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  • Writer's pictureDoug Weiss

Is God in Us?

We humans are often confusing and contradictory creatures. At times we are capable of expressing a nobility of spirit and a depth of empathy that represents our highest and best purpose; while we also can be selfish, vain, irresponsible and hateful, and the list of positive and negative attributes extends well beyond those traits I’ve named. Few of us are all one or the other though there are exceptions. Most of us, I believe, try to stay on the side of the so-called angels but fall from grace now and again despite our good intentions. So, when I speak of our essential humanity I am really talking about that aspirational quality of goodness that is us at our best.

I also subscribe to the idea that we are born without inherent negative qualities. Those are largely learned traits, the product of experiences and lessons taught us by parents and influential others intentionally or otherwise. Yet, despite horrendous childhoods, and bitter life experiences many people are able to overcome the negativity they were exposed to and become good and loving adults. This begs a question, what kept such people from becoming embittered and turning toward darkness? Is there something within us that we are able to summon which can leads us unerringly toward the light; and if so, how do we describe this thing?

We have many names for it, among them: enlightenment; love; the holy spirit; and God. Kindly note that I did not include conscience or moral goodness. While these are clearly evidence of a faculty for doing right, we must ask from what principle they derive? The aforementioned, on the other hand, appear to be something apart from us yet within us and that should give us a clue as to their nature. An appeal to the holy spirit, to enlightenment, to love or God acknowledges this sense that they are both apart from and yet a part of us. And we can observe that whatever name we endow this spirit with, it represents to us a power beyond our own.

When we enjoin this spirit and reflect it in our thoughts and actions we are acting under the influence of this greater power. Either it is some latent force with which we are endowed, or as our names for it suggest, a literal spirit we can call upon. I truly do not know whether there is some divinity imparted us, though I am a person of faith. But I do know that when I have erred in my life I have always known that what I was about was wrong. In other words I have the latent capacity to recognize what is right and good, even if I ignore it at times. Even when I have convinced myself that what I was doing served my interests, I knew on another level that I was deluding myself.

I suggest that I am not alone in possessing this ability to enjoin a spirit that will guide me, even if I elect to avoid it. And it is my opinion that the majority of humans are not fundamentally different. Returning to my earlier statement, then, our essential humanity is both of our nature and beyond it. Is God within us? My conclusion is that whatever name we choose to describe this essence it is indeed within us. Call it what you will but call it a part of being human.

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