It’s Okay to Say “God”

I’ve been a spiritual seeker for decades. I grew up in a religious (Catholic) family. Religion was not a bad thing. I went to church every Sunday until I was in college. Soon after I graduated, I followed the path of many twenty-somethings disillusioned with religion. It wasn’t that I saw no value in religion; it was that I needed to go deeper.

God is an Experience

Around the time I took my first yoga class, I spent some time exploring Christian Mysticism. I practiced centering prayer (similar to Eastern meditation) and read about the lives of Thomas Merton, St. John of the Cross, and other mystics. I was fascinated with “The Cloud of Unknowing” and a little booklet someone gave me called “The Hound of Heaven.”

The simple idea behind this mystic’s journey is God is in us. God is part of nature. God will call us in subtle and not so subtle ways. And if we really want to understand our connection to God, we have to go within ourselves to experience it.

This inner knowing was a bit different from the traditions, rules, and practices I’d known as religion until then. To mystics, God is more of an experience than a being you can figure out by thinking, reading, and following a set of rules.

Buddha

As I continued to practice yoga and learn more about Eastern traditions, my understanding of spirituality and what it means to be a spiritual being expanded. I began to learn about Hinduism, then Buddhism, Taosim and other Eastern traditions.

I’m open to anything that brings me a genuine experience of “something greater than myself” (something which I believe I am a part of). I have less need to define it or analyze it or intellectualize it. I just try to experience it and be it.

But I’ve noticed something interesting as I’ve come to know many other spiritual seekers on a journey similar to mine. It seems the word “God” has become taboo in some circles. Some people with Christian roots seem eager to throw the baby (Jesus) out with the bath water.

If you’re a Christian (and even if you’re not), you probably understand Jesus as someone who came to show people the way to God. The path to God is the reason for any religion. Of course, there’s a difference between Christianity and other religions, but it’s not the religion itself that matters most.

As human beings, we need to start with a set of rules that point us in the right direction toward anything we want to understand. And in trying to understand spiritual matters, various groups have established different religions. Religions are important. They start us on a path to God.

Rules, Rituals and Being Human

I hear a lot of people complain about Christianity because it supposedly encourages us to see ourselves as sinners. The problem may be a too-harsh definition of sin or they idea that sin makes us bad people.

Sin is anything that keeps us from God (so if yoga is your spiritual practice that can mean harming another being instead of practicing ahimsa is a sin; it can even mean skipping your practice or practicing half-heartedly is a sin if your practice is what keeps you connected to a higher power).

It’s a fact of human life that we’re not always perfectly focused on our spiritual goals. But if enlightenment is important to us, we need a way to stay on the journey.

Is it really too many rules and rituals that cause people to cringe when they see a crucifix? Maybe, like the rules you learned for solving arithmetic equations or driving your car, you don’t have to be so rigid about them once you’ve understand what your goal is in the first place.

In other words, it’s the spirit of the law, not the law itself that matters. If you’re getting the answer right, the steps you take may not be as important as you were led to believe when you first encountered the question. Just be honest about what’s happening. Are you really getting the answer, or is it just easier not to do your homework?

God will find you

I had a conversation about this recently, and my companion suggested that another reason people become disillusioned with Christianity is that they don’t like the idea of being eternally accountable to an invisible God.

So, here’s the thing. If there is an invisible God who is watching and taking note of our sins, we don’t have a choice in the matter. But that’s not something to worry about. There are probably eternal consequences to any choices we make in life. And eternity starts now. It’s not some final payment (or penalty) that will happen in the future.

The point I’m hoping to make is if you are truly honest about your spiritual life and your reasons for choosing your own form of spiritual practice, you will find your way back to your source. God by any other name is still God.

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Maria Kuzmiak, M.A. is a health and well-being writer with a background in nutrition, psychology and education and a passion for yoga. She has written hundreds of articles, blogs and newsletters for clients in health-related fields, particularly those specializing in yoga, natural medicine, nutrition, and spiritual health and healing. Maria has also worked as a nutritionist, teacher and technical editor. Learn more about her writing at www.wellbeingwriter.net.

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