The word GOD is not one I associate with the Leftish New Statesman. But last week a friend passed her copy onto me. And there to my surprise and even shock there was this word on the cover in enormous letters…GOD. The subtitle was ‘What atheists can learn from believers’. Now I have no problems with my many friends who use the word ‘god’ in their own ways, often to describe the spiritual dimension in their lives rather than a judgemental old man sitting in the sky.  There were 5 contributions from atheists and believers. But I wondered why this conversation is still couched in the old dualisms…. Belief or non belief. At least it did move away from the usual opposition of SECULAR/ATHEIST/ LEFT versus RELIGIOUS/ BELIEVER/RIGHT. There was the usual idea that ‘culture’ can take the place of religion…..art galleries, even psychotherapy!! Though Alain de Botton claimed that we therapists are not well branded and ‘have a depressing outward appearance. Priests had better clothes and infinitely better architecture.’ It will make me think more about my outfit when I next see a client.

Truth also seemed to be a problem. Just because something cannot yet be explained by science doesn’t make it not true in some sense of the word. There seems to be such a terror in many left wing people, of believing that there might be other dimensions, energies we don’t understand scientifically or even anything that isn’t RATIONAL. To call it all myth and  emphsise our need for meaning still doesn’t acknowledge that there might be a whole spiritual world all around us that is real. It may be partly created and sustained by our imaginations but I believe that it exists. Patriarchal societies interact with the other dimensions to make patriarchal gods often in conflict with other ones. What kind of gods and goddesses or other forms could we co-create for a more egalitarian world?

99% of human beings over thousands of years have believed in and connected with a spiritual world outside as well as inside us. Anthropologists and Archeologists generally agree on this fact even if they don’t believe in it themselves. Is it not somewhat arrogant to dismiss all of it as inferior compared to our ‘enlightened’ belief systems of endless growth for example ? There is a strong desire in modern society to see spiritual artifacts and images purely as art. Even in the wonderful  Ice Age Art exhibition at the British Museum the spiritual/shamanic/other dimentional aspects are underplayed. I went to an evening seminar called the’ Shock of the Old’ in which those dimensions were barely even mentioned.  Indeed my favourite artist Greyson Perry actually said that he never uses the word ‘spiritual’. I still love him though.

Of course the word ‘spiritual’ has been massively distorted and over used. But I define it as an actual invisible world all around us which we are too limited at present to see, hear or get our heads round. Some gifted people are better than others at tuning in to it and not all of those people work within a religious institution. Probably most of us can develop our intuition etc. much more than we do. Attunement and honouring is what many of us do today rather than worshipping and obeying. In ‘Deep Equality'(O-books 2008) I wrote  ‘Obey no authority other than your deepest intuition’. Knowing what is the deepest and what is just fear etc. takes a lot of self understanding. This might be an unconscious plea for therapy…. my badly branded profession. But there are other ways too.

In that book I also explore ideas for a spirituality based on the left values of equality. I see the equalising rhythms of nature from the smallest scale to the human one and on to the cosmos itself as the goddessing process. It could be seen as my idea of god.  It can take many forms of expression from Engel’s Dialectics of Nature, The Tao, the Flow personified by the goddess Rhea and the serpent or snake …..a primal form of energy as it becomes matter. I feel that it is time that the left stopped trying to fit in with the either/or of Atheism and Religion and explored new and ancient ways of connecting with the equalising/balancing spirit in matter. Let’s at least be wise and pluralistic about the many forms of spirituality not only those of the Patriarchal faiths.

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