Don’t pretend to be better–or other–than you are. Don’t fall into the trap of having one face for the world and another for God. Who you really are is exactly who you should be.
Desire has become a huge problem for modern people. Two forces pull us in opposite directions. One liberates us from old values. The other wants to preserve those values. The resulting polarization can be seen in every sphere of life, especially the social and political realms.
Churchgoers feel righteous, responsible, and obedient to God’s will. They view anyone unlike themselves as devoid of values, and therefore unworthy of God’s love. By denying God to all those who have strayed from the path of righteousness, the devout are unwittingly taking on themselves a role that belongs only to God.
This schism can also be seen in our inner conflicts. At bottom, the pull of old values is restrictive. Its God is judgmental, and his demands are not to be flouted. In other words, spirit exists to rebuke the flesh and keep its appetites under control. The force of liberation, on the other hand, evokes a God of tolerance who loves his creation and ask only for love in return.
To heal this schism, we need to realize that God makes no demands and sets no particular limits of any kind, on thought, word, or deed.
At the beginning of the path, it doesn’t matter whether you are devout or atheist. What both sides have in common is constraint.
How does God want us to grow, in what direction, according to what guidelines? None. You get to grow the way you want to, by following your own desires. You are already growing the right seeds. The things that deeply interest you play the role of God; you feel an irresistible attraction to them.
Adapted from Why Is God Laughing? The Path to Joy and Spiritual Optimism, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2008).