The Illusion and the Reality of God
Those of us who grew up listening to Bob Dylan had heard the excuse before, the one about this war being cool because God is on our side. Think of it: the creator of the majestic universe, architect of the miraculous self-healing body and the creative spirit of humanity, and gorgeous little kids, also wants us to massacre a population with carpet bombing runs and napalm. Or nuclear bombs. Or whatever.
With a God like this, who needs the Devil?
Yet the idea has appeal because the idea of God has power. This is true because the original, you know, the real thing (not just the idea) has power. But, if you ask me, people who live in Spirit don’t want to hurt anyone. Generally you find them helping people out in some way, being friendly to kids and critters, and loving nature. Generally, you find them occupying themselves with something pleasant or at least reasonably useful.
We might well ask: how could anyone fall for the idea that God wants us to kill people? Particularly when we would never believe such a notion coming from the mouth of a run-of-the-mill mass murderer?
Um, here’s a theory: perhaps a bit of confusion?
It’s a good idea to look at it this way, as a simple problem rather than a complicated one. This way, we’re less likely to get involved in the problem and more likely to get involved in the resolving it, and getting on with the affairs of living and loving.
Unfortunately, it will always remain easier to put a match to something than it will to build it up lovingly and patiently over 10 or 20 years. Human life is much the same, only the contrast is more profound. So, as the Quakers say, we need to learn how to walk lightly over the face of the Earth. Or at least as lightly as possible when running for a bus or resolving a gripe with a fellow human. And work to get along with our neighbors. Then, gradually or in one subtle moment, we let go of the violent tendencies we’ve been taught through long decades of exposure to advertising and media, marriage battles, abuse as children, sexual violence and whatever else.
The change may happen quickly, but it’s probably a good idea when embarking on this particular journey to allow a little time, or even a lifetime. We are born as children knowing how to love. Then we forget, or it’s slowly stripped out of us. Because we tend to struggle and resist so much on the way to relearning something so simple, it can take a while. Anyway, most of what we learn is how not to resist.
But some of what we must learn is resistance. Like for example to marketing for the things we don’t need, or to people and things that hurt us. There is a phase in the process of becoming aware where you have to keep looking at what is not true, calling it that, and handing it back to whoever gave it to you, or at least dropping it in the dustbin. It’s not easy for most people to look at lies — big lies, like ‘we bombed you because God loves us’ or, ‘yes, your child’s school is built on a chemical dump but that’s fine, don’t worry’, or ‘you are worthless’. In fact, many people would rather soak in poison than acknowledge the fact that they are being poisoned (by someone). Many choose to believe lies rather than acknowledge what they’re being told, or who is telling it. Having been taught to hate ourselves, loving ourselves can seem extremely strange and even embarrassing.
How we deal with the lies we encounter is a genuine issue to consider. It is one of the great issues of our day. One little problem is that the moment you open up to the lies, you can get the truth in that particular form — in droves. You might start with saving news clippings that expose the ugly reality of things in a file folder, and then end up with a whole room full of file cabinets and it never ends. Or you might look into your own psychological issues and open up a can of snakes and have to deal with them one at a time. And then you may recognize that everyone has issues.
One seemingly logical realization from all this may be that the world is hell. Which is true, from a certain perspective. Life on this planet is extremely difficult for many people, and not just in Africa. Many ordinary folks you see at work have a hard time getting through the day. You may have a hard time getting through the day, and not know where to begin looking for help or solace.
Many for whom life is the easiest seem to care the least about and, indeed, take advantage of, those who are struggling hardest to survive. If you look for a moment, you can see this. It’s painful, and it might make you really angry — and it’s hard to have a ‘nice day’ while you’re thinking about the toxins in your food or the teenager who put together your Nikes working for 50 cents a day.
It’s difficult to love, or to feel safe, or to feel free, when you recognize that you’re, well, being poisoned all the time, and that people are taking the tax dollars you’re paying theoretically to support your society, and instead killing kids in a war. However, beyond a certain point, it’s also quite obvious that denial or pretending is not going to change anything, or make you feel better. Or, to give another example, we need to be aware of the environmental crisis and still find a way to enjoy our food.
As we walk the knife-edge of consciousness, we have some decisions to make.
One of them is whether to open up to the lies, so we can get to the truth. Then once we have the lies in sight, we have to deal with them somehow. If you’re really fascinated by the lies and like organizing them and exposing them, you might make a good investigative reporter, and there’s always plenty to do. If you’re good at seeing how lies point to truth on the spot, become a therapist. You will have lots of business and you’ll truly earn your living. Some people decide to take some time out of their normal routine and work specifically for social justice — and learn a lot from doing so. Other people begin to make shall changes in their lives, in their relationships, in who their friends are, and in what the allow into their minds (via television, for example).
Every little bit helps you, and the rest of us.
Some people get pissed of and become revolutionary. Others get pissed off and become reactionary: the lies are so mean and nasty, the denial grip becomes that much tighter. Others become scared and much the same thing happens; others have different reactions to fear: they may plunge more deeply into struggle and survival when it’s not necessary — which, like war, eventually becomes its own justification.
Anyway, all these deceptions we might discover are like curtains over something, and that is the truth of who you are. The drapery doesn’t change the truth, except to temporarily conceal it. However — to reveal reality and acknowledge it to ourselves is a brave and bold act. It does not necessarily lead directly to happiness — but it’s a step in the right direction. Which is a pretty good thing. The first steps and many along the way can be a bit chaotic, or seem disconnected. In such times, faith really comes in handy.
Along any journey to awakening, there is one continuous issue that arises: how to deal with fear. It may be the most important spiritual or psychological question there is. Once a long time ago I had buttons printed that said ‘Ignore Fear’. Now nearly two decades on, I’m pretty certain that the approach to take is to address the fear first. Fear is energy, and it leads to an energy source. Fear has quite a lot of impact on how we respond to the world, and generally there are some strong taboos against giving it a voice. I don’t think they help us at all, and I think that being honest about fear can take us a long way toward love — or sometimes right to it in that moment.
It’s often an awesome discovery just how distorted fear is; just how much it twists our minds around and makes something unreal seem quite real — and obscures that which we want and need the most. And obscures who we are.
In actual fact, you’re a child of creation. You were born, against all odds, at this place and time on this Earth in this particular universe. You arrived here with the people who now surround you, once again, against all mathematical probabilities. Does this seem at all meaningful?
When you acknowledge the potential meaning, however, there can be quite a lot of questions to answer.
Yet there is one question that is at the center of all of them, which is the question of who you are. It works out that most of the lies and chaos we see involve humans doing battle with their own inner core reality, and what it implies. You don’t have to get caught in the struggles of others, but it helps a lot if you take your own quest for your truth all the more seriously.
Then, what to do on this planet becomes a lot more obvious. As someone once wrote, “Every decision you make stems from what you think you are.”
Today is a good day to make up your mind.
A little later in the day I’ll be posting a commentary on the news at the Planet Waves blog, http://planetwaves.net.
Planet Waves Weekly Horoscope
By ERIC FRANCIS
for the week of Jan. 28, 2005
Happy Birthday, Aquarius!
Many changes are happening in your life; some you see, but some you don’t. Some you have heard about; others remain perfectly hidden. They will emerge in time — perhaps not so long at all. I can, at minimum, promise that the coming four seasons represent a time of radical awakening; of being born into an entirely new reality and concept of reality. In the coming weeks and months (emphasis on ‘weeks’) you’re likely to be presented with a great many options that are, at this point, concealed.
Yet one quality that should not — by all astrological indicators — be particularly hidden at this time is that you want something different from your life. There are some people who dream a little easier than others; Aquarius can find himself or herself involved in patterns that don’t really allow much in the way of sweet visions of life’s potential. Much can seem to be withheld. And for many Aquarians there can be an odd sense of detachment from the flow of life and from the warm pulse at its core.
But a lot of this is a trick of the mind. We are all equally human. And what your human sensibilities are now guiding you to do is envision the life you want. This is daring work, to delve into the architecture of existence. But you’re an inventor at heart, and what you need to begin inventing is what you want your life and your world to be like.
These discussions are often governed by what we think is possible. It’s an inventor’s job to get over that little hump, and start with what is necessary or desirable and work in that particular direction. At the moment, what you are capable of hoping for and dreaming; what you feel is the best possible solution; what exceeds your current hopes — all of these are possible, if you agree.
Events and developments of this year promise to change your ideas about some of the more subtle points of perception. What is true and what is not? What is the relationship between your personal truth and the larger truth? What is your relationship to substances that change your consciousness, and is there any time when these may be used with integrity? Is the person you present to the world the ‘real you’ or is it a made-up personality?
Last and certainly not least, what is the meaning of relationships in your life? What would be mean, to you, to treat relationships with infinitely more respect than you’ve ever known, or than this world calls normal?
These are questions that will come to the surface in small bits and, at times, in sweeping moments of self-inquiry that will leave you a more solid, confident and authentic person than you’ve ever been before.
Aries (March 20-April 19)
This week marks the Pagan celebration of Imbolc, known in the Christian world as Candlemas. When the Sun reaches the exact midpoint between the Capricorn Solstice and the Aries Equinox, the story of the world reaches a seasonal turning point. For you, life takes a mystical turn. The unseen world begins to appear before your eyes. Factors that you never considered meaningful become more obvious. It can truly be said that you are beginning to see the world in a ‘different light’. This and many other astrological factors once again provide a clear reminder to honor your highest ideals, and to all but worship your friends.
Taurus (April 19-May 20)
I’ve been making so many comments about the professional lives and aspirations of those born under Taurus that hopefully I’m not wearing out the theme — but at the moment it’s difficult to understate the case. The solution you are seeking is something you’re going to invent yourself. You are intelligent and you know it. Right now, your ability to identify problems and find solutions is at an all-time high. But beyond logical thinking, the mystery of intuition is about to hand you a rather precious gift that will help you shape the direction of your highest aspirations. You must keep your eyes on the ideal you desire the most. Then, the miracle becomes obvious.
Gemini (May 20-June 21)
Few astrology books would put ‘natural inclination to mysticism’ in the write-up for the sign Gemini. But that doesn’t mean that some writers of prior generations missed an obvious point. Right now, the water of grace and wisdom is raining on you. But it’s a sunshower — there’s an enormous rainbow. Metaphors aside, you are in this moment blessed with the ability to discover anything you need to know. Yes, there are many questions in your life, and many questions about the fate of the world. But you have insight into some of the most pressing issues of our day — and the practical sense to apply what you know to your life.
Cancer (June 21-July 22)
The pressure is starting to come off of you, and you’re beginning to see what a strong negotiating position you are in. The fact that you’ve performed so well under such mind-bending pressure is much to your credit; but your labor is not your most valuable asset. Your ideas are; and so too is your ability to work with people in situations where the outcome really matters, and matters to a lot of people. Your efforts have blessed you with some enhanced worldly powers. People take you that much more seriously. Now, use that gift to create the cooperation around you that will get the most important work done.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
People treat you fairly, but that’s partly because you stand up for yourself. It’s also because you’ve long ago figured out that this elusive little thing in the world called ‘ethics’ is alive and well in your mind. You live in a world where there is actual right and wrong. This week may present you with an ethical dilemma that comes in various shades of gray. At the time, it may not seem like there is a correct answer or solution. You may, in the end, have to make a decision that’s based on your intuition, or do what feels right. You can trust yourself. With you, the chances are that if it feels right, it is.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
The differences between ‘daily work’ and ‘true calling’ that are so important to astrology are particularly important to Virgo, and rather easy to confuse. You’re the kind of person who gets the job done wherever it needs to be done, and often, no matter how boring it is. But lately, it’s becoming clear that you simply cannot stand work that is meaningless, that lacks a social vision, or some truly vital connection to the larger picture of life. You may think that these are idle fantasies, but they are nothing of the sort. This week, in these very days, you are likely to have the vision for your life’s work that, to put it mildly, changes everything.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
This week, Jupiter turns to retrograde motion in your sign, and then Venus moves into your sympathetic air sign Aquarius. These are not what you would call subtle shifts; Jupiter is a planet a thousand times the size of Earth, now moving slower than Pluto. Venus is moving into the position of the ‘avatar’ — the one who knows, and can apply wisdom to any situation. Tune into how good you have it now. Make an effort to explore and emphasize all that is going well in your life. Feel how good it feels to receive. And if you’re having trouble finding the zone, ask someone who you know is there right now.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
If your real wealth exists in heaven rather than on Earth, how can you buy that new DVD player you want? I’ll tell you. In a way similar to all energy on Earth having its origins in sunlight, all creative power has its origins in a spiritual source. Our minds, and all they say, do, dream and create, do not exist in a vacuum. Something cannot come from nothing. And the potent creative source to which your mind is connected is getting its engines revved right now. Tune in, tap in, or somehow reach into that source. Take a little taste of infinity. I think you’ll like it.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
Mars is now in a stunning conjunction to the Galactic Core in your birth sign. This is a comment on the power of faith. Those who haven’t experienced this mysterious cosmic force may not be aware it even exists, or is anything other than a kind of spiritual fairytale designed to keep people hoping and praying for something better, whether it shows up or not. Never mind the bollocks! Take a ride on this one. Put your faith in that truly unusual experience or development you want or need. For one moment, let the highest potential be a genuine possibility. It truly is, and all the more so for your awareness of this fact.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
Ends of cycles or phases of experience are often difficult times. Commitment can seem to run out, while pressing responsibilities need to be fulfilled. Sometimes it’s necessary to work toward a goal you’re not even sure is possible to attain. I suggest that you embrace the transition you’re in much more consciously. Why fight what you’re feeling, or attempt to control the flow of your life in an unnatural way? It may seem natural to exert control in a situation where something feels like it’s being taken away from you. I can pretty much assure you that this is not the case; rather, as you will see, you are about to receive a gift.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
There are times when our ideas and theories about life get in the way of seeing reality. Then there are times when all those concepts disappear and something else takes their place — something perhaps more subtle, something that can’t be put into words, but in truth more real. This weekend’s meeting of the Sun and Neptune in your birth sign will fill the world with a different shade of light, which will allow you to perceive your world from a new perspective. Ideas that have held you back by limiting your sense of what is possible can melt away to the nothingness from which they came. And something else can take their place.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
One of the keynotes of Pisces is the idea of sacrifice. It is often extremely challenging to give up this idea, in part because so many of the ‘rules’ of the world in which we live are based on the whole business. Yet freeing yourself from sacrifice also represents a significant step in feeling like your life is truly your life — perhaps the most significant. Right now, you are in a position to gain much more in affairs of the heart, and of the world, than you are poised to lose. You are an idealist, yet there is a ‘best of all worlds’ solution waiting in the air, if you would just have enough patience to find it, or let it come. As someone wise once wrote, “Lack of faith in love, in any form, attests to chaos as reality.”