Belief

Over the last weeks, I have written a couple of blogs but not posted them. Something seemed missing or incomplete about them. The one entitle “Faith” came closest to what was/ is emerging. I have settled on the term ‘belief,’ often used synonymously with ‘faith,’ but not quite the same.

I have had some rather extraordinary experiences (or perhaps perceptions of experiences) in my life. I shared the tree hugging one and will eventually share some others. My understanding of what they mean can change over time. But I have not made them into defining moments. I do not worship my own experiences, make gods out of unusual people or events. I see no need to do so.

Since my involvement with Unity, and more specifically my practice as a prayer chaplain, I have been reading Unity and related books regarding principles and understandings of life, God, the universe and our place in it. This has brought up many thoughts and feelings, as well as memories of life events which I now view somewhat differently. These days I am also experiencing strong emotional reactions listening to certain music and hearing about some events, feelings that I really do not understand. Yet this feels right if confusing and scary at times.

A quote I have heard some Unity ministers use recently, and I read in the forward to Marianne Williamson’s book The Law of Divine Compensation, attributed to Albert Einstein, says: “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or a hostile universe.” I presume this means that if we believe things are negative, our perspective will be somewhat paranoid, prepared for and expecting the worst. If we believe that things are basically positive, then we will look for things to work out well. Yet what if it is neither? What if the universe we live in only becomes as positive or negative as we make it to be? Things will continue to happen that we like and do not like, but our attitude will determine how we react to it and how we allow it to affect how we feel and think.

Unity speaks of the One Power some call God, some the Universe or Spirit, that is both all connected and good. Do I believe in this? If yes, then I look to see the good in all that transpires, easy when things are going well, much more challenging when horrors happen. Seeking the Good I will eventually find it. Yet what if this unifying presence is just an illusion, something to find comfort in times of trouble? What if?

If God the Good is simply my imagination, a construct which makes me feel better, find the good in life, and act in ways that promote that good, what is wrong with that? The way I see it there is really only one choice. Seeing and seeking the good in life. From that what emerges is a positive life experience, and the conscious choice to add to the joy and caring for others and myself. Whether God the Good actually exists or is a product of hopeful construction it leads me to living a healthier, more moral, positive and constructive life. And with Unity at least, God is not some supernatural external power but the superior, creative aspect of ourselves which we share with all existence.

So, what do I believe? For me I have times of faith in God and times of doubt. Perhaps ironically, even my doubts continue to point me in the same direction of faith in the good and the growth that comes with it. I can see and feel the benefits of doing so, the joy that is added to my life, the sense of connection and growth.

So what, if anything, do you believe?

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5 Responses to Belief

  1. Steve Tanner says:

    I believe it is a shame that one of the by-products of science and technology has been to dissipate “imagination” into relative insignificance, as something of little value unless you design a great game or get work in the motion picture industry. It is by the power of imagination that the artificial world of humankind has been created. It is by the power of imagination that we can image things subtle and difficult to perceive with the physical senses, as well as creating something out of nothing. I believe it is the difficulty in differentiating one aspect of imagination from the other that causes us to doubt and relegate things to the category of “figments.”

    I believe in Dave Cooperberg. I have never met him, spoken to him, or shook his hand. This blog is the only manifestation of Dave Cooperberg that I have encountered. To some, this is little cause to believe in Dave Cooperberg; he could be a pseudo-persona that is (actually quite common in virtual reality) a figment of someone else’s “imagination!” Regardless, I believe in Dave Cooperberg (by any name) because there is still a spirit manifesting thoughts on this blog that are interesting and inspiring; just because I cannot see, touch, smell, taste or hear him does not mean he does not exist, does it?

    It is amazing that we can interact with so many people via the Internet these days that we cannot definitively prove the existence of (who may actually be hackers, perverts, or NSA operatives trying to create within us a false sense of security so they can exploit us), but then relegate important stuff to nothing more than an over-active imagination. We all have those days, though, and this post is evidence that Dave Cooperberg is human despite any doubts harbored by anybody.

    Thank you for being there, Dave (or whatever your real name may be.) I like reading your blog and ask that you do not stop publishing. The only part of you I actually encounter is a manifestation of your spirit, and I like it. I do not care if you are really a frustrated and wrinkled old woman, I read your blog because you are an interesting spirit or energy or whatever you want to call it. Just keep sharing your thoughts and enjoy the holidays, no matter how you celebrate them. Let the spirit move you.

    • Thank you Steve. It is strange putting something in a way so personal out in a public forum. Since the struggle for truth and meaning is one most people experience at least at times in their lives, I assume that some who read it will connect with my exploration. And I hope some find it as useful. Wrinkled old woman or not 😉

      • Steve Tanner says:

        Having moments of doubt and wonder are part of the struggle for truth and meaning. For that reason, I think it is good that you shared this. While I hoped to offer a little perspective on the subject, I must confess that my primary purpose was to make you laugh. I hope your last statement indicates that I succeeded.

  2. Jim Gordon says:

    I think “faith” is stronger than “belief.” One may believe something because it’s written in a book or because someone has said it, but one has faith in someone or something because past experience has taught that that person or thing can be relied upon, e.g. one has faith in a doctor who has shown that he really knows how to heal a patient.
    As far as the friendliness or unfriendliness of the Universe or Spirit, it’s a complicated situation. Animals have been capturing and devouring prey for millions of years, but the Universe or Spirit does now seem to care that this carnage and suffering has been going on for so long. And yet, the world’s mystics agree that they’ve experienced a Being of bliss and great intelligence as the substrate of all existence. And people who have had near-death experiences report they’ve encountered a loving, non-judgmental Being of Light whose presence they regret leaving. Does this mean that a compassionate Spirit has had only limited power throughout the history of the universe? Or does it mean that a compassionate Spirit is a late product of an evolving universe? It’s a difficult question to answer.

  3. Jim Gordon says:

    Typo correction: I meant to say ” the Universe or Spirit does not seem to care,” not “the Universe or Spirit does now seem to care.”

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