Chattering Mind

Chattering Mind

Better to Know God Than Believe in God

Hey guys, I’m wondering why nobody responded to that William B. Yeats quote I posted a few days ago. It made my week, so I was hoping it would leave you similarly dazzled. The fact that the great Irish poet writing a friend in the last letter before his death could say that he was happy and that he’d finally discovered something he wasn’t sure he’d ever understand, and that the summation of what he’d realized was that man can never know “truth,” he can only embody it…well, that whole passage leaves me happy and at peace. One theme of this blog is that life is best savored when we quiet our internal chatter, and integrate a loving spirit into all we do. The Sufis say it is better to know God, than to believe in him. I believe that too.


Reading what Yeats took his lifetime to decipher, and having that passage available when I am not yet dying, well, it makes me feel blessed and so grateful. This morning, I felt the need to return to the passage. How gorgeous can life get?

Yeats was a Theosophist, someone who subscribes to the theory that there is a divine plan, that all religions speak some truth, and that despite appearances, everything is intelligently leading towards good. I’ve been reading up on the philosophy, which still has its own societies and magazines.

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Margaret Gillespie

posted July 17, 2006 at 4:23 pm

I total agree with the statement it is better to know God than to just believe in Him. The Bible says even satan believed in God but where did that get him. You need a personal relationship with God and a Love for Him in your heart. Believeing in someone and knowing someone has two different meanings. God go with you.>

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posted July 18, 2006 at 5:36 am

While it is an attractive quote, I think Yeat’s theosophist beliefs simply get in the way. The concensus among the wisest (Buddha kept a “noble silence” when it came to questions about God), is that, knowledge of self is the beginning of true awareness. As another wise man once said, when we ourselves are confused, our internal world akin to a smoke-filled house, what can we know about God and such things? True self-knowledge, without condemnation or judgement, brings clarity and lucidity. Perhaps in that clarity and lucidity lie all the answers about God and the like.>

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JoAnne Hughes

posted July 18, 2006 at 5:12 pm

For us who may have “tuned in” after the show started last week it would be appreciated for you to restate the quote so that your address has some meaning!>

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Wesley Brice

posted July 18, 2006 at 7:03 pm

What a foolish statement by one that probably did not know God. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free”. The Apostle Paul wrote, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” How else could one have any knowledge of God escept through His revealed truth and the work of the Holy Spirit in us. Wes Brice>

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posted July 18, 2006 at 9:06 pm

Doesn’t sound like you can do either if you don’t KNOW Him first! You can’t KNOW anyone until you BELIEVE in Him.>

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posted July 19, 2006 at 12:28 am

One has to be free to know the truth, and belief is simply the acknowledgement that one doesn’t know. It is the chattering mind that makes the assumption of God, either as a result of conditioning, fear, or the comfort it might derive from believing some superior being takes note of them. As St John of the Cross said, and I paraphrase, ‘If I put my hands over my eyes, I cannot see the sun. Likewise, if my mind is covered with ideas and beliefs about God, I shall never see God.’>

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alana perrault

posted July 19, 2006 at 1:28 am

For JoAnne (and others) who may have “tuned in late” here’s the original post/quote: “I am happy, and I think full of an energy, an energy I had despaired of. It seems to me that I have found what I wanted. When I try to put all into a phrase I say, ‘Man can embody the truth but he cannot know it.’ I must embody it in the completion of my life. The abstract is not life and everywhere draws out its contradictions… A Sufi leader teaches his students to regard all the negativity in their lives as a gift from God, to observe and ask, ‘What is there in this that returns to me because it comes from me?’” –William Butler Yeats, in his final letter to Lady Elizabeth Pelham.>

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posted July 19, 2006 at 7:08 pm

I think its better to know the Divine than just to simply believe that there IS one “out there someplace.” I can believe that there is a tree on a hill in Nepal. So what? It means nothing to me. So much of this “belief in God” (or belief that there is one) is just as meaningless. But like the tree in Nepal, if I come to know and experience its shade, the light dancing thru its leaves, the feel of its bark and the protection it offers in a storm, by KNOWING it, I have been changed. By knowing and experiencing God, I am changed. By knowing and embodying the truth, I am changed. Otherwise, it’s a pointless mental exercise.>

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posted July 20, 2006 at 3:43 pm

lew, I refer you to Terry Pratchett (the following quote is from a fantasy novel, hence the reference to witches) – “Most witches don’t believe in gods. They know that the gods exist, of course. They even deal with them occasionally. But they don’t believe in them. They know them too well. It would be like believing in the postman.” (from “Witches Abroad”)>

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