Then there is God Himself. I have said that God as absolute being and God the Creator are not two different things, and one is not on a lower level of reality than the other. They are the One Reality in passive and active mode, or, better put (since these imply the duality of complementary opposites), they are the One Reality as pure being without form or expression and as being conscious of its own existence. In effect, a being. I have also said that God the Creator has personhood but is not a person. What does that mean? Simply this. God is beyond form, as we might conceive it, and cannot be regarded as a separate being out there or as an object of consciousness that we can know and encounter. Beings such as Christ and Krishna are not God. “None has seen the Father at any time” said Jesus. How could that which created form be bound by it? Nevertheless God has Individuality. His is the fundamental or primal 'I Am' that is reflected in us as our sense of individuality. That is what being made in His image means. It is also His individuality that is expressed in creation and the particular form it takes which is why contemplating the created world can give us a clue as to the nature of God (so long as we bear in mind that the world, as we experience it, is not in a state of grace at the moment). And, though the fact that God has a personal aspect does not mean we can know Him as a person, we can know and feel His presence and His love. Convention would say that we feel the presence of God within ourselves but I think that is to restrict it. It is both within and without or, more accurately, it is in a dimension that includes and transcends these opposites, a level of oneness where there is no within or without. God is everywhere and in everything. His love, which is the expression of His personal Self, informs all matter and all consciousness.
The living reality of the personal God as the Creator and Upholder of the universe is why those who attempt to see themselves as pure being, and that alone, are mistaken. You are not just the absolute, and you certainly are not that now. While the roots of your existence undoubtedly are in pure consciousness, and it is pure consciousness with which you must become identified rather than the separate self, you are still a created being and, until the universe sinks back into the Night of Brahma, God is the Creator. As long as any part of you exists in any relationship to any aspect of the created world (which, let us remind ourselves, extends far beyond this distant outpost of it), you remain a created being. If you have any element of expressed being within yourself (even if you are no longer identified with that aspect of your nature), God is the Creator.
Before completing this brief run through of various phrases I have used which might be open to misinterpretation I should say a word about the Master's advice to 'Merge with the Universal Self'. Strict non-dualists would not like this because for them we already are the Self and so there can be no merging. That is merely prolonging the dualistic illusion. For them there is nothing to merge. However to me this is an example of their extremism as well as a lack of understanding of the whole person. In terms of the absolute they may be right but in terms of this individual in the relative world who has yet to realise his essential nature, the phrase 'Merge with the Universal Self' is correct. The truth is we are not consciously the Self or pure spirit until we, that is, the soul, become spiritually united with it. It is not correct to say that we are all already enlightened but we just don't know it. We are already spirit but we are not enlightened. It is the merging of an individual soul with the Universal Self that creates the enlightenment of that particular individual being.
God gave us a self for us to grow and expand its consciousness. Eventually we get to the point where the only way to continue to do this is to give up the limited self, to cease to identify with it and become identified with (or know ourselves to be) the All. But that does not mean the gift of self was a mistake or that self is an illusion. It is the sense of separateness, resulting from identification with form, that is the mistake.
Lastly I would like to address the question of how I know these things. What right do I have to say them? First of all, it goes without saying that my understanding is far from complete. In fact I would say, in perfect seriousness, that it's on a low level. Some readers may well agree! Nevertheless I have had the great good fortune of having been spoken to by spiritual Masters who know these things because they see them as clearly as you and I see the sun and moon (more clearly probably). I have picked up a certain amount from what they have told me directly, but there is something in addition to that which I find a little hard to explain. Let me try. The nature of their being, as I experienced it in conversations with them but also in meditation and simply through thinking about them and, as it were, tuning in to their vibration, transmits a teaching in itself. Their reality, not the fact of their existence but their actual living reality, conveys a deep and real truth about the nature of God and the universe. It is as though they are an open window into the heart of existence and if you look into them you can see something of that. Experiencing their vibration, which is pure and uncontaminated by the slightest scrap of ego, is a teaching that goes beyond theory and words. Traditionally the guru's presence teaches more than what he actually says, and that is exactly what I found with the Masters. Sometimes they said very little but they taught on a deeper level through the grace of their presence. Even the way they spoke carried the imprint of their realisation. So this is how I know these things, through having been in the presence of those who exemplify them though, needless to say, my personal limitations will condition my understanding.