Since the birth of consciousness, we have possessed the innate desire to understand the world around us. When food, shelter, and warmth were no longer a dire necessity, we have wondered and pondered at the most primordial question. Why?
Why do we die?
Why are we born?
Why do we exist?
Who is responsible for all that we experience?
After a short morning run I found myself at Baker Beach. Although it was springtime in May, San Francisco has the ability to stay dormant to the seasons. A steady feeling of autumn is consistent throughout the year and it being my most beloved time of the year, my love affair with this city is met with moments of serendipity and very little in the way of complaints.
I held in my hand an apple throughout my run for I knew nourishment would be essential after the morning exercise. I picked a spot on the beach and took off my shoes to let the cool sand seep and sift through my toes. I marveled at the pacific as I always do. In the evenings, I can hear her waves through my window but to be a few feet from the shore temporarily calms the mind. A beautiful tanned Shiba Inu graced me with her presence and her persistent smiles and constant gaze at my apple led me to believe that she wanted to play fetch. Her owner came a few moments later and the two were steadfast out of my sight.
I took a big bite out of the apple and started eating expeditiously. The sweet nectar and amazing crunch sent my pleasure neurotransmitters into overdrive. This was probably due to my incessant hunger of not having a proper breakfast. I started thinking about life experiences, God, and how the two carry a symbiotic relationship. An epiphany of sorts perspired and this is what I want to share with you today.
Growing up in a Hindu household I was raised with a set of doctrines and ritualistic practices. I never understood these rituals and why there were so many. I drove my mother mad with questions on what purpose everything in our culture served. I knew this is what she has always known so I made sure not to berate her too much. But even as a child, my heart didn’t agree with any belief structure no matter how ancient and historic the teaching. Although I still went about these ritualistic duties, I could only count on things that were in my experience. It was very difficult to believe otherwise. A belief structure that couldn’t be proved was unfathomable.
To understand God you must first detach yourself from everything you think God is. In doing this you are seeking truth and relinquishing your need of patterned and behavioral ideological thinking. To detach yourself from what you believe is a stepping stone into the unknown world of true uncertainty. To question everything until it makes sense to you is the highest prayer one can do for the evolution of one’s own soul. The real truth lies in experience.
Before I begin my short discourse on religion, I must make it clear that my intent is not to ridicule, condemn, berate, renounce, or even perpetuate religious ideology or belief structures but rather make sense of what God means to me.
The traditional structure of God, or the embodiment of God such as a Jesus, Krishna, Mohammed, etc., simply doesn’t resonate with me. Do I believe that these prophets once roamed the earth? I sure hope so and lots of evidence suggest that they did, but I can’t say that I have a relationship with any of these figures because they have never been a part of my experience. I would like to preface that I do enjoy reading religious texts but it doesn’t bring me any closer to the traditional God we know.
Similarly, I never got to meet my great grandmother and although I didn’t know her, my late grandmother shared many fond memories with her. Her existence was real and so are the prophets I mentioned, but I don’t hope that I will see any of these figures one day.
All the temples, mosques, churches, synagogues, and shrines dedicated to prophet like figures were a result of past thinking and experiences of others, not your own. So why are they a viable belief system? Is it because of tradition? Is it because others like you have believed in the same manner long ago? Is it easier to take what ideology is given? Patterned behavior creates rituals, and rituals create more pronounced beliefs, and beliefs that are not in your experience paralyze your heart and hijacks your brain from seeing the truth.
Again, I am not denying that religion doesn’t serve a purpose but to empower myself and what I know about our world today, the term God has taken on a different meaning. I had a need to empower my mind and heart to think for itself instead of the thinking philosophies of others that existed long ago.
Scientists have concluded that the redwood trees like the ones I see at Muir Woods are some of the oldest living species of life in the world. Although this information is interesting, if I couldn’t see, touch, smell, hear, and generally feel a redwood tree, this knowledge would be superfluous in my need to understand nature on a spiritual level.
Think about the apple I ate earlier. This fruit I held in my hand was nothing short of a miracle. Through the workings of the sun, minerals, and elements, I am able to taste the sweetness of this apple. The apply then becomes a part of me and with its energy, I am able to write these words. Everything that is in an apple is in my experience. It has shaped me mentally, spiritually, and physically.
Suppose an apple was something of the past and not a fruit that existed today. There were written recollections of what an apple was, how sweet it tasted, and how life giving it was. Would you still believe in the apple if it never existed in your lifetime? You could but unless it is in your experience, you will never truly know what an apple is and the true essence it exudes. I feel this way about God.
I have been raised with the thinking that you must have faith in God. Even though I don’t believe in God in the traditional sense, I am still a man of faith. I have faith in the sun, the moon, my vegetable garden, in my relationship with my wife etc., because they are all encapsulated in my experience. Anything outside your experience cages you in a secular belief structure. Experiences don’t account for a portion of your life, they account for everything.
Who is God?
Everything you experience in life is happening within you. You might think you are looking at a computer screen and reading these words. Reality is that it is all happening within you. When you listen to the ocean, it’s not the ocean you are listening to, but rather the sound of the ocean that is happening within you.
We have created separation due to the thinking that our body makes us separate from others. Think about the apple once more. When does the apple become a part of me? Is it when the apple is a seedling, when it grows to a tree, or when I consume it?
In all stages, the apple is a part of me because I am experiencing it!
Think about the rain you see from your window. Is it real when you see it or when it touches your skin? It’s real on both accounts because you experience it.
Think about love. Love connects us and makes us feel good. When we marry, we unite hearts. Two separate entities become one. The grandeur of love is beautiful when in the presence of two human beings that find each other. It is more beautiful when you have married and fallen in love with all of life. Love becomes whole, transcendental, without hate, jealousy, or possessiveness.
I am finding that the God that I have known since birth is not the God that I am starting to love. God is in every experience I encounter. It’s in every person I see, every bite of food I eat, every unplanned smile a stranger graces me with, it’s in every unfavorable or joyous occasion, and it is in everything I encounter.
Until the time comes when I am no more in this form, I will go with my experience because it is the only thing that is in the here and now.