Gender-Free God/dess

God is formless. Everything humanity has created to define God is both true and untrue. We are painting images on an invisible canvas; the colors disappear on contact. Only we don’t realize it. Over the centuries, various cultures and religions have constructed their own views of what God is. Each one differs somewhat: sometimes a male figure; sometimes the Divine Mother or Goddess. Or a multifaceted God with many forms and attributes. These beings become larger than life, seeming solid and “real,” rather than a reflection of our own human images and characteristics.

We humans form-alize the world, turning the formless into specific structures and concepts that we think we understand. Gender, for instance. Babies are assigned a gender at birth. Some languages give every noun a gender (la rue, le soleil; la paz, el tren ). In English, we don’t give nouns a gender but until recently, words like chairman and postman were commonly used, the patriarchal basis for social roles. And of course, many religions have defined God as male: a bearded, all-powerful man sitting on a throne among the clouds. Some religions have both gods and goddesses. All are attempts to make God relatable to humans within their particular cultural framework.

If we delve deeper, if we pull back the curtain, there is nothing there. Or everything. Ultimately, the universe, divinity, and life itself are mysteries. We don’t truly understand any of it. Yet we live it every day, trying to make sense of God and “reality.” The words we use often limit rather than expand our awareness. Perhaps it’s wisest to let go of it all, acknowledge the mystery, and live in a greater peace which allows all parts of life to just be.

Imagine yourself in a movie theater in which an endless series of films passes before you. You watch and react, but when you leave the theater, you don’t take the movies with you. You yourself are not those representations of reality, those people, places, and stories. Such is life. We are born, live lives full of images, experiences, and reactions—and then we transition to other realms, other experiences. On the other side of life as we know it here, everything is more fluid, without definition and boundary. The parameters we have set up on Earth—gender, mind/body, beliefs—dissolve and disappear. There is no “there,” only limitless Presence. And we are part of that. Indeed, we are all of that.

God, Goddess. Great Mystery. Universal Consciousness. Oneness. Every word we have invented to explain life is a story that is both real and unreal. Don’t get too invested in the outcome. It all turns out well. You will walk out of the theater and see infinity open up all around you. If you are fortunate, you may occasionally find yourself seeing glimpses of it now in your current lifetime. All you have to do is let go and accept the fluidity of all things, the gender-free God/dess that is everything, including you. The field beyond belief. Let’s meet there, shall we?

“If God is everything, then nobody is wrong.”—Panache Desai

Without a Label

A good friend of mine recently told me that she loves my writing but doesn’t necessarily relate to the God references. She said she believes in something but doesn’t really have a label for it. She’s not alone. So many of us (myself included) have felt exactly the same at one time or another in our lives. And truthfully we don’t need a label–often language misses the point entirely. Some people and traditions prefer to leave the idea of a creator-being unnamed. Many Native Americans use the words “the Great Mystery.” Makes complete sense to me. I wasn’t raised in a religion, and I used to be put off by the groups who would go around house to house proselytizing about God. That word remained a negative trigger for me right up into adulthood, when I began my own spiritual exploration.

My first attempt at explaining how I thought of spirit at the time was the word “meaning.” I believed there was meaning in the universe because I could feel it in my heart. That’s as far as it went for a while. Eventually, I came to see that the word or description didn’t matter as much as the experience itself. I lost most of my objections to words and labels like God or Divinity. Still, I try to be low key about using them when I write because I know many people are uncomfortable about naming something that is in essence nameless. And it’s unnecessary. The deeper I dive into my soul, the more words fall away entirely. I experience a beingness or oneness that defies description.

So how do you write about that? How do you talk about it? Perhaps the best response to the mysteries of the universe is silence. Within that, everything arises. Immersion in something greater than language fills you. Nature shows me this more than anything else. Every time I am outdoors by myself I am deeply connected to the entire cosmos without a single word being spoken. This is why I prefer to be alone with Nature. Silence prevails. In the stillness, language is irrelevant. And mental naming is only a distraction. If you can walk slowly and quietly, or stand motionless, the natural world continues as if you weren’t there. You hear the birds singing, the wind in the trees, chipmunks and squirrels calling. You smell the earth and the foliage, and you can feel the living energy vibrating all around you.

This is Presence: being, without a name or label. Humans invented a language to describe what they were experiencing. Such descriptions can often be poetic and magical, but wordiness can diminish the essence of what is essentially a silent soul exchange. I am a writer so I know the power of expressing what is pouring through me to be shared, a divine connection to something wondrous. This is why I write. Yet, I also know that what ultimately allows that connection is an empty space of stillness, an openness to what some have called universal consciousness. Another name for God. We try, we humans, to express the inexpressible, to name what has no name. Within that trying is a sweet vulnerability that holds hope and loving awareness in it.

When we stop trying, however, when we stand in silent reverence without language or labels, the grace of something beyond expression pours over and through us. That is what we came here to Earth to experience and know deeply. And there are no words that can describe that miracle. Only profound gratitude comes close to touching the core of this meeting of Heaven and Earth in the human dimension.

Whatever You Don’t Want

Consider this possibility: Everything you don’t want in your life (pain, loss, difficult relationships, fear) could be there as a catalyst for you on your soul journey in this lifetime. What you resist or reject may be your greatest teacher. We come to Earth to have experiences, the full spectrum, not just the “good stuff.” That’s what being human is all about. And what is “good” anyway? The viewpoints of today can be completely reversed tomorrow. What you grieve over losing may later be shown to be a huge blessing. So what if everything is a blessing, no matter what it looks like?

Over time, I finally began to see the full truth of that bit of wisdom. I realized that the challenges I’ve faced in my life were in fact huge catalysts for me on my soul journey. Many years ago, chronic headaches and neck pain from a muscle injury led me to explore alternative healing (acupuncture, massage, chiropractic, meditation), which in turn led me to spiritual teachings. And my lifelong fear of infinity/eternity pushed me to go even further with those spiritual teachings. A few weeks ago, during an expansive meditation, I was shown an overview of my lifetime in which so many connections were clear. I could see that the pain and fear were actually my soul guides on this life journey. Suddenly, my wise friend Panache Desai’s words made complete sense: “No matter what shows up, it’s there to take you deeper.”

I can’t tell you how much that insight, that overview, has changed how I feel day to day. I no longer get so caught up in complaining and bemoaning the difficulties of life. I am grateful that I was led to spiritual teachers who helped me reframe the fear and to health practices that helped lesson the pain. And along the way, I have been given the gift of greater compassion for others and greater connection to Spirit. I feel empathy for friends and strangers alike in navigating the challenges of being human. I no longer perceive God as distant or unattainable but instead as an integral part of who I am and all that I experience. There is an Infinite Consciousness that I am aware of all the time now. Its very infinity, what has been my greatest fear, is also the source of my most profound and treasured experiences of the “Great Mystery” that is God. Ultimately, you discover that love is at the center of everything, and only that love is real. The rest are just passing signposts.

So before you react with anger or dismay at some aspect of your daily life experience, pause for a moment and consider that something more could be at play than just unfairness and bad luck. What if the luck is in just being alive? In having such a wide spectrum of human experiences? Souls line up in other dimensions to get the chance to come to Earth for this, both the woe and the wonder. Because within that diverse dance of emotions and reactions is a soul’s opportunity to expand and grow and become a brighter light in the cosmos. Did you think the entire universe was an accident? Look carefully at your life as a whole. Every detail is perfectly designed. You are a human angel, sent here to experience everything, see it all as love, and shine that love outward, across all dimensions.

Life’s Mystery

Photograph © 2014 Peggy Kornegger
Photograph © 2014 Peggy Kornegger
Some Native Americans use the term “The Great Mystery” to refer to the concept of God or Source energy. It’s such a wonderful usage because within it, humans step back and allow the unknown to be just that—unknown. Many religions spell out the specific attributes of God, the heavenly realm, and its relation to living beings on Earth, including sets of rigid moral codes, laws, and commandments. How much more open-ended is the idea of a mystery that we will never understand with the human mind? Our hearts can experience God or the Divine, but we cannot solve the enigma of existence. Perhaps the greatest wisdom lies in acknowledging that and allowing the Mystery to live within and through us without trying to understand it.

Many wise spiritual teachers and sages, past and present, have expressed this in their work. In his book Emptiness Dancing, Zen Buddhist teacher Adyashanti writes, “There is a very alive, awake, and loving mystery, and that’s what is seeing through your eyes at this moment.” To live in alignment with this mystery involves dissolving identification with thoughts and ideas; then awareness flows freely without conceptual distortion. Buddha mind. Baby mind. The innocent eye. At the beginning of life, we see the world this way—pure perception with no distorting language filters. Toward the end of our lives, words and memories may begin to fall away as we prepare to return to the oneness of pure divine consciousness, in which human language plays no part. In the middle years, we struggle to understand the seeming contradictions and unfairness of life—and the inevitability of death.

Not all of us are driven to figure out the meaning of life and death. I am one of those who has always tried to do so, from early childhood on. Only in recent years have I found my spiritual journey less burdened by inquiry and more open to possibility. This past summer, in particular, I began to let go into “not knowing.” This came out of a weeklong program with Panache Desai in which he challenged me to drop my questions and live from a place of experiencing instead of trying to understand everything. For someone who has perpetually had cosmic questions spinning around in her head, this was indeed difficult, even painful. Finally, though, in the weeks after the program, something in me opened to not knowing as the most peaceful way to go through my daily life. Basically, I surrendered to the Mystery.

I have surrendered in the past, of course, but there are layers to letting go, and humans are never finished with it. We have to keep being reminded, again and again: Relax your fingers; stop clutching. Relax the mind; stop questing. The wider, higher perspective opens up when we allow everything to unfold with awe and wonderment instead of “What’s going on? Why is this happening? How can I change it?” The “control” trap keeps us stuck on a hamster wheel of trying/failing/trying again. Ultimately, surrendering to mystery may be the wisest and least painful path to take in life. Human existence can be miraculous or a curse. We can suffer or we can celebrate. Celebration involves embracing everything, the sadness as well as the joy. We don’t know the meaning or the outcome, but we can fully experience every incredible moment of the journey.