There are two atheisms of which one is the purification of the notion of God– Simone Weil
One atheism is a rejection of there being any God or Spirit or anything divine. Typically, it’s actually a rejection of a certain image of God or the divine, or of a certain culture that goes with one or more religions, although it’s often presented as something more general.
The other is more discerning. It’s a differentiation between our mental representations of God from what these mental representations refer to. We can reject our images and mental representations without rejecting God or the divine. This is a purification of the notion of God.
The first is a belief. It’s a belief that there is no God or divine. We are attaching to ideas as if they are the reality. The second is a sincere exploration of the difference between our ideas and reality itself.
A CONVENTIONAL EXPLORATION OF THE SECOND ATHEISM
A conventional exploration of the second atheism is what I mentioned above.
We notice our images of God and the divine and reality as a whole. We get to know them. We recognize them as mental representations.
And we set them aside. We know that God and reality is always different from and more than our ideas and maps. We find humility here. We find receptivity. We find curiosity.
We ask God to reveal itself to us – in ways beyond and free from the limits created by our ideas and notions about God and reality and anything.
(Note: I should mention it’s been a long time since I actually read Simone Weil so I don’t know if this is how she would talk about it. This is me, not her.)
ANOTHER MORE IMMEDIATE EXPLORATION
For me, this is how the second one looks:
In one sense, I am this human self in the world. It’s what others, my passport, and my thoughts sometimes tell me. It’s an assumption that’s not wrong and it works reasonably well. It’s also an assumption I need to learn and a role I need to learn to play in order to function in the world.
And yet, what am I more fundamentally in my own first-person experience? What do I find if I set aside my ideas about what I am and instead look in my immediate experience?
I find I more fundamentally am capacity for any and all experiences. I am capacity for the world as it appears to me. I am capacity for whatever appears in my sense fields – in sight, sound, taste, smell, sensations, and mental representations.
I find I am what the world, to me, happens within and as. I am what the world – this human self, others, the wider world, any experience at all – happens within and as.
I find myself as what thoughts may imperfectly label consciousness. I find myself as the oneness the world, to me, happens within and as. I find myself as no-thing which allows the experience and appearance of any and all things. I find myself as having no boundaries and no inherent characteristics, which allows the experience and appearance of boundaries and any characteristic.
I find that another word for the oneness I am is love. It’s a love that’s independent of any states or feelings. It’s a love inherent in what I am. It’s a love often obscured by my very human hangups, issues, and traumas.
To me, the world happens within and as what I am, within and as consciousness, within and as oneness, within and as love. To me, the world appears as what a thought may call the divine or God.
The small interpretation of this is that this is all psychology. As a conscious being, to myself I have to be consciousness, and the world as it appears to me has to happen within and as consciousness, within and as what I am. I cannot generalize from this and say that this is how reality or all of existence is.
The big interpretation says that everything is as it appears. Everything is consciousness and the divine. Everything is God.
If we call existence God, then this is the atheism that is the purification of the notion of God.
This is the atheism that differentiates our ideas about God, ourselves, and everything, from what’s here in our immediate noticing.
I find myself as having no inherent characteristics, which allows the experience and appearance of any and all characteristics.