“Do you believe in God?”
I looked down through the branches and saw two young men, probably in their early twenties, peering up at me, shading their eyes from the sun. No doubt they were wondering what I was doing up in a tree. Frankly, so was I. They were, as to be expected, clean shaven and neatly dressed. I shifted my weight onto the large branch below my foot.
“No,” I called down. “But it’s OK, I don’t believe in trees, either.”
Nothing is what we describe it to be, or the stories we tell about it.
Like the six blind men and the elephant, each person perceives the same universe from a slightly different perspective. We describe what we see, sometimes in stories so lovely that others embrace the stories.
Often, the stories become more real than the reality they try to describe. People ‘believe’ in the stories rather than ‘experience’ the subject.
So we all experience the reality of the universe and we are awed. It’s beyond comprehension and all we can do to wrap our tiny minds around it is take the thinnest slice and try to describe that.
“An elephant is like a tree,” said the first blind man, feeling the leg of the beast.
When we try to describe this reality we all share equally, it is called creativity. Every picture, song, story, and sculpture is the work of a creative being, trying desperately to describe the reality they see and share they beauty and wonder (or the horror) of the ‘slice’ they have taken.
“An elephant is like a wall,” said the blind man touching the animal’s side. “Like a branch, a rope, a brush, a pipe,” said the others. And so they fought, making fools of all the prophets and priests.
The boldest attempts, perhaps, at describing the largest slice are all named “God.”
Imagine the beauty of being able to describe the entire universe and all of time in one simple word; “God.”
- Take the complexity of an evolutionary process that births a life form that can think and breathe and is perfectly adapted to its environment and contain it in the sentence “God wants you to live.”
- Glimpse the awesome power of gratitude; how it shapes the universe and sum it up in “Count your Blessings.”
- Tell a story about man’s awakening with a thirst for knowledge and the price it enacts and it may sound like “Adam and Eve.”
The stories of the gods are marvelous doorways into a deeper relationship with reality which is what, indeed, we are destined for. The star-stuff of which we are made has awoken into consciousness so that we can observe, and be grateful for, the star-stuff of which we are made. We are the universe waking up; in other words, God’s children.
The ancients were right to create these stories. An awareness of the greater good is all that keeps us from taking whatever we want and destroying whatever, or whomever, we don’t. To explain to a child the power of loving an infinite universe may be impossible, but teaching him to pray to god is a good start.
Is it time for the human species to grow up? Can we direct out prayers toward ‘everything that is’ and worship, instead, the very concept of life and existence? Is this necessary for our continued survival on a planet that is nearly full?
There is only one reality, it is infinite, omnipresent, and omniscient; it is everywhere and encompasses everything. When two people, or two cultures perceive it differently, they are both right. There are six billion different paths yet each one winds on the same world and none of them are the whole journey.
Believe in God? The very question assumes there’s some doubt.
The pair stood, looking very puzzled at my response. After a moment, one said “Come on, that guy’s a nut.”