Saturday, April 5, 2014
Is There a God? Why, Yes. Yes, There Is
The religions differ in the outward, material articulation of God. Some see God as a genuine being or person, kind of like Santa Claus in the heavens keeping track of who is naughty or nice. If you're bad, you'll die and go to Hell. If you're good, you'll die and go to Heaven. This view I do not embrace. But most religions, if they aren't mystical by their very nature (I would put Buddhism here, for example), do have mystical traditions in which God is perceived with more complexity; so, for example, the Muslim Allah has the Sufis, the Jewish YHWH has the Kabbalists, the Christian three-personed God, Jehovah, has its assortment of mystics. Shuffle me into the latter category, because for me Jesus is the greatest of the Earth Masters. But at the end of the day, I'd say that all of us worship the same Divine Presence. Even if you don't believe in God, it doesn't matter. You're still part of the creation and God loves you and God isn't sending anybody to hell.
The only hell is the one we make for ourselves. Having free will, humanity constantly creates and recreates hell over and over. THIS is hell: living out of attunement with God.
You either followed that, or you didn't.
How did I get to this system of beliefs? You've got me there. I can't say. It's partially intuitive, it's partially reading others' words and finding them resonating with me, it's partially reading others' words or hearing sermons and finding them definitely NOT resonating with me, and then it's personal experience. When it comes to personal experience, that is between God and me. I can only tell you about it and you can decide "wow, that's cool," or "wow, you're crazy." I'm sure there are even some out there who would say "wow, Satan has ahold of you."
But just as I wouldn't even think of wanting to pass laws that restrict your right to happiness and freedom because things you do may not agree with my religious views, I sure would appreciate it if you would grant me the same respect. If no one is being hurt, then I don't think it's my business: likewise, I don't think it's yours. Our government is not a theocracy.
I will tell you about two things, both personal experience. Take it or leave it.
Remember Saul of Tarsus? The guy that was persecuting early followers of Jesus until bam! Something happened to him on the road to Damascus? This Saul (later known as Saint Paul, whom I actually think was a misguided although well-intentioned man) saw a great blinding light and heard a voice that identified itself as Jesus, and Saul converted. Well, nothing like that has happened to me, and I don't happen to believe the End of the World is imminent (like, arriving any second), so I feel no need to proselytize to save souls. And yet, I do very much believe the Divine Presence finally made itself known in my life in a way that I would see it and could not deny it.
Experience One: Six or seven years ago, I was blind drunk. No one else was home and I was sitting up in bed, drinking water, trying hard to not pass out and to sober up some before I went to sleep, because I was desperately afraid I would get sick if I did pass out, and I'd choke on my own vomit. (Yes, I was very sick.) Well, I passed out anyway. Then I heard a loud voice, clear as a bell, saying my name close to my ear: "JOYCE!" I woke up but no one was there. Trust me, I was too drunk to have been dreaming. Your mind cannot dream when you're that drunk. Something woke me up on purpose, and I stayed awake about another hour and then went on to sleep. But meh. I wrote it off as one of those weird things.
Experience Two: Almost five years ago, I was again drunk and in a total blackout. I vaguely recall speaking with a friend on the phone. About what, no clue. I think I'd been crying and miserable because that's kind of how it was towards the end of my drinking days--me sick and tired of being sick and tired and slave to a substance. In the morning I woke up with a massive hangover and not remembering a thing except for ONE thing: I'd decided to go to rehab. Apparently I'd had an entire conversation with Chelle about it when she got home from work, and she was amazed I remembered it. I didn't. All I could remember was that I'd made up my mind to go to rehab. But meh. Maybe it's just another one of those weird things.
Except that, after I got sober, miracle after miracle, or let's just call them more odd coincidences, started happening. I began meeting certain people, reading certain things, seemingly random things that wound up imbued with meaning, kept happening. I found myself stopping believing in coincidences and instead accepting Jung's synchronicity: meaningful coincidences, except that they are so abundant and connected that they really can't be coincidences. I began meditating. Let me say this: prayer is talking. Meditating is listening.
The being we know as Jesus is still very much alive, and he talks to me all the time. Different beings (call them angels, call them spirit guides, whatever) come and go all the time. I have two steady ones; I guess they are protective beings of a sort. We have free will, so they can't really intervene, but they are more than willing to offer guidance if I ask. Often they'll tell me I'm asking the wrong question. And, apparently, they will shout "JOYCE!" at me if I'm on the verge of killing myself by accident. (I'm just making fun of myself.) God loves us and there is a plan for each of us, but it's up to each of us to carry out our plan. And if we don't, God loves us anyway. One thing I can say for sure: it was not God's plan for me to spend the rest of my life, or any part of my life, drinking myself into oblivion. But even if I had done so, it's all good--because I would have come back and tried again. Reincarnation? It's real. Just remember a few past lives, remember who you are and have been, and you realize why you're on the path you're on, and seriously? Even in the depths of your darkest despair, you can still be joyful and still laugh at our follies and derive great pleasure from the absurdity of human existence. One of the most hilarious things, once you remember that you've lived as both males and females, is the nutty importance we attach to our biology. Your sex organs are not YOU. YOU are infinitely more complex than that.
SO: be like Jesus, see him as Prophet or God (whatever), fight for social justice, be compassionate to all, forgive everybody, evolve and become a better soul. And one day, quantum mechanics and string theory and other scientific discoveries will let us get a better handle on this stuff and a way to talk about it without sounding crazy.