What’s God Have to Do With It?

I recently gave a talk at the Ryerson United Church, a place renouned for it’s progressive congregation. Although I am not a Christian, I dig Jesus Christ – He was most definitely a Fierce Love revolutionary. However, I am deeply saddened by the atrocities that have been committed in His name. Even yesterday, a doctor was murdered by a fundamentalist Christian. Can you imagine JC killing someone who disagreed with him? I don’t think so.

But a tremendous amount of good has also been done in the name of the Prince of Peace, and I’ll take goodness wherever I can find it. We need people of all walks of life, of all faiths, and non-faiths, to come together now, and work towards a future of harmony and sustainability. The time for division, for us and them – ing, has come to an end. It’s time for unity. Which does not mean sameness! Unity is strengthened by diversity.

I actually quite enjoyed talking to a congregation of spiritually focused, socially conscious people, even if most of the rituals didn’t have a resonance for me. Because I felt an authentic celebration of community, an authentic celebration of Love, and an authentic love of God.

I don’t use the G word that often, because it has been so abused and confused and misused in todays society. Some would prefer to just skip it altogether. When I do use it, I tend to write “G~d,” because that leaves some of the mystery intact.

G~d is not an old man with a white beard sitting on a cloud. G~d is not mean, judgmental or short tempered. G~d is not a human being, with all our limitations and emotions.

But G~d is something I sense, I feel, I Know, and I value. G~d offers me a sense of higher meaning – G~d for me is the totalility of all that is, was and ever will be, the “I Am” that shines behind the small me, the vast Field that connects everything, and the sum total of those connections. The source of it all.

I communicate with G~d all the time, and in fact, when I’m running a little ragged, when I’m pushing myself a little too hard, all I need to do to recharge deeply is to pause for a breath or two, center myself, and invite the divine in. Reconnect with my highest calling, my highest motivation, the source.

My understanding is rooted in a direct connection, a direct Knowing, or “gnosis.” It is not something I have read about or heard about, or speculate about. It is intrinsic to who I am, a constant wellspring of Love that brings meaning, celebration, and endless reservoirs of positive energy to my life. For me, G~d is the life force herself, G~d is Love herself.

At the end of our discussion, the minister at the United Church asked me if there was anything I wanted to add, and I thought for a moment, and said, “I’d just like to say the word God out loud, because so often, in my public life, I don’t use that word, because I don’t want to be misunderstood. So let me just say it now, three times: God, God, God. Yay!!!”

It felt good to say God. It’s a word that has to be reclaimed from all who misuse it, from the George Bush’s and the Jimmy Swaggerts, from the Jihadists and the fundamentalists of every creed.

But a relationship with G~d is not for everyone, and is not a necessary part of spirituality. You can get by fine without it – there are other ways to find meaning. The debate over the “existence of G~d” can become a smokescreen and an energy sucking diversion, and for that reason, I don’t engage in the debate. It’s enough just to Love- yourself, each other, and this planet. If we could just start from there, everything else will fall into place.

The Urge to Manifest

altar

It goes something like this…

First, I just was.  A void of pure potential.  Shunyata. Emptiness – but pregnant with possibility.  I had this deep, unspoken urge to manifest…you know the feeling. One thing lead to another, which lead to another and before you know it, I was over the edge: it was the Big Bang, the Big “Ohhhh” , the Divine Orgasm…and I let out a moan that was long and low and deeeeeeep – way below the range of human ears – this Kosmik boooooooming sound wave that slowed and thickened and transformed slowly – oh you don’t know nothin’ bout how slow I can go – slowly into matter. Slow – like a few billion years slow – a time  of birthing galaxies, exploding stars, spiral nebulae, black holes, fiery intensity, and burgeoning solar systems.  Me became We, a multiple orgasm of complexification and diversification that keeps on coming and coming with no end in sight. 

Recently, this little blue planet called earth popped out of the Kosmik womb. This I of the great Me was a quiet baby, for a long long time.  But finally, I caught my breath, found some air molecules, then  some of My H’s found an 0 and voila – I had my blood.  The first oceans were a sexy soup.  Slowly rock turned to flesh.

Way late in the game, those early twinkling splashes of stardust turned into human beings. I began to awaken into consciousness.   I disovered spirit. I discovered matter.  The two went hand in hand like lovers, and I revelled in this manifest realm, I worshipped Her as a Goddess, as a Lover.  Good times!!!

Then a new kid on the block arrived, a part of Me named Christ, and at first everything He said jived with what I knew.      But a short blink of an eye later I lost Him to dogma and digression, and I was severely dissapointed.   Huh, we’re original sinners? What, pleasure is bad? Wait – you’re saying I can’t talk to God by Myself any more? And you’ll kill me if I beg to differ?  Weird.   Scary. Disturbing.

Tired of the churchy hyporcrisy,  my ancestors became Mennonites, a pacifistic utopianistic tightly knit religious community that was trying to live by the true core tenets of Christ’s teachings, rejecting the excesses of what they saw as a corrupted Christian faith and a violent culture at large, refusing to take part in war and bloodshed.  

When the Dutch government asked them to go to war they refused, and to avoid forced service they moved to the shores of the Caspian Sea. They lived in peace for several hundred years, maintaining their isolation and their ideals, until again they were told that they would have to kill. This time they moved, en masse, to the New World: Canada.

My grandmother was raised in Alberta in the strict Mennonite fashion. And as usual with my peeps, she was a trouble maker.  She didn’t like the patriachal structure of the religion. She especially resented the fact that as a girl she was not allowed to ice skate. She left as soon as she could, on the arms of a ne’er do well from down south named Missouri Jack.   She raised her eight children without any religion.

In the late fifties the religious void was filled when, one by one, my family became Bahai’s. Baha’u’ll’ah, the founder of the faith, taught that humanity is undergoing a process of spiritual evolution, similar to the growth of an individual. We are in a state of adolescence, albeit a stormy one, but Bahai’s possess an unshakable belief that we will make it through to global maturity, to a time of global peace. They believe we are on the verge of a great leap in consciousness that will bring humanity to a future where, ‘world peace is not only possible, but inevitable.’

As a child I was deeply committed and pious, a little holy roller, which culminated in a pilgrimage to the Baha’i holy city of Haifa, Israel, when I was nine. But as a teenager I found that I was unable to embrace a single wholesale program. One tenet of the faith is ‘the independent investigation of truth.’ You need to come to your own understanding of truth, instead of just following the path of least resistance, succumbing to the pressures of family or culture. So I left, to ‘independently investigate truth.’

Today, I realize that I will never belong to a single belief system. What I look for are the universal truths,the mystic heart, and I do my very best to live by these truths. I believe the true heart of the sacred is accessible to us all,not just for the experts.  We can all be “mystics without monasteries” if we so desire.

Alongside my spiritual investigation, from a very young age I had a strong sense of social responsibility, and all my life have been an active agent of change, on the front lines of the planet, working as a media activist.

But like many people, my two sides – political and spiritual – have been deeply divided. In progressive circles, there has long been a deep distrust of religion, that opiate of the masses, which has been used and abused in the name of power and domination. It takes tremendous courage to ‘come out of the closet as a spiritual person’ in the activist world.

On the spiritual side, there has long been a distrust of politics, with it’s biting cynicism and tendency to focus on the negative. In the extreme, there is a belief that this world is an illusion, a place of sin and temptation, and the best we can do is get the hell out, as fast as we can, to that pie in the sky when we die, however you might envision it. I have to wonder: 14 billion years of evolution, so we can simply transcend it all? Hmmm….

Today, I feel that the need to merge the power of action with the depth of spirit is urgent, crucial, in fact, the direction we need to go if we want to have any hope of coming through the “Great Turning” with our precious small blue planet intact. But I dream of much more than survival – I dream of utter transformation.

I try my best to live my truth, to build true power from within, so that all my actions come from a place of deep, deep authenticity. The means are the ends. Transformation begins this very moment, not in some distant future. It is personal, it is political, it is spiritual, it is global. The journey begins with this very breath.

– Velcrow Ripper
Toronto Island, Canada
www.fiercelight.org