Monday, January 12, 2004

Conversations with God

My current "Library of Awareness" reading is Conversations with God, by Neale Walsch. It's written entirely as a one-on-one dialogue between the author and God, with the former describing it literally as a transcription, rather than anything he deliberately created.

Naturally, the first issue addressed in this book is that of how to determine whether a thought, feeling, intuition, or voice actually comes from God or is a product of our own minds. This is vital not only because the validity of the whole book hinges on it, but because this is a constant question (or should be, I think) in our actual lives, even if God isn't dictating entire books to us. What I like about the answer given here is that it encourages us to trust our own highest personal feelings and experiences, rather than looking to religious authorities or scriptures for an explanation of how things are "supposed" to be. This isn't to say that those things are bad, but rather that God is constantly communicating with us every bit as much as he did with the writers of the Gospels, or with your favorite prophet, priest, rabbi or guru. We just need to recognize that and learn to listen.

This is important to me because it reflects a lot about how I try to approach this sort of thing. I've never yet (in my young life) been able to definitively say "I am of X religion," nor do I necessarily want to. What I want to do is to learn from all of them. Since most religions manage to disagree with or contradict most others in some way, this can be a little tricky. That's where the personal intuition comes in. I try to approach beliefs and traditions in such a way as to find the parts of them that resonate with me and my concept of God. I figure that there's no reason to restrict God to just one religion. He/She/It can, and probably does, use countless ways to communicate with me. The more of them I learn to listen to, the better. Of course, I realize that this is just my particular path at this particular stage. If a different course of action becomes more appropriate to my development in the future, I hope to notice God's prompts and follow them.

Of course, being a fallible human with conflicting thoughts and desires, just "trusting your intuition" is generally easier said than done. It could also seem rather self-serving, like it's giving us permission to take the easy way out and just do whatever we feel like. Here's what the book has to say about it (God speaking):

"Mine is always your Highest Thought, your Clearest Word, your Grandest Feeling. Anything less is from another source.... The Highest Thought is always that thought which contains joy. The Clearest Words are those words which contain truth. The Grandest Feeling is that feeling which you call love." (pg. 4-5)

The challenge, then, is to be constantly and honestly evaluating what we find in ourselves in these terms. I expect that it is this process as much as the specific result that is really important.

One other quote from the book I wanted to mention before I'm done here: "Every human thought, and every human action, is based in either love or fear. There is no other human motivation, and all other ideas are but derivatives of these two." (pg. 15)

This is a concept I've had as part of my consciousness for a long time. I don't even remember where I first got it. Probably from Dad. I was glad to see it dealt with in this book a bit, since I think it's an important one.

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