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touched by the divine

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I woke up at 4:11 from a dream in which the VW van I was driving lost its braking power and, after steering it to safety on a meadow, I continued my travels astride an Island pony. Wanted to get up to start writing this post but, not wanting to wake my hosts,calmed myself back to sleep by doing deep-belly breathing.

Yesterdays was a day of much information and a few startling insights (see two previous posts to explain where I am this week). The most profound thing by far occurred during the morning break when I took another student aside and asked her to help me figure out what this ‘divine’ was which everyone seems to be talking about. In my mind ‘divine’ equalled ‘god’ and, as practitioner of a non-theistic (no god) religion, I was getting more and more confused and irritated — to the point that I silently concluded that this training wasn’t for me and that I’d best leaved the program.

Fortunately, the person I asked listened carefully and thus heard my cry for clarity. Have you ever felt as if guided by a force, a mysterious hand, something beyond your comprehension? Of course, I have! So many times at hospice or in one of my current volunteer jobs, or when talking to a stranger who tells me that we’re having instant report and she or he is able to tell me things that are most private — there are moments when I’m absolutely present, when the words and gestures coming from body are not of my own making, when I feel a mere vehicle, a conduit, for what I sometimes call ‘spirit’ or with the Greek word ‘pneuma,’ meaning breath, wind, or spirit.

Afterwards, when trying to make sense of the experience, I’d see it as ‘bigger than myself,’ something my mind alone could not have devised on its own, something ‘mystical’ for lack of another explanation.

Well, said my friend, think of that as the Divine working in and through you.



3 responses »

  1. How fortunate to have found someone with such a wise definition of the “Divine”.
    Divine intervention?

  2. Peter,
    I also can feel uncomfortable with the idea of the divine as an external thing in itself. Two ways of looking at the divine. Either the divine is a) everything or b) it is one external thing that somehow directs us, ie., the guiding hand of

    In zen there is no need to go to some external source. What then is the feeling we get of being guided? I think the guiding priciple is the whole being, the whole self, telling our ego self what we need to do or be. The whole self is connected to the universe and sometimes knows things that the seperate ego, the ‘I’, does not.

    The reason we feel as if something other than ourself is guiding us is, being ego bound, we think that our intelectual brain and the self, the I, that the ego brain constructs, is the complete being. The ego has a hard time listening to the whole self when it is not well connected to it, and then the ego apprehends the knowledge being spoken by the whole self as words from the divine. Notice that when so-called god speaks, it sometimes tells some of us to do terrible things. George Bush and Osama ben ladin both talked to god and they claimed that god answered them. This is because an immature emotional being can be part of the whole self which then tells the ego to do awful stuff. .

    The problem of the divine is as old as human kind. Socrates called the feeling of being guided his ‘daemon’. He did nothing his daemon felt bad about, and only did things his daemon did not object to.

    See Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, for another take on the subject.

    But after all is said and done, it doesn’t matter much whether or not one believes in a seperate god or the divinity of all things. Belief is completely unimportant (unless it makes you do stupid things). What really matters is what one is doing right now. Do no harm. Have a nice day.

    My appoligies for my longwinded character.

  3. Pingback: Defining Divinity « Andria in the Stream

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