"Nature of Mind" by Alex Grey
When I was a younger man I must have borne a striking resemblance to what many think Jesus Christ looked like. Many comedians would approach me in the street to declare that I walked on water, that I was their teacher, that they were Judas and insult me or lines of that ilk. It was never much of a laugh. I wished they would come up with something original. But it did set me thinking. I wondered at what stage of his life Jesus would have realised he was Jesus Christ, the Messiah and not Jesus Bloggs, the carpenter. It made me think who might Jesus be these days? How hard would it be for him to be here if a bloke who looked like him could not escape the funny men? (Mercifully, nobody knows what Jesus might have looked like in his 50s, so the hilarious jokes have stopped for me). I realised that Jesus possibly had been here recently. He had a dream about Hindus and Muslims getting on with one another. But we knew him not and we shot him. He came to us again. He had a dream about black and white people using their intelligence and getting on with one another whilst their children played together. Judging each other on the content of our characters, rather than what we looked like. But we knew him not and we shot him.
So there’s a bit of background about me and what I think about.
I first heard the Almighty’s voice one day when I was about 22. I was in Bromley High Street (Bromley is an up market South East England Town – origin of Billy Idol, Peter Frampton, Suzee and the Banshees, David Bowie, H.G Wells and Charles Darwin, to name but a few). It was the late ‘70s and an early 747 flew over much lower than usual with loud, deep toned, low vibration engine noise. A bloke fell off his motor cycle and as it slid down the road the sparks flew up and it made a great, angle grinder-like, screech. The randomsounds all tessellated and made up sufficient ingredients for a ‘voice from nowhere’ – as a psychiatrist would say (without having thought about it sufficiently). God said, ‘Dave, give up smoking. Your lungs are your weakness and I have work for you’. Made me think, I can tell you. I could not deny to myself what I had heard. Good advice, too.
Life went on, the Jesus jests continued apace. I gave up smoking.
One day, in 1996, on my holidays, on a small Greek island a young Aussie lady approached me and said, ‘Hi, Jesus’.
‘Here we go again’, I thought, but this time the funny stranger had a point, The wind had blown an image of what the Eastern Orthodox Church considers Christ looked like on to the heel of my shoe. It was Easter, their big celebration. I asked her what she would do if she ever realised she was walking with Jesus. ‘I’d buy him a beer’, came back the quick reply.
‘In that case, mine’s an Amstel’, I quipped. Good at her word, she took me to a bar and we shared a beer and a couple of laughs. Her answer on what to do on meeting Jesus was, by far, the most intelligent I’ve ever heard. After all, Jesus spent much of his time up the pub with his mates.
The next day, I thought rather deeply about the meeting with the young Aussie (her name was Rebecca), and went alone to a beach. There was another young woman there, who I noticed from a distance, wasn’t wearing anything. I decided to not be a plonker and to leave her alone – and not even glance in her direction. I also got my kit off and went and sat on a large cuboid white marble stone and looked to the sea. There was a great view of Santorini. It had long since struck me that exploding Santorini was the method by which the Lord created the tidal wave that parted the Red sea allowing Moses and the Israelites to escape slavery. So, as I was contemplating it I thought about what had happened to theJesuses (Ghandi and Dr King), what would surely happen to him were he to come back and thought how much better the World would be if we could do without killing one another. You cannot fight evil with evil – you only add to the sum of evil that way (I wish our American brothers would consider that a little more carefully), and I thought of how slavery had actually been outlawed and ended. It was not through war and conflict – but through the ridicule of the slave owners through great books like the Tar Baby and Uncle Tom’s Cabin. I determined to write a book about the return of the Messiahs – ridiculing those who would kill them.
I asked the Lord if I might do that. A voice came immediately ‘Alright, but I’m the leader!’ By chance the naked lady’s little boy, whom I had not noticed when I didn’t ogle her, had run into the sea and said that, so meaningful thing to the prayer I had just uttered, in English, by chance.
The book, roughly, is about how Jesus visits Muhammed, in Heaven. (The Lord has told me they are brothers in Heaven – that annoys some Christians but Muslims seem to accept it). Muhammed and Gabriel had been discussing the cricket when he called. (Jesus isn’t into cricket. He plays football – that’s soccer to our American friends – and is the player manager of The Saints – and, no, that’s not Southampton. He plays in goal and hence his handle of ‘the Saviour’). Jesus had called around because while he was playing his guitar with JimiHendrix and Bob Marley, the Devil called round. Satan hadgot back into Heaven on a day when Pete had gone fishing – so Luke was at the Pearly gates. The Old Gentleman told Luke that he had come to apologise – so Luke let him in.
Lucifer called to see Jesus, but far from apologising he boasted. He firstly played the guitar far, far too steamingly fast for a first jam. He tried to outplay Jimi – not cool. He also brought two whores Marilyn and Gold, some drugs and showed off with them (use your imaginations). He taunted Jesus by saying that while, in the wilderness 2,000 years ago he needed Jesus’ help, these days he no longer did. He said how he had established internet porn; round the clock gambling; public beheadings in the name of God; wars in the name of peace. You name it, he had brought it into being and he felt he had won his argument with God (that mankind is inherently corruptible), so he had not come to apologise at all, but to show off and enjoy himself.
So, Jesus and Muhammed decide to come back to Earth andwarn us. Their uncle Moses says he’ll stay in Heaven to look after their stuff. Before they can come, though, they decide to ask God for His blessing on the proposal. Therein lay a problem. You see, in Heaven, God is about as elusive in everyday life as He is here, on Earth. We have the play on words, God is now here, or God is nowhere – it’s the same there. So, they set off to find God. One the way, on a bus, they meet Ganesh, who is also off to see God. His reason is because all of his Hindu followers are finding milkeverywhere and he realises something is up on Earth. They also take Lew Kew, Uncle Moses’ cleaning lady and of the Tau. They would have brought Guru Nanuk – but he is God’s mate and God would miss him too much.
When they believe they have found God’s house they have, in fact, arrived at Lord Buddha’s residence. He quickly agrees to join in the warning – well, after a long philosophical discussion on the existence of a supreme being, which I shan’t burden you with – and they arrive at God’s house.
God’s butler, Giles, the only servant in Heaven, opens the door. He has an Aussie accent and he is the spitting image of the Dalai Lama.
‘God? He’s out the back. He’s in the dunny’, Giles directsthe religious leaders to where God was.
You see, in the book, I didn’t want to have to explain what God looks like as He looks like God and you’ll know Him when you see Him. So I cheated a bit and had Him in an outside dunny. The can. A shit house. The would-bewarners and He discuss the plan though the door. God was in there thinking about what He could do to stop the spread of evil that the Devil had been boasting about without breaking His promise to Noah. Anyhow, they get permission; have to go to Hell first to remember what it’s like and for practice at being here.
There are five representative religious founders and they can each bring two neo-disciples. They bring Bob Marley, Charles Darwin, Anne Frank, Gandhi, Judas (the most experienced disciple when it comes to the authorities), Dr Martin Luther King Jr. and one or two others to help. Thus,there were fifteen and they came back as a rugby team – to promote harmony amongst the faiths with the Religious Games – but like the Olympics are meant to be.
It does not go too well and they all end up on death row – to be murdered by various States – much as happened to Jesus first time around. The book is meant to be a moral, thought-provoking allegorical tale, if you will.
A couple of notable things happened as I was writing the thing. The first was on my journey home from the island where I got the idea. I found myself worrying about what would happen if it ever got published and made any money. It wasn’t the sort of thing to make money from. I’ve a rule about not telling other people things that might get you locked up (OK, so I’m writing this, but I trust the site to guard my anonymity). So I told a dog my concerns. His name was Farouk. On telling him I was concerned lest I insulted the Lord by making money from Him, Farouk got up and crossed the dusty patch of land we were sitting on in Athens. He scraped the ground with his forepaw and revealed an out-of-circulation two drachma coin. My advance (I told you God has a wicked sense of humour). I immediately told the Almighty that it wasn’t worth two drachma and I’d cheated Him. But then, when I’d finished laughing, I remembered the Bible story where Jesus had told his disciples to catch a fish that turned out to have a penny in its mouth such that they could pay their taxes. Until that moment I had always considered that a little far-fetched, but now I was pretty much convinced that it was probably true and that I was meant to write this book – if only to give the Lord a good laugh. My wife still has the two drachma coin.
Then, in England a few months later, at the exact moment I had typed the last word and finished the book, my telephone went (before mobiles). It was my godfather. He said, ‘Now that you’ve done that, am I going to have trouble communicating with you?’ To this day I don’t know what he was really on about, but it was so, so, so meaningful to what I had just completed. From my godfather.
OK. That was a long pre-amble – but necessary for the seeing of God part.
A year or so after completing the book – (which I don’t know how to get published and I’m sort of scared to. Well, who wants to know things, such as, Jesus has a dog? That the dog is a large, black dog, a Carthusian Hound – God says it’s aHeavenly breed – called Bruno?), I found myself with my wife back on the small island. Indeed, on the very beach. A stranger approached and sat down. He introduced himself as Chris and said, ‘everyone says you’re Jesus - would you like a smoke?’
‘Here we go again’, thought I.
‘I had been told that Jesus is an Indian guy who rides a bike, but they are saying it’s you’, continued the young man and he offered me a smoking device. I politely declined, explaining that I do not smoke. Chris confided that he was not a policeman – to which I answered that it didn’t make any difference to whether I smoke or not. He put the thing away. He then proclaimed that I couldn’t be Jesus (Hooray!), because there is no God. There is no God, because if there were, there would be miracles. I quickly tried to explain that it is all a miracle. That there is a planet just the right distance from the sun for water to be water is a miracle. That there is a moon to create tides to help life is a miracle. That life has evolved at all (seeing the Lord does not prevent acceptance of the overwhelming evidence supporting the theory of evolution), is a miracle. I confided in Chris that I considered the Universe itself to be God and all seeing, all intelligent, all loving, all things, really.
Chris seemed like a decent bloke and agreed with me that the World should and could be better, but ended the conversation on an insistence that f there were God, there would be miracles. He threw his hands back in that air as he declared it so. He went his way and I never expected to see him again.
My wife and I left the beach and decided on a holiday evening out. So, later that evening, just as it had got dark, my wife and I were in the town square. We had just sat down to have a drink. I got up to go inside to the toilet (that’s a rest room to any Americans that are still reading this, but I didn’t need a rest, I needed a piss). As I went inside the bar, I saw Chris and his wife or girlfriend arrive on the other side of the square, but apart from noticing him again, didn’t really think too much of it.
I had to go up a tight, wrought iron, spiral stair case to arrive at the toilet and it didn’t smell to appealing as I arrived. The cubical was small and dimly illuminated with a single, bare light bulb. In Greece, especially on the smaller islands, one is requested not to put paper or anything other than human waste in the toilet. The plumbing is old, small bore and easily blocked. Paper should be placed in a bin provided next to the pan. Drunken Westerners being drunk Westerners, people had forgotten this rule and the toilet was rather comprehensively blocked and I am sure you don’t need a detailed description of what was down there with all of the sodden paper. It explained the unappealing odour.
The next part requires reference to a Japanese art form, or maybe better described as a craft form. I do not know its name and no amount of searching the web has helped. It is where very carefully adjusting the thickness, or topography, of the bottom of fine porcelain cups means that when you have drunk your tea, and the light comes through the various thicknesses of china at the bottom of the cup, it makes an illuminated image, usually of a formal Geisha lady (there are ruder versions found in shot glasses, but that’s not the art form I am thinking of).
Well, as I took a piss, all of the crap and general grunge in the bottom of the blocked toilet moved about and started to take,various thickness, form. There was a soft light emanating from behind the form, from under the water, as it were. It formed a human face, and not just any old face. He was very Michelangelo. Indeed at first I thought it another joke, with a projection of an image from the Sistine Chapel into the pan. I waved my hands about to break the flow of light, but it wasn’tthat. Nor was there any device under the loo. ‘How the fuck did Michelangelo know what God looked like?’ was the very first thought that went through my mind as I realised it was God’s countenance I was witnessing. I considered that Michelangelo, too, must have seen God, but rather sensibly kept it to himself – except a drive to paint it so beautifully and an appropriate place. I then recalled the part of the book I had written that I related to you earlier. I called the Almighty a rather rude Anglo Saxon word beginning with ‘C’. ‘You C’, I said (we go back a long way), ‘when I said you were in the bog, I didn’t mean you were IN the bloody thing!’. I then stopped thinking so self-centeredly (glad I did, too), and remembered seeing Chris come to the square and his earlierexpressed desire to witness a miracle.
I went outside and saw that Chris was still across the square. I hurried to him and urgently asked him to come with me. The miracle may have been that nobody else used the toilet while I did that. Chris came with me and we went up the spiral stairs. ‘I’m not gay’, I explained, ‘but I’d like you to come into the toilet with…………….’
‘My God! My God! If I had to paint a picture I couldn’t do it better. Why, he’s a wizened old man just as you’d expect’. Chris had gone before me into the toilet cubicle and before I could finish my sentence he, too, had seen the Lord and was elatedly expressing it.
‘You did ask’, I rather flippantly said. I advised him to be very careful whom he told (because you’ll get locked up, or worse), and tried to reassure him that I don’t think I am either Jesus or anyone important at all. I just happen to notice things and know the truth of God’s certain existence.
So there you have it. I saw God, down the lavatory, and a total stranger corroborated it.
It’s not that great. It does not help make one resist temptation or be a better person. I would rather try to explain it to Dawkins himself than to religious believers. I can hardly write to the Pope and tell him how and where I saw God. On the one hand religious people would say I am a blasphemer, who couldn’t have seen God because the scriptures suggest it isn’t possible and that I had better repent of it all or it will all be bad. On the other hand there are the sceptics who say I must be deluded and cannot have seen God because he does not exist.
Who’d see God?
I did get the gift of one more laugh, though. Three or four years later, on another trip abroad, I was at the airport and wanted a little in flight reading. At the bookstore a book on Buddhism caught my eye. A passage in it explained how after much thought and meditation the two most senior Japanese Zen Buddhists declared that Buddhism is a disease and that God is in the piss-hole. I wondered how they knew.
So, what is one to make of it?
It has forced me to think of the apparently impossible impasse between science and religion. I cannot deny my experiences to myself, but I know and completely understand the sceptical, demanding of robust evidence, view, too. And then I don’t like to see people misled – by either dogmatic interpretation of either school of thought.
Some scientists say that God does not exist because there is no evidence to support His existence. Well, apart from the unreasonable stance of needing physical evidence for what is, by definition, supernatural, that argument falls down very easily. You see, before James Clerk Maxwell first predicted radio waves there was no evidence for them, but they clearly existed and scientists divine the age of the Universe with them today.
So there is a stronger scientific argument. It is argued that life is very complex and we do not understand it. So a creator of life must be so mind-blowingly complex as to be highly, highly improbable – so probably does not exist. Actually, that’s not a scientific argument, rather a somewhat poor philosophical one. It can easily be demonstrated not to be likely to be valid. Look at the British weather. It, like life, is very complex, but we can make very good forecasts with computer models and computers are based on binary logic – most simple.
Well, it’s not fair just to knock down the other fellow’s views. You have to have a few good ones yourself. Here, I look at the writings of people like Prof Richard Dawkins. I have read that he draws an analogy between believing in God and believing in fairies at the bottom of the garden, or the spaghetti monster in the sky. Fair enough. Would you please imagine a convention of confirmed atheists? Suppose one of them sneezed. If someone said ‘spaghetti monster in the sky bless you’, it would not have the same meaning, even to atheists, as if they had said ‘God bless you’. So at least the meaningful concept of God does exist (or the whole ‘does He exist?’ question is completely meaningless).
So let’s now look at science. Does a kilogramme exist? Of course it does, most would say. Prove it! Well, there’s one in Paris. Aha! Sorry that’s just a representation of a kilogramme, a bit like Michelangelo’s representations of God in the Sistine Chapel. No, a kilogramme is but an idea; a concept. It’s a very useful concept with concise definition, but for all that, a concept. All of science is ideas and concepts. Some prove useful and bring about innovation and new technology. Some make good predictions and help us to understand the natural world in a different, ever evolving, but probably never finished, way.
So, when you get down and think about it (or, rather are forced to think about it carefully because of what one has witnessed), there really may be no fundamental difference between science and religion, certainly none worth fighting or generating bad feeling over. Both are ways of thinking about the truth – both are based on concepts or ideas.
Thank you very much for reading this and I hope that when you see God you’ll still be alive and able to do something about it – although I wish you luck with deciding what that should be.