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Re-Defining God

“I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.” 

(Albert Einstein, 1954)

Albert Einstein often made ambiguous and mysterious comments about his beliefs in God. A scientist by profession, and deeply spiritual by nature, I think he was intentional about his ineffable God-comments.  He knew that talking about God with certainty would elude him from the God he was referring to.  As Lao Tzu said, “The Tao that can be spoken is not the Tao..”

Have you ever wondered, who God really is?

Last summer, I rented a cottage on Salt Spring Island, near Vancouver, to find out.  I had always wanted to live in a cottage in a lake, surrounded by forest and farm creatures.  Living a monastic-writer lifestyle was something I was always dreamed about, like Thoreau’s Walden Pond experience. Being in a beautiful place, I felt deeply nurtured.  It was the perfect place to delve into my writing and spiritual practice.  The first morning I was there, I sat up in my bed for meditation, pointed my finger in the air, and said in a serious tone “God, this is about you and me.”

What I really wanted to know was “What should I do with my life?  What is my true calling.. my destiny?”  I thought having a direct line to God would be a good way to find out.

After 2 months of solitude, spending most of my days on the lake, collecting firewood and wandering through the forest, I received the most unexpected message in my meditation, “Detach!  Detach!” Surprised, I re-centered myself and said to myself “OK, detachment” and began to meditate on the energy of detachment.  Then, what came next, came as a total shock – a slap in the face, “Detach from God!”

“What???” I thought to myself, feeling betrayed and somewhat embarrassed, not realizing that I’ve always been something of a God-chaser my whole life.  Feeling humiliated and rejected, anger quickly took over.  “Fine! I’m just going to do – whatever I want!”

That’s when I decided, “I’m gonna have fun.”  And fun I had.  I visited the goat cheese farm next door, played with the farm animals, and often played ball with Ziggy, the neighborhood border collie, who was obsessed with chasing and retrieving balls.  I went into town more often for shopping and the farmer’s market, and startled mingling with more of the locals.  Then of course I indulged in my ultimate vice:  I started renting movies at the movie house, watching movie after movie, night after night.

One evening, I happened upon “Phantom of the Opera.”  I had never seen it before, but within a few minutes, I was completely taken with the film.   Andrew Llyod Webber, the composer, channeled what seemed like music from another dimension.  Somehow, masterfully, he portrayed the dark as beautiful.  One could not help but have compassion for the wretched Phantom in the end.

Something about this movie moved me beyond words.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, so I watched it several more times.  I felt like the movie was telling me something.  Everytime I watched it, something in my consciousness began to percolate. Webber’s movie contained everything as beautiful.  It did not divide the light from the dark, but intertwined the light and the dark, making it full of beauty and mystery.

The dark beautiful?  His movie made me think deeply about “who” I thought God was.  I always thought God was light, love.  Who had I projected God to be?  Could it be, that God could also be dark?  Who would say, what is light, what is dark?  I always thought God was someone secretly on my side, a good, virtuous person – shaking his head when I was wrong.. nodding when I did something right, somehow keeping tabs on my right and wrong-doings, even if no one else knew them.  But could it be, that perhaps this God I imagined in my head, was not the God that truly is?

I began to think deeply about where I got all my ideas about God.

Looking behind my every word, image, idea of God – man, woman, robed, bearded, good, bad, punishing, judging, knowing, all-seeing, bigger than me, somewhere above me, better than me.. I suddenly realized that each one was a projection I had created from my own mind – ideas that were adopted by upbringing, teachers and peers.  Who is God really?  Even the word “God” implies a singular being. Couldn’t God be plural?   What if God didn’t have a body or form?  Could God just be pure energy?  What if we looked at God less personally, as Einstein did, as some kind of sacred, geometrical design?

Wasn’t God after all, pure consciousness?  And if so, how would you communicate and co-create with consciousness?

Even though I had heard it a million times before, I looked around the cottage as if for the first time with new eyes and said to myself, “that’s God”.. pointing to the tree, then to the chair, looking everywhere, slapping my hand on my head, “Oh yes, God IS everything.  God is both light and dark.  God is ALL.”

I had to have this seemingly simple realization on my own, in my own way.  Detaching from God, I was able to experience God in a new way.  Or rather, detaching from my ideas of God, I could relate to God in a whole, new way.   Even today, my relationship with God continues to evolve and unveil itself in unexpected ways.

I have realized that God is who you make God to be.  Your beliefs and ideologies of God create your experience of God. When you begin to question your ideas, you open the space for a new God to come through.

I’m not here to convince you of who I think God is.  I think it’s our own personal responsibility to figure out our spirituality.  The Buddha said, “work out your salvation with diligence.”  I say yes to that.  But ask yourself, “are your ideas about God really your own?”  And more importantly, do they work for you?

Think about the God you’ve been relating to.    Who is the God in your head?

I believe we are in a time of re-defining God.  Letting go of our ideas of an Anthropomorphic God who judges and keeps tabs from afar, who is concerned with our personal affairs and the choices we make, a God attached to dogma and a long list of rights and wrongs, who only speaks to a chosen “few” – even a so-called “good” God who is only about love and good feelings.

We are in 2012!  It’s all about this new spirituality, a new sense of God, a big shift in consciousness.  Haven’t you noticed, people are referring to God with different names like Source, Divine, Consciousness..  could it be that we’re in the midst of having a God-revolution?

It sure feels that way.

So I leave you with these three questions for you to meditate on and think about.

1)   Who am I?

2)  Who is God?

3)  Who am I in relationship to God?

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