Saturday, April 28, 2018

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, April 28, 2018 - Determining Your “You”

Thank you for everything. It’s a simple prayer. One that cannot be expressed in simpler terms, actually. Thank you. Thank you for everything. For life. For even stress. For love and heartache both. Thank you.
Now let’s define who “you” is.
I can’t. At least not for you. You have to decide who the “you” is in that prayer. You are the only member of your faith. It will never be any other way. You are the leader of your own thoughts and beliefs. Even when you think you have been instructed, you will still have opinions about what and by whom. You may be a fully devoted Catholic, for instance, and yet will always maintain your own views about the doctrine. Blind faith is actually a misleading sentiment. No faith is blind. We can’t simply shut off our opinions. More so now than ever in history, in fact.
So, who is your “you?”
I prefer to assume that what people refer to as “God” is the literal connection between all life. The interdependent web of all existence.
I believe that God is the web Itself.
If we are all connected—even if we don’t understand the mechanics of that connection —who we are is a part of that web. Perhaps the connection between us is the sum total of who we really are: spiritual beings having a human experience.
I realize that sounds very heady and transcendental. But I mean it in the most practical of ways. Perhaps God feels like one of us because It is all of us. A grand mainframe with a circuit for each.
To me, this is why things work out better when we collaborate; it’s natural to us. We are connected in the truest sense, so when we exhibit that connection here on earth in ways that are relational and in support of community, everything just works better. On earth as it is in heaven. As above, so below.
When our contemporary religious practices first emerged through a succession of spiritual masters beginning around 2,500 years ago, those practices were entirely relational in nature. Relationship with the self, with history and tradition, with the community and one another, and relationship with God.
If we are all truly connected on a level we cannot see, what occurs along that connection? Collaboration is the only thing which comes to mind. Communication. Deliberation. Evaluation, perhaps intuitively misinterpreted as judgement. What does happen behind the green curtain? Whatever It is, that’s what I choose to call “God.” That is the ‘you’ whom I address.
Returning then to our prayer, thank you for everything, the “you” is subjective. It is your call. It is your choice. It can refer to the traditional God, if that is your preference. Or “you” may refer to the winds or the earth. “You” may even refer entirely to the self. Pray at least to your own ears, they are listening. And if there’s anything else listening, if there truly is a connection between us all, you would be the most direct route to the greater ear and heart of all existence.
The purpose of the prayer is to experience gratitude through having something upon which to direct it. Though some may disagree, It doesn’t matter to where that gratitude is directed, but that it is directed somewhere. Verbalizing gratitude, experiencing the value of the words ‘thank you’ and meaning them, is the whole point. We anthropomorphize God because Its easier to talk to that way.
Your personal definition of what “you” means is important to determine. Everyone should know, and not be afraid of questioning, their own personal viewpoint about the nature of the ultimate reality. What do you believe? This question is clearer for those who are comfortably religious. For the rest, it is important to note that it is not a question about religion. It is about knowing, and having spent some time thinking about what you believe is the truth. Direct your gratitude to that.
If we are to be thankful for life and for this world as a part of our daily practice, we must also be thankful for its potential to solve the problems we face. Our creativity is not limited to warfare and destruction. I am thankful for that.
It is said that God exists in the face of our neighbor. I believe this is true. And if the network of all reality is also true, then the face of my neighbor isn’t just a conduit to God, but the only conduit at all.
In my book, I believe the “you” is you.

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