Thursday, July 16, 2015

Belief and God

If someone were to ask me: 'Do you believe in God?" I may say yes just to not get into it. But if I were to be truly honest, I would need to ask: "What do you mean by God?" Upon hearing their description of God, I would probably have to say "No, I don't."

Then if the person asks me: "So you believe there is no God.?"  Again, my response would be "No." Atheism is based on a belief. I am not an Atheist.

Remember the story of the six blind men describing an elephant? This is it:
Six blind men learned an elephant was visiting their village. None of them knew what an elephant was, so they decided to touch it and find out.
"Hey, the elephant is a pillar," said the first man who touched his leg.
"Oh, no! it is like a rope," said the second man who touched the tail.
"Oh, no! it is like a thick branch of a tree," said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.
"It is like a big hand fan" said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.
"It is like a huge wall," said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.
"It is like a solid pipe," Said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.

They began to argue about the elephant and every one of them insisted that he was right.

This is religion. The collision of beliefs, each group thinking theirs are correct. Each person believing s/he is right. Each person and each group has their own image of God.

Images are not real. They are partial truths. This is why you can find truths in any religion. Those who have written about and taught from the original teacher and formed a religion have shared their part of the elephant. In most cases, they have also added their own stuff.

"God" is a word that names the ineffable. I sense God and feel God, have an awareness of God-ness. I have seen God in the faces of my children when they were babies, in the joyful countenance of my wife on our wedding day, in the faces of students I have taught, and in the midst of groups and teams of which I was a part. I have felt God when walking in a forest, when sitting in a pew at Notre Dame du Chartres, gazing at the mountain above Machu Picchu, standing in solitude on the Pyramid to the Sun at Teotihuacan, and while enjoying a west coast sunset (Lake Michigan or the Pacific Ocean) .  I have seen God when one person forgives another. I have witnessed God in the creations of great artists, writers, and musicians. Although I have sometimes traveled around the world to seek experiences, I needn't leave home to experience God. Wherever I am, God is.

For me, God is not something or someone to believe in.  I live and move and have my being within God. The closer I get to God, the less there is of "me" as I have known myself.  The only belief I have is "I am." At the same time I know that "God is." But don't ask me to describe that which is indescribable. I can't. And I don't want to make it up and call it a belief.  I can't take my experiences  and package and sell them as a belief system.

Whatever your religion or lack of, those moments when you touch God--when something deep in your mind and heart is sparked by inspiration or revelation, when you truly feel "not alone" or unconditionally loved or completely aware--those are the moments that inform you about God. But good luck explaining it!

Monday, July 13, 2015

ALL Beliefs Limit You

All beliefs limit you, even the positive ones. If you believe you are a poor leader, then you will lead poorly. I have known "leaders" who believed they were effective, yet they were not. The belief they held in their own competence prevented them from learning from failure--prevented them from hearing when they made mistakes. Truly excellent leaders don't think about  whether or not they are good; they just lead. They listen and make decisions that are best for the group. They speak with authority even when they aren't quite sure.

Self-help literature tells us we should believe in ourselves. I say we should stop believing and listen, pay attention to your results. If I approach a speaking engagement with high confidence, it is not because I believe in myself. My confidence comes from knowing, from experience. Sometimes I might feel anxious. Belief does nothing to solve my anxiety. Anxious or not, I dive in, paying close attention to my audience, listening to my Inner Voice, responding to the needs of the people who sit before me. Once I am in the flow, the anxiety passes and confidence takes over.

Belief in yourself, even if it is positive, limits you. A belief is a construct made up by you, or passed on to you by someone else. Believing you are a great artist, does not make you a great artist. Believing you are a wonderful teacher, does not make you wonderful. Learning and listening and practicing and doing--being humble, asking for help, both human and spiritual. Having natural talent and passion for a particular vocation is also important.

When I began my novel, Human Adulthood: A Spiritual Romance, I had not previously written fiction. I had no beliefs about the quality of my writing. I joined a writers group, and learned that I had much to learn. I had no positive beliefs that got in the way of criticism and suggestions. I just listened, asked questions, kept writing, and rewriting, and rewriting, and did I mention, rewriting?
So do I believe I am a good writer now?  No. All I know is that there are stories in me I want to write. So I'll keep learning and listening and writing, and yes--lots of rewriting.

Belief is overrated. Listening and paying attention are often underrated. What is calling you? Where is your potential? Don't worry about belief. Just do it and see what happens. If you fail, do something else.

William Frank Diedrich,

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Piece of the Truth

There was a young angel who was given the task of bringing the Truth to planet Earth. He was so eager to share the Truth with others that he didn't listen to instructions. The Truth was presented to him in the form of a crystal sphere.

He flew off with the sphere securely held in his arms. When he came upon Earth, in all its beauty, he thought about how he would give the Truth to all the inhabitants. Surely they would be grateful. He sped toward the surface of the planet. As he attempted to land, he was unable to adjust to the spin of the planet, so he stumbled. The crystal sphere was dislodged from his grip and crashed upon some rocks.

A wind came along and scattered the millions of tiny shards across the planet. Ever since that day, people have been finding those shards and saying, "I have the Truth!" or "Here is the Truth!"
In fact, nearly everyone has a piece of the Truth, but no one has the whole Truth.