My daughter 35 years ago
I had a loving father. I knew that I did, but I never felt it.
My father was a good man but very damaged and unable to show his feelings. So I grew up knowing in my head that I was loved, but not feeling it in my heart.
This is a common experience. Many of us, for one reason or another, grow up with little or no sense of a loving father and often we may not even realise the absence of the felt sense of that love until much later in life.
As a child I went through a period of idolising my father and in a way he was like a god to me, but always distant and never felt.
The love of a father has a special quality to it - a deep sense of comfort and all encompassing protection - a feeling of being taken care of, and a source of guidance, direction and inspiration.
Deep within all of us is a basic, primeval need to be loved, loved by someone, loved by anyone, just loved. This need to be loved has been the theme of countless songs, films and stories.The late Freddie Mercury and Queen nailed it with "Somebody To Love":
"I get down on my knees
And I start to pray
'Til the tears run down from my eyes
Lord, somebody, ooh somebody
(Please) can anybody find me somebody to love?"
The Irish philosopher, priest, writer and broadcaster John O'Donohue expanded on this theme, of the universal need to be loved, to include consciousness.
He spoke of consciousness at the individual level and at the universal level which I refer to as the energy of life and Christians such as O'Donohue call God.
I am referencing him because he had a remarkable gift for putting into words experiences and concepts about consciousness that I do not have the language for.
Put simply he was a modern mystic - a "Zen Catholic priest" - who could articulate the unity of self and Self:
"There is an incredible loneliness in us for God.
We can have
everything else, friends, achievements, possessions and success, but if
we have closed off contact with God, something gnaws at us and the heart
can find no contentment.
Deep in every heart, this longing is alive.”
Many of us who are agnostic, atheist, of other faiths or no faith,
struggle with the idea of God because the word comes laden with so much
Those of us within the Buddhist tradition may recoil from the apparent dualism of the traditional Christian presentation of God. Put simplistically: “big God up there” and “little sinful me down here”.
The idea of a loving God has become so marginalised and under the radar that it is has now become the love that dare not speak it's name.
I want to be old school and offer a different perspective that draws from the deep well of Christian experience of God and that expresses this experience as relationship.
One of the unique features of the sayings of Jesus is his emphasis on the relational aspect of God, his expression of God as Father – a loving Father.
In my experience a major stumbling block with the Christian approach to all this is its inherent reliance on a foundation of theological beliefs which you, as a believer, have to believe in. This is head before heart.
This traditional presentation of Christianity is essentially dualistic - as noted above, "Big God way up there" and "little sinful me all down here" - and the Buddhist non-belief in any personal god neatly side-steps all that.
But the apparent dualism within Christianity weakens and fades within the contemplative, meditative and mystical tradition.
Most of this was denied and aborted with the declaration of Gnosticism as heresy in about the 3rd century. However, fragments of the meditative tradition emerged in traditional Christianity around the 14th century as expressed in Evelyn Underhill's translation of the medieval spiritual guidebook called “The Cloud of Unknowing” which was written by an anonymous English monk.
The underlying message of this work suggests that the way to know God as the loving father is to drop all consideration of what is said and written about God, and to be daring enough to surrender one's mind, drop the ego, and enter the realm of "unknowing".
It is at this point that one may begin to experience the true nature of God as the loving father.
This has been described as Christianity with a Zen outlook.
This engagement is experienced, not thought, and is relational.
In my view, it is this personal and relational dimension that is a major strength of the Christian approach.
Buddhism focuses on the enlightened mind and Christianity reveals the awakened heart.
In Deus Ex Machina I have set out a framework of 4 keys to working with the Energy Of Life [aka God or Consciousness].
I close this article and leave you with a working hypothesis and model of Consciousness, quoting from that article. This model is framed only for your heart.
As discussed in that article, we wear our beliefs lightly, as a guidance only, and not as immutable certainty.
"So please hear these words in your heart and not your head:
Here is a document which is compiled from over 50 different verses drawn from all over the bible.
It is written in the voice of God as Father speaking directly to you his child:
Next Article: Your Ebenezer Stone Of Help
Return from "The Loving Father" to: Walking The Talk
Or to: What Is Spirituality?