Amongst my group of friends – many who are artists - the assumptions are that we’re all left wing – left being the moral right, feminist and atheist! We also roughly believe in Darwin’s principles of evolution – even though the notion of what this really means is often sketchy. For me this neither sits, nor fits, easily. The world seems altogether more nuanced, and full of anomalies and exceptions. The older I get the more I perceive the elusive quality of truth, and am ever fascinated by people’s different ‘points of view’ – by personal truth. I like Keats' idea that we live in order to grow the soul – whatever the soul may be – a strange notion in our largely secular age.
I’m not atheist despite being brought up by ardent atheists. From a very young age I had a sense of the presence of God – not as some spooky grandfather in the sky, but more as an emotional experience of goodness – there seemed at times to be an opaque whiteness in the ether that came with the sense of something very lovely, touching everything around me, making the commonplace extraordinary. Some would say this is because my brain is configured in a particular way. Perhaps this is true – all human experience must be grounded in the body, and if so I feel very fortunate to have the God Gene – it brings depth and wonder to life! There is a downside too, the experience of hell – a sense of utter aloneness, absence of everything wholesome and good; a feeling of being abandoned, totally cut off from love.
From my perspective now I see the absence or presence of God as particular states of mind, something that can certainly be developed if we work hard enough, meditate long enough – something that is within the mind, rather than an external manifestation.
But this is too simplistic, and doesn’t account for the times when in the throes of the most extreme misery, there is, in an instant, the profound and lovely sense of benign presence redeeming everything. The mind then is beyond self control, is something mysterious and unfathomable - frightening and wonderful.
I don’t mind the assumptions people make – they’re a smoke screen. Things are rarely as simple or as complicated as they seem to be. Nor as obvious.