Before John Smith died, everyone who knew him thought that they had a pretty good idea of what he was all about. But then the day of his funeral arrived, and as many of his friends and relatives took turns in sharing how they felt about their dearly departed companion and colleague, it soon became apparent that any singular notion of John Smith was nothing more than a fiction.
Mrs Smith, who had suddenly found herself widowed, shared memories of the young man she had fallen in love with twenty years earlier. John, she explained, was always a bit of a grump first thing in the morning, and conversation with him was best avoided before his first coffee of the day. But then she added that he was also a genuine romantic who would sometime say the sweetest things a girl could ever hear.
This latter observation came as a bit of a surprise to Bob, who was a close friend of John’s and had never heard him say anything remotely romantic in his entire life. To Bob, John was passionate about golf and cars, and little else. At least, that’s all that they had every seemed to talk about when playing a round or two each weekend.
John’s slightly younger sister, Mary, shared memories of her brother as being a rather mischievous type who would steal cookies from their mother’s pantry and then play the innocent when someone eventually discovered that the cookie jar was only half as full as they had expected it to be.
Julia, who had worked with John for ten years in a corporate setting, described him as a man who was very efficient. He was a master organiser, she said, and could always find time to get things done even if a request was made at short notice.
More than a dozen people shared their memories of John at his funeral, but more than a few came away from the celebration of his life with more questions than they had answers. Which John Smith was the real one, they wondered? Was it the romantic lover, the golf fanatic, the mischievous joker, the efficiency expert or one of the other types that had been described?
The answer, of course, is that John Smith was all of these things, because every person who stood up to share their memories of him was describing just one or two aspects of his personality and character. Some of those aspects were well known to all, but a few were known only to a relative few, depending on their connection with him.
The same principle can also be said to apply to the Creative Principle, or God. Take a look at the many different spiritual and religious traditions in the world and you might be forgiven for thinking that they each describe a very different force or deity. Christianity talks about Jehovah, Islam talks about Allah and Hinduism talks about Brahma. Yet these are all names for the very same One that created and sustains the universe.
Some traditions also have plenty of other divine figures, saints and sages which can be viewed as embodying various different aspects of the One. Think here of Jesus, Krishna, Ganesh, Shiva, Shakti, Lakshmi, Kali and Durga.
Whilst different religions and spiritual paths focus on their own different perspectives and ideas, the Seeker who is forging his own path should feel free to be inspired by any deity that speaks to them on an intuitive level. Some Seekers do choose to broadly follow just one tradition, albeit with a few tweaks to suit their own journey, but many others benefit from the freedom to have statues of several deities on their altars to reflect their favourite aspects of the Creative Principle.
God is not a person, but that does not mean that we can’t relate to the Creative Principle in a personal way, and being aware of the many faces of God can help us to do that. Think about which deities resonate with you, and ask yourself what aspect of the divine they represent to you on an intuitive level. Then, if you feel so inclined, consider bringing statues or images of your chosen deities into your sacred space so that you can connect with those aspects of the Creative Principle on a daily basis.