For awhile I lived a very comfortable religious life. I believed I had some sense of experiencing God. Experiencing God was that warm fuzzy feeling one felt during worship, or maybe praying with others or during a good sermon. That was the extent of what I felt experiencing God amounted to. I was perfectly comfortable living out taught beliefs.
There came a time after I had incorporated meditation into my spiritual disciplines and began to really encounter the presence of God within that I no longer found these taught beliefs and doctrines fitting in with my sense of what I was beginning to feel was true.
I struggled to find ways to incorporate them in the new paradigm I found myself merging into. I tried rationalizing and twisting them almost beyond recognition in order to conform. But it was to no avail. The pursuit amounted to being as futile as trying to jam the wrong puzzle piece into the wrong space. They just wouldn’t fit.
The struggle to believe in my presupposed ideas based on the doctrines I was ascribing to and their conflict with the truths I was receiving was becoming the source of my undoing. This process was suffocating me spiritually to the point where I was ceasing to find life, light and meaning in my beliefs at all. I could just see walls, like those of a prison, hindering the full view of which I had only caught glimpses of through moments of meditation. Walls, that had to come down.
I realized I wasn’t after hollow doctrine. I was after truth and thirsted to experience that truth first-hand. I wanted God, not man’s words about God, to reign in my heart. Contemplative prayer and other forms of meditation allowed me to realize that that was truly possible.
I would, however, have to let go of all that I once held dear in order to find the greatest treasure of all buried within my soul: God Himself. I would have to sell all of my land just for that one field where I knew the treasure to be buried and then spend the rest of my efforts in separating dirty ego from divine Self in discovering it.
Imagine God being like a powerful river swiftly flowing. It was as if I was relying on people’s interpretations of the river and merely viewing it from a portrait that they had painted of it. And then, still more, reviewing charts regarding the facts that defined it.
Memorizing the rules that determined its nature and the outlines of its topography and where one could swim, where one couldn’t and who was allowed to swim. The problem was, there was no swimming going on at all.
It’s as if I stood by the bank one day realizing the beauty and reality of the river and decided that rather than studying it from afar it’d be tons more fun to just jump in and let it carry me away, becoming one with it’s flow and rhythm. My experiences of meditation up to that point had gotten my feet wet. Now I wanted to saturate my soul as well.
I wanted no more barriers between myself and God and at last decided it was time to strip myself of the dogma that clothed my sense of what was real spiritually and take the plunge into the swift waters. Doing so has released in me the sense of merging into the great I Am and given me glimpses of what it’s like to live in the great We Are. Not fully, but enough to know it’s possible.
There are still rocks I reach out and cling to in desperation, as I feel truth sweeping me in its current and my own inner insecurities resisting it, trying to slow it down because it’s all so much to process in one experience.
There are a lot of analogies that use the illustration of the river to symbolize truth, reality and God. Just the other day I was having a conversation with a friend regarding the truth and how it cannot be contained … only experienced. The book I’m currently reading, The Wisdom of Insecurity, by Alan Watts, illustrates this idea perfectly.
“You cannot understand life and its mysteries as long as you try to grasp it. Indeed, you cannot grasp it, just as you cannot walk off with a river in a bucket. If you try to capture running water in a bucket, it is clear that you do not understand it and that you will always be disappointed, for in the bucket the water does not run. To “have” running water you must let go of it and let it run. The same is true of life and of God.”
For so long I hadn’t just tried to “capture truth in a bucket” but I allowed it to be served to me on a platter. Served to me in the form of other men’s words and visions about God without experiencing my own. I had to learn to surrender myself to God and the process of understanding unhindered by labels and superficial rules.
I had to trust my own inner voice and not the voices of others. I felt my subconscious beckoning me to cease my struggling and to flow with the current and not resist it. For God is the current itself, the ever changing flow of what Is.
Alan Watts talks about ‘the law of reversed effort’ and how when we struggle against the water we sink but when we stop struggling we float. Finally, when I stopped struggling to cling to my preconceived notions of belief, trying to fit them in to interpret my experience, I rose to the surface of the water I had been submerged in and my spiritual lungs began to fill up with the air they so desperately needed.
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~ by Jessica M.