Tuesday, February 17, 2009

God and me

All of us with religious inclination build deep and meaningful connections with God. That connection slowly becomes a part the core of our existence -- it is the one thing that remains solid and permanent while everything may change around it. It gives us strength, courage and hope. It stands for all the goodness we see in this world, for all the goodness we want to see in the world, and stands in direct contrast to everything that is wrong with this world. It has the power to move us deeply; it has the power to move entire societies in to the service of God. It has the power to make us cry, to make us leap with joy, to make our hearts melt with compassion, to make our souls rise with hope. That sacred relationship is a living testament of all that is good and noble about the human race.

I had a strong and deep connection with God. I knew I was weak. Very weak. So thoroughly dependent on his sustenance and forgiveness. Every success came from him, and so did every failure -- as a test of my faith. The world was a dark place; unpredictable, uncertain, chaotic, painful. But I was hopeful. So very hopeful. No matter what misery came, I knew I could always turn to him for strength and hope.

Such was my relationship was God. The one thing I was sure would remain constant in the face of all the change. It defined me and I was defined by him.

Its a beautiful relation. I don't mean to take anything away from its beauty. Its a sacred feeling that everyone should experience. It has a beauty similar to the love of a mother for her child -- perhaps more intense.

Doubts started to appear in my heart regarding the existence of God. Some of a factual nature, others of a moral nature. I knew the God I loved and prayed to, but his commands didn't always reflect the picture I had of him. All loving and just -- as I had envisioned him to be -- but his written word didn't always reflect that. I saw contradictions. Parts of it felt morally and ethically wrong. A part of his creation was condemned to his wrath -- I happened to be the lucky one who was born in all the right conditions to help me lead a life he apparently wanted me to lead. I can go on and on about what caused doubts in my heart, but thats not important right now. What is important is what I did about those doubts. I could have rationalized them away, but I knew that if God was anything like I had envisioned him to be, he would not want me to rationalize them away. After all, I associated values of truth and honesty to him, and I was just being true and honest to myself.

I was in internal confusion; in internal turmoil. I knew God would help. He did. The God I knew came to my rescue. I instinctively knew that I had to separate the God I knew and loved from the God I was having doubts about. Strange as it may seem, it seemed like the perfectly right thing to do. The God I loved was defined by the values I cherished, and the God I was having doubts about didn't share all of those values. I knew God would show me the right path. This separation of my personal God, the one I prayed to, the one I loved, helped me think clearly; it helped me stay sane and objective.

Time passed. My doubts grew. My religion, or any religion for that matter, did not make sense. There was a period when I felt lonely, very lonely. I felt dirty. I felt betrayed -- ironically by the very God I loved and prayed to. I wanted everything to be alright again; I wanted it all to make sense again. I wanted to forget all about it and go back running to my God. But my love for truth, humanity and justice didn't allow me to. I knew the values I stood for. In my hearts of hearts, I knew that the God I prayed to didn't stand for those values. It was sinful to indulge in wishful thinking; to pretend that things were right the way they were, when I knew they weren't. Intellectual and emotional weakness in the face of mounting evidence and arguments was a sin I wasn't ready to commit.

Then, gradually, but surely, I realized that the God I wanted, loved, and prayed to was still with me. He was still very much a part of me. He always had been. He defined me, and I was defined by him. Only this time, instead of being "out there", that God was "in here". The values of truth, honesty, compassion and beauty were values that were intrinsic to me. They defined me as a human. I wasn't dependent on a super natural being for what was an inseparable part of my core. This realization was a transformative one. It instantly transported all the properties I attributed to a super natural God right in to the very fabric of my existence. I knew I will always have moments of weakness, but I also know that I have all the supply of love, courage and indomitable hope I will need right inside of me.

There is a famous line in Genisis:
"God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him"

This line reads much more truer when its reversed:
"Man created God in his own image, in the image of man, he created him"

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