By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 1/23/2021
Posted: 11/21/2008
Topics/Keywords: #Metaphysics #Spirituality Page Views: 3797
How to get in touch with God Within.
God calling

Let's pick up where we left off, with people who are vaguely dissatisfied (or, possibly, absolutely miserable) with their lives but unable to figure out what's missing. Often, they've tried religion to no avail; they may have tried rampant materialism as well. They may even have given away all their earthly goods and tried asceticism! Yet, neither wealth nor poverty nor church has filled that inner void—and, what's worse, whichever path they've tried, doesn't support dissatisfaction very well. Other proponents always suggest an increase of whatever that path is: even more things (a newer car, a larger flat screen TV), even fewer things (try a 40-day fast), even more Jesus (a retreat where we talk about Jesus all weekend!).

The problem is, the thing that is missing, that void, is within your deepest being. You can't fill a void there with anything external. No round-the-world cruise, no bed of nails, no rosaries or festivals or contortioned postures can, of themselves, fill that innermost void. At best, they can only distract one from feeling that void for a short time. But when the cruise ends or one rises from that bed of nails, or, yes, one emerges from the Wednesday night prayer service, one finds the void is still there.

I can see why materialism might look like a likely solution. Comedian Paula Poundstone talks about rummaging through her refrigerator late at night looking for a jelly donut. "I know there's probably some deep, inner lack in my life that keeps me searching," she says. "But late at night it sure feels like a jelly donut." In the short run, materialism feels great; and we were built to respond positively to great feelings. The problem is, like any drug, hits of materialism don't last; and the next fix must be bigger than the previous one in order to achieve the same high. Eventually no car is shiny enough or produces enough poisonous emissions to keep at bay the awareness that that void is still gnawing within.

Asceticism is more of a mystery to me. I won't deny its appeal to masochists but it can't possibly feel good to the rest of us, other than perhaps the poor who can't afford materialism getting a chance to gloat over their superior place in Heaven because they drive a crappy car. I've seen their bumper stickers: MY REWARD IS IN HEAVEN. Which is a nice way of justifying that inner gnawing, but it doesn't cure it. At the end of the day moral gloating isn't any more satisfying than any other type.

As for religion—how is it possible that every world religion, from the earliest expressions of pantheism, to the newest boutique cult, has failed to perform the one function it claims to have mastered: That of filling that inner void?

The answer is this: The one thing that (virtually) all religions, and asceticism, and materialism have in common is the One, Big, Lie: That the thing that will fill that void is out there, when the void is in here.

The expression of that lie in religions is particularly sinister, because many of them claim that God is "everywhere" and that obviously includes inside each of us. But religions are expert at saying one thing while conveying a completely different and contradictory message. They say that God is "everywhere" while constantly reinforcing the idea that god is out there. How often do they repeat the message, "Our Father, who art in Heaven…" I'm not sure where Heaven is, but if you can't find it on Google Maps it must be a heck of a distance. Churches are built with peaked roofs and ceilings that draw attention upward. Even the basic organization of the church, with its minister, rabbi, imam or priest has, we are told, been given the task of interceding between god and us. If God is within, why would we possibly need an interpreter or emissary?

In fact, we do not. Reaching directly within is the only way to commune with God, who is also "within". In fact, that's what that gnawing void is: God's ringtone! It's God saying, "I'm in here; I want to talk with you and I want you to be aware of me." When you pick up on that, when you begin to direct your attention inward to listen to what God has to say and to share your concerns and desires with that innermost part of you, the void fills and your journey toward enlightenment can begin in earnest.