Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Matter of Perspective

I believe that religion is shaped by our perspectives. If I live in the desert and you live in the jungle our views of the world would be quite different. I may believe that God is a fierce and demanding God. You may believe that God is bountiful and always-giving. Yet each view would be true, from our certain points of view.

When I began searching for spiritual meaning I began to examine the various beliefs people have concerning God. These can be classified into various ways of conceptualizing the Deity. Some believe God is one. Some believe God is many. Some believe the Spirit of God flows throughout the universe. Some believe that each person, each animal, each plant, each inanimate object -- that all things have a spirit associated with them. Still others believe that God doesn't exist: at least not in a form that can easily be recognized. I examined these beliefs and wondered how they could all be true. I wondered why people would have so many vastly differing beliefs as to what the Deity is.

I then began looking at how the universe works together. I looked at how things are organized. I saw the atoms as reflections of solar systems and galaxies -- spinning as greater and greater wheels. I looked at how our bodies work: how the cells of our bodies do the many things that they do in order that we may survive. And I looked at the thoughts of other pioneers in the religious, spiritual, and scientific worlds. I looked at the works of Carl Sagan, Joseph Campbell, and Stephen Hawking. I looked at theories such as evolution and the Gaia Hypothesis. And, as always, I looked to the patterns which shape the world we live in.

Perhaps the greatest revelation I had came to me one night as I contemplated these various views of the world and of God. I thought for a moment about how the many parts of the universe work together as the cells of a living body: all interconnected and all interrelated. I thought about how a tiny pebble thrown in the ocean ripples across the entire ocean, even as small as the ripples become. I wondered how God could be one and many, formed and formless, spirit and host. And the conclusion I came to was a radical one indeed: that all this is God. My solution was a simple statement: the universe is alive!

I began to understand the universe a living organism -- in fact, the largest conceivable organism. And I began to think of God, not as a being outside and in control of the universe, but as the living and creative force within the universe itself.

And here is where my re-conceptualization of divinity began to make a lot of sense. All of a sudden the many different ideas about God began to fall into place.

God is one: the largest organism which exists. All things are contained within the universe. In fact, "universe" means "one word" -- the one word which describes everything, both the known and the unknown. The Living Universe has countless parts to it: all which effect all else in a continuous chain of actions and reactions.

God is many: the many faces and voices of which the Living Universe is composed. Every person. Every animal. Every plant. Every grain of sand. Every drop of water in every ocean. Every distant star. Every force of nature. All are different aspects, or faces, of the Divine.

God is formed. For all that exist are parts of the body of God.

God is formless. For as all things which exist are part of the body of God, so do all things have part of that Divine Whole within them. That is to say: just as the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle each have a piece of the whole picture in them, so also does each piece of the Living Universe. Just as each cell within a living body contains DNA: the blueprint to that organism, so also does each thing existing within the Living Universe contain a piece of that (w)Holiness. So it stands to reason that every place, every thing, every plant, every animal, and every person -- we each have that same Sacredness within us which is a part of the Body of God. And so there is Holiness every where if we but look for it!

In the Q'uran it is said "everywhere you turn, there is the face of God!" And rightly so. If we can but find it ourselves, our neighbors, and our world perhaps our future history may be a bit less bloody...