Access the Course: The Yoga of Heartfulness 4-Week Course • Ram Dass
Ram Dass said, “When I use the word God, I am not thinking of a grandfatherly figure with a stern visage as the Old Testament often portrays him. I think I’m not anthropomorphizing God…I see God as all form, as the formless made manifest into all this form… It’s a short word for labeling that which is unspeakable.”
Ram Dass was inter-spiritual - drawing from all kinds of faiths and also secular traditions. What words do you use to talk about that unspeakable essence? (A member of my faith community called it “Fred”. Said it made it more relatable.)
Take a moment and journal about your personal understanding, relationship, and experience with this essence some call “God.” What words can/do you use to point at that essence that feel meaningful and potent to you?
Again, please share- not as therapy or proselytizing - but as food for thought or expanded possibilities that might potentially inspire others.
Great question Jacquelyn!
I find that my go-to shorthand depends the situation, but generally is one of these three: 1) If I experience something completely unexpected I find myself saying “thank you LORD”, 2) If I realize something that I put out as a need then I usually say “Thank you UNIVERSE”, and 3) If I am finding a ‘zen moment’ with my environment I say something like “Thank you BROTHER Tree or SISTER Squirrel” (depending on the moment).
I delight in playing with the various words we can use to speak about the unspeakable.
I’ll use something as mundane as “the Cosmos” or “Reality” or “Existence” when communicating with a materialist, atheist or secular audience.
When I am being mischevious with the same audience I will throw in “the Whole” or “the One” or “the Monad” or “the Light”
However, all these are always found slightly wanting as the unspeakable feels to me just as much about unreality as reality, about the parts as much as the whole, about the many as much as the one, about the dark as much as the light and about emptiness as much as about existence.
What I love about “Ram” or “God” or “Dao” is that they don’t suggest an opposite, antonym, duality or dialectic for me. They just are.
Very grateful for the fun to be had by playing with language and concepts
“God” for me represents the essence of paradox in language.
First being the absence of anything that can be described or understood. A void or emptiness. It’s an elusive concept to grasp intellectually. Perhaps there are no words to touch this meaning, rather another method is required to hold this connection. A method of heartfulness and surrender.
The second method of understanding for me comes in that God is everything. It’s every word, thought, expression and phenomenon that can arise and has arisen. It is also everything that cannot arise. Symbols and archetypes are all a piece of God. I become more aware of God by witnessing the ever changing manifestations of experience.
It’s like God is all that is and all that is not, thereby becoming the creator.
I am reminded of the statement: God, Guru and Self are the same
I may say God, Goddess, Source, Spirit, The Universe… and for Kali and Shiva, sometimes I just say Mom and Dad… (Now THERE’S a family.) I also love the idea of Action (Goddess) dancing on the stage of Consciousness (God). Ah, the play of trying to name the unnameable! I particularly take joy in the concept of At-One-Ment (a sweet wordplay by shamanist Frank MacEowen in re-imagining the word atonement from an animistic perspective) - that idea that the Sacred is present in all things. Having so much fun reading everyone’s posts!
God is like air to me. We breathe in love, we exhale love, everything that exists here has a relationship with air. It moves the water, the hawks soar, the plants grow.
In a yoga class I took it was themed Breath and it was focused on pranayama and that changed my whole look of “God.” As a religious mutt I was always looking at someone different for “God.” I was wildly fortunate to attend a Lutheran school that encouraged us to challenge the scripture and I think that has always given me permission to constantly challenge my own ideology of God and the permission to let it change.
I’ve let go of a need to label it and let “God” become a feeling, Because they change for me, sometimes it feels masculine, sometimes feminine, sometimes there’s neither and it’s overwhelming love.
The all, great spirit, source, universe, breathe, kosmos, divine, oneness, the creator…
I very much like that ‘Fred’ from your community member Jacquelyn. It brings duality down… At the same time there’s a little voice saying ‘you cannot do that!’… And that brings duality in so much I think source loves it that people makes it not too divine since they are God themselves…
God… Church made that word messy for me.
Creator, God… I don’t have a problem with the word “God.” “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” (Genesis 1:2)
I don’t think of a man with a white beard in the sky, but rather Spirit which is Creator of everything and behind everything … inexplicable.
The word “God” is a kind of shorthand – an easy way to refer to this something.
Love this question.
Words that resonate most for me are the oneness or the unmanifested and I also note that my minimal experience of witnessing some things on a more profound level has been that it seems to be a vast plane of vibrations or waves, like the source energy, which I can’t quite sum up in words
I realized today that I actually derive great enjoyment in playing the ‘name game’. What I mean is that obviously any attempt we make in ‘naming’ the Infinite is going to miss the mark on many levels. However, I find that any glimpse I have of that connection seems to have a ‘flavor’ to me. The flavors are always different, yet the same. I find it tremendously fun to relish in each different flavor, knowing that that flavor is just one of the infinite faces of God, you, me, the global consciousness…whatever we call it.
Absolutely! Makes me think of the 1001 names of Allah in Islam - the Most Merciful, the All-Seeing, The Judge, etc
I’ll admit I don’t use the term, but am reminded of Giordano Bruno’s “the immovable mover”. Or Thomas Kuhn’s Paradigm Shifts in ‘Scientific Revolutions’. I also reflect on fractals, emergent properties, and complexity theory. Some may also reflect on string theory, altho my memory of the subject is too dated to reference further.
[@eleitch I had this memory of the window down in the back seat and my son (three or four at the time) was leaning into the wind and said “I am kissing God”. So much love!