“…You think you can choose God like you choose a pair of shoes?…”
There is something spiritual and magic about old book stores and libraries.
Maybe it is just the smell of old books bringing back forgotten childhood memories, or maybe there is a deeper spiritual connection I can’t explain, but every time I am in a library I feel connected to a higher wisdom and my creativity and inspiration take flight.
There was a public library by my apartment building where I would spend hours every day. I would take my stack of books, go outside in the park, lay down under a majestic eucalyptus tree and read until my back started hurting.
In that park, for many days I would see this little old man meditating under a tree.
He was an intriguing little man with a strange smile on his face, like the cat that had swallowed a canary. It was a smile of total satisfaction coming from inside and it ticked me off with its serenity. One day I went and sat next to him in the shade. I said:
– Hi! Are you a Buddhist?
– What kind of Buddhist are you, what do you believe in?
– Which God?
He stopped for a moment and pierced me with his little biddy eyes.
– I don’t know… how many Gods are there?
– Well, uh, there is only one God.
– So, isn’t that a silly question to ask?
– No, not at all. There are thousands of religions and each one claims to represent the real God. So which one is the real one?
– Do you have a mother?
– Of course I have a mother. Isn’t that a silly question to ask?
– No, not really. There are millions of mothers out there. How do you know which one is your real mother?
So the little man is playing tough. I had to stop and think. Where is the catch? Ok. Let’s play along and see where this goes.
– My mother is my mother because she made me.
– So, how come you don’t know who your father is?
I had this strange feeling that I was about to get a higher understanding of something that had eluded me so many times before. I stood there, my wheels spinning at hyper speed.
– You think you can choose God like you choose a pair of shoes? …You choose the right one and you go straight to heaven, you choose the wrong one and you go straight to hell? …There is no choosing. Nobody has God. No religion, no country, no race, no man has God. God has all of us, the Christians, the Buddhists, the Muslims, the Hindus and even the ones that don’t believe in God at all. We don’t make God, God made us. We don’t choose God, God chose us.
Well, I had to admit. That was something I never considered. There is no choice. God is my father and I couldn’t change that even if I wanted to. It is what it is and that’s all it is.
A question still remained. So I asked:
– So how does one relate to God?
– How do you relate to your mother?
– I love her more than anything in this world.
– Well if that’s good enough for your mother I believe it’s good enough for your father too.
– You don’t understand. It is not that simple… What should one think of God and how… how do you believe in God?
– It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what you believe about God or if you believe in God. What matters is what God believes about you. The question is not do you believe in God. The question is, does God believe in you?
I had no idea, no clue, no answer. I felt like a piñata after a Mexican birthday party.
My head hurt, my heart ached. I stood up and stumbled my way back home.
This little guy had just shattered my whole belief system in 5 minutes. I had to get some rest.
I recouped really fast and went back to my new found teacher armed with even more questions, battling over every argument, from philosophy to politics.
He was a hard cookie to break.
Many times I would find him meditating and out of respect I would sit down beside him and pretend that I was meditating too, although I would just sit there with my eyes closed waiting for him to start talking.
One of those days sitting there “meditating” I let my mind wander and in a flash of lightning I had the revelation of God.
It was such a shock that my whole body reacted and I believe I groaned so loudly that I woke him up. I stood still as a stone, looking at him, tears rolling down my face. He smiled at me and I knew he knew. I smiled back and he knew that I knew.
After a life time of searching, after crossing an ocean and thousands of miles, finally I found God. Not in a church, not in a bible but right here in my heart. He was always there, all I had to do was say:
– Hi God!
Reproduced on Zen Moments with kind permission. From The Thirst for Spirituality – Part IX : part of the journal of a fascinating life long journey, across continents and cultures. Read more from Buddha of Hollywood
About Buddha of Hollywood : I live in Hollyweird California, USA and I work in the entertainment industry as a video engineer, but I’ve been everything from a tug boat captain to a hypnotherapist – one of those lives! I am married and my two daughters are the most important thing in my life. As I am getting older I would like to get out of the rat race and do something more creative like writing, painting and sculpting. I am also contemplating reopening my therapy business.
Charlotte Joko Beck
“If I were to tell you that your life is already perfect, whole and complete, just as it is, you would think I was crazy. Nobody believes his or her life is perfect. And yet there is something within each of us that basically knows we are boundless, limitless. We are caught in the contradiction of finding life a rather perplexing puzzle which causes us a lot of misery, and at the same time being dimly aware of the boundless, limitless nature of life. So we begin looking for an answer to the puzzle. . . . . What is the enlightened state? When there is no longer any separation between myself and the circumstances of my life, whatever they may be, that is it.” Charlotte Joko Beck
Charlotte Joko Beck was the founder and former head teacher at the Zen Center in San Diego..