Monday 24 March 2014

The Spiritualisation of Matter

I've written the last few posts as a corrective to the tendency of some non-dualists to dismiss the relative world and everything in it, up to and including the personal God or Creator, as unreal or illusion because there's no doubt that Western followers of this teaching often misunderstand it. Part of that is actually down to the teaching itself which, by its emphasis on the absolute, can encourage people to think they are nearer the goal than they really are, causing them to believe they can jump stages or that stages don't even exist. In fact, as I have said before, many non-dualists are a bit like materialists in that they deny part of reality. In the case of the materialist what is denied is the absolute. In the case of the non-dualist what is denied is the relative or at least its authentic nature. The wise spiritual aspirant seeks to integrate relative and absolute or spirit and matter, and so does not just deny self but uses it to go through it which he does by various means including meditation and prayer, and not excluding service, sacrifice and surrender. If all goes well this leads eventually to identification with the Universal and sanctification of the individual. The theoretical non-dualist, on the other hand, bound to his ideas of non-duality, just dismisses the individual self as illusion, rejecting it as something non-existent. But, of course, he can't really do this because the self is there and so he ends up in a mind created non-dualistic thought form. He is unlikely to realise this as his mental attitude has left him with no way out because of his denial of all but the non-dual absolute, and so it will require the hard knocks of life, either this or a future one, to bring him to his senses. He may believe himself to be enlightened or to have gone beyond ignorance or however he wants to phrase it, and he may acquire followers who believe that of him too which will inevitably bolster him in his conviction, but what starts in the head stays in the head. That is to say, the very self that is being denied. True spiritual knowledge comes from the heart and will only start to blossom when the heart centre is awakened which it can only be through the means I have given above.

The composer and occultist Cyril Scott wrote a book, quite well known at one time, called The Initiate in the Dark Cycle. This formed part of a trilogy which purported to tell the story of a real Master who lived and worked more or less openly in the Western world in the 1920s and ‘30s. I think Scott was being a bit mischievous and made the whole thing up in order to get a point across, but I don’t think he made it up from nothing. I read these books as works presented as fact but which were actually fiction albeit based on certain facts because I think Scott really did have some contact with Masters even if the one who was the hero of his books was his own invention. Be that as it may, much of this third book in the series deals with reactions to Krishnamurti’s, at the time, dramatic rejection of his Theosophical upbringing, and to discussion of what he was teaching in its place. This is identified as advaita, and the reason I mention the book here is because there are some interesting remarks made by the Masters in this book about advaita. They describe it as one of the most easily misunderstood spiritual paths, not suitable for the Western world in the present cycle, partly because of the need for a fully realised guru, and say that Krishnamurti’s version is likely to lead his followers nowhere except hypocrisy and self-delusion. Krishnamurti’s personal level of attainment is not disputed but his teaching methods are. I don’t entirely go along with this because I think Krishnamurti was a much needed spiritual purifier, but it may be that that is how the Masters eventually used him once they saw the direction he had taken. What I do find instructive is how these remarks can be applied even more to modern non-dualistic teachings which do not come from teachers of Krishnamurti’s level of attainment and so don’t even have the force of his spiritual realisation to back them up. For it is a fact that the same words will vary in their spiritual impact depending on the level of consciousness they are coming from. Words spoken by a genuine enlightened soul will have much greater inner resonance and transformative power than those same words spoken by an ordinary teacher. Incidentally, this is partly why spiritual teachers who have not attained enlightenment but who speak as though they have are guilty of a form of blasphemy. They are defiling holiness with ego.

Let me repeat here that the purpose of this series of articles is not to deny the basic principle of non-duality, but to point to some of the potential flaws in an exclusively non-dualistic approach to the spiritual path. These arise chiefly from excessive focus on one of the two poles of manifested reality to the neglect of the other, which is why I said in the book of which this blog is an extension that there was a secret beyond non-duality and that it was duality. What I meant by this slightly facetious remark is that consciousness alone is not the goal, which is to say you will not reach the goal by focusing on pure consciousness alone. As most non-dualists take their inspiration from advaita let me express this in terms of Indian philosophy. Realisation does not just come from the knowledge of Siva. It comes from the union in the disciple of Siva and Sakti where Siva is pure awareness and Sakti is the divine energy hidden in form and working through it. So it is not being alone that you should aspire to but the union of being and becoming, spirit and matter, life and form, absolute and relative, universal and individual. And this is done by accepting not rejecting, by accepting the totality of your being and raising it up into the light. This is the spiritualisation of matter and is the real task required of the disciple. You do not make base metal into gold by throwing away the base metal but by purifying and refining it to the point at which real transmutation can take place. Likewise you do not awaken spiritually by denying your soul but by perfecting it, purifying it and then, only when all that has been achieved, offering it up in sacrifice.

Duality is a fundamental principle of the universe and exists for a reason. Everything comes from the interplay between the two poles which are two and, at the same time, one. We need to transcend our current identification with form, that is true. We need to see duality as the expression of the One Reality, that is also true. But we do this through fully integrating the two poles of existence not by denying the creative potency of one of them. Non-dualists are not wrong to see consciousness (the Father, Siva) as the root of existence but the Father can only be known by the Son who is born from the union of Father and Mother in the secret place of the heart.

Monday 17 March 2014

How God Grows

I thought a few explanatory remarks on some of the concepts discussed in recent posts might prove useful. One or two of these ideas could seem confusing if taken at face value because they relate to an order of reality beyond the mind, and so need to be understood metaphorically. This doesn't mean they aren't true but they have to be understood in a certain way. For instance, the idea that God wants to grow. How can God have desires? And how can the absolute and illimitable grow? Taken literally that doesn't make any sense at all.  On the level of the absolute there can be no growth because there is no relativity, no becoming, so the idea of more is meaningless. However the absolute, if it is truly absolute, must include the relative, and we can reasonably speculate that it takes on limitation in order to know itself in ways that are not possible in pure unmanifest oneness. Otherwise put, God comes into manifest existence in order to experience Himself more fully. And having done that, having come into being in the dualistic world of form, He seeks expansion within that world. He seeks to become ever more for that is now possible as a result of the creative tension between the two poles of existence, subject and object, required for manifestation to take place. God does not need to do this because of some lack or incompleteness in Himself but the power of the absolute to express itself is part of its reality, and so it does. If it could not do this it would be deficient in something which would be a limitation. So the absolute cannot grow in itself but through its self-expression it can.  It's not a question of something imperfect seeking perfection but of the already complete and perfect constantly transcending itself and becoming more. It's rather wonderful, don't you think?

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.

Monday 10 March 2014

The Individual and the Non-Dual

Continuing with the theme of the last two posts I would like to consider here where individuality might fit into a non-dual scheme of things. For after all, if non-duality, as it is usually taught, is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth there can be no such thing as the individual. That is just an illusion caused by the faulty identification of consciousness with the processes of life, specifically with thought. It can be no more than an artificial construct created by consciousness mistakenly identifying with the material world, the world of form, movement, change etc. That is what a lot of people maintain, but to me this spiritual denial of the reality of the individual is almost as mistaken as the materialistic notion that life arose accidentally and has no meaning or purpose. In fact these beliefs are almost reflections of each other because they reach opposite, albeit you could say similar, conclusions through denying some part of the totality of life. What the materialist denies, of course, is spirit which is life. Materialism is the doctrine of death.

In the case of the absolutist non-dualist what is denied is the reality and purpose of the created world, and specifically the individual soul. To all intents and purposes non-duality concerns itself solely with a return to the source. Surely, though, we were not created just to sink back to where we came from into unexpressed being but, as Jesus said, to have life and life more abundantly. This is the meaning of creation and the glory of manifested existence. Why is there something rather than nothing? What I mean is why does unmanifest life manifest? Why are individual souls sent forth into the world of experience, into form, merely to return to formlessness and pure awareness? There must be a reason, a purpose for this. And there is. God created to become more, more love, more beauty, more creative joy, and it is the duality of life and form, spirit and matter, that brings this about and even renders such things possible in the first place.

I am quite prepared to be told that I have not understood non-duality, but I think that it is the non-dualists attached to their non-duality who have not understood life. Or at least they have not understood it in its completeness. Form is emptiness, true, but emptiness is also form and, what's more, form is form as well. As it says, God looked at the world and saw that it was good. Unless your philosophy can embrace all of these then it lacks something. If your non-duality makes you turn your back on the truths inherent in duality the chances are that you hold it in the mind, not as a living reality perceived in and by the heart. For life is both form and formlessness, and to deny it form is to deny God and the soul, and therefore, in a real sense, to deny life itself along with love, beauty and creativity.

It goes without saying that we must abandon the sense of a separate self, which is an illusionary construct existing only as a thought form and the root cause of our spiritual alienation. But not with the idea of returning to a oneness without distinction or quality. The illusionary nature of the separate self does not mean that the individual soul behind it has no reality. Only that, when that soul descends to the material level in order to further its development, it mistakenly identifies with the 'bodies' it assumes (mental, emotional, physical) in the process. But it, the soul, was created by God and has a true existence, as anything created by God must do. Of course, this existence is not independent of God and subsists entirely on God who has given it His own being, but it is authentic and should not be denied. As the Masters said in Towards The Mysteries, God made man Individual. Krishna was Individual. Christ was Individual, and these same Masters when asked "Do you believe in being Individual?" replied, "Yes, in being Individual, not a personality". The Masters who spoke to me were not personalities but they were the most fully individual beings, in the sense of being completely themselves, that I have ever encountered. 

This should not be misunderstood for the essence of spirituality is to go beyond the sense of oneself as an individual and to connect or reconnect with God as pure spirit. How are we to reconcile these two things? It is a matter of where we see the centre of our being. This must necessarily be God not our own individuality but that remains as the unique quality through which we express God. You might put things this way. Enlightenment doesn’t mean that you have become God and no longer have individuality, but that you are now identified with God in you instead of you in you. Your individuality remains but it is no longer at the centre. As St Paul put it, 'It is not I who lives but Christ who lives in me'.

The root of our being is in spirit which is the one reality that underlies everything, and the spiritual path has as its sole purpose the realisation of that. My disagreement with non-duality is not on the ultimate goal and the realisation of oneself as pure being, but with its tendency to dismiss the value and reality of the individual. Really it makes no sense to talk about love if you don't allow any validity to individual souls. The fact that non-dualists do talk about love shows that, on one level, they recognise a lack in their philosophy. Love was the purpose for creation, but this was not fully revealed until the time of  Christ who integrated in his person both Heaven and Earth in a way that had never been done before. That is the meaning of Christ being both Man and God, individual and universal. It is our goal too. Not the rejection or denial of matter/form but its conscious integration with spirit.

I mention God frequently in these posts. That's because God exists. But for many modern Western non-dualists, if He is allowed at all, He is reduced to the sidelines, dismissed as part of duality, the last thought. But that is obviously not the reality of God. It is just the concept of Him, and the notion of Him and us as separate. The fact is that God exists, and you cannot detach the personal God from the impersonal absolute. They are simply two ways of describing the same thing, relating respectively to being and non-being. You must acknowledge both if you wish to walk in the light of truth. I realise that Buddhism denies a Creator (as it does the individual soul, of course), but that is because of the Buddha's attempt to bypass the hidebound religious and priestly dogmas and doctrines of his day in order to get at the essential truth in its purity and simplicity. He was concerned only with the absolute but, rather as Krishnamurti did more recently, he threw the baby out with the bathwater. So the Buddhist denial of God is almost an historical accident. The reforms of the Mahayana several hundred years later were an attempt to correct some of the consequences of that, but still the lack of an awareness of God in Buddhism is a weakness of that religion. Buddhism has evolved to compensate for this in part, but for Westerners, not brought up in that tradition, to reject God in the name of a so called higher truth is unfortunate at best, and will not lead to any kind of true enlightenment. 

I have quoted the Masters' injunction to "Remember the Creator" often in these articles. They said this because they were aware of the the tendency of the more intellectual type of disciple, common today, to seek a form of spirituality that does not require acknowledging responsibility to and dependence on a higher power. In other words, to reject God as part of duality. But God is not part of duality. He, personal as well as impersonal, is the essence of reality, and without Him you would not exist. You may seek to remove ignorance and the sense of separation through self-enquiry and so, theoretically, awaken to the ever-present reality of the Self.  But this, without submission and surrender to the divine power that is without as well as within, can easily become yet another mental activity which can never (quite evidently) take you beyond the mind. And even if you do succeed in bypassing thought through this means how can you assume that what you find is on the same ontological level as God? Yet this is just what non-dualists do assume because they have insufficient understanding of the hierarchical levels of being, seeing only the relative (what we are now) and the absolute, pure being.

 I mean no criticism of the ancient scriptures or realised teachers of the past when I say that many contemporary followers of non-duality approach it too much on the level of mind and the intellect. In so doing they reduce spirituality to the psychological level, forgetting that, above all, it is of the heart. This is the risk when the esoteric is made public and taken up by teachers who have not yet fully realised its innermost truths. ‘Live simply in the heart and all mysteries will in time become known to you’, said the Masters. The instructions to have faith in God (Remember the Creator) and live simply in the heart might seem rather basic compared to discovering that you are the Self, and yet I must tell you that they are more likely to lead to the awakening of a genuine love and humility, and a true spirituality, than just meditation and self-enquiry on their own. Not that these should be neglected. I am certainly not saying that. I am only pleading for balance and wholeness in spiritual practice which should be based on an acknowledgment of God as both personal and impersonal equally, and Man as both individual and universal. Seek your source in pure being and see the world as the expression by love of that being. Eventually you will come to the point where questions of duality and non-duality are irrelevant because you will know that you are in God and God is in you so oneness and duality are not mutually exclusive, but both equally part of the whole.

Monday 3 March 2014

Perspectives on Non-Duality

The other day I had an exchange of views with someone who saw all spiritual matters from the standpoint of a rigid non-duality and would not allow any other approach. I did not dispute that from the perspective of the absolute he was right. After all, it is self-evident that God is one and there is nothing but God. What else could there be? But we do not live in a world in which the absolute alone exists. If the relative world, which includes individual souls, had no meaning and no purpose it would never have come into being, and so we cannot just dismiss it in totality as nothing but an illusion or appearance to be seen through by the wise. The fact that our real being is in God does not mean we have no conditional being.

Here is what I consider to be the truth. It derives from my own experience and understanding, but also from impressions picked up from my teachers who generally preferred to imply rather than state outright. I like to think this approach goes a little way towards reconciling the insights of Christianity and Buddhism for, as things stand, and despite ideas about the inner unity of religions behind outer doctrines, these are actually quite different. The modern Western intellectual who is not religious but is attracted to mysticism will often regard the Christian view as a rather naive form of spirituality which is superseded by the non-dualistic Buddhist approach, but I think matters can equally well be seen the other way round. In fact, the Buddhist position is almost the obvious one in that it takes things to a logical extreme. Reductive and simple, it can seem the last word on the subject and almost unarguable, but, critically, it lacks something that the Christian vision has, and that is an awareness of the purpose of creation. For Buddhism there is no transcendent God and no individual soul. Everything ends up in the Void, the ground, the emptiness behind form etc. And logically this sounds perfectly reasonable. Everything can be reduced to nothing or one thing. Moreover mystical experience certainly allows us to access a state in which consciousness returns to its formless source. But what if this is not the whole truth? What if the soul is not an imaginary construct but has its own reality? We may experience non-dual states in which the self is absorbed by a boundless oneness but this just means that there is a state beyond self or, if you prefer, that is there when the self is no more. That is not at issue. We must go beyond, or out of, identification with self to find spiritual wholeness, but, in doing that, does individuality still remain as our expressed self, something that has a certain unique quality which nothing else in the universe has, or is it just seen to have been always non-existent? Surely the latter would be to deny God real creative power and reduce creation to the level of a conjuring trick. The truth is that the Universal Mind created individual souls so that life could expand and grow. In effect, God multiplied Himself to become more. Souls were not created to be dissolved back into universal oneness as though they had never been, but to add to the wholeness of life.

Buddhism recognises no God and no soul. Therefore it can see no point to the world of appearance which, in classical Buddhism, is seen as something to escape from. But simply to return to primordial oneness is to ignore the purpose of creation, and I repeat this because it is fundamental to the debate between an absolute non-duality and an approach to oneness that recognises the legitimacy, relative but real, of the individual soul. We were not created just to return to where we came from but to go through the manifested world, absorbing the fruits of experience and building up the individual soul. Then we are required to relinquish selfhood and become consciously one with the whole of life, to recognise that we are the whole of life, but in such a way as includes individuality which is not lost but transformed. No longer the centre of consciousness, it becomes that through which consciousness is expressed. The Masters told me to forget the personal self and merge with the Universal Self. The personal self is the separate self and it is this that is the illusionary construct of the mind. However the individual self is different from this and is that which merges. There must be something to merge with the Universal Self and that is the soul. When it merges it loses its own identity in the absolute, that is true, but the greater awareness includes the lesser which, as I say, is not lost but changed from the focus of identity that conditions consciousness to the vehicle of expression that can give form to it.

The purpose of the spiritual path is that we cease to identify with ourselves as individuals. However that does not mean that the individual self is an illusion. Individuality is the gift from God that enables us eventually to know ourselves as God. Without ever knowing ourselves we could never know anything. 

Non-duality has many profound insights into the nature of reality but I part company from it in certain matters, principally concerning the way it views God and the individual soul though even here the differences are mostly to do with emphasis. Let me now summarise a few of these points of disagreement, and make further observations on modern interpretations of non-dualistic thinking.

  • The individual soul exists. It is not unreal or an illusion but a creation of God, born out of His love. This soul must eventually be given up but only after it has been brought to spiritual perfection, symbolised respectively by the transfiguration of Jesus and his crucifixion. Then it is taken up into spirit as demonstrated at the ascension. It is, one might say, divinised.
  • God is a not a person but He has personhood or 'I'ness. The impersonal Godhead and the personal God are not different, and one is not 'higher' than the other. They are two sides of the same coin, relating to reality in its inactive and active modes, and this 'two-in-oneness'' is reflected in the enlightened soul. In him the universal and the individual are brought together and made one. That is to say, his being is in absolute oneness but his activity, which includes understanding, is expressed through individuality.
  • Non-dualists talk of God in a way that implies that He (or it) is life but is not actually alive. This is to limit God to the impersonal absolute, but He encompasses the unexpressed and the expressed equally and inseparably, and the moment there is the slightest movement away from pure being you are in the realm of the personal living God.
  •  While non-dualists understand oneness they tend to undervalue multiplicity. Thus their non-duality can blind them to the truth of the created world. Advaita, for instance, like anything else, can become a belief system but life is larger than any belief system even one that may be true. It is both non-dual and dual at the same time which gives it its richness and its capacity to grow. This also explains why there is something rather than nothing.
  • The experience of oneness or no self, often called awakening, is usually just a preliminary step on the mystical path, but is regularly taken by the unwary for enlightenment. This leads to all manner of errors of which the main one is mistaking the relative for the absolute.
  • There is an old definition of reality as life-quality-appearance. If you focus on only the first of these without appreciating the part the other two have to play in the significance of the whole you have an unbalanced view. Human beings are made of spirit, soul and body where spirit is the divine spark in us, the aspect of uncreated pure being. The soul is the quality part of that definition which evolves through a series of lifetimes and eventually, together with the fruits of its experience, becomes subsumed into spirit thereby combining the individual with the universal. Appearance, of course, is the outer self necessary for function and expression in the phenomenal world.
  • Non-duality would be the whole truth if life were completely passive (which, incidentally, might be why the Buddha is usually depicted with his eyes shut). But life is not just like that because it includes creativity and the capacity to grow. Hence philosophies which only concern themselves with pure being lack completeness. The instant a being does anything, or even knows anything, it is acting through a self. That is, through a self if it has transcended identification with form, but from it if it has not
  • I do not believe that even those generally acknowledged to be enlightened in the non-dualistic sense such as the Buddha or, more recently, Ramana  Maharishi have reached some kind of ultimate state. To realise your being in God does not mean you have become God. Life continues ever upwards. The Masters who came to me were God-realised beings but they told me of higher Masters and beings beyond even them. The fact that we cannot conceive of spiritual states beyond the enlightened state does not mean that they do not exist. 

Notwithstanding anything I have written above I still agree that the fundamental truth of life is non-dualistic. My disagreement with non-dualistic systems is not with the basic premise but with the confusion of levels. In absolute terms non-duality is the truth, but reality is made up of the absolute and the relative together, and the relative has a more important role to play than it is usually allowed in many forms of non-duality where it is dismissed too easily as maya or samsara. Without it there would be no love, no beauty, no joy, no anything in fact. There would be pure being alone with no capacity to become more. The Unmanifest becomes the Creator who creates in order to express Himself and grow. What He creates is real even though ultimately it can be none other than Himself.