Only One God, and It’s Mine
Recently, during a tour of Old Jerusalem, a Muslim woman, dressed in full burka, yelled at my group, “There is only one God, and there is one prophet who is Mohammed.” My first thought was “Oh my God.” Suddenly, as I watched my mind utter those familiar words of surprise, I realized the origin of this expression.
She exclaimed, “There is only one God.” Now that I had some time for reflection, I thought, “What a stupid remark!” Practically everyone in the group of people I was touring with completely believed in the concept of one God; they were mostly members of the big three western religions. What she was really saying was: “There is only ‘My’ God, only ‘My’ Prophet.” Some subconscious part of me clearly realized the real nature of her expression. And that part of my mind responded quite appropriately, “Oh, my God.” It was as if I was mentally correcting her statement to more properly express her sentiments. We had mentally entered into a competition of Gods.
At this point, I’ll admit my thoughts were only about her. And yet, I didn’t want to lose the opportunity to milk this moment even further, to see what part I played in this interaction. So I looked at my response very closely. In some way, my mind was also saying, “Not your God, but my God.” It was as if my mind wanted to take back my power from this woman — power that she seemed to take from me as she pushed me to question just whose God was the real one. I realized that in her perspective, we were two opposites meeting. In her mind, I was someone who did not honor her God. But was that true? It was true. Her God was Allah, and he’s a lot like the nasty ass God of the Old Testament. That’s no God I can believe in.
Does it really matter if God is one or many, in the sky or on the earth, speaking through Mohammed or Jesus or the South Park kids? No, it doesn’t. Not even a little bit. What matters is whether or not my concept of God causes me to be more loving, more caring, more my true Self. Heck I can do that without even having a God. As soon as we divide into religions, we judge.
Did I love this woman in this moment? Not really. I felt she judged me without even knowing me. She assumed that I was her enemy. If I had been wearing a burka like her, she would not have said a thing to me or maybe she’d have smiled. My different appearance was a threat to her. But why?
The Cause of My God or Your God
I decided to review history to see how we got these different perspectives. In ancient times, you inherited your God from your father. God was passed down just like a home or possessions. So the idea of inheriting your God, presumes there were many gods to choose from. And if we look at the Bible and the mythology of various cultures, it appears there were many, many gods.
But were there many gods, or were there many perspectives of one God? I feel certain that much like today, there were many concepts of God and those perspectives were the creations of the leaders of different cultures. People battled over which God ruled the land and the people — My God or Your God. These many and varied Gods came from duality as they clearly had dualistic qualities, such as methods of punishment, opinions about what was good and evil, and even jealousy. Gods were perceived to have different superpowers and different levels of power. If you wanted to win, you wanted your God to be the best God.
Deep inside, we all have a True Self connection with a source, a divine power, a creator that everyone shares that is also called God. In short, our True Selves would not have had this disagreement. For the one True God is the God of the True Self; and it lives inside of everyone, even if they don’t know it. In ancient times, this True God was labeled the Creator God or Great Spirit.
My God or Your God
Most people assume that in ancient times there were those who believed in one God, and then there were others who believed in a pantheon of gods. But even those who we assume had pantheons would say, “No they had one God.” Take the Egyptians for example. The one God was Ra, the creator God (also called Amun, Amen, and a variety of other names). The other gods were Neteru, which one might interpret as angels, demi-gods, or even saints. The sun was the metaphor for the real God — light, warmth, predictable and unchangeable (dam good metaphor for a bunch of people from the days of cavemen). The Neteru were unpredictable, human-like in their behavior. They related to the stars and the constellations; their story changed as the stars moved across the sky.
The stars told the story of the Sun God’s journey in the night when he could not be seen. It is said that the greatest fear of the ancient ones was that God would not return one day — that is, the sun would not rise. This makes sense. The sun was heat and light. It made the trees and crops grow. Without the sun, there would eventually be death for everyone and everything.
The Priest Interpreted the Stars
The priest was the interpreter of the story in the stars — he told us what God wanted and what we had to do to keep the sun safe in its underworld journey. People were dependent on the priest’s interpretation for their life because by this time, they believed they could not communicate with God directly.
The priest was usually an astrologer; but he was also known as a wise man or prophet. And I have a suspicion that he was not always operating from the highest good. Just like our news reporters, I’m sure there was a tendency to taint the story in their God’s favor. This kept the morale up and definitely gained them the favor of the king. So making their God right and the most powerful probably became the way to keep your job.
I’ve taken a little creative liberty in my explanation, but the truth behind my concept is that all of these religious ideas about God and his characteristics began as story. God, like the sun, just shines his light. Storytellers are the ones who added all the color and flavor.
Stories Produce Beliefs; Beliefs Produce Reality
Stories, like beliefs, preceded reality. So the stories of the stars later became the stories of the Gods. And the stories of the Gods, later became the stories of the rulers. The power struggle occurred when the words king, lord, and god all become intermingled. As the main character of the story moved from the sky to the land, the prophet or priest moved from interpreter of the stars to counsel for the God king. This is why we have the king consulting the oracle or prophet for direction as we move closer to current time.
We must really understand what occurred in history. You see, in the beginning, the story in the sky was just that, a story. But over time, the story became destiny or fate. And just as one astrologer today doesn’t see the same fate in the stars as another, no two prophetic storytellers saw the same message. But being human, the prophets had a tremendous desire to please God. In order to avoid making a mistake and pissing off a god, they began to argue over what those damn gods wanted. In addition, they believed that the power of their god was what allowed them to win battles. So there was a lot of pressure to get the story right.
Back to My God or Your God
If you’ve ever tried to be a really good people pleaser and please a whole crowd, you can imagine the dilemma of the ancient people. They just wanted the prophets to come to a consensus. They were more than willing to obey if they would all just agree on how to do it. Which God was God?
The woman who yelled at my group was just like me on some level–I had to admit that. I only knew what her flavor of God was by her costume. My group was a bit harder to read as we came from many countries and religions, and we dressed accordingly. What this woman wanted to say was this: “There is one God, and my prophet’s interpretation is the right one. Therefore, I’m good, and you are not. So straighten up and think like me.” I too wanted to be seen as good, or I would not have been bothered by her insinuation that I was not.
We haven’t changed at all since the ancient star gazing days. We all want to be good; we all want to do right. We pick a God, along with a set of rules; and we follow it. We don’t question if it is right or loving? We just follow its dogma like the sheep follow the shepherd. And we get really upset if you follow a different God, especially if you don’t have to wear silly clothes or sacrifice as much as we do. We want so much to have confirmation that we have chosen to listen to the right God. This modus operandi just keeps us stuck in some false God’s world. It keeps us from really living the life of our dreams.
Why Can’t They All Just Agree?
So it seems that the problem clearly lies in the hands of the ancient prophets — why didn’t they all just agree so that we could have avoided all this turmoil? Why don’t we just draw straws and pick one now? Because we all have a different perspective, and there is really nothing wrong with that. Our God in many ways reflects our own mind. As we let go, our notion of God does change.
Some wise person once said, “If two of us think alike, then one of us is not necessary.” Our problem comes when we think our prophet has the right interpretation, and everyone else is wrong. Our problems come from worrying more about what others think and do than about what we think and do. Our problems come from the stupid, insane belief that everyone needs to think like us.
That woman is just a character in my mind. She represented the part of me that was afraid of being me. She mirrored the part of me that wanted to be accepted, obedient, and good. And that part of my mind doesn’t want to see someone else happy and free, because it reminds me of my captivity and pain. I can let all of that go because I’d much rather love her than fear her.
That woman was surely beautiful under that burka; and the world is missing her light and expression. I can remember who she really is, even if she doesn’t. As I let go of my fear of her, I see her in my mind again and I hear her say: “There is one God, and s/he is ours.” We smile and the only difference between us is that she can see my smile while I can only imagine hers by the purity of her eyes. We are all more alike than we are different. God, king, ruler, Muslim, Christian, Jew, and all the others are all the same following the one God, the one that can also be spelled LOVE.