“Child of God”
I used this expression in a talk recently, as a way of pointing to an attitude which I found to be essential on my spiritual path.
Here I want to look at the implications of this phrase and how it effects attitude.
Let’s take the word child and see what we associate with being a child.
A child is like its parents, comes pre-programmed with the same qualities.
A child is dependent on its parents for survival and love.
A child is trusting. It trusts its parents implicitly. It accepts their guidance.
A child is in the process of growing and evolving. It is changing and open to change.
A child communicates with its parents. It asks questions and listens to the responses. It likes to participate in the activities the parents are in to.
The child has no thought about how it will develop or where it is going.
The child trusts its parents to provide it with opportunities for growth.
A child is curious. It plays and explores and is open to adventures.
A child is spontaneous and curious and enjoys what it is doing without planning for the future.
A child does not have much sense of time. It lives in the moment.
A child expresses its feelings without trying to hide them. It cries and laughs spontaneously.
A child is vulnerable. It knows it has no control over its circumstances.
A child likes to play with other children.
A child loves its parents unconditionally and the parents love it unconditionally, to the point of tough love if necessary.
You can add your own characteristics to this list.
Now, lets look at the word God.
There are many synonyms for this word and all of them fall short of what they are pointing to.
This is because the nature of the thing being pointed to is beyond words. Words that are commonly used tend to pick up the baggage of the culture or religion in which they originated. None of these problems in any diminish the Reality of what is being referred to.
Here a list of words I have come across in various spiritual books which are synonymous with “God”: Source, Self, Absolute, Divinity, Truth, Goddess, Substance, Emptiness, No-thing-ness, True Nature, Clarity, Allah, Transcendence, Love, Being, Great Spirit, Almighty, The Father, The Universe, Universal Mother, Aliveness, I Am-ness. Buddha nature.
I’m sure there are many more. The thing is to pick one that is meaningful to you, or at least the one to which you have least resistance.
I say this because for a long time I resisted the word “God” because of the associations with patriarchal culture. If a word is generating resistance to the feelings of Love and Trust and Intimacy in you, then it will not work for you.
The word I like to use nowadays is Self or The Self.
Child of the Self or creature originating from The Self is referred to as “object” in Vedanta, the Hindu scripture. This might sound cold at first but it is a way of gaining some detachment from our worldly identification. Object does not refer only the human as object but to the many classes of objects that arise in creation: thoughts, emotions, planets, animals, etc. It points our thinking in the direction of The Self, our source and brings with it questions of who we and what the world is essentially.
To say that we are a child of God suggests that we are not just children of the world. We have another identity, one that the world causes us to lose sight of. In losing this connection we feel lost and confused. Finding our way back to our source and the correction in our identification as to what we really are is the great journey that is on offer to all of us.