Lesson: Week 14
by Tom Baker
When we say we have separated from God in consciousness what we fail to say is what we put in God's place. Most of us do not feel the conscious separation from God as a lack in our lives. Yet there is a pervasive feeling of loneliness, which we all have, that points to something being wrong. We say of other people, even when we believe that they love us and we love them: "They just don’t get me, understand me or make me happy." What we are really saying is that our substitution for Love does not make us happy. What dissatisfies us is that the substitution (the world we made up) is not really the same as God and so disappoints us. As St. Augustine said, "I will not rest until I rest in Thee."
When we are teenagers we substitute our friends for our family, when we marry we substitute our new family for the old gang of friends and in later life we substitute a hobby, an interest or other people for the marriage and family we made. Within these wider substitutions we substitute one thing, one person for another as we choose who and what to love instead of another. We pull off these substitutions by breaking people into parts choosing one part of a person over another part in someone else. I might choose Gloria’s sense of humor over my wife’s, while I choose my wife’s cooking over Gloria’s feeble attempts at practicing the culinary arts. As we get lost in more and more substitutions we completely lose sight of the Love we substituted the world for in the first place.
The alternative is make things and people into sacraments or windows onto God. When I see the Divine in my wife's eyes or hear the Divine in her laughter then she is the way into God rather than a substitute for God. If I see everything and everyone as a sacrament, then I appreciate the world for being a bridge to the Divine rather than a substitute for It. Zen echoes this sacramental idea when it creates different patterns of rocks and sand, or thinking stopping phrases like koens to open the mind to the wholeness of the Divine. In Zen my cat can be my teacher and the garden can be my church and every person in the world can be my holy companion. When everything and everyone is a sacrament then the wholeness of God comes into my consciousness and I am less willing to substitute one part of the illusion for another.
© Copyright Tom Baker 2014