What is God? If you ask a dozen people to define the word you will likely get a bakers dozen in replies. Each answer will reflect what a person has experienced, as well as what they’ve been told by others. We can find literally billions of testimonials worldwide that attest to a relationship with God.
Well, if you open up your trusty Merriam – Webster dictionary you get the following definition:
\ˈgäd also ˈgȯd\noun
God : the perfect and all-powerful spirit or being that is worshipped especially by Christians, Jews, and Muslims as the one who created and rules the universe
: a spirit or being that has great power, strength, knowledge, etc., and that can affect nature and the lives of people : one of various spirits or beings worshipped in some religions
: a person and especially a man who is greatly loved or admired
1.capitalized :the supreme or ultimate reality: as
a :the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe
b Christian Science :the incorporeal divine Principle ruling over all as eternal Spirit :infinite Mind
2.:a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers and to require human worship; specifically :one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality
3.:a person or thing of supreme value
.4:a powerful ruler
These words seem to encompass quite a range! From an omnipotent and omniscient-anthropomorphized deity like the one we see beautifully painted up on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (by our favorite Renaissance painter Michelangelo), to the New Age spirituality guru and an ethereal, mysterious, and loosely defined understanding of God.
The world’s five major religions can arguably be considered Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and the ‘newest kid on the block’ :new age. Religious persuasion can vary, but to the devout of any faith group one thing remains the same – to seek greater depth and meaning in one’s life. I would like to explore the idea that God does not change; but our understanding, (and therefore definition) does..
Let’s start with Christianity. Christianity is a religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Also known as Jesus of Nazareth, Christians believe he is both God and man and his life, ministry, death through crucifixion – and resurrection, reveal the love of God the creator who is the eternal source of all life. Through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ Christians follow his teachings and pray as they confidently travel through this rocky road called life.
Muslims, who are the largest faith group on the planet, believe that Allah is the name of the one true God. They believe Allah to be infinitely superior to man in all ways. Being the source of both good and evil they believe everything that happens is Allah’s will. A devout Muslim must submit their will to Allah’s through a disciplined life that follows the teachings of the Quran and honors the prophets. A pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime is considered a religious duty – unless of course it is beyond one’s means. A Muslim will submit to prayer 5 times each day. They will recite a daily creed about Allah and Muhammad. They make sure to give to the poor; and for one month each year they fast from sunup to sundown. During this entire month they refrain from food or drink, sex or smoke, or any other vice that is considered to turn them from Allah’s Will during daylight hours! Talk about discipline! They believe that through a devout life, submitting to the will of Allah, a Muslim can enter into paradise upon death.
Hinduism is a system of belief that worships the infinite manifestations of God. Through a number of representations, God is portrayed as both gods and goddesses – animals and even forces of nature. Does everyone here remember karma? A Hindus understanding of karmic principle is central. They believe that what transpires in this life is directly linked to their past lives. To break free from the cycle of reincarnation and finally have a soul at rest, is the ultimate goal. Hinduism presents three courses one can take to break free from the law of karma. Number one, devotion and love to any of the representations of God. Number 2, dedication to religious ceremonies and rights. Number 3, grow in knowledge through meditation and attain the status of Brahman or oneness.
New age belief is a tricky one to define.. With this particular set of beliefs, there is a sort of carte blanche for each individual. New Age philosophy centers around the divinity of the self. They often vocalize how the act of feeling and thinking, of merely being conscious and alive is considered divine. Many New Age gurus teach that through a heightened awareness one can increase their consciousness and unlock the divine power that is one’s birthright.
The individual or the self is the divine origin of all in this philosophy. Through a spiritual awakening one can attain control of one’s own destiny. New age is an interesting blend of Eastern mysticism – metaphysical ideologies, spirituality, and techniques ranging from psychic exercises to developing altered states of consciousness through chanting and meditation.
This is some topic folks! I seem to have run out of time… Hence the part 1 after the title. I know I know, I never got the Buddhism – I will cover that and length in the next post.
The common thread that runs through each one of these systems of belief is the search for a deeper more meaningful life. That my friends is a noble pursuit! In a world where our vantage point changes our perspective along with it- maybe… just maybe… we are all more alike than we realize!
As usual thanks for stopping by!
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