So I really loooove this book I’m reading, because it finally untangled some complicated feels I’ve been having about how I’m experiencing the Divine. I’ve said before that the gods are external to us, and I’ve also said that they are internal to us. The thing is, I’m increasingly feeling that the latter is more often the case.
However, as soon as you say so in this culture, it starts sounding like you’re denying the reality of the gods. It doesn’t help that there are Buddhist teachers who have gone on record as saying that meditational deities “are not separate” from you (general you). So is Buddhism atheistic?
Well, no…not any more than it is nihilistic (HINT: it’s NOT.)
Why? Well, one of the basic teachings of Mahayana Buddhism is that nothing is separate from anything else. In the historically quite prominent Yogachara school in fact, places quite heavy emphasis on how harmful it is to separate the subject from the object. Thus, everything is an “internal” experience.
Don’t be afraid of me. I love you.
When you’re used to a deity’s silence meaning displeasure and damnation, it can be really fucking hard to learn that the one you’re with right now is just off doing something else at the moment. When “godfearing” is tossed around as a compliment in your social circle, it can be even harder to unlearn fear of the gods. The past is incredibly hard to let go of, especially when it’s painful.
You read that correctly. Gods are people too.
They might not be human, and in some schema, they are not mortal. But they are people, and treating them as if they weren’t is frankly not just a matter of disrespect (or impiety, as some would have it). It’s a matter of expecting that fish to climb a tree.
The gods make mistakes. They have feelings. They get hurt. They hurt each other. They hurt us. They are people, only on a much grander scale. They may be vast, ancient entities (many of them, anyway) but they are still people. They have favorite foods, best friends, and they don’t understand everything that happens to them.
They are people.
So, why worship them?
Well, you don’t have to. If you feel a particular deity or deities have done nothing for you and will do nothing for you (and you’re fine with that) by all means, don’t honor them. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to worship a god you don’t want a relationship with. BECAUSE THAT IS CREEPY.
Likewise, don’t believe anyone who tells you that you can have a relationship with any god you want. THAT IS ALSO CREEPY. Not every god will want to be your patron, or want a relationship with you, and that’s fine. It’s not a failure on your part if Deity X turns you down. (Take it from someone who knows)
Remember that the gods are people, and like people, they are all different. Some of them are douchebags. Many others are also douchebags but are good at hiding it.* Then there are the gods who filled with compassion and benevolence, and who would never hurt anyone or anything, no matter what. There are people like that too, you know. Perhaps in this case, we should say that humans can be like gods?
My Lady is quite often beyond my comprehension, but really, so are most things. In fact, if we’re going to be honest, I don’t think the human mind can actually comprehend the fullness of anything, whether its the nature of the gods or the behavior of cats and dogs.
The human mind doesn’t know what truth is. It only makes distinctions, and those fail us so often, because my green is your blue and your yellow is my red. Your hot is cold to me, and that delicious food I made for you tastes foul.
I stand next to My Lady, and my mind sees nothing, hears nothing, and therefore tells me that she isn’t there at all, because the human mind doesn’t know what truth is. The heart does, though. So I shall speak from my heart, because it knows what truth is.