Friday, June 29, 2007

Awareness of (Divine) Being

"Moses discovered God to be [our] awareness of being, when he declared these little understood words, 'I AM hath sent me unto you.' David sang in his psalms, 'Be still and know that I AM God.' Isaiah declared, 'I AM the Lord and there is none else. There is no God beside me..'...The awareness of being is the door through which the manifestations of life pass into the world of form." - Neville Goddard.

Awareness of being. I like that understanding of the divine. Charles Fillmore called God "pure being" while Paul Tillich referred to God as the "ground of being." Such metaphors for ultimate Reality or the Source of life are more useful to me than the anthropomorphic images the Church has traditionally preferred. If we feel the need to talk about the Mystery of life, the Web of existence, the All-in-all, then I believe the most expansive images possible are the most useful.

God is no longer, for me, a big super-human judging my faults, granting some of my petitions and denying others, and favoring some groups over others. That may have been a good starting place in my faith development, but it long ago ceased being a sustaining image for me. I had to change my understanding of the divine, or give up any notion of divinity. I chose the former, though I understand why others have chosen the latter. But so far, spirituality remains important to me, and I revere the Vastness of existence, the heartbeat of the cosmos, the Energy of life. I contemplate All That Is, knowing that the Whole must be more than the sum of Its parts. Such contemplation nourishes me, and I offer all that I can to those who want to journey deeper and deeper into the Mystery that many call "God."

When I came to MCC, I was introduced to "inclusive language." We did more with it in those days, took it more seriously I think. At least we did more to educate ourselves about it. Language that privileged masculinity, whiteness, or physical ability was re-examined, and language about God became more expansive. That was a real gift to my spirituality, and I believe it contributed to my thinking about God in broader terms. If God was Father and Mother, both and neither, then God was more than a super-human. God was an idea or an experience or something impossible to box in. God was, as Jesus knew, "spirit" and the spirit blows where she will!

Of course the god of my understanding is present in people of all religious traditions, all gender identities, all ethnicities, all Nature. Of course the divine is present in the love shared between people of the same gender as well as people of opposite genders. God, the ground of being, is being made manifest in all that is, excluding no one, embracing all equally. This is, for me, the Good News and it is why I remain religious and a leader within a religious tradition. One New Testament writer put it this way, "God is love..." I prefer to say that God is being (or even "non-being" if we want to get highly philosophical), but I think the meaning is similar.

One of our "commandments" from the decalogue warns against having "graven images" for the divine. St. Paul gets at the same concept when he quotes (in Luke's Acts of the Apostles) a Greek poet, saying, "In [God] we live and move and have our being." And the mystic Meister Eckhart also said as much: "You should know God without image, unmediated and without likeness."

To grow beyond an image of God that looks too much like us (with all of our prejudices and preferences) is essential if we are to live peacefully in a world of diversity. It's also important if we are to ever be liberated from the fear of God which drives and torments so many of us throughout our lives. I refuse to give up God, but I also refuse to let God be a tyrant in the heavens of my imagination. God must be better, more. God must be Love, or the Mystery in which I live and move and have my being, or the Source of my I Am-ness, or perhaps even the thread that connects me to all other living beings. Yes, my awareness of being expressing in, through, and as life...this is a God that remains relevant and accessible to me, and that can continue to grow as I do. Praise God.

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