NOTE: Talking about God

God is both manifest and unmanifest; beyond anything we can imagine. At the same time, God also has a very close and personal relationship to each of us. Because both things are true, people who speak of God as formless are correct, but so are people who speak of God as Mother, Father, or any other personal form. It is important only that the way you think of God feels meaningful and right to you.

In recognition of the diverse ways people think of God -- all of which are valid -- throughout these lessons we refer to God sometimes simply as God, sometimes as He, and sometimes as She. Please feel free to mentally substitute your preferred way of relating to God in each place where we have used a different form.

Right Relationship to the Divine

Lesson One: Affinity with Divinity

Be pleasant with the Omnipresent

Everybody already has SOME kind of relationship with God, whether it's conscious or unconscious, positive or negative, or just plain mediocre. But the relationship that would fulfill your heart is one that is sweet, trusting, and intimate. It is warm and familiar: Pleasant with the Omnipresent.

Pleasant with the Omnipresent does not imply that we need to be fake or superficial with God. In fact, relating to God as an intimate is much less superficial than the more formal and distant relationship people often assume. God is not elsewhere, hearing our prayers from far away. God knows what's on our minds, understands what's in our hearts, SO deeply, from the inside. God is with us and within us, always. The truth of the matter is, we are inseparable from God. Living awareness of that bond is the heart of a right relationship to God.

Problem: Man makes the relationship with God superficial largely by rejecting the spirit of closeness with Divinity.

God, you probably don't answer prayers, but here goes. I really need to get this job and I'm worried I won't get it. Let's make a deal: if I get the job I'll go to church next Sunday.

Solution: Being intimate and pleasant with God is a way of correcting this error.

Beloved, I am so happy You are with me in my job search, and always. The joy of being in Your Presence dwarfs any success or failures we face together. I love You so much. Thank You for Your love!

True affinity comes from the recognition of kinship

God's children are like snowflakes -- each one wonderfully unique. Yet all of us share the human qualities we value MOST -- compassion, generosity, loyalty, courage, appreciation of beauty, desire for rightness, to name a few. (Granted, some people display these traits more than others; but the ones who excel in these ways are simply BEING THEMSELVES more than others. Whenever any of us truly be ourselves, these precious qualities emerge.)

Look closely at these universal features, and you can see a common lineage of beauty and truth in all of them. Our emotional character, our essential qualities of heart, our inbuilt spiritual nature and aspirations all reveal a noticeable family resemblance. Certainly none of that similarity results from uniformity of thought, personality, or culture, for there is great diversity in these areas! It is our "genetic" inheritance from our Divine Parent.

Seeing these great qualities in all, we gain an understanding and appreciation of God's nature. And we experience a deep confidence in the reality of our kinship with the Divine. How natural it is, based on this recognition of our affinity with Divinity, to be pleasant with the Omnipresent!

Seeing God in All

Not only do we share the same qualities with one another and with God, but we are also, in our ENTIRETY, of the same ESSENCE of God. Our relationship to God is exactly like the relationship between a drop of seawater and the vast ocean.

God is all of All, both manifest and unmanifest; the Supreme Creator of all that lives and the life force within all. Every spiritual tradition teaches this profound truth; but we are not satisfied just to hear about it. Each of us wants also to confirm it in our personal experience. The first step in doing that is to release the beliefs we hold that limit WHERE we can see God.

It was easy to love God in all that

was beautiful.

The lessons of deeper knowledge, though, instructed me

to embrace God in all things.

-- St. Francis of Assisi

God is not only that which is attractive, beautiful, or glorious. God lives and expresses Himself through ALL that is. God is even that which we might call "ugly," "plain," or "superficial" -- like the tiny bugs, or our clothes, or the people we don't like.

And, what is more, you don't need to look too deeply to see God there. God is not only "within," requiring some sort of x-ray vision to see. God is even on the surface of things. For example, She is in your irritable neighbor's face, skin and hair, not just buried in his heart.

In a letter to her spiritual teacher, a woman wrote:

"I'm pretty sure that God is at the core of everyone. Surely if I look deeply enough into people, I will not only find them, but God, and in finding God, I will truly see them, and be able to truly love them. Is that right?

He replied:

Yes, all of that is right. But also: If you appreciate people as they are, even on the surface, that too will help. It might be good to start by admiring their hair, if necessary. In other words, it is important to see God in what is, even a stapler, yes? Otherwise, a terrible pitfall arises. We think, "This ugly wretch must have God inside them somewhere. I guess if I look deep enough, someday something good will be found in this." That way of thinking denies that God is all, and asserts that we must search hard to find Him. That is not true!"

God is All of all. Therefore, the manifest world is God in Her pure form. God is not wearing a mask when She looks at you through a flower. She IS that flower. When the rain comes, God comes. God created each raindrop, and it is made of God. Therefore, God loves through the rain, gives through the rain, is through the rain. There is nowhere you can turn without seeing God's Face, and being touched by God's love.

By keeping this in mind, we can feel God's presence throughout our days, no matter what we are experiencing or focusing on. We don't have to rely on high moments, good days, or beautiful surroundings to stay near to God.

Right relationship to God's creation

Since God is in all things, and IS all things, then clearly we need to maintain a healthy, positive disposition in relationship to all things in order to stay in affinity with Divinity. So, right relationship to God also depends upon right relationship to oneself and one's fellows.

It is easy to see how we bring to our relationship with God the attitudes and orientations that we cultivate towards others. For example:

A person who won't cooperate with others will be hard-pressed to follow Divine promptings.

A person who is distrusting of the love and care of others will have a hard time accepting God's love and care.

A person who is quick to judge will tend to fear God's judgment, and will tend to feel punished or abandoned by God when the going gets tough.

As you can see, it is well nigh impossible to compartmentalize our attitudes and orientations.

This is true also of our attitudes towards ourselves. If we think that we are bad, how can we trust the God who made us? How can we feel worthy of a close, intimate relationship with God?

Problem: Negative attitudes, whether towards oneself or others, are harsh judgments on God's handiwork. They introduce a tremendous amount of unpleasantness into the relationship with God.

Self-negativity brings self-doubt, shame, and blame.

God, I broke my diet again today. I hate myself. When You passed out goodness, You must have left me out. I'm such a jerk! I don't deserve You.

Other-negativity causes harsh judgment, resentment, and unforgiveness.

God, why do they treat me so unfairly? I hope they get what they deserve! Why don't You do anything to protect me?

Solution: God loves His children despite their imperfections. They should love themselves and each other in the same spirit. Carrying on the "family tradition" of love helps strengthen the conviction of being God's child.

Mother, I've made mistakes, but I know I'm still worthy of Your love and care.

Father, thank You for the opportunity to help the poor in spirit today. All Your children deserve love. Since You have blessed me so much, I have a lot to share.


Right relationship with God is based on three factors:




Relating to God in a pleasant, intimate fashion, based on a recognition of our kinship and inseparability.

Releasing beliefs that limit our ability to see God.

Maintaining a spirit of love for all of God's children -- including oneself.