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Thursday, August 30, 2012

God

I just finished reading Noah Levine's Dharma Punx, which really resonated with me and convicted me at the same time. As silly as it may sound I have come to recognize that for someone whose greatest strength as a spiritual teacher has been breaking stereotypes there have been times, spaces, and places where I have stepped back and been less than my authentic self in order to fit in. I recognize that I need to continue to push the envelope.

I also found Levine's image of God fascinating. It is, of course, fascinating and surprising to find God discussed in a Buddhist book at all. Levine started thinking about God as he worked his recovery program, and was also exposed to God in his study with Hindu teachers. I found his description of God compelling - and interesting personally because I no longer believe in the old white guy with the long beard sitting in a throne beyond the clouds. In fact, I don't believe in a corporeal, or embodied, God at all. As a non-theist, then, what does God look like?

It is easy to get caught in the trap of trying to describe a non-theistic view of God by using a lot of words that don't end up saying very much. Starting points might be that God is the creative energy behind all of life and experienced most clearly in relationship with other human beings and with nature. God is the interconnectedness of everything and everybody, the source of love and compassion, the instinct to reach out to another in their time of need, the ability to be self-sacrificing and to lift others up. Of course, you can't paint a picture of this kind of God that is some kind of portrait of a super-human, but there are images that work. We also might start to conceptualize this vision of God as a feeling of peace or serenity. Most of all, we can feel free to experiment playfully to discover what works for us as individuals.

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