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You first learned about God through stories. These stories created in your mind an image of something that, in time, you came to call ‘God’. Now this image may have taken on many forms. It was probably male, most likely austere, aloof. Perhaps unpredictable, obsessed with rules and petty things, and moreover it had a serious neurosis about sex.
It could also be a comforting, protecting image; kind or despotic, depending on its mood. Now, you see this image corresponds almost exactly to how you first perceived grown-ups, your parents or guardians. You learned and heard a story of God. Then you decided its make-up on the evidence of your immediate surroundings. God is part of your first projections. God is part of your story of yourself.
The parent is metaphor for creator. We come into this world from the seed of man and the labour of woman.
The child draws a sense of security from its first carers and builds that into her sense of self. That is, if she feels loved and needed. Not every child does. A sense of belonging ensues. Remember the word ‘belong’ can mean to own as well as to protect. A relationship is now formed that often is one of learned helplessness.
In return for love and security the child learns something is expected of it; duty, loyalty, even sacrifice. So, it would seem, that sense of security, of being loved that the child feels is dependent on others, on something or someone outside itself. The child learns love as a form of manipulation.
Lastly the child transfers the characteristics of mortal parent to super parent, which we might call the idea of God. That means what he sees in the parent is projected onto this larger, imaginary parent, along with all the attendant traits; annoyance, abandonment, anger, loyalty, love.
This system is dualistic in its nature. Alongside having parents and family, you must, perforce, have ‘those who are not parents’, and ‘not family’.
When we create ‘same’ we automatically create ‘difference’. There is never an exception to this. The first enables us to identity with a particular group, which we often refer to as ‘us’. The second its polar opposite, which we might designate as ‘other’ or ‘them’. Inchoate in this is the notion of ‘enemy’, someone who doesn’t belong, and to whom I don’t belong.
We play out our conflicts around control, dependency and power with those we meet. In fact, anyone you perceive as having power over you (and if you do, in some way you’ve given it to them), is a form of substitute parent. As we go through life we learn to be helpless in an astonishing amount of ways.
We think, ‘if only I can get control of this situation I’ll be safe. I’ll be loved again.’ This is one of the earliest scripts we pick up, which many of us carry with us throughout our lives. It is a script often difficult to undo because it’s invisible.
Control is the supreme illusion. In fact, it is the illusion that creates the world.
People equate lack of control with being powerless. But the two are quite different. If you don’t believe me stop this minute and try controlling the bile from your gallbladder. You cannot (not without medical assistance anyway). Control is not the same as power. Control is trying to make something conform to our will, it is wanting things to be a certain way. Control is an agent of force, which is the very opposite of power.
Power is who you are at your core, and the Source from which you emerged, beyond all names, all images, although you may call it God if you wish. Not the image, may I stress, that you carry around in your head, created by stories, but that which the image represents. When we believe we are helpless we struggle (like a man drowning) to regain this imagined control.
The collective mind, which is only your own multiplied many millions of times, also confuses control with power. It describes God as omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent. It sees God’s power as world power, writ large, which is really another version of control. The world cannot overthrow God, although secretly it wants to, so it turns to worship it/him.
We feign love for that which we fear. We learn to lie, be deceitful. We have become fearful of this image we’ve created, and thus we try to hide it, or hide from it. We do this by going ‘unconscious’ around it.
However, a part of you still remembers, and that is the part that is now awakening. Therefore, do not mistake the image you created, the parental substitute, for the real power from which you emerged.
For behind our feeble creations there is something more powerful than we can ever imagine, creating us, creating. And its power is our power. But once we step outside of it we’re then thinking about it. We give it a name, a history, a reality that mirrors our own. And so it becomes our image of All That IS, and not the real thing. The counter to this is Love. It is the only thing that is real. It exists regardless of your thoughts about it. I’m not talking here about human love, but about love as a creative dynamic.
In truth we are never without power, because we are never without God.
It is when we look for that security outside ourselves that we feel powerless.
Now, this idea of God as parent did not come about with your individual birth, but was formed very early in the collective consciousness of humanity.
We will look at that next time.
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