This chapter describes how we make a connection with the Divine. I share my ideas about how we not only make that connection but how we can use our connection with the Divine to enhance our lives and the lives of others around us.
Connecting with the Divine
Positive Affirmation: When I look to the Divine, I see God all around me.
Growing up, my family didn’t practice any form of religion or spirituality. My brief experiences with spirituality came from a little old lady named Ann, who visited my public school to teach Bible stories. By not being forced into spirituality, I became naturally curious. However, I remember feeling confused about God. Half of the things I learned about God seemed frightening, and the other half felt inviting. Encounters with religious people left me feeling, well, I didn’t know what to believe. I assumed the only people who could reach God were devoted Christians or monks. I perceived God as an abstract figure. I often wondered, How can I relate to what appears to be such an abstract concept, let alone have a relationship with something that seems so far away. I wanted to know what people were talking about so I could have an experience of God.
As a young adult, the positive experiences with spirituality, such as the school visits with Ann and occasional trips to Sunday school with my neighbour, were swept away by the scary encounters I had with other religious people. In my limited understanding, I put together that God only liked certain people, and by all outward appearances, there was a good chance I was going to hell. I carried those experiences forward into angst toward the word “God.” However, I was still curious.
I’m not sure I would have ever explored that curiosity had I not met certain people. The first person to open my mind was Mack Bregg, a tattoo artist from Kingston, Ontario. Mack took me under his wing and helped me get started with tattooing. During my first visit to his home, it was evident that he had religious beliefs, but he never pushed them onto me. Looking back, the most impactful conversations I had with Mack were about love. His stories and teachings around love gave me the courage I needed to express the love I had inside. He encouraged me to forget about what other tattooists were doing and pour that love into my desire to be a tattooist—and to love my clients. His encouragement also helped me to move beyond the gender roles I felt I had to obey. Dropping my macho attitude about being a tattoo artist was one of the many things I learned from Mack during my time with him. I wanted to model the way Mack lived because I looked up to him. Although I didn’t know it at the time, this was my first step toward building a connection with God.
The call of my soul was inviting me to be in communion with God. Establishing this connection allowed me to receive the gifts that were waiting for me within the silence. By turning inward, I learned how to connect with the silence that lived inside me. I realized that I didn’t need special places or objects to invoke the sacredness of God. I began to live my connection with the Divine rather than reading about it or wishing for God’s presence to be revealed to me. I used to think God’s thunderous voice would rain down from the heavens, but now I know it arises during the moments I return to the silence within.
Our greatest gift from the Divine is the life we are living and the blessings around us.
Connecting to the Sacred
As my consciousness expanded with each awakening I experienced, I longed to move deeper into the experience of God. In the beginning, my relationship with the Divine felt imaginary, like I was pretending God was my friend. It seemed superficial at best. I now realize that God’s presence is not a feeling in my body experienced by my senses; it is a living relationship that surrounds me from the inside out and the outside in. Looking for God is equivalent to a fish looking for water. By resting in the silence and interacting with others and the world around us, we experience God’s presence.
In the past, my mind held fantasies about how my relationship with God would unfold. I believed that once I established a connection with God, I would walk around glowing like a 2000-watt light bulb. I’ve since discovered that the core of our relationship with God happens in the ordinary, not the extraordinary—in the thousands of moments and interactions we have every day. I no longer think of God as a future relationship that I will have later in life but an experience of the here and now. When there is no resistance to life as it unfolds, we become more conscious and present; we see the value of everything that shows up in our daily life. By moving into a place where we accept what’s happening around us and meeting each moment with gratitude, we stop resisting life. We realize that our life, the people in our lives, the world around us—even material objects—all have value.
The connection we make with the Divine is the same connection we make when living our purpose. Connecting with God is not a singular event; it’s a moment-to-moment experience. We make thousands of small connections with the Divine every day. However, the mind likes to track life as a highlight reel of highs and lows. We switch off the recording button when the mind perceives that nothing is happening. In the past, I would thank God for all the blessings I received, and I would cry out with dissatisfaction when things weren’t going well. It was only during these highs and lows that I would connect with God. I no longer strive to have peak experiences or cling to my past “God moments.” Letting go of these ideas has helped me to become an open vessel to serve the Divine instead of waiting for God to serve me. I no longer try to connect with God to “feel” God’s presence. I have become a place for God to arise within.
I discovered three aspects that have helped me to do this:
- Become a vessel that can hear God.
- Become a vessel that is willing to speak the words of God.
- Become a Vessel that Can Hear God
Becoming a Vessel that Can Hear God
We become an open vessel to hear God when we stop talking to ourselves and pay less attention to the thoughts cycling through our minds. Talking to ourselves and trying to hear God at the same time would be like trying to have a personal conversation with someone across a room full of talking people. God speaks to us in the silence and through the people and experiences that show up in our lives. Being present and aware of what’s going on inside and outside of us helps us to hear the Divine.
Becoming a Vessel that Is Willing to Speak the Words of God
Our connection to God is not just about being quiet. There are moments when God calls us to speak, write, and teach. In the moments when God calls, we must allow the messages to flow from our hearts. God’s call for us to speak happens spontaneously. Speaking from the heart asks us to remain quiet and allow whatever comes to us to flow freely. You can practice this by doing automatic (stream of consciousness) writing or by staying tuned into your heart as you interact with others. When words arise, the next step is to have the courage to express them. Sometimes this can be hard because we are in the habit of only being a certain way with our friends and family. But if you follow the wise instructions of your heart, you will more freely speak the Word of God through your words and your actions in any situation.
God is like a radio station, and when we tune into love, we make the connection. When God delivers a message, it goes like this: God transmits; the Holy Spirit moves through us; we become the wave. It’s important to add that our minds aren’t involved when sharing messages from our hearts. Our heart knows without need or want of anything; it has the instructions to guide us on our path.
The power to tune into and speak to God is available whenever we choose. Bring up the presence of love within yourself, and then allow whatever wants to come, to flow through you.
Becoming a Vessel for Actualizing God’s Will
Surrendering our Will to God makes us an open vessel that allows God to work through us. All my life, I had an agenda I was trying to accomplish. I had plans for every second of the day. How could I become a vessel for God if I only served my agenda? I had many moments when the power of God came through, but their impact was limited because I was busy following the Will of my mind instead of the Will of my soul. Actualizing God’s Will sometimes calls us to surrender our plans and be flexible. God’s Will arises out of the silence within. When intuition speaks or gives us a nudge, we need to quiet our minds and listen. Some of you might be thinking, “I’m not intuitive” or “I don’t know how to access my intuition.” Intuition naturally occurs when we quiet the mind and hold our focus on the silence within. As we open ourselves for God to arise within, we strengthen our connection with God.
An Excerpt from Be Love: A Book about Awakening:
“By surrendering your Will, you may set forth a flurry of action in your mind. The very idea of surrendering your Will is counter-intuitive to the infrastructure of the mind/ego. The mind has a built-in contingency plan for survival, and any sign of abandoning it sounds an alarm to your ego. The ego has no tolerance for surrender, because surrender is the beginning of the end to its existence.
“Surrender may seem like you are giving up, but it is actually turning your attention to your source of true power. It opens the possibility to hear your soul’s guidance. This guidance may be simple and direct—so simple that, at times, you may invalidate its wisdom. It is your mind that wants things to be more complicated than necessary. The mind complicates life because it constantly tries to predict the future based on our past. Also, the mind only draws from what it knows however, our soul, draws from infinite posiblities.
“Does God actually have a Will? During one stage of our consciousness, we appear to be a separate fragment from the Divine as we experience being human. But as we transcend into deeper states of consciousness, the dichotomy between us and God disappears. God and the ‘I’ are no longer two things. There is only one thing, and that is God. Therefore, God’s Will lives through us and is carried out by us following the purpose that lives within our soul.
“God does not require or want petty things from us. Nor is there a God sitting out there wanting to control our life. By giving our Creator humanistic traits, we reduce God to fit into our mind and reduce the Omniscient of the Divine to the finite nature of being human. This is nothing more than a fantasy of the ego as it tries to weigh and measure what is beyond measure. Understand that when it comes to the Will of the Divine, it is something that is carried out over the duration of our life. God’s Will plays out through those little nudges we get to turn left or turn right, take a job or leave a job. Not every decision is from the Will of God, but the ones that we make from our heart and soul are Divine in nature. Learning how to discern where our Will is coming from is a matter of learning how to be in touch with our soul versus our mind.
“The constant bombardment of ‘I knows’ in our mind interrupts the moment we are in and keeps us stuck in our head. In surrender, we admit that we don’t know and that we are open to be guided by our soul.”
Cultivating the three aspects of listening to God, speaking God’s words, and serving God’s Will brings you closer to the Divine and to discovering hidden wisdom and guidance. Many enlightened people are walking this earth, and the wisdom they hold has a great deal of value. You never know when God will move through someone—perhaps someone sitting beside you in a food court or a lecture hall. My greatest struggle has been that my mind thought it knew everything. This assumption limited my exploration of both the outside world and the world of God within me. When we assume we know everything, there is no room for curiosity, which stops us from looking deeper. Curiosity is a powerful tool for accessing deeper levels of consciousness.
Father Thomas Keating once said, “You can’t see God, because you are God.” However, we do see God when we open our eyes and look around. The world and the people in it are a mirror of God’s creation. And by sharing unconditional love, we embrace the opportunity to Be God. Spiritual masters who have come before us were kind and compassionate toward all life. We experience God’s presence through our simple and thoughtful gestures. There is magic in striking up a conversation with a stranger or helping those who might be struggling.
The Open Door of the Moment
I often talk about being in the moment, but what is behind the open door of the moment? The most straightforward answer is, the Holiness of God. We cannot access the immense presence of God by drifting mindlessly in our heads about the past or future. The solution for me was to become more mindful. When we have a mindfulness practice in place, we naturally begin to connect with the moment and include meditation in our practice. However, for years I thought, If I meditated four hours a day, I would become super-connected with God. All the meditation in the world wasn’t going to bring me into this state. Meditation is a tool for changing our relationship with the mind and directing us into the silence. And like any tool, such as those we use to fix our car, we need to be able to use it skillfully. The same applies to our meditation practice. When we are in a perfect balance with our mind, body and spirit, our meditation practice deepens and so does our ability to connect with the moment at hand—and with God. Developing the ability to become deeply present reveals the sacredness of life and opens us to receiving God’s gifts in each moment.
Clinging to a past or future moment disconnects us from reality and removes us from the reality of what IS. This present moment is the doorway into higher dimensions. We don’t travel to higher dimensions outside of ourselves; we open the door to them within ourselves—and the present moment is the door. While mastering our awareness of the moment, we stay tuned to the silence within.
Positive and Negative Connections that Help Us Connect—or Disconnect—with God
Positive Connection: Positive connections lead us into our heart and away from our busy mind. They take us deep into the silence that lives inside our soul. For centuries, we have been calling on the masters—such as Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, and all ascended teachers—to help us connect with God. The consciousness they embody holds steady through the continuum of time and space. The connections we make with them become valuable tools for supporting our own connection with God. To make a connection with the masters, hold their image in your mind. Next, allow their presence to flood your body and permeate your entire being. Sit quietly with their presence and just listen.
Negative Connection: We obscure God’s radiance when we move our attention to people in lower states of consciousness or worship those who have acquired fame, talent, and fortune. Higher consciousness doesn’t necessarily accompany fame, talent, and fortune. Such people might actually be less conscious than those who idolize them. Holding them in this way can move us into lower states of consciousness and diminish our connection to God.
Creating a Sacred Space
Becoming a vessel for God to arise within happens more readily when we create an environment that supports our connection with the Divine. Here are three areas in which to create sacred space:
- Our mind and body.
- Our home and the places we visit.
- The company we keep.
Our Mind and Body
Feeding our minds with “conscious” information, such as spiritual books, philosophical material, and writings from world religions, has the power to elevate us, it’s especially important to feed ourselves with conscious material because many forms of entertainment lower our consciousness. When you consider your exposure to social media, news, books, television, and the Internet, ask yourself, “Is this information toxic? Is it feeding my soul? Is it elevating my consciousness and the thoughts that are dropping into me?” We cannot control the thoughts that arise in our minds, but we can choose which thoughts to entertain. Letting go of self-defeating thoughts will settle the nervous system and stop the cycle of abuse we often inflict on ourselves. In the last chapter, I wrote about the door of study. The information we seek through that door can be applied to creating a sacred space in ourselves. The landscape of our mind can change considerably depending on what we feed it. The same applies to our bodies. Many fast foods and prepackaged foods provide us with very little nutritional value. What we drink is equally important. Your body is a sacred vessel and should be treated as one.
Our Home and the Places We Visit
I consider my home a sacred space. Over the years, I have practiced greater discernment with what I allow in that space. I prefer my space to be beautiful and filled with items and images that inspire me. Even small adjustments like putting some wildflowers in a vase, having a beautiful screen saver on your computer, repainting a room, or purchasing inspirational wall art can make a difference. The programs we watch and the music we listen to can also significantly affect our environment. Here is a list of chants I regularly play: “Om Namah Shivaya,” “Shanti,” “Om Soham,” “Om Mane Padme Hum,” “Rig Veda,” and Gregorian chants as well as the mantra Om, the Heart Sutra, and the Lotus Sutra.
If you have the means to travel, there are many inspiring places to visit in the world. When I travel to sacred places, I try to connect with the land and the architecture around me. If I’m in a hurry or mulling on thoughts, I miss all the beautiful energy that’s available. Often there are guides and other visitors who have information and insights about these sacred sites. Taking time to speak with who you meet during your travels can turn an ordinary outing into a real adventure. My wife and I regularly take trips to various places of worship. It’s also worth mentioning that long-distance travel isn’t necessary. Spending time in nearby parks and nature can also affect our consciousness.
The Company We Keep
It’s essential to spend time with people who support a loving and conscious life. There is no benefit to spending idle time with abusive or disruptive individuals. Sometimes, we allow people to stay in our lives who we know aren’t healthy for us—and we shouldn’t complain or feel bad when they mistreat us. Keeping such people in our lives often has something to do with our self-worth. But when we love ourselves and heal our wounds, we won’t allow them to take up precious time and space in our lives. The world is full of wonderful people who lift us by their presence. I’m not implying that we reject people; everyone deserves our love. However, healthy boundaries are essential to our personal growth and fostering a relationship with the Divine.
Becoming the Light of God
The moment we are in connects us with God, and that connection grows by actively attending to what’s around us with love and compassion. As we quietly engage each moment with a loving embrace, we support life and creation and make a sacred connection with the Divine. As we move away from our desires for self and instead embrace the silence within, we find the guidance we need to become the light of God. It’s not about striving to make a connection with the Divine in ourselves, others, and nature, it’s about living the connection that already exists. When we love ourselves, each other, and the world, God arises from within us and wraps us with Divine providence.
Tools to Deepen Your Experience of this Chapter
- Practice becoming a vessel for God to arise within. Take the time to hear God, to speak the words of God, and seek to live by the Will of God.
- When you find yourself lost in thoughts about the past or future, return to the present moment and look for the Holiness of God that surrounds you.
- List the positive and negative influences (including people) that take you closer to or further from God.
- Once you identify these positive and negative influences, reduce the time you spend on the negative ones that weaken your connection with the Divine and spend more time with the positive ones.
- Work at creating sacred space within yourself and your home.