc, at Enc. §406 zus).[xxv]
- Finally there is the objection of religious leaders: How can one teach this ‘We are God’ doctrine to our congregation? To children? This is also complex and is an issue that must be discussed. The simple answer is one does not teach it to children, and to adults only with care. The first point is this, if it does indeed express the Truth, it must be taught. The second point involves the fact that the spiritual education of the child or individual parallels that of the Race or World Spirit as it is presented in History. That is: at first the merely “natural man” recognizes a “higher power” above and outside himself; next he realizes that this higher power is inside himself; while the final lesson involves seeing that this higher power is really himself, i.e. his inner True Self—as Hegel says, “we must learn to know God as our true and essential Self” (Enc. §194 zus). This fact indicates a “three-tiered principle” for the formatting of religious/spiritual education (corresponding to Schelling’s division of Christian History into the Churches of Peter/Catholicism, Paul/Protestantism and John/Kingdom Come). According to this Principle, the child is to be taught and aligned to the initial concept of God (viz., as “Father;” i.e., here the “We are not God” formula has its place, etc), the adolescent or young adult to the intermediate concept of God (viz., as “Son;” “We are not God, but may become one with God”), and the mature adult—who has passed through the earlier stages—to the highest concept of God—viz., as “Spirit,” “God-Self,” or “We are God,” and with proper explanation.
- We saw that the Truth at the core of the New Paradigm, and which can be adequately grasped only in the Concept or scientifically and not by ordinary Vorstellen-thought, must be put in the Vorstellen form “We are God” in order to be accessible to the non-philosophic, -scientific public. And most importantly we saw the necessity for abandoning the Old Paradigm concepts of “God” (Infinite) and “Man” (Finite), i.e., as two, and for replacing them with one concept/term, e.g. “Spirit” or “God-Self,” whose sense is contained in the “We are God” formula, a formula that must, to avoid error, always be accompanied by proper explanation.
That there be no misunderstanding as to what was just said, our claim is nothing less than that the proofs and arguments we have advanced in this section—which have their rigorous presentation in Hegel’s Logic—demonstrate conclusively that it is logically impossible (i) to think of God as separate from or outside of Consciousness and (ii) for God and Man to be two separate entities and that (iii) they therefore must be—not may be, if we happen to be so inclined—thought of as and in truth be one! —(And this was precisely what took place for the first time and was achieved in the preceding Historical period in the philosopher Hegel, most singularly in his Logic, that is, The Logos or self-knowledge of God Himself/the Whole itself/or BEING itself.) —Thus, both the sciences and all religions are now required to adjust their concepts of “Man” and “God” accordingly and can no longer—under pain of contradiction and of disseminating untruth—define or speak of “Man” either as “finite” or as ontologically distinct from what is infinite, from Being, or from God. It is the above Fact and situation, further, that is precisely responsible for what is going on today, for the universal convulsions in the world’s fabric, and that alone holds the key for understanding the Great Paradigm Shift that humanity is now being forced to undergo.
- We also saw that the “We” that is God refers to our inner being or self-certainty which is not God immediately or as such but only as transformed, educated or made Universal. Hence “We” are God in a potential sense only, but nonetheless “God” still pertains to our own nature or inner being and hence we are to look for God and Truth only within and not outside
- Further, the “I” which is God or God-Self is a Universal, intersubjective, “ec-static” “I,” not an isolated exclusive “I.” And although it is true that “I” participate in a single personality which, as containing all I’s (past, present, and future), is greater than my “own” I, yet at the same time this “universal person,” “One Spirit” or “True Infinite God” is identical with myself and is my true being.
- Crucial is that a main consequence of the unity of myself and God—of the collapse of the two opposites into a single term, which is my own essence and True God-Self—is that this essence is also Love (agape) and I possess the capacity to continually express it. Further, the Love (agape) core of my New Self, will be the basis for all my thought and actions and for Life in general in The New World, i.e., in Foundation or Eternity.
- Finally, though to be sure there are certain dangers and problems connected with the “We are God” and “God-Self” teaching, the benefits outweigh the risks, that is, when adequate clarification accompanies its use.===============================================================================
[i] For example in the ministries of Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Frederick Price, and Kenneth Copeland, just to name a few.
[ii] It is also important to realize, moreover, that all scripture and revelation can only be in the propositional form of Vorstellen and Reflection.
[iii] It can also be said that everything depends on how one conceives oneself (and “God”); if with a fixed determination, such as “finite,” “human,” “unalterable empirical self,” then it is impossible to think the unity or togetherness of God and oneself.
[iv] See Science of Logic 143ff and Enc. §95.
[v] Cf. Christ’s statements: “I was in the beginning with the father, before the foundation of all things, etc” (= “I was/am living in the Eternal Absolute I or I AM”).
[vi] See Miller 19, “Absolute Spirit is creator [cause] of its Other, of Nature and finite spirit […] etc.”
[vii] Cf., §§96 zus, 389 and zus, 248, and 381.
[viii] Cf., e.g. Science of Logic 63-64.
[ix] Philosophy of History 324; the term “Man” is substituted for “finite Spirit.”
[x] See §564 zus. “God is God only so far as he knows himself: his self-knowledge is, further, a self-consciousness in Man and is Man’s knowledge of God.”
[xi] 1Jn 4,8. It also says, “Be holy as I am holy,” and “Be perfect as I (the father in heaven) is perfect”: i.e. it says, in effect, “Be like God.”
[xii] This of course needs qualification as involving the absolutely important issue, How much of, or to what extent is, human nature (including its empirical as well as pure aspects, i.e., natural drives, emotions, and the human body itself) preserved in the God-Self or the human/divine unity which is the Truth, the eternal Idea qua actualized? The short answer is that all of human nature, along with the body, is preserved in God or the God-Self—however in a transformed/ transfigured/ spiritualized sense and mode (think of Christ, as the most ready example of a “God-Self”). As said, the core of the “natural man” or false self (which permeates the whole human nature) is not Love and Being—which pertains to the “spiritual man” or True Self alone—but their opposite, viz., Nothingness and Fear. Also, since Spirit is “eternally wedded to Nature” (Enc. §246 zus), and contains it as a subordinated moment within itself, the “natural” human body is likewise preserved within the God-Self, and equally eternal—again, in a transfigured condition (e.g., it can pass through walls or any natural material, atomic structure, etc). This issue does receive some attention in the “Manifesto” in this book. It will be treated at greater length in our next book, The Meaning of the Present Age. Also cf., Hegel’s Philosophy of Religion, III, 98-99, 70-71, and 33-100 passim on the human/divine nature.
[xiii] See e.g. Philosophy of History 328.
[xiv] Loc citus.
[xv] See Philosophy of Religion III 75, 376, and the 1827 Lectures, Hodgson 455f.
[xvi] Also: “Absolute Knowing is the Truth of every mode of consciousness because, as the course of the Phenomenology showed, it is only in absolute knowing that the separation of the Object from the Certainty of itself has completely dissolved itself: Truth is now equated with Certainty and this Certainty with Truth (etc, etc) (49).”
[xvii] One may wish to compare: “The kingdom of God [i.e. God Himself] is [now, not will be] within you.” This seems to indicate that God is the same as your inner pure Certainty of Self, which only needs to be “quickened,” purified or, in Hegel’s phrase, “raised to the level of Truth.”
[xviii] Science of Logic 824.
[xix] Between Kant and Hegel 283.
[xx] See R. Winfield’s essay “On Individuality” in Freedom and Modernity.
[xxi] Consider the logic behind the Bible verses: “I [Christ or God] am in you, and you are in Me.” If so then since Person A is in Christ, and Christ is in B (or oneself), then Person A is also in Person B! In fact all Persons, the whole human Race, is within each and every Person! Hence, all selves are in my pure all-gemeine (God)-Self.
[xxii] Cf., “Self-consciousness exists in and for itself when, and by the fact that, it so exists for another […]” (PS 111).
[xxiii] See Philosophy of Religion III 25, and Philosophy of History 321.
[xxiv] In fact, whether anyone knows it or not, this is essentially the standpoint of everyone! That is, of every “natural man or self,” i.e., who does not acknowledge a power or being (or universal) higher than him/herself (of course, this is too simplistic, since to be involved in civilization and culture at all is to be ongoingly involved in a process of education, of subordinating one’s particular will to the (or a) Universal (which results in, or rather is, the GOOD; see Essay 4).
[xxv] There he says e.g. that philosophical knowledge of the eternal is superior to clairvoyant knowledge of the temporal (112).