Throughout religious history, there have been two false versions of God. The bad God is the angry God, the God that will punish you if you don’t do the right thing. This is the God that needs to be appeased, the God to whom you need to sacrifice. This God wants you to suffer. This is the God that demanded human sacrifice in ancient cultures around the world. It is the God that demanded that Abram sacrifice his son, Isaac, in the Old Testament of the Bible. It is the God that demanded a sacrifice of His own son, Jesus, to pay for the sins of human beings. This God is a punishing God.
Today we live in more enlightened times, at least for some people, and they believe in the good God—the God who brings you the things that you want. Or at least they try too. It sounds like a glorified Santa Claus—the God who loves you and brings you all good things. Usually, when someone is trying to believe in the good God, underneath they have greater faith in the bad God.
These are both immature, undeveloped ways of relating to the Divine. God is neither bad nor good. The reality that we name with that word God is what it is. It is the Creator of all things. It is that reality that establishes the creative process in which all is created and all is destroyed—not really destroyed in any kind of ultimate sense. But the disintegration of forms is part of the process of creation, and so we experience it as human beings. There is the fact of the death of the forms of life.
We might think that we would experience it differently if we were different. Perhaps if we were fully enlightened our experience of death would be different. But nonetheless, there are cycles in life, and there are times of things coming together and there are times of things falling apart; there are entrances and there are exits. Things are built up and then things fall down. Receiving the grace of God is not just about receiving the good God who means us well, or appeasing the bad God. A person receives God’s grace when they see that, in the middle of it all, there is the beauty and the wonder and the glory of Creation, and there is the universal love and the universal truth of the Creator. In that experience there is grace, and there is a place for you in that awesome reality.
That awesome reality is so much better than the sugary sweet ideas of a good God could ever be. Sometimes in tragedy of whatever nature, people get in touch with the reality of the grace of God. They realize that even in that tragedy, even in that falling apart, there is something so exquisitely wonderful and exquisitely beautiful, and there is at the same time a coming together, and that life can never be destroyed—that life is always present and always available. Love is always present and always available, no matter what has happened or is happening. Whatever the adversity we face, we can find grace in that adversity, and therefore find that no situation is all adversity. There is grace for us in the middle of it.
When we receive that grace, it becomes not only something we receive but it becomes something we have to give. It may be the greatest gift that one human being could give to another—the presence of grace. So that no matter what is happening in another, no matter what is falling apart—a relationship, health, business—whatever it may be, if we are receiving God’s grace we have the capacity to be God’s grace, to embody God’s grace in that situation with another person. We can say it will all be all right, but ultimately what we know is that it may not work out the way the person wants it to work out. It will be all right, though. It is all held in the hands of the Creator, and there is wonder and there is glory in that.
Often, the unconscious fear is that by acknowledging that this circumstance is in the hands of God’s grace, you are acquiescing to the destructive powers of a bad God. In fact, when God’s grace is present we stand our best chance of knowing happiness and creativity. We stand our best chance of not only rolling with the punches but being a key factor in what is coming together. Because in a human life the falling apart is a given. Things do fall apart. Apparently, they do not need help to do that. Have you noticed? They say the only things that are sure are death and taxes.
The real question is, will something come together? Will there be some glory? Will there be something beautiful? Will all that is coming apart get reintegrated into a creative pattern in the human experience? We stand the best chance of being a cause for that to happen when we accept God’s grace in our life and when we bring God’s grace to everything that is happening in our world.
I have a friend, Laurence Gawronsky, who owns two small manufacturing businesses in Cape Town, South Africa. He navigates all the turbulence of the South African business environment, providing good jobs for many people. I so admire Laurence’s courage and tenacity as he steers his businesses to success in the context of larger competitors. Laurence wrote to me recently about grace in his own life.
What does it actually take to live a graceful life? This is something that I haven’t always had in the back of my mind. Fiona [who is Laurence’s wife] said to me recently, as I was about to leave the house, “You’ve got to remember to bring grace into the situations that you’re finding yourself.” And I remember that morning I wasn’t feeling particularly graceful.
Sometimes, when one is facing circumstances and situations that are adverse, the first thing that goes out the picture is gracefulness. Instead, there can be a fight or flight situation, where one confronts or one hides away. But there’s a third possibility, and that is to bring grace. I find in looking at this, it’s not just bringing “grace” but bringing the “grace of God” into a circumstance.
So how does it go for you when there are things that are falling apart in your life? Have you found God’s grace in them? Laurence did, walking out the door that morning, with Fiona’s help. I’m so proud of my friend Laurence because I know what he faces in his life, and the creativity he brings to it. I am proud of anyone anyplace who finds God’s grace in the middle of their circumstance, and not only finds it for themselves but finds a way to bring it into their life, and brings the creativity of that grace. We all have the chance to do that.
It takes grace for us as human beings to accept and appreciate what has happened in our life—what ishappening in our life that is coming apart—and see it as part of a grand plan. It takes grace to see that what is coming apart is feeding something great. When we come to that place of real acceptance of what is happening that we have been trying to avert or judge, we find the blessing in it. We find the grace in it. And then, with that grace, we find our role as the creator in our world.
There is the Creator of all, and when we accept the grace of the Creator that is embodied in the Creation, in all the coming together and all the falling apart of the Creation, then we have won our stripes. We have earned the right to own our place as the creator in our world. If we are still fighting with a bad God or hoping for a good one, we are not in position to be the creator in our world and to be the living embodiment of that reality. And indeed, that’s our calling as individuals, and that is our calling as humanity: to be standing in the shoes of the Creator as human beings.
The universe in which we live likes to replicate itself all over the place, and patterns are replicated at all levels. We find that for us, as human beings, we live in this human spacesuit, this six feet of flesh and the radiance of consciousness and energy that surrounds it. We find that the stature and scope of the cosmos is replicated in this human being that we are. Do you think that’s true? We find the radiance of the sun present in ourselves. We even say we have a “solar plexus.” And the sun itself is a relatively small star, itself a replication of a reality that’s far vaster than it.
We have the atmosphere of the earth, the “brave o’er-hanging firmament,” and we have the atmosphere that we carry as a human being, replicated right within our human capacity. We have constellations of stars, and we as human beings, as suns, have relationships with each other. We form constellations right here on earth as human beings. We have the God of Gods, the God of all, the Creator of all, and then we are the creator of our immediate sphere of function, endowed with creative capacities and abilities.
We have the truth of the universe, the design and pattern, the control of the universe, the intelligence of the universe. And then we as human beings have these miraculous minds that can bring intelligence. They can be alive with the light of realization and the imaginative thinking that brings creation. Just as the God of Gods creates universes through intelligence and universal thought, we in our sphere are a replication of that when we do all the things we do every day; even simple things like washing the dishes, putting children to bed, or driving to work.
There is replication at every level. Who we are as human beings is replicated at an infinitesimal scale of being, all the way down to the cells of our body, each of which contain the pattern for the body as a whole. We have physical substance in our bodies, just like the earth around us. There is replication throughout Creation and right here in our own being.
For all that to work creatively for us as human beings, what has to be in place is our relationship to a higher order of Being, to the real God. If you had to relate to stars and galaxies, I think it might be difficult, astrology aside. Astrology is an attempt to have us as human beings relate to a larger order of Being. But what is so interesting is the mechanism that is built within us to contact that larger order of Being, to contact God’s grace and receive it immediately—to receive it into our bodies as life itself; to receive it into our thoughts; to receive it into our feelings; to have our spirits, as human beings, uplifted by that reality through our immediate contact with the larger order of Being, that larger order of the Creator.
This brings me to a word that I have avoided like the plague over the last number of years. It is a word for God, a word for the Creator. And it is a beautiful word, but subject to all kinds of interpretation, religious and otherwise. For some, it evokes the specter of the bad God. For some, it evokes the image of the good God. And for many people, the word has lost any real meaning. The word is Lord. To me, it is a word that relates to our immediate contact with the larger order of the Creator. There is, implicit in the word, humility in relationship to that reality. Implicit in the word is that I am in service to that reality. And yes, to all of it—to the God of Gods and the cosmic All That Is. But what is so amazing for us, as human beings, is that all of that—from wherever it comes throughout the cosmos, whatever design and direction there is for your life and mine—comes to focus in our immediate contact with that reality that comes to us in consciousness, in thought and feeling, and comes to us in that spirit that enters us, that reality of Being.
There is such mistrust in human beings. Human beings doubt what comes to them out of the cosmic All That Is. There is the belief that how it comes to them is not enough. They have to go looking for it someplace. They have to go looking for something better than their immediate contact with the larger order of Being that is available to them through their own consciousness—through their own thoughts and feelings. They have to reach out to the Pleiades, or the Pleiadians, or the Archangel Whozeewhats, and they cannot trust what is coming immediately to them of divine inspiration, divine courage, divine Being—the reality of their Lord, the reality of grace that comes immediately to them in their life. They set that aside and either decide there is no God and that spirituality is irrelevant, or they go looking for the God of their imagination.
The call that comes to me in my life is to “Serve my Lord.” Serve my Lord, serve my King, serve my Queen. Admit that that reality comes to me every day and in fact in every moment. It is not some distant reality. It comes into consciousness; it is available to me. When I give up looking for the good God or being afraid of the bad God, I can accept the real God. I can accept my Lord and my King and my Queen, and accept the unique role that I have of service, of openness and love, of yieldedness. And then accept into my heart and my mind all that that reality is bringing to me, and live a life that is not only facing that reality and loving it and in service to it and open to it, but a life of the ultimate humility, which is the courage to bring that reality into my world—to not only receive the grace of God but to embody that grace in my life. That is the ultimate humility, which is at the same time an act of courage for anyone, and the act of ultimate service and honor to the Lord, to the King, to the Queen.
That reality comes into consciousness through thought and feeling. And when we allow it to come in that way, it also comes to us in the men and women who populate our world. We find that we can be in service to our Lord by being in service to human beings who bring that reality in their living, and even to ones who have only the faintest of understanding and experience of that. And yet that reality is present and we can be of service to it in them, and in all things, and in all of Being, because that reality just loves to replicate itself through all Creation, and it is present everywhere. But you cannot serve it everywhere unless you serve it right here, coming into your own consciousness, into your own Being. You serve that, and you can serve it everywhere.
The First Great Commandment is to love the Lord thy God with all—with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. And the second one is like unto it, because when you do that, you can serve that same Lord in your friends, and indeed in all Creation.
This is what I mean when I speak about primal spirituality.This is real spirituality—not the spirituality of human culture but the spirituality we were born with, the spirituality of how we are made as human beings. I am not making this up! This is how I am made, this is how you are made, and that is the wonder of it.