Are you there God?
I’m a little scared, broaching this topic at 12:04 am… it’s not the kind of post you can just throw a few sentences at, and I am already exharrrrrsted… but I’m going to do me best!
I went to see a friend’s play tonight. It was pretty darn good, and he was fantastic in it. The play centers around the latest technological advances several years into the future… mainly, the ability to be fitted with an electronic brain implant which enhances cognitive response and motor functions among other things. At one point near the end, one of the characters exclaims that she is so much more sensitive to humans around her and that God is no longer an entity outside of her but that she now sees that “god is within each of us”. Hmmmmm, could this play really have been about meditation???
My mother is a practicing Catholic, and my father, a self proclaimed agnostic. I was raised Catholic, attended church every Sunday and spent 1st through 12th grade in Catholic schools. My father went to church with us when he could as a show of support to my mother and us kids, but it wasn’t until later that I realized he did not share her beliefs. One Sunday when I was 16, my mother was out of town, and I was responsible for getting myself and my sister and brother to mass. As we approached the church, it occurred to us that no one would ever know if we didn’t actually go in, so giggling, we turned around and got back in the car. Halfway home my guilt took over and I stopped at our local park. I made everyone get out, sit at picnic table together, and pray.
I am very grateful to both my parents for their differentiating religious views, I think it allowed us to feel as though we had a choice when it came to our beliefs, that we could use our own minds and hearts to decide what truly resonated within us. We are all extremely spiritual, and while we may not have followed either my mom or my dad in their choices, individually we have each found that which gives us the greatest sense of purpose.
I have often wondered why people are so concerned with each other’s beliefs. Does it really matter so long as we each find what it is that helps to make sense of this crazy world and our reason for existing in it? Who are we to judge what allows the next person peace of mind and a heart full of love? I am a huge fan of C.S Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia. I read the entire series on vacation a couple years ago and was blown away by his interpretation of religion and mainly, God. In the final book in the series; The Last Battle, Aslan(who is symbolically the “god” character) confronts a Calormene soldier named Emeth, who was raised to worship the malevolent Calormen god Tash; the antithesis of Aslan. During the final destruction of Narnia, Emeth meets up with Aslan in Aslan’s Country who tells him “all the service thou hast done to Tash, I accept as service done to me”and further explains “no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him”.
Through my exploration of Buddhism and meditation, I have found a path that makes sense to me. I read things on a daily basis that give me peace in my head and in my heart. It makes me see the humanity in all of us, and helps me to find compassion not just for my family and friends… but for the people who really need it the most. The lost ones, the selfish ones, the hateful ones. The people who stole my ipod and back seats out of my car this week(I am not joking, they truly stole my BACK SEATS). I really wanted to hate those people, but you know what? I just felt sorry for them. Sorry that they obviously live in the absence of love. Because if they really knew love, then they would never be able to make another human being feel like a piece of shit by taking something from them. I can honestly tell you that when I opened the back of my car and saw those seats were gone, the first thing I did was, well laugh… because, I mean c’mon, it’s kind of hysterical funny….who steals SEATS?? But in the next moment I felt so sad, and not for me… for them. Poor lost souls.
When it comes to religion, I think we’ve missed the point. Because if we really truly got it, then we’d stop judging each other for believing in something that maybe we don’t understand, and celebrate the fact that our neighbor has found something that makes him or her really happy. and at peace. and compassionate and kind. We’d stop using our beliefs as something that divides us, and instead remember how it unites us.
God is what is inside of each of us. When we look outside of ourselves for him/her, we lose sight of the fact that every person we meet, even the horrible, awful, cruddy ones…. is in fact god itself. Is in fact, something to be loved.
I think that God is even greater than what religion will have us believe. I feel that we limit ourselves when we think our little brains can even begin to wrap themselves around any true resemblance of what God really represents.
When I think back to the story about praying at the picnic table, I wonder what part of skipping church made me feel guilty. Was I worried about my mom finding out? Was I already the cliched guilty Catholic? Was I concerned about the message I was sending to my brother and sister? Whatever the case may be, I am certain about one thing. My siblings and I are kind. We are loving. We look for the best in people and try our best for people. We are all about joy, and laughing, and living this life the best way we know how. I attribute this to my parents, and to the fact that we were taught about something greater than us from such a young age.
Forget every idea of right and wrong
Any classroom ever taught you
An empty heart, a tormented mind,
Unkindness, jealousy and fear
Are always the testimony
You have been completely fooled!
Turn your back on those
Who would imprison your wondrous spirit
With deceit and lies.
Come, join the honest company
Of the King’s beggars –
Those gamblers, scoundrels and divine clowns
And those astonishing fair courtesans
Who need Divine Love every night.
Come, join the courageous
Who have no choice
But to bet their entire world
Indeed, God is Real.
I will lead you into the Circle
Of the Beloved’s cunning thieves,
Those playful royal rogues –
The ones you can trust for true guidance –
Who can aid you
In this Blessed Calamity of life.
Look at the Perfect One
At the Circle’s Center:
He Spins and Whirls like a Golden Compass,
Beyond all that is Rational,
To show this dear world
Everything in Existence
Does point to God.