God is reality

God is that Reality which I cannot see because of my illusions, false hope and false despair. We do not see, because of our cognitive biases: we imagine patterns in random events and seek out evidence which appears to confirm our illusions; we cling to false understandings about reality, because reality is too frightening. We have intense desire. We fall in love. Behind our imaginings, we have a sense that there is something outside us, something bigger than us, something implacable, which I choose to call God.

I am aware that other people have their own feelings and motivation, and I have two ways of understanding these. The first is my unconscious, wordless empathy, from millions of years of primate evolution as social species, and the second is my conscious verbalised understanding, how I assign word-symbols to perceptions and experiences precipitated by events external to me, though how closely my understanding approximates to what is actually happening may vary.

It is strongly tempting to identify “me” with that conscious part, though conscious and unconscious motivations and perceptions interact in a complex dance. So my desire to transition, and my resistance to transition, wrestled mostly below consciousness, and while I believed consciously that consciously I knew myself, I did not. I did not know what made me happy. I did not know the depth of my self-hatred, and even now I lacerate myself.

I detest the idea of Substitutionary Atonement- that God was filled with wrath for humanity, because of our original sin, yet provided Jesus as a pure sacrifice to God, to take our punishment. It seems ridiculous; yet it unites the Wrath and Love of God in one understanding as few Christians may: we err on one side or the other. God is Wrath: we forget reality, and it bites us, as in the story of the Rich Fool; and God is Love, for we fit, here, in our society so beautifully that it can accommodate our failure, stupidity and misperception. Jesus calls us to see reality and shed our illusion; and promises that Heaven is Here, for all who will hear his voice.

And so I engage in spiritual work, according to the Way which human beings have found, which we attempt to teach each other. I sit in silence in the Quaker meeting to encounter Reality and my fellow human beings, and find that what is unconscious in me comes to consciousness, and my understanding of reality improves.

Because I know in part, my understanding is insufficient and self-contradictory; perhaps when at its best it is paradoxical, better expressed in poetry; and clinging to false understanding is Suffering, though accepting unknowing can be intensely painful. For no situation is the same as any other: always we begin again, seeking to understand what is rather than how we might like it to be. And Christians see truth, and pass it on: “Live adventurously”. “The Spirit is the source of strength and guidance for all we are and do.”

William Blake, Night startled by the lark

2 thoughts on “God is reality

  1. this is such amazing ministry Friend. At the moment several patterns, illusion are in my minds eye – reading Faith & Practice, rereading many different Bibles, and the question on non-theism. You have helped with all of these. This for me what what and why ministry, for Friends and otherwise is all about


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