The purpose of not knowing God

January 22, 2010

I know there are many many people who believe that they know God, and that is wonderful.  But I am speaking here to those who are still seeking for that answer – who or what is God?  Why can’t I find him/her/it?  Who created and world, and us, and why?  What is that picture that is bigger than just my life?  And why do I feel such a need to find God?

So here is one theory.  Not, as usual, to be confused with a claim that this is Truth.

For centuries upon centuries, probably as long as human beings have existed on earth, we have tried to understand God.  Or Goddess.  Or gods and goddesses.  Or genderless mind, or spirit.  Countless mythologies, countless religions, countless different beliefs.  Countless different teachings, countless hours spent, all trying to understand God.

With all this, I would think that if we were meant to know God, we would know by now.  But what if we are not meant to know?

I believe that one purpose of our lives is to create.  At its most basic, to create our own lives, through our beliefs, our choices, our thoughts, our actions.  But beyond this there is the creativity of the spirit, that manifests in art and in poetry and in music.  This is our purpose also – to create art of our spirit, to share it with others, and to appreciate what others have created.

Not knowing who or what God is, our imagination is freed to all possibilities.  Not knowing has inspired so much creativity – the artwork, the architecture, the music, the rituals, the writings.  It is the search for the divine that inspires us to open up our minds and hearts and create what we imagine.  We create the towering magnificence of cathedrals, the breathless wonder of temples, the inspiring images of paintings and sculpture, the heart-touching sensitivity of poetry, the soaring inspiration that is sacred music. 

All faiths have contributed to this vast world of art, and everywhere we go, all over the world, we are offered different images, inspired by people’s imaginations of what they believe deity to be.  Perhaps this is why we are given the search rather than the knowledge – to open us wide to use our imagination, our hearts and our minds and our spirits, to create.

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keywords: alternative spirituality, new age, spirit, spiritual, spiritual but not religious, spiritual diversity, spiritual experience, spirituality, spiritual not religious, spiritual path, spiritual search, spiritual seeker, spiritual belief

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Religion or spirituality?

January 20, 2010

A lot of people describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious”, but what is the difference between religion and spirituality?

(I’m just going to throw some thoughts out here for discussion; they are questions rather than opinions, since I don’t really have opinions about this.  It’s just part of the exploring…)

When I think of religions, I think of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and such.  They have a set of beliefs; they have a structure or organization; they have history behind them; they are often accepted by their believers as the true religion.

Spirituality, on the other hand, is much less organized, has no one set of beliefs that people follow, is freer and open to new ideas, and respects other people’s beliefs as being as valid and sacred as one’s own.

Another difference I see is that the monotheistic religions are predominantly masculine in language and attitude; spirituality embraces the concept of a feminine divine, a masculine/feminine combination, or even a neutral/genderless perception of the divine.

So these are pretty obvious.  But another thought came to mind: religion worships God, spirituality expresses God. 

Religion goes to church, or temple, and worships a God in heaven, a God out there, usually a father figure, or, in the case of polytheistic religions, many gods.  But all are external to the human being.

Spirituality, in many teachings, sees God as within, sees human beings as partaking of the divinity of God, or even as being divine themselves.  Expressing and living the qualities of God as love, joy, peace, compassion, are part of the spiritual path.  Some teachings offer the thought that God is in everything, all life, all the Earth.

Are there other differences?  If you are one of the people who are “spiritual but not religious”, what do you mean by that?  Please share!  I would love to hear your views on this.

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keywords: alternative spirituality, new age, spirit, spiritual, spiritual but not religious, spiritual diversity, spiritual experience, spirituality, spiritual not religious, spiritual path, spiritual search, spiritual seeker, spiritual belief


Eclectic spirituality

January 19, 2010

The more I use the term Eclectic Spirituality in speaking with other people, the more I find a positive response from them.  “That resonates for me,” they say, or “Yes, that fits!”  So many of us are on the spiritual path but do not fit into any one category or label, and don’t quite know how to express what our path is. 

What does “eclectic” mean?  The dictionary definition is “selecting from various systems, doctrines, or sources”.  And that is what we do – study older teachings and wisdom traditions, read New Age books, follow the teachings of modern authors, glean wisdom from our own higher selves.  From each we take what works for us, and from each we grow in spiritual understanding.  And we respect other people’s beliefs and spiritual paths even when we do not agree with them, because we believe that each person has to find their own way that is right for them.

The term “spiritual but not religious” is used a lot, but I do not find it a satisfying one.  It doesn’t really describe anything, or offer much information.  Eclectic Spirituality is a much better description of my own path.  If you haven’t looked at my Eclectic Spirituality page, please do.  I pretty much said everything there.  Maybe you will find that the term fits for you as well.

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keywords: alternative spirituality, new age, spirit, spiritual, spiritual but not religious, spiritual diversity, spiritual experience, spirituality, spiritual not religious, spiritual path, spiritual search, spiritual seeker, spiritual belief


Simple kindness

January 17, 2010

We spiritual people often get caught up in all the many facets of spirituality and all its implications (ok, maybe it’s just me), all the teachings, all the beliefs, all the possibilities, all the things we want to change, all the tools and rituals, all the sights and sounds and feelings.  And for me that is a wonderful world to dwell in.

Yet every once in a while I step back and think, all this focus on global transformation through uplifting one’s consciousness, while a beautiful vision and one I support with all my heart – the world could actually be transformed by something simpler.  It may not be the total transformation that many wish for, but it would be an improvement:

What would the world be like if we were all simply kind to one another?

Such a simple concept, but there would be no war, no violence, no crime, no dysfunction.  It would negate hatred, intolerance, and fear.

What would it take, I wonder, for people to become simply kind?

There is a saying that became popular years ago, and still shows up every now and then: “Practice random acts of kindness”.  It actually irritates me, as though it is saying that the occasional act of kindness is enough.  I propose a new saying: “Live your life so every act is an act of kindness.”

Maybe this could change the world.

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keywords: alternative spirituality, new age, spirit, spiritual, spiritual but not religious, spiritual diversity, spiritual experience, spirituality, spiritual not religious, spiritual path, spiritual search, spiritual seeker, spiritual beliefs


Mystical mysteries

January 16, 2010

I love anything to do with mysteries – not the detective story kind, but the actual mysteries of the world.  I am fascinated by ancient mysteries like Atlantis, ancient civilizations  and the pyramids, and modern mysteries like crop circles and UFOs.  I find that I do not try to seek answers to them, but rather I enjoy contemplating the mysteriousness of them.

I think that such mysteries have a purpose – to open our minds to possibilities other than the everyday world around us.  We reach for answers, sometimes to the past and sometimes to the future, sometimes to the earth and sometimes to the stars.  We open to the possibility that life other than human life exists, we open to the possibility that there are dimensions beyond the ones that we see, we open to the possibility that we ourselves are more than we humanly seem.  We seek answers, we use our imaginations, we play wonderful games of “what if” with the universe.

Mysteries are a gift to us, lifting us out of the mundane world and expanding our minds.  And a mind once expanded cannot go back to its original boundaries.  Thus we progress…

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keywords: alternative spirituality, new age, spirit, spiritual, spiritual but not religious, spiritual diversity, spiritual experience, spirituality, spiritual not religious, spiritual path, spiritual search, spiritual seeker, spiritual beliefs


Divine challenges

January 15, 2010

Many of the spiritual teachings I have read put forward the idea that the divine, or the Divine, is within everyone.

Today I had the most unpleasant business interaction I have ever had in my life.  The person I was dealing with was rude, nasty, and insulting.  I was quite taken aback, as I had approached the situation in a very courteous and pleasant manner.  I could not understand this person’s attitude; it seemed to come out of nowhere.  And I have never been on the receiving end of deliberate nastiness before – people are always nice to me!  So it was a double shock to be met with this extreme negativity.

After blithering about it for a while, and getting all tangled up in the negativity to the point of contemplating retaliation, I decided to walk away from the situation, from the interaction, from the money issue.  I chose to disengage from the negative feedback loop and release everything that had happened.

No doubt this person feels that they won, since I did not pursue the situation.  But by walking away, I won peace of mind, which is more important to me than being right or than the money.

It was after I had done this that I realized how much of an opportunity this was to try to see the divine in this other person. It did give me a measure of comfort to do this.  My mind quieted, and I came to see this as a challenge that I had been given to look at spiritual beliefs not as theory but as a way of living.  Now I feel at peace with the situation, and with the person; the negative was turned into a positive.  I won’t have this running around in my head tonight while I am trying to sleep, and once I finish this post the episode will be over.

Sweet dreams!  I know I can have some now.

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keywords eclectic spirituality, alternative spirituality, new age, spirit, spiritual, spiritual but not religious, spiritual diversity, spiritual experience, spirituality, spiritual not religious, spiritual path, spiritual search, spiritual seeker, spiritual beliefs


Spiritual fluidity

January 15, 2010

It used to be that when anyone would ask what my spiritual beliefs were, I would reply, “fluid”.  I would read, study, learn, grow, and my belief system would keep changing as I went. 

I read everything from ancient traditions to New Age/New Thought teachings, and I love exploring them all.  My beliefs keep changing as I learn more and more.  Am I coming closer to the one true final Truth, or is the process of learning and growing the whole point?  Maybe we don’t find out that final Truth until we are finished with this lifetime, and in the meantime the purpose of the search is to find what is highest and best in ourselves, and to live our lives according to that.

Now the term I use is Eclectic Spirituality.  (If you don’t know what that means, take a look at my page about it.)  At the end of the day, it still means that my spiritual beliefs are fluid, but at least now I have a better understanding of my path.

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keywords eclectic spirituality, alternative spirituality, new age, spirit, spiritual, spiritual but not religious, spiritual diversity, spiritual experience, spirituality, spiritual not religious, spiritual path, spiritual search, spiritual seeker, spiritual beliefs