Throughout the years I have found my perception of God has changed quite dramatically. In fact, it has changed totally different from the conception I had of God to begin with.
In the beginning God was viewed as a man that was as if in the sky somewhere. I saw him as an intellectual concept mostly. I was taught this and supposed he was there. It was probably more accurate to say that I ‘assumed’ he was there. I never saw much proof in him nor any real evidence of him. At one period of time in my life I became an atheist, believing God was created by people to give them an illusion of control in life or something.
Then, one day in my early 20’s, I went hiking in the mountains and felt what I could only describe as a ‘presence’. There was a ‘something’ I could feel. This small perception, in a way, changed my life. Ever since then I have had this weird yearning for this presence. I have been seeking it ever since. This seeking for the presence I call ‘contemplation’.
As I practiced contemplation the presence became so much more than that. Very seldom did I feel it as a person, though it could be form time to time. Most of the time there were other perceptions. This made the perception of God as something different from what I was taught and told. Some of the words I used include:
– The ‘presence’. I felt I could feel something that I couldn’t see.
– The ‘something’. I couldn’t seem to delineate or define what it was but I knew it was there.
– The ‘beyond human’. This is because it transcended the human world and was beyond it. This made the presence incomprehensible and a mystery.
– The ‘fact’. This is because the presence just is.
– The ‘Divine’ or ‘Sacred’. There was always this sense that there was something holy with the presence.
– ‘Vita’ or ‘life’. Vita is latin for life, as it seemed to encompass all of life and of existence.
By far the most common, nowadays, is ‘Existence’. Basically, God became existence. God is the fact of existence, the power of existence. It refers to the fact that there is great truth, life, and fact in existence. It describes what ‘is’ and that we ‘are’. But this is more than a concept. Normally, the concept of existence is looked at as devoid of a life, as an intellectual concept. That’s not what I mean. For me, ‘existence’ consists of a life within it. The ‘is’ has within it life . . . the life of you, me, the trees, everything. The combination of the fact of the ‘is’ and the life that is found within it is what I call ‘existence’, which is God. In some respects, the word ‘existence’ embodies the reality of living (the fact of our being and our being alive). It is God. To me, this is sensed, usually, as a ‘presence’, a something that permeates everything. It’s like a ‘mystical mist’ that encompasses all things and is in everything.
I’ve often used another word to describe ‘existence’: Being. This sense of beingness, really, is nothing but the sense of existence. Beingness is an awareness, a wordless awareness. There seem to be two forms of beingness:
- Outer sense of being – God. This is the sense of the world.
- Inner sense of being – Self. This is the sense of oneself.
These show that there seems to be an association between a sense of God and a sense of self. In some sense you could say that God is an ‘outer self’ or you could say that the self is an ‘inner God’. Either way, God and Self are variations of the same sense, or so it seems to me.
These two beingness together make up what I call consciousness. To be conscious is to perceive your self in the midst of the world. This would make consciousness like a ‘greater beingness’.
Seeking God is really nothing but the seeking of a consciousness, an awareness, a sense of existence, a sense of beingness, a sense of self, a sense of God. Really, all we and these things are doing is seeking existence and life. They are all variations of the same thing, really. But, we must remember, that they are not equivalent to each other. They are all like branches off the same tree. All the branches are different and unique but they are all part of the same tree. It’s similar here. These different types of awareness are the same thing but they are different aspects of the same thing and each are unique. As a result, one must practice awareness of all forms to see the whole thing. Contemplation, then, consists of different practices with different techniques and motives which corresponds to different aspects of awareness.
It’s because of this that I’ve often found myself saying that awareness is God. There’s this strange sense that awareness is not a means to know God but it is, in fact, God. This makes sense, actually. To not be aware is to be ‘asleep’ or ‘half there’. In that condition you are not living or being. You are incomplete. In many ways, to not be aware is to be ‘lost’ in life, or walking blindly, or sleepwalking. This makes awareness the fact of God. It is God and makes up God. Awareness, after all, is everything in life.
But, as I said above, seldom do I perceive God as a man. I seldom see him as this ‘punisher’, ‘angry’, ‘loving’, or anything like that. From the perspective I described above God is formless and shapeless. Not only that, God does not take sides. God is both good and evil, loving and hateful, light and dark, cold and hot. God is everything. This suggests that there is no devil or satan or demons. These are all aspects of God and so are, in fact, God.
But this is looking at the presence or God at a distance, as a single entity, as a mystery, formless and unknowable. This point of view, though, is not easy for many common people to take who are busy living their lives. Most people need something to ‘grasp’ God with. They need an image.
As an experience, God is a presence, an awareness. But this quality is only effective for part of our mind, the experiential part of our mind. There’s a big part of our mind, though, that needs an image or a symbol to associate things to. What this means is that God or existence needs an image or symbol. I call this ‘mental apprehension’, where a part of the mind must have some image or symbol to work with. It’s this part of our mind that thinks, has thoughts, and such. By having something that our mind can ‘apprehend’ our minds are able to ‘grasp’ the ungraspable and to give it some way to hold onto it. The fact is that a part of our mind can handle the ungraspable (the experiential part) but another part cannot (which requires mental apprehension). This gives a duality that is seen with the perception of ‘existence’ or God: a mystery and an image. This unique symbology gives a unique way of looking at things, somewhat similar to mythology. Because the image is describing the undescribable the image, often, is unclear or mysterious in nature. Often, it may have traits that you may not understand.
The development of this symbology, I believe, is critical in being aware of God and existence. I’ve always spoken of this phenomena as ‘Poesy’. When I came up with the word I thought it was original. Later, I’d find out that it is another word for poetry . . . but the name stuck, so I still use it. Not only that, come to find out that there is a relation, anyways, between poetry and symbology of the mystery. In many respects, poesy is nothing but a poetic outlook on life.
In some respects, poesy is the blending of two parts of the mind creating a unified whole. Because of this, it is very critical. In some sense it is the creation of our self. In other words, I see the union of the ‘presence’ with mental apprehension through poesy as the real self. It is here that we are what we are and it is here that we become someone.
I should point out that the concept of God has no real association with any religion at all. In reality, that which is God is above all religion and is removed from it. Religion is just a way to associate with the presence of God. It, by no means, is the only way. Religion is just a ‘help mate’, really. In the end, it all depends on us as people.
I’ve always been amazed how this simple sense of a ‘presence’, seeming so simple and plain, started me on a path that led to a point of view that encompasses all of me and the world. It also hit to the core of my being. I was always struck by this fact. It also led me away from the traditional view of God and into a whole new way of looking at what God is. This has grown and grown into a very complicated perception of things. All because I ‘felt’ something one day . . .