In the beginning, there was CONSCIOUSNESS, and CONSCIOUSNESS was with GOD, and CONSCIOUSNESS was GOD…then CONSCIOUSNESS became flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.

  • The Gospel of John (Skinner’s Interpretive Version)

Let a Stoic open the resources of man, and tell men they are not leaning willows, but can and must detach themselves; that with the exercise of self-trust, new powers shall appear; that a man is [CONSCIOUSNESS] made flesh, born to shed healing to the nations, that he should be ashamed of our compassion, and that the moment he acts from himself, tossing the laws, the books, idolatries, and customs out of the window, we pity him no more, but thank and revere him, — and that teacher shall restore the life of man to splendor, and make his name dear to all history.

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self Reliance

“So GOD created humans in his own likeness.”

  • Genesis 1:27

Time beguiles human understanding; we do not quite know our place in the universe because we can only contextualize our existence in relative terms. We think about 2,000 years ago, and it seems ancient and distant. Yet, if we estimate that in any given period there was always at least one centenarian somewhere in the world dying at about the same time that another was being born, then the chain of persons connecting the living today to Paul or Jesus could be counted on your fingers and toes or gathered into a small cafe for a conversation.

Only twenty people ago, we could say, there was a man named Paul who was born in the city of Tarsus, just north of the Mediterranean in what is now Türkiye. Paul found himself in a time not dissimilar from ours: born in the realm of a monstrous empire, predicated on obscene violence and cultural, political, economic, and military domination. His was called the Roman Empire. Ours isn’t called what it actually is: the Anglo-American Empire.

Paul likewise found himself born into a corrupted and perverted religion that had at one point built and conquered civilizations with its truth, beauty, and genius before falling into the hands of predators and charlatans.

Like Paul, I was born both a citizen of the Empire and a Pharisee of our time — an American, and a Southern Baptist. I could have been born a Catholic and said all the same. The particular flavor of contemporary Christianity does not alter the substance of the religion’s corruption. Whether the sexual abuse has been against adult women or young children, no corner of the Christian faith has remained untouched by the horrific and scandalous behavior of the brood of vipers who have bruised the heel of leaders who desecrate the name of the Spotless Lamb by calling themselves by his.

Who among our young would possibly want to call themselves Christian? Or darken the door of a church in the 21st Century? Like Emerson, I prefer the silent sanctuary before any preaching more than the pomp and circumstance of the church service, or the hypocritical words of a poseur. The only churches I have entered in nearly 15 have been empty and quiet, museums of faith more than they are living houses of GOD. And so it should be in our time.

Indeed, I find myself more in an attitude of worship amongst the living sanctuary of Nature, cathedral mountains built by GOD’s own handiwork, far more than the paltry stone temples of human construction.

Also like Paul, I have arrived to Spain as an impoverished sojourner on a controversial and politically incorrect mission of peace in a broader imperialistic culture of blood sacrifice that praises warfare and profits from plunder. In fact, Paul most likely landed in Spain near the Roman city of Tarragona, which is a mere 60 kilometers south of where I currently live in Sitges.

Unlike Paul, however I had the fortune of narrowly escaping the legal profession, though it was a close call. Also unlike Paul, my conversion to the truth was a longer road than his to Damascus. Mine entailed making and losing a literal fortune, exiling myself to the end of the earth (Chile), and being awoken to the fiery ever-presence and effervescence of the Spirit of GOD by experiencing psychedelics in wild Nature. The scales covering my eyes were thicker by comparison to his, having been born into the extreme age of electric media.

On the positive side, though, I had the benefit of influences he could have only dreamed of: those divine writers who could count him among their own influences; writers like Kierkegaard, Emerson, Dostoevsky, Jung, Peck, Huxley, Merton, Nouwen, Mumford, Ellul, San Juan de la Cruz, Teresa Avila, Milton, Shakespeare, and so many more.

This fact appears all the more remarkable when we remember our context: we are only “twenty people later”. Yet how many more people there have been! How many more lives who have contributed to the human understanding!

Truly, the human is “consciousness made flesh, born to shed healing to the nations”, made as we were in the likeness of GOD who is and was and ever will be CONSCIOUSNESS.

Here we reach the understanding of GOD revealed to me through my experiences of life, the same GOD I see so readily revealed identically in the ancient scriptures — not only the Jewish and Christian scriptures, but the GOD revealed perennially at all times and in all places to those who have been still enough to know GOD for themselves, call him THE NAMELESS, or ATMAN-BRAHMAN, or ALLAH, or THE ONE.

This infinitude of consciousness, who stretches across the vast expanses of space without limit, and who endures endlessly through all of the changes of that space in time, who is immanent within and simultaneously transcendent beyond all that we know, and is YHWH, all that is — GOD can be contained by no doctrine, nor constrained by any dogma, cannot be known, but is yet all that we know and all that we can possibly know: immortal, invisible, but, at last, ineffable, indescribable.

Emerson poetically describes the simultaneous impossibility of GOD’s description and imperative of GOD’s contemplation in Self Reliance thus:

“What is the aboriginal Self, on which a universal reliance may be grounded? What is the nature and power of that science-baffling star, without parallax, without calculable elements, which shoots a ray of beauty even into trivial and impure actions, if the least mark of independence appear? The inquiry leads us to that source, at once the essence of genius, of virtue, and of life, which we call Spontaneity or Instinct. We denote this primary wisdom as Intuition, whilst all later teachings are tuitions.

In that deep force, the last fact behind which analysis cannot go, all things find their common origin. For, the sense of being which in calm hours rises, we know not how, in the soul, is not diverse from things, from space, from light, from time, from man, but one with them, and proceeds obviously from the same source whence their life and being also proceed.

We first share the life by which things exist, and afterwards see them as appearances in nature, and forget that we have shared their cause. Here is the fountain of action and of thought. Here are the lungs of that inspiration which giveth man wisdom, and which cannot be denied without impiety and atheism.

We lie in the lap of immense intelligence, which makes us receivers of its truth and organs of its activity. When we discern justice, when we discern truth, we do nothing of ourselves, but allow a passage to its beams. If we ask whence this comes, if we seek to pry into the soul that causes, all philosophy is at fault. Its presence or its absence is all we can affirm.”

This intelligence, the preternatural consciousness that permeates the universe: the stars, the planets, the galaxies, the black holes, dark matter, dark energy — permeates us, too.

The Christians call pantheism heresy, while maintaining the omnipresence of GOD.

So I must goad them in their hypocrisy: show me where GOD is not.

There is pattern and melody in the rock and the water as much as there is in the functional complexity of the human eye. Who has seen images of stars exploding, or gazed into the sun and seen something else? Does either microscope or telescope reveal the world mundane and comprehensible, or do they inevitably open our eyes to yet more unknowns, all the way up, and all the way down?

Recently I went hiking with my longtime friend and housemate Gerson, who is from Colombia, in the Cadí-Moixeró Park in northern Catalunya. With the backdrop of snow-tipped mountains, he saw deer in the wild for the first time. It was only the second time I have seen wild deer since I emigrated from the United States in 2008.

Trying to capture them on camera early in the morning, we buried ourselves in the brush, as if hunting. Having jumped several on the walk, I knew we would likely have to wait a while for them to come back to where we were, if they were going to come back at all (they did not, as it turned out — but it didn’t matter).

The spring morning air was still chilly, and we could see our breath as we sat there in absolute stillness. Gradually in the stillness, the sounds of LIFE filled our ears. Some brilliant blooming tree’s white and slightly pinkish flowers had attracted legions of bumblebees buzzing around as they nursed themselves on the blossoms, forming the bass of the forest chorus whose treble would soon be sung by the chirping bright pink-breasted birds that came for the bees. The murmuring wind blew the the pine trees, whose rubbing branches percussed like wild timpani — a harmony none intended, but in which all participated.

In the distance, the deer barked at each other to warn of some threat, and we heard them moving further and further away from us with each measure of the performance.

The pines, the shrubbery, the wild rosemary filled the nostrils with an olfactory symphony no less harmonious, no less complex, and no less constant than the one to which our ears were tuned, or the other seen by our eyes.

As I sat there, I felt myself in the ‘lap of immense intelligence’, undeniably both spectator and performer amidst the infinite beauty that surrounded me, and I thought “certainly there can be no true atheist who sits twenty minutes in Nature’s majesty.”

Indeed, it is Church that produces atheists, and Nature, believers.

Some hard-hearted and uncharitable man barking judgment is bound to turn people away, but only the hard-hearted themselves can be turned off by the serenity into and by which each of us was born into this life. By the half-truths of human language are we severed from the infinitude of experience, but in silence the ligaments and cartilage of the soul reforms our connective tissues with our Mother Earth who bore us in her womb and nurtures us perpetually with the milk of Her own body. All our synthetic foods are but impoverished replicas of what She has already invented.

Materialism is an anti-philosophy of the machine age, the result of a dullness that emerges in the soul that only encounters the dead toys made by profit-seeking human hands and the two-dimensional models made by status-seeking human minds.

The Natural world, by contrast, can only make mystics out of any of us, if we are but briefly still  with her splendor.

If you were to spend a day in the woods and still report that you were principally concerned with the performance of your Instagram posts, or considered the maximization of shareholder value as the chief end of man, then I would hazard a guess that you were looking at your iPhone the whole time.

It is impossible to see yourself as the likeness of GOD if you only expose yourself to the lesser images created by profit-seeking man. The Divine image we are, and were created to be, is hidden by all particular concerns, by all fascinations that are less than the totality, the whole. These parts and particles visible to human sight draw us out and away from ourself, far from the mirror that would almost blind us with Divine Light were we to dare stare into it for but a moment. The praise of others, the misfitting of the self into desired company, the perversion of our inner truth and beauty for the sake of getting something out of it, all these are the idolatries that cause us to “miss the many-splendored thing,” to use Francis Thompson’s words.

As Emerson observes in The Over Soul,

“The simplest person who in his integrity worships God, becomes God; yet for ever and ever the influx of this better and universal self is new and unsearchable. It inspires awe and astonishment. How dear, how soothing to man, arises the idea of God, peopling the lonely place, effacing the scars of our mistakes and disappointments! When we have broken our god of tradition and ceased from our god of rhetoric, then may God fire the heart with his presence. It is the doubling of the heart itself, nay, the infinite enlargement of the heart with a power of growth to a new infinity on every side. It inspires in man an infallible trust.”

Truly wild religion calls us to this trust: free of doctrine, free of dogma, connected in every moment to the experience of GOD within, and of being surrounded by GOD, always immersed in Divinity, submerged in the Providential Presence, without name, without label, without guilt, without shame, requiring no external validation, always self-sufficient in every moment with the calm confidence of our Being and Belonging.

Those would be religious in this wild way must take the leap of faith for themselves across the canyon of doubt, of objectivity, of evidence, and choose to live freely, not by necessity or compulsion, neither by fear nor want. When the leap lands you securely on the other side, there you will truly value and love yourself for who you are, and, in reciprocity, you will learn to value and love others for who they are, too.

Those who take the leap will see how easily harmful habits and behaviors (what the religions call sin) are to cut. Those who take the leap will see how many things are called sin, are not for them sin. And they will see how many things others call virtue are for themselves, not virtue.

If you take the leap, you will learn your own internal law. You will find no other laws compelling to keep but it, and you will find it insurmountably compelling to keep at all times. You will see your body and its needs in new light, and you will be able to distinguish, with time and practice, what is good for it, and what harmful. You will desire for yourself and, without resistance, pursue your best state: physically and emotionally. You will see this pursuit awaken you to the fire of the Divine Spirit within, and you will be drawn to people who are likewise fired by the Spirit in themselves.

If you take the leap, you will still face adversity. Indeed, it is likely you will face more of it. You will not easily conform to the ways and means of society, because you will find them in violation of your internal law — and “for nonconformity, the world whips you with its displeasure.” But you will come to endure the whipping with the joy of knowing you have what those with the whips do not: the sacred integrity of your own mind.

The consciousness which was, at the beginning, GOD, has become flesh in your form, and you can choose to dwell with its embrace in grace and truth.
Go and find it — in the forest, at the seaside, in the riptides and the rivulets, in the stillness of the desert gazing at the numberless stars and the chorus of the jungle alike. But when you find it, you will sense that it is there in those places because you sense that you carry it with you, too; that you are GOD from GOD and LIGHT from LIGHT, as is every part, every particle, every life, every star, without beginning — and without end.

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