The world is becoming a friendlier place toward those of us who reject the archaic forms of religion that we were raised with. Fewer and fewer people run and hide when they hear words like atheist, agnostic, humanist, contemplative and non-believer. We’re becoming respectable. Many people are taking a fresh look at what it means to cultivate their personal character and, yes, their spiritual or inner life, without a religious backdrop and traditional vocabulary. But, in our haste to toss out the dirty water of archaic forms that do not nourish the heart, some of us tossed out the baby too.
Among our numbers are many who wish to step forward and say that we have an inner life, and that is not based upon a belief in god but upon meditation, yoga, t’ai chi, dance, painting, sculpting and—dare I say it?—god knows what else that draws us into the private expanse of our own psyches where we explore without someone else telling us what we should expect to find within ourselves provided that we search in just the right way. For us, the right way is the way we see fit to search, both within and without.
Atheist assertions that we are god are meant in the truest Jungian sense. God as archetype is the mythology projected by the unconscious mind into the outer world. Jung believed that this projection was to allow us to experience in the outer world what exists in our unconscious. But, sooner or later, we were supposed to “get it,” that is, to understand that what we see in life is a reflection of our inner world where all the attributes of the archetype, in this case god, exist in abundance. That is, godly nature is our nature. If it were not so, we could not even imagine it. As we contemplate the archetype, at some point in the development of our species, we must grasp that we can cultivate godly attributes in our personal character. Naturally, this applies equally to the negative traits.
So, the message really is: we are god, not as metaphor, but as fact. When ancient humans created all-powerful imaginary beings they empowered themselves to some extent by taking much of the fear out of the unknown and unknowable worlds. They made a connection to it through the gods they imagined into existence. They pressed upon their gods and demons all the dark and luminous powers that we imagine our gods and demons to have, even in this modern age when so many still cling to antiquated ideas of good and evil.
But when we look closely at where these powers come from we see that they have their origins in us. We are god is not just a slogan but a truth to linger over. To assert that we are god is to contemplate what we have wrought in our world and to accept that it is time to allow the higher aspects of our nature to ripen. And how we do that is up to us. While evolution was instilling survival instincts in mammals (not to mentions amphibians, et. al.) it was also instilling in us a capacity to seek, recognize and attribute meaning to circumstances and relationships, including our relationship with the phenomenal world whose forces we were not able to apprehend with our bodily senses. Mixing strange and frightening powers like lightning with an aura of mystery gave rise to gods, demons, magic and spells within the primitive mind. And with the rise of such things came the rise of those pretending to have special insight into and power over them—the priestly classes. Nowadays, we call them clergy.
And so those of us who believe that we are god wish with Thomas Paine to make our spiritual home within our own minds. It is here that character is formed and where all divine aspects express themselves. We ask, could the march of evolution have made less accommodation for our adaptation than the crab apple and the common housefly? We think that while evolutionary principles guided the development of outward forms it likewise gave rise to greater intellect and sensibilities concerning our quest for meaning, which takes us into the realms of psychology and mysticism, both of which are paths to self-discovery, proper occupations for animals of higher intellect—like cats and dogs—and humans.