I recall that as a little girl I used to feel a great sense of wonder, joy and magic in nature – in the sound of dry leaves under foot, the sound of the waves, the perfume of flowers, the beauty of a butterfly, the birds singing in the morning, the feeling of a gentle breeze on my skin and much more. In nature I could feel a connection to a grandness, to something more than just the physical world and more than just me. What I also recall as a little girl was that no one else, or at least the adults around me, seemed to experience the same level of wonder or sense of magic – or this was not expressed.
I did not know it then but this was me feeling and connecting to God through the magic of God that surrounds us all, and to this day I still feel a very strong connection to God through the reflections of nature. I’ve come to know that the grandness I felt and continue to feel so powerfully in nature, is simply and powerfully a reflection of the grandness of God within me. But as a child, I was presented with another picture of God.
As a young child, I don’t recall having any particular picture of God beyond that of an older bearded man with light all around him. I wasn’t raised within a religion and neither of my parents had strong religious backgrounds. I recall having conversations about ‘Christian’ values such as ‘treat others as you would treat yourself,’ and that the way you live every day and your relationships with others was more important than reading the Bible or attending Church every week. I seem to remember talking about the story of Jesus, and about religion in terms of the different faiths and the Church, but I don’t recall any conversations about God; who or what He actually was.
At the age of five or six I went to the occasional Sunday school session and so became more aware of religion and the teachings of the Church and while I was curious, they made no sense to me. What was presented was a very particular picture of God, along with ways of connecting to him, of earning his love, and of course how to return to him in heaven. All of a sudden I was being taught rules about ways to behave and it seemed you could only be connected to God if you read the Bible and/or went to Church to listen to someone else talk about God. None of this felt true to me, even then. There was no sense of wonder or joy in these experiences. God was reduced to a study in words – and I felt no magic.
I didn’t give God or religion any thought for many years and was strongly against any form of organised religion. Then I met Serge Benhayon who presents the teachings of the Ageless Wisdom, and based on these has introduced The Way of The Livingness, a true religion based on the simple principle that religion is about living in connection with your inner-most heart, with the divine part of ourselves, with our essence. It is this simple principle that has reignited my connection with God and the ongoing development of my own personal relationship with God. I can see how my opposition to organised religion kept me from questioning the role it plays in defining God and our relationship with God, which I now know is also our relationship with ourselves.
From what I can see, organised religion puts God in a box, and us along with him, shaping the way we see and relate to God, to other people and to other religions. Strong moral codes and beliefs within organised religion shape our behaviour and tend to focus our efforts in life on what happens when we die and bringing about a constant striving to be good enough to enter heaven. At the same time, wars have been fought in the name of religion for centuries, and groups or individuals who practise religion ‘outside of the box’ have been vilified, cast as deviant and evil and even wiped out by the dominant religion of the day. The Cathars and the later European witch hunts stand out as examples.
Our relationship to God has been complicated by organised religion as it offers a bastardised version of God and our relationship to Him. For some, as it was with myself, the reaction to religion keeps their backs turned to God. One could easily conclude that organised religion is a form of control, a formalised system that keeps us from knowing the truth about God.
I’ve come to know through The Way of The Livingness that true religion connects us back to the truth that “the Kingdom of God is within you,” reminding us that we are all equal Sons of God, and in that, God is not someone separate from us, or mightier than us, but the very essence of who we are. True religion is simply about our personal and ever evolving connection and relationship with God, with our own divinity and with humanity. In true religion there are no pictures or rules.
I am of God, as we all are, and in our hearts we know this to be true, but in the minds of mankind everything must have its place and so God has been put in a box. In our hearts there are no boxes, only the offering of an ever deepening connection with our essence, and therefore with God.
By Michelle, Social Science Researcher, Brisbane