by Michael Garfield, Globalish
The God who created this universe, if it WAS created by God, was quite clearly a maniac. Utter maniac. Totally selfish. We have to spend our life on our knees thanking him? What kind of God would do that? – Stephen Fry
Historically, the mythic God of Abrahamic faiths appears to have developed at the same time as what we now call the ego. Our idea of transcendental power started in a storm – the frightening power and intensity of weather – and in natural fertility – the mystery of reproduction.
But as we began to organize our tribes and settle down to work the land, the ancient gods of sky and earth descended into human form as mythic hero god-kings (think of Arthur and Amenhotep, invested with divine authority as interface between the great unknown and human world).
Most of us then were still defined entirely by kinship and responsibility to one another in our work. The self that, these days, goes to therapy or instagrams its dinner did not exist.
We all found definition in relationship to god-as-man; our cultures each had room enough for only one sovereign self. His will was law, the law his will.
It’s no surprise that now, with centuries between our world and theirs, the mythic God of pre-modernity seems like a psychopath. You’d have to be, to wrestle power from pantheons and gather all the world into one name, “No other gods before me.”
But this is what we all must do at roughly three years old, when we each learn to say “no” to our parents…and again as young adults when we discover how to author our own values, independently of what our culture taught us.
Think of how “authority” and “author” are related. The sovereign, who reigns all from above, is, like a head deciding from its perch above the shoulders, the one who tells the story. Our records from those ancient times recount the life and death of Pharaoh, not the common people.
Now, everyone’s a blogger – but we still have authorities who write our laws, and the greater story in which each of us assumes innate sovereignty is still unfinished.
Modern egos live halfway between the primates huddling in fear of lightning and the age of übermenschen living in enlightened anarchy, transparent to the inner light of true and unconditional authority.
Wherever power lives, there lives the story – by dividing our experience into “those who lead” and “those who follow,” we create the movement of a narrative in time. That movement ceases when we notice that the story happens automatically, and thus its characters all live within us as the products of our minds.
So politicians naturally object to anarchy just like the Pope objects to Protestants and each of us at some point struggles to surrender to the deeper Self in which this all resides.
Replacing God with ego is a minor revolution – just a shuffling of boundaries, not the real transcendence of them. We’re still left with stories in which the tragic hero dies.
But there’s a question which, by asking it, we move beyond the tragedy completely. Who’s aware of the story?