View Full Version : Huxley's conception of god

02-24-2008, 12:57 PM
I find it hard to understand Huxley's conception of god. He is clearly no conventional christian and I'm sure he didn't think of god as a personal, human-like superbeing who physically created the world, answers prayers, zapped the ancient Egyptians, spoke to Moses etc and either punishes or rewards us after death. So what did he mean? The closest I can get is this : 'god' to Huxley is an indefinable yet ever present 'Absolute' out of which all arises, is sustained and into which it returns. This Absolute has no human characteristics, does not answer prayers or know we are here in the way that I know my dog is asleep near me as I write. It is, in essence, a non-grasping love which can only be felt and known when we let go of our will/personality or ego, of our thinking, desiring self. It is the essence of evrything, from a rose or new born child, to a lump of excrement, a spider or flea. After death (I'm thinking of 'Time Must Have A Stop' now) we have only to let go of all desire and attachment to thought, emotion and 3 dimensional existence and embrace this Absolute which will appear to us as a limitless light of love and forgiveness. If we cannot or will not then we shall either be in hell (which is not a place but the frustration of self- willed exile from the light) or return to 3 dimensional Form somehow (i.e reincarnation).

One of the problems I have with this is it does not satisfactorily explain the existence of evil and suffering. If all there is, has been or ever could be is latent within this Absolute (just as, let's say, the plays of Shakespeare or novels of Dickens were latent within them as children) then it cannot be good. At best it is morally ambivalent at worst evil. Ok, so evil is the result of will, which is the denial of the Divine. But why are we born with this will? Why are we full of lust, aggression and sadism to start with? And why is this Absolute SO hidden and SO difficult for us to experience? If the Absolute is pure love then you have dualism of some kind don't you? I mean you have the animal passions versus god...

03-30-2008, 04:15 PM
Huxley was a jyani yogi, and as such he emphasized God in the impersonal form. However, he did not deny the validity of bhakti yoga such as we find often in Christianity and other religions. (Although he has a good critique of the dangers of a naive bhakti devotionalism in a collection called Ends and Means.) If God is capable of creating this whole cosmos, She is certainly capable of assuming personal forms such as Jesus and Krishna and Kali in order to aid individuals in their spiritual progress. I tend to share Huxley's perspective on God, although I recognize it is incomplete. But that is true of any human being’s God concept. Our conceptions of God reflect our temperaments and backgrounds and capacity for understanding.

As to an explanation for evil, I'm not sure there IS any "satisfactory" explanation, at least not that will satisfy everyone who has just experienced some horrible loss. To me, the Christian strategem of simply creating a Devil and blaming all evil on him, is not credible, and amounts to a cop-out which necessitates either denying God's omnipotence or Her omniscience or mercy, or all three. In my understanding of Advaita Vedanta, evil is simply the absence of light. There IS no "evil" in the "positive" or active sense that it exists in Christianity. And to me, this makes sense. Evil exists to that extent to which people become attached to "I-making" and the POV of "I-me-mine" which is the samsaric ignorance into which we are born. Evil is a product of separative thinking. It is a failure to see the Nature of Things, which are One.

As for God, She is not "good" in a Hallmark card way or in a dualistic sense. I can't speak for Huxley here, but I have read a lot of him and of Eastern religious texts, and can speak from that. The goodness of God, like the goodness of ourselves, is something that must be experienced, not conceptualized. If what you are after is a theodical explanation of things like history's various holocausts, I think it will not do to blame God for humanity's viciousness. God is not "out there" manipulating events like some cosmic overlord. God is radically indwelling, involved, and suffering the very "evil" humans lament so much.

Does that mean God does not answer our prayers, then? Does it mean God is merely some cosmic dreamer who cannot wake up? No. Because God is radically omnipresent, God hears all prayers, and "answers" in some way; we may not like the answers we get, but that is our problem. And yes, in the truest sense, God IS responsible for it all. Since all IS God, how else could it be? But God is the alpha and the omega, God sees the whole picture, including the last moments of each of our lives. With our limited and biased perspectives, can we really sum up and say of any event, “This proves God’s evil?” From the standpoint of a doe, the mountain lion killing it is evil. Yet there is a balance in ecosystems that is beautiful. And that little doe gets to be reborn again, as do we. Perhaps what we call “evil” is necessary for our collective evolution. Hopefully, we learn from our mistakes, and, speaking collectively, perhaps we are like an alcoholic, who has to “hit bottom” before we wake up.

You ask why we are born so full of self will and aggression. In Buddhism, the prayer of confession begins, "All my ancient, twisted karma, I now confess." It is simply the build up of karma from innumerable lifetimes. At any rate, that is a satisfactory explanation to me. God has lost Herself in us, as us, and simultaneously thrown us a lifeline in all the Avatars and their teachings: Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, etc. Why? Simply for the joy of Self discovery, again and again, in innumerable forms.