Friday, June 19, 2009

A very busy God

A few postings ago (Perspective) I told you about a star, The Pistol Star, in The Milky Way that is as big as the orbit of the four inner planets in our solar system. This star is about 25,000 light years away. For those not familiar with it, a light year is the distance that light can travel in one year. Light travels at about 186,000 miles per second so that makes 1 light year about 5,865,696,000,000 miles. Now multiply that by 25,000 and you have a number too large to really digest but you get the idea of the distance. It’s farther than we could ever go even with the very best technology that we currently have anywhere on the planet. For all practical purposes to our species, it is useless. The other amazing thing is that 25,000 light years away is STILL in the Milky Way. The real kick is that the Pistol Star is tiny compared to our galactic center.

Beyond our own galaxy however, there are countless other galaxies with countless stars and limitless planets. Any direction we travel from our little planet just leads us to an infinite array of planetary bodies and stars. For the majority of people reading this, probably none of this information comes as a surprise. It may not be something you spend as much time thinking about as I do but it’s probably not news. I’m fascinated by outer space. I dream of being in a space ship which could take me to see these places. Alas, currently no such ship exists for me so I sit here dreaming.

When I think about the teachings that the current world religions offer us and the belief about whom and what God is that comes from these teachings, I’m left mystified. These teachings basically project all of our tiny human qualities onto some judgmental super-human-being which has peppered this planet with little clones of it. They teach that this being did a little magic and presto we had a planet with plants, animals and people. According to the “literal interpretation” of the Bible it took six days to make all this and another one to rest. (I say “literal” because clearly Genesis is a metaphorical story and not a documentary.) Given that, how long must it have taken to create the rest of our solar system, the rest of the Milky Way and the Universe? Remember, that text was written at a time when we thought the Earth was the center of everything and the sun revolved around our beautiful little lonely planet. The truth of our existance hasn’t changed though but our understanding and awareness of that truth has. That is the nature of expanded consciousness.

So if this is true, as those who follow Bible based religions believe that it is, then this means that God also created the Pistol Star. My question then is why would this superhuman being spend the time necessary to create a massive star like this and put it so far away from us? That star and the infinite galaxies which exist even within just the small portion of the Universe that we can see, are all beyond our reach and for the most part, our comprehension. Why would this being of unlimited potential and power waste its time and energy making all of that stuff if we are its only offspring? That just does not add up. Of course that is based upon using a limited human brain with the same qualities that we project onto our notion of God to try and figure it out.

For those following these religions, even the notion of questioning the existence of God is taboo. That is very sad to me especially as someone raised in the Baptist Church. I used to feel that questioning God’s existence was certainly a one-way ticket to hell. I understand the fear associated with stirring those contemplative waters. I hope those reading this that are holding on to that fear will stay with me through this because I’ve found that for me this questioning has led me to a more expanded understanding of the concept of God.

Anytime that we try to use words to convey concepts, the depth of the comprehension of that concept is limited by the definition of the words we use. As Samuel Johnson, author of The Dictionary of the English Language said “words are the daughter of Earth…(the) things (they represent) are the sons of heaven.” The words we choose unlock images and thoughts in the mind of the receiver. Those words pass through the filters of experience and knowledge and the resulting understanding is what the recipient is left with. This is why two people can hear and/or see the same thing and two different interpretations of it will result. The experiential data is the same but the filters are different.

Given that, when you hear (or read) the word “God” what ideas arise in your thoughts? Take a minute to notice those thoughts without judging them or trying to pick and choose the thoughts. Just allow whatever thoughts arise from thinking of the word and simply make a mental note of them. Think about the qualities you associate with this being. Think of the stories you’ve heard, things you’ve been told and perhaps even the experiences you might have had. All of these inform your understanding and definition of God…but they also limit it.

Examining those definitions now, what are some of the words which surfaced in your mind? Were they all of our more desirable human traits but perhaps magnified to a degree that you feel is beyond your ability to achieve? Doesn’t every one of the qualities that you associate with this infinite being reside within you, even if you believe to a somewhat lesser degree? Perhaps the abilities that you associate with this entity however are far beyond those you believe that you possess. Aren’t those abilities however based upon what you’ve been told or read? Perhaps you’ve even embellished those stories to make them seem even more superhuman. Remember, what we believe to be true is true to the believer because our thoughts shape our reality.

The point here is that no matter what word, phrase or concept you associate with God, it’s limited by those very words. Words are human creations. Anytime you try to describe something you have to use words and concepts that we’re all familiar with to comprehend the subject. In the very act of trying to describe the Indescribable, the Infinite, the Unknowable, we immediately limit it by the words we choose. Yet to convey a concept, words are necessary. In this case to describe it is to limit it but to limit the Infinite is to miss it. It is a tricky catch-22.

My purpose here is not to negate your understanding of the Divine but rather to attempt to encourage you to expand the concept. I think it’s important to see how we project all of the qualities that we know of as ego-based human beings onto a being of infinite potential. Even thinking of the Divine as a “being” is limiting it. I think it’s also important to understand what is the work and product of man and recognize its limits. Understanding those limits helps you begin to expand your consciousness. Helping you expand your consciousness is my purpose here. By letting go of limits and surrendering into the Infinite everything becomes possible.

How do your limits restrict your view of the world? The Universe? The Divine?


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