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Avoiding Over-specifying the Transcendent


The MetaSelf model avoids narrowly specifying a transcendent god and in fact leaves open to discussion the possibility that there is nothing "out there" beyond the walls of the room. Such topics are very personal and contentious, but, when they are discussed, the MetaSelf model can serve as a visual aid, an openended spatial framework for explicating the metaphors we use in expressing our different points of view. For the atheist of a scientific bent, that vacant space can serve as a reminder that there are no final, indisputable manmade truths; we are all working with evolving theories and changing contexts. For the mystical or religiously inclined, this same space can be viewed as a symbol of the Mystery that is an aspect of the divine, or as the groundless Emptiness of a non-dual reality. To others of a more literal bent, perhaps, the space above the room could be the heavenly home of a god that cannot really be named or pictured, while the space below the room could be some sort of hell.

By contrast with the unknown, possibly transcendent meaning of the open-ended space outside the room, the various spaces inside can have other more specific spiritual meanings. These are attached to different segments of the front/back z axis of the model and the body as it faces into the world. Thus, an immanent god such as Martin Buber conceives as emerging through dialogue between people would be represented in the MetaSelf model as occupying the part of the z axis stretching between the viewer and the box-frame, like a line of sight or a "heart connection. " A god of reason would be represented by the clear front volume of the box-frame, the location of lucid conscious thought. The god that moves us in the heart and is felt in the energy of the body would be signified by the segment of the z axis that passes through the backboard. The god that stirs within our unconscious and our dreams as a mysterious, sometimes confused potential would be represented by the shadowy space behind the box-frame, which may also be where we experience feelings that arise from our connection to nature or the transcendent Beyond. The walls of the room can symbolize any social system one treats as a sacred community or nation. And, finally, a god of nature (ranging from the local spirit of a small ecosystem, to Gaia on a global scale, to the whole natural universe) would be symbolized by the walls, ceiling and floor that surround us on all sides.

In this interpretation of the z axis, infinite Spirit would be outside the room, "beyond" space and time. Its movement along the axis into the room would be incarnation, while transcendence can be imagined as a movement from the world (inside the room), outward in the opposite direction.