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It was Rumi, the ancient Persian-born Sufi poet, who wrote: “Silence is the language of God, all else is poor translation.”
Speaking for myself, I couldn’t agree more with this analysis.
Since the onset of the pandemic and while trudging through a long, deep winter of heartache that brought me to my knees in the throes of a bone-chilling depression, I have inexplicably found “God” in moments of drawn-out contemplation as well as in intervals of stillness brought on by a longing to unite my fragmented ego with the wise teacher that is solitude.
During those pauses, grappling for scraps of leftover peace in the aftermath of a cataclysm, I have managed to preserve some nevertheless fragile parts of me, and from the destruction, draw a blueprint for a metaphorical home in which to rest my weariness. In the small crevices of my room, I felt myself expand, ushering in a fresh season, a spring to dissolve the ice in me as the buds of awareness flowered into a more vibrant perspective on life and the groundbreaking wonder we call romantic love.
Now, whenever I step out of my dorm, my virgin eyes see a new landscape—one that will shine ever more brightly in the dog days of passion and inevitably burn out, giving way to those shorter, darker days where the object of one’s affection no longer glows like an ember underneath a hot sun. I am grounded here on this floorplan as I prepare for each winter.
I have since found “God” in things other than and beyond romantic love. I’ve found “God” in a trust in and appreciation for the laws of physics, in starry-eyed glimpses of a wistful night sky, and in the mastery of self-expression through a rich palette of words that paint colorful descriptions and palpable imagery.
Because I am an incurable romantic, Pablo Neruda’s poems bring me closer to “God,” as do lines penned by various mystic poets akin to Rumi. And a mountain that reminds me of how innocuous I am while standing in its shadow. And music that is classic, and voices unmuffled by bad taste or nonsensical lyrics that do not inspire a willingness or capacity to truly hear them.
These little treasures are timeless and cannot be touched or tampered with. Because they cannot be handled, no one can take them away or dangle them like a carrot in front of my eyes only to once and for all deny them to me as I fall to the floor incrementally, drooling at the mouth hole. This is food for the soul, and it transcends all things human, feeding those with the worst kind of hunger—the emotional and spiritual kind that no amount of crumbs in the world could satiate.
In a broader sense, I believe that “God” is in us all. And, anyway, who said “God” was indefinitely bountiful or gracious? Omnipotent? Yes. But an ever-present source for good? Why, necessarily? I ponder that question, and consider one adjective: powerful. Power, as we know it, carries in it the potential to wield either positive or negative outcomes, and how one uses their power is a clear reflection of their internal landscape.
In a previous article I wrote, I briefly made mention of how the Christian concept of an afterlife seems sorely disempowering to me. If we want to cultivate a better world, salvation must come now, not in some hypothetical future, and certainly not as a result of some altruistic act of deliverance from someone or something outside of us.
“God,” I believe, is humanity, and this is our world while we’re here. This, too, is our time. The hour to enter the gates of heaven is in the present. Yet, so many people wait for salvation, believing that circumstances and events are out of their hands. In thinking this way, they effectively deny the “God” in them and cripple their capacity to enact change in their lives and the lives of those around them, and to potentially help restore the earth through conscientious deeds that embody higher levels of consciousness, presence, and selfless intention.
To date, as many of us are well aware, the climate crisis has reached close to catastrophic levels. Scientists are now telling us that global warming is rapidly spiraling out of control and the natural disasters and extreme heat waves will become increasingly severe with time. If we want an apocalypse, we’ll certainly have one as the forests burn, floods invade, and all of life as we know it collapses right before our own disbelieving eyes.
Yet, where do we begin? The answer to that question, I believe, is simple yet nevertheless makes many of us want to bury our heads in the sand. It begins within us.
Nothing outside of us can manifest without first existing as a thought, intention, or idea, either conscious or otherwise, below the surface of our own awareness. We build. We destroy. We elect people into government. Furthermore, on a personal scale, our thoughts shape our unique, individual realities, with principles like the Law of Attraction serving as another manifestation of “God.”
So, if we have so much power, why do we all too often fail to recognize it? Why do so many of us disempower ourselves and, in turn, others?
The answer to these questions is, in my opinion, anything but simple, and I doubt my attempt at an answer could do it any significant justice. But if we’re going to disentangle ourselves from the web of messy and distorted belief systems about ourselves and our ability to effect great changes in the world, we must face the reflection in the mirror boldly and with integrity.
Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Rumi shared his version of this when he said, “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
In order to live in a generous, prosperous, and habitable world, we must be those things. We must believe we are those things. It’s getting to the point where we can no longer afford to expend our energy denying the presence of “God,” both in and around us.
The easier but by no means more thorough answer to the above questions is that from our earliest years on this planet, we have been conditioned to believe that power lies in the hands of “bigger” or “more important” people—both in dollars and in just about every other way outside our capacity to exert real influence. Children aren’t taught that they have power, or that there is power in the collective conscious, therefore, they quickly grow into adults with an external locus of control.
Then, these adults elect other beings who often use their position to make life harder for those with less and who need more of something we’ve all decided to worship with unquestioning slavish devotion: money. Lives are destroyed for more of it and for lack of it.
On a collective scale, we have also created unsustainable lifestyles and move at a pace that almost inevitably leads to burnout, one way or another. We do not stop, reconsider our use of resources, or reflect on what we value. And in our personal lives, we often do not slow down often or even long enough to remember who we are and consider what truly matters. Sooner rather than later, the grand purpose of life gets lost in translation and we begin to believe we are only flesh and bone, tasked with a sole obligation: to survive in a frantic, dog-eat-dog world so that we can make the wealthy richer, burn more fossil fuels, succumb to an unapologetically materialistic worldview, live to help and satisfy only ourselves, and then eventually, once it’s all over, to decompose like organic waste six feet under.
Maybe, just maybe, if we treated life as a precious gift; remembered who we are, where we came from, and where we will return; cherished the earth and our fellow human beings despite apparent differences in race, gender, income and so on, we could come closer to grasping the gates of the “heaven” we long for.
Perhaps if only we would pause, reflect, and slow down, we could give ourselves half a chance to feel all that is sacred within us and co-create a more sustainable and desirable outer reflection of that rich inner space.
Maybe, dear reader, that time to pause is right here and right now.
And with that, I offer you a brief period of meditation via my own newly created Youtube channel: “Soulful Meditation.”