Maintaining the Diversity Within the Divine
People who have grown up in the Judeo-Christian and Moslem spiritual traditions have usually been taught to believe that the concept of one god is more advanced than the idea of many. But there are advantages to the many-faceted experience of the Divine Being. One is that by celebrating the rich diversity of supernatural forces within God, the believer is allowed to realize that the struggle between good and evil, creation and destruction, and life and death is not something that takes place outside the Divine Being, between a finite God and an external force like Satan. Not only is this way of looking at the Divine Being more honest, it also helps remind us of Its immensity. Unable to simplify the struggle between life and death to a “Good Guy/Bad Guy” scenario, we are forced to face the truth that the “God beyond God” is far more mysterious than our human comforts and discomforts.
In addition, polytheistic spirituality works against our normal human tendency to reduce God to a cardboard caricature of ourselves, our parents, or our tribes and nations. By maintaining the diversity within The Holy Thing and, at the same time, by recognizing Its ultimate unity, the believer can experience a Being whose very complexity blocks his or her attempts to trivialize, idolatrize, or domesticate It. The soul simply cannot grasp such complexity or shrink It to monoscopic proportions. Instead, it is forced to experience the Divine Being from a dazzling, multiscopic perspective. It is also forced to confront the absolute limits of all human ways of thinking. This can have the same effect on the soul that Buddhist koans do. Buddhist koans force the mind to imagine the unimaginable—“the sound of one hand clapping”—then to snap and release the soul into an ecstatic experience of oneness with its Source and final Destiny. That was the goal of the ancient Maya shamans and all those who, meditating on the complex unity of The-Holy-First-Father-Decapitated-Dead-Creating-Thing, tried to achieve oneness with the Mystery from which they had come and to which they hoped to return.
— The Shaman’s Secret, pp. 93-94