Christian Long

Tom Honey: God and the Tsunami

In TED Talks on April 17, 2010 at 10:45 pm

Reflection by VIVIAN H.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Tom Honey: God and the Tsunami

“For most of that time, I’ve been struggling and grappling with questions about the nature of God. Who is God?”

I have never really been to church, nor am I as familiar with the Bible as many other people are. There are many things I am ignorant of, and so many different views directed toward religion, because it is a vessel that reflects every individual’s personal faith. Therefore I can only offer my own views, to the best of my abilities, towards the topic Tom Honey proposes.

When I close my eyes, I listen to the soft rush of air rising in and out, in synch with my breath. A subtle calmness settles itself around me, taking away if only for a fleeting second, part of the heavy day that lingers in the corners of my mind. That is probably the closest thing I can associate to God. That cursory moment when you actually feel your feet solidly planted on the ground, and you can’t believe that the earth is moving to suit your pace for once.

My views are probably a little closer to what Honey describes as “thinkers who have suggested different ways of looking at God. Finding deep resonances with other religions and philosophiesand ways of looking at life as part of what is a universal and global search for meaning. ” I believe every person has their own interpretations, whether it be undefinable, what the text in the Bible says, or different religions. The most important thing, is to respect what others believe, and never tell somebody that what they put their faith in is wrong. For me, it would be the same as denying a person their ethnicity.

Honey states that “the only appropriate response would be a compassionate silence and some kind of practical help. It isn’t a time for explanation, or preaching, or theology; it’s a time for tears.” I agree with him, what good will any technicality achieve, when a disaster has just taken place? Showing compassion by sending aid in the form of food or water, and even just dedicating a prayer or well meaning message to those people would be the most beneficial. Place yourself in the shoes of these people whose homes have been destroyed, and think in terms of what they would want the most.

Honey then begs the question once again: Who is God?

God may not be an entity existing outside the mind, watching and controlling. “What if God is in things? The loving soul of the universe. An in-dwelling compassionate presence, underpinning and sustaining all things.What if God is in things? In the infinitely complex network of relationships and connections that make up life. In the natural cycle of life and death, the creation and destruction that must happen continuously. In the process of evolution. In the incredible intricacy and magnificence of the natural world. In the collective unconscious, the soul of the human race. In you, in me; mind and body and spirit. In the tsunami, in the victims. In the depth of things. In presence and in absence. In simplicity and complexity. In change and development and growth.” Perhaps looking within will take one closer to finding an answer to your faith. The world outside may just be a reflection of our mind, and by understanding our mind we can learn to control it to find a source of inner peace. After all, I believe God in essence, is a feeling of peace as well.

“How does this in-ness, this innerness, this interiority of God work? It’s hard to conceive, and begs more questions. Is God just another name for the universe, with no independent existence at all?I don’t know To what extent can we ascribe personality to God? I don’t know. In the end, we have to say, “I don’t know.” If we knew, God would not be God.”

I admire the way Tom Honey is able to say “I don’t know”.

Can anybody can completely define who God is? Wouldn’t you have to be God yourself to understand? In the end I believe one should just try their best to listen to what God is trying to teach, or if you do not believe in God, follow what your faith says. I believe a person must know themselves first, so they can decipher what it is they believe in. Therefore, before wrestling with the divinity, maybe we should start with understanding oneself first?

“And how would we live such a faith? How would I live such a faith?

By seeking intimate connection with your inwardness.

The kind of relationships when deep speaks to deep. If God is in all people, then there is a meeting place where my relationship with you becomes a three-way encounter. There is an Indian greeting, which I’m sure some of you know: “Namaste,” accompanied by a respectful bow, which roughly translated means “That which is of God in me greets that which of God is in you.” Namaste.” Your relationship with others are just as important towards finding another part of you. By interacting with others, you meet their faith as well, and you learn to appreciate and maybe even develop the parts of their faith that you find inspiring.

“But in the end, the only thing I could say for sure was, “I don’t know,” and that just might be the most profoundly religious statement of all.”


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