Images of God

Recently I was at a meeting and celebration. Various presenters got up on stage, and great music bands too. One of the presenters, a senior academic, asked the audience the question:

What is your image of God?

It was a challenge for us to look honestly within and see what kind of image we had of God, what we believe and feel and think we know about God.

Suddenly my journey with seeking the truth about God throughout my whole life was sitting there with me. Some of the audience got up the courage to stand and speak on microphones about their images of God. I wanted to do that too. But I had so much to share! Where to begin? Share just one bit? But which bit? I felt it would be miserly to share just one bit, but to share it all would take all day and deprive others of the space to speak. What to do? I chose to write this blog.

My Family and my Introduction to School, God and Religion

It began as a young child of six going to school. Once a week all the students were shuffled out of our usual classes and separated into groups according to our religion for ‘Religious Instruction’. It felt weird being split apart from our friends and classmates, and expected to feel some kind of special kinship with strangers who happened to be born as whatever religion their parents followed.

I had been christened Congregational, like my Mum and her Dad before her. I had no idea what that meant, and there were no other kids in that category so I ended up in the ‘odds and ends’ class. We had two very elderly ladies who supervised our class and read the Bible to us. I found it pretty boring and couldn’t wait for the lesson to end. Kids got unruly and distracted, and that didn’t help encourage a studious attitude.

But it raised the question – who or what is this God character?

My family was not religious, in fact, most were quite anti-religious. Mum had loved singing in church as a child and she was probably the most religiously inclined in our family, although it was not overtly expressed until I was in my twenties. Dad had no time for religion. Many people’s only experience of going to church was to attend weddings, and this was so in our case. We were not church-goers, though I vaguely remember being in a church once with relatives, for some reason, being handed a prayer book and expected to join the congregation in singing songs I didn’t know. I recall being most fascinated by the incredible thinness of the book’s pages! Basically there was nothing at home to encourage questions about God.

As an active, curious, imaginative child I had many other things to do: school, taking my younger brother and sister on adventures, collecting bugs and rocks, raising frogs and fish, scientific experiments, reading, art, bikes, pets, games, making stuff… always busy and never bored. We needed no entertainment – our own imaginations and zest for life were more than enough. God and religion were not on the list and there was no pressure or indoctrination. That was great as it meant we were free to make our own discoveries when and if we were ever ready.

We knew someone who’d had a difficult childhood and had become wayward, in lots of trouble, doing terrible things. He was ‘saved’ by the church, and became intensely missionary about Christianity. People considered him to be obsessed, not normal, and they avoided, pitied and rejected him. My mum had compassion and understanding for him though, and I got to see that God and his son Christ were very real for him, a source of great joy and meaning for him. I didn’t experience that myself, but his passion piqued my interest.

Beginning my own Research into God and Religion

I began my researches into religion rather patchily. Sometimes in bed at night I read bits of the New Testament Bible to see if it held any answers about God that I could relate to. I just drifted, reading whatever page I opened to, trying to understand all the strange writing styles and events and characters. It felt like there must be some truth and really interesting stuff in there somewhere, except that I was not finding it. I did find contradictions and more questions than answers though.

God was supposed to be a loving, grey-bearded, kingly and fatherly figure on a throne up in the sky or up on mountains, and yet even on a clear day or night you couldn’t see him up there. I spent a lot of ‘scientific’ time outside looking at the sky day and night and I never saw a guy on a throne. God was sometimes depicted as a huge, terrifying, judgmental hand coming down from the clouds. Attached to what? Surely when there are no clouds and you do something wrong, you should be able to see him attached to his arm and accusing finger? So both images felt wrong and I could not accept them, not to mention that they were quite contradictory to each other.

How could an absolutely loving God also mete out terrible judgments of vengeance and devastation?

Then there was prayer. People did it, and they seemed very earnest about it, so I tried it. I felt silly, talking to someone who did not seem to be there, never gave any sign of having heard me, and in every way imaginable just did not seem to exist.

As I got a bit older and understood more science, another whopping contradiction became apparent. How could God be male when there was only one God? Male without female is like the right shoe without the left: useless and pointless. Thus God must be either gender or both. At least I got that bit sorted out in my mind! But it still didn’t answer what God was, or whether there even was one. I had no image of my own, just other people’s images – all of which I rejected.

Home, Nature and my Neighbourhood – where was God?

But while my quest to understand religion and find out what God is went on, there was something else very real to me that was non-physical and inexplicable.

I grew up in a working class, poorly educated Aussie family. We had little money and lived in Government housing ­– a family of 5 crammed into half a house. Like many of the households in that neighbourhood there was alcoholism and domestic violence. Constant choking cigarette smoke. Women at home taking tranquilisers and painkillers all day. Abusive behaviour. Self-sacrificing behaviour. I could barely stand it, retreating into myself, and retreating into Nature – the only places where all was harmonious and made sense to me, where I felt truth, where I felt I belonged and could be truly myself and at peace.

And there was another sanctuary, like the inner form of the outer Nature. Deep inside me, in the region of my heart, but somehow not confined by the thickness of my physical body, was a ‘place’, more like a ‘presence’. There was a core of light: an inviolable, unwavering, dependable, powerful, shining flame that could be trusted to always be there and not be tainted, destroyed, weakened or taken away no matter how dark and ugly things got around me, no matter how hurt or angry or afraid I felt; no matter how much I would have despaired of life, I had that core of light inside me. It sustained me through challenges that many of the kids in our neighbourhood did not get through.

In my part of the city I knew of a sixteen-year-old boy who was already a convicted, repeated rapist and car thief and went to jail young. Pre-pubescent kids were involved in pack fights, getting badly injured. Young girls were getting pregnant. One boy not even in his teens was already a drug dealer and was involved in his brother’s death from an overdose. A woman was carted away on a stretcher, dying of an overdose of a painkiller while her young daughters looked on. A father stood over his son with a big leather strap, supervising the boy’s homework, and every break in attention was met with a beating. The boy turned to a life of crime, and ended up suiciding. A trouble-seeking father was beaten to a pulp at a party and sustained permanent brain damage.

When I was 13 or 14 years old, one older boy who’d been vicious and threatening towards me and my siblings, recently home on leave from the Vietnam war, stood proudly in his army uniform talking about the war. He seemed to love the war and I felt that fitted with his cruel character. I asked him: “What do you like most about the war?” His answer: “The killing.” He was serious!

Stories like this were repeated in various forms throughout most of the neighbourhood. At night you could hear the screaming fights of parents and the thumps of physical violence in other homes.

Where was God? Not anywhere around here!

Asking Difficult Questions about God which went Unanswered

Once my Dad befriended a man from the Salvation Army and, enthused by his new friend, took me and my brother to attend their Sunday school. I resented having my Sundays taken away, expected to sit listening to stuff that didn’t make sense. I was rewarded for the quality of my drawings and ability to regurgitate ‘facts’, but that seemed to me to have nothing to do with religion. I was disgusted. I asked difficult questions. They were not answered. I told my father I refused to go to Sunday school any more, and that was the end of that.

Religious missionaries frequently came and knocked on doors – mostly Jehovah’s Witnesses, plus a few Mormons. I asked them difficult questions. If God made only Adam and Eve, and all of humanity came from them, wouldn’t it mean that brothers and sisters had mated incestuously, and the children should be deformed? How could God be male if he was the only one of his kind? How do they know he exists?

If the one and only God wrote the one and only Bible, why are there so many different versions?

If all men are equal, why do religious people act as if they are superior to others and say that they’re the only ones who are right? What about women? If God is love, we are his children, and we are to treat all people as equals, why aren’t we? How can we be made in the image of God when we all look so different?

The door-knockers usually became uncomfortable and left, unable to answer my questions.

As a teenage high school student and young university student I found that science had nothing useful to say about God either. It pretty much conveyed the idea that God was just a comfortable superstitious belief and had no basis in fact or nature.

No answers for me in science, nor in any religions, with all their fighting and denigration of each other.

I did not seriously study the non-Christian religions, but dipped a toe in enough to sense that they were just as equally empty of any real love, equality or divinity. And yet they all seemed to have the same core principles, that no-one was recognising or living. I kept saying that all religions are really one and need to re-unite. But no-one listened; I didn’t feel that they even understood what I was saying. I stopped talking about it.

Finding the Answers for Myself… Growing my own Sense of God

As an adult I thought I must be an atheist, convinced there was no God, or at least an agnostic, undecided about the matter. Intellectually that kind of fitted, except for a constant sense that underneath all that, I was actually religious and knew that God existed in some form, without any ‘evidence’ to prove it to myself or anyone else.

It kept coming back to me: I had to find the answers for myself.

I felt there had to be some connection between the stillness and harmony of Nature, and this enigmatic concept – God. It seemed to me that if there was a God, it was that special something which was in all the awe-inspiring order, beauty and intelligence of Nature, not just a finite figure up in the sky or in some mythical paradise.

And whatever God might be, it had a similar feel to that core of light inside me.

It had a similar feel to the feeling of selfless care and love for others that I felt in my heart, and to the ‘conscience’ that was always there guiding my choices and preventing me from doing wrong. I did not attach the name ‘God’ to my core of light and love or my conscience, as I was still in rejection of all the images of God that existed in society around me. I suppose my own private sense of God was growing and developing, without form, while humanity and its works and beliefs continued to look like a loveless, godless mess.

Enter ‘Evidence’ of God… and the New Age

I didn’t speak about God with other people; it was such a fruitless topic. But one day when I was a 21-year-old university science student (as I’ve shared with a few people and written about before), I was at an end-of-year departmental party. A professor of mathematics said to me: “You can’t study Pure Mathematics for long before you realise there must be a God.” This was an awesome moment! Here was a modern reductionist scientist who’d found satisfactory ‘evidence’ of God in nature.

And as I looked more and more for myself, it was inescapable. We were being taught about the senseless randomness of particle movements, ‘blind, directionless nature’ and purely physical evolution, which might appear accurate on small scales, but did not ‘cut the mustard’ in the big picture for me. And modern science to this day still has no grasp of how the miracles of embryology or consciousness are even possible.

Enter the New Age. Some denied the existence of God, some spoke of God being not male, but a Goddess, some spoke of having conversations with God, some said there were lots of gods and they were all really just archetypes in the human mind, some claimed God was an alien, some that God was a physical man living in a certain country, some said they had seen God and drew pictures of ‘him’ or ‘her’. For me, it all went into the trash can of illusion pretty quickly.

All I had was my enduring non-image of God as possibly being connected with the feelings of light and love and conscience deep inside me, and the essence of all of Nature. It fitted with what Jesus said about the Kingdom of God being inside us, and yet God being everywhere and being all-knowing love and light.

Enter Theosophy, Esoteric Studies, Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine, God, and Me…

Enter theosophy, esoteric studies, Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine in 2002. A great leap forward in my understanding of God! Initially I had an academic approach and many interesting revelations from the knowledge imparted in books and presentations. But I still squirmed at the mention of the word ‘God’ and had trouble even saying it because of all the false pictures I had seen in society up to this point.

However, as my choices changed upon the basis of experimenting with the new knowledge, for example quitting drugs, changing my diet, claiming a higher level of awareness and responsibility, etc, my ability to directly sense and experience things that are beyond physical and scientific understanding has grown.

My inner voice of wisdom has grown. My sense of God has grown, and is still growing.

I have not seen a grey-haired man on a throne or a big hand coming from the sky! I have not felt sinful, lesser, guilty or judged by some power above me! But I have felt the indescribable stillness that is the foundation of the harmony, order and intelligence in Nature.

I have felt and seen in another human being the magnitude of love, truth, joy, harmony, stillness, responsibility, care and understanding that are to me defining attributes of God, and felt them grow within me too, from contact with that greatness freely given without expectation or imposition. I have seen the light and love in my core shining in the eyes of another person, and increasing numbers of people, and know without doubt that we are all one, we are all held in the body of God and we all contain the all.

I still don’t have an ‘image’ of God, but I feel I now know something of God, for real. It’s taken 6 decades, and this is still only the beginning!

 By Dianne Trussell

Further Reading:
My True and False Experiences of God
The Many Faces of God
Science without Religion is Lame, Religion without Science is Blind
Living religion: a relationship with self, love and God

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674 thoughts on “Images of God

  1. Dianne reading your blog I got the sense that we have deliberately muddied the waters so to say when it comes to God. We have as you say so many versions of him via the different religions all purporting to have the insider knowledge of him, so many different written versions too. And I wonder if the purpose behind this is so that we do not develop our own sense from within of who God is but rely on the outside to dictate to us and so like a carrot on a stick we are kept in the cycle of seeking.

  2. True religion runs through us all the time and it is up to us all to reconnect to our essences, so we are able to understand our relationships with God. So thank you, Dianne, as what you have shared opens us all to deepen our relationship with God and all that is simple in what is shared when reconnected to the immense Love that is God.

  3. True religion runs through us all the time and it is up to us all to reconnect to our essences, so we are able to understand our relationships with God. So thank you, Dianne, as what you have shared opens us all to deepen our relationship with God and all that is simple in what is shared when reconnected to the immense Love that is God.

  4. Slowly but surely my image of God has changed – He is becoming an intimate friend, someone I can talk to about anything, who does not judge but holds me and encourages me to just live the innate quality I am.

  5. What is my image of God? Great question. Today I would say it is more of feeling, a presence, than an image. Images are in my head, and that is the one place where you cannot experience God.

  6. To me we have so distorted the word God to fit what ever meaning the many religions wants it to be that it holds no true meaning for me now. Fohart is a word that for me express all that the universe is which to me is an in breath and out breath of a divine being.

  7. It is becoming apparently true for me, that as long as there are images about who we are and who God is, there will always be a struggle to understand and an inner tension about who we are as humans and who God is.

  8. God is obviously evident in the order of the universe from the orbits of the stars to the blade of grass swinging in the wind – and so he is present in everything and never can he be absent as everything is of him and moves back towards him.

  9. We are so used to having pictures of everything in life, even of that which is imageless or beyond imagination so that we can fit it in what we know with a sense of control. When we start opening up to let go of some of those images we may learn that the reality to and experience of such ‘things’ like God, love, eternity or else is much richer than any image could ever deliver or depict.

  10. “You can’t study Pure Mathematics for long before you realise there must be a God.” I also came to this realisation when I re-sat some math classes last year and could see and sense how mathematics is in everything. It is indeed ‘awesome’.

    1. I’m not sure about that statement, I studied pure mathematics, but was not into religion, or God at that age, so maths did not re-connect me with God.

  11. Those ‘difficult questions’ – they are actually great questions. Just because they ask us to consider something outside our belief, a possibility we might not be quite ready to accept, should never invalidate the question or those who ask such questions.

  12. I love listening to my 5 year old daughter talk about God because it comes straight from her heart and not from anything she has heard and been told. She frequently tells us that ‘God is in the air’ and explains that this means he is both inside us and all around us. She even laughs when she pokes out her tongue and says ‘look, he is even on my tongue, can you see him?’ and through her I do.

  13. In truth we do not react to God, we react to the many false pictures of him we are sold from a source of energy that works in opposition to this great love and not from it. For how do you give form to formlessness without projecting onto it, how you wish it to be shaped?

  14. Many years ago I was fortunate to attend a college trip to Rome, Italy. We visited vast and beautiful churches with ginormous paintings on the ceilings, all depicting a similar image of God. He was a muscular man, in his mid 50’s, half covered in long flowing and luxurious materials, and always with a long and abundant white beard. his posture would often be leaning back or stretching forward, his presence was always dominant and everyone around him in the picture would either be in his favour, also painted with beautiful skin tones and flowing robes, or they would be miserable, contorted shapes of people in much darker colours with sallow dull skin. The main message in all of this as far as I can see, is that of no-equality, showing a image of superior and inferior, and that there are those in favour and those who are judged-to-be-less.

    1. This is the big lie perpetuated by the Catholic Church. And millions by accepting this image of god, deny themselves the opportunity to see truth. Our true nature is godly and we are all part of one body of love, no one less or more, all equal.

  15. What kind of institution pronounces ‘God is Love’ and routinely acts in unloving ways – the church and most established religions. The problem is most people accept this blatant hypocrisy and false authority without question or challenge.

    1. This hypocrisy, the lies, the wars, everything that was disgusting, turned myself, and I’m sure many other people away from established religions.

  16. I relate a lot to what you say of looking at the different religions out there and finding them full of contradiction and holes. It is refreshing to connect to the feeling within that confirms our connection to God.

  17. There is so much that didn’t make sense to me as well Diane growing up with the Catholic faith, I always felt it strange that women weren’t allowed to be priests or hold high positions in the church, this says a lot about the control and corruption that many religions still abide by, to not treat and respect women as equals.

    1. Yeah that really exposes all the lies, as love is equality and that is a fact, we see it everywhere in nature.

  18. To have no image of God is something to truly cherish, the moment we try to imagine how God looks like we are gone. It is about building a relationship with the knowing within and keep expanding what that means for the way we choose to live in this beholding love.

  19. There are lots of different images of who or what God or religion is or means that can be both enticing or really off-putting, either way hindering our connection with the truth of those words if we take them as reality rather than connecting from inside of us with what feels true…

  20. The problem is we try to ascribe an image to that which is image-less. From there we get lost in an illusion of our own creation, while God silently lives and breathes within us all.

  21. A powerful shift to read – from having pictures of God to actually knowing God within us as we naturally have. Very inspiring to read how relationships can shift and develop.

  22. I understand all you have shared and these images of God are so harmful as they build walls stopping you from being able to really feel God.

  23. This list and images of God seems endless in the Hindu religion, there is a God for this and there is a God for that, so we then would need to pray to several of them at a time!

    What you have shared about God is an absolute revelations and would make most ponder on who God really is. This blog evokes that pertinent question – who is God – really?

  24. I like how you describe growing your own sense of God – bringing it back to a sense from the whole body rather than a picture or image that we may be holding in our minds eye.

  25. Being open to exploring our relationship with God can be quite transformational. Even just starting to look at why we react, if there’s a reaction to the word ‘God’, can bring greater understanding of our relationship with religion, and what it means to us versus what we’ve been taught. If the word ‘religion’ means building a relationship with myself, my inner knowing, and through that, the bigger picture, i.e. the Universe, or God – not someone telling me what to do, but just a knowing that I am part of something far greater than myself – why would I not want a relationship with myself, with the grandness that we’re all an inevitable part of? It brings a richness and depth to my life that I would not want to live without. Not because I need it to give me anything, but because no external experience or creation can compare to that feeling of knowing, settlement and deep contentment that can only come from within.

    1. Beautifully shared Bryony, the deepth of knowing and experiences from the connection are so physically enjoyable and rich that to live without the connection is cold and harsh in comparison.

  26. “It had a similar feel to the feeling of selfless care and love for others that I felt in my heart, and to the ‘conscience’ that was always there guiding my choices and preventing me from doing wrong.” – Dianne, I can relate to this (as well as the feeling that all religions have a common thread of Truth in them) and the fact that we have this knowingness or conscience that tells us what is the truth or not shows that we are all connected to each other and thus God equally, for there is only one Truth and its source is God, after all.

  27. Stillness is it, no bells or whistles, but a beholding lightness of being – this is God with us and of us.

  28. And this is precisely how evil works – it sells us an image of God and divinity that we either aspire to or reject, either way it does not matter as long as we do not go anywhere near the depth of love and true godliness that lives within us all.

  29. ‘Finding the Answers for Myself… Growing my own Sense of God’ – it took me long before I felt entitled to know God by myself and not by what anyone was saying, thinking, believing, preaching, teaching or maybe actually knowing. Not before we know ourselves in a direct, personal and intimate relationship with God we know who we are and who God is. We have to dare to leave behind anything that is not of our own experience and inner truth.

  30. That´s the point, any images we have about God come from outside of us, sometimes fed as descriptions or pictures or just as loose ideas, attributes and characteristics we then associate with what we know from what we can see around us, that is we construct a human-like image. No wonder then that these images disconnect us more from God than they help us to nurture our inherent connection and thus need to be called out and let go of.

  31. I love re-reading this Dianne. There are so many points you write that seem to ‘jump off the page’ towards me. This resonates deeply with me now –
    “I feel I now know something of God, for real. It’s taken 6 decades, and this is still only the beginning!”

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