Here is a brief piece re ‘the God question’ which for many is a life-long troubling issue.
Q. Do you believe that you are the centre of the universe?
A. Assuming you say "No" –
then the whole of everything that isn’t you we can call the Whole.
that isn’t you, is
the Whole, Mystery,
or what some call God,
That Whole emanates
the life-force or Chi or ‘
the single Power behind the universe’
Either the Universe is One or it’s merely a heap of bits.
In the term ‘universe’ the ‘uni’ bit means single… as in unicycle or unicellular and the ‘verse’ part means sentence or spoken word. We might therefore read ‘universe’ as "single spoken word". Perhaps Hindu teachers would see the chant ‘Om’ as ‘the single spoken word’ behind the manifest world.’
‘Universe’ is also a single verse that is in continuous emanation – the Creation was not an act but a continuous reality – as someone said God is best understood as a verb not a noun.
All that is is God – and we can find God in two ways, by going in or going beyond. ‘Going in is to find God in immanence, going beyond is to find God in transcendence. Going beyond is transcendence and it is a good way to go to start.
The secret is to find a way that enables you to be still and to quieten what the Buddhists call the ‘chattering monkey that sits on our shoulder’ i.e the endless mind-chatter motivated by feelings of inadequacy, real or imagined hurts, distractions that fill silence because we cannot bear silence etc. In short the negative side of ego. A form of unitive meditation is the way to go and there is no better way than that taught by the Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh – see him or see his book ‘Happiness‘.
However you almost certainly are already having positive episodes of forgetting your self, and the world and its troubles, even if for only brief moments. In such moments you are like a drop that has lost itself’ in the Ocean – the unitive experience. You come back to the world of duality. These two the wing of unitive experience and the wing of the world of endless dualities – nice-nasty, up-down, acceptable-not acceptable etc need each other like yin and yang. We can also think of them simply has heart and head or soul and mind. Soul, because it leads back to God is infinite and mind is finite. The mind cannot comprehend the infinite so one essential in life is to realize that we have to live with not-knowing i.e. we have to live with Mystery.
Living with mystery in this sense must be true for all people unless they are raving megalomaniacs – including avowed atheists. God may be non-existent for an atheist, and in a sense they are right, but acknowledging that they are not the centre of the universe is inevitable, unless they are megalomaniacs.
All of the Whole’s
myriad powers, the water cycle, human thought , the evolution of hummingbirds
etc seem to
many to all
be tributaries that lead back to the single Ocean, the
Oneness, the Infinite – the Whole – or what some call God. It’s only a label and no label can properly stand for that which is Infinite because labels such that that to which they refer is a ‘thing’. We cannot thingify or it-ify God.
As the two wings of 1 at-one-ment and 2 of living in the world of dualities’ we each are a drop. When we manage to quieten the ego and get lost in the Whole we as the drop become part of the Ocean but of necessity in this world we re-merge to live again in the world of dualities – as Jack Kornfield’s bok says After the ecstasy the laundry.
The only thing that God isn’t is a thing, therefore God is a presence and is seen every which way and also experienced in those experiences of transcendence.
experiences or encounters
of the Whole, with the ego quietened ,
important than labels.
What are such encounters? – anything that enables us to transcend our puny puffed-up, fearful self. It might be a beautiful landscape, a child’s laughter, a piece of spiritual writing etc.
If labels like ‘God’ are problematic use instead
Whole ‘, ‘Mystery’
Ultimate Reality ‘
as an alternative.
The essentials are to be found in the Baha’is short obligatory prayer,
I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee.
I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth.
There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.
These three short lines affirm many things including;
1 I am not the centre of the Universe
2 I have a sense of purpose
3 I acknowledge my powerlessness
4 All is One
5 By admitting the whatever power I have is received in Grace, not a product of my ego, I can go forward in hope
Try a prayer or a chant or mantra because if we don’t plug in and switch on nothing happens and ‘nothing happening’ can last a life-time.
On the other hand we can go back to an anthropomorphic white male dominated view of God as a thing amongst things – and lose all faith – or draw up all drawbridges and become a fundamentalist!