Friday, July 6, 2007

The Death of God...


This week I started in on trying to figure out what really made me so uneasy about the religious transitions I've been going through recently. Noting that this blog exists mainly as a chronicle of my spiritual growth throughout my college experience, I'll begin at the beginning.

First of all, my father is a preacher in the United Methodist denomination, which means I've been brought up in church camps, youth groups, service every Sunday morning, the whole gamut. I was very secure in my faith as a Christian follower, but I never quite got into piety. I'd pray when I felt like I needed to, but I could never get into a solid routine. I think a lot of that stemmed from the fact that I never quite felt like I was praying to anything or anyone, but merely reciting what I felt at the time. I also rarely, if ever, saw any form of response no matter how hard I looked in different areas.

In the Christian, especially protestant, tradition, I was brought up to believe in an all-loving, omnipresent, omniscient, omni-benevolent God who knew my every thought and action. For me, this thought is comforting. It means that there is someone in control and no matter what happens, it happens for a good purpose in my life. This concept is also, I believe, the root of my struggles today.

The new ideas that have been thrown at me lately (God is within all of us, astral planes, samsara, the non-existence of everything) have really started to mess with me. Not because they're different from my tradition, but because I see the wisdom in it. For me, it's all pretty easy to accept and makes more sense than a lot of the concepts of Christianity. This isn't to say that one is right and the other is wrong or that the two can't peacefully coexist within me, but what I am saying is that there is a paradigm shift occurring within me. How I view the world and spirituality is up in the air for me until these concepts all fall and arrange themselves.

I am having trouble with the fact that with these new ideas, there is no strong tower God. I am having to let go of the idea that there is an omniscient being in control of my fate. One concept isn't better or worse than the other, and I'm not saying I know what is wrong and what is right, but I'm just sort of lost in which is right and how to make the concepts mesh in my mind.

Today I found some insight into my dilemma that made me think about this post. I've known about negative theology for some time, but I didn't truly grasp it until today when I needed to. Negative theology states mainly that we cannot know God through concepts and words, but only through what we know God is not. I guess I am actually leaning more towards mysticism than negative theology, but that's totally okay with me as long as my problem finds a working solution.

Essentially, in order for me to truly encounter God in the true form, I have to let all of the concepts and preconceptions of God die in my mind. Only when God is dead to me am I open to truly experiencing the reality of God. I really like that idea. Getting in touch with reality through killing the concepts I've built up. It makes sense to me and it leaves room for the unknown that I grapple with. All I really have to do is work on getting in touch with reality and detaching myself from my pre/mis conceptions of what truly is, and I will find what I am looking for.

I suppose this marks the intro to a journey of some sort...
Let me go grab my beggar's bowl....

6 comments:

Rodrigo said...

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lindsey said...

Personalized t-shirts? Wow...

Either only, it makes its proper t-shirt.

Anyway-

God is dead and Mark has killed him.

I really enjoyed this entry.
I'm thinking about going back and re-reading Algazali and actually paying a little more attention this time.

I really do think that you'll carve your own middle way Sparky...
You're doin' good.

Themindtaker said...

I'm not completely sure whether or not I'm "supposed" to do this, but I happened by your blog this morning and thought I'd comment. I’m mostly doing this because I was more or less in your exact place 2 years ago or so (ah, the wonders or college, right?).

Just to give you a different point of view (as you said, there’s no right or wrong here), I took it all in stride with the “My Sweet Lord” approach. You listen to My Sweet Lord and it’s all very unassuming at first: “I really want to see you / Really want to be with you.” We westerners are perfectly fine with the word Lord; we’ve been using it for ages. Hell, even the tune is lifted straight out of a song by The Chiffons (and there’s a noticeable hint of “Oh Happy Day” in there too…)

…Then not until 3 minutes into the song do they start in with the Hare Krishna’s and Hare Rama’s. By that time, it’s barely a surprise that you’re venerating “the god of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.” What I’m saying is, you don’t necessarily have to pull a Nietzsche and kill off the preconceptions of God in your mind, but rather try to use those preconceptions to ease into a new frame of mind.

Again, all I’m saying is what helped me along the way (coming from a similar Christian background). It’s a whole big world out there, and without some of our safety nets to guide us on our way, it’s easy to get completely lost. But if you can keep your head above water in all of this, you’ll get to the really rewarding stuff that will blow your mind: such as all things being one, samsara and nirvana are actually the same thing! Best of luck to you.

PeterAtLarge said...

Mark, just to say that I honor the struggle, and the fact that you're going through it with honesty and integrity. Regarding my tag, I suspect that this is where "the edge" is, for you. Cheers, PaL

PeterAtLarge said...

Mark, just to say that I honor the struggle, and the fact that you're going through it with honesty and integrity. Regarding my tag, I suspect that this is where "the edge" is, for you. Cheers, PaL

PeterAtLarge said...

Apologies! It seems I repeat myself. Unintentionally. Cheers, again, PaL