Monday, October 3, 2011

Devotional Deism

A most common idea is that the God of deism is distant and uncaring, or that He is even completely impersonal.

A deist can certainly have these views. Nothing in deism says he can't. I propose a different understanding--that of a deeply personal and accessible God who nevertheless does not interfere with the workings of the creation. Pursuing a policy of non-intervention is compatible with being personal.

If God is the Grand Architect and Designer of the universe and all of the fundamental constants that give rise to life and make its maintenance possible, then it is, at the very least, a live option that this creation was the result of an intention. Yet impersonal beings cannot have intentions. That God is personal is a live option.

Approach that possibility with Devotional Deism. Here are some claims to which Devotional Deism is committed:

1. There is a Divine Intelligence behind the universe. We call it "God."

2. God is a personal being who is enriched through personal relationships with His creatures.

3. God desires to enter into deep and profound religious/spiritual relations with his creatures.

4. God is owed our devotion by virtue of His station and status.

5. We have a duty to honor, worship, remember, and pray to God on a regular basis--daily, if possible.

6. We don't gain spiritual insight through superstition, tarot cards, astrology, divination, or anything that happens in Sedona. God is a God of science and reason. God is a skeptic. God prefers that we learn science in order to know His will, and learning about science is itself a religious activity. Experience it as such.

7. We discover God's nature and will through careful study of the creation, which is God's true revelation that is accessible to all of us and not just to the bearded billy goats who claim that God was talking directly to them.

8. This material life is only one chapter in our great journey to get ever closer to God--a journey that continues after this material life ends.

Devotional Deism is about a deep and sincere piety. It is about doing something, rather than just thinking something.

God is the foundation of rightness and goodness, as well as the foundation of the world that surrounds us. Improve yourself morally. Think noble thoughts. Pursue noble endeavors. If you are honest with yourself, you know full well what you are doing that is harming your spiritual well being. God wants you to overcome these weaknesses so that you can get closer to Him.

In this post, you will see a suggestion that I made to encourage devotional sentiments within a deist context and using distinctly deist language. Try it out. If it doesn't work, come up with something that does. But come up with something! Develop a ritualistic behavior that is intended solely for God. Ritual helps to maintain your practice, and devoting it specifically to God will infuse it with transcendental meaning.

Deism should not be about a lazy sentimentalism. Devote yourself and commit yourself to fulfilling your potentiality as a companion of God. Every day you should be able to point to something specific that you did that brought you closer to God that day. Perhaps you did something that morality demanded of you. Maybe you meditated on God or offered a prayer of gratitude to Him. You may have offered him a small gift. It doesn't have to be something huge, but it should be something.

You are building your spiritual muscle mass a little bit every day. Just because some nutty religious people do crazy things does in no way mean that you shouldn't pursue this goal. Deism is about carefully retaining the baby when the bath water has been poured out.

Feel free to share your ideas or experiences on this post. I would love to benefit from your thoughts! Until then, keep God in mind at all times and actualize your spiritual and religious potential. Your are not alone. There are many of us out there who are just like you, and part of knowing God is to know us and to communicate with us.

Many blessings on your journey, my friend!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Deist Mantra

I have experimented quite deeply with Hindu devotional practices, and I have also experimented with Christian (Catholic) and heathen rituals. I have benefited tremendously from ritualistic practice that is oriented toward the Divine, yet my intellect seems to insist on deism, which does not have an established set of rituals.

Many deists have no need of ritualistic behavior, but I do, and I think that ritualistic behavior can have tremendous benefits. Muslims do salat, Catholics chant the rosary, Hindus chant mantras. These practices give us the opportunity to set aside and devote some time to unwavering focus on the Creator.

If you are a deist, then you believe that there is a God, a Creator, a Divine Architect. You need to have a relationship with your Creator.

Deists are like a herd of cats, but if you need ritual, consider what I have come up with. Maybe it will give you some ideas.

While learning from my Hindu friends, I discovered that repetitive chanting was incredibly calming. I would frequently chant a thirty-two syllable mantra 108 times. Hindus often use beads like these, called japa mala, to keep count of their chanting.

I have endeavored to create a "Deist Mantra," which emphasizes the beliefs of deism and shares the same number of syllables. Chanting it a minimum of one round per day will devote ten to fifteen minutes of time solely to the Creator. No matter how stressful your day is, no matter how shrill the politics get, no matter what, you have time with the Source of your very being, which allows you to reflect on what really matters.

If you devote at least ten minutes per day solely to the contemplation of God, you will experience an improved mood, a greater peace, and a stronger commitment to decent and moral behavior.

Calming music, incense, and candlelight are conducive to deep devotion. God is not cold and distant. God simply practices non-intervention. Non-intervention can be the most loving thing that we can receive. Orient your heart deeply to God who, in His wisdom, makes truth accessible to your rational soul. Engage in activities that nurture devotional sentiments. Chant, pray, or meditate.

I choose to chant because, as the Hindus point out, it employs all five senses. Taste is served by speaking the chant, smell by incense, sound by the chant and music, touch by the beads, and sight by the candlelight and mental visualization.

Here is the text of my Deist Mantra:

"Dear God,
Unmoved Mover,
Cause of all causes,
Creator of the universe,
Lord of all that is,
I honor and praise you this day."

God is the source of morality, and we cannot get closer to God without behaving decently. After the chanting, whether it be one or more rounds, I am in a calm and reflective mood. To focus on God's moral expectations, I think about the things I did that day (or the day previous, depending on whether it is morning or evening). I think about one admirable thing I did that day and commit to doing such things again. I then think about one regrettable thing I did and commit to avoiding such behavior in the future.

Then it is time to face the day knowing that you did something to enrich your life and to come just one little step closer to the very Source of your being. That little step is truly something grand.