Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Living Universe

Religions are created by people who have had moments of spiritual insight. As they attempt to share their discovery, they describe it as best they can, as it appeared to them.

When they try to share their moment of "mysterium tremendum" -- as William James called it -- they try to define their communion with this Great Mystery. To them, The Divine may have appeared as a single God, consciously ruling the universe. Or they may have seen The Divine as a general force which flows throughout creation. They may have seen the various things working together toward the same aim. Or perhaps they saw an independant spirit at work in every thing. They may have seen everything working together without an apparent consciousness linking it all together. Or perhaps they saw the Divine Mystery working together, but it was unclear to them if there was anything more behind It.

Depending on how the universe appeared to them, they may have believed in monotheism, or pantheism. They may have believed in polytheism, or animism. They may have seen the universe in an atheistic manner, of perhaps an agnostic one. The amazing thing is that these general patterns of religious thought are repeated around the globe. Monotheism, polytheism, pantheism, animism, atheism, and agnosticism can be found in many places throughout the earth. This would seem to indicate that quite a few religious thinkers have observed the same patterns to the universal whole. I believe, therefore, that these patterns are all valid ways of observing the Divinity.

But how can these points of view all be correct? How can God be one and many at the same time? How can God be formed and formless, conscious and unconscious? How can these vastly different beliefs all be true?

In my own personal search for understanding I labored on this for a good deal of time before finding the only logical solution I could find. I reasoned that the universe itself must be a living thing; that it was a large enclosed sytem which functions cooperatively as a life-form. And if, indeed, the universe is the ultimate organism, which we may call "God", or "The Divine", then these points of view can all be valid. Therefore, God is one: the living universal whole. God is many: the many individual parts which make up the whole -- much as the various organs and cells of our own bodies. God is formed: in the physical substances which make up the universe we can observe. And God is formless: what many refer to as the "Web of Life" -- the connection we all share to the greater cosmic whole. The matter of the consciousness of God is a difficult one, as it is most likely on a level which we can not hope to understand.

Understanding "The Divine" as the Living Universe opens up a great many doors of understanding. As we are contained withing the universe -- and indeed we are a part of it -- we are a part of God, just as the cells of our bodies are a part of us. So, wherever we turn we are looking at another part of the Divine Being. And just as the cells in our bodies contain DNA marking them as parts of our selves, so also do we each contain a part of the holiness of the Divinity within us.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Changing Times

As the days and nights soon pass being lengths, the days are becoming warmer. And I am again amazed at the magical transformation the world is undergoing.

Oh, I have things I enjoy about each season of the year. But the warmer months have my full attention. And I am just as happy to leave the cold days of Winter behind. The brown earth. The skeletal trees. And the only birds which had such little variety in their coloring!

There seems to be a half-week every year when the native plants all burst forth in color. And we are getting close to that time. Already familiar birds of color are returning to the skies. And our winter coats are being phased out for yet another year.

Many of us spend this time doing what we call Spring Cleaning: out with the old, in with the new, and dusting off the rest. Everything is changing, from the cold sleepy days of the dark months, to the warm, vibrant days of the sun. And so also do those of us with seasonal affective disorders climb out of our shells.

But what world do we come out into? This is a time of inreaching; a time of planting the seeds of our future. And here is where we control what our future will be.

Change is the only constant in the universe. Our world is changing before our eyes. The rather comfortable times we've lived in since the last great wars have been replaced by times of fear and terror.

The world is rocked by wars and rumor of wars. Artificial climate changes are becoming apparent. And the voices of intolerance seem to grow each day.

In our time of inreach, we may find many things in the world which bring the fighter out of each of us. But it is important to know when to fight and when to stand firm. Sometimes patience is the best defense against a world of injustice.

This is the time when we must do what our species does best: stop, ask questions to understand the situation more fully, and then make enlightened decisions. As quickly as our world is changing today, we cannot afford the mistakes which often come with knee-jerk reactions.