God has become too big for me. So has heaven. Along with more scientific notions like ultimate reality.
No longer do I have an idea about what super-consciousness would be like. Or how merging my supposed soul with a supposed all-pervading Oneness would change things for me.
Along with other religious true believers, I used to have some pretty damn grandiose spiritual plans.
I was going to save my soul. I was going to meet God in heaven -- maybe in this very life! I was going to know divine truths that few people on earth had a clue about. I was going to be liberated from sin through the intervention of a God-man who had been sent by the Lord to take care of me.
Me. Me. Me.
The longer I believed in this massive, huge, transcendent, illusion-shattering stuff, the larger I became. All of the faithful followers I knew did.
We felt that we were special, destined for much greater things than the rest of humanity, part of a few lucky sheep who were fortunate enough to be singled out by God to follow a shepherd back to the Big Green Grassy Meadow in the sky (or higher region of reality).
Grandiosity was fun for a while. But it got to be a strain, all the pretending that I was someone different than the person I knew myself to be.
Who was ordinary. Human. Puny in comparison to the cosmos. Imperfect.
At times I still enjoy a bit of way-out-there philosophizing. I haven't completely surrendered my long-held fantasy that before I die, Everything (whatever the heck that is) will become clear to me. Or at least semi-transparent.
But what's meaningful to me now is much smaller than before.
Leaving God out of my meaning-equation has resulted in a sum that is considerably humbler. Yet I've found that less is more when it comes to living a satisfying life. Less conceptualizing, imagining, fantasizing, theologizing, and blind faith'ing leaves me more rooted in solid lowly ground.
Before, when I did chores around the house, often I'd pretend that this was some sort of service to a higher power. That made me into someone important, a guy working for the Big Man Upstairs.
Yesterday, on a cold and rainy Oregon afternoon, I distributed the eleven bags of organic fertilizer that had been sitting in our carport. It took me several hours to toss an appropriate amount of manure-smelling fertilizer under the drip zone of countless (almost) plants in our non-easycare yard.
I just did it. I didn't make a special deal out of it. I didn't visualize spreading fertilizer as anything other than what it was: spreading fertilizer.
No destiny was unfolding. No karma was being cleared. No service to some divinity was being performed. No ego loss was occurring.
In every waking moment, there is something to be done, even if that is "do nothing." Making those moments meaningful doesn't involve bringing in something from outside -- some metaphysical, spiritual, religious, mystical, or philosophical teaching/ concept/ abstraction.
I've found that simply attending to what is right before me, here and now, is more satisfying than trying to create a layer cake of extra meaningfulness by adding on all sort of extra dogma-frosting.
Wrapping a birthday present for my granddaughter this morning, life felt complete. Finding a box for it. Picking out some paper. Cutting it to fit best I could. Folding the paper over the box. Taping it down (rather messily). Adding some ribbons and a bow.
There are moments -- maybe they could be every moment -- when I feel, "This is as good as it gets; there's nothing more than this."
No God needed. No theology needed. No vast plan for my life, and afterlife, needed. Just this. Spreading fertilizer. Wrapping a present. Just this.
I say, Amen!!! to that pastor.
Posted by: tAo | April 05, 2010 at 08:30 PM
I think enlightenment has attained you!!
Posted by: Bob | April 05, 2010 at 08:52 PM
Bob, you must be right! The fact that I feel so ordinary now obviously means that I'm enlightened -- first there is a mountain, then there isn't, then there is. I'm back to the is-ness of "nothing special" after passing through the isn't-ness of "speciality."
Makes sense to me. Sort of.
Posted by: Brian Hines | April 05, 2010 at 09:40 PM
Beautiful. Simply beautiful. No whys..just beautiful
Posted by: Alexis | April 06, 2010 at 11:51 AM
This is it. Really, really simple; but our figuring-it-all-out minds hate that simplicity.
Posted by: Suzanne | April 06, 2010 at 11:41 PM
A great post !
NOW is all that is, all that matters.
Posted by: Many Splits - Tara | April 09, 2010 at 12:20 AM
Thank you for that post! I i enjoyed it very much! I see myself in it.
Posted by: Peter | April 23, 2010 at 12:23 AM