We live in a world in love with opposites. With sides. We live in an era of divisiveness. We allow ourselves to be controlled by likes and dislikes, approval and disapproval. We find our identity in the side we claim.
The yoga sutra-s teach us that the goal of yoga postures is to build such a centered seat that we are no longer upset by the play of opposites. A useful goal to be sure, but one we haven’t yet reached.
For our mood is set based on whether we are hungry or full, happy or sad, cold or hot, us or them. We seek pleasure and avoid pain.
In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna tells Arjuna: “Having made yourself alike in pain and pleasure, profit and loss, victory and defeat, engage in this great battle and you will be freed from sin.”
Having made yourself alike in the face of opposites. It’s that same goal again. And yet, most of us are being tossed about by the constant push and pull of pain and pleasure, profit and loss, victory and defeat. We live at the whim of the various opposites we face each day.
What are the opposites you face? I invite you to investigate your life. Notice the power that like and dislike have over your moods, thoughts, feelings, and actions. And in your investigation, explore how the pull of opposites has effected your concept of God.
God is a powerful word, full of baggage for most of us. If I ask you what is meant by the word God, what are the opposites that arise for you? True God vs false gods. A judging God vs a loving God. A personal God vs Universal Energy. A Creator vs. Non-existent. All powerful vs powerless.
I wonder though, what if we didn’t pin God down under our love of opposites? What if we allowed the concept of God to be utterly undefinable? What would it feel like to set the opposites aside. And open ourselves to the reality of unknowing?
It might feel scary. Or exciting. But really, these are just more opposites. Whether you find yourself leaning more toward the side of belief or dis-belief, I’m asking you to risk yourself for a moment … Let go of answers and open toward mystery.
We live in a loud, anxious, stressed out world. Mystery can be hard to find. So I offer you this invitation: Come, seek, behold!
These three verbs invite us into spiritual practices, based—not on right belief or correct answers—but on movement, curiosity, and wonder!
It is not my objective to define Divine Mystery for you. It is my hope that you will accept an invitation, of moving toward, Divine Mystery, using whatever word best describes that reality for you. It is my hope that you will search for meaning in this path we are all walking between the ultimate pair of opposites—birth and death. It is my hope that you will be present in the transformative experiences of awe that arise in your life.
I have no interest in asking you to believe something. I will tell you, though, one thing that I believe. I believe that God exists beyond the realm of opposites, beyond the realm of our human perceptions and language. And because of this belief I do have one hard standard when it comes to Divine Mystery. The word God, and the religions that form around God, should never be used as a tool of oppression. However God is defined, it is my belief that our spiritual practices should lead us toward becoming kinder, more peaceful people of integrity.
I believe that God—the word I’m comfortable with for Divine Mystery—exists beyond our definitions. But not beyond our experiences. The mystery of God exists within the world in which we live. Hence my invitation to you: Come, seek, behold.
COME – Approach. Draw near. Move toward.
SEEK – the act of seeking is written into our DNA. We are emotionally primed for curiosity.
BEHOLD – Stand in awe, allow yourself to experience your glimpses of the ineffable without attempting to define them.
Go out into the world and pay attention. Pay attention to the faces you see… Pay attention to the beauty… To the suffering… To the joy… Search for Divine Mystery in the known of your life. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus claims that as we do for the least of these, we do unto him. This scripture is telling us that when we feed the hungry. We are feeding God. The Isha Upanishad opens with the stunning line: “In the heart of all things, of whatever there is in the universe, dwells the Lord.” Another translation reads: “All this is for habitation by the Lord.”
Divine Mystery is everywhere, in everything. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of God is within us.
So come, draw near, move toward your own center. Allow yourself to quiet down under the noise of the world and seek the voice within. Listen for that of God within you. And when you return to the noise of the world, search out that of God in everything and everyone you see. Remember: “All this is for habitation by the Lord.” …
Come, seek, behold.
The title of this sermon is: “What or Who is God?” And clearly, I don’t have an answer for you. In fact, I don’t believe there is an answer to the question. And yet, I have spent the better part of my adult life searching for one. And I know that not a single moment of this searching has gone to waste. In fact, I will continue to seek. I will continue to draw near the God who in the Hebrew Bible tells Moses: I AM WHO I AM. Ancient Hebrew words that can also be translated as I AM WHAT I AM or I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE. This name for God, apparently offered by God, speaks of the ungraspable nature of God that exists beyond our world of constant change, beyond our world of opposites.
So I give you no answers. And I hope you don’t find an answer, but I pray that you’ll search for one.
Come, Seek, Behold.
Move toward your center. Move toward the world. Seek the quiet that exists underneath the noise of anxiety, stress, and constant motion. And behold the mystery you find there.