The Complaint Discourse of God and Nature

When I was a very tiny child, I had a dream that has stayed with me. I remember it as a dream about outer-space, so that’s what it must have been. I also remember it as a dream about that great distant god who seems to be found pretty much universally. So it was a dream about that eternally roaring “god-stuff” that DH Lawrence talks about in the Plumed Serpent too. But the divine outer-space I dreamed of was neither distant nor angrily roaring, but peaceful and pulsing. It was no black echoing void either but moderately cloudy and fluid. Now I think about it, it was something like blood plasma, or interstitial, seminal, or amniotic fluid.

So I understood from the start what I’d dreamt about but it was like in Juliana Speer’s Gentle Now, Don’t Add to Heartbreak:

We come into the world.
We come into the world and there it is.
The sun is there.
The brown of the river leading to the blue and the brown of the
ocean is there.
Salmon and eels are there moving between the brown and the brown
and the blue.
The green of the land is there.
Elders and youngers are there.
Fighting and possibility and love are there.
And we begin to breathe.
We come into the world and there it is.
We come into the world without and we breathe it in.

What I mean is, it was a dream about my matrix but when one is three, one’s physical, spiritual, religious environment is taken for granted and accepted for what it is.

Still, as I got older, the dream began to perplex me. By now, Lawrence’s “god-stuff” was being moulded for me into the Christian very distant inaccessible god who is only reachable through his son, Jesus. I understood this god as synonymous with the stuff of the vast eons of black intergalactic nothingness that I saw in the night sky. In this form he simultaneously scared and concerned me, and I couldn’t bear to think of him existing abstractly in the farthest reaches of nowhere. But I did wonder how I’d got so mixed-up about his nature in my early dream.

In time, I did resolve the dream – to my own satisfaction at least – through another dreamlike experience. I was smoking the entheogen, salvia divinorum, and shortly found myself alone with neither sense of myself in the physical world, nor concept of myself in the mental. I had no physical body and no mental map of where I’d been or was going because there was no past, present or future. I was utterly sensorially-deprived in a place where all interaction was impossible so I didn’t exist except as a universal lonely, deeply anxious awareness. As the terpenoids dissipated, a sense of interaction returned and I realised myself separate from that anxious awareness except that it had attached itself to me as a suffocating blanketing neediness. But slowly this heavy swathing resolved so that it was a chiffony covering of prickling stars which had overlaid me and thereafter I understood that the stars actually were me – 350,000 nadis lighting the flow of life through me, delivering nutrients to cells, running errands, taking communications back and forth…And then I had the idea that life and individuality are the gift of that universal awareness whose generosity arises from a need to ground itself psychically and materially through the experience of another.

Plato talks of this mixing of divinity with materiality in his Timaeus. His Demiurge – or divine artisan – takes material bodies and folds soul into them, turning over and through, as though making flaky-pastry. But materiality was, to Plato, a degraded thing, and it remains fundamentally different to spirit and essentially inferior to it. But there were those then and others since who have questioned this duality. Amongst them is the seventeenth century philosopher, Baruch Spinoza. To him god and nature are one and the same thing, and he wrote “Deus sive Natura” – God or nature, both dynamic actions, growing and changing, never static. His philosophy tended towards neutral monism where the universe and all that is in it is essentially pure experience. What decides the nature of this experience – i.e. whether it’s about matter or mind, material or spirit – has to do with the patterns arising from its interrelations with itself and subsequently emerging complexity. Mind and matter, body and soul are one but require each other for comfort.

That ubiquitous distant god of our religious myths has been for so long self-sufficiently unto himseIf. He has always been pure and unchanging; always a construction of unassailable strength. Oftentimes, according to myth, he (always he) created the world, sometimes out of a need to assuage loneliness, but then drew back to exist singly as unpolluted divine light. His angels are regularly jealous of human materiality but not him who’s above all that. He’s always been the giver in his relationship with his creation, never the recipient. It was in this capacity that I was taught to understand why Jesus died for humanity – god offered his son as an act of compassion towards humans in respect of our frailty. It never occurred to me before that Jesus’ suffering might be understood in reverse as well – that the myth is possibly also a kind of complaint discourse or, in other words, a means for Deus sive Natura to re-establish its presence in the world at a critical time of possibly dangerous waning influence and consequent ecological and cultural disintegration.

It’s the thing that when anything is around so long that it becomes part of the furniture, it gets taken for granted. But complaining – as a reminder of every individual’s enmeshment in a caring network – serves as a levelling device and as a public reminder of the continued presence in the world of those who require to be attended to. It’s a strategy much used by Ju/’hoansi elderly who don’t do isolated independence but remain always interdependent. They have an unquestioned right to respect, honour and social status by virtue of their belonging within a community and their complaints are a constant reminder that what they have previously given and done establishes this regardless of current individual productivity which might be zero.

Complaining reminds those around that they have a duty of care, even when they don’t feel caring. And, in drawing attention to suffering, it can inspire compassion, given the right worldview. Complaining is to draw one into another’s pain and makes them co-sufferer who must then – because now they hurt too – seek to alleviate or ameliorate the suffering of the complainant.

Christ’s Passion means a great deal to a great deal of people but, whatever, seems always about us: god is on the cross but human failings are in the spotlight. Perhaps this is because we’ve learned to take ourselves too seriously in such a way as has certainly enabled the rise and rise of human spirituality but has cost our materiality and Deus sive Natura dearly because this game of life we play together is essentially zero-sum.

We’ve got to learn to truly listen to complaints, so it seems to me. It’s the only way to level us. And we have to listen to these from the perspective of the other rather than taking it all inside to ghosts inside hollowed-out machine-bodies where it becomes all about us as isolated individuals. Our bodies are pulsing systems which rely on multiple other systems of varying natures. They are dynamics processing huge amounts of information about relationship within divinely enfolded interior and exterior environments. If we don’t listen to the complaints that arise from our bodies, communities, and natural environments, then gains are illusory. They are transitory in any case no matter what we’d like to think. But we ought to avoid human-apotheosis like the plague because reaching a zenith means we’ve already lost everything to Deus sive Natura in this zero-sum game of life.


5 thoughts on “The Complaint Discourse of God and Nature

  1. Lao Tsu – Tao Te Ching

    ~ First there was the one
    ~ Then the one begat the two,
    ~ and the two begat the three,
    and the three begat all else

    ~ God is one – the homogeneous entirety
    ~ God is dual – That homogeneous entirety differentiated into system/matrix
    ~ God is three – The outcome engendered by the union of the one and the two
    And this outcome who is God is begat all else

    ~ We are a part of the undifferentiated entirety (of family)
    ~ we are a part of the differentiated system/matrix ( sense that I am unique) that gives birth to
    ~ the individuated person we are.
    And it is this individuated person we are that is the source of all creative urges in us, all industry, all pro-activity, all productivity, all realization. (The individuated person is a harmony of their individual and their collective identity.)

    ~ First there was perception, an experience of something.
    ~ Then this experience became differentiated from all other experiences in the form of a concept of our experience.
    ~ This concept of our experience then engendered the definition that came to be the meaning and application of this concept.
    And this definition of the concept of our experience is the sum total of our life.

    In the ancient Hebrew religion this idea looks like this:

    ~ God Ruah (the breath of God) is the catalyst acting upon destroyed creation (in fact it broods like an eagle over its young).
    ~ God Elohim gives birth to the world restoration that we know as the Hebrew creation account.
    ~ God YHWH/Yahweh/Jehovah then unfolds in the time and space story of this restored world.
    And that story is everything we have experienced as a species.

    In the Christian religion this idea looks like this:

    ~ The Father, the Will of God.
    ~ The Holy Spirit, the absolutely committed (holy) mentality that is systematically accommodating the Will that is the Father.
    ~ The son, the word/expression of the first two.
    All authority is given to the son to restore lost harmony in the universe.

    If life were a zero sum game, the previous model would then look like this:

    ~ In the beginning there was only dichotomy
    ~ And this dichotomy, which exists as a self-contradiction, was disturbed until it finally- ~ resolved into a state of self-destruction. (A duality is a set of complimentary components that only survive and thrive to the extent that both components do. A duality is not a set, and each of the two components only survive and thrive at the expense of the other, the zero-sum.)
    And as a result of this zero sum game all meaning and application (purpose) for anything became erased.

    {A God who complained to his creation would be the construct of a creation that was in a co-dependent relationship with their God. This would amount to an incestuous spiritual relationship. If God needed his creation to help him run the unfolding of things, that would effectively erase the very idea of God as maker/origin. The creation would be asked to replace the maker in the fulfilling of his responsibilities, on account of him being a bit of a weak bastard.}

    I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian culture in which the view of astrology as an inherently evil deception of Satan prevailed. I have never viewed astrology to be characterized within the Hebrew/Christian sacred texts in such a way, so I have been on a hunt for a view that more accurately reflects those texts. Also, as a person who has long served the psychological needs of people, I have longed for an objective psychological perspective on astrology.

    I have had an issue with many astrologers’ representation of astrology, and yet I have at the same time had a difficult time articulating what my issues were. This conversation about the idea of God has helped me crystallize at least some of my issue.

    If astrology is an aspect of the unfolding universe that requires us to pay close attention to it (because it has complaints about its life) then nothing we can gain from it will serve our interests. Interacting with astrology then will only serve the selfish and exploitive interests of whatever mentality astrology is an expression of.

    Helen, I want a version of astrology that is not so damned needy. I want a version of astrology that characterizes astrology as the maker, and does not shuck his damned responsibilities off onto us. I resent the idea of having to help God help me. I resent the idea of having to help astrology help me. In fact, I cannot accept such a proposition as consistent with my well-being.

    I want an astrology that gives revelation freely, and does not require that I sacrifice my life to it in order for it to serve me. I want an astrology that is gentle and giving and nurturing, even when telling me the hard truths about my life.

    Over the course of my life I have had a great many spiritual revelations, and they have ll been entirely providential. There has never been the slightest sense of exploitation in any f them. And those revelations have worked to transform me into the me that has gotten lost under millennia of civilized suppression of our human species.

    When I can see this kind of astrology I will know I have found what I have been looking for.


    1. Hey John! Nice passion 🙂

      But I haven’t written about a needy god, but a god with needs. I have written about an interdependent divine whose unfolding requires the unfolding of creation and vice versa.To interpret this as talking of an exploitative divine with dependency issues is potentially telling but not necessarily about the divine itself – although if dependency issues arise in creation, then there is an argument that they arise in the divine too.

      But, I wonder, were you made in God’s image? Do you have needs? Why is it so abhorrent to think that the divine might also need caring attention?

      I’m not writing about astrology here so am not labelling it needy. But, even so, astrology is about signs which demonstrate the harmony, sympathy and interlinking of all aspects of the universe through similarities characterised by the nature and movement of the celestial bodies.It demonstrates absolutely the integration of the universe and all its elements.


      1. Helen, you are one of the few people I could even have this conversation with, so first of all, thanks for the work you have put into thinking about these things. It gives me great pleasure and benefit to read your highly developed thoughts.

        To me, the maker, the origin must be, in the same sense that a parent must be, responsible for the wellbeing of his/her relationship with the created. Can God have needs, desires, or something that our human needs and desires are an analog of? Yes, but to have a mutual relationship with those who are inherently dependent upon you, a relationship in which you entrust the well-being of the relationship to your natural dependents, is to me, spiritual, emotional, or physical incest, and is selfishly exploitive.

        I have run across a needy God in every religion and culture and social group I have ever observed. I think it is an anthropomorphic projection of our experience with human relationships upon the archetypal god/maker idea. If god can make us, why would God need us to take responsibility for the well-being of our relationship with him? The two ideas seem contradictory to me. My responsibility should simply be to decide whether or not I want the relationship, not to be the one that builds it.

        If god is the maker, God should not need me to make his/her day. I may well make God’s day in the same way my children often make my day, but God should not place such a burden on me. Such a god is more like a mentality of fear, reactively fixated upon a feared outcome, and imposing on all around to cope with this fear.

        How I connect this issue to astrology is that I see a lot of people reaching for advice from the experts on astrology (and religion and science too for that matter), afraid of what might happen if they do not know enough astrological information relative to their circumstance. They abdicate their own quest for realization to the experts in a way that mirrors a codependent relationship with a needy god.

        I want an astrological truth to come to me, to burst in my mind like a serendipitous revelation, and when I need it most. I do not want to have to stay worried that I mat have missed something and thus my relationships or my endeavors will collapse into unforeseen tragedy. I do not want to have to go through a middle-man to get to enlightenment. I want enlightenment to come to me, and in a providential way.

        I mean, have you not seen a great deal of this kind of nervous (I would call it a co-dependent) mentality in people seeking astrological insight? I ply the information associated with the internal psychological systems of our human being. Yet I would hate for anyone to become dependent upon their connection with my services, and feel like they might meet with disaster if they lost touch with me.

        Yet I know a number of people who offer psychological (and/or spiritual) services to people who clearly want such a relationship with those they serve. I think the term for this kind of person is a personality cult leader. They emotionally cannibalize the very souls who trust them to care for them.

        I think this kind of destructive relationship is constructed on an emotionally needy idea of God. That being said, I can see the notion that God, which is a human construct, is, even so, more than just a construct. It is a construct of something we actually experience. And I can well see the notion that astrology is also not merely a human construct, but a construct of something that we actually experience.

        My experience with the spiritual aspect of our species (the autonomous unconscious mind), is that it is the mentor, the guru, the wise spiritual guide (god in us) that would lead us to a realized life. And it is both providential and ubiquitous.

        And furthermore, I can accept the Hindu notion that the macro reality tied up in the interrelationships of the heavenly bodies is an exact replica of the micro interrelationships tied up in a human life (as above, so below). In fact, I can even accept that if one were to understand everything there was to know about astrological interrelationships one would know everything, just as one would if they could know everything their autonomous unconscious mind had to say.

        What I don’t get is the codependent relationship that people form with such information. They seem to think that it is all up to them to get the right information. My experience with the providential autonomous unconscious mind is that it is constantly all around us (like the stars), and that the messages it is sending us are there for us when we need them.

        And yes, we do need to seek the insight, the messages, embedded in that information, but it is also true that the factor responsible for forming this information must also do its part to bring it to our subjective human attention, and even when we don’t seek it, just because we need it. The factor responsible for astrology, and religion and our capacity to grasp the insight embedded in them, must be providential or we will have to carry the burden of our own destiny, and that burden crushes the life out of a human. We become so weighed down with worry about our destiny that we fail to live it out.

        Forgive me. I’m rambling a bit. I am posting this babbling in my response because I want you to see my thought process. Maybe it will help you get more of a sense of where I am at with respect to our common interests.


      2. Cool John – it’s nice to think that my blog gives you an opportunity to explore ideas in a new way, thanks for that 🙂

        There’s a lot here but I think it comes down to the nature of God or the divine which I don’t feel we agree on. Your God, so it appears to me, is a personal god with the the responsibilities of a father in a certain human social environment. My idea of the divine is contrastingly pantheistic. I have much sympathy with the Stoics who, as Cicero said, saw the universe as god whilst, simultaneously, this divine transcended it to be its guiding principle. I don’t see this divine universe in moral terms because those require context. Instead all arises from efforts of self-preservation and determinacy, and in this the individual seeks relationship with universal elements which are the divine because that’s all there is. This seeking of relationship is the study of signs – and astrology is a small part of that. The signs are offered up but one still has to engage with them so I guess I think that you’re expecting too much of astrology in your desire to have it come and make its pitch. It won’t – if you’re interested, you must engage.

        With this, I think it was Maimonides who said that revelation – of the sort gifted to Paul on the road to Damascus – is the smallest part of conversation with the divine. The rest is preparation.

        Regarding providence and an interventional god, well my monistic view doesn’t really allow for that. Serendipity is part of this universe but, rather than seeing this in terms of happy accidents, I think it more about the capacity to perceive significant links between things.

        I guess all this speaks to me of integration and interdependence rather than co-dependency. This, it seems to me, is a pathology of our time.


      3. Helen, in the field of psychology, I have developed an approach to therapy that gets its cues about where to go from the autonomous unconscious mind. This is an impressively personal approach to analysis, from the patient’s point of view. The therapist cannot help but bring a life full of expectations and hidden (or not so hidden) agendas to the therapy session, yet the approach I developed ( I call it the Conductive Reasoning Approach to Analysis) serves as a natural inhibitor of those expectations and agendas coming to be imposed on the one being served.

        The take away from an experience of this sort of interaction with one’s own unconscious mind is that our unconscious mind is amazingly providential. And that we do not know this is because our species at one point turned to the fear-driven ego and away from its unconscious mind. And that is where so much human dysfunction comes from, the disharmony between the unconscious mind and the conscious mind. We no longer live out what is our natural lives. We are destructively driven by our ego to be highly suppressive of much that is natural and necessary in us.

        Be that as it may, I too see the value of the impersonal God. It is the embrace of the oneness of, the embrace of the idea that we are a part of one homogeneous whole. Yet this idea of oneness cannot be understood by us and utilized in any meaningful way without the interjection of the dualism of God and us, or the universal system and us if you prefer. Duality is all about system. System gives birth to use and usefulness.

        To me, there is not a natural competition between the impersonal and the personal God. The impersonal God is the un-individuated child feeling safe and comfortable in his/her mother’s arms, not yet needing to know who he/she is. The personal God is a natural development of the impersonal God. If one receives enough nurturing from their impersonal connection with God, one naturally wants to develop a personal, individuated connection with God (or the universal system).

        And the cost of developing a personal God is our foreskin (the fear-driven dominance of the ego over our drive to be spiritually, emotionally, and physically productive). In the ancient Vedic stories there is an account of the war over who will control the production of Ambrosia-Amrta (the food of the Gods, enlightenment).

        The Asuras (our fear-driven ego) contend with the Devas (our unconscious mind) over who will get control of the process of becoming enlightened (symbolized as churning of the ocean of milk). The churning of the ocean of milk is a symbolic expression of the processing of religious ideas and rituals in order to get insight useful to us from it. If our fear-driven ego gets control of our interaction with our religious ideas the entire universe (our life) will be destroyed. If the autonomous unconscious mind gets control of our interaction with our religious ideas (via the intuitive work of decoding the symbolism embedded in those religious ideas and rituals), then life is abundant.

        The outcome of this conflict is that our unconscious mind must generate an archetype of the forgiving God, Siva (who must swallow the poison the Asuras have covertly sent to the Devas, in order to keep us alive). And his consort, Parvati, (the symbol of the love motivating him) must be the thing that keeps the act of sacrificial forgiveness from destroying Siva. She chokes him at the neck, thus keeping it from being digested. When one forgives another, if it is done out of expediency rather than love for the one forgiven, the one forgiving becomes embittered, and their act of forgiveness dies within them. The result of this archetype of a personal and forgiving god is that one’e ego is liberated from the fear of judgment (the poison) that drives it to dominate our lives.

        The bottom line in this story is that we all process information, whether it is from the world of science or religion or astrology or philosophy or psychology. Yet it does not generate the insight we can use if it does not involve our unconscious mind sending up to consciousness archetypes that restore our connection to the unconscious mind.

        If we remain afraid of the unconscious mind, we either try to suppress it or we try to control it with our endless formulas. These formulas are the product of our fear-driven ego and yield only destruction.

        A friend of mine once coined the maxim; The god who cannot find you is not worth looking for. I love this maxim, yet I am aware that a part of this seeking God is the desire God generates within us to seek him. So, to me we do need to seek, but we also need to see God finding us. We do need an impersonal connection with the universe/god, yet we also need a personal one.

        The providential unconscious mind is not a new idea with me. I just took this idea and have run with it in the development of the Conductive Reasoning Approach to Analysis. One thing becomes clear if one does a lot of dream work, the unconscious mind is far more active in guiding us and communicating with us that most humans know, and like God, it awaits for a more personal connection.

        When we are young we embrace the unconscious mind in an un-individuated way (we don’t decode the symbols embedded in the emergent contents). We luxuriate in the fantasy, the imagination emerging unhindered from our unconscious mind. But when we grow to adulthood, we were meant to establish a useful connection with the unconscious mind, and the thing that keeps us from doing that is our species’ turn away from the unconscious mind toward the serpent, the naturally subtle, and now fear-driven ego.

        Yes, the biblical story of the fall of man from paradise is all about this development in our species, our lost connection with our providential unconscious mind, and the destruction that currently attends our species. And the takeaway from this myth is that what our species’ needs is restored harmony with our providential unconscious self, not more formulas with which we can control the contents emerging from our scary unconscious mind.

        And yes, our unconscious mind, like God can be quite dangerous to us, yet even this danger is really an overture of providence, in as much as that which is damaged by the dangerous unconscious mind is our artificial. Ego-constructed lives.


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