God transcends everything, yet God is also present within and through everything.
We can attune ourselves to God’s presence in us and in the world around us.
Whatever can be said of this tuning into God’s presence does not do justice to it.
But in every religion, mystics have tried to communicate it and express it, even while knowing it cannot be contained in a single expression.
Hence, “the way that can be spoken is not the eternal way”.
The aim of every mystic is to go deeper and more surely into this presence, toward a union that promises the complete fulfillment of the soul.
But in every form of mysticism it is acknowledged that the real work is already accomplished…it is only our resistance, our delusions, our misapprehensions that must be let go.
When Peter walked on water, it was only his doubt and fear as the waves grew higher that made him sink.
Doubt and fear have no substantial existence, they are like optical illusions, misapprehensions. But the point is not to try to “see through” them, the point is to look elsewhere.
“Perfect love casts out all fear”, but we can’t hold onto our fears, continue breathing life into them, and expect love to come along and erase them.
Loving God with your whole heart means to stop entertaining fears and doubts, and ultimately this requires a choice or a decision to let go of them and focus only on love.
Tuning into God’s presence means letting go of anything less than God. So long as we are focused on God’s presence, so long as we actually feel it, we can’t entertain anything contradictory.
A motive of love and happiness is always compatible with God’s presence, but a motive of fear and doubt is not. Our everyday lives are run through with these two motives…we can eat, speak, act, and move from a motive of love or a motive of fear.
External acts can appear similar, but the difference between awareness of God’s presence and obliviousness is like the difference between happiness and depression.
When I first studied mysticism, I interpreted it through my own lens of struggle and unhappiness and saw it as demanding austerity and sacrifice as the price for overcoming all suffering.
But this interpretation merely reflected my own resistance, fear and doubt, back at me.
The simple answer is that happiness lies in one direction and suffering in the other. Suffering doesn’t need to be “overcome” it just needs to be replaced with happiness. And the source and culmination of all happiness is found in God’s presence.
That doesn’t mean we need to go around stifling and sabotaging all other forms or expressions of happiness. It doesn’t mean we have to heighten the contrast between suffering and happiness.
It’s enough to just stop refreshing the suffering and misery and all thoughts and beliefs that fuel it.
If perfect love casts out all fear, trust that in tuning into God’s presence there is no need for doubt and fear anymore.