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How Can Humans Experience God’s Love?
God's love . . . what's this?
Feeling unloved? Who doesn’t need love? I do. Wanting to be loved can be sweet and tender. At times it can be lonely and gnawing. Yet, it is naturally human to desire love, to feel an inner disharmony or lack. . . an off-center pull if the desire is unmet. And the seeming gap brings out suffering. The void is tried to be filled up by seeking for human affection, by achievement or by material gains, but oftentimes, in no way that it is fully satisfied. Why so? What if that feeling at its deepest level is actually a longing for God? And what if the experience of God's love is the only truth that can truly satisfy man's longing? Maybe we can explore such possibility a bit in wonder rather than in skepticism nor in scorn? I invite you to make sense of it by taking a journey with me through this hub.
At the outset and to set the proper context and tone for the subsequent discussion, let us first elucidate certain terms that shall be used here.
God here is used in a more generic term and is used only to give “It” a name. It encompasses any and all that which different people may call as Father, Holy Spirit, Buddha, Allah, Source, higher power, higher intelligence, universe, infinite , presence, energy, etc. It is the One which is behind and unites everything and which goes beyond any name, creed, religion, gender, age, color, nationality, status, etc. In short, God is however you may perceive (or not perceive) him to be and whatever name (or no name) you may want to call such power and beyond.
The presumption here is that no word or term can aptly capture an infinite power like a hole in the sand that cannot contain all the waters of the ocean. Yet, it is okay to give it a name for practical purposes, for easy assimilation and with deep respect for various cultures and traditions. After all, everyone has been born into a certain cultural background which has its own way of explaining and perceiving reality. Any way and as you are is respected here.
The term “love” shall be used in the context of divine and supernal which is unconditional, radically forgiving, limitless, pure and absolute. In this context, God and Love is one and the same. Some spiritual gurus deliberately choose to avoid the use of the word 'love' (or God) in their teachings because they can evoke a more familiar yet limiting connotation typically associated with human relationships such as in romance or even filial; or simply evoking an image of a bearded man up in the sky.
“Human experience “ shall refer more to a direct experience, a knowing of the heart or realization yet beyond the understanding solely by the intellect and by the senses, but are perceived through them. Yes, it may contain certain belief system but is beyond them. Thus, religious beliefs (or no beliefs) are of no consequence after all. The knowing proceeds from the heart (core or center) and not from the mind. [For example, many thought forms could be riveting or spinning through your head at any moment, and intense emotions (or none) may be juggling in your chest, but we give more attention to what you're sensing within your core being. That is the kind of experience which is the main point here.This is both simple and complex. Simple because it is a way too obvious; complex because it is going so deep. The usual struggle is in the area of the intellect as it will try to grasp or to control what it cannot. It will claim dominance to short cut, to judge or to interpret, rather than just "be". It sure will because that's what it does. But if after all these that have been said and there's some spark of interest that you may still feel within, then, maybe that's an opening worth pursuing.]
Okay, the preface is long enough. At this point, ranting and ramblings have to end. Let's dive in into the crux of the matter at hand- experiencing God's love.
Ways to experience God's love
1) Through the SELF- the human body, mind and spirit in alignment. The closest that we can experience God is through our body- the breath, the aliveness within each part or in its wholeness, and through the senses (seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling). This is way too obvious, isn't it? Yet, for those who deny or forget the body either by over thinking (living in the head), by neglect, by despise, by abuse; this could be a shocker. Why? Maybe, because they treat the body as a machine or as a slave, or simply not there; not a home for their spirit. If you haven't been paying much attention to your body lately, don't wonder why you're feeling deprived of love. Good nutrition, productive endeavor, physical work-outs, enough rest and sleep, fun, leisure and recreation, prayer and silence are only some of the many ways we can love our "self" and in turn can feel God's love for us.
“The Desert Fathers never thought of solitude as being
alone with one’s self, but as being with God.
They did not think of silence as not speaking, but as listening to God.”
Positive self talk can certainly help. You can start by writing to yourself similar to what the people have done in the video below.
2) Via CREATION or nature. The earth, the mountains, beauty of flowers, the trees, the ocean, the sky, the stars and moon, the air, the wind, the sun, the water, the seas and oceans, the birds and more . . . all these are freely given without any conditions. They sustain life. Unconditional love. By whom? Regardless of ideology or religious leanings one may espouse, nature is a basic necessity in order for anyone to live. This earth is the habitat for humans and for all living beings. And if man is polluting the earth, what does that say to us? The link must have been broken somewhere. Can you pollute that which give you life? How can one experience love if there is that distance from nature? We are here physically but may not also be here at the same time. We let nature take care of us but we don't take care of it and then ask where God is? You are standing right here in God's creation. You were made the caretaker of this creation. How can one not experience God's love when breathing the air, smelling the flowers and listening to the chirping birds, sun bathing or gazing at the stars?
God speaks and loves man through nature. For some nature lovers, creation is their bible. It can also be your own healer as you enjoy peace and quiet within amidst the noise and chaos outside . Watch this video and feel the ambiance that it evokes.
3) Through PEOPLE. No one was born in the world by himself. There's always a family (in varying form) around somebody to support and nurture. Man normally had his first taste of tangible love from the parents. And as the person grows up in age, in body and hopefully in wisdom, he or she meets (directly or indirectly) more people from all over- from fruit vendor at the grocery store to the boy who delivers the newspaper at every doorstep, or the fisherman who catches fish, up to the country's president- everyone has been serving each other one way or the other. At some point, people can build their own family and bring more people into the world. Others find fulfillment by staying single. Yet, each one is unique and can bring something fresh and special to the table. They can bring blessing, and / or, sometimes, trouble. However and in whatever form they may appear in one's life, everyone remains to be an expression of God's love.
God loves to create through humans. Human creations in various forms and fields like arts, science and medicine enable humans to feel God's love. The music, songs, poetry, dance, paintings are only few samples of man's artistic craftsmanship that can move the soul to a greater height or depth.
A simple smile can make us feel the love.
4) Through SYMBOLS and RITES. Different religions use symbols and rites in various ways to celebrate and to perceive God's love. The Christians have the cross and the bible. The Catholics have the Church's sacraments to make God alive in the lives of the faithful.
Traditionally, the Jews have the star of David while the Muslims have the crescent moon. Although, Islam prohibits the worship of symbols of representation of any worldly structures in any prayer. Thus, symbol to them may have no religious significance and only represents a national Muslim identity.
5) Through SITUATIONS in life. God speaks through the situations that happen in a person's life. Usually the goal is to teach lessons and to foster spiritual growth and inner strength. It's like a loving parent honing and developing the abilities of his child through challenges. However, many people can fail to benefit from these challenges especially if they regard situations solely as debilitating problems. Many can choose to ride against life's rough currents instead of moving along with the flow. In the process, they can get tired easily and be lost. Here's a hub on a more lengthy discussions about life's problems and situations.
- Why is life a series of problems?
Is life a series of problems to you? You're not alone in asking this question. Find out some answers to lighten up your load. Let's see what'd work. Be still. Listen. Life itself provides the answers.
God's love can be experienced by anyone through the self (especially the body), nature, people, symbols / rites and situations, in short, everywhere, for as long as the person is open to it and willing to receive the love.