The truth is the one thing that nobody will
George Bernard Shaw
I talk to people about my wife, I never say, "I
believe my wife exists!". Instead, I talk
to them very concretely about her — her qualities,
what she did this week — and about our relationship
— how much her love and support means in my life,
It's something worth examining, then, when we find
one of the things we say most commonly in reference
to the Divine is: "I believe in God."
Let's really consider what that means!
I don't say, "I believe my wife exists."
I don't say, "I believe the sky is blue."
I don't profess belief in things that are tacitly
obvious to me. But I might say, "I believe
in freedom for all people." Or "I believe
we'll all make it through that hurricane that will
hit the coast tomorrow." Or "I believe Russell
Crowe will win the Oscar for Best Actor." Or
"I believe the economy will rebound in the next
What should become clear from these examples is that
"belief" is a word used to refer either
to something that is uncertain, or something
that is so intangible that it is difficult
to describe in concrete terms ("freedom for all
Now this is very curious — to discover that
when we say, "I believe in God", we actually
mean, "I'm not certain of the reality of God!"
or "God is not very tangible to me!". Not
least because this is probably the single phrase most
commonly used by people to describe their own relationship
to the Divine. And "religion" is generally
equated with "belief system".
Understanding this, we can see the real cause of
"holy wars": if you have a different belief
than I, and are actively promoting it, then I must
wipe you out, so as to reduce your influence, and
not increase doubt (either my own or that of
others) in my own belief.
If what we believed in were truly obvious and tangible
to us, we wouldn't need to eliminate the unbelievers.
If someone says, "No, the sky is green",
when it is obviously blue to us, we just laugh and
consider them a little daft. We only go the further
step of declaring a holy war when we ourselves are
already (though generally unconsciously) in doubt
about our own belief. If one blind person in a world
of blind people says "I believe the sky is green"
to someone who believes the sky is blue, they might
very well get into a fight over it, because neither
has ever seen the sky themselves.
Now if you are a "believer in God", perhaps
what I've written may bother you. But how certain
are you of the reality of God? Our certainty
can be measured concretely by what we do in response.
Some of the most impressive people who claimed the
direct experience of (and love for) God demonstrated
it through their actions. These men and women — the
stories can be found in every religious tradition
— devoted their entire lives to God: to the love of
God, to the glory of God, and to the service of God.
Some of them were able even to die and still proclaim
their tangible experience of God and love for God
while they were being subjected to every imaginable
mortal horror: being burnt at the stake, hung on the
cross, boiled in oil, etc. All of us who have loved
deeply — our intimates, our children, our parents,
dear friends — have a taste for what we do, if push
comes to shove, for those we love. But is God
on our list of loved ones? Is God that real to us?
Is God first on that list? If not, what kind
of "God" is it that we believe in and love?
I am by no means advocating that we intensify our
belief in God. What I am advocating is that
we find God for real. And I am advocating that
we find God now, not after we die. If we have
a belief that we will find God after we die, even
though we have never found God while alive, we should
seriously consider whether that belief is justified.
All the great saints, yogis, and Spiritual Masters
who spoke of God did so on the basis of a direct Revelation
of the Greater Reality, which they received (some
even continually) while they were alive. Many
have declared to questioners that God is as real to
them, even more so, than the people to whom they were
talking. Like love for our children, love for God
is only real when God is as present to us as our children.
To say we love God otherwise is much like all the
ridiculous things we say when we are fans of a Hollywood
movie star. We're intrigued with the man or woman,
but in reality, we've never met him or her. What we
have is an imaginary relationship.
I wouldn't write any of this if finding God for real
were not my own direct experience. All the saints,
yogis, and Spiritual Realizers from the world's spiritual
traditions are further evidence that finding God while
alive (to different degrees, depending on one's
Spiritual Realization) is possible. It is to
the people who in past centuries have found
God, and — even better — to those who are finding
God in the present that we should be paying very
close attention, and not merely to those who would
admonish us to "deepen our faith or belief",
as though that were our best or only option.
Does finding God (or not) have practical implications
for the quality of our lives? You bet! As has been
said in all the wisdom traditions of humankind, God
is love. God is perfect happiness. To find God for
real is to share in that perfect happiness which grants
us the capability for real and unconditional love
of others. "What do the saints know about
finding God that I don't?" This should be
the burning question for every one of us who
is not already perfectly and eternally happy, and
who would like to have the most profoundly positive
impact on this world.