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Chuck's Thoughts on Religion and Spirituality

Lenny Bruce said almost 50 years ago now that, 'People are leaving religion and going back to God.'

Our daily choice is whether to include God in our goings-on or, like the growing child, to strike out on our own. The choice stays easy until there's trouble. Physical or emotional pain leads us back and then, before God can say 'Howdy', we start asking for help, embarrassed that we've been 'away'. I remember my grandpa saying that, 'Good-timing was making friends before you need them'. Whoever we may choose to call our God – Creator, Great Spirit, Higher Power, The Force, Allah, Jesus – it seems to me, that we must eventually come to terms with our choice, and agree to some sort of a co-creating partnership. In my experience, it's either that, or face insanity and addiction.

Just staying present in the existential terror of being alive, knowing how fragile we are, wears quickly on even the most disconnected pilgrim. Nor does making this choice seem to have anything to do with being one of the weak or the strong, the dumb or the smart. Our species' noblest and most powerful beings have walked this planet staying closely allied to their 'Higher Power'.

Having made a decision to turn our will over to a higher power, we begin to experience a little success, and we find ouselves even more frightened of success than we were of failure. In our mind's eye, we're over-whelmed by the scope of all that could be and that, being too hooked up to God, will be like trying to drink from a fire hydrant. At that point, it is textbook to turn to our 'mind' for our salvation.

Now even if you've only dabbled in meditation, you've probably found out that the mind, as the old saying goes, 'is a wonderful servant, and a terrible master!' Yet the dilemna persists... 'Shouldn't I use my mind, the gift God gave me, and not bother Him with the small stuff.' After all, as a storage, recall and calculation device, the brain's a great tool! But sometimes it's the worst of enemies, weaving fear into every fabric of my life, until I am making myself so small I can't reach the door. Oh, and it's great, how it supports my emotional survival, making up rooms-full of stories in which I can hide. But if I want to live full-range, bold and un-selfconscious, and enter a roomful of people, not trying to fit-in, but rather being the unique, one-of-a-kind 'me' that I am, I know that I can't do that while hooked on fear.

Fundamentalism is an especially 'hard sell' to pilgrims seeking happy lives here in America, and I don't believe it's because we're superficial and materialistic. We're just free-thinkers. The very nature of a free society demands that we think 'outside the box'. Almost ANYTHING could happen here, and frequently does. And yes, there may be some paths that serve us better than others, but there are no narrow paths to righteousness! Life is wide.

That said, I still like to stay out late with the 'Big Dogs', which is, for me, the heart of the matter. I get to choose. I get to choose how my spiritual landscape feels, smells, tastes, sounds and looks. And when I drive into the ditch, the wreck is it's own punishment. Come on, you Dads out there, God does't spank his 'kid' for riding down the rough side of the hill, and then falling off his bike, does He? I don't think so. Let's see, as co-creators and spiritual house-mates, would God rather live with us being gloomy and angry and afraid? Or does God want us happy? Uh, this is not rocket science. We aren't even in good health when we're unhappy. We are twisted, if we think God wants us to be sick.

We all know our country's history around pilgrims and religious freedom, and how we, as Americans, won't be MADE to believe in anything, unless we choose it. We may be guilted into it, but that wears off with personal success. We may be fooled into it, but that wears off with those uncomfortable questions from our 'non-believer' friends. We may be scared into it, but even fear goes away when we find humility, give up control, become willing to listen, and find out we don't have to work FOR God! We can work WITH the Universal Consciousness. And as co-creators, the better we get at it, the more responsibilty we're given. I think that's the point on the Path the Buddhists talk about where Time slows down, and every moment has the possibilty of being the completely unique moment that God intended it to be.

Wars, and rumors of war, just mean that the old ways are fast falling away, dying into new possibilities. If we are indeed expressions of God's perfection, then nothing will be asked of us that we can't handle, provided we are willing to power-share with our Creator. Today, through the tragedy of Sept 11th, we begin to see that the world is no longer 'them' or 'they', but 'us'. We are resuscitating the Global Heart. We have a chance to emerge seeing the world in a clearer way. For instance, that money is merely the means to happiness and truth and justice, not an end unto itself, and that we need to be aware of our corporations, the decisions they make abroad, and the pressure they bring to bear upon our polticians and military, in order to support those decisions.

I want to use the recent breakdown of old systems as a fuel for my imagination. I am imagining this planet's next step towards whole-ness, peace and understanding, is a step towards more political awareness. And I am imagining my next step towards inner whole-ness, peace and understanding is another step towards God. Then I will lift my gaze from my feet, knowing that my partnership with my Higher Power means that I already know the next step without having to study it.

Keep 'er steady