Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Musings on Deity and Faith (Or Ramblings)

Today, I'm writing about some of my personal observations on deity and faith. These are simply my own musings and take them as you will, with a grain of salt. That's the way I attempt to take most things, especially concerning faith paths. No one has returned definitively to say what indeed happens once we cease life on this plane. Or if it is or isn't the only plane of existence. My own personal experiences tell me that it is not, but that may not be the case for all.

There is much debate about deity, some of us intellectualize it and some of us take it on blind faith. Is one better than the other? Is one correct and the others not? No.

Faith and belief in deity is a basic human drive. To the intellectual, it stems from man's fear of his own mortality and the need to believe there is a higher purpose or meaning to the randomness that seems to pervade our lives. I was raised very Roman Catholic, but the Catholic path raised more questions than answers to life for me and I found it very unsatisfying. All faith paths are going to leave holes, leave gaps and leave blanks that must be filled in by faith. That is where the "faith" comes in. I found the traditional Christian paths left holes and gaps for me that I could not traverse on faith alone. I went searching for my own path, my own concept and connection to the Divine. That path has led me to study many faiths, even practicing different faiths for a time. I was "born again" and decided I was born OK the first time. I was a Daishonin Buddhist, but had issues with the crassness and greed of the people in my community of Buddhists, chanting for cars and money. I was Wiccan but found the dogma and gynocentricity emerging on that path frustrating and just as imbalanced as the patriarchy of the Christian paths. People who were quoting people my parents knew as if their words were gospels of ancient writ. I found the pretense of Wicca as an "ancient" religion too large a pill to swallow for myself, that the cry of ‘balance’ it began with so beautifully was a long distant memory.

What is deity? Deity is the Divine, Spirit, God form that we worship. Deity is the personality of the God form to which we connect. Be that Yahweh, Buddha, a toaster oven or a Flying Spaghetti Monster.

I had always intellectualized deity and viewed it as a larger construct. The concept that God is too big for any one religion and that all gods and deity were simply aspects of the personality of the larger One. Think of it as a photo mosaic. Each photo within the mosaic can stand alone and is complete unto it, yet when combined, create the larger picture. The basic concept being that all god forms were correct and a facet or aspect of the larger One that man has simply not grasped as yet.

A spinal surgery several years ago precipitated an epiphany I never expected. The pain medications were not working. It turned out that morphine does absolutely nothing for me and my surgeon would not grant larger doses of the alternate pain medication on which I had been placed. The day after my surgery, I simply lay in my hospital bed and sobbed with the pain. There was no relieving it and for once in my life, I cried out in earnest and dire need to Deity, to the God and Goddess for succor and assistance, an amelioration of my pain. That cry was answered.

Hecate appeared to me, and laid her hands on me. She was terrifying and beautiful, and one thing was certain...she was no facet of anything else, and certainly not a smaller part of a larger whole. She was whole unto herself, scary as all hell and the comfort of every primal maternal feeling rolled into one. And she allayed my pain. Yes, I still hurt, but I was no longer praying for death rather than for this to continue. I will always feel close and devoted to Hecate and offer her thanks and gratitude daily. She has since become one of my most precious Spirit teachers on my shamanic path.

So, what now? What do I believe, now that my intellectualism is shattered? I went back to some early versions of Genesis for some things to ponder. Originally, Genesis states that the Elohim created the earth and the peoples on it. It is not until chapter 2 that Yahweh goes off to create Eden and Adam, initially bringing in Lilith from the land of Nod. This seems to give me some answers, or at least something to ponder. Is it possible that this is the truth? That the Elohim who created the world and its peoples are the Gods of the areas and the peoples they created, that it is from Yahweh in chapter 2 that the Christian faith descends and that the other faith paths of different regions simply descend from the Elohim who created them?

I do not know. I do know that I do not claim lineage from David nor Adam, nor the violence and hatred I have seen in my lifetime from these lines that continues today. I cannot reconcile myself to the violence done throughout history in the name of this God. That is the gap I cannot breach through faith alone, that it is allowed to continue in this God’s name. I cannot reconcile the hatred and violence in the name of this God by Christians, Jews and Islamics. I cannot conceive of this as a loving God allowing this to continue in his name.

A visiting teacher in our shop, Phil Jones, said something that his teacher had said to him and that has stuck with me. “God is like a mountain of sugar, but sugar cannot taste itself. So it created the ants to taste the sweetness and dance with joy across its surface.” I have spent weeks pondering this one so far, and it strikes beauty on almost every possible level for me.

Truthfully, I'm not sure and that uncertainty is something I will probably muse, ponder and feel my entire life. I continue on my shamanic path, which I have come to love, the gaps in which I can breach with faith. The shamanic allows me direct communion with Spirit and Deity, for the healing of myself and my community, my tribe. For me, this is what faith and religion is all about. Community and healing. For me, and to me, as long as a faith path teaches growth, healing, learning and improvement of self and others through non violence...it is good. And provides the comfort and solace we mere mortals need on those cold dark nights.

As one of my favorite bumper stickers stated, "God wants spiritual fruits, not religious nuts." Find your path, find your peace.

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