frankleonard.com - "Is Anyone Watching?"
August 29, 2006
I received more responses to my little five sentence email last night than ever before. I thought you might like to see how others responded. As a result of your responses, I have done some more thinking on the question myself, and will close this email with those thoughts . . .
THE ORIGINAL EMAIL
The god question is, "Is anybody watching me, even when I am alone?"
And my question is, "Why do we need someone watching us?"
Why is it not enough to live our lives as authentically and as compassionately as possible?
I believe when I am living my life as authentically and as compassionately as possible I
am doing this with my "inner witness" as activated, consciously aware, as possible. I
believe that my "inner witness" is part of the greater consciousness that I call the
Divine, or Source.
Experiencing the unity of consciousness with Source which comes when I am compassionately still, listening, open, is experiencing a bliss, a calmness, a connection to everyone and everything.
We don't need anyone watching us, but often knowing that we are being compassionately
witnessed, especially by ourselves, we come to a deeper awareness of our motives, of our
connectness to others and to Source.
It is indeed enough to live our lives authentically and as compassionately as possible.
To attach the label of God to this way of living doesn't have to happen in order for me
to feel completeness, but I have experienced a witness greater than just my own knowing
in still, quiet moments that I rejoice in experiencing. So I choose to believe in this
Witness, that inspires, stills, and connects me with a reality larger than my limited
senses and thoughts can realize.
Thanks for the question and your thoughts. I enjoyed putting together my ideas to share.
It seems to me that with a statement like this you are setting up a bit of a straw man and then knocking him down. You are defining God in a very limiting way and then pointing out just how limiting "god" is. It really seems to me that in trying to free yourself from the limitations of a mythic, personal, judging, separated, conception of God (healthy and reasonable, in my opinion) you have thrown the proverbial mythic baby out with the transcendent bathwater. There is far more to God than this conception, in fact, there is far more to God than conception. Period. Taoists would say "that which one can deviate from is not the Tao". They are essentially saying that that which one can deviate from is not God. I think that you believe that in order to truly let go of the mythic God, you have to abandon any possibility of there being anything above and within us that is truly Transcendent - meaning something that is a whole of which our relative individualities are parts, vehicles, and ultimately, divine manifestations. This is a misconception, and one that I think you are limiting yourself with. It seems that a big part of your process over the last several years has required you to strike at this "straw man" God in order to distance yourself from the limited conceptions of your past identity, and I can understand this, but I have to wonder why you have most recently felt the need to go so far as to label yourself an atheist and continue to push against the image of God which you yourself created. It wasn't just the church and other people that gave you this image of God. You helped to co-create it, and just because you have now exhausted this image of God, does not necessarily mean that you have exhausted God. I thought that labeling oneself and being bound to a particular image of God was what you were trying to be free of in this process. If you just jump onto another belief system (in this case - the belief that there is nothing transcendent to believe in), then that will become the next impediment to the freedom that I know is so important to you. Freedom is more than just freedom from, it is also a freedom to. You have found the personal truth of freedom from limiting mythic belief systems, but it seems to me that you are missing the freedom to actively, non-dogmatically, and fearlessly believe in and pursue something beyond a merely personal truth.
Just a few late night thoughts.
GOOD QUESTION, CAN IT REALLY BE ANSWERED? I THINK "GOD" IS THERE FOR OUR BENEFIT. TO MAKE US ACCOUNTABLE FOR OUR LIVES AND TO BE A HELPING PARTICIPANT IN THE LIVES OF OTHERS. THAT'S A TOUGH ONE. IF YOU ASK ME THE SAME QUESTION NEXT WEEK I MAY HAVE A DIFFERENT ANSWER FOR YOU. I WON'T HOLD TO ANY ONE VIEW AS LONG AS I KEEP LEARNING. I CAN BE LIBERAL ON SOME THINGS, I CAN BE CONSERVATIVE ON OTHERS, ALL AT THE SAME TIME. I FOUND NO ONE VIEW IS ALL, RIGHT OR WRONG. I WISH YOU GOOD LUCK IN YOU QUEST TO FIND AN ANSWER.
my conception of the god principle has nothing to do with anybody watching me.
it is the organizing force of the universe. it is the source of perfection.
it is the "breath within the breath".
There is no such thing as a " somebody" or a something" watching an "anyone". It's all a dream.
FURTHER THOUGHTS OF MY OWN . . .
Wow, I have never had so many responses to anything I have written. This one obviously touches a cord in people, one way or the other. Here's what I now want to add. I don't want my statement to be seen (necessarily) as an atheistic statement. I don't want to make my statement any broader than is necessary. What I was mostly trying to say is that God is a concept that has historically been used to take away personal responsibility, meaning that so many people try to base their beliefs and actions on trying to please someone outside themselves. It should be enough to honor ourselves enough to say what we say and do what we do, not out fear or the need to please, but out of our own integrity. It sounds like most of you who replied would agree with that. There is no God on the outside.
And that leaves the inside, which resonates with most of you. But it doesn't resonate with me, not when the same words "God" and "divine" are used. You're right. They don't work for me any more, externally, internally, or transcendentally. They have been used far too long in too many bigoted, hateful, separating ways to ever again have any meaning for me again. I got burned by them. But it's not just a new language that I yearn for. I yearn for every human being to come to the realization that all of life and their lives are too beautiful to be wasted arguing theology, salvation, judgment, and who has the inside track on God.
What I'm really saying is that this life, this body, this existence, is enough for me. If there's more, then fine. But I don't need more. I don't need someone to have designed this universe. I don't need someone to have given me this life to be able to appreciate it and honor it and celebrate it. And that's not just a personal truth. I know it's not just about me. I know we're all connected to each other and to this universe. But I have no need to bring in a concept of God at that point, or to talk about the divine. That for me is distracting. It doesn't leave me feeling capable of using my own heart and mind and body to create beauty, to honor beauty, and to be compassionate with all those I meet and serve.
I don't know if that comes close enough to saying it to give you a glimpse of the respect and the honor with which I view myself, others, this world, and life. I just don't need a God for that. I respect and honor each of your thoughts, beliefs, and opinions. I do not intend to say for anyone else, "This is how it is." I am just doing my best to try and understand how it is for me. And for that I thank for your engaging of me, your pushing back at me, and sharing your own statements of personal belief.
Thank you! I love each of you and all of you. Let's keep talking!