Some of the mystical movements and notably the words of Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee suggest that this is God’s world and that this is God’s story, and that we must take a part in God’s story; in other words, our lives are not about us, they are about God, and we must focus on God and not ourselves; otherwise, we’ll never find happiness.

This is a difficult thing for me to do for several reasons.

First, the notion that we must focus on God and not ourselves is fantastic- if one believes in God, if one has a clear idea about who, or more importantly, what God is, and if one has a clear idea about what God expects from us. In this case, a devout Catholic (or Anglican) has it much easier than the devout Gnostic or Sufi or New Ager. If one firmly believes in God, and then if one has a “rule book” that relates one to that God, well, you’ve no problem. I should add that if one experiences God, that this applies as well.

Second, what happens when you aren’t even sure what God is, and then you aren’t sure that God exists at that, and then you aren’t sure what God’s standards would be anyway? I can’t trust a Holy Book from any religion simply because it is a Holy Book. So a religion may have rules, and they may claim these rules come from God, thus setting the standard for our behavior and how we are to live.

But I don’t buy that.

If someone asks me if I believe in God, I can’t give them an answer, not a clear one, not an easily articulated one. There’s no belief in me of an Old, Bearded Man Sitting on a Throne, the “classic” image of both Zeus and Jehovah. I don’t believe in that. Period. But do I acknowledge that the cosmos may have a binding force that holds us all together, that is aware of us in a way that we can’t imagine, that perhaps even loves us and wills us into existence? Sure. I can see that, totally.

Now, I want to point out that originally and even today, MUCH OF CHRISTIANITY ACTUALLY VIEWS GOD THE FATHER IN THIS WAY. This is not the “popular” image of God that’s espoused in the media and in many of the Evangelical churches, which take a more literal reading to the Bible, but the “formless” Ground of Being was one of the first aspects of God identified in Christianity and used to counter to the Jews; in other words, early Christians pointed out that the Jews had anthropomorphized God and done a disservice to him in the process. This is one of the reasons that the Incarnate Christ was such a big deal. The Ultimate Cosmic Force condensed Itself into one particular human form- not a small feat.

But back to the point. My skepticism is still quite present inside of me because of disappointment after disappointment with different religions and philosophies. The ultimate problem I’ve found is that it comes down to squabbling over highly abstract systems that have little bearing on reality. Some might argue that the systems tell us how to think and therefore how to act. I would say this can only be true to a certain degree, but that isn’t the point of this blog entry.

The question is, if you don’t really believe in God, how can you live your life for him?

The “bubble” that Llewellyn and others wish to burst is simply the idea that our lives are only and strictly about us. Well, not everyone has the idea that their life is strictly about themselves and no others, so the presupposition is shaky as it is, but for me, I have found the selflessness comes at the service of other people, namely those people with whom I have fallen in love. As the old saying goes, “Being deeply loved gives us strength; deeply loving gives us courage.”

Only when I have been deeply in love have I had courage to face things I would otherwise not face. I have done the craziest things, things that would have otherwise made me cower and quake, for the sake of love.

The Sufis speak of loving God, of God being the Beloved. Again I cite the problem: how are we to love a Nameless, Faceless, Bodiless, Amorphous Nothingness? Loving Christ, the image of Jesus, came easier to me, yet even that image is tainted.

If there is a God, and God will show me what it means to love It, then BRING IT ON.

Certainly, a life where one is only concerned with one’s self is going to have negative results. One will never be happy this way, or fulfilled, in any substantial way. So there is a merit in saying that one should “live for God.” But again, in practice, what does that really mean? How does one do that when one doesn’t even really have the same definition of “God” that most people do, and how does one do that when one doesn’t really even have a sense of God really existing?

And since I asked Keegan to read this, I’ll mention him in here as well at this point: after many debates about religion, he finally told me the truest thing that he ever said to me: “You have a really weird definition of religion, dude.”

That’s a perfect statement of me and how I approach religion as a whole: I don’t understand Christianity as most (not all) Christians do, and it’s likely that I don’t understand Sufism as most Sufis do, though that’s not the same kind of gap. But I’m not a “heretic” in the traditional sense where I simply don’t agree on a few doctrines or dogmas. My entire approach to religion is different than most religious people’s approach, and truth be told, many would label me more agnostic or even atheistic than they would theistic and religious.

So the point is, in line with Keegan’s words, I see religion as a tool, as a means to an end, not as an end in itself. This is perhaps where Bernadette Roberts and I would part ways in terms of the Holy Eucharist, as she affirms that it is an end in itself as THE Cosmic Christ, and I would say the Holy Eucharist is the means to Nirvana while also (potentially) being an end in itself. I could be wrong, and time will tell.

Maybe the reality is that one can’t understand God or religion until one has gone through other religions and even through atheism. Who knows?

This gave me another idea to write about.

Beaux


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