I jumped out of a plane yesterday. I felt it was something I’d like to do at least once in my life. Oddly enough, the experience reminded me of being in the hospital 11 years ago to have my brain tumor excision. I would be told upon awakening that the tumor was not removed, but rather was tested in the operating room. As the tumor was found to be a Germinoma, I would begin radiation treatment soon after. Either way, yesterday’s ride in the plane up into the sky felt an awful lot like awaiting surgery. I decided on the day of my surgery to give any power I felt I had over to God. This release of control happened again as we climbed into the sky yesterday. It is in our nature to attempt to avoid pain. I decided, no matter what logic said about the act, I was going to be at peace with it. And I was. Statistics say 1 in 100,000 die while parachuting. Odds that I would live were high. Still, reviewing statistics and jumping out of a plane are two very different activities. Sitting on the edge with one’s feet resting just outside the plane, one’s survival instincts say, “Danger!”. But faith says there is no need to fear. In the case of the jump yesterday, I had faith in the skydiving professional attached to me. I did as he said when he said without questioning it. I did as my doctor said when he said during the tumor experience. And I smiled the entire time I fell. The 20 or so year-old attached to me asked often for reassurance: How was I? Was I having fun? As we glided back to the earth, I quietly reassured him with each question: Yeah. I’m good.
Thunder and lightning were once thought to be creations of the gods. In fact, in many polytheistic cultures, there were gods of thunder: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_thunder_gods. It would seem common for our race to assign magical properties to that which we do not understand. The great power of these natural occurrences could inspire anyone with faith in that which we cannot see and without the understanding of the science behind these phenomena to look for a supernatural explanation. According to Google, “Lightning is an electric current. Within a thundercloud way up in the sky, many small bits of ice (frozen raindrops) bump into each other as they move around in the air. All of those collisions create an electric charge. After a while, the whole cloud fills up with electrical charges.” and “Thunder is the sound caused by lightning. Depending on the distance and nature of the lightning, thunder can range from a sharp, loud crack to a long, low rumble (brontide). The sudden increase in pressure and temperature from lightning produces rapid expansion of the air surrounding and within a bolt of lightning”. With this understanding, many of us lose the need for the seemingly magical explanations of polytheism.
Still, there is much we don’t understand about our world. Not the least of these uncertainties is what happens to us when we die. For many of us, faith in a higher power is means to faith in an enjoyable after life. This provides a sense of ease. If we can expect an enjoyable afterlife, then we can feel at ease about dying. Well this works fine in theory. Still, many who claim to hold faith in and even knowledge of a joyous afterlife tend to treat death with a less than welcoming attitude. The truth is, as much as we may lie to ourselves about our understanding of death, very few of us have actually done it. As a species who tend to learn via personal history, we still know very little about what happens to us when our physical bodies stop functioning. But this kind of faith is a product of fear. Some denominations insist we can only avoid a negative experience after death by having faith. This would seem like intentional manipulation. It uses fear of the unknown to inspire faith.
Take this for what it is, one perspective among the sea of perspectives on this topic. If God created all and God is understanding and loving, then Hell is the product of human fantasy. This doesn’t mean we can be bad to each other without fear of repercussion. It means we can be good to each other without fear of repercussion. Fear inspires us to be bad to each other. Fear inspires us to kill each other. Fear says we are the Star Bellied Sneetches, that we are the only correct and that this grants us God’s favor. But this fear-based faith is not the product of the loving deities presented in the World’s major religions. To me, God is the energy that animates us and ties us together. God is the electricity that causes things of our world to move. God is thunder and lightening.
And if, for some reason, your parents neglected you and you didn’t catch the Dr. Seuss reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBCUkdd57qc
I’m hesitant to speak from a perspective of absolute knowledge on any topic. It is my understanding that absolute knowledge regarding any aspect of existence is rather difficult to obtain. At the same time, I recognize that human interaction often involves speaking from this perspective in spite our ability to know things about our world. We tend to attempt to place absolute attributes on most things in our world in an effort to feel as though we have a greater understanding and, therefore, may more readily control these things. It is this desire to define the abstract, the uncertain, in absolutes that has inspired the various interpretations of aspects of our world.
Understanding now that personal history may define my perspective and that my personal history is constantly changing, I can only speak from a place of personal truth. To me, the following is absolutely true. This does not mean it is universally true or that contrary perspectives are inaccurate. All we know for certain is that energy exists. Our experience of our world is the product of energy. If our only understanding of our world is directly the result of our experience of it, then energy creates our world. It is my understanding that God is this energy. God creates our world and, simultaneously, is our world. God is that divine spark within us all and within every living thing. Various interpretations of the evidence may say God is one very specific thing or that God commands we live in a certain way. But these are attempts at defining the abstract in the 3 dimensions we best understand.
We can know God’s will by recognizing our own. Although we may harm each other, these actions are often the products of fear. Fear is couscous. Fear hoards resources for the self. Fear angers when one threatens it’s resources. But love behaves in just the opposite way. Love can save us from these human-made threats. Love’s energy expands, creating more resources, more energy, more love. Fear’s energy is limited. It constricts, eliminating the path, and killing the life. But both kinds are contagious. Fear enslaves us and inspires bad choices. When we attempt to see the world through eyes of love, our desires will only benefit humanity.
But even as we hurt each other and ourselves, we are behaving in accordance with our nature and, therefore, are perfectly flawed in our actions. We are exactly who we are supposed to be, because no other version of us has ever existed. Time is not a line, as we sometimes like to think. Every action we have or will engage in has already happened from a divine perspective. Without knowledge of what may come, we may still recognize the divinity in our actions and the actions of others. God is within us all and all around us.