May, 2014

Every individual undertaking, every individual thought, word, or action which leads to the transformation of the Self and to the lifting of any other being, is of extraordinary importance. It is not necessary to move mountains to move mountains. It is necessary only to move pebbles.

We must become People of the Pebbles. We must do our work on a person-to-person basis. Then we shall move mountains. Then the mightiest obstacles shall crumble, and the way shall be made clear.

So let us undertake to deeply understand on an individual level (and then to demonstrate on an individual level) how and why it is possible for The Divine to want nothing for Itself, and to seek only to distribute.

We begin by coming to clarity on who and what The Divine is.

The Divine is Everything. All that is seen and all that is unseen is The Divine. All that is known and unknown is The Divine. All that is experienced and unexperienced is The Divine. All that is here and all that is not here, all that is now and all that is forever, all that is limited and all that is unlimited is The Divine. All that is comprehensible and all that is incomprehensible is The Divine.

There is nothing that Is that is not The Divine. Divinity is everywhere at once, and thus, it is nowhere in particular.

Divinity is NOWHERE. Divinity is NOW/HERE.

All of this has been given to us in Conversations with God. None of this is new. It has been given to us a thousand times before Conversations with God. It has been given to us a thousand times since. Indeed, in every moment of every day, through a thousand individual manifestations of Itself, is Divinity revealing Itself. Yet we do not see. Or we see, but do not believe.

We do not believe the evidence of our own eyes. We do not hear the truth in the sounds of silence.

Yet, for those who have ears to hear, listen. And Watch. Observe. Observe the Self. Watch over your Self.

Last month, my boyfriend of five years and I had an argument and we have not talked since. He considers this a breakup. He already had commitment issues and our relationship has been on and off again a few times. He is seeing another girl, not romantically yet, but as really close friends. As much as it saddened me, my spiritual learning so far has helped me to just accept things as they are, and neither blame him, myself or the other girl for my unhappiness.

I just finished reading Conversations with God Book One. I wish I had read it earlier so I would have been more aware of my Sponsoring Thought, that I was always scared of losing him. I feel my underlying thought pushed him away.

Neale says we can all create what we like, but in order to do that we must go in reverse: Act, Speak, Think. I would like your help in understanding that in my particular situation. What do I need to specifically do, how do I need to act in order to bring the guy I love back into my life and get married to him? It goes without saying that I love him very much. Any other guidance you can give me in this case will be highly appreciated too… Amy

Dear Amy,

I think you are confusing the Three Levels of Creation (Thought, Word and Action) with the Be-Do-Have paradigm. Conversations With God says that most of the time we mix up the order of things thinking, “If I Do this, I can Have That, then I’ll Be happy.” We also sometimes think, “If I Have this, then I can Do That, then I’ll Be happy.” CWG invites us to come from a state of Beingness first. Decide ahead of time what it is we choose to Be, not waiting for circumstances to dictate it, then allow everything we Do to come from that place. The Having part then falls into place automatically.

Now, pertaining to your boyfriend of five years, you should know that this process is not meant to be construed as a way to “bring him back into your life and get married to him”. This Be-Do-Have way of living isn’t some kind of voodoo or trick that you can play to get what it is you think you want. Remember, you are co-creating with your boyfriend and he has every bit as much right as you do to decide how he wants to live the rest of his life, with or without you.

My concern when reading your letter was the fact that you would even want to do that. You said in your first paragraph that your spiritual learning has helped you to accept the fact that he has moved on. So which is it? Do you accept his choice or do you want to try to use some sort of spiritual magic to bring him back? And if it is the latter, why do you not feel whole, complete and perfect without him?

I can tell you that because each of us is freedom at our core, when others sense that we want to to tie them down, or obstruct their freedom, it sends them flying the other way. If we come across as needy or unfulfilled, we are sending out big red flags to those who are in relationship with us.

You didn’t tell me your age, but it sounds as if you are rather young and you have your whole life ahead of you. The best advice I can give you, dear Amy, is to continue your spiritual learning so that you can much more fully realize how perfect you are all on your own. Spend quiet time with your soul so you can deeply know that, as an individuation of the One Divine Spirit, you encompass the same qualities It has, as a being that is totally without need—especially without need for another to complete you.

When you take enough time and energy to become very centered and you begin to know and express yourself as confident and kind, and as one who has no needs or expectations, the irony is, you then become irresistible to others!

(Annie Sims is the Global Director of CWG Advanced Programs, is a Conversations With God Life Coach and author/instructor of the CWG Online School. To connect with Annie, please email her at

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The last several installments in this headline series have outlined what we’ve all been taught about What God Wants. What was not said specifically was that the theology represented by these traditional teachings is a theology of separation. In this theology, humans are “down here” and God is “up there.”

Yet this is not simply a theological issue, because theology produces sociology. A theology of separation produces a sociology of separation. It is as simple as that.

That is exactly what has happened all over the earth. Humanity has created, and we now live in, a society of separation. Separation from God and separation from each other.

Now it’s true that in spite of our sociology of separation, we have had some remarkable achievements. Human beings can split the atom, create a cure for disease, send a man to the moon and crack the genetic code of life itself. Yet, sadly, many people—perhaps the largest number—cannot do the simplest thing.

Get along.

Why is this, do you imagine?

Think about this.

With all that humans have been taught through their myths, in their cultural stories, and by their religions—with all that humans have been told about God and about Life by their ancestors and their elders and their ministers and their priests and their rabbis and their mullahs—how is it that, in the collective experience of a huge portion of humanity, it hasn’t done any more good?

But it hasdone a lot of good, you may say. The world is a better place than it was before. People do not act as they did in primitive times. They live in peace in most places, and they are not violent.

No, they are not. Most people are not. We can agree on that. But can we agree on this? Collectively, humanity is unceasingly and increasingly violent with its own kind.

This Part VI in a extended series of headline articles in The Global Conversation.

Allowing people to go hungry is a form of violence.

Placing life-saving drugs and the finest medical care out of reach of millions is a form of violence.

Underpaying laborers while taking huge front office profits is a form of violence.

Mistreating, underpaying, denying promotions to, and mutilating females is a form of violence.

Racial prejudice is a form of violence.

Child abuse, child labor, child slavery, child prostitution, child trafficking, and child soldiering is a form of violence.

The death penalty is a form of violence.

Denying civil rights to people because of their sexual preference or their religion or their ethnicity is a form of violence.

Creating and maintaining a worldwide society in which exploitation, oppression, and injustice are commonplace is a form of violence.

Ignoring suffering is as much a form of violence as inducing it.

In 2004 humanity watched 50,000 people die and over 1.5 million forced from their homes during ethnic fighting in the Darfur region of Sudan. The world stalled and stumbled and did little or nothing for many months as this went on. That is the mark of an extraordinarily primitive society, too timid, too weak, too stultified, or, worse yet, too self-involved to be able to put a quick stop even to genocide.

Are you growing a little impatient with the narrative here? I don’t blame you. It’s tough to look at how things are, at how they really are, in our world. We’d like to stay on the sunny side of things. We’d like to keep thinking positively, keep feeling good about life. No one wants to look at the bad stuff.

But if we don’t spend at least a little bit of time looking at the bad stuff, how are we going to change it? Is the best way to change something to not acknowledge that it’s there?

I don’t think so. There’s a line in the wonderful Arthur Miller play Death of a Salesman in which Linda, the outraged wife of Willy Loman, cries out to her grown sons to notice the tragedy before them in the form of a father whose life is crumbling right in front of their eyes, and to notice what he has gone through in life, and what he has tried to give them. “Attention must be paid,” she says with shaking voice. “Attention must be paid.”

We need to pay attention to the fact that our way of life is dying. We need to notice what the world has gone through, and what it has tried to give us. And we need to notice what we are doing, collectively and individually, in that world.

Attention must be paid.

In our world today an estimated 250 million children are working. Of these, more than 50 million between the ages of 5 and 11 are engaged in intolerable forms of labor. (The Progress of Nations 2000, Copyright: The United Nations Children’s Fund, New York, 2000) Does anybody care?

At any one time more than 300,000 children under 18, girls and boys, are fighting as soldiers with government armed forces and armed opposition groups in more than 30 countries worldwide, according to the Global Report on Child Soldiers (2001) published by the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. While most child soldiers are aged between 15 and 18, the youngest age recorded in this report is seven.

For nearly two-thirds of the world’s people, life is a daily struggle. For half of that number, it’s a struggle for survival. Does anybody care?

Why do these conditions exist, do you think? Do you think it might have anything to do with the fact that we don’t see each other on this earth as members of the same family? Do you think it may be because we imagine that we are separate from each other?

For whatever the reason, the fact is that the world has not put into place a system for sharing the abundance of the earth that works for everyone, but only for those who meet certain criteria of skin color or gender or religion or ethnicity.

The U.N. reports that donor countries allocate an average of just one-quarter of one percent (0.25%) of their total gross national product to development assistance for poorer nations. Does anybody care?

And what is the stingiest developed nation in the world in terms of the proportion of total wealth that it donates? The United States, arguably, the world’s richestcountry. The richest is the stingiest.

Can this be possible? Yes. It’s possible and it’s true.

Now you might say, hey, wait a minute, the United States puts in more dollars than half of the other countries combined. And you’d be right. In actual dollars, you’re right. But the United States has more dollars than half the other countries combined. So, as a portion of what it has, the U.S. is the stingiest of all.

If you have ten dollars and you give your brother three because he is in trouble, and if your neighbor has fifty dollars and he gives his brother five, which one of you is more generous? Are you impressed by the fact that your neighbor gave more in actual numbers than you? Or are you mindful of the fact that he has five times as much as you, and therefore he could have given five times more? It might have been hoped that he would give in proportion to his wealth, don’t you think?

My own idea about this is echoed in the words of John F. Kennedy many years ago: “Of those to whom much is given, much is asked.”

But the U.S. is not alone in under prioritizing allocations for nations in need. All of the world’s richest countries in 2003 spent $60 billion to help the poorest countries address the problems of poverty, lack of education, and poor health. During the same period the spending of these richest countries for defense was $900 billion.

This led the president of the World Bank to suggest dryly that if the world simply reversed its priorities, the cost of defense would never have to exceed the smaller sum.

In a global society where the suffering of others really mattered—not just at the level of lip service, but at the level of doing something about it that actually changes things—such a reversal of priorities would be instant and automatic.

Because that shift in priorities has not taken place, violence of a more direct kind is becoming a way of life on the earth. More and more often these days, in more and more places, it takes the form of direct physical attacks by one person or group upon another.

The sign of a social order that is failing is that even among those people in the world whose lives are more comfortable and who are not overtly suffering, violence is on a dramatic upswing. When even those who should be contented are discontented, you know something’s wrong, you know you’re in trouble.

Violence is on an upswing not only on the streets of the Middle East, but on the streets of Europe; not only in the homes of the poor in Southeast Asia, but in the homes of the well to do in North America. That is why now in many countries metal detectors are found everywhere. At military installations and airports, where they might be expected, but also at places where they would once have been considered grotesquely out of place: shopping malls and hotels, department stores and nightclubs, and yes, even schools, churches, mosques, temples and synagogues.

That is why in London there are hidden cameras on the streets. It is said that the average person is photographed 300 times a day in London. In Chicago it has just been announced that hundreds of new street cameras are being installed throughout the city, adding to the thousands already there. All of this is for our protection, of course. It is about security. These cameras are programmed by computer to pick up any “unusual activity” and to send an alarm to police, fire, and other agencies, which will dispatch personnel at once.

Big Brother is watching you.

George Orwell gave that chilling description of everyday life on our planet in a book he wrote over 40 years ago. It took his nightmare world of 1984 twenty years longer than expected to be created, but created it has been, complete with Global Positioning Satellites that can pinpoint a person’s location within 50 feet, on-street surveillance cameras, government access to video rental and library withdrawal records and, in fact, scrutiny of virtually any kind of activity you undertake outside your home. Soon, there may be cameras in your home. Does anybody care?

All of this is necessary, we are told, because increasing numbers of people everywhere have become frustrated, angry, disaffected, unpredictable and more willing than ever to use violence.

Why is this, do you imagine?

Think about this.

And why have human theologies, to which humanity looks for the wisest answers to life’s most difficult questions, been unable to reverse this trend—to say nothing of heading it off in the first place?

The answer is that Separation Theology does not work. Yet people insist, to this moment, that it is What God Wants.

(Our exploration of this topic continues in Part VII of this extended series, coming very soon. Don’t miss a single entry. And if you wish to catch up on installments that you have missed, simply click on the word HEADLINE in the Categories list at right, then scroll down to find the column you wish to read.)

Want to ignite a lively and spirited conversation with another individual or a group of people?  Start talking about God.  Perhaps one of the most debated, most mysterious, and most widely misunderstood topics of all time revolves around who God is, what God is, where God is, and what God wants.  And many conversations, as well-intentioned and even like-minded as they may be, have a difficult time sustaining themselves in light of the differences that inevitably arise.

So I would like to open the conversation up to all of you and invite you to share your thoughts and ideas and perspectives surrounding God.  Your God.  My God.  Our God.  No God.  This is not an exercise in making anyone wrong or making anyone right, but rather an opportunity to share and explore what is true for you.  Why do you have those deeply held beliefs?  Where do they originate?  How have they changed throughout the course of your life?  Are your understandings open to adaptation or change?  Or are they firmly etched into the part of you which drives your thoughts and choices?  Do you hold a set of beliefs as true now which at an earlier time in your life you did not?  Why is that?  What caused you to change?

I often hear people talking about “my God” or “your God,” and it causes me to pause and want to know more about that.    I also on occasion hear others who say there is no God.  I want to know more about that, too.  How is it that there are so many diverse and deeply held beliefs about God?  If it has taken years and years for humanity to splinter off into so many unique ideologies, where does it go from here?   Further separation?   Reunification?

Could it be that the greatest opportunity for all of us to cohabitate more peacefully in our world might begin by just creating a space for larger understandings to grow into?  Might it be that our own innate desire to be heard might only truly occur when we allow ourselves to hear someone else?   Do you oftentimes feel like you are talking but nobody is listening?

If somebody was listening — intently listening — to your thoughts about God, what would you say?

I invite you to share them here.

(Lisa McCormack is a Feature Editor at The Global Conversation and lives in Orlando, Florida.  To connect with Lisa, please e-mail her at

How are you doing here? I know this is taking a while, but that’s because, as I said, the influence of the teachings we have all received about God runs deep. It embraces philosophical areas as well as the practical aspects of life.

Even though the following final topics touch upon concepts that we may think we’ll encounter only in the abstract, the fact is that how we think about these abstractions affects—and creates—our concrete moment-to-moment experience.

FREE WILL…Many humans have been told that What God Wants is for human beings to have Free Will. Thus, they may determine and decide for themselves which of the Ultimate Outcomes—heaven or hell—they wish to experience after their death. They may do as they choose at any moment, at every juncture. They are not restricted in any way.

Humans have been told that God has granted humanity this Free Will so that humans may freely choose God, freely choose God’s Way, and freely choose to be reunited with God in heaven. In other words, they may freely choose to be good, as opposed to being forced to do so. God wants humans to return to God by choice. No one should be required to do so.

Human beings have also been told that under the doctrine of Free Will, while people may do as they choose, if they do not choose What God Wants they’ll pay for it with continuous torture through all eternity. No element of duress is seen in this. It’s simply the Way Things Are. It’s Justice, at the highest level. It’s God’s Justice, which follows God’s Judgment. It’s important, therefore, to freely choose What God Wants.

One result of this teaching: Humanity’s concept of freedom has been deeply affected and profoundly shaped by its understanding of what God means by “freedom.” Humans have decided that freedom doesn’t have to mean freedom, but can mean simply the ability to select outcomes. This is better than having no choice at all, and so humans in positions of power have learned to use the word “freedom” to privately describe the process by which they get others to do as they as are told. People don’t have to do as they are told, of course. But if they do not, there will be a price to pay. That could mean anything from having taxes audited to being thrown in jail for two years without charges being filed and without any explanation other than being labeled a threat to the security of the country. Using this measure, nations call themselves “free.”

Most people, except, perhaps, the most stubborn apologists, see the contradiction in all of this. They understand perfectly well that no people are truly free who face the most horrendous outcomes imaginable if they don’t do what they’re told. Only a hypocrite or a fool would call such a choice “free.”

Humans have learned, then, that hypocrisy—especially hypocrisy for the “right” purpose, in the “right” cause—is acceptable on earth as it is in heaven. Much of humanity’s political activity has been informed by this ethic. And elsewhere within the spectrum of human activity as well, in the way many humans communicate with each other, in the way many deal with each other, it has come to be understood that the end justifies the means.

In fact, many humans have now convinced themselves that none of this is hypocrisy at all. It’s simply a matter of interpretation.

And so, in this day and age, freedoms are taken away in the name of Freedom itself. Millions of people gratefully embrace the political rhetoric that says lack of freedom is what guarantees their freedom, and the religious doctrine that says their choices in life arefree only if they do as they are told, because this is What God Wants.

This is Part V of an extended series of articles in The Global Conversation.

SUFFERING…Many humans have been told that What God Wants is for suffering to be used by human beings to better themselves, and to purify their soul. Suffering is good. It earns credits, or points, in God’s mind, especially if it’s endured silently, and maybe even “offered up” to God. Suffering is a necessary part of human growth and learning and is, more importantly, a means by which people may be redeemed in the eyes of God.

Indeed, one whole religion is built on this belief, asserting that all beings have been saved by the suffering of one being, who died for the sins of the rest. This one being paid the “debt” said to be owed to God for humanity’s weakness and wickedness. According to this doctrine, God has been hurt by the weakness and wickedness of humanity and, in order to set things straight, someone has to suffer. Otherwise, God and humanity could not be reconciled. Thus, suffering was established as a redemptive experience.

With regard to the suffering of human beings due to “natural” causes, it’s not to be shortened by death under any circumstances that are not also “natural.” The suffering of animals may be mercifully ended before “natural” death, but not the suffering of people. It’s God and God alone who determines when human suffering shall end

One result of this teaching: Human begins have endured unimaginable suffering over extended periods in order to do God’s will and not incur God’s wrath in the Afterlife. Millions of people feel that even if a person is very, very old and is suffering very, very much—lingering on the verge of death but not dying, experiencing interminable pain instead—that person must endure whatever life is bringing them.

Humanity has actually created civil law declaring that people have no right to end their own suffering, nor may they assist another in ending theirs. However anguishing it may be, however otherwise hopeless a life may have become, the suffering must go on.

This is What God Wants.

MORALITY…Many humans have been told that What God Wants is a moral society.

One result of this teaching: Humanity has spent its entire history attempting to define what is moral and what is not. The challenge has been to come up with a standard for society that does not change, all the while the society itself is changing. To find this “gold standard,” many societies have turned to God, or Allah, or Yahweh, or Jehovah, or whatever other name they have used to designate Deity, and have relied on their understanding of What God Wants.

Many centuries ago God’s preferences in this matter were given a powerful label. They were called “natural.” This is because the concept of a Deity first entered the minds of primitive humans as a result of their earliest observations of and contacts with Nature. Here was something bigger than they were, something they could not control, something they could only stand by and watch, hoping for the best.

“Hoping for the best” soon transmuted into what would now be called praying. Whoever and whatever this Deity was, early humans reasoned, it was deeply connected with Nature, and Nature was an expression of It. And so humans created gods representing the sun, moon, and stars, the weather, crops, rivers, the land, and nearly everything else, in hopes of getting some control over things—or at least getting some communication going with whoever did have control.

From this connection of God and Nature it was only a short mental hop to consider that all things having to do with deities and gods were “natural,” and all things not having anything to do with deities were “unnatural.” When human language came into form the words “God” and “Nature” became inextricably linked. Certain conditions, circumstances, and behaviors were then described as “natural” or “unnatural,” depending upon whether they adhered to or violated the current perception of the Will of God.

That which is “unnatural” has, in turn, come to be described as “immoral”—since it’s not of God, and cannot, therefore, be What God Wants. The circle thus completes itself. Anything that is not considered “natural” is considered “immoral.” That includes all “unnatural” abilities, powers, behaviors—and even thoughts.

The idea that What God Wants is what is natural, and that what is natural is what is moral, has not been a perfect measure, but it has been the best that humanity has been able to do in the search for an unchanging standard. It’s for this reason that humanity has been loath to change its ideas about What God Wants. Changing those ideas changes the gold standard of human behavior.

Behavior is the currency of human interaction. Beliefs about What God Wants gives value to the behavioral choices of humans, just as gold gives value to the pieces of paper called money.

Thus, in most human societies it’s not an individual’s actual experience, but the society’s definition of it, that determines its morality. This is the case with homosexuality. It’s also the case with a great many other behaviors, such as prostitution, premarital sex, depictions of explicit sexual activity, the use of peyote, marijuana, and other plants and stimulants, or even the experience of ecstasy not induced by any outside stimulant.

For instance, if one says one has had an ecstatic experience of God, but if the experience does not fall within what humanity currently defines as “natural,” it’s considered immoral and to be warned against and, if it’s continued, to be condemned, and, if it’s still continued, to be punished.

In previous times it was often punishable by torture or death. More than one saint claiming and describing such ecstasies has been martyred in humanity’s long history, using such guidelines.

Those saints were killed because the people killing them were convinced that they were doing What God Wants.

DEATH…Many humans have been told that What God Wants is for their wonderful life to eventually end, at which time their opportunity to learn and to grow is over and the time to be rewarded or punished for how they have lived begins.

One result of this teaching: Many humans consider that death is a terrible thing, and something to be feared. It’s the End of the Line, the Final Curtain Call, the Closing Bell. Nearly all of the imageries surrounding death are negative, fearful, or sad, not positive, uplifting, or joyful. These imageries pervade our society. A street that goes nowhere is a Dead End. A person who is badly mistaken is Dead Wrong. The spirit who comes to retrieve your soul is The Grim Reaper.

Most people do not want to even talk about death, much less experience it. No one wants to experience it before he or she has to. People cling to life, sometimes desperately. The survival instinct is the strongest human instinct of all. Our common culture supports survival as the ultimate goal. Even people who want to die are not allowed to.

On the other side of death, many people feel certain, is the Final Judgment. If you have not been good, it’s at this point that you’ll go to hell. Your payment for all of your sins in this way is What God Wants.

Humanity’s list of What God Wants is very long and covers many other areas of human experience not discussed here. That list forms the basis of innumerable civil laws, cultural traditions, social mores, and familial customs that touch all human beings.

So what do you think about what you’re read here? With allowances for a few exceptions in wording here and there, or a slight difference in interpretation, is this basically what you remember being taught about What God Wants?

If it is, you have a lot of company. Millions of people have had the same experience.

Nay, billions.

(Our exploration of this topic continues in Part VI of this extended series, coming very soon. Don’t miss a single entry. And if you wish to catch up on installments that you have missed, simply click on the word HEADLINE in the Categories list at right, then scroll down to find the column you wish to read.)

Divinity seeks nothing for Itself. Human beings will find it difficult to seek nothing for themselves so long as they imagine themselves to be human. That is because humans imagine themselves to have needs. Divinity does not. Divinity has no such thought about Itself. (Nor any such thought about you, either.)

So in order for Humanity to seek nothing for itself, humans must understand themselves to be Divine. They must understand that Humanity is not separate from the Divine, but IS divided from the Divine. This sometimes helps people wrap their minds around the concept of our Oneness with Divinity.

Many folks have a very difficult time seeing themselves as Divine. Yet if you tell them that they are part of that which is Divine, many people can go there. They can hang out in that place. They can embrace the concept. Partial magnificence is acceptable, total magnificence is not.

So we might say, for our purposes here, that Humanity is a Division of the Divine. That Which Is Divine created many divisions of Itself, and one of those divisions is called Humanity.

Even as a large company or corporation may have a division here and a division there without any of those divisions being in any sense separate from, or other than, the whole, so, too, does the Divine have a division here and a division there without any of those divisions being in any sense separate from, or other than, The Whole.

It is possible to be a division of something without being divided from it. That’s an important concept for you to grasp if you are to have the Holy Experience. Please let me say it again. I said…

“It is possible to be a division of something without being divided from it.”

Think about that for a minute. Hold that concept in your mind.

Humanity, as a Division of Divinity, is neither separate from, nor other than, The Whole.

This is the one thing that most of Humanity has not understood. This is the one thing that most of Humanity’s religions have not taught. In fact, most of those religions have taught exactly the opposite. They have taught that Humanity IS Separate from Divinity. Some have called this separation The Fall of Man, and in that description they are correct. The idea of Humanity’s separation from Divinity has been humanity’s downfall.

The transformation of Humanity’s downfall into Humanity’s upliftment may be achieved through a simple reversal of thinking. It is a shift from Separation Theology to Unity Spirituality. It is the reunion of God and Humanity.

It is easier to experience Reunion with God on an individual basis than it is collectively. That is because it takes a great deal more energy to alter Collective Consciousness than it does to alter Individual Consciousness.

Yet Collective Consciousness can be altered when the alteration of Individual Consciousness reaches critical mass. When sufficient individual energies are lifted, the entire mass is elevated to a new level.

The work of Conscious Evolution, therefore, is the work of changing consciousness at the individual level. This follows directly from the Third Illusion of Humans, given to us in Communion with God, which is that Disunity Exists.

When we attempt to change others we are implicitly affirming this illusion, which is why such efforts are invariably wasted. We can only change the One of Us That Is, and the aspect of the One of Us That Is which is most present to us is our experience of self. Therefore, when we change ourselves we change the world. That is why every effort to do so is critical.

I was recently in a discussion with someone about a well-known quasi-religious figure who is head of one of the  largest right wing organizations in the US. This individual believes in a doctrine called “second grace”, which holds that someone who has undergone a second “moment of grace” from God is incapable of sinning ever again. Even if s/he were to willingly choose to sin, s/he could not do it because of “second grace”. In the hands of this particular individual, that is a frightening idea because in his mind, NOTHING he does is a sin! EVERYTHING he does, no matter how he accomplishes it, must be God’s will because he is unable to do anything that is contrary to God’s will due to having undergone this moment of “second grace”.

The other person in this discussion had never heard of the doctrine of “second grace” and as I was explaining it to her, I was struck by the fact that the CwG material also teaches us that nothing we do is contrary to God’s will. However, the difference in the teachings is the context in which they’re taught: the doctrine of “second grace” is taught from the context of a separation from God and the CwG material is taught from the context of Oneness with God. And it is this difference that makes all the difference in how these doctrines operate in the “real world”.

With the belief that we are all One with God comes the realization that we are also One with each other and that what we do to others, we are also doing to ourselves and therefore we seek to treat others with the same Love and Respect and Dignity that we want from others.

With the belief that we are separate from God, there is the “need” to “reunite” with God, which naturally infers that there is a “right” way to do so and a “wrong” way to do so. The wrong ways are called “sin”. But the soul recognizes that we are NOT separate even if the mind says we are, so to resolve this internal conflict, the mind creates a belief that allows us to recognize that we cannot violate God’s will, although the belief in separateness says that only those who have already done enough things the “right” way can reach this point.

This got me thinking about other doctrines in the teachings of organized religion that “mirror” the things God reminds us of in the CwG material. I realized that there are a lot more teachings in the context of organized religion that I absolutely disagree with but in the context of our Oneness with God and with each other, make perfect sense. However, like the doctrine of “second grace”, these religious teachings are “warped” by the fears instilled in us by the belief of separateness.

Take, for example, the belief that is one of the cornerstones of the Christian faith: that Jesus came to save us and to “pay the price” for our sins with his death on the cross. In the CwG material, God reminds us that there is nothing from which we need to be saved because nothing we do lessens God’s Love for us. During his life, Jesus told us many times of our oneness with God and with each other. However, he also knew that there would be those who would hear the underlying truth of his message and those who would not.  For those who could not set aside their fear caused by the belief of separateness, Jesus’ death provided them with the hope they needed to continue to believe that they would one day be “reunited” with God. They were therefore “saved” from our fear of death because Jesus was willing to “pay” with his physical life, which also demonstrated to those who could understand that death is an illusion.

So the next time you hear someone talking about a belief they hold dear that you simply cannot accept, ask yourself what the belief would be like in the context of the Oneness with God versus the separateness of organized religion. You will find that every religious belief that may not make sense to you makes perfect sense in the context of Oneness.


Away from home for the very first time this year, has been an experience. It has been a time of a lot of change, and people trying to change me.  For this year, is the first time I have had the following told to me:

I can’t do this.

I don’t deserve to be here.

I shouldn’t have even thought that I ever had a chance.

Before this year, I had never faced so much difficulty from the world on the physical, mental, social, emotional or spiritual level.

I’ve learned that when it comes to really being out on your own, you don’t have all the answers. You don’t always know what the best choice is. You don’t even have the slightest idea of how you are going to survive this, if you survive at all. And you can’t listen to everyone else.

For the first time, I have lived with uncertainty. That accumulated into insecurity. That accumulated into anxiety. That accumulated into the worst of them all: fear.

At first, I tried looking for security in other people. I’ve looked for support in others to prop me up, to get through these times. But, at the end of the day, there’s only one person that’s going to get you through it all:


When I realized this, I knew that if I was going go on this journey, I was going to have to do it on my own two feet. I had to support myself. I had to look to myself in times of trouble.

I had to believe in myself.

With no doubt. With no disbelief. I had to devote myself to knowing that I CAN DO THIS. I had to fully recognize that I TRUST MYSELF to be able to get through anything that came my way. And, if all these things are coming from the universal plane and entering my physical plane, then I realized I also had to START BELIEVING IN THE UNIVERSE.

For belief in yourself is just an extension of belief in the universe.

We all know and have been told that things happen for a reason. But do we really believe it? For a very, very, very long time, I thought I understood this. But when I saw what happens when you don’t, I’ve realized just how very important this statement is. Even if it seems like whatever obstacles you are facing will set you back, they were sent directly to you to send you directly forward. Once I saw that EVERYTHING THAT ENTERS MY LIFE IS HERE TO PROGRESS MY ONENESS AND AWARENESS, life changed.

With only the greatest trust in the universe, I have become more spiritually aware than I ever have before. As hard, as challenging, and as difficult as this has been, I am grateful that this has, by its own means, brought me closer to Being than anything else could ever have. I now understand so much more about the human experience: love, loss, pain, grief, fear, sorrow, and determination.

So yes, this year, I’ve stumbled. I’ve tripped.

But I’ve gotten right back up.  And I keep going on.

With love for the universe, and love for myself, I now understand far more about the wonderful experience and incredible journey called life. We, in the grandest of sense, are here to experience it all, even if it hurts more than can be handled, even if it’s harder than deemed possible. But when we experience it, we become more connected to ourselves and to each other on levels we can’t even fathom.

Once we recognize this, we start to see the greatness in ourselves. And once we see that, we are the miracles that we wish for. For belief, at the end of the day, is what separates a good life from a full life.

As long as you have your belief in whatever you are passionate about, in whatever you know to be, and in the very essence of you, you have what it takes. Now go out there and show it.

(Lauren Rourk is a Feature Editor at The Global Conversation and attends Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN. She can be contacted at

The views of humanity on so many things have been impacted by our ideas about God and about God’s desiresthat it’s hard to decide what other areas of life interaction to include on this list. The truth is, this exploration could take up an entire book. We’re not going to be that expansive. We’ll limit our survey to ten more subjects: Male and Female, Marriage, Sex, Homosexuality, Love, Money, Free Will, Suffering, Morality, and Death.

Let’s take a look at what our ancestors and our contemporary teachers have told us about these things. Let’s see What God Wants.

MALE and FEMALE…Many humans have been told that What God Wants is for humanity to understand that God is male. The result is that most people who believe in a deity at all hold this to be true. The idea that God is masculine is so pervasive that it’s shocking to the ear to hear God referred to as “She.”

Many humans have also been told that God wants men and women to have particular roles and to be treated in particular ways in life, and that He has specified all of this in Holy Scripture.

One result of this teaching: Males are considered superior to females in nearly all of the world’s cultures. In some of those cultures this manifests as cultural norms that do not allow females to go to school, to hold jobs of authority or responsibility, to leave the home without being in the company of a blood male relative, or to permit any part of their body to be seen in public, requiring them to be covered from head to toe.

A woman’s testimony at Court is worth half of that of a man’s—meaning that it requires two female witnesses to meet the test of adequate proof. A woman’s testimony regarding a husband’s beatings, cruelty, or infidelity will go ignored unless she can produce a corroborating witness, whereas a man can send his wife to death by stoning by simply stating that she committed adultery. His singular assertion is sufficient.

A woman’s share of any inheritance is also accepted as being half of that of her brother. The logic behind this is that a man is financially responsible for his family, while a woman is not. This is the identical logic that, in other cultures, blocks women from earning the same pay as men for doing the same work. The fact that a man may remain unmarried all his life and wind up not having a family, or that many women become widows, or that women would not and should not have to concede this role to a man if she were treated equally, is, of course, ignored by this logic.

In some male-dominant cultures female’s genitals are mutilated, cut and sewn, in order to deprive them of sexual pleasure and thus reduce the temptation they may feel to engage in sexual encounters other than those demanded by their husbands. In some cases this is seen as a rite of passage rendering female children desirable, suitable, and worthy marriage material.

Other cultural norms reflecting extreme bias against females include the custom of blocking women from becoming clergy in many religions or rising to power and authority in any civil, legal, or business enterprise, or holding any major leadership position in politics or government.

A handful of women in some cultures have overcome these customs (in many cultures they are still not allowed to even try), but always it’s a struggle, always it’s the notable exception, always it’s a steep uphill climb to be accepted in most high profile occupations or powerful or influential roles within the global society.

Katrina Brooks, of Rome, Georgia, U.S.A., knows all about that. According to an account written by Louise Chu for The Associated Press on September 25, 2004, Katrina is a member of the Southern Baptist Church who felt a calling and wanted to become a minister. She enrolled in the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, Virginia, then found a church that would accept both her and her husband, Dr. Tony Brooks, who was already ordained, as co-pastors. North Rome Baptist Church in Rome, Georgia invited the couple to lead its congregation in November of 2003.

Not everyone was pleased.

A revision of the Baptist Faith and Message in 2000 takes a hard line on female pastors, the AP’s Louise Chu reports. The denomination’s chief doctrinal statement says that “the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture,” citing the Bible at 1 Timothy 2:11-14. That passage reads, “Let a woman learn in silence in all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent.”

Two weeks after Katrina and her husband arrived at their new church several of her fellow clergy (all men) called meetings of the Floyd County Baptist Association to discuss the matter. They wanted the association to adopt a position that would, in effect, force the Rome church to leave the association.

This difference in the treatment of the genders is, many of the world’s people believe, What God Wants. After all, the Bible says so. And so do the Scriptures of other religions.

This is Part IV of an extended series of headline articles in The Global Conversation.

MARRIAGE…Many humans have been told that What God Wants is for marriage to be an everlasting union between a man and a woman, for better or for worse, for the purpose of propagating the species and maintaining a civil society organized into family units, which supports God’s agenda for humanity.

One result of this teaching: In most religious cultures ending a marriage for whatever reason, including mental or physical cruelty, is deeply discouraged, and one major religion tells its followers that they may never divorce, may never remarry in the church nor receive the church’s sacraments if they do divorce, and may never marry another person who has been divorced.

In many places and cultures marriage rules are established by religion, then become civil law, limiting and constricting the behavior of marriage partners—and those limits remain in place for life. Chief among those limits is what humans call “fidelity.” Human beings living in marriage must remain faithful to each other. That is, they may not have sexual experiences with anyone else for the rest of their lives—not as a matter of personal devotion or sacred agreement, but as a matter of civil law.

This should not be surprising, since, as has just been noted, prohibitions against many kinds of private sexual activity have been placed in the common culture by religions. According to their accounts of What God Wants, human beings may not have sex with anyone outside of marriage, with anyone prior to marriage, and, therefore, should they never marry, at no time during their entire lives.

This is the expectation, and humans are told that the breaking of this taboo can lead to severe punishments, from God and from the social environment.

As a result, marriage is entered into by many young people around the world who are neither ready for such a commitment nor sufficiently mature for the responsibilities attached to it, but who are unwilling to endure any longer the prohibition against sexual experience.

The idea of male supremacy, drawn from the concept of God as male, has a major effect in many marriage scenarios. In some cultures marriage is considered a form of ownership and servitude, with the woman being the owned object—actually paid for with a dowry—and the male being the person served. Even in cultures with less extreme views a wife is expected to be “obedient” to her husband, and to be subservient to him in every way. The man is “the head of the household.”

This is, many people believe, What God Wants.

SEX…Many humans have been told that What God Wants is for sexual union to be experienced only with one’s spouse for the purposes of procreation and the expression of love.

One result of this teaching: Millions of people believe that sex may absolutely never be experienced in any way that deliberately prevents conception, and that while sex is wonderful, to experience sex simply for pleasure with no possibility of procreation is against the will of God and, therefore, “unnatural,” immoral, shameful and a giving in to baser instincts.

As with the combining of fear and love in the earlier understanding of God, the combining of pleasure and shame in this construction has produced chronic emotional confusion: wonder, excitement and passion, yet embarrassment, fear and guilt about sexual desires and experiences.

In most cultures the sexual parts of human bodies may not be referred to by name. The words vagina and penis are not to be used in public (except as absolutely necessary in a purely clinical setting), and never with small children. The words wee-wee, pee-pee, or bottom may be used freely. In short, the human culture agrees that the actual names of certain body parts are shameful and embarrassing and are to be avoided whenever possible.

Again, you may believe that the above assertion is a bit of an exaggeration. I assure you it is not. Internationally known columnist Molly Ivins reports in the September/October 2004 issue of Mother Jones magazine that Advocates for Youth, a group working for comprehensive sex education, had its funding for AIDS prevention yanked by the Center for Disease Control, a U.S. government agency, because “young people [in the project’s video] used the correct terminology for male and female anatomy.” That, said James Wagoner, head of Advocates for Youth, “is absurd. What is the president going to do? Issue an executive order that every man, woman, and child should refer to the penis as a dingaling?”

And, of course, if one cannot speak of certain body parts, one certainly cannot show them. Not even, apparently, to oneself. Yet another exaggeration? I’m sorry to say, no. So puritanical is the viewpoint on all of this in many places that the following letter could actually appear, without anyone blinking an eye, in over 300 newspapers in the United States on September 25, 2004 in an advice column:

“Dear Abby: I went to wake up my 14-year-old daughter today and discovered her sleeping in the nude. Apparently she has been doing it for some time.

“Normally she is good about getting up and I haven’t needed to enter her room to awaken her. When I asked her why she does it, she said it’s more comfortable and she sleeps better.

“When I told her I was not comfortable with it, she asked me why, and frankly I could not come up with a good reason other than it seemed ‘wrong,’ and fear about what would happen in an earthquake or fire. She questioned how it could be wrong if no one knows—unless they walk into her room without knocking (as I did).

“She keeps a long robe next to the bed so she can put it on in case of emergency. (Indeed, she walks around the house in that robe, and I thought she had a nightgown underneath, when in fact she has been naked underneath since Christmas.)

“I am still not comfortable with it, but we agreed to abide by your advice. Is it OK for her to sleep in the nude, and why—or why not?

–Worried Mom in San Leandro.”

The columnist wrote back that there was “nothing inherently wrong” with sleeping in the nude. “Look at the bright side,” she advised the mother. “It makes for less laundry.”

As this parent’s letter makes clear, many humans feel that certain body parts must be covered and hidden, having been deemed too arousing or too shameful, or both. For those parts not to be covered is incorrect and unacceptable. Indeed, in many places it’s actually illegal, with punishments in civil law for those who fail to obey.

Many people believe that sex experienced in certain ways, even between husband and wife, is “unnatural” and therefore immoral. And again, in many times and places, some experiences, although between consenting adults, have actually been made illegal. Those who wrote such legislation said that they understand that God does not want certain sexual experiences to occur. God sends people to hell for this.

Humans also believe that intensely graphic depictions of sexual activity in photographs, drawings, comic books, video games, television and motion pictures are distasteful, repugnant, disgusting and unacceptable. Intensely graphic depictions of extreme physical violence and killing are, however, entirely acceptable.

Millions of humans believe that sexual energy and spiritual energy do not mix. They have been told that sexual energy is a “lower chakra” energy, and that sexual activity and spiritual clarity essentially oppose each other. Persons seeking to achieve spiritual mastery are therefore advised against engaging in sexual experiences. Some are actually required to remain abstinent.

This is, many of the world’s people believe, What God Wants.

HOMOSEXUALITY…Many humans have been told that What God Wants is for sex to be experienced between a male and a female only, and for same-gender sexual interaction to be considered an abomination.

One result of this teaching: Humans for whom same-gender sexual attraction feels most natural have been denounced, vilified, condemned, ostracized, isolated, assaulted, and killed by people who believe they are doing God’s will.

The sad account of the killing of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming offers us a now-famous case in point. Shepard, an openly gay freshman at the University of Wyoming, was dragged out of a bar in Laramie by two young men, driven to a deserted road outside of town, tied to a cow fence and beaten so severely that he lapsed into a coma and died five days later.

His youthful assailants were apprehended and sentenced to life in prison, but the Reverend Fred Phelps, pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas was not inclined to let the matter rest there. Every year for the five years following Matthew’s brutal beating and death this Christian minister has traveled to Laramie, as well as to Casper, Wyoming, Matthew’s birth place, to “celebrate” his death. And, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times by reporter David Kelly, on October 12, 2003 Reverend Phelps brought with him to Casper a granite monument engraved with Matthew’s face, followed by these words chiseled in stone:

“Matthew Shepard Entered Hell October 12, 1998 at age 21 In Defiance of God’s Warning: ‘Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.’ Leviticus 18:32.”

It was the Reverend Phelps who also attended Matthew Shepard’s funeral and, as the young man’s parents, family, and friends stood in mourning, screamed: “God hates fags!”

With this level of clarity as to the Divine Intention and Desire, entire countries have been forced under power of governmental authority and rule of law to obey God’s Will in this matter. In some nations the civil penalty for homosexuality is death—burial under a 12-foot concrete wall. In many places civil law has been created making gay marriage illegal. In the United States the president in 2004 personally campaigned to have his understanding of God’s desires regarding prohibition of gay marriage written into his country’s Constitution.

While certain sexual feelings may be very natural to the persons feeling them, they are not What God Wants, many people say, and are therefore, by definition, “unnatural.” A report on October 20, 2003 by Chris Zdeb of CanWest News Service in the Calgary Herald in Edmonton, Canada points to the possibility that the exact opposite may be true.

“Scientists have discovered 54 genes that suggest sexual identity is hard-wired into the brain before birth, and before development of the sex organs,” the journalist reports, and goes on to say:

“The findings released today by a team of University of California, Los Angeles, researchers could mean that sexuality, including homosexuality and transgender sexuality, are not a choice.”

Nevertheless, the clergy of many of the world’s largest religious denominations continue to assert that God condemns such sexual experiences.

Reporter Rachel Zoll of the Associated Press reported on October 7, 2004 that the most influential Anglican leader in Africa—home to nearly half the world’s Anglicans—said that the U.S. Episcopal Church has created a “new religion” by confirming a gay bishop in New Hampshire, breaking the bonds between the denominations with roots in the Church of England.

Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria also said in an exclusive AP interview with Zoll that he views the head of the Episcopal Church as an advocate for gays and lesbians and no longer trusts him. His comments come less than two weeks before an international panel was scheduled to release a critical report on whether the global Anglican Communion can bridge its divide over homosexuality. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of Anglicanism; Akinola leads the Anglican Church of Nigeria.

“The Communion is shattered. It is broken,” Akinola said. “The commonality that bound us together is no longer true.” (More separation in the name of God.)

Zoll’s report says that Akinola insisted he did not hate gays, despite his fiery comments in the past protesting the growing acceptance of homosexuality. He once called the trend a “satanic attack” on the church. But he said he could not accept attempts to “superimpose” modern culture on Scripture by ignoring what he said were Biblical injunctions against gay sex.

“I didn’t write the Bible. It’s part of our Christian heritage. It tells us what to do,” Akinola said. “If the word of God says homosexuality is an abomination, then so be it.”

The Zoll story goes on to say that those who support ordaining gays contend Scripture does not ban same-sex relationships, and that there was no understanding in biblical times that homosexuality was, as science is now proving, a natural orientation, not a choice.

Nevertheless, for many of the world’s people the afterlife consequence of engaging in such unnatural activities is understood to be everlasting damnation and torture in the fires of hell.

This is, those people believe, What God Wants.

LOVE…Many humans have been told that What God Wants is for love to be conditional. God has made it clear that He loves humans if they do what He wants. If they do not, humans shall know His wrath. They’ll be condemned to everlasting damnation.

Some say that God acts with love when He condemns people to eternal and unending torture. With this explanation they seek to preserve the image and the notion of a loving God.

One result of this teaching: Many people are very confused about the true nature of love. Human beings “get,” at some deeply intuitive level, that the imposing of unending punishment is not a loving thing to do. Yet they are told that such punishment is a demonstration of the purest and highest love. It’s God’s love in action.

It’s not unusual for human beings to therefore be afraid of love, even as they have been made afraid of God, who is the source of love. They have been taught that God’s love can turn into wrath in a flicker, producing horrifying results. This packaging of love and fear in human theology has not been without consequences in human behavior.

Earlier it was said, “Humanity’s ideas about God produce humanity’s ideas about life and about people.” This is profoundly true, and thus, many humans are afraid of and attracted to love at the same time. Often their first thought upon moving into a closer love relationship with another is, “Now what is this person going to want, or need, or expect from me?” That is, after all, the nature of their love relationship with an all-powerful God, and they have no reason to believe it will be any different with a much weaker human being.

There is also the corollary thought that partners in a relationship have a right to expect certain things in exchange for love—that love is a give-and-take, quid pro quo proposition.

These expectations and fears undermine many love relationships at the outset.

Because love and the worst torture imaginable have been linked in the minds of humans as natural activities on the part of God, most humans believe that it’s right and proper to punish other humans for their behaviors—just as God does.

In perhaps the most dramatic demonstration of this, many human beings believe that it’s appropriate to kill human beings as a warning to human beings that it’s inappropriate to kill human beings.

This is, many of the world’s people believe, What God Wants.

MONEY…Many humans have been told that What God Wants is for money to be considered the root of all evil. Money is bad and God is good, and so money and God do not mix.

One result of this teaching: The higher one’s purpose and the greater one’s value to society, the lower one’s income must be. Nurses, teachers, public safety officials and those in similar service professions are not to ask to make much money. Ministers, rabbis and priests are to ask even less. Homemakers and mothers, under this guideline, should have no personal income at all. If they want something for themselves, they may ask their husband for a few dollars, or scrimp pennies from the grocery money.

The message here is: Because “filthy lucre” is bad, because money is intrinsically evil, pay must be in reverse proportion to the value of the function performed. The better the deed, the worse the pay. People should not get lots of money for doing good things. And if they’re doing something really, really, really good, they should want to do it for free.

Humans have created a disconnect between “doing good” and being well compensated. On the other hand, doing things of somewhat less lasting intrinsic value can produce compensation in the millions. So can illegal activity of all kinds. Thus, society’s values discourage noble actions and encourage triviality and illegality. Humanity’s watchword is: The higher the purpose, the lower the reward.

This is, many of the world’s people believe, What God Wants.

(Our exploration of this topic continues in Part V of this extended series, coming very soon. Don’t miss a single entry. And if you wish to catch up on installments that you have missed, simply click on the word HEADLINE in the Categories list at right, then scroll down to find the column you wish to read.)

Here is a quick survey of some of the things many people have been told by their ancestors, by their parents, by their teachers and by other authority figures in their lives, about What God Wants. It may be tough for some of you to get through this survey. Please do it anyway.

These passed-on messages have created the here-and-now views, ideas and experiences of millions of people who at least loosely adhere to, or live in cultures which have been deeply affected by, the doctrines of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the big three of the world’s organized religions. Some of these teachings also became a part of other religions. The result of this is that a huge portion of the world’s people have been exposed to these ideas and deeply affected by them.

Let’s take the most obvious topics first.

GOD…Many humans have been told that What God Wants is for humans to understand that God is the Supreme Being, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the Giver of Life, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Wise Beyond Human Understanding.

God is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the Unmoved Mover, separate from humanity, but the creator of it in His own image. Separate from life, but the Creator of it, as His gift to humanity.

Most humans have been told that God is a single God, a unified God, the Only God there is. The word Allah means, literally, the God. Some humans have been told that this One God is divided into Three Parts, one of which became human. Some humans have been told that there is more than one God. And some humans have been told that there is no God at all. The majority of humans in the Twenty-First Century believe in a God of some sort.

Most of those who do believe in God have been told that What God Wants is Love and Justice.

To fulfill the first mandate, God has granted each human being ample and repeated opportunity to be reconciled with Him.

To fulfill the second mandate, God, at the end of each human life, sits in Judgment of every human soul, deciding at this Reckoning whether the soul has earned everlasting reward in Heaven or everlasting damnation in Hell.

Most humans have been told that God is a jealous God, God is a vengeful God, God is an angry God who can be filled with wrath and who uses violence directly on human beings—and who invites and even commands human beings to do so on each other.

They’ve also been told that God is a caring God, a compassionate God, a merciful God, a loving God who wants nothing but the best for human beings. All that humans have to do is obey Him.

It’s easy for humans to know how to obey God because God has told humans exactly what to do and what not to do. It’s all there in Sacred Scripture. It can be found also in the words and in the teaching of God’s personal representative on earth.

These are the beliefs of much of humanity.

One result of this teaching: Many human beings are afraid of God. They also love God. So, many humans confuse fear and love, seeing them as connected in some way. Where God is concerned, we love to be afraid (we have made it a virtue to be “God fearing”), and we are afraid not to love (we are commanded to “Love the Lord thy God with all thy mind, all thy heart, and all thy soul”).

Humans fear what God will do to them if they do not obey Him. They have been told He will punish them with everlasting torment. Many human beings therefore rely heavily on their understanding of God’s word and God’s desires and what meets God’s approval when regulating their lives, interpreting situations or events, and making decisions.

When U. S. President George W. Bush was asked if he ever sought the advice of his father, the first President Bush, he replied that he sought counsel from “a higher Father.” When the then new spiritual leader of Hamas, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, delivered a speech at Gaza’s Islamic University in March, 2004, he told those assembled that “God declared war” against America, Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Rantisi added, “The war of God continues against them and I can see the victory coming up from the land of Palestine by the hand of Hamas.” Two weeks later Rantisi was dead, killed by an Israeli rocket attack on his car.

Earlier it was said, “Humanity’s ideas about God produce humanity’s ideas about life and about people.”

This is painfully clear. This is painfully obvious.

This is Part III of an extended series of headline articles in The Global Conversation

GOD’S WORD AND GOD’S MESSENGER…Many humans have been told that What God Wants is for God’s Word to be recognized as being contained in the Holy Scriptures and Sacred Texts, and for God’s Messenger to be honored and listened to and followed.

There are many Holy Scriptures and Sacred Texts, including the Adi Granth, the Bhagavad-gita, the Book of Mormon, the Hadith, the I Ching, the Kojiki, the Lun-yü, the Mahabharata, the Mathnawi, the New Testament, the Pali Canon, the Qur’an, the Tao-te Ching, the Talmud, the Torah, the Upanishad, the Veda, and the Yoga-sutras, to name a few. Many humans have been told that only one of these texts is the right one. The rest are wrong. If you choose the teachings of the “wrong” one, you’ll go to hell.

There are many Messengers, including Noah, Abraham, Moses, Confucius, Siddartha Gautama (who has been called The Buddha), Jesus of Nazareth (who has been called The Savior), Muhammad (who has been called The Greatest Prophet), Patanjai (who has been called The Enlightened One), Baha’u’llah (who has been called the Blessed One), Jalal al-Din Rumi, (who has been called the Mystic), Paramahansa Yogananda (who has been called the Master), Joseph Smith (who has been called many things), and others. Many humans have been told that only one of these messengers is the right one. The rest are wrong. If you choose the message of the “wrong” one, you’ll go to hell.

One result of this teaching: Human beings have been trying to figure out which is the right text and who is the right messenger for thousands of years. The followers of certain messengers and the believers in certain texts have sought to convince the rest of the world that the messenger and text of their persuasion is the only one to which people should turn.

On many occasions throughout history these attempts at conversion have turned violent. There has scarcely been a day on this planet when a battle has not been fought or a human being not killed in the name of God, or for God’s Cause.

The Holy Scriptures of all major religions indicate that vanquishing, punishing and killing is something that God Himself has repeatedly done, and so vanquishing, punishing and killing in God’s name and in the name of God’s Messenger is acceptable and, in some circumstances, required.

This is, many of the world’s people believe, What God Wants.

HEAVEN AND HELL…Many humans have been told that What God Wants is for people to live good lives, and for good people to go to Heaven or Paradise after their deaths, while bad people go to Hell, Gehenna, or Hades. Those in Heaven will live in unending bliss in reunion with God and those in Hell will live with other evildoers who have been damned to eternal torture. Where each individual soul goes will be decided at the Reckoning on Judgment Day.

Some humans have been told that hell is a temporary experience during which sinners are tormented by demons until the debt created by the evil of their lives has been paid, while others have been informed that hell is but a phase in a soul’s journey as it passes through many experiences of reincarnation.

One result of this teaching: Millions of people have structured their entire lives around the struggle to avoid “going to hell” and around the hope of “getting to heaven.” They have done extraordinary and sometimes shocking things to produce this outcome.

The concept of heaven and hell has shaped not only their behavior, but their entire understanding of life itself. It has also shaped human history.

LIFE…Many humans have been told that What God Wants is for life to be a school, a place of learning, a time of testing, a brief and precious opportunity to migrate the soul back to heaven, back to God, whence it came.

Many humans have also been told that it’s when life ends that the real joy begins. All of life should be considered a prelude, a forerunner, a platform upon which is built the soul’s experience of eternity. Life should therefore be led with an eye toward the Afterlife, for what is earned now will be experienced forever.

Most humans also believe that What God Wants is for people to understand that life consists of what people can see, hear, taste, touch and smell—and nothing more.

One result of this teaching: Humans believe that life is not easy, nor is it supposed to be. It’s a constant struggle. In this struggle, anything other than what is perceived by the five senses is considered “supernatural” or “occult” and falls, therefore, into the category of “trafficking with the Devil” and “the work of Satan.”

Humans are struggling to get back to God, and into God’s good graces. They are struggling to get back home. This is what life is about. It’s about the struggle of the soul, living within the body, to get back home, to return to God, from Whom it has been separated.

Most people of religious persuasion focus heavily on Heaven and Hell. Those who believe that “getting to Heaven” is the ultimate Purpose of Life, and who truly and fervently believe that they can guarantee their entrance into Heaven by doing certain things while on earth, will, of course, seek to do those things.

They’ll make sure that their sins are confessed regularly, and that their absolutions are up to date, so that if they die suddenly their soul will be ready for Judgment Day. They’ll fast for hours, days, or weeks at a time, travel on pilgrimages to distant holy places, go to church or temple or mosque or synagogue every week without fail, tithe 10% of their income, eat or not eat certain foods, wear or not wear certain clothing, say or not say certain words, and engage in all manner of rites and rituals.

They’ll obey the rules of their religion, honor the customs of their faith tradition, and follow the instructions of their spiritual leaders in order to demonstrate to God that they are a worthy person, so that a place will be reserved for them in Paradise.

If they are distressed enough and oppressed enough and unhappy enough, some humans will even end their own lives and kill other people—including the totally innocent and the absolutely unsuspecting—for the promise of a reward in heaven.

(If that promised reward happens to be 72 black-eyed virgins with whom to spend all of eternity, and if the humans in question happen to be 18 to 30-year-old men with little future and a dust-laden, poverty stricken, injustice-filled present, the chances of their making such an extraordinarily destructive decision will increase tenfold.)

They’ll do this because they believe this is What God Wants.

But is it?

(Our exploration of this topic continues in Part IV of this extended series, coming very soon. Don’t miss a single entry. And if you wish to catch up on installments that you have missed, simply click on the word HEADLINE in the Categories list at right, then scroll down to find the column you wish to read.)