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

Please note we reserve the right to decline the publication of comments that are purely self-promotional or which are designed to advance a predefined agenda or dogma, we find that comments of this nature are not conducive to open two-way conversation. This means no Scripture-spam please. Refer to our Comments Policy for further guidelines.

593 thoughts on “Images of God

      1. Yes well very commendable… I can look back and see that inner light was always apparent but I had little aware connection to it and made few choices that were truly regarding of it.

  1. I love how you didn’t put an answer here Dianne but expanded the conversation for us all to see what God is and feels to us individually. For me I get a quality of warmth that is unending and inexhaustible, a never ending yes to truth and life, less a person more an energy source. All I need to do I can see is live in a way that taps into this outlet instead of the negative reductive, separatist flavour that we can settle for.

  2. When we look out to the world around us that we have created and see the lovelessness being reflected back to us from the many choices people make and how they live their everyday we must never forget that it all comes from the choice that each individual human being makes, not God.

    1. Yay to that! There is a lot of God-blaming in the world. It seems we humans will point the finger to anywhere but ourselves for the source of our woes.

  3. For me there was a magic that was missing in my life when I was young, and I turned to the false Gods found in comic books and characters. The choice between a fantasy where magic really existed proved a welcome counterpoint to the fact that the church was used as the Assembly / Attendance list for the day.

  4. The best way to learn about God is to feel Him inside, or to see him expressed through the thought, words and deeds of another. This is the way to develop a relationship with a living God and not through the dusty pages of a book.

    1. So true, Simon. Once having felt God inside, the books might further confirm some of what we’ve felt, but usually they come loaded with a whole lot of unnecessary and distracting stuff. Stuff that isn’t needed for our pure experience.

  5. “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.” Yes this line very much reminded me of my childhood when I could never really comprehend who God was and why we could never see him when we called for his aid. I now see God all around us and within my own body for it is the way in which we move, express and live everyday that shows our religious steps with God and then with everyone else. God is with us always and not a tall, bearded man in a robe but living, breathing within the walls of our heart.

  6. We endlessly search high and low for God, mostly in the wrong places! and only if we listen to our hearts are we able to find God is within and all around us, in every breath and every movement in alignment to the stars.

    1. We have been taught by society that we are pretty stupid and can’t trust the answers inside us. That we have to look to some outside ‘authority’ to verify everything. Time to break out of that prison, and the best break-out is to find God within ourselves, and thence reflected in all nature and in the heart of all humans.

  7. Most peoples issue is not with God, but with humanity. Through that they lose connection with the possibility that life could be anything more than the brutality they have witnessed.

  8. I also considered myself an atheist throughout much of my earlier life, growing up with a father who was adamantly so. This changed very rapidly however once I met Serge Benhayon and experienced Sacred Esoteric Healing… by first introduction to the multidimensionality of myself and life. I realise looking back that I wasn’t atheist at all, I just knew He did not exist in any of the popular images, doctrines or followings I had come across to that point. He was in fact first felt within me… and is known from this place to this day.

    1. I wonder how many other atheists there are like you, Jenny? If we can’t find something, we tend to think it doesn’t exist. And we don’t trust our inner knowing…. Perhaps a few atheists will take another look when reading your comments!

      1. Yes I agree Dianne, we don’t trust our inner knowing…. in fact if you’d said that to me 20 years ago I wouldn’t have even known what you were talking about. There was no language around or concept I was aware of that introduced the idea that what is known can come from deep within, and not from or via the head and what we have learnt or inputted in some way.

  9. Reflecting on the images that we may hold of God and all that is contained within them is a really useful thing to do – a picture conveys much and it’s amazing to realise what we can be aligning with as we un-pick whatever pictures we may be holding onto.

  10. Reading your life growing up I was struck by how much trauma young people can experience depending on their situations around them. We are such sensitive souls, that it must be hard for these young people to stay steady. I know it is always our choices how we react, but this gave me a greater understanding of what some of our children are experiencing. And I loved what you shared about that steady inner-light that can never be extinguished. It is truly Gods gift.

  11. It is interesting how our sight is so important to us, there is a saying “seeing is believing” But what if there were also a saying that “clear sensing is knowing.” In order to be clear we need to declutter our minds from all that they have taken on over the years, all the information that we have not really discerned as being true or not. In order to keep clear, allowing more love and deep care and deeper levels of honesty and truth in our behaviours and our lives is for me is what makes ‘clearly sensing is knowing’ a reality and a great support.

    1. Good point, Elaine. You could also say that ‘believing is seeing’. If you believe there’s no God you won’t ‘see’ him. If you believe there is a God, you’ll ‘see’ whatever your image of him is that you want to see. It raises the importance of truly feeling/sensing instead of belief and looking outside for answers.

  12. This situation we find ourselves in here reminds me of one of those sketches where the character has their glasses placed on their head, then ransacks their house to find them, looking everywhere. For how do you represent a omnipresent, all knowing, ever present thing, the whole universe, in everything? There is no picture that can encapsulate all of this – but conversely God is in it all to the last cell. And so we can see as you illustrate Dianne, that by making life about borders, objects, barriers, and containers, we get tricked into a space where we think God does not even exist. The irony is its the definitions and blocks we have subscribed to that aren’t even true. Everything is one and part of the whole.

  13. Wanting evidence of God is kind of like a child wanting to prove it has a mother! The evidence is all around and inside us anyway, indisputable wonder, magic, order, beauty and love. And when humans create environments that are absent of these qualities it is because of their choice to be separate to God, thank God 🙂 we have nature.

  14. There is here a huge transformation that wholly deserves to be appreciated because in this writing we have before us the transformative movement of a person’s relationship with God from being one of images to an actual relationship that is intimate and personal, loving and essentially divine. This is so tremendous given all of the pressures we all experience from a young age to separate God out in to the images we are given of him. So it takes a huge dedication and commitment to break free of this and in fact choose to be open to and to explore what God truly is.

    1. I have read this comment and an earlier one that you wrote on the same blog. The pair work beautifully together as an inspiration for all of us to deepen our relationship with God. Most of us probably put a huge amount of effort over the years into some of the primary relationships in our lives; husband, wives, children…and then also even pets. What if we were to invest even a fraction of that time, commitment and dedication into the most important relationship that we will ever have – that which is with God.

  15. A brilliant blog about one very specific subject – God. But where else in our lives do ‘pictures’ hide the actual truth from us? Well, in truth – pretty much EVERYWHERE. And these pictures are pure poison to us. They not only stop us from seeing the bigger picture but also we kill ourselves in pursuit of them. It’s insane. Keeping the picture metaphor going, you could say it’s akin to working ourselves to the bone, to save up every penny that we have to then go and spend it all on a painting that is a fake. If we knew it was a fake we wouldn’t do it – of course we wouldn’t. Yet, my feeling is that many of us are much more aware than we pretend to be about the fact that much of what we chase in our lives, or aspire to, we absolutely know within ourselves isn’t the real deal. So why do we do it? Like i said we wouldn’t buy the fake painting. Is it possible that it is easier to go with the flow rather than stand up for what we know to be the truth? Is it possible that most of humanity is involved in the most gigantic case of The Emperor’s Clothes? Thankfully Serge Benhayon and a growing number of others have the same wisdom and courage as the boy in that story, to say what they see, feel and know. And thus the shroud of ignorance is lifting from us all.

  16. We could see not having an ‘image of God’ as a failure in our lifelong search for meaning. But as you beautifully show Dianne perhaps this is much closer to the truth, than we think. For surely what I have seen is that God is in every moment and every life event, supporting and showing me which way to go. In fact, it is less like ‘messages from God’ that we receive, than the constant communication of everything, all of the time. In this situation who needs images to understand, God is the best friend you can ever find?

  17. Yes light, energy, feeling, no words…”And whatever God might be, it had a similar feel to that core of light inside me”, God cannot be caught, imprisoned, tarnished and nailed down; God is within and part of all of us and the universe.

  18. What a vivid and full description of a childhood journey to adult… I read this like I was watching a movie… brilliant Diane, thank you for sharing … I got goosebumps reading this paragraph… “…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’………”

  19. Dianne, your sharing of your journey and exploration of God exposes the craziness of how we live in the world and how in fact how we live what we understand to be God and religion misses the point, and how we’ve gone into divisive groups and sects in our pursuit of religion and God – it exposes how we live far from the love we are from and the love we naturally are. In truth God is simple, all around us and within in and accessible to us all, and as we let go our ideas and images of what God is we allow the space for us to develop a relationship with ourselves and God.

  20. One thing to be sure Danne if one does have an image of God that they are on the wrong track as any image at all has my alarm bells ringing and the words ‘false god’ come to mind.

  21. Is it possible we all know ” God ” intimately and therefore do not require any image of what is intimately known. The chasing of an image or what ever ,is a way of avoiding the intimacy with ” God ” that we all know. Even the word ” God ” is a image.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s