Questions surrounding God have both plagued and fascinated humanity, perhaps since the beginning of our civilizations as we know them. In our recent times, when spiritual awakening is progressing at an ever increasing rate, we continue to push the boundaries of all that we know, or wish to discover. Yet, while many resources exist to help us with our quest and queries about God, we have to consider where our core information about God is coming from. In this essay we will examine what our human race has lost on this journey, and could re-gain by taking a different approach in their search for God.
Our modern day world may be heavily focused on material details, its physical nature and technological innovation, yet something within us, no matter how small, is calling our attention elsewhere. This voice or feeling has always been there. Whether we admit it consciously, to ourselves and others, or not, most of us live with the knowing that something is missing. No matter how devout we may be to either, our religions don’t quite seem to satisfy us, neither do our sciences. Despite any material wealth, distracting entertainment or fancy titles, somewhere within us there is a part that is longing to know. In this longing it is searching for that something that often goes by the term known as God. Whether we are feeling disconnected and long to unite, or feeling uncertain and long to know, a common thread connects all of us at our essence. We may not all be comfortable with calling it God, but we are all searching for that something that appears to drive life and reality as we have come to know it.
We Look for God in Our Religions
When the topic of God is brought up, to this day it is all too often synonymous with religion. Yet even though religion is dependent on God, God is independent of religion. Naturally not everyone will agree with this analysis, so let’s dive in a little deeper to decipher this position. It has often been said that humans were created in the image and likeness of God. It has also often been said that humans created God in the image and likeness of themselves. I highly support this latter conclusion. We can analyze this from many perspectives and based on various historical data, but let’s just keep it simple to see how by searching for God in religion, we often lose the very nature and purpose of God.
When we dissect what religion is, at its essence it is a group of agreed upon ideas, beliefs and customs. Agreed by whom? A particular group of people in a particular region, who were influential enough to get others to agree as well. Wikipedia defines religion as an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence. Throughout the ages, humans have sought answers about the origins of life and the meaning of our existence. Guidance came in various forms, through various people and provided the backdrop acceptable for the particular period of time. Unfortunately as is our common nature we tend to glorify and elevate people and events of antiquity, often distorting them to fulfill some agenda or void within. What frequently starts out with good intentions, for example as a tool for helping humanity evolve, often turns into an enslaving system of paradigms. The human Ego’s quest for power, control and security surrounding its identify is easily satisfied by rules and regulations put into place. Fear, control and guilt are often used to leverage our obedience and participation This is unfortunately the not so positive part of religion, which separates us far from God.
The positive aspect of religion can be found in those original intentions that often come from beings who see a wider perspective than the general populace. They may ignite or inspire some new way of seeing, living or understanding and are thus seen as “special” in their purpose. When we look across the ages, at the different teachers and teachings, we see that independent of the exclusively added accessories of each religion, are similar, unifying fundamental messages that provide guidance about the nature of God and reality. These have the potential to further our evolution and understanding of God if applied based on our unique needs, readiness and most importantly discernment. However, they are seldom applied and built upon like that. Most often we get stuck on worshipping the teacher and turning their ideas into rigid rule sets, rather than living the actual messages in a way that makes sense to our daily life at any given time. In this process we lose our conscious discernment and abide by unconscious, habitual responses, most often excusing them as faith. We turn teachers and teachings into strict, narrow and literal data sets that are not much different from what we will be discussing in the science section below. The main difference is that while science attempts to prove the data, religion requests that you take it upon faith. Neither of the disciplines as we will see, can therefore be adequate vehicles for finding or understanding God in their current limited forms.
From everything I have witnessed and experienced, our understanding of God appears to be directly proportional to our spiritual evolution. The more we grow, expand and evolve personally, the more our understanding of God does. If we attempt to grow spiritually, but lock our ideas about God in a fixed view given by our religion, we will experience an incongruence in our lives that will be evident on many levels. The external guidance of our religions can be a great stepping stone on our journey and search for God, but it cannot be our final destination if we seek to truly know God, or ourselves.
We Look for God in Our Sciences
In July 2012, the world got an announcement that had the potential to change how we understand the origin of our creation. It was at this time that the news came from the CERN facilities in Switzerland about the discovery of the Higgs Boson Particle, also known to many as the God particle. But don’t expect science to agree to the latter name, which it sees as an offensive misrepresentation of the notable discovery. Mixing God in with science is just not something we are ready to explore or experience. So what is the role of God in science?
The science of antiquity was closely related to the field of philosophy. Early scholars, researchers and academics allowed themselves to consider the many aspects of the seen and unseen world. However since about the time of Newton, around the 17th century, science took a very different turn. It became nothing short of rigid, narrow and highly one-sided. It became based predominantly on the scientific method, which itself lost its original function of possibility. If you couldn’t prove it through quantifiable data, then it pretty much didn’t exist. We felt that our modern times awarded us with the luxury of ever increasing technological advances, where testing was valued along with reliable and predictable behavior. Conclusions became drawn based on favorable outcomes, personal interests and agendas. Our quests took us ever deeper into the details of our world, bringing about a highly reduced perspective of all that could be seen. We became fascinated with details and patterns that afforded us many significant discoveries. Yet this came at a cost. What we lost in this approach to science is a lot of the natural inquiry, potential, wonder and awe that was naturally part of the main purpose of science. We lost sight of the bigger picture, the holistic nature of life and interconnectedness that exists in all natural systems. As the decades went on, a field that had its roots in exploring the unknown and infinite possibility, became just as dogmatic as the religions we talked about above.
It should therefore come as no surprise that this kind of science left little room for anything related to God. If we cannot see it, measure it or test it, then we don’t want to waste our time on it, because as above mentioned, the logical conclusion is that it does not exist. We have fancy tools to view and examine the surface of our planet and below. We even have sophisticated tools to investigate and analyze that which we call the Universe, including various celestial bodies and phenomena. Neither on, above, nor below, have we found anything to give us the slightest indication of the existence of any kind of God. The physical nature of life and its origins as we have come to know them, appear predictable and systemized.
But what if we are looking in the wrong places? What if we are using the wrong tools? What if we are starting with the wrong questions? A few science-oriented seekers and scientists who have not reduced their vision are considering these very possibilities. Perhaps there is a completely different explanation for all that we have come to know thus far about the nature of our reality, its origins and life as we know it. Perhaps in trying to keep things clean and compartmentalized we have shut off the most vital vein of science, that of infinite possibility, which can progressively reveal itself based on our evolutionary capability and open gateways to sensing beyond the material world.
The Individualized Middle Ground
During my personal exploration of life, reality as I know it and my place in it all, if there is one thing I learned is that any time we adhere too strongly to any beliefs or classifications, we limit potential. The more beliefs and dogmas we have about how things are and can be, or not, the more we restrict our view and experience of all that is possible. This is why today I have taken a very liberal approach to my beliefs and infused back a large degree of intrigue, curiosity and wonder. Many of us fear that by loosening up our beliefs, we will become more confused, indecisive or uncertain about things. On the contrary, what I have discovered is that I have never been more certain in my knowing by shedding limited mind patterns and beliefs. The type of knowing that I am referring to is not just about certainty though, but also about open-ended potential. It is not a blind, externally generated knowing, but rather a conscious, inner knowing. Having come from both a strict religious and science background, I could have easily taken and stuck to defending either of the two paths discussed above. But when I faced my own search for God, neither sufficed. Both were inadequate on their own. Both were tainted with too much dogma and other people’s views of how things are or ought to be. Yet together, both supplied some valuable pieces. As I have come to know for myself, sometimes we need some logic, reasoning and practicality. Yet at other times we need some faith, intuition and feeling. Either way, we always need conscious, personal discernment.
The second major nugget of wisdom discovered on my path is that our experience of reality, including God is highly subjective. No one, no thing, no discipline outside of us can tell us truly how things are when it comes to God or the nature of reality. We must experience them (for) ourselves. It is vital to note here that our personal experience at any given time will be heavily based on our personal, spiritual evolution up until that point (as I eluded to in the section on religion above). It we allow ourselves to grow, and actively pursue growth on our journey when it comes to our emotional, intellectual and spiritual maturity, we enable ourselves to see an ever expanding picture. If we do not, we stagnate or block our potential to see and to know. We then operate from a limited scope or field of view. Sometimes it is argued that personal experience is an inadequate or flawed tool, and provides a faulty view of reality. But this supposed weakness is also a fundamental strength. It is only flawed or faulty in reference or context to another view. At any given time our view, experience and understanding is just that—OURS. While it may seem illogical or irrational to someone else, no one is fit to judge what is right for us at any given time. This is something we still need lots of practice with on planet Earth. It is so easy to look at the views or beliefs of another and call them wrong, or think what on Earth could they be thinking? Sure there are some approaches, views or beliefs that seem to serve our state of being more than others. However, here is where we need to infuse a large degree of compassion and empathy if we are to have peace on our planet. I will be the first to state that yes, some beliefs are highly destructive and create a lot of havoc on our planet. But the answer is not to negate or attack them, rather the only thing we can do is inspire (not enforce) through whatever constructive means we have available, the spiritual evolution of another being.
The best way that I can describe this process of illumination on our journey to God is very much perhaps like playing a video game. As we ascend through every level, we are given access to new tools, new areas or new resources. As we progress, we take on an ever expanding understanding of the intricate connections, possibilities and outcomes. We become more skilled at knowing how to navigate the landscape, how to ensure a favorable outcome and how it all works. The same goes for our progression through the many stages in our search for God. At the very beginning we may have no concept of what is driving the game of life. Early on, we will propose ideas for how we think it all works that will be based on whatever elementary understanding we have about ourselves. As we advance further, we will begin to expand our views about what is possible and apply evermore sophisticated models to explain the nature of reality and its origins. To provide a practical example, it can be seen as the progression from knowing God as “an elderly male in the sky with human characteristics”, to “an all loving spiritual presence”, to “but one of many energetic aspects of a greater whole.”
Therefore, since we are all at different levels of the “game”, or more precisely our spiritual evolution, we will all see a different picture, hold a different perspective and have a different understanding at each point of our life, or any given lifetime. This is why one of the most futile things that we can do is argue about, or try to convince others about what God is or isn’t. The more we evolve personally, the more we evolve our understanding of God and the more we are able to grasp. This is why it is also important to be patient with ourselves at any given time, as well as with others. You don’t need to make anyone else’s view or understanding of God fit. Simply find what makes sense to you, now, today, and stay flexible about what may make sense to you tomorrow.
Our Children’s Search for God
Where most of our planet currently finds itself is in a vicious cycle that is repeating itself with each subsequent generation when it comes to our search for God. Our saving grace is the natural evolutionary progression that gives us a nudge forward in whatever small ways it may be, but a nudge forward nonetheless. The other positive aspect of this time is the collective awakening that is taking place planet-wide. Again, perhaps not as fast and vast as many of us would love to see it, but the progression is steady and in the right direction for our human race to take a spiritual evolutionary leap forward.
Collectively the majority of adults on this planet have a very limited understanding of our spiritual nature, and seldom make the effort to take the inward journey needed to establish personal knowing in this area. Is it any wonder then that we are often perplexed at what to share with our children when they ask about topics related to God, life, death and the realities beyond? Many parents attempt to get back to whatever religious roots they grew up with, hoping that they can fill in the right details during their children’s upbringing. Others simply share whatever answers they have found to be adequate for them. Most families will find themselves relying heavily on religious fundamentals, whereas a growing other segment will attempt to infuse a scientific approach to helping their children understand the origin of life, God and all things related.
If you have children, whatever your personal approach has been thus far on your own journey to understanding God, my hope here is that you allow your children to have their own journey of inquiry and realization. Rather than reverting back to your default childhood programming, take the opportunity of having a child to in a sense be re-born yourself. For example, given our collective awakening, a growing number of resources are being created for children’s mind-body-spirit wellness that can support a more holistic approach to the nature of reality. One of the most recent ones that I wish to bring your attention to in the context of this essay is a new book from author Jennifer Horsman, entitled Is God Real or Pretend?
In this book a young boy named Franklin goes on a journey of trying to learn whether God is real or pretend. Thanks to the various adults and resources in his life, he has the privilege of gaining a perspective about all of the major world religions, as well as science, and what they all say about God. Written from a modern perspective and very applicable to our times, this is an example of an excellent book that any parent can pick up and read with their child to support their little one’s journey and inquisitiveness about God. One of its highlights and inspiring principles for all parents was that Franklin’s parents did not enforce their beliefs onto him, rather they supported him on his journey to discover his own. This is profoundly enormous as it helps the child learn how to think, not what to think, and thus learn to form their own views and choices.
Through the narrative, the author provides a wonderful foundation about each of the world religions and elegantly focuses on each of their positive similarities. The only limitation that I found about this book is that is approaches the search for God only from the two seemingly dualistic arenas—religion and science—leaving out what I consider both the middle and encompassing field of them both, that of spirituality. As I shared in the section above, it is when we take the best of all “worlds” for us, that we gain the deepest and broadest level of understanding about any given subject. So if you are a spiritually-aligned parent, who is neither for or against science or religion, keep this in mind if you choose to explore this resource with your child to provide them with the possible third option.
Is God Real or Pretend? is intended for young readers from about the age of 6 and up. The format and design of the book isn’t one that I can praise, but its content, if approached from a neutral perspective can be highly educational for both the child and the parent. What I cannot emphasize enough though when it comes to resources like this is for the parent to be engaged in reading it with their child as this will facilitate the dialogue that will no doubt be a vital part of this experience for the child. It can provide for a rich and diverse amount of discussions between parent and child, where the child is encouraged to train their personal skills of discernment, intuition and logic.
The Inner Piece Needed to Find God
From our sciences to our religions, from our sages to our scholars, there is no shortage on ideas, beliefs or dogmas about the mystifying experience we call God. But despite thousands of years of history and hundreds of years of scientific exploration are we any closer at understanding our place in the Universe or God’s presence in our lives? I guess it all depends on who you ask. Ultimately as we proceed on with our yearning to know, may we be inclined to be more inclusive, rather than exclusive about what ideas or beliefs we subscribe to. May we not lose ourselves on our quest to finding God for this defeats the purpose of our entire journey. To understand God, we need to understand ourselves first and foremost. This is the missing piece that so many people lose on their quest for God. They begin to worship and pay heed so heavily to the external that they forget the importance of the internal.
That missing piece, so often lost on our journeys of searching for God is YOU. We live bridled with so much fear and insecurities, so quick to judge ourselves as somehow inadequate or unworthy. Yet this very approach is what cuts us off from from finding and knowing God. The next time you pass by a mirror, take a conscious moment and look at the reflection. Unless and until we turn the journey inward and acknowledge our presence in our search for God, we will continue to feel as if something is missing. Our religions and our sciences can only point the way so far. They can only provide so much guidance, wisdom or knowledge. The big missing piece however is within us. External resources can present various possibilities and hints for us, but if we really want to find God, we MUST start and end within. Many religious people oppose the sterile scientific approach to God, but in looking to their leaders and books for the answers, they really are no different than the scientists looking to their external data. No one can define or explain for all others what God may be, but as we progress in our spiritual evolution we gain more and more clues that give us an ever deepening understanding about the topic at hand. Religion and science can both be wonderful tools on our journeys, but the heart of this matter rests both within and outside of each of those disciplines.
Therefore look into that mirror, look into those eyes. Allow both your thoughts and feelings to engage with who or what it is that you see. Allow the data you have collected to merge with the intuition of your inner core. Learn to trust yourself. Learn to believe in yourself. Learn to love yourself. These are all essential stepping stones on our journey inward—on our search for God. Re-gain your sense of wonder, awe, curiosity and possibility. Re-connect with your childhood innocence about the potential of life. It has often been said that God is in all things, all creatures and all people. So look around you, look at the world, look into the eyes of others. Take note of what you see, and even more importantly what you feel. Connect with your heart and the hearts of others. Feel the oneness that is interwoven between all living beings. Balance your outward gaze with your inward inquiry. When you are ready, allow yourself to re-introduce yourself to God and treasure that experience for yourself, however you choose to understand it. Others need not be at the same place as you, or seek, or believe the same things as you. What matters is that you know who you are, and from that space explore the infinite inner and outer worlds of who you know God to be.