What does it mean to trust the universe/Source/God, when that thing/person is the source of all your trauma, agony, betrayal, and continued unanswered desires/prayers, along with all the good of life? Supposedly, anyway.
This is a question that has plagued me since childhood in my journey through religion, atheism, and spirituality. Where can I place my trust, if anywhere?
Initially, I was taught to trust in a God outside of me, who was supposedly all-loving and all-powerful, yet had no problem allowing all kinds of evil and suffering in my life, and never seemed to answer my earnest, heartfelt prayers for healing. Then I learned that that God was the root cause of much of my trauma, and my outsourcing of power onto him was the very thing that had kept me from receiving psychological and spiritual healing – the very thing that had been described to me as faith actually prevented me the most from access to divine power, from my own connection to myself/God!
When I realized I had been lied to, and so many of my efforts at trust had caused me harm, or had been in vain, I gave it all up and turned to so-called rationality & science. The buck stops here with me, I came to believe, with my ability to navigate the universe through the powers of my rational understanding and that of others. What I didn’t know at the time was that this led to the deification of my ego, my mental-emotional self-image. This was certainly a higher level of empowerment than fundamentalist Christianity, but it also led me deeply into a place of existential isolation, feeling like it was literally I against the universe. It was a divided Self, my self divided and separated from the Selfhood of All. This was a deep dive into the primal wound we all experience of apparent separation from Source through identification of our selfhood with the ego-mind construct.
Then I was confronted with spirituality for the first time through psychedelic experiences, and then naturally occurring ones, that showed me an undeniable connection between what shows up in consciousness and the material world, that led me to realizations about existence that had been flatly denied or ignored by my philosophically materialist, atheistic worldview. But there was also so much confusion that went along with it. How could I tell the difference between intuition, imagination, hallucination, grandiosity, spiritual superstition, and genuine so-called divine knowing?
I don’t claim to have all the answers to these questions, but I do feel I’m finally starting to settle into something that looks like trust that works for me. It has to do fundamentally with surrender and acceptance that the universe that exists includes harmony, intelligence, and levels of order way beyond my mental machinations and ability to control or predict the future through reason and critical thinking… but it also demands that I fully integrate and don’t downplay my intellectual faculties or make intellectual findings less valid than supposedly spiritual ones. The same goes for all other layers of my being. It’s not an either-or, it’s an all-encompassing Truth.
Yet trust implies an experiential, not just intellectual, awareness of a higher truth that we’re all connected to, however one defines this, whether or not this includes personhood (“God”), an impersonal transcendent consciousness, or a higher order of insentient scientific-mathematical Truth that governs our existence. This includes but also goes beyond the ego-mind, because the ego-mind operates on the level of duality, of making binary distinctions between things, and it can’t access the higher levels of unity consciousness… only awareness=experience itself can, which is my I in connection with the I of all.
This also has to do with understanding the practical “science” of healing. In all my healing explorations, I’ve learned that there is a kind of healing intelligence at work that goes beyond my rational mind and requires me to trust and let go, and lean into the activity that’s unfolding. The more I try to control it, the less I’m able to receive it. This isn’t to say there aren’t processes at work that aren’t at some level rational, only that accessing them requires me to recognize and tap into aspects of my being that go beyond my egoic sense of self – the delusional “I” perceived as separate from the greater whole of reality.
Now trust doesn’t mean I’ll get my prayers answered or that calamity won’t befall me. Far from it! I will lose everything and everyone I love and die myself. Everything in life is fundamentally impermanent, except for Being itself (arguably). Trust, on the other hand, entails an awareness and perception, not a dogmatic reliance on an idea, that the ego-mind is not the highest source of knowledge, and that something’s happening “out there” and “in here” that I can access that’s bigger than me and that serves a higher purpose for my transformational good.
What is this good? It’s unknowable to me in a rational sense. I can’t predict which outcomes or events will be best for me. I don’t know whether apparently good events or tragic and traumatic ones will lead to improvements in my level of consciousness or degradations. This is where trust comes in. It’s not about the appearance of the external layers of reality. It’s about leaning into something deeper in all the fluctuations of life.
What is “good” for us is not primarily on the level of the gaining of pleasure or the avoidance of pain. It’s about our evolution, the resolution of karmic, repeated reenactments of pain, breaking free of delusions that keep us in suffering, becoming more aware of what it takes to live from a steady place of wholeness and happiness and service to others, no matter what happens in life. It’s a trust that this evolution that’s happening inside of us when we lean into it, at every level, is also taking place in the Whole, in all Nature outside of us.
Trust is both the means and end result of leaning into this process. It’s not a requirement to get started, however. If/when we don’t trust, that’s an opportunity in itself for healing and growth through radical honesty–not shame or feeling like we’re deficient or bad for not trusting. This happens through leaning into and fully feeling the pain that’s there and opening into the healing that becomes available when we open ourselves–which is the movement of trust.
So be bold with your blasphemy! Curse God / your conception of reality, rail against your perception of whatever it is that has betrayed you and ruined your life in so many ways! Bring all the pain, all the trauma, brazenly, openly, and defiantly to the altar of Love that knows no damnation, that is waiting for you to get vulnerable and authentic.
That’s my working understanding of trust.
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