Notions of God don’t go down very well in scientific circles. Paul Davies has written that science has looked out to the edges of the universe to deep space, into deep time — to the beginning of the universe, and into deep structure — to the basic level of the quantum. And science is proud to proclaim that it has found no need or place for God. The universe works perfectly well without any divine agent.

Science has nicely got rid of God, — thank you very much. But so far they have ignored an equally important fourth area of study — that of the mind. I don’t think any great spiritual teacher ever said God would be found out there at the edge of the universe. If God is to be found anywhere it is deep within ourselves, at the core of our own being ….

There are fascinating parallels between consciousness and light. Even in everyday language we speak of the Inner Light, the light of consciousness. St. John spoke of the light which lighteth every mind that came into the world. Just as consciousness is a big anomaly for the current scientific paradigm, so is light.

Light moves at the same speed relative to all observers. No matter how fast you go, light will overtake you and go 186,000 miles/sec faster. Even if you accelerated yourself to 185,999 miles/sec, it would go 186,000 miles/sec faster, not 1 mile/sec faster. It was this anomaly that led Einstein to his famous Special Theory of Relativity.

This predicts that the closer you approach the speed of light, the slower your clocks run, and the shorter your measurements of length. This goes completely against common sense, but it turns out that in this instance it is commonsense that is wrong. Atomic clocks have been flown around the world, and they do indeed slow down by the predicted amount.

You have probably heard that nothing can ever travel at the speed of light. The reason is that mass increases with speed, and at the speed of light an object’s mass would have become infinite, and it would take more than all the energy in the universe to accelerate the object up to light speed.

But light travels at the speed of light, by definition, and the reason it can is that it always has zero mass. Einstein’s equations predict that from light’s own point of view time has stopped, and distance has shrunk to zero. So all light knows is now. It doesn’t exist in time and space as we do. Light, somehow, lies beyond the world of space, time, and matter. It is not part of the material world.

The same could be said of consciousness. It seems to have no mass. And according to the mystics, who have delved into the nature of their own consciousness, time and space disappear when you get down to the deepest levels of consciousness. Saint Augustine said, “He that knows the truth, knows what this light is and that it is eternity”. And Emerson said, “time and space are but the physiological colors the eye makes, the soul is light”.

So I think there is more to this than verbal parallels. It seems to me that light is the first level of manifestation both in the physical realm and the realm of mind.

Immediately the phrase “God is Light” comes to the mind. And I think there may be more to this than we at first suppose. Mystics the world over have repeatedly claimed two things. First that the true nature of the self is pure consciousness, the light of consciousness. And second that the self is also identical with God.

Of course, saying that “I am God” doesn’t go down well in most cultures. When the German mystic Meister Eckhart said “I am God” or “I and God are One,” the Vatican told him to recant. You can say you have the experience of God but not that you are God. But when the mystic says “I am God”, they are not talking of the individual self, not the ego which identifies itself with things like “I am Peter Russell, I am British, I am male, I think these thoughts, etc., etc.”.

What they are really saying is that the pure self, the most fundamental level of our being, is God. In other words, God is consciousness — not consciousness of any particular thing, but the very faculty of consciousness that is present in all things. As Ramana Maharshi said, “I Am is the name of God. God is none other than the self”. Or, in the words of a Sufi mystic, “When thou knowest thine own existence, then thou knowest God”.

This is where we end up once we start investigating the true nature of consciousness. Although science doesn’t realize it, once it embarks upon this exploration and begins to delve into deep mind, it is going to find itself confronting the one thing it has avoided and denied for so long — the nature of God.

From: Science, Consciousness (and dare I say it?) God by Peter Russell, Albuquerque, 1999.

The Nature of God

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