Don't depend on death to liberate you from your imperfections. You are exactly the same after death as you were before. Nothing changes; you only give up the body. If you are a thief or a liar or a cheater before death, you don't become an angel merely by dying. If such were possible, then let us all go and jump in the ocean now and become angels at once! Whatever you have made of yourself thus far, so will you be hereafter. And when you reincarnate, you will bring that same nature with you. To change, you have to make the effort. This world is the place to do it. – Paramahansa Yogananda
I have made that effort for many years now. I am not saying that I have made myself into someone that will become the next great teacher. I have made some progress though. In doing so I have come up with The Everything Question so named because those answers touch upon every aspect of the theurgist’s life. Answering the question helps you refine your nature.
"What brings me closer to the divine?" was the orignal Everything Question, but it is misleading because being ‘away’ from the divine is an illusion. We are always in a state of intimacy with everything that is divine.
Perhaps a better question is this: "What helps me become aware of my closeness to the divine?"
The word divine can be nebulous. For that reason I will frame my comments with three of the eighteen definitions found on Dictionary.com.
Proceeding from God or a god: divine laws;
There are divine laws*. The best examples or divine laws are those that we call physical laws. This universe was created with certain physical constants like gravity, vacuums, molecular structures, the list is endless.The fact that we may not know them or know exactly how they work does not make that less true. Gravity works whether we understand it or not.
Physical laws are a subset of divine laws. A non-physical law may be that humans have emotions. This is just part of our existence. As a species (if not always individually) humans have a spiritual/religious drive. Moses gave us a glimpse of divine laws as they relate to behavior. Jesus provided a glimpse of a law of properly applied emotion love/sacrifice. Perhaps I and many other mystics have revealed the law of that regulates the purpose of human existence. If all things perfectly serve to unfold the soul it may follow that the purpose of human existence is to evolve physical energy into the spiritual. While we may find room to argue about this or that law a body of such laws exist whether we understand them or not. Gravity works whether we understand it or not.
Under this definition “What brings me closer to the divine?” is answered with “that which helps me to learn about, understand or work within divine law”. Sometimes this is a spiritual/intellectual understanding, like my view of Perfection, Jesus’s view of Love, Buddha’s view of Awareness. Other times it is intuition that cannot be rationalized. Perhaps Gibran’s view of thought “There is a place between right thinking and wrong thinking. I will meet you there” applies. Either way, when you follow divine law you feel no resistance
An example of this may be sympathetic magick, the idea that similar things can impact each other. A doll made to resemble a person can be symbolically imprisoned and that imprisonment will impact the person. If you do such a thing and it works smoothly, quickly and perfectly you have done something so aligned with divine law that no other result was possible.
Frazer [The Golden Bough] broke down the idea further into two distinct parts - the Law of Similarity and the Law of Contact/Contagion. He said, “From the first of these principles, namely the Law of Similarity, the magician infers that he can produce any effect he desires merely by imitating it: from the second he infers that whatever he does to a material object will affect equally the person with whom the object was once in contact, whether it formed part of his body or not”(source)
I interpret my vision of perfection as witnessing a divine law at work because what I saw was so all-encompassing, easy to understand, and immediately life changing that it could be nothing less. That law is that all things serve to unfold our souls. I therefore try to work within divine law as I understand it by living in such a way that the Perfection of the universe is obvious. For example I see the negative purely as a lesson and see the positive in the same way. This has become second nature to the point that I use the terms positive and negative/good and bad merely for ease of communication.
Sometimes in the moment I miss out on the understanding that negative and positive events are teaching moments. This is never fun and I look bad. The upside is that I am usually I am able to regain this perspective given time."
By living a life within the understanding of Perfection I live within that divine law. Even during very rough times that would have been emotionally very difficult, I have been calm and peaceful. This is because I know beyond knowing that the Perfection is doing Its work. I capitalize those words as the Perfection is holy to me.
Godlike; characteristic of or befitting a deity
What are godlike characteristics?
Have you seen a miracle lately? Probably not. Actually you have seen them. The question is are you aware of the miracles you see? You have seen people change their lives for the better. You have seen the lazy become suddenly studious, the angry become calm, and the lonely married. Have you seen someone hit bottom and realize they cannot fall anymore? This is the divine at work. One godlike characteristic is the ability to make massive changes without any apparent effort. When the divine interferes we do not think, “Oh the gods (or God) must be tuckered out now!". Those transitions are examples of massive changes whether accomplished of the person’s own will, or the hand of the divine.
Another indication of the divine at work is when one person effortlessly instigates another to move closer to her true self.
My mentor was like that from time to time. People around him would struggle and during a conversation with him they would seize onto a phrase that meant little to him at the time but held deep meaning for them. These people would end up making serious changes in their lives. My mentor was not a god but he displayed a god-like characteristic.
People have told me that my soul and tarot readings have changed their lives. They have left my table crying tears of joy. In those moments, I displayed a god-like characteristic. I am not a god.
Humans that live their lives in ways that have huge impacts on society are also displaying a characteristic of a god. These may include individuals such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Andrew Carnegie, [which? Several prominent people, I don't automatically recognize the last name]Getty, Thomas Edison, and the like. Some people may see some of these folks as real s.o.b.s.
As humans we can display god-like characteristics and be jerks five minutes later. Gods can be gods and be jerks at the same time. Reading the Old Testament or Greek Mythology will confirm that. That which is negative to our understanding is not ungodlike. There have been some people in history that were real jerks that display godlike qualities.
Another god-like characteristic which is inherentin the definition above is divine magnanimity. Further defined from the same source as: "generous in forging an insult or injury; free form petty resentfulness or vindictiveness. Also, proceeding from or revealing generosity or nobility of mind, character etc."
Those traits need no further elucidation.
Under this definition “What brings me closer to the divine?” is answered with “that which helps me to embody or manifest a divine trait in my daily life”.
Every time I have a moment of moment of intuitional awareness I am living within a characteristic of the divine. So what brings me closer to the divine? Any exercise that builds upon my intuition.
Heavenly; celestial: the divine kingdom.
As someone that has seen the chthonic realms I would quibble with the heavenly celestial part being an all inclusive answer. You only have to be down there once before you know the term heavenly does not apply. No one would describe that bleak painful place as heavenly. The divine kingdom part is another story that conjures the ghost of a particular religion. I will use my preferred term of "the divine realm” which is everywhere.
Most would see the difference only semantically. I see the term divine kingdom as a very Abrahamic term. It implies a state of rulership. Realm may sound like kingdom to some but it has subtler meaning such as a sphere of influence in which the divine occurs. That form of "realm" is everywhere.
The Golden Dawn has a few greats line in the Zelator (earth grade) ritual.“The foolish and rebellious gaze upon the face of the created World, and find therein nothing but terror and obscurity. It is to them the Terror of Darkness and they are as drunken men stumbling in the Darkness.” And later “The Wise gaze upon the created world and behold there the dazzling image of the Creator.”
When you have that mystical moment and behold that dazzling image you will change. For you will know that the divine is hidden by a single molecule of the physical.
Under this definition, “What brings me closer to the divine?” is answered with “that which helps me to perceive and live within the divine realm.” Sometimes that would be disc golf. Playing three or four days a week a few years back allowed me to perceive the subtle changes that foretold the changes of the seasons. The earth and its processes became alive to my awareness.
Having just one experience in life that answers that question in any way is a success. Doing so helps us live a life that satisfies the quote above by actively and willfully working to refine our nature.
*Please forgive me for my lack of education in such philosophies. I fear my explanation is lacking here but am unsure how to communicate more clearly.