Interpreting Conversations with God
How do you forgive yourself for an accident in which you killed someone?
The following letter was received by me in my email box on Sept 24, 2013. I have changed the name of the writer to “friend” in order to preserve the author’s privacy.
Dear Neale…I would like to ask you a question that I would like your help with. I almost do not have the courage to ask, but I will not let the opportunity pass. I am going to ask you now, and God help me, I will truly be whole when I can forgive myself.
I understand the Spiritual truth of the events that have happened in my life, and have been able to forgive others for their part, sometimes I still feel the hurt of being abandoned and abused, and am working on the emotional pain as it presents itself.
Here is the BIG one: I feel so terrible and unworthy as a human, for the tragic accident that took a man’s life. I sill hear the little girl’s voice saying, “Mommy, is that the lady who killed my Daddy?”
I feel horrible, Neale. Can you please teach me forgiving myself, so I can be in both worlds whole, fully connected, mind, body, and soul? I just bought your book Home with God so I won’t feel so afraid. My mind likes to scare me sometimes.
Sincerely, Your Friend.
NOTE: I am sharing my reply because I believe that Self Forgiveness is one of the most critical issues facing many, many human beings, and I hope that the understandings here will be shared with people everywhere…
My dear Friend…I have received your heartfelt note, and I am pleased that you have written to me, because reaching out is the best thing we can do when we are besieged by negative thoughts from within — as you are by this idea that you have done something unforgivable.
I should like to begin my response to you by quoting you something that humanity was given in the text, HOME WITH GOD in a Life That Never Ends. In that book we are told that “no one dies at a time or in a way that is not of their choosing.” Such a thing would be impossible, given Who and What We Are.
You should know, then, that the Soul of the gentleman who died in the incident that you have confessed was not somehow the “victim” of you, but rather, the “co-creator” with you of the perfect circumstances of his own departure from his then-current physical manifestation. CWG-Book One made something very clear: “There are no victims and no villains in the world.”
What reason this gentleman had, in his own personal experience, to choose the moment of this accident for his transformation we cannot know — but this we can know: It was not something that occurred against his will. That is impossible because of who he is.
This brings us, my dear friend, to a much larger question: Who and What are we?
SOONER OR LATER IN our lives we have to make a major decision about the most important question in life: What is our actual identity? Are we the physical manifestation of a biological incident, or are we something greater, something more, something other than a mere mammal?
As I observe it, I have a couple of choices when it comes to how I think of myself. I also observe that there is no “right way” to answer this question.
Choice #1: I could conceive of myself as a Chemical Creature, a “Logical Biological Incident.” That is, the logical outcome of a biological process engaged in by two older biological processes called my mother and my father.
If I see myself as a Chemical Creature, I would see myself as having no more connection to the Larger Processes of Life than any other chemical or biological life form.
Like all the others, I would be impacted by life, but could have very little impact on life. I certainly couldn’t create events, except in the most remote, indirect sense. I could create more life (all chemical creatures carry the biological capacity to re-create more of themselves), but I could not create what life does, or how it “shows up” in any given moment.
Further, as a Chemical Creature I would see myself as having a very limited ability to create an intentioned response to the events and conditions of life. I would see myself as a creature of habit and instinct, with only those resources that my biology brings me.
I would see myself as having more resources than a turtle, because my biology has gifted me with more. I would see myself as having more resources than a butterfly, because my biology has gifted me with more.
I would see myself as having more resources than an ape or a dolphin (but, in those cases, perhaps not all that many more), because my biology has gifted me with more. Yet that is all I would see myself as having in terms of resources.
I would see myself as having to deal with life day-by-day pretty much as it comes, with perhaps a tiny bit of what seems like “control” based on advance planning, etc., but I would know that at any minute anything could go wrong—and often would.
Choice #2: I could conceive of myself as a Spiritual Being inhabiting a biological mass—what I call a “body.”
If I saw myself as a Spiritual Being, I would see myself as having powers and abilities far beyond those of a simple Chemical Creature—powers that transcend basic physicality and its laws.
I would understand that these powers and abilities give me collaborative control over the exterior elements of my Individual and Collective Life and complete control over the interior elements—which means that I have total ability to create my own reality, because my reality has nothing to do with producing the exterior elements of my life and everything to do with how I respond to the elements that have been produced.
Also, as a Spiritual Being, I would know that I am here (on the earth, that is) for a spiritual reason. This is a highly focused purpose and has little to do directly with my occupation or career, my income or possessions or achievements or place in society, or any of the exterior conditions or circumstances of my life.
I would know that my purpose has to do with my interior life—and that how well I do in achieving my purpose may very often have an effect on my exterior life.
(For the interior life of each individual cumulatively produces the exterior life of the collective. That is, those people around you, and those people who are around those people who are around you. It is in this way that you, as a Spiritual Being, participate in the evolution of your species.)
My answer to the question: I’ve decided that I am a Spiritual Being, a three-part being made up of Body, Mind, and Soul. Each part of my tri-part being has a function and a purpose. As I come to understand each of those functions, each aspect of me begins to more efficiently serve its purpose in my life.
I am an individuation of Divinity, an expression of God, a singularization of The Singularity. There is no separation between me and God, nor is there any difference, except as to proportion. Put simply, God and I are one.
This brings up an interesting question. Am I rightly accused of heresy? Are people who believe that they are divine nothing but raving lunatics? Are they, worse yet, apostates?
I wondered. So I did a little research. I wanted to find out what religious and spiritual sources had to say on the subject. Here’s some of what I found…
Isaiah 41:23—Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold together.
Psalm 82:6—I have said, ‘Gods ye are, And sons of the Most High—all of you.’
John 10:34—Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
The Indian philosopher Adi Shankara (788 CE—820 CE), the one largely responsible for the initial expounding and consolidation of Advaita Vedanta, wrote in his famous work, Vivekachudamant: “Brahman is the only Truth, the spatio-temporal world is an illusion, and there is ultimately Brahman and individual self.”
Sri Swami Krishnananda Saraswati Maharaj (April 25, 1922—November 23, 2001), a Hindu saint: “God exists; there is only one God; the essence of man is God.”
According to Buddhism, there ultimately is no such thing as a self independent from the rest of the universe (the doctrine of anatta). Also, if I understand certain Buddhist schools of thought correctly, humans return to Earth in subsequent lifetimes in one of six forms, the last of which are called Devas…which is variously translated as Gods or Deities.
Meanwhile, the ancient Chinese discipline of Taoism speaks of embodiment and pragmatism, engaging practice to actualize the Natural Order within themselves. Taoists believe that man is a microcosm for the universe.
Hermeticism is a set of philosophical and religious beliefs or gnosis based primarily upon the Hellenistic Egyptian pseudepigraphical writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus. Hermeticism teaches that there is a transcendent God, !e All, or one “Cause,” of which we, and the entire universe, participate.
The concept was first laid out in the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, in the famous words: “That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above, corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracles of the One thing.”
And in Sufism, an esoteric form of Islam, the teaching “there is no God but God” was long ago changed to there is nothing but God. Which would make me…well…God.
Enough? Do you wish or need more? You might find it instructive and fascinating to go to Wikipedia, the source to which I owe my appreciation for much of the above information.
As well, read the remarkable books of Huston Smith, 91 years of age at this writing and a globally honored professor of religion. Among titles of his that I most often recommend: The World’s Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions, 1958, rev. ed. 1991, HarperOne; and Forgotten Truth: The Common Vision of the World’s Religions, 1976, reprint ed. 1992, HarperOne
So…that is my answer to Life’s Most Important Question: Who Am I? I am an out-picturing of the Divine. I am God in human form. So, too, of course, are we all.
MY POINT IN TELLING YOU ALL THIS: The gentleman in the incident you describe was not a mere biological expression of life, like an ant or a bee or a tree. He was a spiritual entity, having a Soul, a Mind, and a Body—and having, most of all, total and complete Free Will and Co-Creative Power. He was not the victim of the circumstance you describe, he was the co-creator of it, the active and willing participant in it.
Now, my dear friend, your purpose in life is to recreate yourself anew, in the next grandest version of the greatest vision ever you held about Who You Are. You do this by creating, in very powerful ways, your interior experience of the exterior events that are collaboratively created by all the Souls affected by them. Nobody is the victim of anything, and nobody is the perpetrator. We are all simply co-creators of a Collective Reality, from which each of us are invited to draw our individual experience of Self, through which we produce our present expression of Divinity.
You, my wonderful friend, have chosen to produce, from your experience of the accident, a portrait of yourself as a person who deserves to feel unending shame and guilt. Yet it is as God has told us through the words of His messenger Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross: “Guilt and Shame are the only enemies of man.”
I come now to tell you that forgiveness is not necessary. Neither is guilt or shame. God never forgives anyone for anything. God never has, and God never will.
Conversations with God makes this bold statement, and does it so unequivocally that even those who agree with CWG’s other spiritually revolutionary revelations find themselves raising their eyebrows—until they look behind the statement to the explanation that is given.
God does not and will not offer forgiveness to anyone for anything because forgiveness is not necessary. It is replaced in the process of Divine Balance with a more searingly powerful energy: Understanding.
First, Divinity understands Who and What It Is, and so It is Aware that It cannot possibly be hurt or damaged, injured or diminished in any way. This means that Divinity would not be disappointed or frustrated or annoyed or angry or vengeful for any reason. It simply has no reason. “Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord” is the biggest spiritual untruth of all time.
Second, God understands that humans do not understand who and what they are, and so imagine that they, or others, can be hurt and damaged, injured and diminished—and that it is from this experience, or fear, of being hurt that all thoughts, words, and actions seemingly requiring Forgiveness flow.
Knowing this, God has no need to forgive you (even if God could somehow be “hurt”), any more than you have a need to “forgive” a two-year-old child for saying or doing something that doesn’t make sense, or for something that happened by accident, like spilling a glass of milk at the dinner table.
The idea that you need to forgive yourself for something you have done is clearly based on the fact that you feel that another Soul, at the level of Soul, has been offended, damaged, or hurt by you. Such a thought denies the reality of their own sovereignty; of who they really are. I do not mean here to diminish or dismiss the impact in our present physical reality of what has occurred. A man has died, and in our present physical reality and limited understanding, that is surely viewed as a tragedy. Only from the standpoint of a larger spiritual awareness can this incident be held in Consciousness any other way.
From a spiritual perspective, however, we see very differently, with no place for “fault” or “guilt,” for we know that all that has happened is the playing out of the evolutionary process of all the Souls involved — a process that is mysterious and seldom fully grasped within the limited perspective of the human mind.
Yet even the mind understands the innocence of a child whose presumed immaturity and confusion led to his actions. And so, too, will we eventually see, when we come from the place of Deepest Understanding, that the exact same thing is true of the adults who behave in ways that some might call hurtful or damaging.
It is also important to understand this complexity: There is no such thing, in Ultimate Reality, as an “accident.” Even the apparent “accident” of the child spilling milk is not, ultimately, an “accident” at all, but an action that appears to emerge from the mind’s immaturity and confusion, but which is actually the perfect playing out of what is in that moment ideally suited to move forward the agenda of all the Souls involved in and witnessing the event.
In short, nothing happens “by chance” in the Mind of God.
And you are an expression of the Mind of God. That is, you are God, individuated in physicality, for the purpose of experiencing your own Divinity. This is what Jesus Christ was. This is what Lao Tzu was. This is what Muhammad was. This is what Buddha was. This is what Abraham was. This is what Bahá’u’lláh was. This is what everyone is.
This is why Moses was able to part the Red Sea. This is why Jesus was able to heal the sick. This is why Muhammad was able to recite the Quran. And, as Jesus said: “Why are you so amazed? These things, and more, shall you do also.”
Understanding thus replaces Forgiveness in the Mind of those who have expanded their Consciousness to include the Awareness of the Soul. The Soul knows its True Identity.
A wonderful effort of your Mind, then, each time you begin to feel that another person has been hurt or damaged in any way by you, would be to open itself to the wisdom of Heaven.
Stop. Breathe. And then listen.
Listen to the insight and the understanding and the compassion and the wisdom of the Soul. You will know, then, that self-forgiveness is not necessary, but that what serves the Mind is simple and real and pure and compassionate understanding of what occurred, why it occurred, and how its having happened has moved forward the larger evolutionary agenda of all the Souls involved in, and affected by, the occurrence itself.
Go, then, and bless all the world that you touch with all the love that you have, and do not weep because you cannot “forgive” yourself for the incident in which a man’s life was ended, but embrace your own Soul’s understanding — and God’s awareness — that you did nothing “wrong,” that such a thing is impossible given Who You Are, that the highest agenda of every person who has been touched by the experience you describe has been served, that imperfection is impossible in the Kingdom of God, and that you are absolved of any “guilt” or “shame” for an event which was collaboratively created by all the Souls involved, each to serve their own sacred and holy agenda.
Use every moment of the remainder of your life to bless the world, my dear friend, for that is what you came here to do. Indeed, that is Who You Are: a blessing in our world. Bring understanding to those who weep for themselves in their own misunderstanding of their own lives and the experiences within them. Heal others, my friend, of any sadness they may have, and you shall heal your own.
I send you love and blessings, my friend, now and even all the days of your life.
Yours in humble service,
Can there be any doubt that prayer works? The most recent developments regarding Syria certainly suggests that it does.
People around the world have been praying for a peaceful resolution to the current situation in Syria, with an end to the threat by the U.S. Government to launch a strategic missile strike there in order to disable the ability of the Syrian regime to use chemical weapons.
And now, Russia and the United States have come to an agreement that calls for the Syrian Government to turn over its chemical weapons to international inspection and control—leading to their complete destruction—within a week.
Is any of this the result of humanity’s prayer? I believe it is. Does that mean that God answers our every prayer in just the way we want God to? No. To me it does not. That is not what Conversations with God has told me.
I have received many messages and emails in recent days asking me what is the best way to approach this crisis spiritually. I have said to everyone, simply…pray.
In thinking about this, I found myself going back to Book One in the Conversations with God texts to get a reminder of what it had to say about “prayer.” Here’s what I found:
You will not have that for which you ask, nor can you have anything you want. This is because your very request is a statement of lack, and your saying you want a thing only works to produce that precise experience — wanting — in your reality. The correct prayer is therefore never a prayer of supplication, but a prayer of gratitude.
When you thank God in advance for that which you choose to experience in your reality, you, in effect, acknowledge that it is there — in effect. Thankfulness is thus the most powerful statement to God; an affirmation that even before you ask, God has answered. Therefore never supplicate. Appreciate.
Gratitude cannot be used as a tool with which to manipulate God; a device with which to fool the universe. You cannot lie to yourself. Your mind knows the truth of your thoughts. If you are saying “Thank you, God, for such and such,” all the while being very clear that it isn’t there in your present reality, you can’t expect God to be less clear than you, and so produce it for you. God knows what you know, and what you know is what appears as your reality.
The way to be grateful for something that is not there is through faith. If you have but the faith of a mustard seed, you shall move mountains. You come to know it is there because God said it is there; because God said that, even before you ask, God shall have answered; because God said (and has said to you in every conceivable way, through every teacher you can name) that whatsoever you shall choose, choosing it in God’s Name, so shall it be.
No prayer — and a prayer is nothing more than a fervent statement of what is so — goes unanswered. Every prayer — every thought, every statement, every feeling — is creative. To the degree that it is fervently held as truth, to that degree will it be made manifest in your experience.
When it is said that a prayer has not been answered, what has in actuality happened is that the most fervently held thought, word or feeling has become operative. Yet what you must know — and here is the secret — is that always it is the thought behind the thought — what might be called the Sponsoring Thought — that is the controlling thought.
If, therefore, you beg and supplicate, there seems a much smaller chance that you will experience what you think you are choosing, because the Sponsoring Thought behind every supplication is that you do not have now what you wish. That Sponsoring Thought becomes your reality.
The only Sponsoring Thought that could override this thought is the thought held in faith that God will grant whatever is asked, without fail. Some people have such faith, but very few.
The process of prayer becomes much easier when, rather than having to believe that God will always say “yes” to every request, one understands intuitively that the request itself is not necessary. Then the prayer is a prayer of thanksgiving. It is not a request at all, but a statement of gratitude for what is so.
So regarding the ongoing Syrian crisis, perhaps we might say a prayer of gratitude today. Here is mine…
Thank you, God, for helping us to understand that this problem has already been solved for us. Thank you for the peace that will prevail, and for the perfection of the process that leads to that peace.
Thank you for the comfort of knowing that All Will Be All Right in the History of Humanity, and that every living creature returns ultimately to reside in Perfection Itself, in the paradise that is the Presence of Divinity in, as, and through us, completely and absolutely, forever and even forevermore.
I am grateful for this apparent diplomatic breakthrough involving the United States and Russia, even as I am aware that this must be only the beginning of a larger human effort to bring an end to all the suffering in Syria, not just the chemical weapons crisis. And then to bring an end to all the suffering of humanity everywhere.
Can we do it? Can such a thing ever occur? It can, and has, in all of the advanced civilizations of the cosmos. The question is, are we willing to advance as well? If so, we are going to find that using the tools of Spirituality will be the only approach that will get us there. We’ve already tried every other approach. And as Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that working for you?”
And what spiritual tools am I talking about? Well, one suggestion might be to start with the 1,000 Words That Could Change the World, found elsewhere on this front page. Have you read them yet?
There can be no justification, in a spiritual sense, for a military attack by the United States on Syria, whatever the intention or cause.
The very first message of Conversations with God, on pg. 5 of Book One, says that We Are All One. If this is true (and it is), then killing each other to resolve our problems — even our biggest problems — can never be the answer.
There are those who say that the leadership in Syria (meaning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government and military minions) must “pay” for its alleged approval of the use of chemical weapons against Syria’s own people.
The U.S. says it has incontrovertible evidence that the chemical weapons attack that recently killed hundreds of men, women, and children in Syria was conducted by the military of the Assad regime. It says that a military strike against Syria would be limited to the destruction of that government’s own military apparatus.
The spiritual wisdom on this matter says that we cannot continue with the insanity of using killing to end killing, violence to end violence. Negativity only breeds negativity, and CWG says that the problem in the world today is that we keep trying to solve the problem in the world today at every level except the level at which the problem exists.
First, we try to solve it as if it was a political problem, because we are used to using political pressure on this planet to push energy around to get people to do what they don’t want to do. We hold discussions and write laws and pass legislation and adopt resolutions in every local, national, regional, and global organization we can think of to try to solve the problem with words—but it does not work. Whatever short-term solutions we may create evaporate over time, the problem reemerges. It will not go away. So we say, “Okay, this is not a political problem and it cannot be solved with political means. It must be an economic problem…” You see, we are used to using economic power on this planet to push energy around to get people to do what they don’t want to do.
So we try to solve the problem as if it were an economic problem. We throw money at it, or withhold money from it (as in the form of sanctions), to try to solve the problem with cash—but it does not work. Whatever short-term solutions we may create evaporate over time, the problem reemerges. It will not go away. And so we say, “Okay, this is not an economic problem, and it cannot be solved by economic means. It must be a military problem…” We are used to using military might on this planet to push energy around to get people to do what they don’t want to do.
So we try to solve the problem as if it were a military problem. We throw bullets at it and drop bombs on it to try to solve the problem with weapons —but it does not work. Whatever short-term solutions we may create evaporate over time, the problem reemerges. It will not go away. And so we say, “Okay, this is not an easy problem. This is going to be a long, hard slog. Many lives will be lost in trying to solve this problem. But we are not going to give up. We are going to solve this problem if it kills us.” And we don’t even see the irony in our own statements.
You see, we are very used to trying to force solutions in our world. Yet solutions that are forced are never solutions at all. They are simply postponements. I know that you have all heard the definition of insanity. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting to get a different result.
The sadness of humanity is that we are forever ready to settle for postponements in place of solutions. Only primitive cultures and primitive beings do that. Highly evolved beings would never, ever settle for a 10,000-year-postponement in the solving of their largest problem.
The problem in the world today is a spiritual problem. It has to do with what people believe. It has to do with our most fervently held thoughts and ideas about Life, about God, and most of all, about ourselves.
This problem of beliefs creates a condition of hopelessness, helplessness, anger, and rebellion. That condition produces a circumstance of run-away violence.
The problem of beliefs is a problem which all of us have helped to create. This is true because all of us have beliefs—and if those beliefs are mistaken, and we then pass on those beliefs to our children and our grandchildren and our neighbors and our friends, we join together to create a Cultural Story that creates the very Conditions which produce the very Circumstances we are trying to avoid. Yet we cannot eliminate them and we cannot avoid them until we eliminate and avoid the beliefs that created them.
And that is OUR work, my friends. That is OUR job. We must change the Cultural Story that created the Conditions that produce the Circumstances we seek to avoid. Yet we will never do that, we will never even be able to, as long as we refuse to acknowledge our own responsibility in the matter. It is as the headline on the masthead of this online newspaper reads.
It is WE who hold the beliefs that we hold, that create the Cultural Stories that start the spiral going. We, ALL of us — including the people who use violence to announce and to scream out their discontent — must change our cultural story, must change our beliefs, if we expect and hope to see a change in humanity’s behavior.
This is because all behavior springs from belief. All behavior. Everything you do, you do because you believe something. You believe something about who you are, you believe something about what is currently happening, you believe something about what you are doing—and, most sadly of all, you believe that you are “right” about all of that. The possibility that you may be “wrong” never even occurs to you.
Yet we are wrong. About almost everything. Certainly about almost everything that is important, such as God, and who God is, and what God wants. And Life, and how it works, and its purpose and function. And we are wrong about each other, and about ourselves, and who we are in relationship to each other, to ourselves, and to God.
The problem in life is a spiritual problem—and the spiritual problem is a simple problem of misidentification. We have misidentified Who We Really Are. We have failed to answer accurately life’s four major questions: Who are we? Where are we? Why are we? What are we doing here?
Most people have not even asked themselves those questions, much less answered them.
If the United States goes to war in Syria — and it very much looks as if it may — the world will have once again used precisely the wrong tactics to solve the world’s problems. What is wrong with all the nations of the world who disagree with the alleged actions of the Syrian government simply and powerfully boycotting that government? Refusing to sell it anything, give it anything, supply it with anything, or deal with it in any way?
There are those who say that won’t work. Russia and China, two huge allies of Syria, will give its government all that it needs to keep things going over there and to stay in power. But surely there must be some effect that the combined nations of the world which disagree with Syria can have on that country, other than raining rockets down on its military facilities and killing more people.
More killing cannot be the answer. Have we become so barbaric as a species that more killing is the only answer the world can come up with? Or have we so utterly failed to crawl out of our Original Barbarism? Is there no way we can advance as a species? None at all?
If I were President Obama, I would hold a globally televised news conference immediately, and place before the world every last bit of evidence that I had that Syria’s government forces were responsible for the chemical weapons attack on its own people. As of writing this update (Friday, Aug 30, 1 p.m . PST), U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has done that, to the degree that he can, without revealing or placing in danger U.S. intelligence methods and sources.
Then I would ask the whole world, “Is this where we have fallen? Is this what we are willing to tolerate in the name of non-intervention in a so-called sovereign nation’s affairs? Are we willing to stand by and do nothing while, according to the irrefutable evidence we have obtained and shown you here, a despotic government kills its own people by the thousands to stay in power?”
UPDATE: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has, in essence, done that as well. His statement may be seen and read here:
Then I would dare both Russia and China to respond to the incontrovertible evidence which has been gathered and placed before the world. I would demand that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad respond to the evidence. This is something that Mr. Kerry has not done.
I would boldly and publicly challenge Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, to respond to this evidence, and to do so now. I would demand that he give an explanation of his regime’s actions and stop pretending that the intelligence evidence of thousands of sources, including satellite technology picking up rocket launchings from regime-held areas of Syria and landings in the opposition-held areas, mean nothing.
I would demand, as well, that the rest of the world — Russia and China in particular — respond to these intelligence findings, and stop blocking every attempt to economically and politically punish the Assad regime for its actions, to show him and all of the world’s real or would-be despots that humanity will not tolerate despotism, or the killing of a nation’s own people by a nation’s own government, by any means — to say nothing of the most heinous.
Why do we not do that, I wonder?
UPDATE (Sat., Aug 31, 3 pm pst) As you must know if you are following this international story, President Obama has said that he will not order a military strike by the United States on Syria’s chemical weapons capacity unless the U.S. Congress votes to authorize him to do so. If you are wondering what you can do, please read the headline story on this newspaper’s front page, then join me and Marianne Williamson in the Global Collective Prayer Initiative, Monday, September 2, at 16:00 GMT (that is 9 a.m. Pacific Time). We will pray solidly and intentionally for ten minutes that the U.S. will not launch air strikes on Syria, and that the larger Syrian conflict may end, at last, with peace and harmony prevailing.
UPDATE (Sun. Sept 1, 12 noon pst) Pope Francis today told a papal audience: “Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence.” NBC News reported that the Pope made his remarks “ahead of the traditional Angelus prayer on Sunday.”
“I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from the deep within me. How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake in that martyred country, especially among civilians and the unarmed! I think of many children will not see the light of the future!”, the television news network quoted Pope Francis as saying.
The Pontiff, of course, denounced the use of chemical weapons, saying that he condemned “with utmost firmness” such use.
We have been exploring in great detail in this space over the past several weeks the topic of how to introduce your child to the concept and reality of God. That series continues with Part VII, here.
The main question is, of course, how to do it. How can we best introduce our child to the idea and the existence of God? The answer begins with a willingness to assume and accept that your child may be far more attuned to Larger Realities than you might think. Therefore, talking about God in matter-of-fact ways will feed right into child’s already-present inner knowing.
True, your offspring may not know the words to describe that which they sense must exist and must be true, but they will readily and easily accept the notion that Something Larger is “out there” if they see their parents readily and easily accepting it—just as, in the area of sexuality, they will readily and easily accept the differences and the wonders of their bodies if they observe that their parents readily and easily accept these differences and the wonders.
We have touched on this matter-of-factness about God before, encouraging casual and off-handed mention of “God” in everyday conversation around the children. One easy and natural way to do this might be through the age-old tradition of “saying grace” before meals. If this happens from the time a child is old enough to hear, the child will have encountered the notion of “God” long before they ask for a fuller explanation, making that fuller explanation much easier for the child to absorb.
Is it okay to personify God?
One of the questions I am most often asked by parents is: “Is it okay to allow our children in the early stages of understanding God to think of God as a ‘person’, even if we, ourselves, don’t really think that this is what God is?”
My answer is always yes. A small child will may find it difficult to grasp oblique or inexplicit concepts such as “Essence” or “Energy.” If offering thanks at meals to The Essence seems challenging for your 3-year-old, allowing the child to personify God is perfectly okay. Indeed, as an adult I personify God all the time.
The dialogue in Conversations with God taught me that “God” is The Essence and The Prime Energy of Life Itself; the Source of all Love, all Wisdom, all Power, all Intelligence, and, indeed, everything in the Universe. This Essence can form and shape itself into any appearance or embodiment It desires, and has done so—including the form and shape of a wonderful, kind, gentle, caring, compassionate, understanding, unconditionally loving and incomparably wise woman or man.
I encourage people, in fact, to use the terms Mother/Father God and Father/Mother God interchangeably and as often as possible when referring to The Divine. This helps to remove the traditional male gender identification that so many children often attach to the idea of God in the early stages of their lives.
Here is a possible Grace that might work in your home:
Dear Mother/Father God…We thank you for the food we are about to eat, for the love that we feel at this table, and for all the wonderful gifts of life that we share. And thank you, too, for the good days and wonderful times that are still to come for the rest of our lives. We promise to share all good things with all those whose lives we touch. Amen.
I love this little prayer because it introduces the concept of Sharing as well as the idea of God to the mind of the child.
Nightly prayers and morning prayers are another sweet way to place the concept and the reality of God before your little ones. Here is a wonderful, short nightly prayer for children…
Dear Father/Mother God…Thank you for this day, and everything that happened. Even the ‘bad stuff.’ Because I know that all of it helps me to be a nice person, and that’s what I love to be! See you tomorrow…your friend…Neale.
And here is a morning prayer I’ve been saying myself for many years.
Dear Mother/Father God…Thank you for another day, and another chance to be the very best Me I can be!
Invite children’s own CWG
If the “prayer” idea doesn’t feel that it would work for you, you can encourage your children to have their own conversations with God, and to develop a positive attitude about life in the process, by inviting them to talk to God for one minute every night about The Things I Liked Best About Today.
Here’s one way that could look…
PARENT (just before bedtime): Let’s play the One Minute Game!
PARENT: Okay, we have one minute to think of what we liked best of all the things that happened today, and tell God about it. If we can think of at least two things between us, I think God will be very happy. I’ll go first…
“Hey, Mother/Father God…the thing I liked best about today was…the really neat time I had with all my kids and with Mommy, playing that game after we had dinner! I just wanted to say ‘thanks’ for all the good stuff! You’re neat, God!” (Or…“that I didn’t have to put away all the groceries by myself, because my little sweetie helped me!”) (Or…”How nice my little sweetheart Madelyn was when she didn’t make a fuss at Daddy when nap time came…”) (Or…”Making a super dinner for everybody that they really liked, because they told me so. It feels so good to do stuff that makes other people happy! Thanks, God!”)
You can’t even begin to imagine the many messages you can send to a 3, 4, or 5-year-old with a nightly tradition such as this—without seeming to “preach” to the child at all. They’re just listening to Mommy or Daddy talk to God!
In addition to setting up a positive attitude, this creates the habit of your children having their own conversations with God on a regular basis. That habit will extend into adulthood, I promise you. Especially if, later, when your child grows older…of if the child has had an especially rough day…you can model for her or him how to talk to God about that, too…
Well, God, things didn’t go so well today, as I’m sure you know. So thanks for giving me the help to get through it—and thanks for making everything better…which I know is what is going to happen! I’m glad you’re hear, Father/Mother God. I’m really glad you’re here!
I think nothing could be more important than the time you spend with your child in this way. (Something could be equally important, but nothing could be more important.) And why? Because, if you will suffer me making the same point repeatedly, what your children come to understand about God and how they experience God through you will stick with them all the days of their life.
Childhood imagination and childlike faith
Do not discourage childhood imaginings. That is one of the biggest pieces of advice I offer to parents. Most parents would not discourage this anyway, but I try to make the point with them that they are on the right track in not doing so.
I have been told by a number of people that I have a child-like faith in God. (An important note here: child-like and child-ish are not the same thing.) I suppose I do. And I am glad of it. I have a childlike faith in all of Life, in fact, not just in God. I have faith that life is on my side. I have faith that I can do anything I set my mind to. I have faith that things will always be okay with me, and that all things work out for my highest good in the end. I have faith that God loves me completely, without condition, reservation, or limitation, and that I am never alone, or outside the embrace of God. I have faith that I will be Home with God when this physical life ends.
Maybe I am imagining all of these things. Maybe I need to (as some of those who have observed me have said since I was a child) “grow up” and “face facts” and get my “head out of the clouds and feet on the ground.” But I believe that my childlike faith has served me. It has given me strength when things did not seem to be going my way. It has brought me comfort in times of loss, optimism when I might have been tempted to feel hopeless, and enthusiasm for tomorrow even if my “today” made it look as if my future might not ever be bright again. In short, it has kept me in a positive frame of mind the majority of the time.
More often than not I look for the solution when others see problems. More often than not I see molehills where others make mountains. More often than not I go for the gold when others are willing to settle for the bronze—or no medal at all in the Olympics of life—not because I need or want to be a “winner,” but because I hold quite naturally the idea that we are all intended to be winners, that life was made for us to be happy, and that all we have to do to get to that place is understand who we are and why we are here…and, of course, that God and Life are on our side.
For more on this I strongly urge you to read—or if you have already done so, to re-read—Happier Than God.
I could, in fact, be imagining all these things. But if I am, I must say that my imagination seems to be a very effective mechanism, a wonderful tool used in the fashioning of life. And here is my point; here is the reason I am bringing this all up now:
My parents encouraged me to use my imagination as a child. And they did not discourage me when my imagination ran wild. Rather, they simply coached me to notice when my imagination served me (that is, made me happier or gave me confidence) and when it disserved me (that is, made me scared or tentative or sad or took my confidence away).
If they saw that I was imagining something that made me scared or tentative (“There’s a monster under the bed!”) (“I’ll never get the part in the school play, so why bother even trying out!”), they would gently demonstrate to me that what I was imagining was (A) not helping matters any, and (B) probably not true anyway, if I just explored it.
If they saw that I was imagining something that made me happy or confident (“I’m Superman!”) (“I’m going to try out for the play and I bet I get the part!”), they would gently smile and demonstrate that they loved all ideas that made me feel better about myself—whether I was imagining all the good stuff, or talking about actual reality.
In this way, the line between Good Imagining and Good Reality began to blur, and as I reached 10 or 11 I began making a connection between the two. By the time I’d hit 16 I had a reputation in our family: “Neale has all the luck! He always seems to get what he wants.”
What I am saying here is that I think there is a direct connection between positive thinking and positive outcomes. And I am very clear that the way my parents worked with my imagination, and the way they encouraged it when my imaginings were positive, even if unrealistic, made that connection real for me. (“You know, son,” my father once said to me, smiling, “in a lot of ways you are Superman.”)
If you don’t take away a child’s dreams, you guarantee that he’ll keep dreaming. And what does all this have to do with introducing your child to the concept and the reality of God? Well, imagination is the tool of God. Dreams are the stuff of God. Great visions for tomorrow create excitement today—and nothing makes a dream more exciting than knowing that God is on our side to help make them come true. And this is what my Mother always encouraged me to feel.
“If that’s what’s best for you, God will help you make it happen. And if it’s not what best for you, God will bring you something better,” is what I would say to children from the time they are old enough to understand that idea (which might be a lot younger than you think).
“Thank you, God, for this or something better” is, by the way, another wonderful prayer to share with children (and adults, for that matter).
Stories and books are terrific tools, too, of course
I know this is obvious, but just as a reminder….Story Time provides another wonderful opportunity to introduce your children to God. Some parents merge Story Time with Bed Time, so that children will look forward to, rather than revolt against, bedtime. Others like to create Story Time in the afternoon, or after dinner in the evening.
It used to be difficult to find children’s books in which, if God is mentioned, the story and “the moral of the story” didn’t emerge from a Traditional Idea About God. This is perfectly okay, of course, if what you hold, and what you wish to share with your children, are those traditional ideas. If, on the other hand, your ideas about God lean more toward what might be termed New Thought concepts (such as the concepts in the Conversations with God texts), it was not always easy to find children’s books that reflected those values.
I am happy to say that these days it has become a bit easier. The CWG4Kids program has been gathering resources now for quite a while, and I think you’ll be impressed with the number of children’s stories that are out there—as well as short audio programs on CD, and even some animations on DVD.
For instane, there is a wonderful animation that a professional film company made of the CWG children’s book, The Little Soul and the Sun, as well as an audio enactment of the story with original songs that kids love. The second book in the Little Soul series, titled The Little Soul and the Earth, offers another resource straight out of the Conversations with God cosmology, as does the very special Christmas story Santa’s God, in which a little girl asks Santa the most important question of all time: Who is the real God? Who does Santa pray to?
The answer that Santa gives is exactly what you would want your children to hear if you, yourself, have embraced the message in CWG, yet it is placed before children in a way that is neither “preach-y” nor “teach-y,” but is presented in language and through an example that all children can easily understand.
And there are other wonderful children’s books and resources out there as well—and that’s what the CWG4Kids program is all about. It is about helping parents to introduce their children to the concept and the reality of God in a way that aligns with how they would like their children to start out on their own search for inner truth.
If you wait until someone in the child’s outside world ignites her interest in God, by talking about God in their home when your child is there on a visit or is sharing a stay-over with a school friend, then your “starting place” in this exploration will be what your child has heard elsewhere. That may or may not be a good place to begin, as your child may be filled with images or ideas about God that could prove bewildering…or even scary.
My suggestion is that you allow yourself to be the first person to introduce your child to the concept and the reality of God. We know that first impressions are lasting impressions, and I’m sure you want your child’s first impression of God to be different from the one to which many of us were subjected in our generation.
There are many ways, as I have alluded to already, to introduce your child to the concept and the reality of God without sitting your child down to have a “session” in which you say something like, “Let’s talk about God.”
Sex and God: Our two yearnings
Allowing your child to know that God is a part of your life is one of the most powerful things you can do to fuel your child’s Greater World experience. I liken it to how we introduce our children to sex. They either never hear about it from us and we talk to them about it only when, finally, they ask about it somewhere along the way, or they are introduced to it in an easy, casual way as a natural and normal, happy and fun part of life.
Sex and God are both dynamite subjects. That’s why I’m using them as companion examples here. They are probably the two most critical topics that one could explore with children. (And—dare I say?—the most taboo in our current Cultural Story.) How you approach these subjects will form and shape important inner experiences for your children for the rest of their lives—even (and perhaps especially) if they create later experiences that counter or contradict what they picked up from you.
Yet children will not create experiences, nor place themselves in circumstances, that counter or contradict what they understood by being with you if what they understood was joyous, fun-filled, happy and wonderful, uplifting their spirits every single time, and filling them with glorious and exciting anticipation of what wonders their next moment in life can hold.
Sadly, the teachings and doctrines about God of many of our societies and cultures and belief systems too often do not fill children with glorious and exciting anticipation of what wonders their next moment in life can hold. In fact, if my own childhood is any example, they more often fill children with fear and dread that they might do something terribly inappropriate or downright wrong, producing worried, tentative steppings into life. Sadly, the same can be said about our culture’s teachings and doctrines about Sex.
Yet the yearning for God as well as the yearning for Sex will not and cannot be denied—and so off our children will go, seeking to satisfy these yearnings with wildly misguided instructions.
The impulse lives within all of us
Every human being has a yearning for God. That is the most important thing I could tell you here. Every sentient being understands, at a cellular level, that something larger exists, something grander forms Ultimate Reality. We may not know what It is, but we feel certain that there is more going on here than meets the eye, and that Life in the Universe is more than a series of chemical reactions and energy fusions and biological processes. The design is too perfect, the process is too engaging and exciting, and the outcome is too magnificent for the whole operation to have been created by happenstance.
We know, too, at a very deep level, that we are part of all this. We are not separate from it; simply bystanders, watching a parade going by. We sense that we are, at some level, the parade organizers. Or, if we don’t believe that, we sense that at the very least, we are in the parade, part of it, not merely observers, not simply a fascinated but having-nothing-to-do-with-it audience.
Because we hold this deep inner knowing, we notice an unmistakable urge to join in when the parade is passing by. Our whole being is filled with what I have called an Impulse Toward the Divine. We feel a natural, inbred desire to unite, to become one again, with Life Itself at every level. We stick our nose in a flower, we bury our hands in the dirt, we spread our arms to the sunrise, we shed quiet tears of reverent awe at the utter magnificence of the night sky, we exult at the deep breathing in of the fresh morning, dew-filled air—we reach with humble joy for Life! And we desire Oneness with It in every way we can create.
Thus, the yearning for God. And for Sex.
Neither is incidental, or coincidental.
I believe we are attracted to each other inherently, out of a deep knowing that in each other we will find our Selves. I believe we know at the highest level that We Are All One and that we are seeking daily on this planet to end, at last and forever, our sense of Separation. We know, we intuitively understand, that Separation is not the Natural Order of Things, it is not the Truth of Our Being; and so we seek to never again suffer the illusion of being Alone.
Every child feels this yearning for Oneness as much as every adult, for Oneness is not an intellectual formulation, it is a spiritual awareness. And children are by no means less able to connect with deep spiritual awareness than adults. If anything, they’re more able.
This inbred, inborn, innate ability of children to connect with or experience deep spiritual awareness is something that many parents seldom think about, but that all parents have a opportunity to tap into, when considering how to introduce their children to the concept and the reality of God.
For the idea is pull out of the child, not put into the child, the truth and the awareness of humanity’s connection with the Divine. We are not trying to teach our children something, but to help them remember something; we are not trying to give them something (knowledge, wisdom, understanding, a sense of Oneness with God), but to let the know that they already have it.
There is a world of difference.
(Our discussion will continue here, with Part VII, in our next post.)
Now that you have solidified your clarity around what you believe and think and know about God, you must ask yourself this question: What do I want my children to believe and think and know about God?
If you want them to know nothing at all about God until they are old enough to begin forming their own thoughts about who and what God is, then you may choose to say very little, if anything, about God in your home and around your children until they reach the so-called “age of reason” — generally around seven.
If you want them to come to know God as you have come to know God, but “get there” much faster than you did…or, if you want them to come to know God as you have come to know God rather than as many others have come to know God…then you may choose to speak of God, to refer to God, casually and affirmatively and cheerfully and lovingly in day-to-day conversation from your children’s earliest days, so that by the age of seven they will have tons of Already Received Data about God against which to consider what they will soon be encountering (or what they have already encountered) in the outside world.
Sooner or later your children will hear about “God” from sources others than you as they move through childhood, and they will bring what they are hearing up with you.
If you have firm beliefs about God (and I hope you do), you will want to share them then, in an age-appropriate way. But if you had previously taken the Don’t-Mention-It-Until-Asked route, do not be surprised if your children then say something like, “How come you never talked about God before?”—or words to that effect. You will need to be ready to answer such a question.
My suggestion would be that you might then say, “Well, sweetheart, lots of people have different thoughts and ideas about God, and we wanted you to be able to make up your own mind. But since you asked, here is what I feel in my heart is true…”
I must say, though, that I prefer the Casual-Mention-From-The-Beginning approach, in which you put God into your child’s world without fanfare or huge initial explanation.
For instance, when your child asks a question about certain things, you can bring God into your answer. Example: “Mommy, how did the stars get into the sky?” “God put them there, honey.”
Or, “Daddy, why does it rain so hard that it makes noise?” “Wow, that’s a good question, Sweetie. I think that sometimes God just makes it happen that way.”
Or, “Mommy, how can birds fly?” “Well, honey, God gave birds a special gift, just as God gives everyone special gifts. Birds can fly, but they can’t talk. They can sing, but they can’t use words. You can talk, but you can’t fly. But you can SING, just like a bird!”
By bringing “God” into regular conversation, it will be no time at all — perhaps on the very first mention — before your child asks, “Who is ‘God’?” Now you are answering a question, rather than starting from a place of trying to explain something, or even bring up something that the child doesn’t care about and hasn’t even expressed an interest in.
So the idea here is to ignite in your child an interest in God.
(Our discussion will continue here, with Part VI, in our next post.)
We continue in this space our ongoing series on how to present the concept and reality of God to your offspring. Please know and understand this: your children will come home with questions. Even if you never open a discussion of God in your family, your children ultimately will. The notion of “God” is ubiquitous. It is not something you can avoid—or should want to. Rather, be there, be fully present, for your children when they have questions.
Theirs will not be unimportant questions, because we are talking here about the unknown (that is, about something that cannot be scientifically, statistically, or empirically proven), and when it comes to the unknown, our children (as I have tried to emphasize here) look to us for answers. And if our only reply is: “I don’t know; nobody knows,” that could leave our children, depending on their age, bewildered. It could also leave them—depending on what they hear about God from others and from the world at large—in a scary place.
Recently I spoke with a 40-year-old woman on this subject, and she told me that while her family did not speak much about God and belonged to no religion, she, as a child, had friends whose families did. And her parents encouraged and allowed her to investigate the concept of God and decide for herself what it meant.
So one week her friend’s family invited her to join their own child and go to church with them. Here is this woman’s own narrative, more than three decades later…
“I remember that I came home from my first church experience—I must have been six or seven—with the feeling that I had done something wrong, and that I had to bring Jesus into my heart or something really bad was going to happen to me, and so I lay in my bed night after night trying to bring Jesus into my heart, and feeling really stressed out about it.”
The church folks had presented their newcomer with a child’s Bible study reader, and in it this woman, when she was six or seven, read something about how God sent people to hell if they lived a gay lifestyle. And while she wasn’t quite sure at that age what a “gay” lifestyle was, she was clear about what “hell” was (her one visit to church having made it abundantly clear that it was a very bad place of terrible suffering). So this little girl said to her Mom, “I don’t want to believe in a God who hurts people.”
She remembers that her Mom replied, without equivocation: “Well, sweetheart, we don’t believe that God does hurt people, for any reason. Your father and I just don’t believe that.”
And that was the end of the fear for this little girl. Her parents’ word was good enough for her.
This is an important lesson. It is important to know, then, that—particularly at the youngest ages—your children look to you for guidance, not uncertainty; for clarity, not confusion; for wisdom, not bewilderment.
You cannot be a clear, wise, and helpful guide, however, if you yourself have not come to clarity about God.
And we will continue this series in our next entry here. We hope that all parents are receiving benefit from it.
We have been talking here at length about introducing children to the idea of God. In our last post we said…”Let’s say that your daughter has heard at her friend’s house that God punishes us if we don’t do what He wants us to do. She’s heard that if we are not careful we could wind up going to “hell.” Now what do you say? “Sweetheart, that’s not true.” OR…“I certainly hope that’s not true. Let’s cross our fingers.”
Yes…these questions about how to proceed are not small questions. So let’s back up right here and start at the beginning. The first thing you need to do as you explore how to introduce your child to the concept and the reality of God is to get clear about what YOU think about the concept and reality of God.
So let’s take a little survey of your own thoughts and ideas…
Let’s find out what you think about God
Here is a little Multiple Choice quiz for you. Complete the following statements. You may select one or more than one answer from the choices given…or offer you own answer.
1. The existence of God is:
A. Pure myth and fiction and untrue
B. Something I’m not sure about
C. Not doubted by me for a moment
==========================================================PLEASE NOTE: IF YOU CHOSE “A” OR “B” ABOVE THERE IS NO POINT IN YOUR FINISHING THE READING OF THIS ENTRY. IT HAS NOT BEEN PREPARED FOR PARENTS WHO DO NOT BELIEVE IN GOD AND ARE SIMPLY LOOKING FOR STRATEGIES TO USE WHEN ASKED ABOUT THE SUBJECT BY THEIR CHILDREN.
THIS DOCUMENT HAS BEEN PREPARED FOR PARENTS WHO HAVE READ CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD, WHO AGREE IN THE MAIN WITH ITS CONTENTS, AND WHO WISH TO SHARE ITS MESSAGE WITH THEIR CHILDREN.
(As parents who have read these books know, CWG does not indicate that there is only one way to think about God, nor that its own message is the inviolable truth about God. Quite to the contrary, the most striking point made in the dialogue is that no outside authority should ever replace one’s own inner experience regarding who and what God is, what God wants, and God’s role (if any) in our lives. However, a belief in some kind of God or Divine Essence or Universal Energy would be required for the rest of this post to make sense.) ==========================================================
2. My description of God is:
A. A big man in the sky, sitting on a throne
B. A Super Version of a human, with the ability to be angered, saddened, upset, frustrated or disappointed just like humans, and the intention to punish any human being who disobeys Him
C. A Super Being who looks like a human male, but who is kind, caring, compassionate, forgiving, and loving, and who would never hurt or harm anybody, much less punish them for their sins
D. A Super Being who looks like a human female, but who is kind, caring, compassionate, forgiving, and loving, and who would never hurt or harm anybody, much less punish them for their sins
E. A Super Being who has no gender, but who is kind, caring, compassionate, forgiving, and loving, and who would never hurt or harm anybody, much less punish them for their sins
F. A Super Being who looks nothing like a human, but who has all of the other qualities of C, D, and E above.
G. Not a Super Being at all, in the human sense, but rather, an Essence or an Energy that can assume any shape or form It desires, or no particular form at all.
H. An Essence or Energy that exists in Absolute Wholeness (that is, nothing in existence is separate from It, or is “other than” It), and that embodies Unconditional Love, Supreme Intelligence, Sublime Awareness, Endless Wisdom, and Unlimited Power.
I. None of the above, but my own answer, which is: (type your answer below)
J. None of the above; I do not know and wouldn’t hazard a guess
3. God’s relationship to Life is:
A. God created life as we know it, but exists apart and separate from it and has no control over it now that it has been created.
B. God created life as we know it, exists apart and separate from it, and has total control over it now that it has been created.
C. God created life as we know it, but exists apart and separate from it and exerts control over it when certain people ask God to, in a certain way.
D. God created life as we know it, but exists apart and separate from it and has the ability to exert complete control over it now that it has been created, but nevertheless chooses not to intervene in daily life, leaving humans to their own devices.
E. God created life as we know it, but exists apart and separate from it and has the ability to exert complete control over it now that it has been created, but nevertheless chooses not to intervene directly in daily life, preferring to give humans the power to co-create their outcomes with their fellow humans, using the power that God gave them.
F. God created life as we know it, exists in unity with and as part of all that lives, and has the ability to exert complete control over life now that it has been created, yet nevertheless chooses not to intervene directly in daily life, preferring to give humans the ability to co-create their outcomes with their fellow humans, using the power that God gives them.
G. None of the above, but my own answer, which is: (type your answer below)
H. None of the above; I do not know and wouldn’t hazard a guess
4. God’s purpose in creating life is:
A. To give God something to do
B. To put in place a system of Justice and Fairness in the Universe, so that all souls which separated themselves from God would have a chance to come back to God and live with God forever if they wanted to
C. To experience Itself in every possible way, and thus to Know Itself in Its Own Experience, through the expression of Its Essence and Its Energy in every physical form
D. None of the above, but my own answer, which is: (type your answer below)
E. None of the above; I do not know and wouldn’t hazard a guess
5. God’s function in life is:
A. To sit around and watch things that are going on, but do nothing
B. To sit around and watch things that are going on, and give us help when we need it.
C. To answer our prayers
D. To watch us closely and pass judgment on us when we die, deciding whether we go to Heaven or to Hell based on how we have lived our lives
E. To create
F. To express Divinity in all its aspects through the process we call Life, using as its tools of expression All Physical Things
G. To make Its Essence and Its Energy available to us to use whenever, wherever, and however we wish
H. None of the above, but my own answer, which is: (type your answer below)
I. None of the above; I do not know and wouldn’t hazard a guess
6. God’s relationship to us is:
A. A mystery
B. God is our Father, who loves us and is there is help us in every difficulty
C. God is our Creator, who made us in His image and likeness
D. God is with us always, even unto the end of time
E. God is the Source of our creative power, our strength, our wisdom, and our love
F. God is One with us, united with us, the same as us, identical to us, not separate in any way from us, who lives in us, as us, through us; God is US, and we are God, in individualized expression
G. None of the above, but my own answer, which is: (type your answer below)
H. None of the above; I do not know and wouldn’t hazard a guess
7. What God wants and requires of us is:
A. To obey His commandments, abide by His laws, do His Will, behold His righteousness, fear His judgment, pay homage to His divinity and praise His glory forever and ever
B. To do our best in every situation, be kind to others, and not hurt anybody on purpose
C. Nothing at all
D. None of the above, but my own answer, which is: (type your answer below)
E. None of the above; I do not know and wouldn’t hazard a guess
8. The way to interact with God is:
A. With fear and trepidation
B. With faith and gratitude
C. As you would with a kind and gentle father
D. As you would with a just and powerful monarch
E. As you would with your best friend
F. As you would with someone you fear
G. As you would with someone you love
H. As you would with someone you need
I. As you would with someone you do not need
J. As you would with someone who you know is always there
K. As you would with someone who you hope is there
L. None of the above, but my own answer, which is: (type your answer below)
M. None of the above; I do not know and wouldn’t hazard a guess
9. Life Itself is:
A. Something that we are all living, through no choice of our own, but getting through as best as can
B. A time of travail; a trial and a test, which has no apparent purpose or outcome.
C. A time of travail; a trial and a test, which, if we pass, allows us to return to God, and if we fail, sends us to the everlasting fires of hell
D. A school, with lessons to learn and a test at the end, which, if we pass, allows us to return to God, and if we fail, sends us to the everlasting fires of hell
E. A school, with lessons to learn, but no pass/fail test at the end; simply a process of learning and growth
F. Not a school, but a place and a way in which we are invited to demonstrate what we already know and completely understand regarding who we are, and now simply wish to express and experience
G. A process by which a biological creature moves from birth to death, having no reality of itself before birth or after death; the simple outcome of a chemical process involving the fundamental essence and energy of life, playing itself out with neither purpose nor design, reason nor function, objective nor outcome other than the movement through the Cycle of Life Itself in its many physical forms.
H. A journey of the soul from birth to death, with reason, purpose, and function
I. A process by which God expresses and experiences Its Divinity
J. None of the above, but my own answer, which is: (type your answer below)
K. None of the above; I do not know and wouldn’t hazard a guess
10. The purpose of Life is:
A. It has no purpose. It just is.
B. If it has a purpose, it is something none of us know; it is beyond our ability to determine.
C. Evolution; the evolution of Life Itself through the ever-expanding expression and manifestation of its many forms
D. The evolution of the soul, through the ever-expanding expression and manifestation of its many aspects
E. To announce and declare, express and fulfill, know and experience Who You Really Are
F. To recreate yourself anew, in each golden moment of Now, in the next grandest version of the greatest vision ever you held about Who You Are
G. To provide human beings with a vehicle and a means by which they might find salvation and return to God in heaven, whence they came
H. To provide God with a vehicle and a means by which It might know Itself experientially, and not simply conceptually
I. None of the above, but my own answer, which is: (type your answer below)
J. None of the above; I do not know and wouldn’t hazard a guess
11. Who and what I am is:
A. God’s creation
B. A biological entity; a physical life form, not unlike other life forms on the earth, except in complexity
C. A spiritual being having a physical body and a mind
D. A child of God
E. A part of God
F. A unique and unduplicated expression of God
G. An individualization of God
H. Divinity Itself in physical form
I. None of the above, but my own answer, which is: (type your answer below)
J. None of the above; I do not know and wouldn’t hazard a guess
These are the questions faced by parents every day—and there will be more. Life will place more questions before you if you are thinking about life’s greater aspects in any way at all. And your children will certainly place these and other questions before you, if only because of what they are hearing out there in the larger world around them, as mentioned before.
So it is important that you come to your own conclusions and awareness about God, even if these change across the time span of your child’s upbringing. Indeed, especially if they do.
And we will continue this series of articles in our next entry here. Do join us.
While we would imagine that most parents do not want their children to simply adopt the parents’ point of view on everything—and particularly their point of view on something as important as God—the challenge becomes one of providing the child with a free mental space within which to come to their own conclusions while at the same time offering firm and sure guidance, which every child deserves.
Children don’t want parents who are wishy-washy—and they don’t deserve them. They want and deserve more.
If a child is afraid of the policeman on the corner, do we tell her: “Oh, sweetheart, the policeman is our friend. There’s no need to be afraid of him. He’s here to protect us and to help us.”
OR…do we tell her: “Oh, sweetheart, I think the policeman is our friend. I hope there’s no need to be afraid of him. I wish that he were here to protect us and to help us. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.”
If your son is afraid to go into his room at night because he imagines there’s a monster under the bed, do you say, “Son, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Come on, I’ll go in there with you and show you.”
OR…do you say, “Well, son, I sure hope there’s nothing to be afraid of. Come on, I’ll go in with you and I’m going to wish with all my might that I’m right about this. But let’s keep the door open in case we have to get out of there in a hurry.”
Of course you offer the former, not the latter. You know that what your child looks to you for is certainty.
In all matters.
So the challenge becomes one of how to help your children feel certain about things, without robbing them of the opportunity (and the skill) of becoming certain themselves through the reaching of their own conclusions.
This is not an easy thing to do, and it can require us to sometimes walk a very thin line.
Self-discovery is the pathway to certainty
In nearly every situation in our children’s lives it seems to me we do our best job of parenting when we help them find things out for themselves.
Yet how can children find out for themselves about something as hypothetical (and that sometimes seems even to us to be hypothetical) as God?
And the problem here is that many other people talk about God in very definitive terms. So what your child is hearing on the playground, or in the home of friends, can sound very certain. Then, when your child comes to you for clarity, what do you say? That you don’t know? That you can’t be sure? That you have your own ideas, but it’s anybody’s guess? That we should all keep our fingers crossed?
Suppose your child comes to you and says he is afraid of God. Do you say, “Oh, sweetheart, God is our friend. There’s no need to be afraid of God. God’s here to protect us and to help us.”
OR…do you say: “Well, son, I think God is our friend. I don’t believe there’s a reason to be afraid of God. My own thought is that God is here to protect us. I hope there’s no reason to be afraid of him. Let’s hope I’m right.”
Let’s say that your daughter has heard at her friend’s house that God punishes us if we don’t do what He wants us to do. She’s heard that if we are not careful we could wind up going to “hell.” Now what do you say? “Sweetheart, that’s not true.” OR…“I certainly hope that’s not true. Let’s cross our fingers.”
Yes…these questions about how to proceed are not small questions. And we will begin to explore them as we continue with this series of articles in our next post. I hope you’ll join us for it.
Nothing will play a larger role in the reality experienced (and created) by our children during their lifetime than the notions we give them about what I call the Three Foundational Aspects of Physical Expression upon the earth:
1. Life Itself, and how it works
2. Children Themselves, and who and what they are
3. Life’s Larger Realities, and what some people call “God”
The ideas that they carry forward about all of this will impact every area of their day-to-day encounters from this moment until their final moments in the body—just as your thoughts and my thoughts about these things have affected us in precisely the same way (though we may not have known it).
This cannot be overstated. What your children imagine to be true about themselves and the environment in which they find themselves—as well as who or what controls that environment—will not only impact, but create…
- Their thoughts, their energies and moods
- Their willingness to attempt and to achieve
- Their decision to risk and to dare
- Their determination to reach and to strive
- Their choice to wonder and to solve, and…
- Their ability to step into and live the grandest concept of themselves, allowing them to fulfill their highest dreams
So what we are talking about here is pretty important. No. It is extremely important. No. It is of ultimate importance.
I cannot, in this online column, address all of the Big Three. To do so would require a small book. But I would like to share with you here what I imagine myself to know about how to introduce and discuss with your child the last and most important topic: God.
Before we begin, a question please…
The first thing you have to do is ask yourself a key question: Do you want your children to embrace an already established-in-your-own-mind and very particular set of beliefs? Or do you want your children to notice and be aware of your beliefs, and then be empowered to form their own?
Always, in the issue of parenting, this becomes the key question. Not only as it relates to the subject of God, but as it relates to everything.
And we will continue this discussion in our next entry here. I invite you to return.