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Yet, it is very difficult to discuss this matter. We have so domesticated "God" we find it difficult, whether religious or irreligious, to speak intelligently of the Sacred. Usually, we are not even talking of God, but go on talking anyway, as though we are. We are snug in our disbelief, or possibly snug in some apparently novel way of viewing God, as when the man informed me his higher power, he had been told in his alcoholics group, could be a light bulb if that is what he wanted his god to be. He rather delighted in this apparent blessing that his higher power could fit in a socket and give forth light, of course, until it blew out. Ironic, a god needing electricity to keep working.
Yet, truly, whatever "God" is or is not, either in affirmation or denial, if one is not moved to reverence and awe, how could that be the Mystery we long to love? That children love in their questions and curiosities, veils of their native openness to Light, before we turn them into little brain-machines so they can become efficiently skilled members of the workforce and be said to make a living, even if at the cost of not enjoying a life, or Life. Coloring a tree purple is simply, in the wasteland, not right, and right, as determined by the wasteland majority, is what matters most, not the fertile wonderment and fecund imagination of the child, or childlike adults. In the wasteland, where we no longer wonder, poetry and other art is an option, not a necessity, while making hamburgers is vitally important to feed the minions who line up for fast food, after all, in the wasteland good cooking has fast become a lost art. In the wasteland God is not permitted to laugh, enjoy sex, or attend parties. God, in the wonderless wasteland is all prose, lyrics do not dance on the page, rhyme does not play; God is the stern commander, not the passionate lover; God drinks water, never wine.
Anyway, can a light bulb inspire you to a love transcending your petty human concerns? Likely not. Likely no more than the angry, tribal deity preached from pulpits all over the world, amazingly similar to Old St. Nick. Fundamentalism may inspire obedience, but is not likely to inspire much love at all, or wonderment, no more can the fundamentalist atheism that parades itself as intellectually unbiased and the believers as gullible idiots.
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So, we can differentiate between "religion" and "religious." Religion, generally, is a system of doctrine and rite, of formal processes and ideas, a social system. "Religious" is that person(s) who knows Grace intimately, directly, even before he or she is aware, and who seeks to cultivate this knowing. For the religious, this knowing is present regardless of an emotional-sense of it, as that, by nature, comes and goes. So, "religion" is systemic, all surface, and cannot welcome indepthness, while "religious" is an interiority, an indepthness that does not disown the surface. See, there is nothing mysterious about kneeling at an altar, but something mysterious can happen when kneeling at an altar. This even as two persons can have sex, or in the same act have a profound spiritual opening to and sharing of Grace through the very physical play of love-making ~ a blissful coming together of surface and depth, sound and silence, movement and stillness. Sex can be two humans worshiping Life together, or the same two, as animals, fulfilling their instinctual, unbridled passions.
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The Mystery is the means of both knowing and not-knowing. Knowing enough to know we cannot know, but we can love. Indeed, the more we do not know, the more we see and the more we do love, for in this not-knowing we are lifted above the self with all its opinions and prejudices, its claims of "I know" this and that, which perpetuate its self-adoration. So, the truly humble being is the one receptive to feel and see mystery everywhere, and without the compulsion to compartmentalize it as scientific, spiritual, religious, or in any way.