Sunday, January 24, 2010

journey, not destination

Searching for god, or in my case, searching for my own understanding of god, seems to be a thing that is hard-wired into my brain.

I've been reading this Deepak Chopra book, How to Know God, and he says some very interesting things. Like our understanding of god is limited to the things we can think and feel with our brains. And our brains are capable of only so much. We are human. We have a certain set of parameters within which our physical bodies can operate. Like our tongues can only taste certain flavors, and our eyes are limited to seeing colors within a certain spectrum, that does no mean that there are not other flavors to be tasted or colors to be seen, merely that we are not equipped to taste or see them all. We can know and think and feel and experience quite a lot, to be sure, but even then, our brains are in our bodies and we operate in the material world, not the realms of quantum or spiritual existences. I don't know that I can explain it terribly well, but I think I understand the quantum stuff, but the realm of the spirit, as described by Chopra, is thus far beyond my comprehension.

As is typical of modern self-help book authors, Chopra breaks down the human experience into seven discernible sensations or responses. There is fear, as exhibited by the fight or flight response, there is power and order, a kind of "restful awareness" that peeks into the quantum world, creativity and spiritual bliss, a kind of euphoria that has been reported and experienced by seers and prophets and saints down through the ages. There are others, too. They are on a continuum with the spiritual euphoria as the pinnacle, a kind of metaphysical, spiritual at-one-ness with the divine. A rapture of sorts, but without having to go anywhere. That last stage is the goal for spiritual seekers, he says.

I am automatically skeptical when anyone breaks down my existence, in all its history and possibilities into seven easy-to-handle concepts, but I have to say that his words seem to make sense. He also says that most humans are wired to do this thing that I am doing: to search for god, or for some understanding of the universe in which we live.

He describes the seven stages of spiritual development and the kind of god that each stage reveals. Someone who is fearful and wants protection (stage one) will have a god who is a loving father figure, a protector and savior. A person whose world revolves around justice and injustice generally has a god that enforces rules and forgives transgressions. Someone who seeks peace and centered-ness will have god who does just that. Intuitive people have a god that seems to put miracles in his or her path, a creative person has a god who grants wishes and fulfillment through artistic genius and divine inspiration, a person who operates in a visionary world can feel the divine nearby, guiding, participating, healing, and a person living in a sacred response place will have a god that he or she is at one with. Typically these folks are considered prophets, Buddha, Jesus, Lao-Tse.

So already my head says "well hell, if the odds of me achieving the gold star are that long, screw it, why bother?" I guess the point here is that I learn. I have no idea if I will ever achieve the prophetic bliss that Chopra speaks of, but that is no reason for me to give up on my search and journey now. I think the whole point is that I take the journey, that I walk whatever path it is that I seem to be on, to not question the why of it, but to enjoy the now of it. I think I will begin mixing in some reading from my 12-step literature to help me with this quest. That will be for tomorrow. For now, the sun is up and bright and I must eat and prepare for the day.

Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

For me, the collective unconscious works coupled with patience, equanimity, and quiet--when I can manage them. That's why I seek refuge in the dharma, sangha, and the Buddha. And I wouldn't want to live without fleece, kindness, and an occasional macaroon -- so far so good.

msladydeborah said...


I think that in due time and in due season-the questions that we have are answered from out of the universe. Making the journey is a life long process. There are many detours and stops along the way. Those are the moments when we gain the Peals of Wisdom and Knowledge that we desire.

Keep on moving towards the light my friend. You will find that what you seek will be revealed.

ella said...

my dear friend from seminary, Ruth Greenwood, said once, "Walk the path. Balance comes from walking."

Judith said...

My response to the 7 stages was--please save me from the 7th, "pinnacle", rapture at one with etc. I am much happier with the search, journey, striving, engagement in the everyday life