Why Having an Experience of God is Not EnoughBy Phyllis Stein, Ph.D.
December 31, 2006
Many spiritual seekers have experienced a connection with God, yet they cannot maintain this connection in their daily lives. Connecting with God's love is a necessary step, but in this column Phyllis Stein describes why this experience is only a first step to healing.
People on a spiritual path, generally, are seeking an experience of connecting with God. Numerous techniques exist for achieving this including meditation, prayer or even taking psychedelic drugs, and many succeed in having the experience they are seeking. It is powerful and validates the existence of God, and yet, the experience is transitory and daily life does not change. Even though they have experienced God's love, they remain as wounded as ever, and God is not present for them on a continuing basis. In most cases, I suspect, the conclusion people come to is that they just need to keep doing whatever it was that got them there, just do it more, spend time in an Ashram for example.
I wondered how this could be. How could having a direct experience of God not result in healing of our fundamental spiritual wound which is disconnection from God's love? I realized that having an experience of God is not enough by itself. Even though this connection is freely available, there are things we need to heal to have ongoing access to it. Even though one of the things that keeps us from receiving God's love is our own judgment that we are not worthy of it, it is perfectly possible to have an experience of connecting with God without healing this judgment. The experience then feels like an accident, or perhaps it feels like the technique or drug itself must be used so that it can happen. But the wounded beliefs that act like a shield to keep us from our default state, which is of ongoing connection, remain in place. And yet, when these beliefs are healed, when we see who we really are, not defective, but perfect divine beings who are a part of God, no special techniques are necessary to feel the connection.
There is another step that must be taken to establish an ongoing connection with God. In Inner Bonding we ask the question "What is the loving action?" The purpose of that question is to align ourselves as instruments of God as love. Asking the question invites the connection itself to become conscious. This is a form of surrender, of making love a higher priority than control. Yet, it is often confused with giving oneself up to God. When we give ourselves up to another person, we abdicate responsibility for ourselves and make our being okay about having control over how someone else is feeling. Are we supposed to give ourselves up to God? Are we supposed to sacrifice ourselves to God so that God will find us worthy and take care of us? I think there is confusion about that and many people on a spiritual or religious path would argue that this is precisely what we should do. Of course Margaret has already written a book with the title "Do I Have to Give Up Me to be Loved by God?" but what that means might be worth thinking about here. Loving God is not about sacrificing ourselves. Loving God is about loving ourselves, about taking loving action on our own behalf, because we are part of God, because that is an expression of our love for God. When we take loving action we fill ourselves with love that is God. We know that only by showing up as loving adults, by taking complete responsibility for ourselves can we possibly maintain our connection with God. Only then can we express our God selves by bringing the energy of love to what we do.
So, having an experience of God is a start, but having an ongoing experience of God requires more than that. Once we heal the wounded belief that we are not worthy of God's love, we begin to connect with and fill with that love. And as we ask the question "What is the loving action?" we affirm our relationship with our source. An ongoing experience of communication with God, of receiving God's love and of taking the loving action, brings healing and this healing deepens our ongoing experience of God. This is the connection with God that Inner Bonding brings. It does not require special techniques or drugs, just a willingness to learn the process on order to make truly learning to love the most important thing in our lives.
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It's a challenge to take responsibility for our own feelings when we are alone, and even more of a challenge when we are with others. Today, notice the various ways you make others responsible for your feelings - not speaking up, saying yes when you mean no, blaming, feeling hurt, waiting, people-pleasing, getting angry, withdrawing, numbing out, punishing, and so on. Just notice without judgment.
By Dr. Margaret Paul