Belief In God
Do I believe in God? Yes, I do on some level. Admittedly, though, the belief is often driven by fear of the unknown and is at times plagued with doubt. If I begin to ponder what happens when we die, I have to immediately shutter that thought in favor of some sort of benign distraction. Thoughts about death and God keep coming, though, especially as I grow older and progress further into fatherhood. For me, a relationship with God is not about attending Church on Sundays or adhering to archaic doctrine. So what or who is God and how are we supposed to engage with God, let alone hold a firm belief?
Inquiring About God
I have purchased and read a few books about God in hopes of finding answers to my countless questions. Each time I begin one of these books I somehow kid myself into thinking the author will be able to impart on me the key piece of wisdom that can end my lingering doubts and finally cement my belief in God for good.
Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey Into The Afterlife was a fascinating read authored by Eben Alexander, a brain surgeon who was a staunch atheist. He believed only in science and felt anything remotely mystical, like near death experiences, could be explained with cold hard science. Dr. Alexander’s book chronicles a harrowing and incredibly rare infection he suffered which ultimately triggered his own near death experience. That experience moved him away from being an atheist and firmly entrenched him in the belief of God camp. I do not believe a person with his prominence would dare risk the credibility and legacy he built in his career, if he did not fully believe in the experience he claims to have had. His recounting of angels, a Godlike presence, and an afterlife, are all so comforting, but also require incredible leaps of faith to believe that these heavenly concepts are awaiting for all of us when we pass.
Deepak Chopra's The Future Of God was a comforting read that allowed me to take a slight step forward in figuring out my beliefs. He suggests we let go of the image of a bearded man sitting on a cloud and instead find God in our own consciousness and through the spirit of love. By seeking stillness and presence we can become more in tune with the universe and feel the presence of God within us all, through our own consciousness. It was a more pragmatic approach to God and it resonated with me.
A Growing Connection To The Universe
Lately, my fearful thoughts about death and the unknown have been slowly subsiding to a growing feeling of a greater connection to something bigger and deeper than myself. These feelings of connectedness are to the people around me, to nature, and the stars up in the sky. It is a palpable oneness that was never present until these past few years and certainly never arose from any religious dogma I had been exposed to in my youth.
I mainly credit my meditation practice for this which is now going strong for 3+ years. I thank Russell Simmons for getting me started with his brief and actionable guide to beginning and sustaining a meditation practice which is titled Success Through Stillness. That book got me started and the subsequent results of the practice are what has kept me engaged.
I also have suffered a good deal of loss of loved ones within the past few years. Multiple uncles and an aunt have passed within a short amount of time and I also lost a dear cousin, who died by suicide. With each loss I have endured, I have actually grown more open to the beauty that life can offer and have clung more mightily to the loved ones surrounding me. I have also quietly become more resolute in a belief of God, not as a judgmental figure perched upon a cloud, but an ever-present spirit and energy that is truly powering us all.
Becoming Open To Spiritual Possibilities
I feel that meditation has primed my life to become more open to not only the possibility of God but open to even having some level of interaction with God. No, there have been no holy visions in the middle of the night, nor has the face of Jesus been emblazoned upon my grilled cheese sandwich to which God used as a means to reach me. There have been no direct or overt communications from God, but the presence of a higher spirit has slowly but surely been making itself known to me. I feel I have truly experienced the grace of God in brief, but tangible moments.
Words will fall short of describing the glimpses of what felt like being reached by the grace of God. There are two moments in particular that were both so subtle, yet striking to me. These two instances have nudged me slightly beyond hoping out of fear of death and closer to believing through a quiet faith.
Engaging With The Grace Of God?
The first occurred at the tail end of a 30-minute meditation session. It was an incredible session with energy bubbling throughout my body while my internal chatter was being kept to a minimum. At a certain point, I felt a comforting communication come through to me that "everything is and will be ok". It was an understated yet highly empowering thought that not only spoke to my immediate family and life, but to the world as a whole. This thought, which was conveyed to me with depth and breadth, was somehow presented in just a mere moment and was then gone. The dichotomy of such a grandiose message being delivered in such an understated and gentle way made it feel more than just a passing thought authored by myself. It was an inspiring moment and it felt like I enjoyed a genuine engagement with God.
The second time I sensed the presence of a higher spirit occurred while holding my son's hand as we were walking on the sidewalk approaching our home. Earlier in the day, I had attended funeral services for my Uncle, who was also my Godfather. It was clearly a sad day and my emotions were raw with grief. During our walk, I looked up at the sky to see that the setting sun was beautifully breaking through an arrangement of impressive looking clouds. Looking up I got instantly overran by a powerful wave of emotion that while fleeting, felt loving and comforting. It also somehow embodied and communicated to me the presence of my dearly departed Uncle. This did not feel like my own psyche attempting to process my grief. This was something again, that felt as if it was being presented for me to ingest wholly through my body and mind.
It is becoming clearer to me that if I am to have any shred of belief in God, let alone an active relationship, it must grow organically through experiences. I am starting to believe, though, that those experiences are born out of our ability to become present and a desire to continually seek out moments of stillness. Books about spirituality and practices like meditation can tune our minds into a frequency that allows for the chance to actually experience something special firsthand. I will never kid myself or you into thinking I can definitively identify what that experience is, but I do know how it felt to me and what it means for me moving forward. It means I am slowly moving away from hoping for the presence of a God because I fear death and the unknown. Instead, I am now moving closer to believing in a higher spirit as a result of life experience and can now carry this belief through faith.
Where do you stand in your beliefs about God? Is there any possibility of having an active engagement with God? All thoughts and opinions are welcome in the comments section.