Sunday, May 21, 2006

I Believe

During one of my weekend seminars, I facilitated an exercise where people are challenged to articulate their answers to ultimate questions as clearly and as succinctly as possible. To model what I was looking for, I invited people to ask me 10 questions. I had fifteen seconds to respond to each one. I am sharing them with you here as a way of suggesting you try the exercise yourself. Don’t get hung up on my answers, seek instead in formulate your own.

1. What is God? God is the source and substance of all reality. Whatever is, is God.

2. Do you believe in evolution or intelligent design? Evolution is intelligent design. I don't believe there is a designer behind the design, I believe the design is itself intelligent, conscious. It is God exploring ways to know itself.

3. Does God care about you? Does God have a plan for your life? That's two questions, but yes to both. God cares about me the way a tree cares about its branches. God’s plan or all life is to manifest beings complex enough to realize that all is God. God’s plan for my life is to move toward that realization.

4. Which religion is true? All and none. A religion is true to the extent that it leads us toward the realization of God as all, and teaches us to live justly, compassionately, and humbly. A religion is false to the extent it does anything else.

5. Is Israel the holy land? No. God is not a realtor. The universe is the holy land. Israel is for some the motherland, for others just another tripwire for the apocalypse.

6. What happens when you die? You stop pretending to be other than you are: God extended in time and place. Death is the great awakening. But it is more fun to wake before you die.

7. Are you a Jew? Yes, but not exclusively. First I am human, adam from adamah, an earthling arising the earth the way a bud arises from a branch. Then I am a male, and an American. These are all givens from birth. I am also a Christian, Muslim, Sufi, Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Atheist, Humanist, Taoist— the more I know myself the more I know myself to be hyphenated.

8. What scares you most in the world? Ignorance and the fear, greed, anger, and violence that ignorance breeds.

9. What is the purpose of life? Life has no purpose; life is purpose. To suggest that life has a purpose is to make life a means rather than an end. Life is the end; the purpose of life is to live; to live with the awareness that all life is God.

10. What is the one question you cannot answer? That’s it.

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