Sunday, August 31, 2014

Bad Rep

I have come to peace with God.

The word, that is. A word that has a bad rep for many— me included. Growing up in the Christian Western Hemisphere, I associate it with the almighty, stern, wrathful, bearded guy who judges, smites, punishes his disobedient children and sends them happily to an eternity of hellfire. The word is charged with the echoes of all the people who had “God on our side” while they obliterated the Indians and enslaved the Africans and burned the witches and exterminated the Jews. The God I learned about encouraged us to blindly obey, accept, not to think, commanded us to convert the heathens, and made little children suffer sitting on hard pews listening to boring worn-out talk while the birds were singing happily outside. I didn’t like that fellow and I still don’t. We have nothing to say to each other.

But the notion of a spiritual force above or below or beyond or within the everyday material world—well, I’m down with that. Always have been. Caught glimpses of it throughout my life, heard it whisper in my ear, felt it tingling in my blood or blowing like a cool breeze on a hot day or covering me like a warm blanket on a cold night. God is one of the shortest names for it and thus, convenient, but its pseudonyms make an impressive list: G*d, Lord, the Almighty, the Omnipotent, the Deity, the Supreme Being, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Lord, Elohim, Yahweh, Jehovah, Jesus, Allah, Spirit, the Great Spirit, the Goddess, Mother Earth, the Beloved, the Friend, the Divine Child, Buddha, Buddha Nature, True Nature, Original Nature, The True Man of No Titles, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Krishna x 10,000 other Hindu gods and all the countless names from indigenous cultures worldwide. One principle, one experience, one revelation with a thousand different names and faces.

Reading the Persian poet Hafiz now, my translation uses the word God interchangeably with Sweet Uncle, Generous Merchant, Sky, Sun, Moon, Love, Beloved, Friend and more. Doesn’t particularly matter which you use. What matters is whether or not you have been graced with its presence.

So when I wrote today’s earlier blog about the one-letter difference between Gold and God as your motivating life force, I was worried about using that word God, concerned that people would think that I’ve sold out to that old guy in the sky, found my personal Saviour, gave up thinking, saw the error of my ways and was going to talk about God’s goodness in all future Christmas cards and encourage you to accept Jesus. So I suppose this entry is just a “for the record” clarification about what I mean by God and to make it clear how many different names I could have used.

Religion I have no use for, but to dig deeper into the spiritual purpose of our small existence and uncover the spiritual presence in each and every thing and person— well, that indeed is worthy work. And to do that work, God is a better driver than Gold and that’s Good. 

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