A Personal God?

Elizabeth May

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It's been interesting reading other people's ideas on God. To someone who's a bit outside of it all, how do you see yourself in a 'personal relationship' with God, i.e. what is your relationship with God and in what way is it personal?
What I'm trying to ask here is how you feel God in a personal way.
I figure that a lot of people are feeling something that feels human but some aren't, so it would be interesting to see how it all compares. Anyone to start?
 
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I think I will start this one....


I do not think there is such a thing as a "personal god." As such, each individual who believes in something in the ethereal than that person believes in something that could or could not exist that is outside themselves. Now it is not the same old argument that is known in say, pyschology, or philosophy.

God is beyond human understanding, and whether or not one believes, I think, depends on what is in their heart for one, and for two, the way they were raised, and where they were raised. It is either a direct result of, or a direct result of the opposite of said "raising."

So either way, faith is something we all know. Even the agnostic or the atheists. Because even they have faith. Just not in what the rest of us have faith in.

I have faith that God reveals himself to those who seek him. It is not really about a personal deity, because that takes away from the idea of a god in the first place. A god is not something you create and put in your heart. A God is something with great power and resides in a spiritual world.

The bible defines God as "The Alpha and The Omega, the beginning and the end. The First, and The Last...etc" Other religions claim their god is the same or otherwise. Islam is much the same.

Religions are based on a greater existence for us after this life. Although people corrupt everything they touch. Tis why organized religion is suffering from the things it suffers from in today's modern world.

God Is God. And we, are His creation.
 

brian

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I would most certainly agree with the comment about God being beyond human understanding. :)

As to a personal relationship - some people see, or rather prefer to associate, Divinity as being in human form. I don't see that for myself simply because I haven't seen it!

For the moment Divinity is like an ocean - vast, seemingly infinite - and somehow in this vast ocean is existence as we know it. And I am in the water and feel it and am aware of it.

Yet it could be said that there are many facets of God - all one and yet different. Perhaps in this is the assertion that all interpretations are valid.

As to a personal relationship - it's all very quiet on that front, I'm afraid. A few years back I felt in full communion. My mind was nearly fried by the entire experience. I felt inordinately close to the Divine. But now...now I am very grounded in material concerns, far from asceticism and with a family to support on very little. I feel exhausted and stressed at every level. However, once things pick up on the writing end I'm sure that I will find that the entire problem is that I had stopped looking at anything other than at my own feet.
 
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Quiet on your front because you want it quiet? Or because you feel it left you?

Either way, the choice is always and will always be yours. It hasn't left or forsaken you. It is the other way around my friend.
 

brian

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Heh, apologies for my whining. :)

I guess in simpler terms I was stating that at a certain point in my life I had been in the proverbial hermitage, alone upon the mountain top, where there was only myself and God.

Nowadays I am in the thick of the bustling crowds and my concerns have become as theirs: the material concerns of raising a young family. Embroiled in those arbitrary stresses and the tiredness of that, it's hard to remember to take time for the Divine!

I have no intention of doing what Guatama did and abandon my children for the sake of personal spiritual gratification. :)

If I may raise the potential cliche that life is a journey, then I am merely between stages of rest! I anticipate putting my own feet up soon. :)

But back to the issue...
 

Iacchus

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"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (1 John 3:1-3).

How can you accept God if you don't accept Him on a personal level? And, while I'm not sure you can accept God The Person per se', it is possible to accept--as well as understand--the principle of God, and so take this to heart.
 

Elizabeth May

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I'm afraid I don’t understand the principle of God, let alone see the personal side. I've never been a great fan of the New Testament either. Does God have to be personal? I remember bill saying something about preferring to see the Goddess as a woman because it better expressed the feeling of love he got from God. Or did I read that wrong? I mean, does God have to be human? And if not in human form, what is god to you? I'm just asking around the question.
 

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I think the main thing is to acknowledge that there is a Creator, in whatever form, and we adopt a certain set of codes or standards to live by (e.g., the ten commandments) which most represent who that Creator is. This is what I mean by taking it personally.

And neither does it mean having to subscribe to a particular religion. One could just as easily believe in the ten commandments without having to go to church.
 

Iacchus

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The Heathen in Heaven

Excerpt from Emanuel Swedenborg's, Heaven and Hell ...

There is a general opinion that those born outside of the church, who are called the nations, or heathen, cannot be saved, because not having the Word they know nothing about the Lord, and apart from the Lord there is no salvation. But that these are also saved this alone makes certain, that the mercy of the Lord is universal, that is, extends to every individual; that these equally with those within the church, who are few in comparison, are born men, and that their ignorance of the Lord is not their fault. Any one who thinks from any enlightened reason can see that no man is born for hell, for the Lord is love itself and His love is to will the salvation of all. Therefore He has provided a religion for every one, and by it acknowledment of the Divine and interior life; for to live in accordance with one's religion is to live interiorly, since one then looks to the Divine, and so far as he looks to the Divine he does not look to the world but separates himself from the world, that is, from the life of the world, which is exterior life.
 

Vajradhara

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Namaste Brian,

thank you for the post.

(i don't know how to use the quote feature yet ;)

You write:
I have no intention of doing what Guatama did and abandon my children for the sake of personal spiritual gratification.

to which i respond:

that's not entirely accurate :) not only did he leave his son but he also left his wife, family and friends. and it must be kept in mind that it was not for personal satisfaction that he undertook this course of action, it was due to his compassion for his son, wife, family and really... all of us.

he initially practiced with the ascetics (as you seem to have some experience therein this should interest you) however he discovered that ascetisim would not take him past the 1st Level Bodhisattva Grounds (sorry, that's a bit of a technical description but it's really got to be stated that way) and carnality would not do either... thus the Middle Way was expounded for the sake of all beings.

it is interesting to note the parallels between the various religious founders (Buddha, Jesus Zoraster and so forth) in their proclomation of suffering and hardship should you follow their path.

it's almost as if one cannot attain to a spiritual state without the hardship and suffering of losing our ties to the material world.
 

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Yes, quite right, Vajradhara - I was being a little flippant there. :)

I meant that child-raising provides extreme stresses that can seriously disrupt the calm that spritual exploration tends to require. One solution to immerse myself in spiritual exploration would be to remove myself from my family. However, this would be a terrible selfishness on my part, and entirely unspiritual. By that I equate compassion as a necessary expression of spirituality - to which abandoning children would not seem a very compassionate act.

As for Buddha - if I may suggest that he experienced some form of depression as Prince Siddartha Guatama, then his leaving his family would not be an act of calculated selfishness, but made in confusion for his self and being. Or do you think that he moved aware from them in a purposeful effort to achieve a predestined path?

I would hope that there is a distinction between the two. :)



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As to a final point you raise:

it's almost as if one cannot attain to a spiritual state without the hardship and suffering of losing our ties to the material world.

Quite right. As we are growing as children to adulthood we develop a whole series of perceptions about the world. Material attachments is one part of this, but I would suggest, if not intended by your comment, that a more fundamental issue is that of a change in world view being required for that spiritual growth. We need to learn to see things anew, with new eyes, open to new thoughts and ideas. Hardship is one way of achieving this through a forced humility of thought. Depression can be another, though I do not imply that depression necessarily leads to greater self-realisation, merely that it may be a possible route – in that during the depression a former worldview may crumble, collapse, be destroyed – to be replaced with a different and perhaps more aware version.. I believe the term, "born-again" can come directly from this.

But asceticism itself is only a route to spiritual exploration in that by cutting from material ties it perhaps can make a person more receptive to spiritual growth. However, it's not at all unlikely that the asceticism itself may arise from depression or confusion - a need to clear one's head. Thus the process of asceticism itself is a potential tool for spiritual development, rather than an integral part of the spiritual development itself.

Hope something in all of that makes sense. :)
 

Iacchus

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As for Buddha - if I may suggest that he experienced some form of depression as Prince Siddartha Guatama, then his leaving his family would not be an act of calculated selfishness, but made in confusion for his self and being. Or do you think that he moved aware from them in a purposeful effort to achieve a predestined path?

Of course if the Buddha was also quite weatlhy, he could afford to do this without seriously affecting anyone else's livelihood, be it family, freinds or whatever. There's no doubt people would miss him, but not the way they would if he were solely responsible for their survival. :)
 

Vajradhara

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[quote author=brian

As for Buddha - if I may suggest that he experienced some form of depression as Prince Siddartha Guatama, then his leaving his family would not be an act of calculated selfishness, but made in confusion for his self and being. Or do you think that he moved aware from them in a purposeful effort to achieve a predestined path?

I would hope that there is a distinction between the two. :)
**************************

Namaste Brian,

thank you for the post... yes, it makes quite a bit of sense :)

remember, the Buddha had many previous lives wherein he was a Bodhisattva and working towards this very thing. so, yes, i would say that he was fulfilling his vow to liberate all beings from the endless rounds of birth, old age, sickness and death. many of his previous lives are talked about in a part of the Pali cannon called the Jakarta Tales.
 
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"Bodhisattva " I am not sure what that is.


Where in Buddha's search for the ultimate truth ever tell him that the things he aspired for were of his own making? Just curious.
 

Vajradhara

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Namaste Aerylon,

thank you for the post.

i'm afraid that this question is going to have quite a lenghty answer :( however, i feel that a proper understanding is important and one that is desired by all that visit this board.

with that in mind, let us begin.

first, it should be noted that the Bodhisattva is held as the highest ideal of all 9 Successive Vehicles of Buddhism, in essence we can say that Hinyana, Mahayana and Vajrayana all uphold the Bodhisattva as the penultimate practice.

A Bodhisattva is motivated by pure compassion and love. Their goal is to achieve the highest level of being: that of a Buddha. Bodhisattva is a Sanskrit term which translates as: Bodhi [enlightenment] and sattva [being]. And their reason for becoming a Buddha is to help others. The Bodhisattva will undergo any type of suffering to help another sentient being, whether a tiny insect or a huge mammal. In Shakyamuni Buddha’s 'Perfection of Wisdom in 8,000 Lines' it states: “I will become a savior to all those beings, I will release them from all their sufferings.” If this sounds familiar to anyone not acquainted with Buddhism, then you only need to think of the example of Jesus Christ, a true Bodhisattva.

When someone first enters the way of the Bodhisattva, they develop Bodhicitta, or, mind of enlightenment. Even as a person strives towards such an exalted goal, they feel as though they are limited by the fact that they, too, are suffering. So that they can be of aid to others, they decide to become Buddhas for a Buddha is capable of unlimited compassion and wisdom. Also, Buddhas are able to relate to all others at whatever level is needed. To those of lesser intelligence, a Buddha will use simpler words; and to those of great intelligence, a Buddha can explain answers in a more exalted language.

By entering the Bodhisattva way, the mind must become enlightened. And so the training begins by generating the 6 Perfections.

The 6 Perfections are: 1] generosity, 2] ethics, 3] patience, 4] effort, 5] concentration, and 6] wisdom.

To become a Bodhisattva is to be fearless. There is no aversion for those who are hostile and there is no obsessive clinging to those who are closest to us. There is no possessiveness, only love, compassion and discernment into the nature of reality.

Shantideva, the 8th century Bodhisattva wrote a book entitled 'Bodhicharyavatara,' which is one of the most important texts that students of Tibetan Buddhism study. The title has been translated into 'A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life' and is written in verse form. While there are only 10 chapters, dealing with the 6 perfections as well as developing the spirit of awakening, in chapter 10, verse 55 the entire essence of the meaning of Bodhisattva is beautifully expressed:

“For as long as space endures

And for as long as living beings remain,

Until then may I too abide

To dispel the misery of the world.”


whew.... sorry that was so long :) if you have any specific questions, i'll do my best to answer them.
 

Vajradhara

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[quote author=AerylonBlackwolf

Where in Buddha's search for the ultimate truth ever tell him that the things he aspired for were of his own making? Just curious.


er... i'm not sure what you're asking here.... can you elaborate or clarify?
 

Arch

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If Buddha was incarnated, where was he incarnated from if there is nothing after death? Or is this a mention towards the Hindi avatars of Vishnu, which sometimes include Buddha?
Sorry, I am lost on the Eastern thinking!
 

ardenz

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I'm afraid I don’t understand the principle of God, let alone see the personal side. I've never been a great fan of the New Testament either. Does God have to be personal? I remember bill saying something about preferring to see the Goddess as a woman because it better expressed the feeling of love he got from God. Or did I read that wrong? I mean, does God have to be human? And if not in human form, what is god to you? I'm just asking around the question.


My experience has been of a "force". I don't see it as a person at all. I am neither an Atheist or Christian/Theist - I don't even like to call it spirituality in the New age sense - all these labels and history of religion has muddled what it it. Something is there underlying reality and science is grappling with it more than religion is these days ( I believe ) as discoveries are made that seem beyond our understanding of reality. Super strings/ Zero point field/quantum mechanics etc..
 

paganprophet

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Sure glad I'm not a Buddhist! Brian's right. Gautama was depressed and his religion shows it. Life sucks! Don't think, be nothing and get it over with..;)
 

Vajradhara

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Namaste Pagan prophet,

thank you for the post.

Sure glad I'm not a Buddhist! Brian's right. Gautama was depressed and his religion shows it. Life sucks! Don't think, be nothing and get it over with..;)


whilst you are certainly entitled to your view, there is no manner by which you, or Brian, can establish this opinion ;)

that you think that Buddha Dharma advocates "life sucks" displays a fundamental misunderstanding of the teachings. not only does life not "suck" this human rebirth is the best of all possible existences and this is made quite clear in the Suttas.

perhaps you are imputing your own views unto Buddhism?

moreover, you seem to be intimating that the Zen/Ch'an approach of "don't think, sit" is the only method of practice within the Buddha Dharma however, this is not so. there are, in the Vajrayana point of view, 9 distinct methods/modes of practice which are advocated within the Suttas that are equally capable of leading a being to the Other Shore.

if you'd like to know more about my religion, i invite you to come to the Eastern Thought section/Buddhism and ask any question that you may have :)

metta,

~v
 
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