Most of my life God played an important role. We had an interesting, somewhat challenging relationship, literally from day one. God and I were playing hide and seek. When I was young, I believed in his or her existence and believed in the stories I’ve heard. I used to pray late at night and imagine a wondrous haven I used to call – ‘the other side.’ I grew up and with me my beliefs. I no longer believed in the old man in the sky. God was replaced with more sophisticated philosophies. The great Nothingness, the Tao, and even the all-knowing ‘Everything.’ As I grew older, I learned that believing in God wasn’t really cool. It was childish, unevolved. And so, like my other toys, God has been replaced. My prayers turned into meditations, and the externalized relationship between God and me was now turning into a “spiritual” inner seeking for enlightenment. I wanted to find God or now – divinity – within me. I wanted to dissolve the drop with the ocean. The small self with the greater I Am. I always knew there has to be more. There has to be a sacred meaning to all of this; I just kept cycling through the whys and the hows.
Throughout my life, I’ve tried almost everything. I was a Hare Krishna, a Zen Monk, a Hindu priest, an Orthodox Jew, a Tantrika. I practiced Yoga and Tai Chi, Chi Kung and Kung Fu; I studied every master, every philosophy. In my unquenched thirst, I even lived in a cult for thirteen years. My mental constructs grew in complexity. My “teachings” became more and more sophisticated; my ideas became more convoluted and in a way, I grew further and further from God. That concept, that idea, seemed more and more unreasonable. I adopted Nietzsche’s meme that God is Dead. That God is and has always been a man-made creation. It makes sense. The more you study, and the more you’re in contact with religious and spiritual folk, the more absurd that idea seems to be.
God seems to adopt the clothing, the language and even the habits of those praying to her. No matter where you go, God wears a different mask. Has a different set of rules and interestingly enough, in almost all cases, it seems that God has gone missing.
I never believed in heaven or hell. I have adopted some concepts from this religion or that, but the idea of an eternal scorching fire or seventy-two virgins awaiting me didn’t seem too real. I could see the “marketing ploy” and the human need for specialness or fear of missing out playing a big role in that agenda. It didn’t make sense to follow a predefined set of rules that will ensure I’ll go to one place and not the other. My desires, my body, and my own flaws seemed to guarantee I’ll be visiting the realms of fire more than those heavenly cathedrals… The pleasure I found here, in this earthy grounded reality appeared to negate the prerequisites to enjoying eternal happiness with the angels above.
The more I studied, the more disillusioned I became. The more I delved into the depth of religion the wider the gap and distance between God and me seemed to be. I became convinced that divinity, is not so much a who, but more a “what.” A state of being, of enlightenment, some coveted spiritual state of existence that is attainable if you follow the right steps.
And boy did I try. I tried every step in the book and outside of it. Every practice led to more distance, every tradition to more disappointment. I loved the process but lost faith. I enjoyed searching but was no longer trying to find. I was, I thought, at peace. My longing, my yearning for satiating my hunger were being replaced with so many ideas. So many answers. I thought I knew. I believed I have found. Armored with hundreds if not thousands of mystical experiences of any tradition you might envision, I thought the search has come to an end. Not because I have found, but because there is nothing to find.
I am a mystic, and for me, that means nothing more than admitting that I don’t know. That I’ll never see or understand it all. I live with wonder, and often with awe. I often understand my life backward… looking back with a smile while considering the perfection of it all. I will also admit that I frequently explore expanded states of being that would be regarded as mystical in nature. I have gotten to see, touch and fly over the peaks of my own human consciousness. I have seen the realms beyond and traveled the road less traveled. I have seen and discovered the depth of my ocean, I swam with my fears and dissolved into my own unknowing. There… then… in my utmost sacred silence, in the shimmering of my soul, in the eye of my storm God has appeared.
God Almighty, with all of her grace and all of her glory. As magnificent as I always imagined her to be and much more. Iridescent, filled with endless love and compassion. An endless morning with an infinite star-filled, night. The north and the south, the inside and out. For me, God brings an angelic, all-pervading innocence that transforms me. That allows me once again to find my inner voice, my curiosity, my awakened dream.
But then – reality. The rent, the bills, the laundry. Fear, survival, limitation, time. All rushing, all gushing to indoctrinate me, trying to teach me the ways of trepidation.
“How can you possibly entertain this idea? You… you who have been burnt by a false Messiah, you who have studied the horrors this righteous creature has brought. What has God done for you lately?! Walk this path and be burnt again, seek this light and fall back into darkness. Heed this warning for it is your last…”
Ok… hmm. Reality definitely has her way with words. What do I fear most I asked? What is holding me captive? And then bright as day it became apparent. What I fear most… is you. Not you – you. Not you in the particular sense, but the ‘you’ I’ve invented and held on to. The ‘you’ of my parents, my secular upbringing, the ‘you’ of my own mental constructs, the ‘you’ I fear judging me, the you I’ve built so much of my me… around. The you I’ve been trying to impress, the you I’ve been asking for approval. You know… You.
When that fog started to clear and I realized there’s no one here but me. I asked again, ok… so what do I want?! What is it that I actually want? If ‘you’ are out of the picture, and I no longer hold to any of my pre-constructed beliefs, what remains? Who remains? What do I see?
Bright as day and as clear as night, God is my truth and my guiding star. I realized that I never really asked myself what do I truly believe. I never actually checked in. My process of evaluation was almost in its entirety external. I would ask more what does my belief mean about me, than what it actually is.
So, what do I believe? Then, again… another epiphany, my entire process was about – me! Do I believe in God… do God… exist – for me?! God was never actually a part of this evaluation process. She never was. She only played a role in my own play. In my own divine drama.
And then, for the first time in my life, I prayed. I really did. I asked… I really did. Not for me, not out of my own small and limited self-absorbed persona, but truly, out of an illuminated window that opened within my soul, I dared ask – God? Are you there?
Something within the center of my being started rumbling. Something in me, in the depth and the core of who I am, was being brought to the surface. An inner smile that turned into a roaring laughter. I believe in you God, I really do. I, Kai, believe in you! I know you can do it! I know you will always shine within our hearts, I know you will always help us, and I even know you always have.
Then, I thought, does God?! The Almighty? the ever present and all knowing need my belief?! How proud, how arrogant of me to think these thoughts? Why would God need me to believe in her? I felt like a mouse tickling an elephant. Like a hummingbird talking with a mountain.
Then I realized that my arrogance and my pride, were keeping me alone. My inability to question, to put myself aside and ask for help. My utter self-absorption and petty fears kept me far. God has never left, but in my heart, I left no space, I was too busy, I guess too occupied looking, too engaged in my own predetermined story.
I write as I raise my white flag. I write as I surrender to this mysterious unknowing. I plant a new seed of choice. I dream awake my own reality. I choose you, God, I really do.