You’re More Spiritual Than You Think

The God experience is as real as any human experience. It’s an authentic, supernatural encounter with spirit reality freely available to anyone willing to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. It’s an extraordinary and transforming experience that begins in your inner life whenever you truly desire to know the truth about spiritual forces or spirit beings.

You may feel driven to explore the spiritual wonders of the universe, your inner potential, or the possibility of eternal life. And depending on your personal interests and prior beliefs, you start out by searching self-improvement books or how-to websites, or perhaps turn to spiritual topics, take up meditation, join spiritual clubs, or consider traditional religions such as Buddhism, Baha’i, or Christianity.

All of this is good. There is no fixed or correct approach to either spirituality or God—the number of different avenues is as varied as the number of people on the planet. It is a very personal and unique experience. The only commonality is the goal—to live a life in the spirit—to live consciously in the transforming presence of a loving and divine Spirit, a God by any name you choose.

The God experience grows and evolves within you as an ever-expanding comprehension of the reality of God—of those qualities and conditions that define spirit life and spirit reality. But a full spiritual experience is more than what you can comprehend; more importantly, it means living an active life in the spirit—a conscious and willing embrace of the spirit way.

The personal rewards of the God experience are many, including real spiritual transformation, true peace of mind, courage and confidence, love and compassion, discretion and wisdom, cosmic awareness, God consciousness, and the ability to discern deeper meanings and values.

Finding God, and coming to realize the eternal, infinite, loving nature of this Creator Spirit, is a profound and fulfilling experience that delves into the uncharted realms of your mind and soul. It is indeed the true quest of a lifetime, an exhilarating adventure that will transform your life—your family, your career, and your goals—into exceptional and meaningful endeavors.

But as appealing as all this may sound, some of us find it difficult to begin the experience. In our hearts, we may doubt our ability to become spiritual, or we are not entirely convinced of the reality of God or the existence of helpful celestial forces.

Much of our inhibition has to do with our preconceived notions about the nature of reality, especially about God and spirit reality. We are often unaware of the unreasonable ideas that adversely condition our thinking and beliefs.

None of the Above

Despite all the bad press about religion, most people around the world truly desire a spiritual experience, even though they may outwardly reject traditional religions. In current polls, those who refuse to be affiliated with any organized religion are often referred to as Nones, as in “none of the above.” A similar category, as defined by Pew Research, is “nothing in particulars.”

When Nones were asked why they choose not to identify with any religion, the most common reply is that they disagree with, or question the validity of, religious teachings.  This is understandable, although it does not necessarily imply that Nones are nonreligious or nonspiritual. In fact, the same report points out that 74 percent of Nones believe in God to varying degrees, while only 44 percent say religion is important.

If we view these polls in isolation, we may get the impression that people who claim to have no religion are either agnostics or atheists. But polls suggest otherwise. When people say they are not religious, we cannot assume they are not spiritual, or even that they do not believe in God.

Putting aside all religious affiliations, about 80 percent of Americans say they still believe in some notion of God or a greater spirit being.  In Canada, about 70 percent say the same. And almost half of those who say they do not believe in God, still claim to believe in a higher power or spiritual force, including some who, ironically, also profess to be atheists or humanists. The same is true in Europe, which is often thought of as being more secular. But even here, 65 percent admit they believe in either a Biblical God or a higher spiritual force.

Overall, these polls suggest that most people in America, Canada, and Europe remain surprisingly spiritual in their outlook, even while attendance is dropping at religious institutions.

This suggests that young and old alike are undeterred by the hand wringing of religionists who fear losing their flocks to the forces of evil. But spiritually inclined people are also ignoring the pleas of atheists and cynics who attempt to redeem them from the folly of their ways.

This persistent human proclivity for spirituality explains why so many young people who consciously reject formal religions, remain happy and eager enough to call themselves “spiritual but not religious,” a term first made popular with Sven Erlandson’s (2000) publication of the same name.

The problem that arises from this predicament is that many spiritually inspired people who have deserted the sinking ships of organized religion, find themselves adrift in a sea of spiritual uncertainty. For all such people, my hope is to offer some firm ground.

God by Any Other Name

Whatever name you give to God, or whatever gender you prefer to assign, it makes no real difference to your personal God experience. However, when it comes to any notion about the true nature of Deity, your conceptions can and do make a difference to your spiritual growth. Much depends on the degree to which your preconceived notions or settled ideas correspond with universe reality.

The names associated with Deity vary, and it doesn’t really matter which name you choose, whether it is God, Mother Spirit, Elohim, Allah, Brahma, Buddha, Cosmic Mind, Creative Spirit, Heavenly Father, or The Force.

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

 – William Shakespeare

Adopt a name that is meaningful to you, one that conveys an awe-inspiring, devotional, and divine meaning. It is not so much the name or gender you give to God but how you imagine the spiritual nature and divine attributes of such a Deity. No matter how you define or describe this greater power, or what meaning it has to you, we are all thinking about the same eternal and infinite entity.

God has ninety-nine names.

– Kutub al-Sittah

Upgrade Your Image of God

The God experience is one of spiritual power, breathless exhilaration, cosmic insight, and compassionate love—all of which are freely available to anyone who truly desires a spiritual transformation.

But despite the supernal reality of this supreme adventure, there appears to be a growing aversion to the concept of God, especially the doctrine-bound notion of God as depicted in Judeo-Christian writings. This is an understandable response to the primitive portrayal of God as an overbearing, judgmental, and vindictive monarch.

Subsequently, in recent literature, and even in Western society at large, there is an increasing reluctance to use the word God at all, although with some incongruity, other terms appear to be more acceptable, such as Infinite Intelligence, Being, Prime Mover, Higher Power, Higher Consciousness, Great Goddess, or the Divine.

Despite some of the unpleasant connotations and concepts assigned to God, to what degree do these diverse and often misguided cultural ideas reflect or fully encompass the real nature of a universal Creator?

Preconceived notions and negative stereotypes affect our ability to understand any subject, scientific or religious. Our established ideas and misplaced prejudices about God or religion can not only limit or impede the extent of our spiritual experiences, but also the degree of our spiritual insight.

To advance spiritually, we need upgraded images of God, ones that more accurately portray the divine nature. And this we achieve by exploring enhanced meanings and spiritual values, a topic examined in another article—God Consciousness.

God as Spirit Reality

It’s constructive to evaluate our conventional images and inconsistent ideas about God, including some popular concepts about spirituality and the spiritual realm. For those who are not familiar with these ideas, I hope to introduce you to an alternate reality, a fresh perspective that enables the experience of God to flourish in your heart, mind, and soul.

As we mature and grow wiser, we move on from antiquated notions of a vengeful, jealous, and angry God as so often portrayed in religious texts. Clearly, these are human traits that ancient peoples attributed to a superhuman but primitive god.

When God is portrayed this way, it is no wonder that some of us feel inclined to throw out religion altogether. But we should always consider the truth of an alternative view—that God is an all-wise, kind, and compassionate Spirit, one who is far above the childish emotions and violent behavior of human beings. Any depiction of a heartless and spiteful God is sadly naive but, regrettably, it is a view still flaunted by gloomy religionists.

May God protect me from gloomy saints.

– Teresa of Avila

Thankfully, throughout the course of social history, a steady stream of prophets, seers, teachers, and mystics have reached a far more virtuous and genuine realization—that God is a loving spirit entity—the origin of spiritual goodness, wisdom, and compassion.

The spiritual quest begins by getting to know this God, the very Source of all reality, the Supreme Creator at the center of all things. Surprisingly, it is not a difficult task because the helpful inner Spirit that patiently guides each of us is a living spark, a divine gift, of that Greater Spirit.

While no one can profess to know the full nature of God, we can still formulate concepts that approximate this nature. In other words, it is possible to achieve a relative understanding of God. And there are many sources to draw from, including Jesus, Buddha, Zoroaster, Lao Tzu, Guru Nanak, and hundreds of others, all of whom view God as a real spirit entity.

There is but one God. His name is Truth. He is the Creator.

– Guru Nanak

Even in recent times, devout spiritual minds continue to improve and elaborate a more progressive religious philosophy. A few examples include Joseph Benner, Emmanuel Swedenborg, Paramahansa Yogananda, Mother Teresa, Baha’u’llah, Leo Tolstoy, Wayne Dyer, and Alan Cohen. Through their own spiritual experiences, these individuals recognize and promote a God of positive love and action.

Knowing God and Yourself

While it is impossible for any of us to truly comprehend the full magnitude of an Infinite Creator, it is difficult to proceed much further on the path of spiritual enlightenment until we can at least accept the reality of God in some form or essence.

The fact that our human minds cannot hope to grasp the true infinity and eternity of this reality is no reason to dismiss it. If a child cannot understand the differential equations of mathematics, we cannot say such equations do not exist.

You do not need to understand all of God to know God. As a loose analogy, you may not know everything about your mother, but you still love her. As a child, you may not fully appreciate all her personal qualities, skills, or intellect, but you can still adore those you do understand. Your lack of knowledge, experience, or moral insight does not diminish either your personal relationship with her or the sincerity of your love. And so it is with God.

The God experience is getting to know God as well as getting to know yourself. A great part of your spiritual journey is being mindful of how you perceive the people, events, and relationships in the world around you, how your beliefs shape what you see and what you can achieve, and how your thoughts and habits affect your comprehension of God and reality.

Daniel Siegel suggests that none of us can escape the formative influences of our childhood and the extent to which we have been shaped by our parents, families, friends, communities, societies, cultures, and social histories. And a significant part of any spiritual journey is having the honesty and courage to accept the truth about what we believe and who we are—our strengths and weaknesses.

I’m not advocating long sessions of psychotherapy or excessive introspection as a solution, but simply for us to take an honest look at the kinds of ideas and perspectives we accept as true. Think of it as a critical examination of fixed views, prejudices, and stereotypes. Without exception, we all have a belief system or a worldview that influences the way we perceive and interpret the world around us. Taking a closer look at these beliefs, spiritual or not, is an effective way to understand ourselves.

Getting to know God and feeling the presence of God are the main goals of The God Experience. And while I cannot claim to fully portray the true nature of an infinite, eternal, and divine Creator, I try to do so anyway, hoping to illuminate the magnificence and majesty of the First Creative Source and Divine Center of All Reality.

When you come to know God, you become God conscious. And this consciousness is the necessary prelude to the ultimate experience of feeling the divine love and vibrant presence of God in your daily life. Whenever you consciously share your innermost thoughts with your inner Spirit, you actively take part in your very personal and unique God experience.