Since the shift into a more alive presence of the indwelling God around Christmas, I have been interested in the relationship between Big Mind and the indwelling God. They seem to be mirror images of each other, and two ends of the same polarity.
Big Mind awakening to itself reveals itself as a field of awake emptiness and form (allowing any content, including what arises here and now), and the realization that there is no separate I anywhere in all of this. There is just the one I of the field as a whole, and no separate I, no Other. Big Mind is impersonal, and emphasized and in the foreground in nontheistic traditions (as far as I can tell.)
The indwelling God is on the other hand very personal. In my experience, an alive presence, infinitely loving, intelligent, receptive and responsive, a guide, teacher and healer, and present in the heart region. And this seems to fit with how others describe it, including among diksha folks where this indwelling God, Antaryamin, is sometimes talked about.
It seems that the indwelling God is emphasized and often in the foreground in theistic traditions, such as Christianity (and probably Islam… the Sufis certainly seem to emphasize the personal quality in our relationship with God.)
Impersonal and personal
So where Big Mind is impersonal and everywhere, the indwelling God is personal and right here, in the heart space of the physical body. The experience of it, at least for me right now, is of a fragment of God for this particular individual soul and human self, and a fragment that includes and reflects the whole of God. It is not diminished in any way, yet also right here and for this particular individual.
Theocentric and Christocentric
I sat at a coffee shop for lunch and made a couple of notes about this, before reading a little further in the intro to Mystics of the Church by Evelyn Underhill. And a little further down the page, she wrote about just this (I can’t remember having read anything about it before, but I also may not have paid attention before, especially since the indwelling God has not been in the foreground much before.)
In a Christian terminology, a Theocentric orientation is a focus on God as Big Mind, and a Christocentric orientation is a focus on God as the indwelling God. She describes the two in very similar ways to what I have found, especially in terms of the impersonal and personal qualities, and the indwelling God as an alive presence, infinitely loving and intelligent, infinitely receptive… infinitely active when invited, and functioning as a guide and master.
Both are equally important, and one tends to be in the foreground for some people and during some periods, then the other, or they can both be very much alive and present at the same time.
As a point of clarification, it is probably good to mention that even if there is an individual soul and human self here, and an aspect of God for and placed within this individual, there is still no I here. This individual, as all individuals and everything else, is inherently selfless. And that is exactly what Big Mind, and the Theocentric orientation, reminds us of – and make abundantly clear when it awakens to itself.
2nd, 3rd and 1st person relationships
With both Big Mind and the indwelling God, the three forms of relationship – second, third and first person – are each very much possible, and there is often a fluid shift among the three (and sometimes two or all three present at the same time.) Big Mind can be experienced as Other or You, and then as I, and then as It when we talk about it. And the same is true for the indwelling God… it can be You, then I, then It, and maybe two of those or all three at the same time.
Embracing both ends of the polarity
There is a very clear difference between Big Mind and the indwelling God, although they share – and are of – the same essence. To use some metaphors, we can maybe say that the indwelling God is a holographic fragment of the totality of God (Big Mind), or that the indwelling God is the drop and the totality the ocean.
And it is also clear how perfectly the two complement each other. Big Mind is impersonal, everywhere, all revealed as Spirit. The indwelling God, a very tangible alive personal presence, for this (inherently selfless) individual, a guide, receptive, active when invited.
One without the other leaves us only with half of what is possible, and half of what is already there… since they are both already there, waiting to be discovered, to awake consciously to itself.
Already here, and evolving
Both are already there, waiting to be noticed, but also evolving… in different yet related ways.
Big Mind is always already awake emptiness and form, independent of the particulars of form. At the same time, it evolves as form… in all the ways described by science and probably many more.
The indwelling God is similarly already here, as a fragment of God in and as this individual. And at the same time, this indwelling God seems to evolve as it is invited into our lives more consciously. More and more aspects of it is revealed. The dual relationship of the indwelling God as You and I is revealed in increasingly more depth. It evolves and changes as it is invited in, and as our individual soul and human self develops, matures and evolves. (At least, that is how it seems now.)