Saturday, July 9, 2011

Who is God?

This question has been asked since the beginning of time.  Who is God?  What is God?  Is there a God?  What form does God take?  Does God cause all the tragedies we experience on earth?  How can God make children suffer?  Is God a man who sits up in the clouds on a throne with long white hair, beard, long robe, and punishes us when we’re bad?  Is He a man or woman?  Genderless?  Is He a God of love, or a vengeful God who is full of anger and judgment?  Add your own question(s), and you have asked the greatest mystery questions of the ages.

What does God looks like?  I don’t know.  And neither does anyone else.  In the thousands of books and magazines that I’ve ever read regarding religion and spirituality, I have never read where anyone has seen the actual face of God.  There are verses in the Bible that say someone did see the face of God, but didn’t describe his actual features.  Then again, Jesus says in John 5:37 states: “And the Father who sent Me, He was borne witness of Me.  You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form.”   Some people today say they have seen the face of Jesus, but they usually see the image of the man that was depicted in an artist’s vision of what he thought Jesus looked like.    

If you look up all the different names for God, you will find thousands of variations depending upon the religion, culture, and belief system.  Traditional Christianity has collectively called this Deity “God,” but even within the Christian faith, the names can vary. It also depends upon which nation and/or culture the Christian lives in as to what name is given.   I could give a list of the thousands of names from all religions, but they could fill a whole magazine alone.

When the Bible was written, it was a patriarchal society.  It is said that all but two chapters of the Bible were written by men. Women didn’t have a voice in Biblical times (with few exceptions).  Therefore, God is depicted as male.  In the New Testament, Jesus talks about God as being His Father.  But did He only say “Father?” I don’t know; I wasn’t there. Genesis 1:26 states:  “Let us make man in Our image…”  Who is Us?

We can fight over who or what we believe God to be, and forget why there is a God in the first place.  Many Holy wars have been fought over people trying to defend their beliefs as right and others wrong.  We do this to this day, though in America the fighting is more in words.  People have been killed in America over religious beliefs, and continue to be to this day, albeit not in a military war as in other countries.

So, does it matter who or what God is, or what name we call Him or Her?  Does it matter what gender God is?  I don’t think so, and I really believe it doesn’t even matter to God.  (For those who don’t believe in God, just add an “o” and call it “Good.”)

Personally, here’s what I know about God.  I don’t know.  But here’s what I do believe.  It doesn’t matter the name you give to God.  It doesn’t matter the form or the gender that you give to God.  I no longer believe that He is a man sitting up in the clouds pouncing on us every time we do something someone else here thinks we did wrong.  God is Love.  God is compassion.  Good is all good.  God is in everything.  I call God a He, and other times I say She. Usually I say Spirit or Universe.  I believe that God is an all embracing energy of pure, unconditional, perfect love.   She is all inclusive and loves every single one of us regardless of color, race, religion, or walk of life.  He doesn’t judge, nor punish us for our interpreted sins.  Take the love you feel for your newborn baby, multiply it by billions, and you still only have a smidgeon of the magnificent love that God has for us.

You can disagree with me on this.  That’s okay.  I honor and respect whatever you believe.  This is only what I believe, and I choose to believe God as a God of love and compassion.

(Published in "Our Journey," a Cookeville, TN magazine.) 


To Live a Magnificent Life

There was a woman who was extremely frustrated and feeling overwhelmed with her life.  Not knowing what else to do, she went to her spiritual teacher for advice.  After listening to her story, he replied, “The answer is obvious:  get rid of everything that is bad and keep only what is good.”

So she went home and evaluated what was and wasn’t working in her life, and she released everything that wasn’t working or what wasn’t bringing her joy.  Her life changed for the better and she found a little peace.

A year later, she again felt overwhelmed, so she went to her spiritual teacher for more advice.  He replied, “My answer to you is to let go of the good and keep only what is great!”

She returned home and again re-evaluated her life, and she released what wasn’t good and only kept what was great.  She made the decision to live simply from joy and participate only in those activities that she found empowering.

Approximately another year went by and she was feeling stuck in the muck, and since her spiritual teacher had given her such good counsel in the past, she again went to him for advice on how to make her life better.  He replied, “From here on out, really practice what you have been learning, only now, let go of the great and keep only what is magnificent.” 

When she began practicing looking for and keeping only what was magnificent in her life, she found her life improved beyond measure.  She found she could live in joy, was happy, and she found peace of mind.

How many of us are struggling to find peace in our lives, to find a little joy and happiness, and to know that our lives have meaning?  I think that covers most of us (including me at times).  Life can sometimes get away from us and we find that life controls us instead of our controlling life.  We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can, with practice, control our thoughts about what happens to us.  We really do have a choice about the thoughts we think.  We can choose to be positive and optimistic, or we can choose to be negative and pessimistic.  Some will say, “But Karen, if you think positive and optimistically all the time, you’re not living in reality!”  I say, “I choose my reality by the thoughts I think.”

There’s another great story about a little girl who was constantly bugging her parents for a pony, but they couldn’t afford it.  One day, the parents had a truckload of manure delivered to their house and it was dumped in one pile in the yard.  Soon after, the father went out and found the little girl enthusiastically digging at the pile of manure.  The father asked, “Honey!  What on earth are you doing?!?”  To which the little girl replied, “I KNOW there’s a pony in her somewhere!” 

I say, “You don’t have to be happy with your circumstances, but you can be happy in your circumstances.”  Wayne Dyer has a book called, “Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life” and I would highly recommend reading it.  For one day, I would also recommend that you be aware of the thoughts you are thinking.  Are they positive or negative?  What words come out of your mouth?  Are you always complaining about what you think is wrong with your life, or are you counting your blessings and finding what’s good?  Are you focusing on the problems, or are you focusing on the solutions?

Even in the worst of circumstances, we can find ways to think good thoughts.  I am certainly not saying that it’s easy.  It takes practice and constant focus.  Our thoughts and the words we speak have a lot of power, and we will attract that which we are thinking.  We also become that which we are speaking. 

Philippians 4:8 states: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Buddha says, "The thought manifests as the word. The word manifests as the deed. The deed develops into habit. And the habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care. And let it spring from love, born out of concern for all beings." 

And Mahatma Gandhi stated, "Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well." 

To be empowered, we need to think and speak empowering words.  You can change your life.  “Life is beautiful, life is good, life is what you believe it to be.”  And so it is.

(Published in The Herald Citizen, a Cookeville, TN newspaper.)