“Are you awake?” This was the first thing I heard after several weeks at a meditation retreat in the Sierra Nevada foothills. I was there looking for answers to the questions that have circled in my mind for years. Among others, is there a God? was at the top of the list. It was a silent retreat and for two weeks I haven’t heard another human voice.
That morning the retreat was over, and it was time to pack-up for a hike back to civilization. “So it’s over…” I thought that by now I would have the answers. Well I didn’t, not at that time. But during the years that followed, I formed a realization that I intend to share with you today.
The Common View of God
Even though there are lots of arguments for and against God’s existence, I want to refrain from the usual scientific, philosophical or historical debates. Rather I would like to focus on the perception of God as it applies to each one of us on a personal level.
When people think of God, they usually think of Him abstractly as something outside of the self. As an entity sitting atop of a throne up in the heavens. “The all mighty” or “all merciful”. People tend to keep God detached from their homes and their lives. This is because historically, God has been restricted to dogma and scriptures.
However, God can not be resolved dogmatically or through scriptural quotations. God can only be understood through personal experience. Let’s assume that there is a God. As we look up to the night sky, and perceive the vastness of space, God can only be thought of as infinite. It’s impossible to completely understand or describe infinity in human terms.
The Common Desire
And yet as human beings, we have a common desire to believe in something that’s greater than ourselves. To understand infinity, to explain it. People don’t necessarily have to believe in God, in order to seek the truth. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter what that truth is called, or what it looks like, as long as we are awake to it.
This truth, this need to understand, is what unites the atheist and religious persons alike. We all have common needs and wants. All want to be loved and understood. All have a desire for happiness. All are guided by inspiration. And most importantly, all must find that, which is most meaningful to them personally in life.
Once the meaning is discovered on the personal level, we begin to understand that the truth is universal, and it comes from the self. Happiness comes from the self. We realize that these qualities don’t come from somewhere outside of us. They have always been right here inside our hearts. We need not go off to faraway lands in order to find them. We must simply open ourselves up to the truth.
The Concept of God
What I realized through personal experience and contemplation, is that abstractly, if you choose to believe in God’s existence, then He will exist for you. If you choose not to believe, then He will not. There is however no doubt, to the existence of the “concept of God”. This concept is no less important than the real entity.
To expand to the belief of something greater, to embark on the journey of self discovery, is what I refer to as the concept of God. This concept is our natural, inherent need to strive for something more than the self. Something which satisfies this desire. If you don’t have this desire, you’re probably not alive. Mind you, it doesn’t matter specifically what this belief is called.
This belief is not only a reality, but a necessity in whatever form it is perceived. The concept of God, is the driving force behind our self inquiry and self awareness. Forget for a moment the dogma associated with God. Look inward to find the true meaning in your life. Find the force that drives you forward and up.
Ultimately, it is the concept that we’re seeking. Is God there, does God exist? The answer is up to you. But I encourage you not to dwell so much on the details. It is more important to simply believe. To be aware of the life you are living. And so I ask you the same question that I was asked many years ago: Are you awake?
Live well. Vlad