What do you see?
During April's "A to Z Blogging Challenge," I shared my perspective of the Tao as it pertains to the nature of the divine.
At its heart, the concept of The Tao is deceptively simple. "The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao." This is the very first line in the Tao Te Ching. This perspective simply says, "Defining something limits it. If you say, 'This is God,' then there are countless things in that definition that your version of God doesn't include. By creating your definition of God, you are limiting how you're willing to experience God."This perspective is something I embrace in my own path. It is also featured prominently in my novel, The Awakening. As one of the characters explains as they guide a new arrival through the afterlife...
"If God is able to encompass everything you believe Him to be, why do you think that He wouldn't appear differently to both of us? Do you think that if I were white, I would find God as a black man? Of if you were English, God would be an Arab? Each of us sees the divine differently. Christian churches don't often portray Jesus as a Middle Eastern Jewish man with a carpenter's callused hands and a face burnt by the wind and sun."Looking at the question of God in this way raises more questions than it answers. But why isn't that okay? For the divine to be... well, godly... it needs to be bigger than the mortal perspective. If we can fully comprehend something, then it's small enough for us to completely encompass. That perspective strongly infers that we're bigger than the divine - and I don't know about you, but I find that a very unsatisfactory end to our journey. Sure, in the moment we may find that understanding to be a comfortable thing, but things begin to look differently when seen through the eyes of eternity. Over a single calendar year, each of us grows and becomes more than we were before. Look back over the last ten or twenty years of your life and you'll quickly realize that you are a much different person that you were back then.
Now reverse that process. Imagine that you met God today and completely comprehended what it meant to be the source of the divine. Time moves forward and you continue to grow and change, yet God remains the same as your initial understanding of the divine. How much would you change over a decade of eternity? Over a century? A millennium? Would the way you evaluated God be more or less than it began if the divine remained the same as you grew to understand it on Day One and you're looking back from a perspective that has continued to grow for more than a thousand years?
Spirituality teaches us that we are a fragment of the divine ourselves. Whether you are an old-school Creationist or embrace one of the newer schools of thought, we believe that we were created from divine energy. All of creation is. If you rewind time to just before the Big Bang, when there was nothing physical anywhere for our universe to spring from, we reach a point where the physical realm's laws no longer apply. From my perspective, whatever is beyond the physical is, by definition, spiritual. If this argument is even remotely accurate, then all of reality was created from spiritual material, simply because nothing else existed when physical reality was born. This means that reality is much more fluid than we've ever imagined and that the "divine" is present in every molecule, moment, and possibility. Both traditional shamanism and quantum physics embrace this concept, although it is given different labels by each perspective and framed in different ways.
When I teach workshops in traditional shamanism and spirituality, we have an exercise that I refer to as "The God Game." Paper and pens are distributed to the class and each of us writes down all of the characteristics we see when we consider God. Compassion. Kindness. Strength. Gentleness. It doesn't matter if you believe in a Father God, a motherly Goddess, or simply a divine expression of Spirit - what's important is that it's how you see the divine. After everyone is done making their list, we share them with the class. Each list is unique. Even in large groups, there are never two lists that are exactly the same.
So which list is accurate and correct?
All of them. Each and every list is right.
See, the divine is too big a concept for any of us to comprehend. There are only a handful of us who can understand advanced mathematics and yet there are countless people among us who claim to understand the nature of the divine. What we see when we consider the divine is simply our own sacred nature. When we look at God, when we make that list, what we're doing is seeing ourselves. Remember, all of reality is created from sacred energy. It makes sense that our definition of God is based upon the sacred energy that is always with us, that we are closest to - ourselves. That list is us at our best. Some call it our "higher self;" I like to refer to it as our core. That's why every list is different. God is too big for us to ever comprehend, but if we put in the work, we can reach the point where we can begin to embrace the unique and sacred expression of the divine that makes us who we are at our core.
The reason why people get so defensive about religion isn't because someone is challenging their God, but because the person doing the questioning is inadvertently challenging the believer's perspective of themselves. Extending this concept to its logical conclusion, when one holy person offers those who follow them a single perspective of the divine, a religion is born. It's why every religion is different - yet at its core, they share similar values. Each religion isn't a complete repository of the truth, but the perspective of the individuals who are drawn to that common theme. Remember, the divine is a concept that we aren't capable of fully comprehending. What we see is a mirror of the piece of the divine that was crafted to form "you."
This concept is explored in the version of the afterlife found in The Awakening.
"Like I said, [Heaven] isn't an exclusive club. There are Christian churches here, just as there are places of worship for other religions. No one fights about their beliefs anymore. They all believe their deity is the same, that it's one source of the divine that each religion simply follows in their own way. Paradise is a place of tolerance... You'll have to go to [Hell] to find those that would suppress another's beliefs."The Awakening (May 13, 2011) sets the stage for A Tide of Shadows (May 2012), which in turn builds to the climax found in Days of the Fallen (May 2013). You can read the first three chapters online for free. The Awakening will be published on Friday the 13th in both paperback and ebook formats.
Secret One: Aleph (May 1st)
Secret Two: The End (May 2nd)
Secret Three: Angels (May 3rd)
Secret Four: The Bloodline (May 4th)
Secret Five: Heaven and Hell (May 5th)
Secret Six: What Does God Look Like? (May 6th)
Secret Seven: Working Miracles (May 7th)
Secret Eight: The Four Horsemen (May 8th)
Secret Nine: Small Town Mysteries (May 9th)
Secret Ten: Photographing the Paranormal (May 10th)
Secret Eleven: Blood on the Threshold (May 11th)
Secret Twelve: Find the Thread (May 12th)
Secret Thirteen: How Does the World End? (May 13th)