When I was writing my first book on meditation, Inner Journey: Outer Journey, I originally wanted to call it ‘To The Within-God’. I had learned through the practice of meditation, that whatever we mean by God, he / she / it is not to be found ‘out there’. This is what Nietzsche meant when, in 1882, he famously pronounced God dead, and it is what the great mystic and preacher, Meister Eckhart realised centuries earlier when he wrote that ‘God is no thing’. As Jesus said, ‘the Kingdom of Heaven is within you.’
Perhaps, instead of the word ‘God’ we might use Mother Julian of Norwich’s phrase, ‘the ground of our being’ or, following Eastern tradition, the Tao. Ultimately it is not words or names that matter but experience. St Thomas Aquinas was busily engaged on the last and greatest of his many works, the Summa Theologica, when one day at Mass he received such a revelation that he ceased writing. He refused to reveal the content of his vision, saying only that ‘in the light of what I have seen everything I have written is like straw.’ Three months later he died.
In Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials the Professor says to Lara, ‘The stars are alive, child. Did you know that? Everything out there is alive, and there are grand purposes abroad. The universe is full of intentions, you know. Everything happens for a purpose.’ Perhaps all we can acknowledge with certainty is that we are part of something vast and mysterious, and that the best way to explore it is to go within.