Saturday, February 27, 2010

Our Concept of God ...

This may be a tough one to write ... as well, a tough one to receive. But I've come to believe that it's not dangerous to question anything, or everything ... including our concept(s) of God. Indeed, if I have a skewy concept of God, that's preventing me from truly experiencing God as God IS, then I sure 'nuff want to know that ... and that requires that I take a good, long look, at what I believe and why.

Going back a ways, as in 6,000+ years or so ... the original "religion" (i.e., view of God), was that God is a Spirit-force ... the Source of Life ... which permeated all things. All in All (sound vaguely familiar?).

Here's how DH Lawrence described the spirituality of the Native Americans of New Mexico:
It was a vast and pure religion, without idols and images, even mental ones. It is the oldest religion, a cosmic religion the same for all peoples, not broken up into specific gods or saviors or systems. It is the religion which precedes the god-concept, and is therefore greater and deeper than any god-religion."


That struck me: "beyond metal idols/images." Wondering, how have my own mental images of God prevented me from knowing/experiencing God...? And, do I thus worship a concept of my own creation (or received from others), which has become an idol, replacing the True God in my own mind, and therefore, life...?

Prior to the concept of a male God "in the sky" ... there was a more feminine aspect to the Divine ... now, to be fair, this "goddess" concept wasn't anthropomorphic ... a feminine Deity wasn't worshipped, so much as life was seen as feminine ... life was observed as coming forth *out* of females. Seeing the Spirit in terms of a Womb just made sense. Steve Taylor quotes here from "The Myth of the Goddess":
The Mother Goddess, wherever she is found, is an image that inspires and focuses a perception of the universe as an organic, alive and sacred whole ... Everything is woven together in one cosmic web, where all orders of manifest and unmanifest life are related, because all share in the sanctity of the original source."


Thus, Divine as feminine is more of a concept, than an image.

Relating this to the Fall ... in 4,000 BC, when humans became warlike, socially-distinctive, and patriarchal, the fallen humans also developed theistic religions. At first, the religions were polytheistic (many gods) ... including in ancient Sumer, in Greece, in Rome, and in Egypt (among others). The gods were a mixture of male and female images. But by 2,000 BC, all the prominent gods were male ... the females having become either subservient, or non-existent. So too, the former sense of participating with nature, had been replaced with a sense of needing to conquer/dominate nature. Rather than the sense of the Divine being in all, God became a powerful being *over* all.

Monotheism was birthed in Egypt (I found this fascinating!) ... The Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaton, in 1400 BC, proclaimed that there was only one God (Aton), the Sun God ... and that all other gods were now obsolete. Interestingly, there's evidence that Moses lived in Egypt at this time (Moses being the assumed author of the first five books of the old testament), where he was in a noble family. It's likely that Moses took this concept of one God with him.

Also interestingly, the three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) were the predominant religions among the Saharasian people ... by 1000 AD, only the Hindus of India and the Taoist/Buddhist people of the Far East, remained untouched by this "fallen" perspective of religion. The spread of both Christianity and Islam is not due to "how true it is" (as adherents of each religion declare) ... but because they were (both!) spread by political and military force (i.e., "convert or be punished/die").


Steve Taylor sums up this chapter quite provocatively:
The notion that there is only one God - an omnipotent father figure who keeps a constant watch over us, controlling everything which happens, rewarding us for doing good, and demanding complete subservience and devotion - obviously satisfied (& continues to satisfy) a deep-rotted psychological need of fallen human beings.


Wowzers...! As I wrote in the margin: "I feel another shift coming!"

(Next: Our Need for Gods)

Shalom, Dena

9 comments:

MysticBrit said...

I think you may well be right, Dena. It is indeed deep-rotted;)

I luvs ya typos. They often sum up the whole post!:D

All images are just that, and nothing more. God is not containable in verbal sounds and mental concepts. We must eventually outgrow it all, and go beyond what our egoic minds have conjured up to the deep reality that is beyond language.

We must become 'adults of God' and not just 'children'!

What wonders are surely there...

Dena said...

Bwa-ha-ha! Maybe I should re-name my blog to be "accidental truths"...?

It's funny what spell-check doesn't catch!

I'm seeing as you are, Harry ... too uncannily astonishing!

Mary said...

I like what you've written here. Studying the roots of religion is something I've been doing lately. The DH Lawrence quote struck me. His last sentence was "It is the religion which precedes the god-concept, and is therefore greater and deeper than any god-religion." Notice they had NO god-concept at all. Concepts are nothing more than conjurings we create in our minds. Since all interpretations occur in our minds, how do we prove there even is such a thing as a god? A conundrum to say the least!

Anonymous said...

For me it's been so hard to get God as the Patriarchal Old White Dude out of my brain as an image! It's so ingrained. From my first bible books up to about 8 years ago when I first started to say, hey! If God is whole then he's part female and how come I don't accept God as whole, only God as a man?


Briana

Dena said...

Thanks, Mary. I like what YOU wrote! To me, there is no "proof" of God ... there is only experience which transforms everything. We don't prove it, we live it. We become it.

Briana - the fact that you are *aware* of having this concept, and no longer wanting it, means it's on the way out...! Misperceptions are replaced with new/higher perceptions ... the true will replace the false ... because you ARE awakening. EnJOY the ride!

Mary said...

The problem with a god-concept is that it is totally subjective. Even more so if we say there is no way to prove God's existence. Everyone develops their own image even when there is a book (the bible) supposedly given to show us the way. How many sects of religion do we need before we start to think that something is lacking here.

If there is a God that interacts with humans, it seems we should be able to somehow scientifically measure it. I'm beginning to think that our brain is the concept center for everything we humans experience. Science has begun to study the idea of consciousness/soul in regards to our brains, but this is so new that I don't think there is anything conclusive to be said on the subject. Science has whittled away so many religious beliefs throughout history. How many hundreds of years did it take for religion to accept the heliocentric solar system?

Living by feelings alone is no longer a satisfactory method for me to live my life by. Facts can be dealt with, though it would be easier sometimes to just assign problems to God for him to solve them for me. But I think I should grow up instead. Oh well... just my thoughts on a Sunday afternoon.

Dena said...

Agreeing with you, Mary, re. all that subjectivity. Perhaps we're *meant* to experience God/Source/Reality uniquely..? Perhaps subjectivity is the God-given framework?

Also ... I'm seeing feelings not as something to "live by" ... but something to be heeded -- my feelings, I notice, show me what I really believe. If I *say* I trust God to provide, and yet I panic when I lose my job ... what do I *really* believe..? My feelings, particular the negative/painful ones, are the tips of the icebergs of the very beliefs that are *in my way* of living a joyful/abundant life. I can trace those feelings to their "source and origin" and look closely at the beliefs that are hidden there (operating away, sabotaging my experience/perspective).

It's my conviction that all is *very good* ... and when I perceive otherwise, I need to question that perception ... need to find out what belief I'm carrying, that's in the way of SEEing and experiencing that "very good".

Life, I'm seeing, is not a spectator sport ... and I'm not meant to be passive. I see that I'm meant to be an active, intentional participant ... that it's all here for me to discover who I am, and THEN, to play with it...!

Just learning that latter part ... wheeeee!

Mary said...

Dena, you said... "It's my conviction that all is *very good* ... and when I perceive otherwise, I need to question that perception ... need to find out what belief I'm carrying, that's in the way of SEEing and experiencing that "very good"."

How do you, Dena, deal with the suffering in the world? The starving innocent children of the world who just happen to be born in a place inhospitable to human survival. It's one thing for you and me to use our thinking to effect our own world, but what is God thinking when it comes to these little ones? I understand it is an age old question but I've not been satisfied with any of the answers yet. Perhaps this is too much to bite off in a comment.

Dena said...

Mary - ahhhh, the age-old question!

Some of my thoughts in that direction:

My hunch that all is "very good" is an intuitive thought -- not something I can prove. And, anyone can, and will, find "evidence" to say otherwise.

I've had my share of sufferings and injustices ... 3 miscarriages, excommunicated on trumped-up charges, was bulimic for 21 years.

I see that this life is a short experience, compared with all of life. I have a hunch (no proof) that we come here for a pre-determined purpose -- something we want to learn/experience (likely many things). I imagine that we lose the "memory" of having chosen this ... AND, our choices and beliefs interact with those of everyone else on the planet ... free will remains ... the choices of others can hurt me -- but canNOT *harm* the real me.

I even wonder if we don't choose when/how to leave this life (i.e., die) ... and perhaps even the tragic deaths of some (from our perspective) could serve as necessary wake-up calls for others. Just maybe.

I've gathered this perspective from various readings ... including of NDE's (near death experiences) ...

... and it still breaks my heart when others suffer, particularly children ... rips my heart out, really. My passion is healing ... I just think, believe really, that there's much more than meets the eye ... more than religion has yet fathomed.

I'm still very much learning ...!