This came up in another forum and I thought it worth sharing here, though I’ve covered it before. It is edited for context.
Although not everyone recognizes this, on observation, we can recognize a profound intelligence behind all the complexity of the world. The very fact that it’s knowable, that it has consistent laws, and even that it exists and didn’t fall apart (even if seen to be an illusion) supports this. The precision required for the universe to be sustained is astonishing in its exactness. A slight change in fundamental numbers and the universe would never even have formed.
We might think that intelligent people don’t believe in God but the history of science shows otherwise. Most of our greatest scientists felt God in some way existed. This includes Einstein, Planck, Kelvin, Mendel, Faraday, Newton, Descartes, Kepler, Copernicus, and so on.
Let’s review some context to understand the subject better. By God, I don’t mean some concept of a guy lording over us. I mean something far more subtle and profound.
Broadly, God can be experienced in 2 primary modes. One is the impersonal where God is seen as divine principles and underlying intelligence. This is the outlook intellectuals are more inclined to. The other is much less understood in the west, the personal. The personal is the path of the heart. In the personal, God is experienced as personified, with senses. The appearance of that form varies by person, culture, and so on but it is those same principles embodied. This is the path of the devotee and is an equally valid means of relating. Each mode has its advantages; the intellect and the heart.
The direct experience of God, in form or formless, is one of the most profound experiences possible. It is far greater than the imagination is capable of. It also typically comes with comprehensive knowing, understanding, or deep satisfaction and relief.
Similarly with the world; we can see the world as functioning from mechanical laws a la science or as personified, where everything that happens is being done by Deva’s or light beings. Be it the wind, the growth of plants, or any other function of nature, all of it has teams of beings who work for its unfoldment, including for each of us. This is also true of man-made processes like setting cement or data transfer. In some way or other, we have to work with the principles to get the desired result.
While the historical record is full of descriptions of the personal, we see them largely as mythical fairy stories these days. We don’t realize it’s because we’ve largely lost the skill of refined perception. Those that do see some of that stuff rarely talk about it openly. Although the majority claim to believe in angels, they may lock you up if you actually see them. 😉
Each mode has its advantages. The world is simpler in impersonal mode but there are times when being able to communicate with the doers, such as the wind, can be handy. Like smoothing out a bumpy plane ride. And it’s remarkable to recognize how life-filled the world is. And that you always have support available. Further, we can be more effective when we learn to work with natural laws. This is much easier when they are obvious to our senses. (and yeah, your cat may be seeing things you don’t)
Another key point is that it’s not necessary to believe any of this. But it is useful to be open to it. Refined perception will not develop easily if we reject it. It is very sensitive to our emotional state as energy and emotions function on the same level.
To put this in context, one of the side effects of spiritual practice is the refinement of perception. This is closely linked to the awakening of the heart. There are chemicals the body produces from samadhi and good foods that support this. (see soma and ojas)
This speeds up after Self Realization but is more dependent on sattva (clear* flow) than awakening is. The balance of sattva and Atman (Self or spirit) development is why we have unawake people with refined perception and awake people without. When refined perception blossoms, the mechanisms of the world and creation itself become progressively more obvious. This leads to a stage of development known as God Consciousness (GC) or Celestial consciousness. (as in awareness and direct experience of)
It’s notable that in our western culture, this is flowering more slowly than historically. Some are having the Unity switch with only a little heart opening. This is probably related to group consciousness and our individual comfort with such things. Also with Sattva development, as above. Each of us comes in with different previously developed Atman and sattva.
GC culminates post-Unity in God Realization. This is a stage of Unity where we choose our long-term relationship with God. We may come to it through the impersonal, personal, or both.
Big subject. I hope that clarifies a bit.
* by clear, here I mean smooth, unobstructed flow. Sattva is golden in colour but is often first felt. Some see this as glowing around life. More deeply as flowing through all form.