This week I had the wonderful opportunity of co-facilitating a retreat in the idyllic setting of a country farmhouse in the Cotswolds. The participants were a wonderful and warm group of orthodox Chassidic women.
They were kind, generous, open-hearted and full of fantastic questions that pierced the heart of the core points of the Three Principles Paradigm. During the penultimate session, I said something new which just popped out of my mouth and instantly silenced the room. It struck all of us equally and it concerned idol worship – of all things!
This is what I shared with the group:
“When we objectify our feelings – another way of saying that we innocently believe our feelings are a result of some object other than Thought in the moment – we have instantly, though unintentionally, created a form of idolatry. We are now engaged in idol worship.”
What I said may sound harsh. But in truth, in assuming than something other than Thought can be the cause of our feelings, we have indeed given power to something other than the one constant source of all experience. You can call it the Mind. You can call it the force or energy of God. You can call it intelligence. You can call it the power of Thought. You can call it the Principles.
Once we split Thought and feeling, believing that something else or somebody else has power over our psychological or feeling state, we hand over God’s power to other multiple gods (capital ‘G’ and small ‘g’ intentional), that do not actually exist. These gods can show up in our minds as people, illness, our boss, our family, our messy house, our critics and even our biggest fans. Anyone or anything we think is the cause of our feeling state.
It reminds me of something I once read in a book by Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy. While visiting a dear friend in hospital who was battling cancer and who was understandably fearful of her illness, Byron Katie asked her: “Do you love God?” to which her friend replied, “Yes, of course!”
Byron Katie then uttered these extraordinary words: “You can’t love God if you don’t love cancer.”
This is very challenging to hear, but if we push ourselves a little further, it is very enlightening. There is only one source. In truth, cancer is not separate to God. But in believing that it is, we make cancer into a false god.
Cancer is something way beyond my experience, but my friend Wendy Saggese inspires me with her relationship to her Stage 4 cancer diagnosis. I am sure she has had many fearful and vulnerable moments, but she has also had deep insight into the powerlessness that cancer has to make her feel any particular way. She has lived with it as a powerful presence in the past, when she assumed it was the protagonist of the shadows of her fear. But she now lives more fully aligned with the understanding that cancer has no power to cast such shadows.
The shadows, Wendy explains, are Thought. The cancer is the illness she has. She will have many different shadows – a metaphor for emotions – as she lives with cancer. But she knows those are creations of Thought. And that is how she has found freedom from her previous false god of cancer. I am so appreciative, inspired and humbled by Wendy’s insight.
Returning to the retreat and my “idol worship” comments: I have to say that as the words left my mouth, they not only shocked me, but the ladies listening as well. There was a collective intake of breath. The room fell very quiet. And then they asked me to say it again.
I was a bit surprised at myself. This was not an idea I had planned on expressing – I had actually never said such a thing before. But I felt its impact in my heart. I knew it was true for me. Because I also create and give power to objects; other people and events that do not in truth have power. I have innocently anointed and given god-like status to these factors in my own mind.
In these specific moments, I lose my own power. By losing my power, I mean that I am operating in a faulty logic. I am worshiping false gods. I am blaming them for my distress or giving them credit for my good fortune. And in this sense, I guess I am no different to the many people who throughout time have blamed their multiple gods of choice for their suffering or happiness.
Even the London weather has been given god-like status for crying out loud! I am for sure guilty of this one – especially in the seemingly never-ending dark, wet, days of late February!
Who are your false gods? Who do you give power to?
It has been so helpful to see that creating false gods hurts me and holds me back. It hurts us and holds us all back. (Feel free to replace “false gods” with “false barriers” if that sounds better to you.)
Every time we eliminate or wake up to a false god, we unify our psychological experience. We place our feelings in the home where they belong. We are now in our spiritual home.
For me, this is not necessarily a religious place. It is a place where life and solutions emerge. Where hope reigns supreme. Where potential arises. Where truth lives and where one God resides.
WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOURS COMMENTS AND FEEDBACK.