Spiritual Awakening, Growth, and Enlightenment/God
i'm a 30 year old male who grew up in a Christian home. I attended church every sunday, albeit unwillingly. when I went away to college I began to really question the words of the bible and the existence of God to this day. I still don't know where I stand faithwise
what I do know for sure now is that, I do believe in God, or some higher being. however, I don't believe in the God that the judeochristian bible portrays.(omnipresent, omniscient, omnibenevolent and so on.)
now every now and then I believe that this God does intervene in our lives every now and then.
now here are my questions?
1-who/what do I pray to? because I still feel the need at times to pray.
2-do you know of any resource(s) to help guide me towards getting a clearer view of who God is?
3-any resources on the beginning of religion and its purpose?
Thank you very much
Your questions are deep and sincere.
Regarding the first, see below for something I wrote on prayer.
My book, END YOUR STORY, BEGIN YOUR LIFE, especially in Chapter Two,
addresses your second and third questions - but I have included another piece, also
below, which may offer an answer to you,
A Prayer of Gratitude
Many people wonder about prayer, and how that changes as we awaken to our true nature, to the Reality we are behind the ever-changing relative reality.
Instead of praying to some idea of God or a higher Power, you will be supremely alert in the present, fully attentive in this moment now, and you will feel as a palpable reality the immense silence behind creation.
You will feel the power of it vibrating in every cell of your being, and you will know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that the “Power” you once prayed to actually exists. It is the very substratum of existence, the very energy and consciousness of which you are made.
Then your prayers will take on a different tone. Rather than beseeching or asking, you will be expressing the gratitude you feel for the grace continually being bestowed upon you, and upon all who have the eyes, the ears, and the sensitivity to notice it.
Your prayer may be as simple deeply felt “Thank you!” to God, or the universe, or the great silence.
As you become freer of your story, and especially the story of “I” and “me,” you experience a deeper and deeper gratitude for the simple joy of being here, in this body, still breathing, still able to sense and feel everything, still alive…
Throughout history, people have invented many stories about God, from ancient tribal beliefs and myths, all the way up to the beliefs we have today.
Each religion has its own story about the mysterious power behind all manifest creation, whether it is Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, or any one of the countless other religions that exist.
What they all have in common is their story—and that they depend on the story, on believing in it and adhering to it, to attract and keep their followers.
And yet for anyone who reading this, who is interested in realizing freedom within themselves, a simple fact has to be acknowledged: a story, even the noblest, most beautiful, and most sacred of stories, is still just a story! It is not the truth!
The truth is what exists in the wordless, timeless space of here, now. What exists here, now? You, reading this book, exist here, now. You are very aware of existing here, now. The fact that you exist here now is undeniable. Indeed, it is the only thing of which you can, in this very moment, be absolutely certain.
Reality is lived here, now. The more awake and free you are, the less need you have to “believe” in anything, and that includes the religion you may have been raised in.
The freedom from needing to “believe” in anything is tremendously liberating.
Then you are open to, and you begin to love, everyone and everything—and yes, you can always choose, consciously, to step back from, even reject, a behavior or situation not conducive to the general good.
You understand more clearly how religions began in the first place: to give meaning and purpose to lives that were otherwise bereft of true meaning, and to give people a sense of community, of belonging.
As you awaken to the timeless truth within—the freedom, love, and joy that is your inherent nature—living becomes naturally rich in all those qualities that religion, with varying degrees of success, provided. Beauty, truth, love, and purpose are all yours as you live and act from the depths of our true nature.
Your sense of meaning comes from existence itself—from being one with the aliveness, fullness, and creative potential of this moment here, right now. Then you use the power of story to create, communicate, and collaborate, but you are no longer limited by it, and no longer afraid of anything.
Yes, most religions use a very subtle, though not necessarily intentional, form of fear to hold sway over their followers. They rely on the fear of “God’s” judgment, and the story about the “hell” that awaits those who incur His wrath.
It is what keeps believers in check, and prevents them from straying too far from the fold. It requires, usually, tremendous courage to break free from the hold of religion and march to the beat of your own drum.
But when you do break free, you begin to realize that what you’ve been searching for all along exists within you, and always has. Freedom, beauty, and love are your very nature, your true nature. And they are right here, right now.
More and more, you will find that decisions as to what works best in relationships, in society, and even in politics flows out of a clear, loving consciousness, free of any single religious “story” or belief about what is best.
So you will look around you, and even as you honor the truth, beauty, and sense of the sacred that exists in all religious traditions, you are just open to life, open to the endless creative possibilities and opportunities awaiting you.