Watching the dark waters of the Suwannee River turn shimmering orange as the sun rose over the cypress trees during Easter Sunday Sunrise Service is my first memory of church. There wasn’t a stop light in the tiny town, but there was a little church with long wooden pews. Grandma and Grandpa knew everyone and even though I only visited every month or so, they all knew me too. There was a special feeling there. It felt like love.
Not long after, I remember my dad having a talk with me before going to pre-kindergarten because the school was Baptist and we were Methodist. Baptists do some silly stuff and he wanted to be sure I wasn’t confused by the untrue things they might teach me. For a four year old, that talk seemed a bit confusing.
By the time I was eight or nine we joined a church where people danced in the aisle and prayed for me while touching my head and back and speaking in tongues. I didn’t want to go to church or be around those people, but could tell they really felt something special: Dancing in the aisles, hands up to the sky, eyes closed, and smiling wide. Simultaneously I wondered what they were feeling and thought they were nuts.
Within a couple years we changed churches again. I had one dress, it was pastel with flowers. I was already extremely self-conscious and each Sunday I prayed that no one noticed me or that dress. Besides the dress, my most vivid memory of religion in my early teen years was learning how to distract myself in such a way that the entire service became inaudible. I thought church sucked and God didn’t seem very helpful.
God graduated from ‘often not helpful’ to an unpleasant dictator when I was seventeen. I seriously injured my knee and couldn’t get home to take care of my aging dog. I found him almost lifeless the next morning. To say this dog meant everything to me was an understatement. As I was sobbing, hobbling, and carrying my best friend in to the vet’s office to finish killing him, I knew without a doubt that this all happened because I was bad and God was punishing me for my sins.
Welcome to my made up movie of life and what I thought God was all about.
Miraculously, in my sophomore year of college, I found home: God, love, friendship and a beautiful feeling like I’d never experienced before. Everything changed, Christianity finally resonated with me, and I didn’t have to dance in the aisle. What a win. In a rather short time I had many massive realizations about life and God which were very much Truth.
God and I began quite a journey together which was set in motion with distinct guidance into the career of my dreams at the age of twenty two. It was the first time I fully surrendered and experienced the ease of following my heart.
The Rest of the Journey
Beginning in my late twenties questions began arising. By thirty I began to drift away from Christianity. In my late thirties I found God again. Now I am stronger in my faith than I ever have been, but religious doctrine no longer makes sense to me. God is no longer a bearded man in the sky. “God” is three letters that make up a word that humans created to label the ineffable. What those three letters designate is a formless energy.
The following is my understanding and take on religion and God. In short, religions at their essence point towards truth and love. Realize I am open and curious and these are my current views. Consider being open and curious as well. Let’s see what we see.
In form, ‘God’ is all things and is nothing at the same time. God is synonymous with Allah, Love, The Universe, Father, Source, Wisdom, Mind, Creator, Spirit, Soul, Us… and on and on. Each is a metaphor and a word that is pointing to the same thing. Words are inadequate to describe the indescribable, but we can try.
Describing this energy is much like trying to describe what chocolate tastes like to someone that has never tasted chocolate. Honestly, the only way that person can truly understand what chocolate tastes like is to hand them a piece of chocolate. After the creamy richness rolls over their taste buds they will know what that particular chocolate tastes like. Sure, tasting all the flavors of chocolate in the universe might be impossible, but at least they’d now have a personal and relatable experience of the indescribable.
This indescribable life force we call God is much the same. Each time you experience love and joy, you’ve experienced a flavor of God. Experiencing scenery that takes your breath away is another experience of God. Each time we know what to do without thought, that’s God too. God is in the sweetness of sadness as well. We are God. God is truly everywhere and everything.
Jesus was a beautiful man who understood and experienced God at a level most will never fully comprehend. Jesus wasn’t a special child of God though; God is in all of us and we are all special. Jesus is one of us; he does not live on a pedestal, though many have him on one in their minds. Jesus was unique in his understanding of life, love and the indescribable. Imagine the deepest love you’ve ever felt; now imagine feeling that way for everyone and everything. That is pure love, pure God. Jesus seemed to live in this space of pure love. The gift he had of living in that space is why he is special.
The Holy Books
The Bible, the Koran, and all others of the like are books of history and stories from a human’s point of view. In these great books, people speak in metaphor because what they are describing is indescribable otherwise. When we see what was written at its essence, what they are trying to point toward is Truth.
For example, It would be cool and all to live in the belly of a whale (and it makes for great Sunday school stories!), but no one actually ever did. The story of Jonah and the whale from the new testament of the bible was truly a story about a man who had a knowing that he was being called to do something. Jonah tried to overrule his knowing and go do something else. Suddenly there was a storm, Jonah fell out of a boat, and a whale slurped him up. When Johan was spit out three days later, he knew to follow his knowing.
No matter what we call the infinite creative force in the universe, we know that when we answer ‘The Call’ we come alive. When we go against our knowings, life can get rough, dark, and nasty… much like riding in the gastric juices of a whale’s belly during a storm. We truly can’t get it wrong, but why not go with our inclinations in the first place and skip being partially digested and spit out on to the beach in a pie of goo? See the sweet metaphor?
Each story in all of the great books can be seen in a similar way: metaphors and lessons for life; all pointing to the same infinite creative force in the universe, just with different forms.
Good and Evil
At their essence, religions around the world point to Truth and love. Man has also construed doctrine as a way to keep a tribe in check. A few weeks ago I had a nice, in depth discussion with two Christian missionaries in Greece. They shared, I shared, and it was pleasant.
One of the topics the missionaries and I spoke about was good and evil. They believe there is good and there is evil. My view is there is good and then there is just a misunderstanding which generates the appearance of the absence of good. A great metaphor for this is the “colors” black and white (in physics, neither are actual colors). The reason black and white aren’t actual colors is because they do not have wavelengths. White light is a combination of all the wavelengths of visible light. Black is the absence of light.
There are not evil people, there are sweet people trapped in evil thought. They are just living in the absence of their true essence much of the time. If we take people back to their true essence, there is such a beautiful feeling. Take a moment to remember the feeling of the purest love you have experienced… feel it now. Really, feel it. Take a moment to pause and do this.
Can you imagine being an ax murderer while in a feeling like this? Can you imagine stealing or being mean to someone while in that feeling? Shine the light and instantly there is no darkness.
Heaven and Hell
In the same sentiment as good and evil lives heaven and hell: If God is everything, where can hell be? The truth is that we are swimming in the pool of God, it’s just most of the time we don’t know it. We are caught up in our own minds. When we aren’t caught up and whirling away in thought it’s simple to see heaven and miracles every day everywhere.
Hell is a human construct and so is the idea of heaven being a place we must go to. The Universe (God) embraces us fully at all times (even right now). Do you know that you are God and you are Love? Death of our human body is often the point in time when we finally get to experience the feeling of love beyond what most can imagine. This is heaven. It is right here now; we just haven’t realized it yet.
Death (of the Form)
Death is a transition akin to birth. Death isn’t the thing that happens just before your period of great judgment by God. God is love. How can love judge? At our untouchable core (our soul) we are beautiful, perfect, and more than ‘good enough’. We are love. We are God. Our Human body is a beautiful vessel to come into and experience life. When our vessel stops working, we formlessly continue being a part of the ocean of everything which we never left.
In this ocean we are love and one with all. The misunderstanding is that in life we are separate. When we no longer have our body, the inevitable truth becomes more real. For a very special few (which most consider enlightened) death isn’t a transition, because they grasp the vast ocean which we all are while their bodies are alive. For the rest of us, death is a rebirth into the true essence of us; it is coming home. The beauty is we are always home every minute everywhere.
Almost a year ago I had a massive realization that forgiveness does not exist. This understanding came from nowhere. It was not something I read about or was taught, instead it was a sudden deep knowing, a Truth. Love is at the heart of this understanding. We are all doing the best we can, at all times. When we grasp that we all are an unbreakable diamond of love at our core: There is nothing anyone can do to hurt or harm the core of me (the same for you). When we are living in a space of pure and unconditional love, there is never anything to forgive.
Forgiveness is a human construct: it is not needed and does not exist. There is nothing anyone can do that requires forgiveness from me or anyone else.
We have been taught that we must forgive. Even stranger, we are taught that we must ask for forgiveness from God. God is Love. The instant we get a taste of the purest sense of love, it is simply evident that man made up forgiveness because he didn’t know the depths of what is possible: an innocent mistake that has been passed on for thousands of years.
God is Love. We are Love. We are God. In that, you and I are the same.
Can love forgive love? Can you forgive you?
Doctrine seems to me to be rules that man made up long ago to use this beautiful Source of energy to attempt to control people with fear. When we peel back the layers we can see the thread they are trying to point to- that is the Truth.
The closer we are to Source the less we are going to use rules. I have never felt so one with God. It’s so much better than what I was taught in Sunday School. Doctrine says God is a dude in the sky that needs to be asked for forgiveness of my sins and will punish me if I don’t do so. He will send me to the fiery “time out corner” for eternity if I don’t believe or if I worship any Gods other than him. That dude sounds a bit scary. That does not feel like love.
Judgement and Faith
Underneath all judgement, we are all the same. But judgement is something we are all guilty of. Fifteen years ago if someone would have said to me all of the things I have said to you in the words above, I would have thought they were lost and that they were going to hell if they did not see the light. I would have judged harshly. I would have thought that way because I had been conditioned to do so.
If no one had taught me the Christian doctrine, I would not have thought those things. If I had not been conditioned in that way, I would have been more open and curious. Now I live more and more by faith and I am continually more open to let what I’ve been taught fall away and let Truth reside in its place. Judgement cannot exist in love, though I still judge, but there is hope!
Openness and Curiosity
Openness and curiosity is the path that led me to discover my relationship with God. Now I live more and more by feeling and less and less by thinking. God does not speak in words. God’s language comes before words. God speaks in feeling. Interestingly, this God is the same God I learned about in Sunday School… just a bit purer.
Each religion points toward love and each of us knows God deep down. Notice the feeling and you’ll notice God.
Love in its purest form cannot be expressed in words. It is something that will never end and that there is and was no point of beginning. There is no distance that this love will not reach between: physicality does not matter. It is forever and always and everywhere.
Openness, curiosity and love are all we ever need.
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