A favourite barb from the village atheist is to enquire, since both sides in a war invoke God’s support, how it can be that men can confidently fight each other certain that the same God is on their side. There are various ripostes to this point; perhaps the deity does not support either side—perhaps it is not enough invoke him, you do have to be righteous; and yet often righteous causes are defeated. The usual response is to say that God’s ways are inscrutable to man, so live with the mystery and pray—at which point the village atheist gives a pitying look and suggests that in that case you might as well do nothing; it is all a transparent ruse to rope people into wars to die for nothing—if you cannot know either way, why bother?
One possible solution is to say that different peoples have different gods to which they appeal—as in the pagan model, the two sides invoke different tribal gods; yet this is unsatisfactory because most sophisticated societies develop the “all-God” concept—the God of gods—and, being by definition the most powerful deity, it is to this deity that both sides will appeal.
The problem can be resolved if you look at spiritual matters as more akin to an amniotic fluid in which we float—perhaps we float in the cosmic egg, in the white. The fluid—or energy, vibrations as people usually say—can be pooled, directed, and focused through particular techniques. If we look at spiritual matters in this way, as a set of practices, rather like judo, and not as a set of truth claims then the situation becomes clearer. In a war, both sides might have similar techniques that sway the conflict on the spiritual level—or perhaps one side has barely any spiritual technology at all. Different sides can improve or lose their technique—a strong side, as with an athlete, could have a one-off bad performance.
This approach also explains how all religions can manifest various spiritual and supernatural powers to different extents; and, further, how people who go “mad” or “schizo” often attract supernatural events—they just tune in with a technique in a patchy way, as if they had read a book about judo, developed their own idiosyncratic moves, and then tried to participate in a judo competition. Similarly, people who report psychic experiences—sometimes become professional psychics—have, perhaps by accident, activated these abilities; sometimes they are so excited by a one-off event that they delude themselves about other events and so become the typical muddled psychic who is neither a complete fraud nor a complete adept.
In this way, religion is more like the difference between cricket and American football than the correct answer in a quiz; both sports involve different techniques, neither is “true”—or “the true sport”. Personally, I think these techniques are literal activities—mantras, physical positions, and breathing exercises; and also an invisible sound, the manipulable outline of a sound—if you can imagine such a thing—that constitutes the logos. Various people hit on these techniques in part, often in the arts—particularly in poetry and painting—and yet the systematic expression of this sacred science has been lost. Hence astrology is very patchy at present and Aleister Crowley refused to use it due to its unreliability, though people still derive limited results from it. If you ask me whether Christianity, Islam, or Judaism is true, then I would reply: “They work to different extents, in different ways—and to a different degree with different individuals and races.”
In essence, there is a circuit through which spiritual energies flow—these manifest as gods, goblins, angels etc—and these proceed from the hidden dog (unsayable) that is a contradiction, a 0 that is and is not; and so is often represented by Abraxas, half chicken and half snake. There is no point to the system, as with a fountain in a garden it gives and gives without care—the journey is the destination, 0. It is a joy to create.
The above system is close to that described by Nietzsche, although he never fully attained it—he was driven mad, as often happens, on his path to gnosis; hence Nietzsche was not an atheist, yet nor can he be considered a theist as commonly understood—he knew that objects can speak to you, my grandfather’s old walking stick talks to me even now. The soul is not a separate entity that leaves us and migrates elsewhere; rather, we are like light that flows through a slit aperture—upon death the aperture opens so that this material state is dissolved in a wider light; and this can be done in this life too, a move towards the absolute personality. We are the tip of an iceberg above the sea, on death the iceberg flips upside down to reveal the vast underside and our materiality becomes effectively nil (some icebergs are bigger than others).
Good and evil are more akin to poorly or well-executed exercises at the gym: you are welcome to render yourself weaker through unorthodox techniques; however, it will make you more powerful to desist—and that is what we mean by “good”. Innovation is not impossible—you could develop a new technique, it is just unlikely; and more likely that you have rediscovered a forgotten technique.
As with exercise, we can grow greater souls—or diminish them through laziness; and this evolution or involution continues in other states. As with physical exercises, not all people have the same inherent spiritual capacities—everybody can improve at basketball but unless they are tall they will never be the most excellent player; it is the same with spirituality, undemocratic. The Abrahamic religions would, unfortunately, reject the above schema and insist that they each represent the “one truth”—even if they are diplomatic about it sometimes. Yet their esoteric traditions—Eckhart, Sufism, Kabbalah—describe this system, since it is reality.