There’s no official church for this, at least not as far as I know. It’s probably a good thing because if there were a church, I’d probably decide I didn’t want to be involved. Somehow, I’m inherently wary of a group of people sitting in 2/3rds of a room staring adoringly at one guy occupying 1/3 of the room while he tells them what to think. I’d be equally unwilling to join said arrangement if it were a she in charge. Just for the record.
It’s no secret that I grew up in a conservative Christian sub-culture. I abandoned it secretly at 17 when my best friend made the audacious suggestion that God might be more interested in how we treat each other than in how well we keep to the rules. It made such perfect sense when compared to all of the garbled answers I got when I asked questions (it took me a long time to work my way out of the 4-year-old’s penchant for asking why). It was my first burst of clarity, all the more memorable because it came on so suddenly. Like a burst of lightening or something.
I’m not exactly sure what I believed over the next decade. Probably that all kinds of things are possible and I didn’t have the ability or the time to figure it all out. I liked Judaism because of the cultural pragmatism (at least from the moderate communities of belief) and the strict monotheism. Then I got divorced and found myself praying in dead earnest for the first time ever. It wasn’t exactly foxhole religion, but it was certainly a spiritual awakening born out of desperation. It threw me for a loop. Not that I wasn’t already spinning, but it was so out of character for an agnostic and a deist, I didn’t believe that it was actually me howling to the Unknown.
After months and months of struggling to breathe under the weight of my grief, I was driving from work and there was a burst of sunlight through the clouds and I got my second point of absolute clarity. The point is joy. Unadulterated, inexplicable, transient joy. Everything we go through is driving us toward a greater capacity for joy. Incidentally, others call this Love. Not the clinging, tenuous ache of romantic love or the absolutely absorbing, paranoid love of a parent for their child, which is why I’m wary of calling it Love because the word has been appropriated for more immediate, human-sized concerns. The joy/love I’m talking about isn’t fragile or tied to the inconstant promise of another’s pulse. It blows through you unencumbered. It is you. You don’t have to hold on to it because there’s no scarcity. I also happen to believe that the joy is intrinsically tied to compassion. The spirit stretches to accommodate compassion – the further you’re stretched, the more room you have for joy. Finally, I had an explanation for suffering that I could live with.
The ideas came on gradually after that. The idea of reincarnation, for example. Growing up, the idea of reincarnation was derided as being irrational and unproven. (Like you could prove that one death was sufficient to make up for every other transgression…) But I had a partner who believed that he had chosen his circumstances so he could work out all the karma he’d earned in a past life defined by inattentiveness in one fell swoop and move on to the next stage of growth. It was such a new concept, not just the belief but that someone that I respected, someone so methodical and logical and smart could believe in this idea that I’d been raised to believe was utterly nonsensical. Honestly, I still don’t like the word reincarnation. What is settling into a sort of sense for me is that the perspectives that make us *us* instead of cockroaches or ants are eternal. An expression of Source, both temporarily held away from it by our physical bodies, and immersed in it. The only way that the God described by Abraham could be omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent is if God is everything and everything is God.
Which makes being human something like Grad School for the soul? Of course, this would be a typically human perspective, that being human is so important as to be the next to highest level of awareness possible for a discrete chunk of Source. What is more likely is that being human is kindergarten and the last stage of development is returning as a dog. If the point of all of this is finding greater joy and more compassion, what could possibly be more joyful than a dog chasing its own tail… (must see http://www.dog-shame.com)
What changes if this is all a simulation? What if none of it is real? Does that give me the ability to observe and accept, to surrender to what is and carry the lesson, but not the pain? I’m trying it out as an approach. So far, so good.
(as a side note: I watched The Secret Behind the Secret the other day. One of the most interesting thing she/they said was that we’d not be so quick to put our criminals to death if we knew what we were releasing them to.)
(Also: I’m still kind of uncomfortable with finding this much foof in my belief system. Am I really this much of a fruit? It would seem so.)