I was taught to look outside of myself for God, Divinity, for any sense of supreme power. It has taken a lifetime to come home and find that Divinity within.
As a child growing up in a home with two parents who argued, fought, cried (my mother) and slammed tables and slammed doors (my father), life didn’t appear to have any meaning. That apparent absence of meaning scared me. I fantasized about a world where things either came together in a coherent way or I was invincible, powerful—in control.
My brother and I were taken to Sunday School, where we were told Old Testament stories that, to my mind, reinforced the appearance of an insane and violent world. By the time I was 4 years old I began asking questions: “Why would God want to kill the first-born son in every family? What had those babies done wrong?” I was a son and the idea that there was such an angry, vindictive, and arbitrary force was the stuff of nightmares.
Sadly, I never met a minister or any adult who could offer anything better than a sop: “We cannot understand God,” “God moves in mysterious ways,” or the all-encompassing, “Have faith.” So I abandoned God and to a large extent I gave up on adults as a source of reason. At least, I gave up on their words; I found their actions much more informative.
I’m very grateful to my parents. Despite the on-off emotional chaos in our home they each showed me what they believed-in through their lived actions.
My father lived from a place of faith that I didn’t really recognize until I was in my mid-teens. That faith meant he trusted that what he needed and what our family needed would be there when we needed it. He demonstrated, too, that LIFE gives us what we need when we meet life with a willingness to do our part: show up and get engaged.
I was going to have to go into life and experience all my own chaos and my own violent responses to fear, and I’m not sure I would have made it through without the benefit of my parents’ demonstrations of a deep faith in the goodness of life. A goodness that was expressed in kindness to neighbours and to strangers; expressed through sharing when there was little to share.
In my own journey the anger and fear from my childhood set me on a self-destructive trajectory starting at age 12 and ending with a crash and a whimper at age 34. In those 22 intervening years I put tremendous energy into not believing in a supreme intelligence and into fighting against my own deep devotional inclination. This was a fight with God, and so it was a fight with the essence of what I am. It’s not a path I would recommend.
When I quit drinking alcohol in 1983 and began looking for a way to believe in something greater than myself, I had a transformative experience. While walking on a local beach, I suddenly fully heard the ocean’s waves as they washed up on the shore and felt the wind on my face, in my hair and tugging at my body. I heard a gull cry. I was engulfed in the wholeness of that place and that moment. I KNEW for the first time that I, this separate feeling self, did not create, could not create, any of this. And, in my spirit, I stopped fighting.
That moment marks the beginning of my conscious search for a living connection with Spirit/God/Life.
In the years since, I have engaged in workshops and trainings and meditation, all aimed at bringing me to a place where I could know who and what I truly am. At times I have wanted to give up in frustration, believing myself too weak, too lazy, lacking in commitment, and perhaps even inherently bad. Thankfully, the yearning to KNOW has never let me quit.
I believed that one of my great strengths was that I knew how to work hard. When I quit my first job out of high school they had to hire two people to do what I had been doing. Like all strengths, this turned out to be, if not a weakness, a handicap. I worked similarly hard at waking up, and that approach succeeded only to the extent that it exhausted me and brought me to the point where I stopped pushing and began to learn to relax.
In the past two years, I have eased out of searching and seeking and, little by little, relaxed into being. With this change in orientation, insights have begun to arrive. These insights aren’t anything I can claim to own; they present themselves to me like gifts, to be accepted or not.
This brings me to what I am and what we are. I am not any story I may tell about my self, nor are you reducible to any story you may tell about your self—no matter how enthralling or beautiful or sad.
WE, each of us, and every particle of existence, in form and formless, are all expressions of the SOURCE. In our known world of form, none of it can be judged better or worse, good or bad, right or wrong. This source is infinite potential expressed exactly as it is. As I understand it at this point, I and everyone are God’s expression of the infinite, and any limitations I believe in are only concepts; they do not exist in reality and are not inherent to the truth. We each choose the limitations that allow us to stay within a certain zone of comfort, and we can choose differently.
I have had experiences where I have seen—really seen and entered into—Oneness. And seen that “I” is integral to Oneness and that there is a single “I” seeing through all eyes. My intuition is that every time I or you or any person fully awakens to the Truth of this Oneness, we set our self and every other self free. It may not be the absolute freedom of enlightenment, but there is a setting free, nonetheless. The seemingly single point of awakening is in fact the epicenter of a great ripple AND, for me, that is the most compelling motive for any “personal” awakening journey.
Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash