Try to recall who God was for you when you were a child. List key concepts you learned about God when you were growing up. What or who was the source for your information – parents, friends, TV, religious education?
Take one minute and write any word association that you now have with the word “God.” Try not to think, just write whatever comes to your mind.
Can you remember a time when you felt jealous, angry, or resentful toward God? Can you take those events and reframe them into more positive feelings and meaningful lessons?
The name in the Bible that unfortunately has been translated as “God” is comprised of the Hebrew letters yud, hey, vav, hey and is written out in English as “Y/H/V/H.” It is important to know that “Y/H/V/H” is not a word at all, but a Tetragrammaton – the Tetragrammaton as there is only one – standing for “was/is/and/will be.”
How can a human mind grasp Y/H/V/H? How can the human mind imagine the Ultimate Timeless Reality? This is a very difficult idea to grasp because it surpasses our minds. It’s like a drop of water in the ocean, trying to grasp the ocean. Indeed, the best we can say is that we each embody an aspect of reality, but we are not reality. Like the drop of water in the ocean, we exist within reality. Because reality is Y/H/V/H.
When Jews celebrate Passover, they sing a song from the Haggadah: “Blessed Is the Place.” One of the terms used to describe Y/H/V/H is the “Place,” Why “the Place”? Because it suggests Y/H/V/H is the place in which we exist, is the reality within which we exist.
If you believe in the Big Bang theory – that the word came into being as a primordial explosion with masses of hot, whirling gases that eventually condensed into stars and planets – you would still have to ask: Where did all this happen? What place was this in which the explosion took place? “Who” or “What” facilitated this event?
The answer is Y/H/V/H, the Ultimate Reality – the One who embraces all time, all space and all beings.
Ultimate reality is beyond all names, all terms, all images. We can’t stuff something as vast and abstract as that any rigid concept or image. When we say “God”, we realize that we only possess a simplistic, limited, inadequate understanding of the Ultimate Reality, the Source of All Being, the Place or the Context of All That Exists.
God is dead; it is a lifeless concept, a dead word.
Recently Ron, a computer engineer, Hebrew by roots, but an atheist, visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the last remnant of the Temple, which stood over two thousand years ago. He thought, “I am an atheist. What the heck, here I am at the Wall, I should do something spiritual.” So he turned to a religious fellow next to him and asked, “Well, what does one do here?”
The fellow responded, “Why don’t you recite some psalms?” and he handed him a book of psalms. Ron thought that seemed appropriate and he began to read some verses. Sure enough just within the first few words, he hit upon the “God” word. Although he felt annoyed, he decided to continue. But again the “God” word appeared. Now he was getting very frustrated. How can I say this if I don’t believe in God? He asked himself. Do I have to believe in God to have a spiritual experience?
He decided to relate to his predicament as if it were a computer problem. When there is a computer data that he can’t use, he creates a buffer zone and puts it there. Ron decided, I’ll put the “God” word in a mental buffer zone and simply disregard it so I can continue reading the psalms without getting aggravated. And that is what he did.
Ron then continued reading and suddenly felt overwhelmed by a flood of inspiration released by the moving poetic words of King David. He was stuck by a profound spiritual experience, which he had never felt before. It was as if he were surrounded by light. Only when he got rid of “God” he was able to understand the Ultimate Living Reality.
It is interesting to note that Nietzsche, besides proclaiming that God is dead, also said that unless we experience an infinite whole working through us, our lives have no meaning. Nietzsche didn’t believe in “God.” And neither do I. I believe in the infinite Whole, the One who was, is, and always will be.