A Conversation with God

Before any of you think I’ve gone off the deep end and started standing on mountain tops yelling at the sky, hear me out. Recently I’ve been reading a book called Conversations with God by Neil Donald Walsch and it has honestly been the perfect capstone to this year long experience in Korea. I came here because something inside me told me that I needed to go. I didn’t know what it was then, but now I do. And thanks to this book, I can finally put it into words.

As I have discussed here before, there are a lot of problems with the word “God” and mainstream religion, and in my honest opinion this book puts them to rest. So if you are reading this and have an opposition to either of these two things please reserve your judgments until the end… better yet, have no judgments at all. In fact, this leads perfectly into one of the major lessons I took away from this book:  all pain in life is caused by judgement, attachment, or resistance. Let’s think about. Have you ever lost something of value to you and felt sadness? Have you ever fought against a situation in your life and had it cause you pain and stress? Have you ever made a judgement about someone you’ve met only to have it come back and blow up in your face later? Can you recognize resistance to what I’m saying right now? I know at this point it may seem easy to poke holes in this lesson, but I promise you, if you really look hard, all pain is rooted in one of these three things. For example, what if your dog dies? Of course, this would be a sad experience for any of us dog owners, but if you break it down: You have judged that where that dog is going is worse than its life here on Earth, you have become emotionally attached to the dog and therefore are experiencing the absence of the happiness it brought you, and you are resisting something that has already happened and is therefore outside of your control.

Now maybe even this example has made you feel a little angry. Of course I’m attached to my Dog! I love my Dog. Of course I don’t want her to die. Are you saying I should actually want her to die to avoid pain? And my answers to those questions come in the form of the next lesson I learned from this book:    That which the Bible calls God, New Agers call the Universe, Muslims call Allah, and people call life, are all one in the same. The absolute internal recognition that all things – yes, ALL things – are really one thing is the state of Enlightenment. Contrary to popular understanding, enlightenment is not akin to the yellow brick road leading to Oz. It is not a path. Rather, it is a rememberence of that which already exists inside of us. Think of the light that we see in the eyes of a young child – now consider that many people have also spoke of this same light in the eyes of the Dahli Lama. We are born into Enlightenment. Getting there, therefore, is not a matter of learning anything new, but in actuality it is a process of taking out the mental trash that gets in the way – like anything that belongs in the JAR (Judgement, Attachment, Resistance). All of those things are emotional or mental constructs that distract us from the fact that eeeeevvvvvveeeeerrrryyyyttthhhhhiinnngggg is one.

Now this leads to Jesus. For a moment, I am going to ask that you suspend all of your previous knowledge and judgments about Jesus. Jesus was not the savior. Well, not directly at least. Rather, he was the example of a person who completely and absolutely understood the above two lessons and lived them everyday, in every action. So, he gave us a perfect example of how one should live life, and in that way, can be considered a “savior.” However, as the book discusses in depth, mainstream religion has a vested interest in making us feel guilty and therefore in need of savior. When I say mainstream religion, I mean those TV preachers that tell millions of people the only way to be saved is by accepting Jesus as their savior and sending money to the number at the bottom of their screen. As long as those viewers feel like they’re not good enough, don’t have the answers, and feel guilty about virtually everything they do, then mainstream religion can control them. And this leads quite well to the final lesson I took from this book: There is no hell. Hell is only the absence of the knowledge that Heaven is a here on Earth. Heaven is a mind-state, not a place that we go. It is the feeling linked to the realization that all things are one. Heaven is the overwhelming inner joy that comes from the realization that you are everything, God is everything, and therefore you are God. Whoa… now I know that may sound crazy at first – it did to me too. But the reason it seems so crazy is that all of our lives we have been taught that God is this separate being floating above us throwing lightning bolts, judging us for thinking things that are “wrong,” and ultimately weighing judgment on us deciding whether we get to go to Heaven or hell. But if God teaches us not to judge, then why would she then go and judge us? How could he be such a hypocrite? And the answer to that lies in the fact that the Bible was written by men – generations and generations after the events actually took place. Furthermore, the only method of communicating information to the masses at that time was through stories, and therefore stories were used. But thousands of years of misinterpretations, the Catholic church deciding to remove and add things, other religions printing their own Bibles, and Televangelists spreading their malintended messages to the masses have brought forth a picture of a ruthless, judgmental, destructive and hypocritical God – one that I still remember having trouble understanding as a young Catholic. I could not understand why God would care whether we put $2 or $10 into the donation basket. I could not understand why, if God really loved us unconditionally, there would be SO MANY RULES that we had to follow at risk of being sent to eternal damnation. I now see God for what it was meant to represent, and for that I am thankful.

THE TAKEAWAY: Now, I am fully aware that there may be some of you who are strongly opposed to some of the lessons I’ve taken from this book. And yet, in the spirit of what I believe this blog has come to represent, rather than look for things to resist, please try to find things that you feel like you can accept. Things that, deep down inside, feel like the truth to you. No individual religion is any different at its core than any other. They all are based on stories told thousands of years ago to communicate one incredibly simple point: all things are one. The wind that blows past my face, the King Crabs at the bottom of the ocean, the truck driving down a highway in Croatia, the Sierra Nevada mountains, the sun, and our galaxy – all one. If we can all work on taking out the mental trash, then we can finally remember the Enlightenment we were born into. I came to Korea because I was looking for Enlightenment – I thought that if I could get out of my comfort zone, learn a new language and culture, and redefine myself once more then I would somehow be able to find the path to Enlightenment. But now, I am overjoyed to say that I now know I was going in the wrong direction. Instead of looking out, from now on, I will look within. Love to you all. 

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10 thoughts on “A Conversation with God

  1. Absolutely loved this, my friend. You have no idea how much joy I have had reading this because it is totally what I’m learning to think and feel about myself and the world around me. I was brought up in the Jain religion (it’s an ancient religion that started around the same time as Hinduism, could possibly be the offshoot or predecessor of it as well). I never really connected to the spiritual side of it, rather accepting my parents non-forceful nature about religion and finding my own spirituality as I grew up. However, the philosophical side of the religion, basically the core principles are something that I have lived and will continue to live by (nonviolence, etc etc…honestly its something that all people should really live by. In a way, everyone can or could be Jain without ever learning anything about it…it’s a way of life).

    I never really looked into my own faith because I was happy living my life, not worrying about what will happen when I reached the end, whenever that was. And unfortunately, questions and doubts were placed in there. I was jaded a lot about organized religion and basically “mainstream”. What should be personal beliefs were being emphasized publicly (which is it’s own topic). Either way, I found internal conflict through the external. But exactly what you laid out is what I truly do feel about it all. Last year I was looking into reading that book and never found time. But I’m happy to see that it really puts things into perspective and am looking forward to reading it in the future.

    This is a long response but I’ll wrap up with this. I try to also remember that life has no caveat. Good things and bad things happen but, regardless, we live and learn by the day. The true goal is to apply what we learn to ourselves and how we approach the world around us, for the better of oneself and the world we live in. Keep on keepin’ on brother.

    • Beautifully put soman! It’s really nice to know that these “truths” hold across different religious upbringings. You seem to have a really good perspective on life, thank you so much for sharing. Looking forward to hearing more from you when the time comes. YOU keep keepin on ;)

  2. I am SO happy that you have found this book! Many years ago, it came into my hands and has been a part of my life and life-view since. (Neale and friends made a movie of his life and a galpal and I went down to Eugene, Oregon to be extras in it and was THAT ever wonderful! Digression there, but you CAN pick up the movie!) As you move further into the knowledge that we are ALL GOD you’ll know that God is One and so are we. Sometimes this isn’t as comforting as it may seem. You and I are Hitler, You and I are Mother Teresa. You and I are the poor woman begging on the street. You and I are Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Mitt and Barack are ONE.
    Honestly, I get discouraged sometimes. I cease believing this truth when I see the cruelty, poverty, hatred and know that its perpetrators are ONE with me, are God. But sooner or later I grab onto something and accept that this is as much a truth as the truth that everyone I meet is God, and I can do nothing more than to acknowledge their God-ness and continue doing that until they, too, finally realize that they are God, perhaps by my seeing that in them, perhaps by reading Neale’s book or other works of the like, or perhaps just having their God-ness unfold for them.
    “Thou art God, Mike.” ~ Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. Try that one, Chad!
    Love from Chris in Pasco WA

    • Thank you! I’m really happy to hear another blogger loves this book too! I often get discouraged when I meet “bad” people but I try to see it as an opportunity to practice my awareness of the fact that we are all one and we all deserve love. I will check out the Heinlein book soon! Thank you so much Chris!

  3. Nice post, and blog, but I was just curious, does this book have religious influences? Is it meant to be an exploration of what god is (which in my opinion could be summed up in a chance few words) or a somewhat platonian discovery of who we are, a neo-christian take on our longing for certainty in life? One thing it seems is unscientific. Also I’m not sure I’m sold on this type of ‘meaning making’ suggestive preaching, such that assumes a platitude of a human issue or ability as a result of a vague group of words (7 habits of highly materialistic people :P). Of course, attachment does cause us to suffer when what we were attached to disappears, but is this to say we should avoid it? And should we, against Outragiously impossible odds avoids judgment, that which allows us to perceive and understand our world. Surely resistance is not always a bad thing…. And in what sense does it really help me to think that we are “all one”, as in what relevance does it have? When i see or hear things of this nature all i end with is a rather unsatisfying “new beginings are always fun” feeling, and i’m not sure much else can come from a book which sadly doesnt seem to have scientific reference. Would love to hear your response :)

    • Thank you for your thoughts Wesley! You’ve touch on a lot of things so I’ll do my best to get to all of it:

      This book does have religion influences in that the writer studied theology most of his life, only to reject most of it at the end. Is it not, however, a conversion course for non-christians, like you may initially judge (keyword ;-) ) it to be. If you are looking for something scientific, or still see science as the authority on “answers” then this book isn’t for you. There is far too much that cannot be explained to rely on science for answers in terms of this like this.

      Regarding the JAR I spoke of, those things hold true if one operates under the assumption that pain is something that should be avoided. Often, there are people that receive pleasure from pain and therefore seek it out subconsciously in the form of life drama. So if you hold that assumption true then yes, when possible one should consider avoiding attachment, judgment, and resistance. Yes judgments help one to perceive the world around them, but they also misleads. If you see something in your backyard at night that looks like a dog and go over to pet it, and it turns out to be a mountain lion, you’ve made a crucial error. The concept is not that you should stop making judgments all together, that may be impossible because they will happen naturally, but learning not to become attached to them and let them pass is what I believe the answer to be. But that’s just my understanding given what I’ve learned and experienced in my life.

      Regarding the relevance of oneness, I would say that it is perhaps the most relevant thing you can possibly ever understand. I could write a whole essay about ego and its involvement in causing pain through its “me vs. the world” nature, but that would be superfluous. Perhaps that feeling you describe is something you should follow rather than shrugging it off as something useless.

      Maybe this book isn’t for you, maybe it is. The only one who can decide that is you. I do really appreciate your thoughtful response though, and I’ll look forward to yours!

      • Great response! That thoroughly covered everything I wished to understand. I find however my personal being, my own spiritual rumination so to speak, is rather strictly scientific (to which extent such can be assumed I’m not fully sure) and around Ted talks, Richard Dawkins and philosophy and psychology textbooks I usually find myself learning. This is however not to prove a point, or to at all boast, but to suggest that You are truly what you eat, and that all I can really be hopeful of is a life spent in a continuous spiritual voyage- one which I can also imagine this book hopes to pledge.
        And you are quite right when you say science and observation can only take us so far, and it’s up to us to foresee a better life through free will, knowledge, expansive empathy… But again, the hopefulness of some ideas, not just exclusive to this book (similar to the often trivial nature of some quotes or inductions) is what worries me. this is why I often wince at the sight of motivational, self-help books or lectures, and can’t help but picture the heaviness of the authors or speakers wallet (almost to the point of actually being an unethical career) as they feed off mans search for easily digestible, pithy, often titillating and emotionally driven answers (I can imagine there would be a great deal more philosophers and intellectuals if there were just as much money as there is in self-help).
        I’m not suggesting that this book is self help (what book isn’t?) or that the author is at all beaurgiosie (who isn’t?), but I can’t help but get the sense that such a rather unriveting (to me anyway) conclusion is potentially yet the result of a life spent learning or squabbling over means of spiritual transcendence. But who’s to say that this is no better then answers which submit to standing perpetually corrected by present day science?
        But of course, uncertainty, especially upon questions with extremely unfashionable or illusive answers, is an uncomfortable existence (something I’ve recently come to realize) and therefore I can understand the true joy that can come from such a great man’s insight (what are we without pure creation?) I guess I just haven’t found my reason to live yet, and thus am in the spirit on rejecting any form of a “conclusion”, then again it does not mean there is no kick to be relished :) this is why I’m here!
        And what you said about ego is so very true! Nature has a way of correcting any attempt of mutual harmony, unselective empathy, past of course optimizing survival.

      • If you wince at motivational books, and you are what you eat, how are you to find motivation? I understand that the authors make money from these things and sometimes go overboard (I am NOT a fan of Tony Robbins), but how is one supposed to make a living? What if they’re only moderately rich? What if they use most of their money to build a business that helps thousands – millions – of people? THEN would their book be appealing? What I’m getting at is what justifies the right for someone to get your attention. Does the fact that I’m just a recent college graduate teaching English in Korea make my blog post here more credible than a book? I don’t mean to sound criticizing, just some food for thought.
        Moreover, if you consider the reason that you are so resistant to these motivational/ spiritual books would you say that is because you are judging the authors for having more money than you, or I, or someone who is struggling to eat?
        Unfortunately, the monetary system we have been born into is a merit based one (for the most part) and those who make money often deserve it for one reason or another. Those who make more have simply worked harder, learned more, or gotten lucky. If this is held constant, then what are we supposed to do?

        I also agree wholeheartedly that uncertainty is one of the most uncomfortable things to become comfortable with. But I can honestly tell you that I have learned that it is only out of uncertainty that true creation can take place. One must have a blank canvas to begin painting anything, let alone a masterpiece. If you haven’t found your reason to live yet, and you are here discussing these things with someone like me (are you a HEthen btw?), then you must be very close to figuring it out. In my experience, I have learned that it is not so much of a “finding” your purpose as it is a knowing. And by that I mean that as long as you continue on the path of learning that you are on, eventually, and almost instantaneously, the answer comes to you as a knowing. For me it was like the Universe slapped me in the face and said LOOK AT THIS! THIS IS YOU!

        Anyway, let me know your thoughts on this. Looking forward to what you have to say.

  4. Can i just say how much i enjoy reading everything that you write. You are definatley one of my highlights for every day that i get to read your insights. There are so many takeaways from this piece and i have to say that my favorite is the JAR. In the last few weeks since i read this i have actually used this analogy to help others understand their pain. I tell them that their mind is stuck inside of their JAR and that they have the power to be free from pain if they drop and break their JAR. I them symbolicly hand them their JAR and ask them to take it home and to break it in private.

    I took my own JAR a broke it and i feel more free than ever when i realeased some of the pain that i have been carrying around for years. Thank you for that.

    Now i have to comment on your “judgement” of who Jesus is or was by pointing out that you have to spend a lot of time with someone before you really get to summarize who HE really was and why HE came to be. I would be happy to discuss this part with you when you return but i am excited about all the revelations and judgments that you have explored and written about.

    I just love a true truthseeker and that is what i believe you truly are. At least that is the experience that i have with you so far, (inside my little jar of you). You are open to the truth, whatever that may be, and that is a great first step towards wisdom and understanding.

    So many people fall into alternative spiritual beliefs because of what the mainstream religious groups have taught and enforced on the public. Kind of a “my way or the high way” mentatlity towards “loving one another and leading people to heaven” whether they like it or not. “Stop crying cuz it will all work out somehow when we get to heaven.” Religion has become a system of running the guantlet and working your way through the maze of lfe and then hoping for a saviour to ring the bell and move you up magically to the next level.

    I don’t have a savior, although i am very grateful for that miracle, … i have relationship with the GOD of the universe and HE demonstrates how much HE loves me by every experience and every person, creature, plant, or thing that manifests itself into my life. My God is not one thing in one far removed place and HE is not all things so that He is God, and you are God, and I am God and we are all God together. That just doesn’t make sense. However, i can say that HE created all things and that HE is in all things because his finger prints are everywhere in all things. Imagine an oil canvas painter that uses his fingers to create his masterpiece. All the shapes and colors are connected and together they paint a picture and perhaps tell a story. The varied colors are not the master, the shapes and images are not the master, not even the frame or the canvas is the master. But the masterpiece has been touched by the master and every detail has the finger print of the creator. Now blue might say to yellow that I see God in you as i see God in me so therfore we must be gods. The frame might tell the canvas that i see the beauty of God on you and the canvas says i see that you hold up the beauty of God, so we must be gods. I can sincerely say that i am not GOD, however i can say that my life has been touched by the finger print of GOD, and i am fforever grateful for HIS gently masterpiece touch up!

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