The Word ‘God’
Swami Satchidananda is one of my all time favorite teachers… old time, to the point, mind shifting, loving simple and pure.
For me, one of the most helpful things he suggested is that since the word ‘God’ is so charged for most of us, whenever we read it, substitute the words ‘Peace’ or ‘Love’ or ‘Deep Quiet Joy’. Whatever the word is that feels like that deep thing for you.
This changed my understanding of so many writings from the Bhagavad Gita to Jesus’ words in the New Testament. It’s very interesting re-reading what I was brought up with as a child without a church telling me what it all means. A mega 360!
By adulthood, many people have grown beyond the picture that there is a big judgmental man in the sky running us like puppets. And in the process many of also grew away from the churches where we first learned about this entity called ‘God’. Even though I’m saying this, I will also say I am happy I had my Catholic upbringing. It made it clear to me early on that there was importance to the inner life as well. I am also happy I outgrew it and had the desire to deepen my understandings. Different viewpoints for different ages. Evolution.
If we did grow up with the model of a God with a judgmental nature, there ended up being something fear or guilt based around the word ‘God’. Yet despite that, many of us still simultaneously maintained a love for something we had connected with in our early years through our churches.
Because of this duality, we ended up internally split since the fear, guilt and resulting sense of unworthiness didn’t go along with the loving presence we FELT at times underneath it all. We could feel something was there but we did not have a name for it. ‘God’ was somehow entangled with unworthiness and guilt.
Decades later, as suggested by Swami Satchidananda, the simple shift in words from ‘God’ to naming my own experience of God freed me from that internal split. This helped me understand differently.
I began understanding that the force we call ‘God’ cannot be conceptualized or codified into words our human minds can understand. It’s too big. Even all the words here are just an attempt to point in the direction because words cannot fully describe experiences. The way a really good hug feels from the person you love the most pales when we try to describe it in words. You have to be in it to know it.
And ‘God’ is an experience not a sterile idea. So words and models are incredibly minimizing. You have to be in it to know it. It is a state of being, a FEEL.
And we’ve all had those moments when we just knew everything was alright. We may have had a moment of feeling the deep down beauty of life during a peak experience in our lives, a moment when something really hard was happening or during really regular moments. We’ve all been in the experience many times. All that happened is that for a moment our typical mind stuff stopped and we really saw what was right in front of us and felt what was right within us.
‘God’ is the underlying grace, nature and life force that causes the universe to vibrate at an atomic level. It creates, sustains life and allows life to pass when it’s time. It has always been with us and never leaves us even in death because, on every level, energy is never created nor destroyed. It just continually shape shifts through endless cycles that have beginnings, middles and endings.
As soon as our minds simmer down with the repetitive stories and crazy talk, that felt sense of knowing is right there. With us always. Everything about any yoga, spiritual, meditation or relaxation practice is learning to walk with that sense more and more often, living with more deep ease.
That’s the whole point. To find that sense and walk FEELING that it’s all always been right here. And it’s not going anywhere. It’s everlasting.