Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Gods and Imaginary Friends

The following is an excerpt from an extremely eloquent post by Chana. In it, she captures, with great power and honesty, the close, loving, trusting empathetic relationship which one forges with God.

The most intimate relationship we can form is when we expose this vulnerable part of ourselves to another, remove all masks or pretences, forget to consider what the other will think but simply continue as you truly are. It is the most frightening thing we ever do. We allow another to see us, to observe our nakedness, not of physical bodies but of our minds, hearts, souls. We do not need to speak to make ourselves heard. It this action that is so eloquent, and it is because it is so rare that it is always suspect, for people will give themselves over to base, vulgar ideas to avoid understanding.

How many people have we met that know us in this true sense? We are lucky if there is even one. One to see us as both our better self and the worst demon, the human being in his entirety. One to view us without shame. And one to whom we can be revealed.

And beyond people, who is it but God?

When you leave a lifetime of religious practice, many of the disruptions which you experience are easy to predict and obvious to observe. Certainly the ‘extrinsic’ challenges are tangible; leaving religion can disrupt virtually all of ones key interpersonal relationships, and can fundamentally alter how one identifies with the world at large.

But, as difficult as the extrinsic adjustments are, one of the most disorienting experiences of leaving faith, at least for myself, is the loss of the Personal God. The Personal God takes shape in our minds as we pass through life, listening to each thought, bearing witness to each deed. We converse endlessly with our God. Sometimes we plead. Sometimes we discuss our quandaries. Sometimes we celebrate our triumphs.

This God understands us as only a lifelong friend and confidant may. He empathizes with our difficulties. He cheers our moral victories and our personal achievements – even the secret ones of which no one else knows. He gently scolds our failings –understanding us nonetheless.

Each thought we have is not lost. It gains immortality in the eternal consciousness of God. Each minute deed that we do, or even intend to do, is credited and preserved everlasting. Our Personal God is omniscient – all knowing and all understanding of everything that is ourselves.

And, when you no longer believe? What a terrible loss. Your best friend and benfactor, the witness to all of your life struggles and achievements must now leave you. You are growing up, and the imaginary friends of childhood have no place in your adult world.

And yet, he remains.

“Go.” you say. “You don’t exist! You are not God! Go away!”

But he lingers. “Be reasonable, I am still the one who knows you best.”

“Who are you then? Why should I keep you with me?”

And, very slowly, through the reflection of years and the many turns of life, an answer begins to emerge.

“I am the consciousness which you created. I teach you not the mysteries of the ages, but that which you already know. I hold not a morality which comes from On High, but that which you have forged for yourself. As you advance, I thrive. As you choose, I guide. I am not the voice of ultimate good, but I am the reflection of what is best in your own self.”

5 Comments:

Blogger Just me said...

DBS: Nice post. In a word, that voice is the inner-conscience/consciousness of every individual that informs him, motivates him, guides him, etc., which we formerly ascribed to God. Or, it's life w/o "training wheels." At the same time, old thought-patterns die hard; I know that from experience--it's a process of re-training your mind.
Best,
ROJ

May 02, 2006 10:07 AM  
Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

“I am the consciousness which you created. I teach you not the mysteries of the ages, but that which you already know. I hold not a morality which comes from On High, but that which you have forged for yourself. As you advance, I thrive. As you choose, I guide. I am not the voice of ultimate good, but I am the reflection of what is best in your own self.”

Or in other words "I am not Hashem, I am your conscience." Or from still another perspective "I am the tiny fragment of the Kaplanian god 'the force that makes for goodness' that dwells within you.

May 02, 2006 10:58 AM  
Blogger Tobie said...

Interesting...this "consciousness" is surprisingly similar to how I think of my soul, which I consider "a portion of G-d from on high."

May 02, 2006 12:12 PM  
Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

Great post,

I find not just the personal god lingering with me, but all of his hangups as well. He chastises me when I try to bend the rules of shabbos. He informs me of my causitive misdeeds when I am hurt. And he often is impressed and quite taken with the worst form of apologetics for the bible I previously attributed to him.

I don't mind him, as a leftover conscience, but all and all, I'd rather not have him looking over my shoulder anymore, I've learned to live without believing my life is a central event in the universe of my personal god. And the residua of these beliefs are about as useful to me as my appendix. I kind of wish my Rabbinical mentors had no been quite so keen to instal them in the first place.

May 03, 2006 11:31 AM  
Blogger dbs said...

ROJ,
Yes, I agree that it is a slow process of re-training.

Larry & Tobie,
It certainly could be a spiritual aspect of our beings. I hope so, whether it is Kaplan's God or some other thing. Or, it could just be part of our natural neurology. In any case, we effect 'it' even as 'it' effects us.

Ben,

This is probably worth an entire post, but I couldn't agree more. For me, it isn't exactly part of my concience, but some type of internal 'averah counter'. It's like the guys who have those little clickers to count people coming into a stadium. Every time I do something, it registers a 'click'. Turned on a light, click. No brachah, click. Breaded calamari on pesach w/o bracha, click...click...click.

While he hasn't gone away, he has developed a bit of a sense of humor. So, now, it's more like a little running joke between me and the clicker guy.

May 04, 2006 10:22 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home