Jesus wants me for a sun beam, to shine for him each day… in every way try to please him, at home, at school at play… - Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam, by Nellie Talbot
I have three grown children, a boy and two girls. They’re all vastly different. The older they get, the more different they are.
When it comes to their decision making, I can relate with some of their choices. When they make a decision that aligns with “what I would do in their situation,” it brings me a sense of satisfaction. It seems, in those moments, that we raised them “right.” In those conditions, it’s easy to feel a sense of pride. I might re-arrange the photos on my desk a little, in case someone happens by and wants to ask about them.
But there are other times when they do the most outlandish things, and I wonder what in the hell they’re thinking. Those instances have taught me a lot. Because, short of understanding their reasoning process – they’re all intelligent people – all I want is for them is to be happy. I don’t care what they do, as long as they’re happy.
I believe that we are made in the image of Creator. Call it leftover conditioning from my religious upbringing, if you want. But I happen to agree with this particular doctrine. I'll talk about why in a moment. The upshot is that it seems true that when we operate outside of ego identification - with all that entails - that we feel like God feels.
Now, I understand the dangers of anthropomorphesizing God. God might be a whole ‘nother ballgame, right? I think that a lot of people, including those who call themselves, "religious," think that we are one thing, and “He” is another.
But is that really the case? I don’t believe so.
I, and many like me, think it’s actually closer to the truth to say that we are a part of God, like embodied cells in a larger, beautiful, perfectly functioning Organism. In other words, like I stated above, outside of ego and when soulfully engaged with Reality, we generally feel like God would feel.
Outside of ego then, we always embody charity. Outside of ego, we exist in love, without exception. Outside of ego, we breathe only life, and understand that death is merely a construct of change.
Just like God.
When it comes to our children, we know that there are some paths that are going to bring them more happiness than others, right? For instance, no one wants to see their kids addicted to heroin. Even if they say, “But Dad, I love heroin! Heroin makes me happy!” we still don’t want this.
Because we know that the use of this drug presents a difficult road, to say the least. From experience, we know that heroin use will likely limit their freedom both physically in terms of health and incarceration, as well as affecting their ability to operate in the world. Other than that, heroin is fine, isn’t it? Take away those issues, and it’s no worse than caffeine, Oreos, or binge-watching television. But since heroin is a slippery slope with such dire consequences, we want them to stay away from it.
But even if my kid chooses something that extreme, that harmful to themselves and others, I’m not turning my back on them. Because in the end, all I want is for them to be happy. If they get into some kind of trouble and want my help getting out of it, am I going to say, “no?”
Not on your life. I’m there. You would be for your loved ones, too, wouldn’t you? Of course you would.
But why am I “there” for them, when they make choices that don’t align with my old-man wisdom? Because it’s not about me, it’s about them. My job is to help them get what they want if I can, isn’t it? And by the way, isn't that one of God's jobs, too?
Well, maybe. Let’s go back to heroin. Is it my job to help them procure heroin if they ask for it?
Because again, I know from a lifetime spent observing what happens with that drug that the chances that they’ll be happy using it long-term are very, very slim. It has nothing to do with the personal shame I might feel when my friends see the picture of my son on my desk (way back in the corner, this time), and ask how he’s doing with his heroin addiction. Instead, the only factor in my mind when I decide not to foment this path is that there’s a lot better chance that attaining it would limit his life and potential, rather than expand them.
Now, is that the whole of the reason I won’t help? For me, it is. It’s not the shame and horror I might feel. It's not that it's against the laws of the land, either; I'd break any number of laws to help my kid if I feel the laws are ethically unjust - and most drugs laws are. And this is my point…
It has nothing to do with how their actions make me feel, personally. Once again, it’s not about me. I just want them to be happy, that’s all.
To put it another way, there are many ways to be happy in this life. Some make a lot of sense to me. Others don’t, but they still apparently lead to happiness and soulful human fulfillment (this is how I was able to accept an invitation to speak to a Christian youth group recently). It’s not about what I would do. It’s about what the Soul – which is a part of God - calls any of us to do.
It seems to me that those of us who were raised in religion were taught that God has serious narcissistic tendencies. We please God, or we’re damned. We do what “He” says, or we’re immediately punished. Even if we do what He says, we’re welcomed into heaven to do what? Strum harps and praise Him for eternity.
No thanks, dude. I mean, they’re probably great songs, but there has to be more.
(I was raised Mormon. At least they have marriage and families in heaven. At least they believe in the possibility of Godhood. Even though I left the Church a decade ago, to this day that makes a lot more sense to me than most of their more typical religious doctrines.)
In short, I think religion has sold us a bill of goods to the extreme. I think that we come to know God, by coming to understand our own souls, and in no other way. Moreover, I think that this life is meant to help us know both and that doing one, brings the other.
In other words, I don’t think God wants us to be "Pleasers;" not even "God pleasers." Because then we'd just be aligning our actions to a concept - God - that the brain is not designed to comprehend as much as the Soul is meant to experience. To restate: the God that the human mind can comprehend is man-made, and a partial truth at best. But when the soul experiences God, the soul has found its home and can commune beyond mere words, beyond the limitations of the human mind.
We can take aspects of our deep human soul experience and apply them to Deity. Not without exception (most of us are not that virtuous), but some. One of these aspects is this: just as it is with us and our loved ones, God wants us to find our path to happiness. That’s it. That alone is what pleases God.
Once more, that alone is what pleases God.
“What makes my soul happy,” then, might be the only question that matters. Why? Because again, we are part of God. Not separate, but a portion of. Even Paul rhetorically wrote, “who shall separate us from the love of God?” Just like my kids are a part of me, we are all a part of God. Even more so, if I am to believe the mystic writings (and my own experiences). With my kids, there’s one degree of separation. Between us and God, many mystics, myself included, don’t believe there’s even that.
Why does any of this matter? What difference does it make in our lives? Let me illustrate with an example from my own life.
I’ve been at this serious crossroad, lately. It’s been going on for a few weeks. It just occurred to me that it's possible that I’ve been asking questions that are irrelevant, that treat God as if He/She/It is a narcissist, and separate from myself. Although I don’t believe that about God and haven’t for a while, old habits die hard, don’t they? The same could be said about the deep programming we humans receive at a very early age. This informs not only the way we think, but the way we think about what we think.
To illustrate, you know that saying, “He can’t see the forest for the trees?” Programming is like that, isn't it? It hints at a limited perspective. Dreams, including manufactured dream states (transcendental breathwork, deep indigenous ceremony, extended fasting, responsible use of entheogens), can help with this. They can help us see, and hence begin to release our old programming. For instance, it was last nights sleep that brought this re-awareness to me, this vision, and this essay. I’m grateful this happens from time to time for me.
Now, what remains is to continue my work to identify with soul rather than ego, and to ask better, more perceptually-informed questions. To do this, I Mainly Meditate (a play on words for our FB group).
Why does this work? Because thoughts arise when I'm meditating like ego arises during normal lifetime experiences. As I sit during my practice, I can see my thoughts and dismiss or engage them at my whim. The See-er (seer?) that experiences this can be described as the soul. This is a little oversimplified, but it works for our purposes here. The soul gets to choose what to engage during my “practice” at home, as well as during “game time” out in the world. I've observed that if I have an active meditation practice, I have a better chance of not dangerously engaging ego during the day because again, the same action that releases thoughts, releases ego.
To put it another way, the "forest" of reality becomes clearer, and the "trees" of my perceptual experience in each moment reveal themselves to be the beautiful minutiae that they're meant to be - not the whole of my reality.
It has nothing to do with judging the thoughts as “good” or “bad,” then. Each is merely a sacred occurrence, a gift that comes with my human life. How I deal with each is my choice, a choice that arises each moment. If soul makes the choice, I feel aligned and can expect what happens to be for my soulful benefit, regardless of how easy it is to accept. If ego makes the choice, the outcome may be momentarily satisfying (like heroin, reportedly), but the long-term outcome is less certain (also like heroin).
I believe that the better I am at understanding and identifying with my soul, the more apt I am to dismiss egoic responses to what comes up in my life, and the more able I am to understand my soul. Hence my ability to experience God is increased.
Again, there are a million ways to do this. To be more accurate, how many people are on the planet? Pushing eight billion? There are that many ways.
My hope for myself is that I will be able to push aside this old programming and ask the right questions about what my soul wants. In fact, I'll ask some now.
What makes me deeply happy? Being out of debt? Yes. Having as much autonomy in my life as possible? Yes. Living close to nature? For sure. Having a partner that I can love on? Life is just better when that's the case. Sharing my talents with others? This feels like one of the main purposes of my life, so yes. Snowboarding, mountain biking and surfing? Yes, yes and hell, yes!
I could talk about prayer here; specifically, egoic prayer vs. the prayer of the soul. One works, one generally doesn't. Aside from this, from what I’ve said you can probably tell what I would say about why the Universe gets behind some prayers and not others. Either way, it’s beyond the scope of this missive. I'm sure it'll come up again in another essay somewhere down the road because how we engage the sacred from within our (also sacred) human existence is a favorite topic of mine. If you read me, you already know this.
For now, what I want to communicate is simply this: the greatest “Go(o)d” is to walk in alignment with Soul. If I’m mindful, I can be the architect of my own life. “I” is not whatever ego is loudest at the moment, with its cries for heroin, Game of Thrones, and Oreos. Instead, “I” is Soul. And what my soul wants is the same as that which God wants. It's by aligning my life with soul that I come to know God.
In other words, no, Jesus doesn’t want me for a sunbeam.
He wants me to be the Sun, in every moment and in every way that I can be.
(Photo by redcharlie)