I wonder still, about using this term “divine”, because it seems to be tainted with the same problem which I think we need to overcome in order to obtain a more real vision:
– the problem of everyday vision is one of outlook: we think of ourselves as separate subjects, and therefore see a universe of separate objects.
– when we use the term “divine” we are doing something similar. We are seeking or imagining what we define in advance as something bigger, broader, vaster than, or perhaps more important or senior to, ourselves.
Actually definitions are a product of our finite understanding. A definition is something that limits, sets a boundary around (Finite and definition are from the same root.) In Hebrew, the word hagdara (definition) is from the same root as Gader (fence). So, to define something is to put a fence around it. When we use the word “God” or deva (Sanskrit for God, which is related to our word “Divine”), we make God into a finite thing, or concept, whereas we are really trying to indicate something which cannot be defined, and which does not fit tidily into our finite understanding: something infinite. And, according to Hindu philosophy, name (nama) goes with form (rupa). So in Judaism it is forbidden to represent God by either, and when Moses asks God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”, the deity replies to Moses, “I am who I am (or “I will be who I will be”). This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.”. In other words, he said about himself all that a deity could say, without committing the error of self-definition as name and form. If we want to be true to ourselves, we must do the same.
When someone asks us whether we believe in God, they are really asking us whether we believe in a finite concept (the finite concept they know as “God”). The question itself is self-contradictory, because if God exists, it is as something far beyond any definition by which we can bind him. So how are we supposed to answer that question? Saying that we believe in God means that we deny the reality of God as something beyond our beliefs and definitions. Saying that we are atheists means that we do not believe in God as a concept (but perhaps we do still understand that there is a reality that transcends our separative vision). Saying that we are agnostics means that we think that the existence or non-existence of this false definition of “God” is unprovable, which is nonsense.
This is what Rumi (Mevlana Jellaludin Rumi, the Sufi saint) had to say about it: “Out beyond the ideas of faith (iman) and infidelity (kufr) there is a field: I will meet you there.” (the verse is usually poorly translated, but makes perfect sense when the words kufr and iman are translated properly and the meaning is approached in the spirit of the previous paragraph.)
Still I think the glue that binds reality into one undifferentiated whole is best represented as love. Love does not suffer the same flaws as our finite intellectual definitions. It “knows no bounds”, and so, to Rumi, and to so many others in theistic religions, God, or the infinite reality, is often regarded as “the beloved”. But in non-theistic religions also, like Buddhism, a spirit of gratitude and love are just as important.
In terms of gratitude, we are not thankful to someone (the deity) for something. Both are a product of our separative vision. If a butterfly appears before us and gives us joy, then we are, according to a more integrative vision, thankful to all of reality which has chosen in this moment to appear before us in the guise of a butterfly.