The New Mindscape
Published in

The New Mindscape

Imagine God

What happens?

The New Mindscape #A3–5

two chicks in a bowl

When you see the image of thousands of baby chicks, innocently chirping faint cries of distress, calling for their mother as they are shunted on the machine to their death, your heart jumps for them. Your heart can’t stop gasping in a cry of pain and compassion.

You don’t feel Sartre’s nausea at the intrinsic meaninglessness of the chicks. You want to cry because it seems like humans have made the chicks’ lives meaningless!

Humans have a unique capacity: we can empathize with others, we can feel for others — not only for other humans but even for baby chicks!

We can put ourselves in their shoes, imagine ourselves being them, and feel for them.

The pain and suffering of others becomes your own pain, and the joy of others becomes your own joy. Even though they are physically separate from you, they enter your imagination. They enter your mindscape — in a sense, they become part of you. So you can feel their feelings. A relationship arises between you and them. You imagine them as you and you as them. You imagine yourself on the conveyor belt, and you see the world from their perspective, and you cry for them.

When you do that, your spirit begins to break out of the boundaries of your own body and ego.

Let’s imagine you have a friend, Amanda. When you think of your friend Amanda, Amanda comes into your mindscape. When you see her suffering or when you think of her suffering, you feel some suffering too.

When Amanda stands in your mindscape, when she speaks to you, at that moment you take her position and look at yourself from where she stands. You see yourself from Amanda’s perspective. You may do things to please her, or to avoid angering her. The Amanda you are pleasing may be the Amanda in your mindscape, not the Amanda in her material body, who may be far away, and maybe doesn’t know what you’re thinking or doing, and maybe doesn’t care.

The more you got to know Amanda, the more she stood in your mindscape, the more you could see the world from her perspective, and to see yourself from her perspective.

Your spirit can break out of the bounds of your own self, and look at you from beyond yourself, from the perspective of another person.

We can even imagine beings and dimensions without a material existence and try to see the world from those perspectives, and live as if those beings and dimensions exist. And we can imagine ourselves projected in the future, in an ideal state, and strive to become that ideal projection. Humans are capable, in their mindscape, of projecting themselves into the perspective of other persons and beings, be they real or imaginary. It is partly out of this capacity that human spiritual life grows. We do not always use this capacity, and we are perfectly capable of living only from the perspective of our own bodily comfort, security and material reproduction. But an unexpected experience, an insight, the sight of the cry of suffering or injustice, or of moving self-sacrifice, may jolt us into spiritual questions and reflections.

Think of a person you’ve never met, who is not alive. If you plunge into the writings and stories of Confucius, Confucius will come into your mind, and his scenes and words will fill your mindscape. You’ll start seeing the world from the perspective of Confucius — and you’ll start seeing yourself from his perspective, as if he were talking to you. Or the same if you read and reread Plato’s stories about Socrates, and the words of Socrates, and the scenes of his dialogues fill your mind.

Bust of Socrates. Archaeological Museum of Naples, via .

Socrates and Confucius had greater wisdom, knowledge and understanding than you. The more you relate to them in your mindscape, the more you look at yourself and the world from their perspective, the more you will acquire their wisdom, knowledge and understanding.

Socrates and Confucius saw the world from a higher perspective than almost anyone else. They saw beyond their own petty needs and desires. They saw beyond the needs and perspective of Athens or of the kingdom of Qi. They saw the world from the vantage point of all of humanity, and from the high development of the human body, mind and spirit.

When you let Confucius and Socrates talk to you through their words, stories and writings, you also see the world from the perspective of all of humanity, and from the perspective of highly developed human capacities.

Thus, through relationships with the objects of consciousness in our mindscape, your spirit can expand to ever greater horizons and capacities.

Is there any limit to this potential expansion of the spirit?

Consider the concept of an Omnipotent and Omniscient God.

A God who is all-powerful and all-knowing.

A God who is infinitely loving, merciful and compassionate.

Can you imagine such a God?

No. It’s impossible.

But still, try to imagine such a God:

“All-powerful” means more powerful than the most powerful thing that exists in the world.

“All-knowing” means more knowledgeable than the most knowledgeable mind that exists in the world.

“Infinitely loving” means more loving than the most loving person who exists in the world.

Now, stop getting into a mental debate about whether or not such a God “exists”.

Imagine such a God in your mindscape.

Imagine having a relationship with such a God.

You see the world from the perspective of such a God.

And you see yourself from that perspective.

And you act to be in a loving relationship with such a God.

At one level that’s impossible. You can never imagine such a God, you can never imagine such power, knowledge and love. You can never truly imagine such a relationship. It is beyond human imagination or comprehension.

But at another level, by trying to imagine such a God, your spirit goes farther than anything it has ever previously imagined.

You strive to go beyond anything that you have ever imagined before. You empower an object of consciousness that embodies all perfections.

And in doing so, you expand your horizon farther than you have ever been before. You see the world, and yourself, from the highest vantage point that you could possibly imagine. And each time your spirit goes to that vantage point, it realizes that higher up, there are always infinitely more stars, galaxies and universes.

And by doing that, you see and empower your whole life in a different way.

Man looking at a galaxy

This essay and Medium series are brought to you by the University of Hong Kong’s Curriculum Course , with the support of the research cluster of the .

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David A. Palmer

I’m an anthropologist who’s passionate about exploring different realities. I write about spirituality, religion, and worldmaking.