“There is no better advice on how to find God than to seek him where we left him: do now, when you cannot find God, what you did when last you had him, and then you will find him again.” – Meister Eckhart
I found God many years ago. He wasn’t hard to find, though it took me a while to realise that “He” was more like an “it”.
I found Him easily.
But doubts came even easier.
Why didn’t God talk to me or give me directions like in the bible or in some people’s accounts?
And how could I reconcile my experience with my parents’ demands that I go to church with them, even though I felt no real connection there?
Many of the books I read said how hard it was to do what I was doing. So maybe I wasn’t doing it after all?
More urgently, my life didn’t change. What value was there in my experience of God if the rest of my life still felt like a hopeless and crushing ordeal?
Finding the answers
I have answers to all my questions now.
I know now that other people’s opinions and experiences simply don’t matter unless I make them matter.
No one else can live my life for me. No one else will take responsibility for my happiness. So if my experience of God doesn’t match their personal spiritual or theological or philosophical view, that isn’t my problem.
After all, not a single person thinks they might have it wrong after meeting me, and nor should they. I don’t expect others to rethink their worldview just because I don’t agree with them.
All of these doubts and second-guessing are typical of my internal struggle between how I feel about things versus what other people think. (I’ve discussed it before in MBTI terms as the dominant-inferior dichotomy of the INFP.)
I spent many years rethinking my experience of God, hoping to find answers that would satisfy everyone.
I literally hoped to find the singular common truths underlying different religions, but I can see now that I also sought to bridge the gap between how I feel and what others seem to think.
Change of plans
I don’t need to do this anymore, because I know that it’s not possible and it’s not really what I desire.
All I ever wanted can be found in my own experience of God. Trying to answer others’ doubts and my own was really just giving voice to my fears and insecurities.
I don’t need that permission anymore, and it was never enough anyway.
My experience of God is the lodestone of all that is good and uplifting and joyful in life.
It’s the centre of my happiness because it is happiness itself.
The only reason it seemed insufficient in the past was that I kept looking at the world around me, at the things I didn’t like.
I didn’t practice enough the presence of God in my life and so it always remained marginal and “not enough”.
My practice of happiness, joy, and satisfaction could not gain momentum so long as I continually looked around to see if my frustration, misery and hopelessness were still there.
The good that came
I could have been happy much much earlier. I didn’t need so many years of struggle.
But it’s still okay. The struggle gave me a desire for clarity, for certainty, understanding.
My search brought me into touch with perspectives of God from vastly different religions and cultures.
And my experience of God deepened and expanded as I found it again and again under different guises: in the emptiness and insight of Buddhism, in the Holy Book of the Sikhs, in the poetry and ecstasy of the Sufis, in the nonduality of Vedanta, in the metaphysics and liturgy of Christianity, and in the mystery and flow of Daoism.
I found God again and again and eventually I also found out why those encounters had never seemed “enough”.
If you want to let go of doubt, you have to stop picking it up.
It’s up to us to decide what we focus on. We can’t fill our minds and hearts with troubles and fears and expect God to make them go away.
My Happiness Challenge has brought this out of me, because at last I’m finally determined to feel good and be as disciplined and as focused as feeling good requires.