My personal symphony
Because of my very catholic upbringing, the existence of God and what or who it, she, he is has always been a consequential presence in my consciousness.
It was simpler in my youth for God was the equivalent of a perfect human being living in a place called heaven. Basically, what was required of those who aspired for a space in his kingdom was a life dedicated to a set of moral persuasions, the norm for a heavenly after-death reward. A long bout with conscience and personal experience proved a tedious struggle to keep my spiritual life above water. Dealing with opposing contentions—my spiritual orientation countered by an intimate reality, my rite of passage—was terrifying .
I had different perceptions of what God is all about—a personality much like ourselves, the big bang, spirit, energy, consciousness, the cosmos, you and I? It was simpler to perceive god through an anthropomorphic lens for he was within the scope of human discernment. Getting out of a box is not easy, but the compulsion, when received, must be addressed.
Theologians have crossed swords with naturalists, both sides attempting to prove or disprove the existence of God. These are futile attempts given the limits of man’s intellect if what is required is an absolute, transcending doubts and acts of faith. There is a growing awareness for the need of a paradigm shift in our concept of the what and wherefore of god, a call toward an adult faith to supersede the edification imposed on us in the teachings of our religion.
Teachings sown on virgin soil acquires a tenacity often impossible to exhume. My spiritual sojourns were confusing, like learning to dance to a new rhythm, although persistent was barely audible above the hubbub of a noisy world. But its allurement could not be ignored. It was an in and out of the Church for me for each time difficulties occurred, I felt I was being punished. I constantly prayed for the enlightenment I needed, guarding against a hubristic response to the inanities of different religious practices.
Pope Francis calls for a unification of all religions. We are one: God, living and nonliving things—elements, molecules, atoms, subatomic particles—the entire creation. At this juncture a spirit of nonduality is essential if Oneness is to be achieved. The difficulty lies in the fact that human nature has functioned through the centuries on a reasoning based on opposites. The way we think and connect is structured on a platform of opposites—we cannot recognize beauty without ugliness, goodness without evil, happiness without sorrow—most everything is relative. This is how we process our thoughts, so as to communicate with and understand one another.
The attempt to unite all religions has become an uphill endeavor because of this tendency to bifurcate. Much of our interaction is defined by a spirit of competitiveness, envy, hubris, the proclivity to label that creates boundaries, and to criticize that detracts from a benevolent union—the goal of all interactions.
Too much intellectualization and verbalization that opt to clarify, compare, rationalize, justify, quantify, postulate, etc. every issue, including the existence of god, have cluttered the overall picture.
Thomas Keating, a Trappist monk, is the architect of “Centering Prayer,” a method of contemplation. In “Oneness and the heart of the World,” he reveals a very intimate personal encounter with God, often groping for the proper term to describe an experience beyond words that fall short of truly capturing the intimacy, beauty and grace of the encounter. It is a direct access to God, intimate and personal that transforms and transcends. For Keating, God is a Becoming—forever creating and evolving.
At this juncture, my God is an intimate sacrament that plucks on the strings of my inner self, my personal symphony—the most beautiful music of all, a divine moment within the sounds of silence.
Carmelita Roxas Natividad is an octogenarian and “a perennial seeker who only wishes to share a beautiful spiritual experience.”
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