Chapter 12: No God but Only Godliness
This was the question with which the rabbi of Kotzk surprised a number of learned men who happened to be visiting him.
They laughed at him, “What a thing to ask! Is not the whole world full of his glory?”
Then he answered his own question: “God dwells wherever man lets him in.”
There is no dwelling outside somewhere. Whenever you allow yourself, you open up to existence, whenever you allow the wind and the rain and the sun to reach to your innermost core, suddenly there is God, godliness. Suddenly you are overwhelmed by something bigger than you, by something which is oceanic. You start disappearing into it like a dewdrop.
The moment we say, “God is a person,” then we start praying, praising. That is a kind of bribery. That is a kind of buttressing his ego. If God is a person he must have an ego. Then praise him and he will be happy with you, and you will be rewarded either here or hereafter. The moment we think of God as a person we start searching for him not in the world but somewhere far away in heaven, and we miss the whole point. God is now-here, God is nowhere else.
There is a tale that a man inspired by God once went out from the creaturely realms into the vast waste. There he wandered til he came to the Gates of Mystery. He knocked. From within came the cry, “What do you want here?”
He said, “I have proclaimed your praise in the ears of mortals, but they are deaf to me, so I come to you that you yourself may hear me and reply.”
“Turn back!” came the cry from within. “Here is no ear for you. I have sunk my hearing in the deafness of mortals.”
God is in the stones, God is in the waters, God is in the animals, God is in the birds, God is in people, in sinners, in saints. God is equivalent to isness. Now, is isness he or she? The question will be utterly meaningless.
So don’t be worried whether God is he or she. Rather, look within yourself and find the place where he and she both disappear. And that will be the beginning of your understanding of reality, of what it is.
This thing cannot be decided by argumentation. It is not a metaphysical question, it is something existential. If you can find something within yourself which is neither masculine nor feminine, then you will know that there is something in existence which is neither, which is beyond both. And that beyondness is godliness.
The second question: