December 4, 2012

The Stories of God or the Experience of Godliness?

A disease isn’t aware that it is a disease; it grows and grows until it overwhelms its host and ultimately destroys itself.

As a staunch environmentalist, I see the earth as a complex singular organism that has given rise to an extremely intelligent species capable of aligning itself with nature to maintain the miraculous gift of life.

We can see this sense of reverence and responsibility when we look at indigenous cultures all over the world; although they commit violence and fight wars like all humans, there is a common respect for the infinite source that gave them, along with the plants and animals that sustain their families, life—the opportunity to exist.

In Western culture, we believe in a singular God that looks and acts like a male version of us. On a microscopic level, I imagine a virus might worship it’s first mysterious manifestation the same way—erecting alters and writing decrees on how to go about consuming, “The virus will have dominion over the host!” sounds a lot like a famous line in scripture: “Man will have dominion over the earth.”

You can also find such statements in various pieces of Fascist literature in early 20th century Europe. Though there is a great deal of beauty in these written stories too, they fail to do anything other than build a house for us to inhabit that is incongruent with being with the life that is here.

The bottom line is that striving for something that is outside of the now is a self-serving mental creation, where we might impose our will on others and eventually wade into some special after-life. Why? Because it is all centered on an idea of God or truth, as opposed to the direct experience of this idea of God or ultimate truth.

It would be a travesty if that future paradise mentioned in some old stories was always here.

Buddhism emphasizes an inherent Buddha-nature within all men and women that you can access through presence. This isn’t just a Buddhist notion; it has been echoed throughout human history from all corners of the earth.

The only difference between this idea of Buddha-nature and a story in which we might believe, is that we can directly experience Buddha-nature or Godliness, through being present. The experience of God, of godliness, of no-self is in this mind and this life, resting beyond the haze of our thoughts and opinions. You can’t continuously read about it or try to grasp it in the future—you can just be it.

The other stuff is a self-serving framework where you can build your identity, where you can impose your will on others because your story must be better. We can see this in many social battles today in the United States—that we might tell two people who love each other unconditionally, “We will not recognize your love because of a story” isn’t religion, it is a framework floating in the midst of vastness; it is small, contrived and closed off instead of open and free.

Today, mankind is responsible for the sixth great extinction event in the earth’s 4.5 billion-year history; that throws us into the category of super-volcanic eruptions and massive asteroid impacts.

This isn’t something to be proud of, unless of course it remains in line with whatever story you or I might entertain. This piece isn’t meant to say one story is better than another, or that staunchly believing in no-story is a good alternative, because that is just replacing one story with another, where you close yourself off from the mystery of vastness.

No matter our beliefs, our stories, we might want to bring it into our lives, not through speaking or remembering quotes, but through presence—through being open and alive, without closing off from miracle that we sometimes forget to call home.



Ed: Bryonie Wise


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