Amy Jones was struggling with the religion her father had taught her. She asked Texas Buddha if he believed in God. To her, the whole idea seemed like a myth. He answered, “I do not believe in any image of God, but I do believe there is a tie that binds all of life together. I believe the entire universe has mathematical patterns pulsing throughout to which I wish to stay in tune. I sometimes use the symbol God to refer to those deep connections.”
“But why not just say it like that?” The teen was clearly frustrated. “Why do we even need the idea of God? Belief just gets in the way.”
TB understood her frustration completely. He softened his voice. “There is a difference between a symbol and a belief. In my religious understanding, symbols do not describe actual beings. They are poems that put us in touch with the deeper processes of life as we experience them subjectively.”
Seeing that Amy did not understand, TB went further. “Imagine a very large fisherman in a flimsy boat. Whichever side of the boat he tries to fish from, the boat capsizes.” Amy smiled at the image.
“So the man places a bag of sand on the other side of the boat as ballast. It does not matter what is actually in the bag, the point is to reach a certain balance. The ego is like the large fisherman in the flimsy vessel. Most of us believe that we are separate and objective selves. We have forgotten that we are waves of one ocean, so we need something to bring us back to balance. For some people that is the symbol “God.”
“The symbol God can be like the bag of sand that brings the boat to balance. Such poetry can reminds me emotionally that I do not stand at the center of the universe. I can imagine a being who loves people I do not love and who understands what I do not. Again, the point of the symbol is to not describe an actual person. The point is to bring me back to balance with the whole of things by serving as ballast to the false views of my ego. The smaller our ego the less we need the symbol.
Amy, “But in this case the bag of sand is a myth! How can an imaginary object give me balance?
“The bag of sand is our second myth. Our primary myth is that of the fisherman. It is a sad plight to realize the symbol God is a myth, but to believe our frightened little egos are real.”