Taoists say there is the Tao that can be talked about and the Tao that cannot be talked about. I agree. For the purposes of this blog, we are referring to the Tao that can be talked about. Thoughts, feelings and beliefs on God or (fill in the blank) are personal, and let's face it, there is no way it can all be covered ever... but we can toss it around the room for a while!
My own humble beginnings seem as good a place as any to start, since it's the only thing I can speak of with any amount of certainty. I started out with an innate belief which was unnamed and unspoken. A sort of wonder and awareness of something working behind the scenes. Something akin to magick. My memories are watery now, but this way of being in the world lasted till about age 4 and a little beyond. By the time I was able to reason, everything changed. I was thereafter conditioned and influenced primarily by my father, a WWII survivor, child protégé and a true genius. The important thing to remember here is that he was bigger than life and he was my father, a man I respected and loved unconditionally... and he was an atheist (probably more of agnostic in truth, however...)
- Just a short note about dad... he was someone who commanded a certain amount of respect, even from strangers, due to the sheer breadth and depth of his knowledge base on seemingly every subject imaginable.
Who was I to argue? So, I spent many years thinking that God is a myth believed by people who were too afraid of their intellect, or worse had none or needed a crutch. My dad had many salient arguments and flawless logic on his side. Even more compelling is what he did not say, and knowing his misguided heart meant well... I knew there was more to the story. Tricky to navigate, these waters, much less explain, even now. As I got older , I realized he was railing against the mainstream ideologies and stories about God juxtaposed with his war experiences, rather than the wonder of The Force itself.
What emerged from all of this is my own unique (and not so unique) belief system, my own religion. One whose roots lie in many philosophies, cultures and ancient (established) religions which resonate with me. I've mixed in my own personal divine revelations... and a bit of Agnostic caution thrown in for good measure. I have thought, read, observed and experienced and have somewhat unwittingly entered a life long process of not only developing my own religion, but my own traditions to go along with it. It has no official name, yet it continues to provide me a solid foundation and grounding. It is ever expanding, so it grows with me and I with it, and it helps me to live more fully. It helps me in too many ways to list and has taken years of getting used to. (forgetting and remembering). I feel sure it will take at least a couple of lifetimes to perfect, but so well worth it!
In my world, The Force is not benevolent, it just is. (You never hear anyone saying: "May the Good Force be with you!") We know what they say, which implies The Force has a magnitude of ranges from positive to negative. It all depends on the channel its passing through, our perceptions, and time.
As humans we need to label things that are too large for us to wrap our heads around. In this case, what we end up with is, The Force personified, or God. I was introduced to this concept for the first time in a book by Joseph Campbell, Masks of God... or maybe it was Jung's, Man and His Symbols...? I forget. What matters though, is that it makes perfect sense to me! It clears up a whole lot of mysteries for me as well. Mysteries about why peoples worldwide have very similar concepts about who or what God represents. And also why they differ. Differ in their rules about God, creation and to how to please God. It also explains why many cultures have been conditioned to treat God as a self centered, "parent". It's what we as humans can relate to. It provides tangible images and examples to draw from. It's understandable. What remains a mystery, is why these beliefs seem to have little room for modification or growth. Many seem to posses very little tolerance for others, and it's all about the past rather than the present or the future. God vs the politics of God. Very sticky.
Many indigenous peoples believed that nature is God. That we came from the stars. The sky is Grandfather, and the earth, Grandmother. Each to be treated with respect and quiet observation to direct their path. All of the creatures of the earth, and even innate substances like dirt and rock carry the life force, and are deserving of our respect. The earth is not merely our playground, but our Grandmother. A living organism unto herself. An organism with needs, and from which all life springs. Treating the earth or her creatures unjustly leads to imbalance, which ultimately leads to suffering. Our role, is to be her stewards. Again, the personification, but here it's an integrative, inclusive concept, rather than a dictatorship. See, this makes perfect sense to me, however it is quite an inconvenient notion for we westerners who think primarily about creature comforts, and are caught up in the illusion that we have a God given right to dominance over the earth and all of her creatures. (I'm sure it was worded differently in the Bible, but that's what I took away from it) And that notion works just fine for industry and the Capitalist way of life. I straddle this fence constantly, having grown up in The States. I would die if I were thrown into the natural world to fend for myself, and create balance with every step. I love my creature comforts, but feel sick about what is sacrificed to provide them. Up until very recently, I've also felt somewhat powerless as to what to do about it. All this brings up another oft' asked question, did we create God, or did God create us? Chicken or Egg?
What do I think...? Well, since you asked, I think The Force created us, and we created God. ( I'm over simplifying, but...) The earth was likely created by some cosmic happening or an alignment of just the right combination of cosmic happenings... The Force at work. Then we evolved and proceeded to interpret The Force, give it a name, an image, a personality and put it in a box. Maybe so we could wrap our brains around it, survive prehistoric times, as a distraction, for power.... or any number of reasons. But whatever our reasons, it meant we were putting our human qualities and limitations on The Force, challenging The Force instead of channeling it, and then things get really pathetically confusing and we became creators rather than co-creators. Using the power of the image of God to create rules and take over... I'm not sure, but I think there was a fallen angel who attempted this and got banished according to scriptures. Are we the descendants of this angel, conveniently hiding behind the curtain of a created Wizard? Hmmmmm... OK, that one spun out a bit.
That's all I got for now. Please feel free to let me know your thoughts on this subject.... and
May The Force be with you!