Posted by: Lisa | July 15, 2011

Conceiving of God

Whether or not a person believes in God, I think it’s human nature to create mental images of God.  Is it even possible to conceive of God without imagining some kinds of physical attributes?

John and I talk about God every day.  On our first date, in the middle of a deep, spiritual conversation, I blurted, “Do you believe in God?”

His response:  “I’ve always believed in a Supreme Being, but I have trouble with some old guy with a long, gray beard floating around the sunsets with a clipboard writing down every time I say the ‘F’ word.”

Ha!  I couldn’t blame him.  Who can relate to such a God?  Who would even want to?

But it’s human nature to try to put the indescribable, the inconceivable, into a form that can be understood on some level.  Although I do believe that humans are created “in the image of God,” I don’t take that concept literally.  God doesn’t have a human body like us.  (Well, for Christians, Jesus is God in human form.)  Yes, God is a “Person” – but not in the way we usually define the term.  Yes, God is “energy” – but not like any energy we know in this world.

Even speaking of God is challenging.  Many people are offended by the use of the pronoun “He.”  Technically, of course, God is not a “He” – nor a “She.”  Not even an “It.”  So for simplicity’s sake, we refer to God and “His” creation, “His” qualities.  Why be offended?

The essential point is this:  Whatever we can possibly conceive about God is going to be incorrect or incomplete.  As soon as we think we’ve pinned down our concept, we need to step back and acknowledge what’s missing.  Since this turns into a never-ending game, mystics in every spiritual tradition have tried to get around the problem by saying God is “nothing.”  Meditating on that can be very powerful!

At this point in my spiritual journey, I choose to “define” God as Light and Love.  I also experience Him as Peace and Joy.  What are your conceptions of God?

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Responses

  1. What is God? I have know idea. I believe most of what a person’s spiritual beliefs about a supreme being are learned from a very early age. (or at least puts them into a mindset to accept faith) I had no teachings of a god or a religion. At this point it is very difficult to believe. But I do not struggle with this. I have beliefs and philosophies about life that have developed through life experience. I haven’t felt a loss as of yet. I do wonder sometimes how to teach my children about religion because I don’t want them to be clueless or disrespectful (sometimes lack of knowledge is looked down on by other people) when the subject come up among peers.

  2. Indeed, childhood is very influential in our spiritual lives. I have a Jewish friend who is married to a Christian and has no idea how to raise the children. I suggested raising them in one faith but also teaching them the beliefs of the other. To me, it’s only fair for children to be taught from different angles – especially as they get older. Yet, as an adult, we still have choices about our spiritual lives. We are never locked into what we’ve been taught as children. If we sense an emptiness within ourselves, then we should start looking around for ways to understand what’s missing. There are so many excellent, classic spiritual books out there in every tradition. All we have to do is explore with an open mind! It’s fun!

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