I used to be an Atheist. I am now a true believer. However, I am not a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or any organized follower.
Now that I am awake, I’m excited to share this knowledge. But with whom?
Herein lies the problem. If I went up to someone like who I used to be. The unaware me would have welcomed the debate and would have presented my usual logic to introduce doubt into what was being shared with me.
I was an atheist for over twenty-five years. I did not believe in God. A god, any god. It didn’t make sense to me and I often used scriptural evidence to create doubt in the infallibility of religious texts.
Through teachings using parables, metaphors, and other descriptions, the evidence describing God’s existence has been shared for the benefit of others. This evidence has been around since even before many of the current institutional volumes of God’s words were recorded. The Word’s true message has been lost in the description and dissemination of that very message.
If I describe a lobster to you, and I use the conventional methods of describing it to you, you will probably have a decent idea of what I am talking about. Especially if you have seen one. It makes sense. However, if you have never tasted one, no amount of words are sufficient enough to convey the flavor that your sense of taste experiences in that moment. You have the knowledge of what a lobster is. You might have even experienced the visual, tactile, audible, and aural sense of what a lobster is, but you have never experienced the complete sense of one until you complete the sensual and internal experience.
This implies that the purpose of the lobster is as food to humans. I am not stating that you cannot understand what a dog or cat is until you you have tasted one. What I am stating is that the experience of God is almost impossible to truly understand until you have felt it yourself. When your experience of God matches your understanding of God, only then is there a true understanding of the feeling God provides. In short, you have to experience God in order to truly understand God.
I am understanding God. It was eleven months ago. It was just a quick taste of it. It was brief but it completely rocked my understanding of my existence. Something was completely different in me. It was instantaneous, like the name on the tip of your tongue that you instantly recall hours later when you were no longer trying to recall it. It was a recognition of someone I hadn’t seen in decades. It was like remembering something that I had completely forgotten. It just made sense in that moment.
Since that day, I have been on a tear reading dozens of books on human nature including the classics we just didn’t want to read in school. The story was our story. The stories all have the common theme. Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces was one of the earlier ones that really got the ball rolling.
I had already been reading and listening to self-help gurus so the words were already there. The knowledge was stacking up in my brain. To complete the true understanding of it, I needed an experience of it and not just one of the many descriptions of it.
Everyone has the knowledge. Everyone has the answers. At least, everyone has a description of the answer. The description is where the division happens.
One morning just after my realization, I was having breakfast with my wife, Jemma. We were sitting at the table looking out the window. She pointed to the window and said, “The snow flakes look like feathers!”
I looked outside at the bare trees and the frozen ground and replied, “What snowflakes? It’s not snowing.”
She doubled down and emphatically pointed at the window, “Right there!”
She became frustrated with me and my insistence on what she could clearly see was not true. I didn’t see it snowing outside, and therefore there were no snowflakes for me to see.
At that point, she rose from her chair and physically poked the glass window pane and the beautiful feather-like snowflakes on it. The realization hit me and we both understood what had happened in that moment. This is how tricky having the knowledge before having the understanding is. It, however, is how it has to happen.
I was raised in a religious home. First as a Catholic growing up in Southern California. Then, after my parents’ short-lived separation, as a Southern Baptist in South Texas. My experience of both descriptions of God was a superficial one. I attended catechism and Sunday school and had heard their description of God. The Word. I heard the history of The Word. The Word came with rules and restrictions. I fiercely defended my freedom for the next twenty-five years after that.
I lived my life with the knowledge absent the experience. It’s what I had to do. It’s what we all must do. If you only experience the good, bad is just a concept. If you only experience the bad, good is just a concept. What is necessary is to experience them both to get the relative understanding. It took me a long time to piece the puzzle together.
Instead, I used all the bad in the world to convince myself that there could be no god. How could there be a god when there was so much suffering, including religious discrimination and strife, throughout the world and in my own life. It was an ordinary beach ball that helped me understand the confusion.
I visualized myself sitting on the beach. I was looking at a beach ball sitting on the ground and there was a person on the opposite side from me. The thought entered my mind about the snowflakes on the window and I imagined how I would describe the beach ball to the other person. I also imagined how they would describe the beach ball to me.
It went something like this;
I explained from my position, “That beach ball is red and white.”
The person looked at me with confusion and explained from their point-of-view, “I also see a a beach ball but this one in front of me is blue and white. It is different from yours.”
“What do you mean?! I see it right in front of me and it is red and white!”
“You are mistaken. It is also right in front of me and it is blue and white!”
“Are you calling me a liar? You must be blind! This beach ball is red and white!”
Along comes another person between us.
“Hey, whose yellow and white beach ball is that?”
This is what the confusion is. Every religion has true believers that understand the true nature of God. They know that the experience of God is the same to all true believers, regardless of their religion’s description of it. The method in which God is experienced is as varied as there are descriptions. It doesn’t change the fact that the beach ball’s true purpose is to have fun in or near the water.
God’s purpose, as written in the various religious texts, is always the same. The description in how to achieve the experience is usually different. That should excite everyone.
Because there is more than one way to experience God. There are an infinite number of ways people around the world experience God and guess what? They are all correct.
It’s when the descriptions don’t jive with the knowledgeable but unexperienced “believers” that everyone gets their panties in a bunch over why the “non-believers” just don’t blindly accept their beliefs. In actuality, you just cannot accept the others’ description of their beliefs.
Because your own experience of it is different.
We Are All Right.