Monthly Archives: May 2012
Puzzled. God is a he, a male, masculine, has male bits, a “Y” chromosome, a willy? Well in the English version of the “good” books God is referred to as “He”. In other languages with non-gender specific third person references God is not allocated a male or female gender. So are we really supposed to visualise God as male or in human form?
Why is there a preference/requirement to allocate a male gender to the concept of God? I use the term concept as (my version) God is a concept in that all phenomena is a concept except in this case it is one that is missing “Form”.
In times gone past when explanations required to convince people of the importance and/or relevance of a concept were rooted more in the “ooh aah, that is amazing” rather than the “A’ha that makes sense” the God concept had to be presented as sufficiently powerful to create a sense of Awe in the listener. Given that, at the time, there were groups competing for followers which therefore required a suitably impressive figurehead. My God is better than yours therefore …! And “my God can beat your God in [insert feats of strength here]. This competitive nature creates religious clubs similar to football with supporters of one club convinced that supporting another club is an indication of a lack of intelligence, parenthood, or sanity.
It is for this reason that the “miracles” detailed by the relevant clubs still seem to take pride of place in a lot of the discussions about belief systems with the intent to quote these miracles as justification why their particular club is better than the others. Flying, riding flying horses, water/wine conversion, resurrection, summoning of angels, splitting of the moon, turning arrows into flowers, etc. All impressive but do they have relevance to the purpose of religion?
Given that I see religion as having three elements: Spiritual, Social and Physical, the miracles don’t have much relevance to actually helping us have a better relationship with the Universal Spirit (US)/God. However, it does have the benefit of ensuring that there is a total commitment and faith in the teachings/dogma of the relevant club. The issue arises when the focus is taken off the effective practice of our own faith and transferred to the faulting of other faiths.
So does God/US have a willy? And is God/US human form. Most of the religions teach that we are created in God’s image and that “We are God”. Should that be “We are US”? The issue is that we usually focus on the wrong “we” in that we focus on the “self”. That self that is not real but is the Ego Hound at work. The “we” that is referred to here are the bits that relate to the soul/spirit/consciousness. So “We (the soul/spirit/consciousness)” are created in Gods (Universal Spirits) image or WE are part of the US and not separate from it. Therefore, God/US is not male or female and is not of bodily form therefore not distinctly “human”.
So what IS God to be called if not male/female? Still puzzled.
What is it about religion and religious systems and the number 3? The Holy Trinity, the three objects of refuge, three levels of faith, to name a few. Speaking of things in threes another “A’ha” moment came when considering religious systems and what they teach and then about what causes the conflicts.
As we discussed about the three villages religions seem to get caught up in the means and not the meaning of the religion. For one I am confused when I hear expressions such as “there is only one God, and THEY believe in a false God”. By definition, if there is ONLY one God then there can’t be a God of any other type, false or not. It was for this reason that I am sure there were some confusion during the Crusades when God was being delivered to another monotheistic race who already believed in the same God. Or when the Catholic Philippines were invaded in the name of bringing God to the islands. Anyway, digression, rule of threes and pulling apart elements of religion. This particular “A’ha” moment came about while considering what causes the disagreements between beliefs.
Usually disagreements, wars, banning of Lady Gaga, etc comes down to things like: creationism versus evolution, the number of wives you can have, worshipping on Saturday versus on Sunday, wearing a hat in the place of worship or, not wearing a hat in the place of worship, how we are born, which bits we cut off or are not allowed to touch, how we treat our hair or show our hair, what we wear, how we get married, what happens to the body after we die, obligations to family members, etc etc etc (with apologies to Yul Brynner) . If we pull all of the elements of a religion apart I found that we have three categories. Spiritual, Social, and Physical. Remember these are my categories only.
Spiritual. This is the bit that is how we relate to the bigger picture that can be called [insert name of deity here], sidebar – I vote that we call the bigger picture, god, God, the Universal Spirit or US, so we can all say that we worship “US”, and that we put our faith in “US”, unifying and unitary. How we relate to “US” is the same as how we relate to other natural forces such as gravity. Usually the “US” is put in terms of an image that we can relate to that means BIG and POWERFUL and worthy of worship. Whatever we call it, it is still the same “bigger picture” whether we believe in it or not and no matter what we call it. I am pretty sure that gravity still has an effect on us whether we believe in it or not. Similarly, the spiritual element is related to the natural law of us and our life force, soul, spirit, consciousness etc. The “US”.
Social. This is the bit that relates to how we treat each other. Whether a man can beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb, or to discipline his wife with a toothbrush (btw), a woman can divorce her husband with certain words, actions and time frames, and whether we cut off bits or cover up other bits and what food we can eat and when. All of these become a social decision about how we live in a community to ensure peace and concord, and in some cases have a healthy lifestyle related to our environment. They are, at the end of the day, rules and social agreements about how we live with each other.
Physical. The other part of this trinity is the Physical element of religion. This is the bit that relates to how this earth was created, etc. As we know, this is often stated as “God created the earth”. Now there is, I am sure, considerably more detail than this. And as we gain a better understanding of science and means of assessing the age of the earth we are getting a better idea. In fact the whole creation of the earth and how we came to be on it is quite amazing in and of itself and arguments over how this universe was created is an exercise in futility and is not an expression of the effectiveness of a belief system.
So, of these three areas, my experience is that it is usually the Social and Physical elements that get quoted as why other religions and belief systems are WRONG. The argument over Creationism v Evolution is a key point, it is not about whether there is a [insert name of big picture and/or controller] or not but about how we came to be here. Or arguments about whether this teacher said this or that teacher said something else. And whether THOSE people will lower the value of the neighbourhood because they are [insert favourite generalised religion here]. Surely the lesson is more important than the teacher? Truth is truth no matter who is teaching it and dogmatic arguments over dogma have no effect except to groom, feed and motivate the Ego Hound. Religion is NOT a club that we belong to that is in competition with others.
At the end of the day (pun intended), it is not up to us to criticise others for the way that they practice their life, or to criticise them for their views so long as we live with the knowledge that we all end up subject to the same natural laws.
In a time long ago there were three villages around the base of a large mountain. One village was on the left of the mountain and every day they looked up and saw a large peak and to go to the top of the mountain they would follow the path in a zig zag pattern to the top which was not so hard but took a long time. They saw that the mountain was mighty and they worshipped this mountain. The second village was at the base of the mountain in the middle and every day they lived in the shadow of the mountain and to go to the top of the mountain they would follow a very steep path straight up and would arrive there after an immense amount of effort. They knew that any mountain that could control the power of the sun must be mighty and they worshipped this mountain. The third villagewas to the right of the mountain where it was on a small hill and to them the mountain was smooth and not so powerful and to get to the top they would take a gentle stroll along the smooth hill. They didn’t think much of the mountain, anyway they much preferred to look the other way where they had a view of the mighty sea and they worshipped the ocean.
Because the mountain was mighty to the first two villages and because it was irrelevant to the third village, none of the villagers had climbed the mountain as to do so would have been disrespectful to some and waste of good energy to the other.
However, one day, a meeting was arranged by the three villages to discuss trade and cooperation. During this meeting the chief from the first village insisted that they all worship the mighty mountain peak, the second chief insisted that they all worship the mighty mountain that controls the sun. The third chief thought they were both a bit crazy as the mountain wasn’t powerful or even particularly impressive. They then insisted that to prove the power of the mountain that they climb to the top. All three chiefs started arguing over the best way to get to the top of the mountain with no chief ready to give up his claim on the best way. They then started fighting with first two chiefs started fighting amongst themselves for worshipping a false deity and then attacked the third chief for being a non-believer. At this the meeting broke up and a period of inter-village warfare began.
Not once during this period did anybody venture to climb the mountain to see the truth of the mountain but continued to stay at the foot of the mountain and attacked the other villages for their false beliefs. Subsequently each of the paths to the top started to become overgrown through lack of use as everyone was too busy arguing over the best way to actually see the truth and to gain realisation of the Truth that there is only one mountain with many aspects and many ways to get to the top.
Are you stuck waging a war or are you climbing to find the truth? Time to put on my hiking boots and continue to climb … And, what will you do once you get to the top?
Note: The names, sex, and reality of the following have been changed and there is no resemblance to any person living or deceased or anywhere in between.
I would like to introduce you to three of your acquaintances . Lets just call them Acquaintance 1 (A1), Acquaintance 2 (A2), and Acquaintance 3 (A3). These three acquaintances represent three different groups of people that you have met. All of them have embarked on a quest of spiritualism for various reasons, as we do. They have followed different teachers, methods, religions, and cultures. A1 is a Spiritual Materialist, A2 is a Spiritual Shopper and A3 is a Spiritual Supremacist. Lets talk about these:
Spiritual Materialist. The Spiritual Materialist has been mentioned in earlier posts. A1 is very outgoing and very social person with most of their friends being of a spiritual nature. They are often the centre of attention and like to hold court about lots of subjects. One of their favourite subjects is often the recent or upcoming attendance at “amazing”, “uplifting”, and/or “empowering” sessions with this guru or that teacher. And to prove it they will be sporting the Empowering wrist bands, carrying the latest book from the guru or wearing the amazing T-Shirt that they purchased from the lifestyle coach. There are often conversations about “have you attended [insert name of guru]’s workshops? You really MUST”. Then the next month it is off to another session, different teacher, group, approach, location and accessories to prove that they have been to this or that AMAZING workshop and they, therefore, are also AMAZING.
Spiritual Shopper. A2 is quiet and reserved and you suspect that somewhere, in their past, someone told them that they were not quite good enough and they believed them. The Spiritual Shopper will often be seen attending some of the same workshops and events as A1 but they don’t engage in the self promotion. However, they attend on their own, or buy the books, or the CDs or DVDs and have every intention of feeling better about themselves. After attending, reading and listening to the various gurus/teachers they continue believe that the answer lies outside of them and what they have seen is not quite right. They believe that if they attend enough, or read enough they will finally be good enough. They usually find that attendance has the opposite effect as they see people like A1 with their confidence and their social engagement and compare themselves and, in their own judgement, fall short. To admit that they are on this journey to other people is a bridge too far and therefore they keep it to themselves and continue looking for that ONE workshop, guru, book that will make them feel good about themself.
Spiritual Supremacist. A3 is an interesting person. It is hard to talk to them without feeling that they are comparing, judging and criticising. They would have you believe that they already know the truth and that what they know is the only way to arrive at that truth. This teacher said this and it is the Truth, therefore, what your teacher said, or what you read, MUST be WRONGGGGGGG. Or maybe we didn’t understand that that what we thought we knew to be true must be misconstrued and therefore we are WRONGGGGG. “ BUT”, you say,” the means that I use to gain an understanding of Truth also includes …”. . “NO that is not taught in my belief system so therefore you are WRONGGGGG”. After a while you start to believe that they are not looking for friends, they are looking for disciples.
A common thread through these three acquaintances of yours is that they are all using Spritualism as a crutch for their Ego Hound. A1 feels the need to self promote so that they can feel superior to others based on their presence to greatness, their ego has them in a continual search for acceptance and gratification. A2 has an ego that that keeps telling them that they are not good enough but CAN be good if they indulge in external stimulus that is never quite what they need, move on to the next one. A3’s Ego Hound is doing double time by elevating itself by chomping down on all the others around them.
My “A’ha” moment came when I realised that the Ego Hound is sneaky and comes in different forms. And that the best approach to each of these is compassion. The wish for them to be free from suffering so that they can experience true happiness. Or, the wish for them to be free from the bite of their own personal Ego Hound. With compassion we don’t buy into the: Attention Seeking, Negative Talk, or the Self Elevation by putting other people down. We see them as suffering and know that application of true Mindfulness is required. Mindfulness in our approach, our method, and our relationships.
Note: As Mahatma Ghandi once said, or approximately: “I will not allow anyone to walk through my mind in their dirty shoes”.