Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


When God Disappears

Soscol Avenue, Napa, California, USA

November 27, 2020

"For me this is a practical matter. Instead of having the answer about God like some guy or some thing or some explanation or some anything, I have a space of possibility like an openness, like a place for God to show up in my life."
...   speaking with Reverend Terry Cole-Whittaker about God (transformed way) 
"My precious child, I love you and will never leave you, never, ever, during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."
... God, Footprints In The Sand (classic way)
"When there was only one set of footprints in the sand, that's when there was only one set of footprints in the sand."
... Laurence Platt, I've Got Nothing To Say: Twenty Boxes Of Nearly Haiku (Zen way)
This essay, When God Disappears, is the companion piece to Crisis Of Faith.

It is also the eighteenth in a group of nineteen reflections of God: I am indebted to Father Patrick Gerard "Gerry" O'Rourke who inspired this conversation.

When I leapt to my feet at the end of that last weekend of August in 1978 as if struck by a lightning bolt out of the blue, delighted with the onset of transformation, I noticed a shift in who and what God is for me. To be sure, the experience of transformation doesn't replace or require relinquishing the relationship we have with her. Rather, what's so is the relationship we have with her is profoundly enhanced by it. I saw it's likely transformation will bring a new clarity and depth to that relationship for everyone, neither of which was conceivable or even possible prior to its onset. But in hindsight (and hindsight is always  20/20 vision) that's really not surprising.

In terms of the experience I'd just had of transformation, and the experience I'd had of God prior to its onset, it became abundantly clear to me that the one isn't a substitute for or a replacement of or better than or senior to the other. It's apples and oranges. Comparing the experience of transformation to the experience of God (or even comparing the work of transformation to a path  to God) is like comparing a hole in the ground to the swimming pool it becomes, once it's filled with water.

When I realized what transformation really gives, that is to say when I could set aside my concepts  and beliefs  of what it gives, and experience the contextual shift  it really is for the first time, it came as no surprise to discover (and confront and admit) that my erstwhile relationship with God was largely conceptual ie I had simply fabricated it out of my deeply held (if not cherished and sincere) belief. It suddenly became blindingly obvious (much to my chagrin) how much I had confused my concepts / belief in God with my experience of her (to which I'd had no direct access prior to transformation's onset, having obfuscated it with my concepts / belief).

Look: there's nothing wrong with our concepts of and / or our belief in God. There's nothing that needs to be changed or fixed about them. Nothing at all. That said, what transformation allows for is a clear view  of the difference  between concepts of / belief in something ... and our experience of it. That's really worth listening! As I began to see, my most cherished concepts of / belief in God had gotten in my way of / prevented directly experiencing the space in which she shows up in my life. With the onset of transformation, none of that needs to change. Indeed, transformation doesn't change anything. So it's for sure not going to change or replace who and what God is (or isn't) for us. I want us to be clear that the work of transformation isn't antithetical to God. In fact it barely addresses her at all - and no more than the work of, say, mathematics addresses her. What the work of transformation does  do, is recontextualize  (I love that word) who and what God is. That's profound. And that's not because transformation brings with it any particular religious slant (apples and oranges again). It's because transformation recontextualizes everything.

Wait: what do you even mean  Laurence, by "recontextualize who and what God is"? If God isn't recontextualized, are you saying she disappears?  What I mean is that God shows up within the space of who I really am ... and  ... if I don't generate myself as a place for God to show up, then yes, it is likely she won't show up at all  ie she disappears - which is what, arguably unexamined, happened to Mother Teresa during her epic, bone-numbingly honest, brilliantly articulated crisis of faith  episode (that's not to mention courageous, given we all took the saint she was for the poor, for her Missionaries of Charity, for Calcutta, for India and the world, for granted).

When God disappears, it's more than likely I've re-conceptualized her again, believing once again it's my tired, old system of beliefs which accounts for her, and not my having a place for her. And that's not all: what's also more than likely is I've allowed the place for her to show up in my life, to go out of existence - in other words, I've stopped generating an openness for her to show up in my life (Man! I'd love  to be a fly on the wall during a conversation between Mother Teresa and Werner!).

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