One of the blogs I follow is The Human Picture by ShimonZ from Israel. In a recent post he wrote about Purim, a Jewish holiday that celebrates “the invisibility of God or the fact that God’s presence in the world is not always obvious or reasonable.”
It’s the second part, that God is not always obvious or reasonable, that I like.
Although every religion has its distinct differences, something that sets it apart from the others, they all share a core philosophy of love, compassion, tolerance. The tolerance part gets lost a lot of times in dogma, but if you look at its origins, it’s there.
I’m not really sure what I think about God. Part of the reason I’m drawn to Buddhism is because of the idea that everything we need to live a happy, peaceful life is already inside us. An atheist can be a Buddhist. Or a Christian, Jew, whatever. It doesn’t matter. A meditation practice and the Buddha’s teachings can help anyone become more present in their life, more compassionate and joyful. Most of the Buddhists I know dismiss the idea of a higher power, something “other” that’s out there in the world.
But I don’t know if I buy that either. I’ve always felt the presence of something else, something invisible, but out there that’s both separate and a part of myself. Buddha nature itself, that indescribable thing that connects all of us could just be another manifestation of God.
The idea of God, for many of us, is the lifeline we hold onto. The part that doesn’t make sense, that seems unreasonable and is certainly invisible. When bad things happen, we tell ourselves that it’s God’s will, or that it’s making way for something better, or it’s karma, or there’s a lesson there we need to learn. But it all comes down to the same thing–some universal, cosmic truth that rules us.
Maybe it’s human nature that we have to attribute human qualities to God in order to understand him/her/it. Hindus have thousands of manifestations of the One. We have our prophets, our enlightened ones, our saviors. Somehow over time, they’ve lost their human flaws and become divine so we have some image of perfection to aspire to.
I used to have a hard time with the wrathful aspect of God. Again, it’s the eastern religions that helped me see that it’s all about balance. In Hinduism as well as in the Vajrayana, Tibetan and Tantric traditions, the opposite of the compassionate bodhisattva is a blood-drinking demon with a necklace of skulls. Although, they might seem horrible, they are not, in fact, considered evil. Rather, they remind us that compassion can take many forms and wear many faces, that things are not always what they seem to be on the surface. They also symbolize the effort it takes to follow a spiritual path, the trials we might encounter, the temptations of the world.
For me, it also serves as a reminder that God, too, can take many forms, and sometimes they might seem unreasonable.