Who are you, Lord my God, and who am I? 3

Jacob Needleman

Such strange experiences like that described by Jacob Needleman and that I included in the last post, he believes reside in a certain ‘place’ in the psyche and over a lifetime gather together and deepen one another.

There they form as it were another life, another identity. There they, as it were, give form to the higher force-without-form that is the deeper Self which defines the essence of every human being … This second self I have learned to think of as the real meaning of the word ‘soul’. And the question I wish to open is: is it only the soul that can say in truth, ‘I am’, ‘I exist’? And is it only the soul that can know and be known by that higher ‘something’ that religion has called ‘God’? Heretical thought? Or the liberating, joyous truth that somehow and somewhere we have known all along?

We have known it.

Here is God within us – individually and collectively for every person has approached a genuine experience of God, often without knowing it or having the means to understand the significance of what has been experienced.

Needleman describes a student of his Verna, who had come to every class for 5 years – a serious student, a woman of almost 90 picking up his idea on this and saying to him: ‘I don’t understand what you’re talking about when you talk about God. Where’s the evidence.’ Needleman finds himself silent, attentive and steadily alert: no impulse to explain or help. No craving to protect his self-image, though while he waits to reply to Verna other students were becoming anxious and questioning what the woman meant by ‘evidence’. He finally responds by saying that there may be different kinds of knowing.

It may be that past a certain point the question of God cannot be approached with the mind alone … the human psyche may be much, much more vast and complex than we can imagine … there’s a knowledge in the mind but there’s also a knowledge in the heart and in the body.

Needleman suggests to the students that all the different sources of knowing have the possibility of being brought together, and from there the question of God can be approached. He writes that he was not interested in persuading or even helping Verna but rather speaking to a different part of her.

All that was needed was that I speak, or be, in a way that allowed Verna-behind-Verna to appear. But also … it was not Professor Jacob Needleman …speaking. This I now see very clearly. It was, to a degree. I-behind-me who had arrived in the room.

And Verna looked at and through Needleman – the look of an awakening mind and  as he adds that is wonderful enough – but there was also something more … ‘entirely more’ going on as she listened.