For the past few weeks, HuffPost has hosted an array of respondents -- including spiritual leaders, world leaders, personalities and celebrities -- who are asked to fill in the blank for the statement: God is..._____
The series led up to and accompanied the November 13 opening of the documentary Oh My God?
Once I asked a therapist to define the underlying theme that caused his clients to shell out $175 an hour and seek help. Without pause, he replied: "the inability to tolerate the fact that life is a mystery." Yes, we crave certainty. We want to know who we are, what to do and how it will turn out. We often impose our longing for certainty on a creator made in the image and likeness of our fear.
In truth, no one knows what God is. But does that have to scare us into creating a cranky creator?
The mystics have taught that God is a hidden treasure who longs to be known. God is a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference is nowhere. God is the infinite organizing capacity of the universe. In this moment, I think of God as both vast and personal. I feel the magnitude of God as an inner capacity, seeking to celebrate the mystery of all possibilities of being. Thus God is not only the vastness we seek; God is the seeker as well. It manifests in our longing to trust more; the divine discomfort that urges us to fulfill our dreams; our inspiration, our joy, our questioning, our desire for meaning; that inner activity that pulls us to express Its essence -- this is God.
But what if our seeking does not extend beyond taking root on the couch and grasping for the remote control? Where is God when things go wrong? When life fails us, when we are anxious or unhappy, instead of excited about searching for meaning in the mystery -- is God there too?
God is omnipresent but often hidden from our view, not through any "fault" of God but through our conditioned ignorance. The world as perceived by our five senses, translated into human thought, causes us to believe in opposites -- good and evil, likes and dislikes, darkness and light. We compound our dualistic thinking through rehashing the past, hoping to change it and chasing the future, longing to control it.
Beyond our common realm of thinking, "out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right -- doing," an Absolute reality exists that encompasses all opposites. This reality is changeless existence and is Good beyond our perception of Good. God is this Absolute reality -- and here's the personal part -- God is our willingness to invite Its possibilities now, no matter what. God is revealed as we allow the Presence in the present.
What does this mean in practical terms? When the mystery of what happens in life threatens to overwhelm us, it seems that the only reasonable thing to do is to use our God given free will to turn to God. We take an inner journey to a place of mystery; we realize that our unknowing is not our undoing; we acknowledge a reality of all good that exists beyond what we can perceive; we surrender to that higher reality, trusting the unseen bigger picture; and we do it now, letting go of the tendency to mentally live in the past or future. Our act of surrender is our salvation. Am I recommending a blind leap of faith? Most certainly, although the leap is often a "series of small staggers." Through faith in the mystery of the Presence in the present, we "find tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything. I would not change it." And so it is.