Sunday, September 23, 2012

Insights into Being With God

I was doing some reading and suddenly got an itch to look at the book of Revelations. I was struck by some of the parallels I noticed between a few of the verses and some of the other books I've been reading lately. This post is my interpretation of some of what is said in Revelations, but also my own emerging views on life in general. I realize this may not be the normal interpretation, but it is meaningful to me. From here on my commentary will be in italics. I hope some of you find it interesting and offer your own insights so that I might build and improve upon my own. Thank you!
After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. (Revelations 4:1-2)
The voice of God sounded like a trumpet. Perhaps it was sweet music that made John feel at One with God, or perhaps he more literally understood the physical object in a way that language cannot describe. If you expand your reality to include the objects and living things around you in an intimate way, you are capable of feeling what they need, want or can offer you in way that goes beyond the limitations of language as we know it. This type of Understanding is an ability we fight because there is no scientific explanation for it. The philosopher and psychologist William James once said, “Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different.”
How is that we can be thinking of a song and upon the next change of radio stations that exact song is playing? It could simply be coincidence, nothing more; but it could also be an important indication of our abilities as living organisms. Consider this, these types of odd coincidences occur frequently and although we tend to write them off as insignificant they continue to occur nevertheless. Now try to imagine if you did pay attention to those little coincidences. Perhaps you’ll have an important insight about how, when, or why it occurred and begin to notice a pattern (e.g. every time I eat tuna fish I have strange, vivid dreams). Then, suppose you followed your gut more often, and sometimes stopped what you were doing to allow those insights more space and time to reveal themselves. When you receive those insights you then make them a part of your world-view, and thus improve yourself by altering your consciousness. In some ways you are expanding your consciousness to allow for more opportunities for meaningful experiences. The point is, if we actually believed in and paid attention to the fact that we are beings with the same ability to be “intuitive” the way we believe dogs and other animals are, then we can start to practice using it and eventually improve at it.

“When you start using senses you’ve neglected, your reward is to see the world with completely fresh eyes.” – Barbara Sher

The author of Revelations seemed to understand that if he allowed himself to look and behold the open door before him he could hear the voice of God in a new, more meaningful way. It does not say he walked through the door, merely that it was opened. When a Buddhist monk meditates he does a similar act in his mind. By keeping his body still and his mind fluid, open and nonjudgmental he can begin to understand the true meaning of the Self. He can begin to feel the presence of the Divine in himself.What the trumpet is saying to John (who was probably in some way or another having what is called a 'mystical' experience) is, “HEAR ME! I’m not just a thing, I’m YOU!” He hears this voice with his heart, not with his ears; John feels and knows what the trumpet blast is really saying, what God is really saying. Once he understood the Truth of the Self he looked around at the world anew. Things that once felt separate from him are now important and meaningful. My husband Erich and I have begun to the journey of trying to transform our consciousness in this way. He says that now, when he looks at plants, trees especially, he imagines them as the other half of his lungs. It makes perfect sense to me to see them this way. Without plants we couldn't breathe and in their own way they give us life, freely and lovingly. They don't expect anything in return, except perhaps to be treated with the same respect they show us. Even though it sounds hokey, this way of seeing the world has made Erich and I much happier and increased our inner peace immensely. 

Suppose you could feel this way with objects in your life that you take for granted. My Mom once cut her hand open on a glass while cleaning it. She didn’t notice the glass was weak and nearing the point of breaking and thus she washed it too roughly and paid the consequence. That only happened to her once. I can imagine that now when she picks up a glass to wash it by hand she thinks about that experience and inspects the glass a bit more carefully before cleaning it. Perhaps she uses the dishwasher more often. Ultimately, her experience with washing a glass has changed, but in that changescomes understanding. Some spiritualists believe they can intentionally feel into things (both living and nonliving) and have a sense of what it needs or can offer them. One woman describes it with her appliances such as a computer or a washing machine. When she takes the time to merge them into her conscious field she has intuitions about what they need (e.g. “I have a virus” or “change the lint filter”).

This type of knowing, communicating and understanding could be considered being with the  Spirit. As John says he was in the Spirit and that there he could see the throne of the kingdom of Heaven, in it sat One. Who is this One? Is it a wise-looking bearded old man dressed in white and surrounded by light? I don’t believe that. I equate the One with the Unity of all Creation. God isn't in the world, He isn't watching the world, He is the World. Sometimes when you see the World's beauty as if for the first time it can take your breath away. What if we felt that sort of Reverence all of the time? I think we can, but it takes time and concentration to open the door in our own minds that allows us to see the World the way God intends.

And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. (Revelations 4:5)

According to some traditions, the body has seven Chakras, “which are the energy vortices or centers of our bodies. Chakras might be thought of as points where higher energies are transferred into  the physical world via an intermediary energy or light body, composed of subtle energy often called chi.”(Peirce, Penney)Could the seven chakras be what John was describing as the seven Spirits of God? Each Chakra is a sort of control center one region of the body, from the body comes important information about the world. If you look at the picture you can see that each area serves a purpose, has a message for us. Our Earth center gives us information on how we should act in order to survive, i.e. drive for security and health (or basic survival). As you move up the body, the Chakras begin to give us drive towards other means of surviving and thriving, much like the way Maslow's hierarchy of needs progresses. When you get to the higher power centers they begin to shift towards the spiritual and intellectual understanding of the world. It's as if the path to enlightenment were literally written within our bodies. They say God works in mysterious ways. What could be more mysterious than imprinting the meaning of life into our own physical bodies?

If God is the World, then I believe when the Bible refers to the Garden of Eden, what it actually means is a time when we appreciated the World for its Divine qualities. Eden was a place of Life and Love and Creation. What if the Fall is actually a sort of blindness or great forgetting. We have become blind to the Eden that surrounds us and our role within it. Thus, because we could not see it,  we began to mistreat it, to cast ourselves out as” Others”. We, human beings, stand alone in our obstinate battle for dominion and control, but we are also unique because we have the ability to interpret the world however we want to. We are supposed to be the caretakers of Eden, but when we realized we could also act as Creators we let the power go to our heads. We didn't realize that when you decide to create you also must destroy. That is why the knowledge of what is good and what is evil belongs only truly to God. When we begin to decide what is good and what is evil, we are only thinking of what is good for US, and evil for US. We forget about the World, which is like turning our backs on God. We did not stop eating from the Tree of Life when we ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, but we did abandon our roll as caretakers and appreciators for a new job, entirely self-determined, that because WE now held the power of determining good from evil, we no longer needed God to decide. God has been trying to call us Home now for centuries. We see it sometimes as punishment: floods, wars, famines, etc. We also see it as pure Love, acceptance and forgiveness. I think that the solution to all of our current problems is just to slow down and listen to the World again, to be care full.  

Have you ever given thought to the reasons you believe what you believe? I do. Often. Whatever beliefs you hold probably have the same underlying motivation most human beings are driven by. We want to know what it all means. Most religions or spiritualties give a person peace about what will happen to his or her soul when he or she dies. It helps give our lives meaning to have a safety net that provides you with the knowledge that “everything will be OK.” These beliefs give you comfort and allow you to accept the inevitability of your death. Those who have not comes to terms with their own death live in fear; always choosing what gives security over what gives authenticity and meaning to life. I don’t believe this is how we are meant to be forever. I think we are capable of moving beyond that way of thinking. We can make choices based on Love over fear, and will be able to see the World with fresh eyes again. 

The fear can manifest itself differently depending on the individuals involved. We can learn to communicate without using fear if we pay attention to the little things I discussed earlier. There is a noticeable difference between fear-based thinking and acting and love-based thinking and acting. When I swat at the horse fly in fear of its bite I send it the message “I am afraid of you!” to which he responds in turn, “OK I’ll intimidate you more, so that I can escape without harm!” My fear and frantic swatting cause him to dive into my face and buzz around my shoulders for longer than either of us would like. When I respond calmly, however, he responds very differently. Today I looked up and saw him hovering above my head and thought to myself, “I’ll flick YOU if you come closer to me, so please don't make me do it!” I imagined flicking him out of the air and as soon as I did he turned and flew in the other direction. Did he hear my thoughts? If he did he understood it, not in words but in awareness of my desire not to be bothered and my promise of swift retaliation if he invaded my space. In dealing with our own death and searching for a meaning to our lives we can extinguish fear altogether, and have more experiences like the one I just described. Whether the fly really heard me is irrelevant, my experience is what changed. What would have been an annoying experience, was suddenly a fun, whimsical one.

Eliminating fear is, of course, not something that occurs overnight. That is why all religions and forms of spirituality include prayer, practice and/or meditation of some kind. Rituals, rules, conventions, norms and attitudes that we take part in help bring us closer to understanding our individual Meaning, or Purpose. There is also a need for intellectual discussion in order for our understanding to progress. The exchange of ideas can help us interpret things in a new, more all encompassing way. When we commit ourselves to self improvement we are rewarded by feeling closer to God, or as I like to call it getting into the Flow. Eastern cultures call it the Tao, the ever-changing, life-giving Energy where everything is at once together and separate. The more comfortable I get with my own Meaning the more I start to understand the inherent paradoxes of Being. I will continue to dig deeper into my own understanding of what it means to be with God and for her/him/it to be with me. Ultimately, I have decided that it is within my reach to feel that kind of understanding, but I also accept that I will likely not have words that could adequately describe when that time finally comes...but that doesn't mean we should still try to have a dialogue about it. 

1 comment:

  1. I got my book yesterday! Thank you so much! Also, just so you know in the future, send me a beat up used version :) I greatly appreciate the pristine newness of it, but just looking to save you a dime or eighty.

    For this last bit of my time sitting behind my computer at my office, I am just getting through this post and will move on to Problem Solving and Death, the ones I have not read yet.

    I love your thoughts on becoming more aware of the world around us as I have found in the last year to be so supremely healing and helpful in life. I love the question "what could be more mysterious than imprinting the meaning to life into our own physical bodies?" Seriously. Just like the destruction we have donento the earth, we do to our own bodies. I do believe there is a small movement that is gaining momentum to change the way people think about how we treat the earth and our own bodies. I think there is definitely something to be said about listening to our bodies more though. They are so vastly complex, I don't think we even understand to what extent yet.

    I think Andy Warhol was onto this too, as he is credited with saying:

    "You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you."