It's been a steady substitution. The less I've filled myself with organized religion, the more I've felt a ever-increasing sense of wonder.
I guess I needed to empty myself of theological beliefs, faith-based concepts, and imaginary anticipations of a promised divinity around the corner in order to become much more aware of the Wow! that is right here, right now.
Existence. Life. Consciousness. The amazing fact that we are, that the cosmos is.
There's nothing more divine (in the sense of "tasty," as in "that chocolate cake was divine") than this sense of all-encompassing wonder. It isn't a wonder caused by this or that -- the Grand Canyon, a gorgeous woman, moonlight on a still lake -- but the simple stark realization that this, that, and everything exists.
My favorite Wonder Book is, not surprisingly, "The Way of Wonder" by Jack Haas. When I feel the need for an increased dose of wonder, I'll pick up this (sorry...) wonderful book.
A few years ago I shared some quotes from "The Way of Wonder" on the theme of how the churchless have more faith than true believers. Here's some passages that I re-read this morning from Part I of Haas' book.
All is magnificent. All is marvelous. All is mysterious.
We live in a world of impossibility, implausibility, and awe. We look, we see, we wonder. We experience the sudden opening to the inexplicable vastness, the weirdness, the overwhelming profundity, the utter miracle and magic of life, of ourselves, and of all that is.
...'Wonder' is the open freedom of the pure mind -- the first and last pillar upon which the castle of the Spirit is built. It is the beginning and the end, the home and the journey there.
...'Wonder,' then is the moment when the answerless questions of the universe become not only fully obvious, but electrifying; it is the point where the individual is released from the limiting possibility that life is knowable, and the mind is cut free from the cognitive fetters which enclose it.
...I am not here suggesting that we revert to a world community of idle idiots; it is not that we must give up the mind, as such, but only the assumption of 'understanding' what we are, what life is, and how we must therefore live it. For true living asks only one thing of us -- to live. And we cannot do this in the boxes of mind: neither in the physical, nor in the metaphysical worlds.
...Interpretation, then, is a covering over the great bewildering immensity; a shell the turtle constructs around itself, to hide and blind itself within; a blanket, pulled between the child and darkness, blocking out the ubiquitous unknown.
...The calm depths cannot be attained on the tempestuous surface. Without words, without labels, the world becomes naked and bare of the veil obscuring its authenticity, and though this effect is discomforting to the mind which requires things in little boxes, to the individual who has come to appreciate the value of 'innocent looking,' so to speak, he or she finds that the world comes to make more sense ...because it makes less sense.
...The more we look into ourselves with sedulous, blank honesty, the more we lose the words we were given to describe ourselves; and the more we step out of our everyday habits and perceptions, the more we realize we have no clue about ourselves, except that we suddenly become a greater and greater mystery continually, at every moment. That is when we begin to see ourselves truly.
...I am pointing to the natural outcome of honest perception, which leads to the realization of incomprehension, which leads to awe, which leads to life. Wonderment is simply the initial gust, the shock that occurs when all the lenses are cleared -- the inaugural, flabbergasting startlement that 'what is' IS!
...And so the essential re-cognition is that there is nothing to solve, because ...there is no problem; the problem is the search for a solution. For if we use the mind as a way out, we shall be 'way out' but we shall have escaped nothing but ourselves. We must simply acknowledge that there is nowhere to go, there is nothing to do, and there is no knowledge to know. We need only just 'be', and revel intimately in the eternal now mystery of being.