Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Beliefs: 1. An Ultimate Reality

So, since I started writing an exposition on faith and how it has somehow made itself a driving force in my life, I thought to list the things that I believed, things that seem to be ingrained within me so deeply that even though they, for the most part, were introduced through a logical deduction of experience and thought, now seem to be a matter of faith.

1. 1. An Ultimate reality, with a nature that is benevolent, infinite, and in many ways, indescribable.

This is the one that comes from some innate belief that has been shaken only by the problem of what appeared to be unjust suffering. This is the big one, which alienated me from many teachings of the church and interpretations of what Jesus had to say. This is what got me angry with God. If you’re supposed to be so loving, then why are there children starving, born into this world without a chance to survive while others grow fat with their abundance? The answer to this is reincarnation, which I’ll get to in a moment.

I’m not sure where this belief came from, to be honest. Perhaps my mom instilled some idea of love that was beyond anything I could ever hope to experience fully in me from birth or something. Or maybe it came from an experience I had when I was about four. For a kid, I was pretty hip on the God thing. It was definitely brain food, as one night I was trying to imagine how huge God would have to be for everything that existed to be within him. I’m not sure why I thought God would have to be bigger than everything that exists, but I did. I started out small. The Earth, the entire Earth, upon which I was a speck of unnoticeable sand, then the solar system—and then the galaxy, in which the gigantic Sun was a speck, and how many countless galaxies existed? God would have to be huger than all of those things.

Then I felt myself sliding a little in a direction I’ve only felt once again. I sensed a massive thing like a giant ball of tinfoil, collapsing forever inward on itself while also expanding forever outward, remaining basically the same, but constantly moving. Scared by the feeling, I jolted out of the experience, and immediately wished to have it again. I asked my mom about how God was like the tinfoil ball thing, but alas, she had no answers for me, and in fact seemed a bit confused and uncomfortable (why do people become so uncomfortable with questions about God?).

The infinite comes from the second experience of sliding, a feeling of a sort of in-between space itself. I moved out of time, and experienced it as three-dimensional. Yeah, I know time is usually described as the fourth dimension, but if you are outside of it, you experience it in an entirely different way, as a direction you can move in, which is a simple way to understand what a dimension is. In time-space, where time is experienced as 3D, you can move forward, but you can also move backwards, as well as left, right, up and down. In normal space-time, we experience time as being a straight line through which we move forward through observing new experiences, but in 3D time, the left, right, up and down are alternate times, representing different experiences one could be having at that particular time. The thing is that they all exist, and that consciousness moves through them.

Imagine having a jar of beads and reaching in to select one and put it on a string. All the beads exist, but you select which one comes next until your necklace or bracelet is full. You don’t have to use all the beads, and you can make other necklaces and such, but they all exist at the same time. Additionally, there is only one consciousness threading these beads. Seeing that jar of beads, the vast sea of infinite alternatives all in one place jolted the recognition that outside of my usual experience of time, there was no separation of consciousness. Each bead contained a perspective to experience, and that included personality, ego, distinctions that created the experience of being an isolated individual.

I went through this time-space, slowing the passages of these beads of experience until I was suddenly outside of them all, watching these interlaced toruses flow over and through one another, recognizing the simultaneous unending collapse and expansion as my experience twenty years prior. A moment of glorious now, unending, infinite, and the realization as I returned to the experience of time: There was nothing to be afraid of, ever. I was all of it. I was the only thing that existed, in multitudinous forms. Just consciousness, pure and unending, an observer shaping itself in unique ways to experience the fullness of its own existence.

This was what mystics throughout our space and time have recognized and found peace from, and I had a bare glimpse of a reality that contained my usual limited perspective. Although I had understood these things intellectually, experiencing—realizing them—changed me. And this is the difference between believing and knowing and from this knowing comes what I would define as faith for myself. Experiences build belief in an instant what words cannot ever accomplish on their own.


When I was a wee little lass, I wanted to help the world a ridiculous amount. I once asked God to give me all the pain in the world so everyone else could be safe, happy, peaceful. Then I started to cry, because I knew it would be horrible and difficult, and because I believed God would do what I asked. But then I was immediately calmed by the sudden calming, assuring thought that God wouldn’t give me what I couldn’t handle. I don’t know if it was my own thought or not, but it was soothing.

Many years later, when I was between ten and twelve—after watching a show on prophecies about the year 2000, something on NBC (I’d like to watch it again, actually)—I was afraid, so afraid that my stomach twisted up in knots and there was no way I would be able to get to sleep. And then there was a hand on my face, gentle, solid, and with that touch, all of my anxiety and fear vanished. I lay down, smiling, at peace, thankful and able to sleep. I’m not sure whose hand it was. I think it might have been my late grandmother, or it might have been the entity that has stood at my left shoulder for most of my life, or something else entirely.

And the entity itself—who has gone through many name changes and appearances through the years, Rediekiel, Anyse, Never, and back to Rediekiel, whatever or whoever he is—has been with me for a long time. I don’t always pay attention to him or recognize he’s there, but he always is, whether he would be referred to as a guardian angel or whatever, perhaps another individuated from the soul that we share; he is not unique in this world. I’d be more surprised by someone without a guardian than to feel someone else’s (which I have on numerous occasions). It is probably a large portion of what helps me have a sense of faith.

I’ve been thinking about faith a lot lately, because I’ve realized I have it, somehow, now in this point in my life. It isn’t “God” that I believe in, or maybe it is. I believe, and have believed, deep down for as long as I remember that whatever exists, that same whatever I came from, is unconditionally loving. Kind. Benevolent. It is the same belief that sparked in me such anger toward the church, toward the idea that “we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves,” toward the hypocrisies of intolerance, forceful conversion, murder in the name of the divine.

So eventually, I became outraged at what I perceived as injustice, such as starving children, people coming into the world and dying before they ever had any chance to have a life—and especially when patronizing people look upon suffering and say with that faint smile “it’s all in God’s plan. You just have to have to be believe. You just have to have faith.” But how could I believe in something that felt wrong? How could I force myself to believe what I didn’t believe? I couldn’t, and I had a hard time accepting that other people actually believed what they spoke.

As a result, “faith” has been a sort of dirty word in my vocabulary. I prefer logic, factual sort of evidence. I prefer case histories on which to build ideas, studies and research. Most of the time when people have attempted to reassure “it’s all in God’s plan,” they haven’t had any explanation of how it worked. It was used as a cop-out, a write off to placate discomfort rather than attempting to understand. Too often if someone professes faith in some religion, they end up rejecting scientific explanation, denying what seems to be reality. I have never perceived a rift between science and spirituality. If anything, one enhances the other for me, science explaining the whats and hows of reality and spirituality seeking the whys and meaning for my life.

Reincarnation answered a lot of the whys and hows for me, solving in one fell swoop the answers to the problems of suffering, of evil, of prodigy, proficiency and life upon this planet in its current form. Around age twelve, I remember hearing about someone practicing yoga, and I scoffed, writing in my journal about these New Age people with their yoga and their reincarnation where thousands of women claim to have been Cleopatra—and then I remembered overhearing a talk show with a pair of women who each claimed to have been Cleopatra. I was pretty little then, and I looked at the two women, and thought to myself why they couldn’t both have been her. I remembered how I loved the setting light of the summer sun, and how I had once been in love, such love it was heartbreaking to now be without it. Looking at my journal page, I felt ashamed of myself for dismissing a belief offhand without exploring it, without trying to understand it, especially when I myself perhaps had memories.

More memories came, sometimes in dreams, sometimes brought on by a few notes in a song, sometimes when someone mentioned ancient Egypt, and eventually Atlantis—but giving reincarnation serious consideration didn’t happen until I was fifteen, and in the meantime, I hadn’t paid much attention to it, instead devoting my time to learning about subversions of the Christianity that I felt despised me for who and what I was.

When finally, I decided for my creative writing class I would write a story set in Atlantis, I found myself discussing with my teacher how I felt an affinity for it, how I felt like I never really belonged in this world, and so on. I had memorized the logical argument against God’s existence, which came in the form of three propositions:

1. God is omnipotent.

2. God is All-Loving.

3. Evil exists.

The problem was that all three of these things supposedly were true, and yet, if God was omnipotent and loved us, then he wouldn’t allow evil to harm us. Or perhaps God did love us, but couldn’t stop evil. I’d looked at the problem with the first two suppositions, but I didn’t bother to examine the third, taking for granted that it was true; neither did I think of other factors in this equation.

My teacher, who I had explained this to, asked me to imagine a little scene. “Say you’re babysitting some kids. They’re playing with the little army men. Legs are twisted, a guy’s melting from the little flamethrower, little plastic guys are buried in the sandbox. Do you stop them?” I think I got it immediately. Of course not. And then it clicked. We can’t be harmed. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed.

From there on, I felt switched on. Accelerated. I devoured books left and right and realized I hadn’t been mad at God as much as I was mad at the church for presenting divinity in such a petty small way. The vastness and glory of God overwhelmed any thought of vengeance. Reincarnation was a method in which a soul, having lost its innocence by seeing good and evil, could once again become perfect enough to reach the state of “heaven” or God-awareness. Reincarnation explained why wonderful things happened to people who were generally horrible to one another, and horrible things happened to people who had done no ill. Everything was balanced, and eventually I realized that if I saw Divinity as being perfect, then I could not see imperfections in the world. Good and evil, right and wrong became subjective, redefined as that which unites and that which separates. Heaven was a state of awareness of God and Hell was a state of awareness of isolation.

Even with the belief in reincarnation, however came doubts. I had no evidence of my own to back me up. I had no specific memories of dates, names, places, etc—but there were others who did. Reincarnation made much more sense to me than “one life, then judgment.” That was not a divine idea at all. There was no love in that concept, and if a God could be less loving than a mere human, it was not a God I wanted any part of.

I’ve been running around this world for the last ten years taking many things for granted in my thought processes, one being that the greatest reality is an ultimate infinity. If you believe in cause and effect, you can trace a cause back and back and back and back until eventually you have to arrive at a First Cause, and that cause must be Uncaused—existing outside of causality (that I recognized in astronomy class. I also thought that black holes are the mouths of God, taking us back into itself like a guppy carrying its babies in its mouth.

Another given is that everything is perfect because it is complete, lacking nothing. Our ideas of perfection in our limited perspective tend to include only that which is good, failing to recognize the value of that which is not preferable, although it too is necessary for infinite possibilities to exist, and is therefore useful and helpful to us in our own development.

Yet another given is that there is only one of us, that we may appear plural, but we have arisen from an underlying unity like fingers from a hand.