Teresa_of_Avila_dsc01644

Nada te turbe nada te espante…quien a Dios tiene nada le falta… Solo dios basta

When St Teresa of Avalia wrote the words, if you have God, you will want for nothing; God alone suffices, she was expressing an essential mystic insight repeated throughout the ages.

 

 

When you hear words like these, it’s only natural to think well, if only God suffices, then I better go out and get me some God! I’d better get away from all these distractions of pleasure, status, and comfort, and turn my life over to this. Even if I don’t really know what that means, I’ve seen other beings who embody it…and it looks pretty good!

In my own journey, inspired by radiant beings, as well as from my own meditative and “drug” induced experiences, I went through a long period of searching for God. What I had seen in the eyes of others, I wanted to make permanent in myself.  I longed for union with God (or enlightenment…choose your metaphor), thinking that it was just around the corner, waiting for me through some secret meditation technique I didn’t know yet. I described this in a section of my book, where I engage a Kashmiri sheik, hoping he will dispel my doubts and reveal to me the secret password to attain God-realization.

Since this was the ultimate insight- said to be the aim of human life!- I had to do something to deserve it. If I didn’t have ‘it’ yet, I figured I hadn’t worked hard enough, or made myself pure enough to receive ‘it’. If I still caved in to sensual pleasures, I gave out the message that pleasure was what I truly wanted. God would stay away from me as long as I didn’t make God the central focus of my life.

The problem with that way of thinking is that I treated God as an object to posses. I wanted the knowledge that I had it. But if an object can be found in one moment, then by necessity, it can be lost in the next.

fundie
Although fundamentalists and any religious group wanting to recruit us onto its ‘team’ would have us believe otherwise, God is not a thing to hold onto (although I sometimes think it would be easier if it were!). Anything that we say about God is a lie.

 

 

What I was essentially saying was “I want something that will put my mind at ease, that will extinguish all the discomforts associated with being able to marvel at the enormity of the universe and remain incapable of fully understanding it.”

St. Augustine famously wrote, “our heart is restless until it rests in You,” and I sought God as a means to stamp out my restlessness (the ultimate pill, you might say!).

But as I’ve come to see, it’s the restlessness and struggle that make me feel most alive. It would be a tremendous let down if I reached a point where I ‘got it’, where the mystery would be solved.

Perhaps the heart ‘resting’ in You is the recognition that the heart will always be restlessness… and that there’s nothing wrong with that.

I have moments where I can get a sense of the enormous mystery meant by the word God. Looking up into the night’s sky, at the workings of nature, or into the eyes of my lover doesn’t necessarily bring me peace.

In fact, it seems that for every step I feel I’m taking towards understanding, I take two back into the mystery.

Perhaps St Theresa’s poem reminds us, then, that the only thing that can truly satisfy us is holding ourselves open to this vast mystery that we are.