Aspiring to Be Like God

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   A genuine human is in essence a manifestation of the Divine. 1   Our purpose--both during life and after--is to purify the channel of our being so that the Divine can express through us. In this essay, we shall first examine various teachings concerning how we should and can become like God. To become like God we must understand His essence. The second part of this essay constitutes a study of God's essence.

How We Should and Can Become Like God


To understand God, you must become like God.

Plato: 1

Plato: 2


The just man desires to be like God.


To know God, we must know ourselves.

P. E. More

Become a friend of God.


    We study God's essence in reference to the understanding that sagacious discernment constitutes spiritual apprehension 2 and comprehension. A recent, ongoing dialectical interchange between a Perennialist 3 and Plato has thus far transpired in this manner:

  • Perennialist: "Master Plato, how am I to apprehend and comprehend what you are communicating to me in this interchange in the supersensible domain?"

  • Plato: "You apprehend and comprehend what I am communicating to you by discerning (understanding and appreciating) my essence and thereby knowing what I am communicating in any given context. In this extramundane realm, we communicate through our essence and we apprehend and comprehend such communication by discerning the essence of the being communicating."

    "The Supersensible Forms, which I explicated for the first time in human history, are in reality elements of God's essence."

    "Beings in the supersensible realm communicate in a timeless manner, through their essence."

Ordinary, Terrestrial, Time-Bound Communication

In terrestrial, time-bound communication, a being creates various communications at specific times.

The recipient must be present during those times to receive the communication if it is verbal, or must experience a copy of the communication if it is recorded (sound or writing).

In either case, the recipient must be present with the communication to apprehend and comprehend it.

Supersensible, Time-Free Communication

    In supersensible, time-free communication, the essence of a being transmits communications intrinsically.

    The recipient is present wherever she wills and apprehends (receives) and comprehends those communications by understanding and appreciating the essence of the being communicating.

       Perennialists never attempt to concoct suppositious definitions of Deity or Supersensible Reality. However, they recognize that the meditative and discursive dimensions of Higher Reason enable them to gain an effective understanding of Deity and Supersensible Reality. As they awaken their dormant powers of transcendent discernment through Perennialist practices and exercises, they develop an awareness of their primordial endowment of oneness with the All.

       We have studied Plato's Forms as the various essences of the Divine, so a close study of these Forms will also help us to understand and appreciate the essence of God.

Time revealing Truth Ancient of Days (Move cursor over image.)

    Examining Plato's explication of Forms allows for close study of God's essence.

Humans Who Became Like God

    Perennialist savants have transmitted Higher Truth through not only their teachings but also by their very example of what it means to become like god. Persons who worked within the Perennialist tradition or were somehow connected with it include:

  • Hermes (life dates are indeterminate)
  • Pythagoras (died 497 BCE)
  • Empedocles (492-432 BCE)
  • Socrates (470-399 BCE)
  • Plato (427-347 BCE)
  • Jesus of Nazareth (4 BCE-29 CE)
  • Paul the Apostle (7-67 CE)
  • Dionysius the Areopagite (1st century CE)
  • Marcion (85-144 C.E)
  • Valentinus (second century CE)
  • Clement (150-220 CE)
  • Origen (185-252 CE)
  • Plotinus (205-270 CE)
  • Iamblicus (245-325 CE)
  • Boethius (475-525 C.E)
  • Geber (721-766 CE)
  • Hujwiri (died 1063 CE)
  • El-Ghazali (1059-1111 CE)
  • Abbot Suger of St. Denis (1081-1151 CE)
  • Shahabudin Suhrawardi (1145-1235 CE)
  • Shihab al-Din al-Suhrawardi (1154-1191 CE)
  • Ibn el-Arabi (1164-1240 CE)
  • St. Francis (1182-1226 CE)
  • Frederick II (1198-1250 CE)
  • Rumi (1207-1273 CE)
  • Albertus Magnus (1206-1280 CE)
  • Roger Bacon (1214-1294 CE)
  • Raymond Lully (1235-1315 CE)
  • Meister Eckhart (1260-1329 CE)
  • John Colet (1467-1519 CE)
  • Thomas More (1478-1535 CE)
  • Paracelsus (1493-1541 CE)
  • Giordano Bruno (1548-1600 CE),
  • William Shakespeare (1564-1616 CE)
  • Jacob Boehme (1575-1624 CE)
  • Benjamin Whichcote (1609-1683 CE)
  • George Fox (1624-1691 CE)
  • William Law (1686-1761 CE)
  • Emmanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772 CE)
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832 CE)
  • William Blake (1757-1827 CE)
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882 CE)
  • Mary A. Atwood (1817-1910 CE)
  • Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862 CE)
  • Frank C. Laubach (born 1884 CE)
  • Paul Brunton (1898-1981 CE)
  • Betty White (d. 1939 CE)
  • Stewart Edward White (1873-1946 CE)
  • Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948)
  • Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)

Jesus of Nazareth

    Jesus of Nazareth is one of a number of historic persons whose image has been so mangled by ideologues and zealots that it's extremely difficult to rediscover the true nature of their essence. So many different "pictures" of Jesus have been created over time, that we're left with an irreconcilable pastiche which does more to confuse than clarify. For many people in the world, the image of Jesus has been reduced to nothing more than a caricature.

      Following the debasement of Jesus' original teachings into ecclesiastical, sacerdotal monstrosities titled the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Holy Roman Church, and the Protestant Church, most Christian theologians proclaimed that true knowledge of Divinity comes through revelation, natural theology, and negative theology.

    Taking such authoritarians 4 as Martin Luther, John Calvin, Augustine, and Aquinas as its chief apologists, Christianity focused on revealed truth (as revealed to the dogmatists), on natural theology (as pontificated by such as Augustine and Aquinas), and their perversion of negative theology or Via Negativa (Latin for "Negative Way").

    Christian negative theology was a claim that one can achieve knowledge of divinity only by stating what God is not (apophasis), rather than by asserting what God is. This counterfeit claim was merely a part of the ecclesiastical despotism and depravity that characterized--and continues to characterize--orthodox Christianity.

     Jesus would not have taught that he was the Messiah promised in the Jewish scriptures. That concept of an anointed one (Christos), as Jesus pointed out, involved this person becoming an earthly king, a political-military ruler. The Christ concept was exclusively a Jewish idea. But the misguided Christian autocrats, including Peter, were trying to graft Jesus' teachings onto Judaism, the creed of one small nation. To carry this out, the church leaders had adulterated and garbled the original sayings of Jesus, adding the phrase "in order that it might be fulfilled" to everything Jesus did, to "prove" that he was the Jewish Messiah-King.

    Jesus was a teacher within the Perennial Tradition and as such is one of many persons connected to this tradition from which we can learn in our quest to become like God. Within the Perennial Tradition, persons do not strive to become like God because they see the Deity as a jealous, vindictive tyrant who demands absolute righteousness and punishes wickedness with eternal damnation. Perennialists aspire to be like God because they understand Him to possess the qualities of goodness, wisdom, truth, beauty, justice, love, creation, and unity, among many others. They seek to become like God because they see their own essence as oneness with God.

"There is another ultimate underlying potency (àρχñ) of the soul which is superior to the whole realm of nature and generated existence. Through it we are enabled to attain communion with the superior intelligences, of being transported beyond the scenes and arrangements of this world, and of partaking of the Life Eternal and the higher powers of the heavenly ones. Through this capability we are able to set ourselves free from the domination of Fate, and are made, so to speak, the arbiters of our own destinies. For, when the more excellent parts of us become filled with energy, and the soul is exalted to communion with superior beings, then it becomes separate altogether from those conditions which keep it under the dominion of the present every-day life of the world, exchanges the present for another life, gives itself to a different order, and abandons the conventional habits belonging to the external order of things, to enter and mingle itself with the order which pertains to the higher life."

Iamblicus (250-325 CE), The Egyptian Mysteries

Reference: Likeness to God in Plotinus and Plato


1 In this quotation, Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464 C.E.) explains that he believes that the "universal essence" [God] expresses itself through him.

"I have attained the capability of experiencing my own essence within myself, and for me this experience becomes enlarged into another, that in me and through me the universal essence expresses itself, or, in other words, knows itself. Now I can no longer feel myself to be a thing among things; I can only feel myself to be a form in which the universal essence has its life. At any moment I can have the higher experience that I am the form in which the universal essence looks upon itself. Then I myself am transformed from a thing among things into a form of the universal essence--and within me the knowledge of things is changed into an utterance of the nature of things. It is only in creating this higher cognition that man develops his nature, and only through the higher cognition of man does the nature of things come into actual existence."

2 Apprehension has historically meant becoming aware of or sensing an entity (person, object, or event). More recently it has taken on the added meaning of understanding an entity.

3 The Perennial Tradition: the secret legacy, the single stream of initiatory teaching flowing through all the great schools of philosophy and mysticism; see the author's book: The Perennial Tradition

4 Authoritarian: Characterized by or favoring absolute obedience to authority, as against individual freedom of thought