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When we choose to believe that our purpose is to love and forgive, we begin to experience life's deeper meaning. Giving and receiving become one. The act of giving, choosing to be helpful to others without expecting anything in return, allows us to experience the Presence of God and to know that we are extensions of God's Love. The more that we choose to live in the present, the more we experience God.
We can choose to see our purpose in life as messengers of love, messengers of God. And if we want to make a call to God, it really doesn't matter which telephone booth we use.
Our egos are convinced that their purpose in life is to make judgments, to attack, to create conflict, to be unforgiving, to see chaos and scarcity instead of inner peace and abundance. When we act from our egos, our actions are based on fear of love and fear of God, and we become messengers of judgment, anger, hate, and destruction.
This is because the purpose of the ego is get rather than give. Its appetite is unending. No matter how much we acquire or hold on to, it is never enough.
We lose all memory of God when we listen to the voice of ego, the voice of fear. Because our egos see God and peace as enemies, they will do what they can to delude us into thinking there is no God. They would then have us make material possessions, financial security, and money our gods.
Taking A New Look at Our Perceptions of God
Childhood Images of God
What we think God is or isn't, how we attempt to define God, and howweexperience God, will be very different for each person. Sometimes, our picture of God is a kind of projection of our physical self and the physical world we live in.
The image of God I had as a child was that of a giant with a long white robe, white hair and a long, flowing, white beard. He was wise and all knowing, looking down at me from the sky. He was always frowning, judging and, according to my parents, ready to punish me if I did anything wrong.
Since I did not see myself doing much of anything that God would consider good, I always felt that punishment must be just around the corner for me. I lived in an almost constant state of fear, wondering what awful things God had in store for me. I was sure God would punish me for being the kind of child that could do nothing right. Whenever I brought home a poor report card I was sure God was going to drop a brick right on my head.
Though hidden from my awareness, I believe I carried these same childhood fears of being judged, attacked, and abandoned by God into my adulthood.
I had such strong judgments against God that I decided that anyone who believed in God must be full of fear. If they used their intellect, they too would do the only sensible thing there was to dowhich was to discard their belief in God.
Who Abandoned Whom?
It was not until many years later that I discovered that I was the fearful one. I had things backwards. It was not that God had abandoned me but that I had abandoned God!
If we find that we are still carrying around with us a childhood image of God that does not bring us peace, this may be an opportune time to heal that mistaken perception.
Face of God Today
Today, I no longer have a negative reaction to the word God. But I do find the word itself limiting because my experience of the Presence of God is beyond what any words could possibly explain. The closest word I can think of is "awe."
The mystery of God remains beyond the comprehension of my intellect and imagination. And since God is not linear, neither is my experience of this loving Source in any way analytical.
No matter what words we might use to describe that which created us, more and more of us are changing our perceptions about God. Many believe that there is an unconditionally loving Source that connects us all as one and which is beyond time, space, and the perceptions of our physical senses.
For me the experience of Love and Joy is beyond time and space and is outside anything that has to do with the physical senses. It is where nothing exists but never-ending Love, a reality where Love is all there is and everything that there is.
When I am able to experience my oneness with God, it is as if my soul is resonating with all the love in the universe, where everything is joined and there is no separation. This experience continues to be beyond my imagination or intellectual comprehension.
For me remembering and experiencing the Presence of God comes from trusting and having faith in a Loving, Creative Source that has infinite intelligence and wisdom. It is a Source without gender and without form. It is a force of compassionate and unconditional Love and Light that continues to love us and comfort us and be ever present.
To Be Peaceful You Do Not
Have to Believe in God
It is important to recognize that one does not have to believe in God or use the word "God" to experience Oneness. The moment our egos or intellects come into play, and we attempt to put words around our concepts of God, a feeling of separation from one another and from God can begin to take place.
I have found that many people profess that they do not believe in God. Yet, after spending time with them I frequently discover that, while they do not believe in the God they were told about in their childhoods, they do believe there is something greater than themselves, some undefinable force that created them. They live their lives with kindness, gentleness, tenderness, compassion, and caring, free of any need to judge others. To me their lives are "Godly," though they will deny any belief in God and certainly would not use these words to describe themselves.
What is important is not the words we use to describe God but rather our thoughts and actions, that is, how we live and experience our lives. When we believe that the essence of our being is Love, and that our true identity is spiritual, we start to understand why all of our relationships are opportunities to see the Light of Love in one another and to know that what we see is a reflection of who we are. It is then that we begin to notice our experience of God being manifest in all our relationships. And it is also then that each of us may realize that we are the light that shines the darkness away.
Who Am I?
As long as we think that who we are is limited to our body, we are taking the long road home to God. If we think that who we are is limited to our personality self, or ego, or to the role we play in our family, at work or in society, we will remain spiritually empty.
The first principle of Attitudinal Healing is that the essence of our being is love. When we are willing to shift our perception, to believe that our true self is a spiritual being temporarily inhabiting a body, we begin to recognize and experience our oneness with God.
We begin to recognize that as spiritual, non-physical beings we are eternal. Who and what we are is love, a love that never dies, and a love whose light can never be extinguished. It's a reality where love is everything there is and the only thing there is.
As we remind ourselves of our purpose, of who and what we really are as spiritual beings, we feel more in harmony with the universe, extending unconditional love and forgiveness to all of those around us. Our awareness of our Oneness becomes increasingly apparent and our illusions of separation begin to disappear. It is then that we begin to notice our experience of God manifesting in all our relationships.
We can change our belief system and heal any misperceptions we might have. In preparing ourselves to take a shortcut to God, we need to have a willingness to change our belief system and look at the possibility of our changing the misperceptions of God that we may be holding on to.
Forgetting and Remembering
Has it ever occurred to you that going through life we have possibly focused on the wrong things to remember and have forgotten what is most important?
Many of us go through life with a long laundry list of the hurts, traumas and injustices we have suffered in life. If we hold onto this list it will only remind us to scratch the old wounds and keep them bleeding.
By practicing what is called "celestial amnesia," it is possible to forget the old pain and even wipe away the scars. Celestial amnesia is the practice of remembering only the Love that God continues to give to us and the love that we extend to others. It is a shortcut to God and to a way of remembering the presence of God's Love.
We might do this by imagining that someone gives us a special medicinal tea to drink that causes us to forget all the past hurts in our lives. As soon as you drink it, all your memories of a painful past vanish. In their place you only remember the love you have given and received. For a moment, just imagine how that would be. Imagine yourself drinking this special tea and experiencing its benefits, knowing you can do this in your mind any time you wish to release yourself from the past.
It's Time to Stop Blaming God
If something goes wrong in our life, even if we do not believe in God, there is a great temptation to blame somebodyand God is frequently the one we blame most.
If a child we know becomes seriously ill or is killed in an accident, if we or a loved one develops cancer, or if we are witness to terrible tragedies that nobody can explain, we frequently make God the fall guy.
Insurance companies play a part in this belief system by writing into their policies that they will not pay for certain losses, such as a house being destroyed in a flood, because it is what they call an "Act of God."
Isn't it high time that we stopped giving God a bad rap and begin to recognize that God does not cause bad things to happen to us, although it is certainly true that in the insane world we live in many things do happen that defy our understanding.
Our Unforgiving Thoughts About God
and Our Religious Training
I am convinced that one of the things that kept me separate from God was my unforgiving thoughts about my religious training and the religious teachers that I had who did not walk their talk. I also had unforgiving thoughts about a God who I believed did terrible things.
For many years there was a place inside me that was fearful of being attacked by a judgmental God, who was the only God I knew. I felt guilty about countless things, but buried in my unconscious were guilty feelings about my separating myself from God. The result was that I ran away from God and from religion.
There are countless men and women who continue to find solace in their different places of worship. Yet, millions of others leave their churches, synagogues, mosques, or other places of worship, because they do not find spirituality in these places. Many become disillusioned because they do not believe in the judgmental or punishing image of God they were taught as children.
Others lose faith when they discover that their religious teachers do not walk their talk but instead are involved in sexual, physical, and psychological abuse. This has resulted in large numbers of people abandoning their religious institutions and not just walking but sometimes even running away from God.
Some of these people have felt like lost souls who were wandering through life with a sense of spiritual emptiness.
There are still others who have chosen to embark upon a spiritual journey. Many such seekers do not want to be categorized in any way. They say, "I am going home to God in my own way and do not need the dogma of any religious organization to tell me how to do it." They want to be free souls, and their numbers are increasing even as the memberships of many religious institutions are decreasing.
Forgiving God and Our Religious Training
At our Center for Attitudinal Healing we have observed that many people choose to let go of their old concepts of God and heal their relationships with their previous places of worship. They have returned to their churches, mosques, or synagogues. For some this requires that they let go of their perceptions about their religious training and the persons they felt had hurt them.
Speaking for myself, forgiving my misperceptions about God, my religious training, and some of my teachers as well, has thrown the door wide open for me to begin experiencing a loving God.