THINKING AND DESTINY
Harold W. Percival
GODS AND THEIR RELIGIONS
The human qualities of a God. The knowledge of a God. His objects and interests. Relations of a God. The moral code. Flattery. How Gods lose their power. What a God can do for his worshippers; what he cannot do. After death. Unbelievers. Prayer.
The qualities of a God are entirely human. He has no qualities which a human has not. His disposition is human. His powers may be superhuman, because they are an accumulation of the powers given by many worshippers and because he has the power of elemental nature in so far as it makes up his body. A God has no health or disease and no bodily pains. He feels pleasure or distress from the manner in which his worshippers, other human beings and other Gods, treat him. He desires pleasure from the display and consequent recognition of the qualities and powers with which he is endowed. Some Gods are pitiless, revengeful, jealous and are pleased when their people successfully demonstrate these qualities. None of them is entirely just, righteous or loving, or is perfect, almighty or the ultimate Good. None of them has foresight, to any greater extent than the human beings have who worship him. None of them is limitless in time, though some have lived through thousands of years under slightly different names as the Gods of different peoples. In his belief and in his declarations each God is sincere. None of them has knowledge or knows that he is ignorant. Each believes that he has supreme power, when such is credited to him by his worshippers.
The objects, interests and purposes of a God are human affairs. He takes the conditions of the earth as he finds them. He does not create new earths, new continents, new races. He leaves this to man, whose originality and imagination are greater than that of any God. A God is thus interested in human affairs for the purpose of increasing the numbers of his worshippers and their enthusiasm and to obtain devotion in working for his power and glory.
Gods have relations with Intelligences, with other Gods, with nature and with men. A God derives his mental properties from a multitude of doers, a part of whose educational needs is filled by the existence of this composite entity. Any Intelligence is immeasurably superior to the most powerful of the Gods that have been or ever can be. There are many Intelligences having relations with a God. The bond is the Light of the Intelligence sent out by the human beings in their thoughts of worship that support the God, as the money of many small depositors constitute the assets and power of a large bank. The Intelligences guide the God in certain instances. They do not create a God, men do that. They do not give him his character, men do that. They do not shorten or prolong his life, men do that.
Governing Triune Selves use him in exteriorizing thoughts and carrying out destiny as determined by those to whom it comes. They empower or hinder a God for a special purpose. So one dynastic and religious God may be assisted in overcoming another, or a warlike God, ready to consume whole nations, may be restricted in the conquest made by his people. A God is allowed to go and assisted to go as far as the destiny of those affected permits. Triune Selves see to it that the moral code, which every system of worship has, does not go against the needs of the people, and that it contains something that will aid in the education of doers. The Triune Selves do not give it, nor does the God give it; men give it. The God does not particularly care about the moral code. The Triune Selves are interested in the education of the doers, which is not only immaterial to but is opposed by the God, as it will take them away from him. He does not know of Triune Selves or of Intelligences. All he feels in this regard is that he is sometimes checked, and then he fears.
The relations of Gods of religions to other Gods comprise those with pure elemental gods and those with Gods of other religions and those of Gods which are not Gods of religions. Human beings do not know of and do not come in contact with the gods of the four elements. These gods are not manifest to the human. If human beings worship a fire God or a water God it is a God created and supported by their thought, not a pure elemental. The Gods which human beings worship are in contact with the elemental gods because, though they do not perceive it, their Gods are in the elements. The elements are their setting. They have their being in the elements and so are in contact with the elemental gods. The elements are necessary to the Gods of religions. Without them these could not exist. But the elemental gods are not manifested to the Gods of religions, though they support them. The relation of the God of a religion to the pure elemental gods is like that of an animal to air or of a fish to water. All the Gods of religions are in the Great Earth Spirit, that is, in the elemental of the sphere of earth; but they are not in direct contact with it. They reach it and are affected by it through the elementals of the light, the life, the form or the physical worlds. The Gods of the religions of historical times, however, were or are in direct contact with the Earth Spirit only, that is, with the elemental of the physical human world, or indirectly with it through elementals of the four planes of the physical world. Because of their connection with purely elemental gods the Gods of religions are enabled to produce physical phenomena like lightning, storms, floods and earthquakes, good harvests and famines, possessions and poverty, and otherwise to show favor or disfavor to humans. Inasmuch as the worshippers connect their God with nature, they worship him as an extraneous being, and so engage in common prayer and worship.
The relations with the Gods of other religions are friendly or hostile according to the objects which the Gods pursue. The relations are chiefly inimical, since the Gods of religions want the same things from the same people, worship with “body, mind and soul.” The bodies of Gods have in them units which have served as compositor units in human bodies, and other units which have passed as free or as transient units through human bodies. The free and the transient units may pass from the body of one God into the body of another, but the compositor units do not do this, unless the human to whose body they belonged during his life has changed his worship to that of the other God. The same matter may be therefore successively part of the physical make-up of several Gods. From the psychic make-up which comes to them from their worshippers, Gods derive their feeling and power. This changes likewise when the worshippers change from one God to another. Gods are separate. They do not fraternize with one another. The relation between the Gods of religions is a constant, jealous and fierce struggle. Hence comes the general tendency to demand exclusive worship, to reward it and to enforce it. Gods conquer each other only through human beings.
The history of religions shows therefore that the God of nearly every religion demands worship as the Creator of the universe and as its Supreme Ruler, claims for his priests religious and worldly power and wants to be adored in every act of life. Religious persecutions and religious wars are common features of history.
The Gods of religions have also relations with Gods who are not Gods of religions. Among such Gods are dynastic Gods, big family Gods, household Gods, money Gods, field, stream, woodland, water and other little nature Gods. The religious God wants to be at the head of this collection and usually is allowed to be so. Sometimes even that is not enough. Then these lesser gods are also looked at as enemies, and the human beings who recognize them are persecuted and punished.
The relation of the God of a religion to nature exists because the elements of nature compose his body. When a God of a religion is created, the thought of his human creators draws through the manifested out of the unmanifested, the matter that makes up the body of the God. This is the background of elemental matter to which the God is related as long as he exists. The body is not condensed into solid matter, but remains on the planes where it was fashioned. The God is thus always with the unmanifested and with the manifesting elements.
Nature as causal, portal, form and structure elementals of fire, air, water and earth, forms the body of a God and gives him his power. This includes power over these elementals. He can thus produce the phenomena seen as active physical nature. He cannot act in the unmanifested though he draws power from it. But everything from the bursting of volcanoes and of continents to the falling of snow, from the growing of fruits to the blighting of all vegetation, from the birth of animals to their destruction, everything that makes the conditions of human existence, a God may produce because of his relation to nature. There are no bounds to what he may do with nature, as nature; but he is subject to two limitations. He is limited by the thoughts of human beings and by the plans of the Intelligences and the Triune Selves who marshal the exteriorization of these thoughts. He cannot do what would be against the destiny of the people affected. Within these two limitations he may act arbitrarily in rewarding and in punishing. He has little leeway. His great power is one which he must exercise according to law within a narrow range.
The relations of a God to men are in part shown by their religion. The relations are often different from what they are supposed to be. A God is created by the thinking of men. He is a thought, differing from other thoughts in that a God-thought is one to which many persons contribute; in that a God-thought is a living being superior to any one of its creators, which an ordinary thought is not; in that a God-thought is in constant touch with the unmanifested physical world and can draw on it, which an ordinary thought cannot. It differs, too, in that a God-thought is a being acknowledged by Intelligences to be an established agent between unmanifested nature and men, through which some of their thoughts are exteriorized to them; in that the idea of a God-thought as a help and protection God is established by Intelligences as the central idea in a religious system; and in that a God-thought receives constantly from men feeling-and-desire, the feeling of rightness-and-reason, and the feeling of I-ness-and-selfness.
Men adore, praise, give thanks to their God and worship him with rites, vestments, symbols, feasts, fasts and holy days. They develop a theology, a religious system and institutions for him. By all this worship they build him up from themselves. Some serve him in these ways with heartfelt devotion, some as fanatics with overwrought zeal. The mass find this the easiest worship. People are less sincere in their expression of gratitude, and still less do they worship their God by obedience to his moral precepts where these clash with their self-interest, appetite and lust. Neglect and disobedience of the moral code have been and are the general rule. But the God does not care much about their self-interest and vices, except for the abuse of sex.
This is hated by the Gods of most religions because the Gods want the sex energy to go to the multiplication of their worshippers or into their own glorification. Sex abuse drains the force, which should go out to the God in prayer and praise. But there are some Gods who want to be worshipped by orgies.
A God is not interested in human affairs, social or political, in which he is not named or thought of. He is interested in food because men pray for their daily bread, and in games if they have a religious tinge. He would be interested in a baseball game, a bullfight or a prize fight, if he were thought of or his name were invoked in connection with such sports. Of course he takes an interest in battles, because he is prayed to. Usually the other side has a different God. So even if the prayer be apparently directed to the nominally one Christian God, each side prays to its own Christian God.
In flattery every God revels. There has never been one who did not delight in flattery. In this every God is very human. A God uses every means to get flattery. Deserved praise is not enough; the most extravagant flattery is encouraged. Hymns, prayer and worship abound in flattery.
Men shear their God of his power by the misuse of their sex function, by the worship of another God, by heresy and by sorcery; and by attempts to solve the mystery of God by thinking.
The actions which are possible to or permitted to a God are actually circumscribed in a manner which religions do not at all suggest. His actions are not voluntary; they are controlled by many factors.
No God created the world. No God made man. There have been thousands of Gods in the history of the world, and nearly every one has been credited with the creation of the world and of man. In a few thousand years the Gods of today may be as forgotten as those of a buried continent, and others will be worshipped, and each of them will claim to be the Creator of the world and of man. No God governs the world, no God maintains it. No God sets the stars and the sun, moon and planets in their courses or makes the seasons.
Yet the God of any religion does many things for his worshippers, whom he aids in getting food, clothing, shelter, comforts, possessions and whatever makes life pleasant. The God also burdens them with hardships and trials, and gives them what makes life bitter, hard and desolate. The God does these things not directly, but by means of hosts of the causal, portal, form and structure group elementals, which control the four classes of fire, air, water and earth elementals, the producers of all earthly phenomena.
The God does these things for his worshippers because they in consequence support him, not because they are his children, not because he wants to educate or improve them and not because he is just. He allows and fosters the belief, which he eventually shares, that he is just, kind and loving, as he is told by them that he is, although the belief may be opposed to the facts. He does not give knowledge or conscience, nor does he give science, art or literature. But these are used in his worship and he wants them in his service as much as possible. At times priests have secret knowledge of nature forces and use it in his worship, sometimes theology is finely spun, sometimes art in his service is lofty, but he is not the cause of this.
Not only does a God not give his worshippers enlightenment, but he tries to keep them in ignorance about themselves and about himself. He takes advantage of their ignorance in that respect. So he favors mysteries. Inspiration in a mass of people, enthusiasm, excitement, frenzy, these a God bestows. Theurgy, in the sense of direct and supernatural interference with natural laws or with human affairs, is not among his powers.
He does not appear to men, because he has no solid physical body, and because he has no form in the form world, the life world or the light world, since his worshippers themselves have not developed any. He can only appear in the form of fire, wind, a cloud or similar shapes furnished by elementals.
Sacred monuments, books or writings are not given to men by their Gods. Men provide them, though they may be inspired thereto by their Gods. A God stunts the mental development of his worshippers where it is concerned with an inquiry into his being, but he encourages such development where it is employed in his service.
In the after death states no God can do anything for those who were his worshippers, nor can he harm or even reach those who have failed to worship him. This is as true of Jehovah, Jesus and the Christian Gods as it is of the Hindu Gods and of Allah. Their power is limited to the world on which sun and moon shine. No God can reach a doer except through and as long as it has its physical body. What does follow a man into the states after death is his conception of God and what he felt was his duty. Those who believe in Jesus as the Savior, or in God as their Father enthroned in the heavens amidst his angels, or in some protecting saint, will find the thought they have formed. The thought will be as real as they have made it. So they meet God, Jesus or the saints in their heaven.
Though a God cannot reach his worshippers in their after death states, he marks the breath-form during life, and this mark is by the aia transferred to the new breath-form, so that it will deliver the body to be born to parents following the religion of the God. If the religion of the God has passed away when the re-embodiment comes, the human being comes into that faith which is most like to the religion that has passed.
There are limits set to the power of a God in rewarding or punishing his worshippers. He can bestow, take away or withhold his gifts from them only within the limits set by their destiny, that is, the exteriorization of their thoughts. He does not know the limits as limits, but he feels them. He feels that that to which he is limited is the only possibility of action and he believes that he is acting freely. He cannot despoil an enemy or an enemy of his people unless the destiny of the enemy permits. He cannot bless a worshipper with gifts whose destiny does not permit it.
Materialists, skeptics, unbelievers and atheists nearly all believe in some kind of superhuman power manifesting in external nature. They call this power chance, luck, fate, destiny or nature. So they come back to a God of nature, even if they do not give it a name or praise. This thought is not endowed with feeling, desire and a little intelligence, as is the God of a religion, but it has power. These thoughts of the deniers, the doubters and the indifferent, form some sort of little God which causes elementals to act and so furnishes the gifts of life and takes them away according to the limits set by the law. If there were a human who did not believe in any God, not even in nature or fate, he would still get necessaries, pleasures and troubles. All this would come to him from elementals and not as sent by any God.
In every case what comes to a man is the exteriorization of his thoughts, nothing more, nothing less. But the events can be hastened or retarded within certain limits by a God. The exercise of this limited power appears to those who believe in him and are entirely ignorant of the matter, as omnipotence, shown sometimes as a granting of their prayer, and sometimes as the fearful judgment of heaven.
In the case of an unbeliever, events come in the end as they do to a believer, but many more unpleasant things are likely to happen to the unbeliever before his thought can produce the destiny that the simple faith of a sincere believer can project at once.
A God answers prayer, but not every prayer, especially not every selfish prayer. Indeed his power to answer prayer is circumscribed. He is limited by the destiny of those who pray and by the plans of the Triune Selves who marshal that destiny. Among the prayers which are “answered” many are not answered by the God at all. They never reach him. They are attended to, not by the God, but by elementals building according to the lines engraved by thought on the breath-form. As for prayer for special physical things or for help out of a difficult situation, the God does not and cannot answer it. Prayer for others, for their success, for strength or growth of those one cares for, is another matter. The God does not answer that either, but it seems to be answered, sometimes because it gives encouragement to and makes easier the way of those who are prayed for. It is like saying a kind word to one who is making an effort. The result does not come from God but from the thoughts of those who pray. These have an effect on the thoughts of the one who is prayed for.
Copyright 1974 by The Word Foundation, Inc.