Saturday, September 24, 2011

Subtle is the Lord

Part of the homework my spiritual guide assigned me this past month was to reflect on my image of God. (The other part was to start thinking about spending 10 minutes a day in meditation.)
Aack! Maybe this is how spiritual guides separate the wheat from the chaff, or something -- weed out the faint-hearted and hold on to the true believers, or criminally insane (a fine line there). Not sure which category I'm in!

Describing God has proven incredibly difficult for me to do. Perhaps it is because "my" image of God (not to be confused with the actual Lord, as such) has been changing, evolving, becoming something yet to be defined. Maybe, never to be defined with any precision. I think I prefer God to be truly mystical and beyond the reach of human comprehension, or perhaps I just realize my limitations here.

After contemplating the state of my confusion for the past several weeks, I think I am ready to write about it.

First, I have a bone to pick with God. (Where did that expression come from?) I shared with Karen how hurt and angry I feel at God for my Dad's situation. Dad's situation is symbolic of the suffering everyone encounters in life. If God were all-powerful, S/He would not want his creation to suffer the way we do, every day. The suffering of my Dad, and my family by extension, is minimal compared to the daily brutalities endured by people in other parts of the world, who are starving to death alongside their children, dying of preventable diseases, homeless and traumatized by violence, illiterate, poor ... That is the real story. My Dad's struggle with cancer is a microcosm of the enormous suffering and groaning of this world. Perhaps in the pangs of birth; more on that later.

So my God is not all-powerful. That does not compute, because then God would not be loving or compassionate.

I also thought about trying to paint God instead, a swirl of all colors, brilliant and mystical. I'm no artist, but that is how desperate I am. Words fail me in this instance.

Einstein said, "Subtle is the Lord." I think he was thinking of quantum physics at the time, but don't quote me. I am taking more of the scientist's tack on this Lord business, lately. Sort of a skeptical view, like Carl Sagan. He seemed to recognize, reluctantly, an intelligence in every aspect of the cosmos that defied the usual secular explanations of random events. But where is the creator now? Certainly this is not the same being as God, our personal savior, God the father/mother.

That is, this Creator set us all in motion, the entire universe, and is letting us spin merrily (or not) away, without any more tinkering. God is not involved in shaping history, neither global nor personal. There is no personal intervention in our lives. Therefore, it would seem by logical extension that there is no power in prayer, which I know from experience is a false statement. Here is another contradictory feeling I have often, that certain events in my life have been planned, for me to discover or learn from. And yet it seems that God is impossibly remote and unconcerned when I see all this suffering.

Today, it occurred to me that I should try to find Biblical references to people who are in the presence of God. What does this mean to them? How does it feel? Being with God has been very much on my mind, as I begin to find 10 minutes a day to consciously spend "in the presence" of God. At the very beginning, I asked God to be present with me. But this sounded out of tune, and I realized what I was asking already was; it was I who had strayed away and needed to come into the presence of God, not the other way around. "Come into his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise," says Psalm 100.

Another Biblical passage that speaks to me while in meditation is God's exhortation to Moses at the burning bush: "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is hallowed ground." I meditate in sock-feet or barefeet, and it bothers me that my feet may get dirty as a result. But wasn't that the point? Moses had been in hiding long enough. Time to get his feet dirty. This is one passage I had to re-enact, in part, to understand better.

Anyhow, I looked in the concordance to find other instances where people are in God's presence. This led to the delightful insight that God is often referred to as the Presence in the Bible, especially the Hebrew scriptures. I like that. The Presence.

My own inadequate attempts to meld the influences of physics and Buddhism, together with Judeo-Christianity, all together in my spiritual journey (think "Kumbaya" here), lead me to think that God, as a separate being, is not all-powerful. The power is invested in, embedded into, all of the creation. The creator apparently gave away this energy in quite a profligate way. We are all energy, and how we use the energy is what directs the universe. I mean every thing in the universe. We all share the same building blocks of energy, however poorly we may understand them. How can we as humans make effective use of our energy? By being present, fully present, in each moment. This is how we become God's agents, little pieces of God. You see how difficult this is to describe.

I think as we become more present, we also lose our boundaries and merge into a higher consciousness. Time for some new-age music here! An imaginary bell rings once -- to start meditation time -- and let's see, I am imagining some cacophony of exotic, Indian-sounding instruments playing quietly, in the background. Or perhaps we should be listening to "Kumbaya." Chant with me now: OOOOOHM, OOOOOHM, with slow, deep breaths, all together. Aaah! I feel so energized! Don't you?

The suffering of the world is the sign that the grand potential of this collective energy, consciousness, has not been fully born into the world yet. Many people, most everyone actually, are still trapped in their ego boundaries. (Me, too.) This idea of God is also consistent with Buddhism, which always makes me happy. There is suffering; there is an end to suffering. "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." Two human attempts to describe something that is wonderfully hard to describe in human terms, and harder to understand.

I need to put some pictures here sometime. First someone needs to take them! Austin's senior pics are the most current we have on hand.

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