I often wonder what I would do if I was God, or speculate about what the motivations of God could possibly be.
So you’ve got this all-powerful being. It raises an awful question – what would be the point of doing anything? I often feel that if you haven’t answered this question, you have not actually yet justified your continual choice not to commit suicide. So it’s important! To me anyway.
If you can do anything, you have no challenges to overcome. You have no motivation to fight against your existing restrictions, because actually you don’t have any!
It’s true that you could live for sensual beauty, but personally I think that would get old very fast. Ultimately the lure of aesthetics fades away before a sentient being’s need for fulfillment by accomplishment. And then there’s ethics, I suppose – God could just try to make the absolute perfect existence for all his creations. (Obviously this is not what God does – or is it?…) I think that, too, would basically be comparable to living for beauty, and would ultimately not be enough.
Thinking it through, as God I would come to eventually realize that I need challenge. Perhaps I might be all-powerful, but how sure am I of my own willpower? If I placed limitations on myself, would I have the character to rise to the challenge?
So you can see that this is actually starting to sound like many of the major world religions. Jesus, for example – what if Jesus was God’s attempt to test his own character? Could God stand enduring a human existence? Could he go to the wall?
Of course it would be cheating if God denied himself power, but was perfectly confident that after his death or whatever he would just merge back with himself and his infinite power. So in order to truly test himself, God would need to section off a portion of his consciousness and deny it even the awareness that it was actually a fragment of God. And actually this sounds more and more like Jesus!
But maybe, in this thought experiment/ramble, it’s not just Jesus. Maybe every single conscious being could be God deflected into this horrible material reality. Maybe God is testing himself under many different circumstances, and seeing how he rises to the occasion of life’s challenges in different levels of difficulty and different types of challenges. Perhaps he sets himself different goals as a mosquito than he does as a human – and of course gives his incarnations no frigging idea of what their life’s purpose really is, but just sort of rolls the dice to see if they figure it out with limited knowledge.
How would God judge himself? Potentially there’s a few ways. God could judge whether his actions were ethical. This is the classic test; basically good people would win. This is what, spiritually speaking, we would call the Right-Hand Path.
God could also judge whether people lived beautiful lives. Did they have the soul-stirrings of an artist, and follow their heart to releasing the beauty of God’s patterns into the world? Or just live beautifully by committing to something fully, like a fanatic? Or living for beauty like a person who dedicates themselves to seeing and experiencing beautiful things, like sightseeing or romance? I’m not sure how to categorize this; it could possibly be called part of the Left-Hand Path.
But then I have a different theory, a different suspicion, about what this hypothetical God would actually most respect. It’s pretty dark and sinister, and if you know the etymology of sinister then I think you can guess what’s coming.
What if what God most respected was not the attempts to use your time on Earth for what feels good (ethics in the case of emotions, pleasure and beauty in the case of the senses)?
What if what God most favored (as pieces of himself) was the beings who strove as hard as possible to re-climb the ladder back up to having the power of God?
Obviously you can’t achieve limitless power in a single lifetime – but with lifespan-extending biotechnology it actually may become possible. It’s possible that a person could help work on the technological Singularity and eventually gain total mastery over the fabric of matter itself.
Until we get that far, though, a person dedicated to attaining the power of God would take the form of someone utterly, fanatically dedicated to continually, insatiably increasing their personal share of the world’s power.
God’s challenge to himself as an animal, obviously, could probably be little other than to survive and reproduce, to try as hard to do these things as possible. So the power-drive in humans has some commonalities (material supremacy) with God’s only possible life purpose as an animal, unless even animals are supposed to appreciate the finer things in life or something.
So perhaps the challenge of life is not to seek goodness or beauty. Perhaps life’s all-important test is to accumulate endlessly-expanding power. This, I think, would definitely be categorized spiritually as a version, if not the definition, of the Left-Hand Path. The very thought of someone who chooses such a pursuit, placing them beyond the love or familiarity of any other human being, is so horrifying and isolating to imagine that I am almost certain it must be the true interpretation of the Left-Hand Path, entering a realm far more sinister and spiritual than typical Satanist hedonism.
Of course we don’t actually need the hypothetical God to ask ourselves these questions. Rather than fragments of God working our way back up to an existing God, maybe we could just live as though life is a challenge to be infinitely ethical, infinitely beautiful, infinitely powerful, or possibly a mixture (have your cake and eat it too!) or something else completely, to become godlike in these ways in a mundane material world with no divine backdrop.
I suspect that when a person lives this way, with such powerful purpose, their otherwise-dissipating soul crystallizes into a form that can endure beyond the barrier of bodily death. It may be that truly using your life is the price of immortality.
But I could be wrong.
Edit: After writing and reflecting on this, I noticed a commonality between the three paths which really gets to the heart of what I was trying to say. No matter which path you take, what all three of them require is SELF-MASTERY: truly dedicating yourself to something fully, to the point that you spend every second of your life on it, or on something required to do it. If you live for ethics, you don’t eat for the sake of eating, you eat so you can survive so that you can do good works, etc. This self-mastery requires a tremendous amount of willpower, constant self-awareness and constant self-control, in the service of some great overriding passion. Whether right-handed or left-handed, this is the common element in the “way to God.”