An Atheist in Love with God

Once I told Kitabu Roshi that I felt like an atheist madly in love with God. That’s even more true today. It’s hard to describe what the shift in my spiritual perspective feels like except to say, as I do, over and over, that “it’s not about belief”:/spirituality/its-not-about-belief/.

What I can say is that the general theistic idea of God as “someone” “up there” or “out there” simply no longer resonates at all. For me, it’s more like what the Christian mystics Meister Eckhart or Hildegard of Bingen said, “Isness” or “Thisness.” And because I exist, and everything that is exists, nothing in existence seems removed from This Isness, This Being.

It’s like how aware is a fish of the water? How aware were you, one second ago, of the air you were breathing and living within? That’s about how aware I am of God 99.999% of the time. In a strange way, it’s also like because God is so much, he also isn’t, as well.

What’s changed is that I had a concept of God before, that I could look at, and say yes, I believe in God, he’s like this, this and this, all apart from my feeling divine presence, and sensing This. Now, when I’m not aware of him, there’s like nothing there—it’s not like I don’t have any beliefs at all, but there’s a kind of emptiness, and it’s not “empty” feeling in any way. It’s like there’s no object. You might consider it like the hum of a refrigerator, or the soft, high-pitched ringing in your ears. It’s always there, but it’s never there, unless you’re quiet or you listen for it.

But something wonderful happens when I just stop. Stop wanting, stop worrying, and just stop. I don’t even try to “meditate” anymore, at least, not as a deliberate focussed activity with intention and technique, but rather to just stop, and feel the stopping. When I do, God is here, over-powering, undeniable. There’s no point in “believing” in God then—that would be like “believing” in warmth when you’re drenched in sweat! The only thing I can say in this stopping time is “I love You, Lord.” And that overwhelming feeling of love is the only thing that really seems to be there in just being with the One who just is the root of all Being.

So being an atheist madly in love with God isn’t quite as schizophrenic as it sounds!