Fighting the G Word

In my deep faith lives extreme doubt. They are two sides to a coin that would not be true or complete without one another. There is no front without a back. As I sat in meditation this morning, focusing on the phrases of Buddhist lovingkindness – “may all beings feel happy, may all beings feel safe, may all beings feel healed in body, mind and spirit” – my meditation shifted to the notion of whether there is a deity, as my Judaism professes, or not a deity, as the Buddhism I love and take such comfort in concludes.

Does it really matter? If the reality of God is totally unknowable, yet we act with love and compassion and faith in something larger, better and all-inclusive, do we need to have a specific notion of a specific God? After all, this is what inevitably leads to conflict and strife when we can’t all agree on who or what that might be.

My ultimate faith has always been in the ineffable mystery of existence, the fact that some larger organizing principle is at work. It is the very life force that allows things to exist or not from moment to moment. It is what drew me to Taoism when I first learned of it, and helped me become a kabbalist when I learned that the ultimate expression of the creative force in those teachings was the Ain Sof or Infinite Everything/Nothingness; It precedes and creates the God of the Bible or the limited expression of God in any earthbound faith.

As I drift back and forth between feeling certain there is a God and then less certain in the face of conflict and confusion, I find myself wrestling with the various words that are used for this deity. And that’s often where the trouble ensues – when we name things, we forget that the name is a pointer to an ultimate mystery and not a definitive end point. It is that way with other humans as it is for the larger relationship with the Divine Mystery – we mistake the naming of Michael or Rachel as telling us everything we need to know about that person.

And what a much bigger mistake that is when it comes the ultimate unknowable mystery that is the very base of our existence! When we call it God, we think we know something about it that keeps us from staying open to the unknown. It’s a name that has been hijacked, overused, abused, debased, sanctified and vilified. It holds so much charge, both positive and negative, for people from every walk of life and on every continent, that it can easily take away from the Thing itself, which is the force that infuses everything and everyone with aliveness.

There are times when I am contemplating my essence, making a conscious connection to the creative force and holding a concept of ‘God’ within me – and then confusion comes in. But when I connect directly to the Mystery, the Infinite Source of All-That-Is, calm follows. It is sometimes better to rest within the question than to grasp for a clear answer…