On Easter morning, following a sunrise meeting for worship and breakfast, the Meeting engaged in a dialogue on the query, "in your experience, when you refer to the light within, do you mean within humans alone, or within all life spirit?"
The following is a record of the responses made by individuals to this query.
(1) I believe we must get way beyond the Christian concept that God gave us dominion over the earth. Our dominion too often means "misuse". We need to be mindful of a need for technology on the one hand to save human life, but what does this technology do to the balance of nature?
(2) I don't know why I separate the earth from the universe. Perhaps it is because the earth has plants, animals, air ... My image is sad. Humankind is a cancer within the life force on earth. This cancer attacks the living body of the earth, tries to destroy it. We are now becoming irradiated via destruction of the ozone layer. We may be killed before the other forms of life go. There will be survival of some of the other life forms. We need to evolve such that we are not such a cancer. My personal life is not a good example.
(3) There is God in all things. The evidence is before us in the flowers which bloom, in the sky which arches over all. But the land has been appropriated . For many nature is not part of their lives. Consider Bosnia, New Zealand, Riverside. In Bosnia, the hills and mountains are used as hiding places from which we ambush one another. I am not an Indian. Nature was presumably a presence for them. Now buses go to the Indian Casinos, but not to Joshua Tree National Park. There is no more beautiful land than that in Bosnia. I don't know how we get from here to there We are very far away. I don't know when we will be able to fly from here to there as the birds do.
(4) A rabbit ran across the road on my way here. I can imagine him/her still there. Living there. Two thoughts about desert animals come to me. One is of a black -beetle who sticks his behind up in the early morning so that as water condenses on his cold exoskeleton it will run down into his mouth . The second is of a big spider who, in order to escape predators, roles up into a wheel shape by folding his legs against his body, and then roles like a tire down the sand dune. The wonder is there in all God's creatures, it enriches our lives. However, I see our daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter closing their lives off from nature. Where does food come from? Water? Where does my garbage go? What will it affect? I have the fear that many have never had any meaningful experiences in nature. We need those experiences to see the light within everything.
(5) What I experience as the inner light is much more than appreciation. It is the temporary obliteration of self. It is the only way I can get beyond myself. I must be temporarily "not there" it is a liberation, it lets me get to feel one with other people. Sometimes one with all that there is. Then I come back to being myself with my needs, but with a memory of that experience that somehow means something spiritual to me.
(6) "The Gods Must Be Crazy". People in the desert collected ostrich eggs for containers to collect water. I was raised as a Christian on a farm. Animals were there for our use. I later came to realize the nature of this interdependence. The world is divided into leavers and takers. Many indigenous cultures were leavers, Christians are takers. I would like to be more of a "leaver".
(7) I am a scientist. I work in an area of science where every day I am faced with the incredible beauty of the molecules which make up living organisms. It is abundantly clear from inspection of the shapes of proteins, from the genetic code, from the shared chemistry of living organisms on earth, that we all share common genetic origins. There is no separation or discontinuity in the genetic lineages which would support a special- origin for human life. We share a common genetic heritage. Consequently, if there is that of God in humankind, then there must be that of God in all life. Indeed, since we are all made of star dust, and since our atoms and molecules cycle between living organisms and inorganic (non-life) states, it is my belief that there is that of God in all things. In my seeking I try to understand what this means for my own spirituality and for the sacredness of the earth. I do know that my worship is the deepest when I am in the presence of the natural world, out in the desert or in the mountains. My spirit is nurtured by the presence of wild things.
(8) I always felt since childhood that there is that of God in all things. This does not mean that I will be a vegetarian. God is not just in all life, God is in the stones also.
(9) I am reminded of an interview with the biologist, E. O. Wilson, that I heard. He said that the belief in God(s) is a nearly universal feature of all cultures and societies, and therefore it is likely this belief has survival value. Physicists see that humans and rocks are made of the same elements. Biologists see a difference between rocks and life. This recognition is useful, therefore we recognize, we make the distinction. That of God could be there regardless of whether it is recognized. This is as far as I have gotten on this query.
(10) Light is not a thing to have. When I can drop the barriers to experiencing the light, then I can see what I am now. Finding acceptance of this is a real bitch. I need to get away from dualistic judgments--which is better, which is worse--this will allow me to take the next developmental stage in my growth. Good and bad are false references. Everything is as it is.
(11) I saw a robin collecting nest material, and she was followed closely by a cow bird who was very interested in the process. Will the cow bird destroy the robin babies and replace them with her own?
(12) I learned recently that in the evolution of life, oxygen was a poison to early life forms, and the newly evolved forms which produced oxygen caused a huge kill-off of other life forms. What is a cancer? What is a poison to whom?
(13) We need to share the earth with our brothers, sisters, stones, plants, other life forms. Our mother is the earth.
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