February 28, 2011 § Leave a comment
In this Blog’s first Post, “What’s With God Rides the Bus?”, I shared a prayer written for others who may be in need – either materially, spiritually, or both. I’ve penned another, again based on my experience riding the bus. This prayer and my explanation thereof can help to further expand upon the title of this Blog – “God Rides the Bus”.
The event which inspired the prayer consisted of an auto accident, resultant gridlock traffic, an angry bus driver, and distraught fellow bus riders. Admittedly, I was initially a bit dismayed with the situation and obvious fact that I would be significantly late getting home. But the matter was completely out of my hands. Therefore, I tried to submit to the outcome. Alongside my acceptance occurred the thought that I need to better trust in God’s Will. I had previously recognized that expectations of self, others, and events must go. Not only was the situation somehow an unfolding of God’s Providence, but I was a part of it, albeit seemingly inconsequentially. Additionally, I arrived at the insight that regardless of where I was or what I was doing, God too was present. And in that sense, I was exactly where I needed to be.
The prayer helps to remind myself that I’m not in control – God not only rides the bus; he drives it. Thus, I need to strip away all expectations and have faith in His Will. My perspective is changing with respect to unforeseen events, once thought of as inconvenient setbacks. Instead, I now try to view these as opportunities to identify ways that I can be of service, rid myself of expectations and attachment to outcomes, to be more patient, to trust in God, and to continually remind myself of His Presence.
God, where I am, You Are.
My needs are met;
Your Will fulfilled.
Where I am, You Are.
In thoughts of You
my mind is still.
Where I am, You Are.
Glory to Your Name;
Praise be to You.
February 25, 2011 § Leave a comment
My once exclusive reliance on reason in pursuit of truth has given way to a more balanced approach incorporating faith. This now consists of first assenting to truths of faith followed by their rational evaluation to more fully understand. This paradigm shift is still very much a work in progress. While I feel that my new approach has allowed me to become more comfortable with faith and has assisted on my path towards truth, my tendency nonetheless remains to fall back on reason even in cases when its limits are clearly reached. Recognizing this, I understand my need to continue to develop and utilize faith and ask for God’s assistance with my doing so.
Springing that idea into action, I have written a couple of prayers to help bolster my faith. My aims in doing so are twofold: 1.) to ask that God continue to open my mind and heart to the ways and truths of faith and 2.) to appeal to Him to continue to bless me with the ability to understand these truths.
God, thank you for the
opportunity to know You.
Though grateful for Your
Gifts of Reason and Understanding,
I realize that I am limited
in comprehension of Your Being.
Therefore, I humbly ask that
You bless me with faith so that
I may understand.
For through faith and understanding,
I may better serve Your Will.
God, thank you for Your Gifts
of Faith, Reason, and Understanding.
I realize that
my knowledge of Thee
is and will forever be incomplete
because of my limitations
I understand that which
is necessary to fulfill
my purpose in life – to Love.
But where reason
falls short in comprehension
of Your Divine Being
and because my
self is divided,
please reveal to me
whatever else is necessary
to fulfill Your Will
and experience Union with You.
February 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
Just how is it, as some say, that “God is Love”? Ascribing anthropomorphic attributes to God, such as the emotion of Love, doesn’t seem sensical. It appears naïve to suppose that God, the All-Mighty, Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, whose works display design, intelligence, and purpose, would feel, express, or manifest such an entirely irrational feeling. Admittedly, Love is a great thing – it allows us to shed of our self-centered perceptions of people and things, thereby providing for the impetus to be of service to others. But Love doesn’t seem to be the underlying and governing principle of the world – what about rational qualities like Equality, Justice, and Truth? These appear to be values that God as Divine Intellect would more likely rely upon in his Creation, Sustenance, and Guidance of the world.
Of course, this skeptical viewpoint equates God with Mind, which is not entirely accepted by everyone. For some truly believe that God is Love. They point out God’s Mercy and Grace. These are generally believers through faith, not reason. But are the two approaches compatible on this point? Like other spiritual questions I am beginning to try to answer, I believe that they are. Of course, I initially approached the matter from a rational standpoint alone. But to my surprise, the conclusion reached was, in fact, that God is Love.
In this Blog’s prior “Introduction” Page, I mentioned that after becoming comfortable with belief in the existence of God, I then determined the next big question to address was why? He Created. Certainly this wasn’t to derive any benefit to Himself. As Unlimited and Perfect Being, He lacks nothing and, therefore, desires and seeks nothing. I concluded instead that God’s Purpose for Creating was simply to be known. This was a huge breakthrough for me as it provided an answer to the age old question of “What is the meaning of life?”. This was great progress but I was immediately faced with the next obvious question of “How do I know God?”.
It is possible to know God in several different ways. First, I can know Him in the sense that I understand what are God’s Attributes and Qualities and what these mean. This I dubbed the “Quantitative Approach” as it addressed purely the factual and armed me with no useful or practical knowledge to help determine right living or a way of life (see Introduction). For example, the theistic view of God is that, among other attributes and qualities, He is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent. God is also described as Merciful and Just. These descriptions are awe-inspiring and rightfully garner my reverence and respect. But they seem to be the realm of knowledge for knowledge’s sake. What I was more concerned with was what this knowledge meant to establishing and developing my purpose in life – to know God. This represented my “Qualitative Approach” in that it addressed the existential and required me, based on His Attributes and Qualities, to respond with certain thoughts and actions in daily life. For example, and as mentioned previously, when considering the contingency and non-necessity of Creation in general and my existence in specific, God’s Mercy is apparent. But for his Creative Power, nothing would exist. Yet God derives no benefit from His Act of Creation. This observation not only to calls for gratitude on my part, but obligates me, likewise, to act mercifully towards others. In this sense, coming to know God can be equated with thinking and acting God-like in emulation and imitation of Him. With my Quantitative and Qualitative framework in mind, and my focusing on the latter, it wasn’t long before I realized that striving to be God-like was, in a sense, “loving God”. He was the object of my thought and action; the goal of my pursuit of right action and living; the end of my being.
In what other sense might it be considered that God is Love? Expanding upon the idea that Creation is unnecessary and in no way benefits Him, it became clear that His Creative Act is manifested givingly, selflessly, and unconditionally. These qualities, I think, very accurately and succinctly summarize Love. God’s gift of Creation, Life, Family, Friends, and Opportunities establish Love as the foundation of my being. To think and act with this in mind is the only way to fulfill an authentic and meaningful existence consistent with God’s Will.
Another consideration concerning God’s as Love is mysticism and those who have had some type of direct experience of Him. Although not rational grounds for knowledge of God due to their subjective and irrational character, the qualities of these experiences can still be evaluated by reason. Unfortunately, I have never had such an experience but the consensus of those who have been so lucky is that one of their trademark characteristics is of an all-pervasive and unbounding feeling of Love. While also characterized as episodes of ineffable noetic Oneness, the most profound and life changing take-away of those who have had a direct experience of God is its Loving quality. The feelings of Love related by these individuals are commonly responsible for life altering personality changes due to a renewed perspective of the world and their reciprocal desire to act according to their new insights into the nature of reality. Thus, Love’s overwhelming presence and meaning as a part of mystical experience and its consequent impact on an individual’s actions should undoubtedly be given consideration when describing God as Love.
My rational handling of the idea that God is Love has led to my belief in the concept. When evaluated alongside my new-found faith in Christianity, I am encouraged that the conclusion is consistent regardless of the means employed. The cornerstone of Christianity is Love – God’s and Christ’s Love of me and I of them, Love of the Church, my Love of Family, Friends, and Love all of Creation as testament to the Creativity and Goodness of God. Regarding the concept that God is Love, I was able, through reason, to assent to its truth. This truth is consistent with that of faith, although I realize that it will sometimes be necessary to first believe faithfully before employing reason to more fully understand.
February 18, 2011 § Leave a comment
I acknowledge the irony of the conception. For how and why would God, an All-Mighty, Perfect, and Unlimited Being, choose to rely on public transportation? But setting aside the initial preposterousness of the idea, I know that He does. In fact, God has a bus pass.
Materially speaking, for the most part we bus riders are lacking. We don’t have the means to provide for our own transportation, among other things. But so the better for us. Because of our meager means, we are also unburdened by the distractions of affluence – car payments, maintenance, and insurance, not to mention imposing requests for rides from ungrateful family members and friends or the frustrating actions of other drivers. Tangents such as these aside, in addition to not being able to afford the amassing of needless possessions or engaging in idle entertainments, we are able to focus on our true purpose in life – to know God.
As a corollary to our material poverty, we are a spiritually poor lot as well. In some cases, our material failures have stemmed from a lack of spirituality and consequent choices of self-centeredness. In this sense, we are ripe for a change and represent opportunities for God to enter into and fulfill us. And because of our hardships and what we often find to be a lack of meaning and value in the world, we are inspired to seek God and a better way of life.
But opportunities for the fostering of a relationship with God aren’t the only ones which exist on the bus. The difficulties and struggles we sense amongst ourselves provide for opportunities as well – opportunities to think and act lovingly and be of service to others. This, in turn, leads to opportunities to pray for each other. With that said, below is a prayer which I penned for those I encounter who seem to be in need:
God, grant these people Your Love
and that of those amongst them;
provide that they receive
and feel this Love.
May they be acted towards
and act towards others
according to Your Loving Values of
Acceptance, Compassion, Forgiveness, and Understanding.
Provide them with opportunities to Love
and be of service to others.
In times of hardship and suffering
Bless them with calm, peace, and hope.
Bestow upon them knowledge of Your Will
and the strength to carry it out.