Monday, November 17, 2008

Definition of god

One of my friends wrote me a wonderful definition of a god from Joseph Campbel's Historical Atlas of World Mythology :

"Unsentimentally defined, a god is an envisioned name and form metaphysical [he's inverted his noun and adjective here, part of his semi-pretentious style] of a transpersonal state of consciousness, conceived as functioning in relation to human values locally recognized, whether actively (creating, supporting negating) or at rest (in contemplation). Since every god is thus in name and form culturally specific, none may properly claim exclusive identity with whatever may be beyond name and form,as the transcendent ground of all being and beings; i.e. as that which i the orient is referred to as beyond and without forms, hence the 'void' (sunya), or as Brahman--for which we have in our Western tongues, unfortunately, no word but 'God,' which has led, not only to a general idolatry of our own historically conditioned god as 'God Eternal,' but also to an equally improper notion of the gods of other mythologies as in the same way idolized: which they are not. Even the Bushmen recognize the temporally relevant (metaphorical) nature of their divinities." p. xvi

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