Blog | Interfaith Church of Australia

On God

April 13th, 2014


by Rev. Peter Brabyn, Interfaith Church of Australia, ©2013

Regardless of the modern scripture you choose to read, the message about the identity of God is the same. God is unknowable, beyond our comprehension, at least in a complete sense. Though this is common amongst religions and quite a simple message, it’s one that doesn’t seem to sink in. It’s also the one reason for the majority of interreligious dispute.

Most scripture affirms that God is not human; is neither male nor female; is unbounded by the restrictions of a physical body. Why then do most of us still visualise God as an old man in the sky? Why do we place limits on God and have expectations as to Gods behaviour?

Most of us accept God as the creator, not just of mankind, but of everything. The whole Earth, the Moon, the Solar System, the Milky Way (100-400 billion stars) and the other observable galaxies (over 100 million) and unobservable ones too (estimated in excess of 1 trillion). How then are we to even attempt to visualise God if we cannot even visualise the short distance between the Earth and the Sun? I believe the trick is to be realistic.

Accept that God is beyond our complete understanding and accept that any understanding we do achieve will always be imperfect. Accept that other people, using other cultural values and different interpretations will have a different, but likely somewhat similar view of deity. Accept the idea that as you grow older and wiser, your view of God will become clearer and will need to be refined with the new information you find along your journey through life. God is not stagnant and our view of God should not be either.

If God is omnipresent and many of us believe, try and conceive of what that means. It means God is here now, but also 150 billion light years to your left inside a dwarf star, 300 billion light years away going supernova, inside the mind of the leader of the religion you feel is most different to your views, even present in you.

If God is omniscient as many of us believe then God already knows of your joys and hardships but do we really expect God to micromanage these things? Shouldn’t God worry about the supernova’s first, and the birth of new galaxies, stars and life-forms? Maybe God acts through the creation, all of the beings he is still present in? Have you ever had someone help you out of a tight jam, teach you something you really needed to know or comfort you when you were upset? Was God acting through that person to help you?

If God is omnipotent, completing the trinity many of us ascribe our view of the divine, God can do anything. Create universes, a soft breeze, or even thinking feeling beings. God could smite our enemies, but they too are part of God’s creation and we are their enemies equally worthy of destruction.

What should God do with all these powers? Even more importantly, why do we believe we have sufficient knowledge of the universe to compose some form of necessity or priority to God’s actions?

I believe we need to accept, at least to some extent, that what will be will be. Equally, we need to be aware that we each act as the greatest tools of change on this planet, in this solar system, with the only exception being some larger mass (meteor’s, supernova’s etc.) pre-ordained for destruction. We are the hand of God, but so is everyone else, everything else. We should be out there creating a better world, promoting knowledge, instructing the next generation and generally advancing our species as a whole through the promotion of education, peace and acceptance. We should be acting on our own behalf and on Gods behalf to protect the Earth and all of its inhabitants.

By observing the universe we can see that nothing is in stasis, everything is moving and changing, in fact the only constant is change. All we can do in life is to attempt to direct that change to the greater benefit of our families, our communities, our species and our planet, not necessarily in that order.

Free Course Offerings

January 7th, 2014

Two new courses that may be of interest to those with a spiritual bent will begin in the next couple of weeks.

 

Soul Beliefs: Causes and Consequences is being offered by Rutgers University commences on Jan 20, 2014. This is an examination of our belief in the soul, why we believe this, and what benefits we may gain from such a belief. I expect this examination of belief is something that may well be relevant to understanding how we think about all things esoteric. This 13 week course will use around 4 hours per week and is offered free of charge through Coursera. For more information, or to enroll, see https://www.coursera.org/course/soulbeliefs.

 

Modern European Mysticism and Psychological Thought is a new offering from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem commencing on Jan 13, 2014. At 3 hours per week for 7 weeks this has the potential to be quite interesting without taking much time at all. Gain an insight into magic, mysticism and the kabbalah from one of the few universities that has a specialisation in this area. While this may have an Abrahamic focus, I expect this will translate well for anyone with an open mind regardless of their deistic beliefs or lack thereof. This course is also offered free of charge through Coursera. For more information, or to enroll, see https://www.coursera.org/course/mysticthought.

 

I am currently enrolled in both courses so if you also find these interesting and decide to take them, feel free to discuss them with me as we discover a deeper understanding of the human psyche together.

Rev. Peter Brabyn

Most people don’t think of their carbon footprint, most certainly don’t relate it to things like their dinner or world poverty. Did you realise it’s not all about cars, industry and flatulent cows?

Here’s a challenge for you…. find your environmental impact using this quiz, then play with the figures and see how you can improve your footprint on the planet.

If you needed an acre less land, a litre less water…you’d be saving money, improving your health and ensuring the future for your grand kids…but you’d also be assisting the environment and that land and water could be better used elsewhere, like to produce grain for the hungry. It would be a few extra $$$ that didn’t go to the corporations that cause these problems.

I challenge you to change your diet, reduce your energy consumption, minimize your impact on the planet and save some hard earned in the process.

Bank the savings, reduce the interest you’re paying, and sometime in the future put a little back into the community. A few percent of what you save could go a long way to help others but even that initial saving, in land, in water, in energy will provide a little benefit to everyone else you are sharing this planet with.

While studying sustainability I came across a TED lecture by Ray Anderson.

While sustainability is something we should all consider, the poem at the end of his talk by Glenn Thomas is something I’d like to share.

 

Tomorrow’s Child
Without a name, an unseen face,
and knowing not your time or place,
Tomorrow’s child, though yet unborn,
I met you first last Tuesday morn.
A wise friend introduced us two.
And through his sobering point of view
I saw a day that you would see,
a day for you but not for me.Knowing you has changed my thinking.

For I never had an inkling
that perhaps the things I do
might someday, somehow threaten you.
Tomorrow’s child, my daughters son,
I’m afraid I’ve just begun
to think of you and of your good,
though always having known I should.Begin, I will, to weigh the cost

of what I squander, what is lost,
if ever I forget that you
will someday come and live here too.
Glenn Thomas

~

Glenn also wrote a response from Tomorrow’s Child to his ancestor

~
When Love and Common Sense Combined
A Poem From Tomorrow’s Child
 
Because you cared so long ago
although you know you’d never know
If anything you’d do or say
would make a difference here today.

Though you saw you’d never see,
yet you cared so much for me;
An unknown name, a hidden face,
a future time and secret place.

And when you threw away your fear
like a tired souvenir,
And learned that being strong
meant admitting you were wrong

I marked that day with humankind
when love and common sense combined,
And to my benefit unfurled
a rich endowment for the world.

Glenn Thomas
~
Thanks to Glenn Thomas for sharing his poetry and to Ray Anderson for fighting for common sense, sustainability and the future of humanity.
~

Free education

June 2nd, 2013

For anyone interested in personal growth, I’ve just added a couple of posts to my education Blog about the free MOOC’s I’ve enrolled in. These are just the tip of the iceberg.

I’m currently enrolled in 16 Coursera courses commencing intermittently over the next 12 months, 2 Open2Study courses, and watching a few other sites just in case I get bored.

Come join me and discuss your personal growth as we learn together…

http://peterbrabyn.edublogs.org/

Rev. Peter Brabyn

Rhys Owen – In Memorium

February 28th, 2013

Today I attended the funeral of someone who had a great impact on my life.

William “Rhys” Owen was someone I met somewhere around 2005. Our early conversations were at a time when I was finding myself again, or maybe re-inventing myself would be a better term.

We discussed the world, where it was, where it was going, and even more importantly, where it should go and how to direct it there. His ideas were very close to mine, things that included the abolition of discrimination and the advancement of the word acceptance (to replace tolerance). We talked about who we knew that could help us to promote community and the possibilities about more liberal retirement homes, new religious organisation, comparative religion in schools, the whole gamut.

Rhys was a very charismatic man and I was enthralled. Like me, he never saw himself as a leader, he was happy to be the ideas man behind the scene, but he also accepted that sometimes this just wasn’t possible. He believed leading from the back and letting others claim the kudos would achieve the same goals, and I still believe he was right in this. Despite not wanting to be seen as a leader, he was, and he was infectious to others who could do the same thing. Though he may have seemed to have a small footprint, this was just an illusion. I only realised this when speaking with colleagues at his funeral, when I heard the same story from others who had be equally influenced by him.

I lost touch with Rhys just after he got married. I found this a little sad, but I was very busy and I knew he was busy with his folk music, so I simply accepted it and figured we would meet up later on down the track. I regret this now, later will not happen until I pass from this world as he did last Sunday. I thought the reason for this parting of ways was simply because Rhys had gone off to enjoy marital bliss & folk music, but I have just found it was because he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He did not want to burden too many people with this news, so he withdrew.

Rhys was one of the very few people that I felt did not suffer ego, a very happy man who took joy in every day (at least that I saw him). I am sad to say goodbye to him.

Rhys Owen, 9/3/50 – 24/2/13, safe journeys brother. See you on the other side of the veil.

Tree Meditation

February 23rd, 2013

 

*A note on timing. For ease of reading, a comma should be seen as a short pause (1-2 seconds), a semi-colon as a longer pause (2-4 seconds), a full stop as longer again (3-6 seconds). and line breaks should be time for some concentration or consideration (several seconds).

 

Tree Meditation

 

:Standing barefoot outside in nature (preferably):

Imagine you are a tree. A mighty oak or a fluid willow; whatever tree you feel you connect with, or would like to connect with.

Take a moment to feel your rough bark; taste the moisture in the air, and become familiar with yourself as this great tree.

Concentrate on the base of your trunk, what was once your ankles; and feel how solid you are; how connected to the earth.

 

Think about your roots and follow them down into the earth. Extend them; find the pockets of water hidden in the fissures of the Earth and drink deep of its sweet taste.

Use this energy to grow further; reach down, deep into the Earth; towards the core. Feel the warmth of the mantle below; the flowing energies of the Earth itself. Spread out over the molten core to cover as wide an area as you can and embrace and rejoice in the life it provides. You cannot be burned, but you can feel the warmth, the life, the energy and the power of our Mother.

Leave here anything you need to let go of to be burnt in the fires of the core.

 

Hold onto some of that Earth energy and slowly bring your consciousness back up through your root system. Follow the roots up through the Earth; away from the mantle and through the fissures in the rock.

Raise yourself back up towards the surface; energised with the love and warmth of Mother Earth.

Move up your trunk and feel your strength. The mass of timber which keeps you so strong; so powerful; immovable.

 

Move your consciousness upwards to where your limbs begin.

Move outwards into your limbs and taste the freshness of the air. Feel the refreshing breeze; and the light of the sun (or moon) being converted to sustenance through your leaves.

Embrace the energy of the sun (or moon).

Reach out further.

 

Grow towards the stars and embrace the energy they offer; the energy of the universe.

Extend your consciousness to embrace the stars; feel their life; their energies; each one slightly different; each one the same.

Embrace the universe; the source (or God and/or Goddess), and rejoice.

 

It’s time to return.

Leave the universe where it was, but bring back some of that energy, some of the serenity; and some of the chaos left from the creation.

Return to your branches. Follow them back down your limbs, once again to the trunk of your body. You are the great tree; of this Earth but also of the stars. A being of the universe; separate, but part of the whole.

Once again feel the solidity of your trunk. Embrace your whole being and rejoice in the fact that you exist. Seek again the calm of the tree; the solidity of self; and return.

Retract your roots and branches once again; bring them back to the centre and return to your humanity.

You are yourself again, but connected. You are home again, but part of the whole. Feel your feet; connected to the earth. Stretch your arms; connected to the sky; and rejoice.

 

© 2013 Peter Brabyn
ic.org.au

A few months ago I organised accommodation at Jupiters Casino for the night of Fiona’s (my partner) works Xmas party at Broadbeach, Qld. The best deal was bed & breakfast with two tickets for Tap Dogs.

As we were going to the work event, we wouldn’t be able to catch Tap Dogs, though we did contemplate skipping the party in favour of the show. Anyway, I had spent an hour or so contemplating what to do with the tickets and eventually decided just to give them away.

As we were leaving our room, Fiona challenged me, convinced I couldn’t give them away before we left the casino. It was about one hour before the start of the show and five minutes before we were heading off.

When we got into the elevator there was a young couple heading to the pool (togs, towels, etc.). I asked them if they would like free tickets to Tap Dogs, and then had to explain there were no catches and that we just couldn’t use them. They were stoked and very appreciative.

This morning they came over to our breakfast table and thanked us. They said it was fabulous, not only to get to see the show, but to be given free tickets for front row seats on the young mans birthday.

It was really good to get feedback on this random act, and to find out the day and the act were so special to them. I hope this young couple now takes up the challenge and joins the league of people who routinely practice random acts of kindness. Given their accent’s it may even be passed on overseas.

While this is a pretty good example of a ‘Random Act of Kindness’, it was only made possible because several ‘things’ came together to enable it.

  • I missed the original special deal I was planning on
  • The next best accommodation deal (slightly more expensive) included Tap Dog tickets
  • I am prone to random acts
  • Fiona egged me on at precisely the right time
  • The young couple happened to be in our elevator
  • It was his birthday (unknown to us at the time)
  • They wanted to see the show
  • We had a previous engagement and could not use the tickets
  • We didn’t know they were front row seats (which might have been enough to ditch the party)
  • At breakfast we were seated within clear sight of them
  • The show rocked

It’s interesting how these things come together, but when one practices random acts of kindness it sometimes becomes almost commonplace that the world lets go of it’s little mysteries to those that embrace them.

A link to the first issue of the Church newsletter

ICNewsVol1Iss1

Salvation!

August 16th, 2012

What follows below is a response I typed out to a group of international interfaith professionals. The original query to me asked how I would achieve salvation and how I hope to save others if I do not accept Christ as my saviour given our fall from grace. There was more about morals, ethics and Gods justice, and how God regulates these things in people who think differently than the querent but you will see these things as you read on….

Keep in mind, I am responding to someone that sees God as wholly male and who literally created man in his image, as such my language is written for someone with that perception.

What is there I need to be saved from? I do not believe in hell, or a God who will punish me. The only thing I may need saving from is myself or the situations I have placed myself in.

I equally do not see that I need to save others from anyone but themselves. To do that, I try to promote knowledge and growth in them. Get them to undergo self-analysis to the point that they see their own problems and choose to fix them. Time and again I have ‘told’ people how to fix their difficulties when they have asked for a solution to their woes, but if they cannot see the problem they cannot or will not correct them (keep in mind I live in Australia where hunger and shelter are not issues for the majority).

“Gods justice” is simple in Australia, if people behave poorly, their life tends to be lacking. If they act nobly, their life seems to be much better. These karmic or ‘rule of return’ principles are alive and well with or without a belief in Christ; Hell; Godly punishments.

It’s nice to have the Jesus mythos there to call on, but it is just that to a non-Christian, a collection of really good myths. This does not detract from my sense of morality nor my strong ethical views nor even my sense of charity; a belief in a saviour or Christ or even a God is not a requirement for these things.

Reward and punishment happen here and now, I personally believe they also carry across to our next life and that this may have an effect on our immortal souls, but that’s not to say I am correct. It is simply what I believe.

On the same note I believe with all my heart that your God, Jehovah; Yahweh; Elohim, is the same as Allah, and Brahman, and the essence behind Buddhism and Humanism. There are differences, but at the core of things we all believe the same thing. We all believe in love and charity and hope and that murder is wrong and that we should protect the only Earth we have.

The only ‘fall from grace’ I have had was due to the ignorance’s and antics of my youth, not 2000 years ago. I have returned to grace and take joy in living in it here and now. I try to help others achieve the same joy by talking of how I got here, helping them to see the signposts left for them in their own lives, and helping them bring about change for the better.

Is it hard to regulate… well no, we each have a divine spark, a part of God within us. We can each learn to access this. It is not hard to regulate because I have a personal relationship with God, both that part of God within me and that much greater part of God in the world all around me, in the people around me, in the trees, the sky, and the wind. God is everywhere and I talk with him often, He answers my queries and leaves little messages for me so that I do not stray.

I see God differently to you because that is how God has presented Himself to me. God is not a punisher of naughty children; not an old man with a white beard; God is not a lot of things that we think He is. God simply is, and he presents Himself to us in the way that we will recognise Him. Unfortunately because we are so limited in our own cognitive and sensory abilities not one of us can fully comprehend what or who God is. We all fall short but we each have part of the truth, and you know they say half a truth is akin to a lie.

I know and talk to God, but this does not mean my view of God is right. It is however, right for me and the messages I have received from Him are the ones I pass on.

Some simple truths:
All Gods are One GOD; we are not capable of fully understanding God; religious organisations represent religious organisations; Gods message, no matter who receives it, is tarnished by human perception; Gods love is available to everyone regardless of religious affiliation; God turns no one away.

These things I believe to the core of my soul. I know them to be true because I was told them by someone I love and trust and that each of us sees differently. Despite all that, I know I am fallible, that the message may be skewed by my own perception and that others may have part of the message which I have missed, but I also know God is quite happy with my perception at this time.

I believe in interfaith, so much that I have started my own ministry with the first Interfaith Church in Australia. I know God in the fullest sense of the word, but I also believe I cannot hope to fully understand God. I expect that by definition this makes me agnostic but the knowledge that God is beyond my comprehension does not make me any less His servant.

Now I don’t normally preach and I feel like I’m on a pulpit here, so apologies. My views of God are extremely strong but they should not be taken as anti any other beliefs, we do, after all, each see God differently and my views should not detract from anyone else’s relationship with the divine as they see it.

Yours in Faith and Servitude,

Peter

Copyright © 2007-2012. | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use.