People have names because other people gave them names. Animals rocks and plants don’t give themselves names. It’s a people thing. God is not a person. Although we offer names to help us relate, God doesn’t have one particular name or a particular image.
In that sense, one might say God doesn’t exist. Nevertheless, when we slow down enough and open up enough, we can connect with a kind of knowing, nurturing, loving, peace and presence that is non-localized and ever present. Furthermore, a concentrated direct experience of this virtually “commands” a sense of awe, reverence and surrender to an indescribable something that is beyond comparison to any other experience. So choose a name, chant it and celebrate!
You could say, this experience is”God”, whether we use the word “God”, “Omnipresence”, Buddha Nature, etc., and whether we consider it an “experience”, a “becoming one with” etc. In some way we can sense something is there. Those who have vividly experienced it are inclined to act (not necesarily “perfectly”) from an an ongoing connection to that special that moment of truth to everything they do from then on. It puts things into perspective to such a degree that one begins to see the order in things and the purpose of their own life. One may be inspired to form a religion or join one, or develop art works and teachings to spread the news. Some remain quiet about it but carry a twinkle in their eyes. These responses indicate the importance of this finding. Perhaps it is more than finding – what/s another word? Returning, Truth, ultimate knowing…and this is how such terms are born, trying to describe “the indescribable” as many have put it.
If we keep the approach to this mystery very broad and not let our culture or conditioning limit our perspective, we would find that most of us are on the same page in recognizing the fundamental of this sacred truth – that we are all part of something very large and beautiful, that goes beyond the material/physical. Monotheists, Polytheists and many Atheists might resonate with that.
Since it is an important matter, and since it can be very moving to experience a “knowing” of some kind, it is understandable that people really want to pin it down. Many of us want to give it a specific name and a specific context. We want to make sense of it and have a model by which we can move forward.
Several drivers will shape how we do this:
-.our personal environment may have impressed very specific ideas on us
-,most of us are somewhat underdeveloped in our openness of heart and mind and our ability to learn from others’ views and experience.
-ambiguity or lack of commitment is not comfortable for many
-pressure from our immediate family or society to conform to a common approach
In a way there are only two groups – those who don’t feel things are particularly connected other than the obvious physical ways, those who feel that things are connected in a profound and somewhat mysterious way beyond the physical. The second group could include all religions, esoteric practitioners, yogis and quite a few atheists. These atheists might feel there is no “personal God” but admit to feelings of sacredness when it comes to sunrises, love, etc.that alludes to something transcendent.
Also in this group are those who have a strong sense of a presence beyond the “self” and beyond material things, but think of it as formless or admit they just don’t know much more about it at this point. And also in this group are the personalists who are sure God is there, has a specific personality and a specific name. I have yet to fully understand how these people resolve the idea that millions of others are just as committed to a certain other name and certain other image/personality.
But I can see how it is driven – we really care, we really want to commit to something, we trust our ancestors, we are not really feeling people in other cultures.
So we have we have “personalist” God names from the world’s major religions: God, Allah, Jehova, Ahura Mazda, Waheguru, etc., and we have “impersonalist” formless God concepts from major world religions: Brahman, Paramatma, Buddha Nature.
What all these have in common is a seeking, a love, a devotion to union ,a recognition of something special and sacred beyond the physical/material perspective. So if we are going to assemble in groups more diverse than our family/community “religion” (or non-religion), we can still express expansive or devotional/spiritual feelings together by staying wide and open in heart an mind, while recognizing the sameness of our experience.
This way we could pray or chant or say grace/perform spiritual ritual together at any occasion instead of “leaving it out” as we do in pubic schools, company parties and many social gatherings. We can include this important aspect of being. We can chant things that keep it open, and even name God in that singing, realizing that any name is God’s name if we respect that the love and seeking of millions is invested in that name. In fact, we can enrich our path by visiting with and feeling the transmission of other lineages by singing their names of God and feeling their approach.