God, in traditional Western religions, has been conceived of as a super-human yet human-like Being. In Medieval and Renaissance art, God was pictured as a judging, punishing and rewarding Great Grandfather who loved some of His children or grandchildren more than others. He was a male Being, and mightier than all men, but yet eternally doing battle with an anti-God called Satan or The Devil, and playing out their battles using human beings like pawns on a chessboard. (Webster Collegiate Dictionary: pawn - 1. from medieval Latin: foot soldier. 2. One that can be used to further the purpose of another.) In some religious practices, this is still believed today.

We know now that this is not the true nature of God. We still turn to our churches and religious leaders for their wisdom and advice about how to live, but now we know God is within us and speaks to us directly, in prayer, in intuition, and in personal truth. Yet many of us are still holding on to that traditional anthropomorphic God - the one we have created in our own image, with a flawed and prejudicial personality, who may or may not love us, and may or may not bless us.

Humankind has come a long way since the Middle Ages and Renaissance. We have discovered Quantum Physics and New Thought and now we know through science what intuition and insight always knew: that God is all there is; that all life and all that exists is God expressing, and that includes us. We are, each and all, manifestations of God expressing in a physical form in a physical world, which may not be All There Is. Even here where we are, we are more than this physical world, and more than this physical life.

New Thought really began with the first conscious human thought, but the New Thought movement began about a hundred years ago and developed into several branches of study and practice, such as Religious Science, Divine Science, the Unity faith of Practical Christianity, Science of Mind, and others. (the term "New Age" is something else, which appeared much more recently and is not related to the New Thought movement principles.)

The essence of New Thought faiths is the understanding that God is an integral and inherent part of us, is within us and in all life, and is consciously living and acting in every cell of our physical bodies as well as in our soul or spirit. God/the universe/Spirit loves us unconditionally and has already given us all power and substance and intelligence with which to live our lives in whatever way we chose. This is one of the things Jesus came here to tell us. We don't have to experience lack for anything, since everything in creation is already given to us, and we have been given the power to create and manifest the life we choose.

We always get what we ask for, what we believe we can have, or believewe deserve. And we are always asking, with the thoughts we hold. We create our own lives with our beliefs (conscious or otherwise) because our actions are based on these beliefs. When we are unaware of this or deny its function, we often create lives we don't really want.

God is not separate from any one of us, and cannot ever be. We can isolate ourselves from God by closing our hearts and minds, but we can never separate God from us, because we are not only made by God, we are made out of God - we are God manifested in this form for this lifetime. It has been said "God was lonely in his universe so he created life and earth and mankind so he could have adventures."

Some traditional religions still believe that God does things to us that are cruel and unloving, either to punish us for sins, or for reasons unknown to us as mere mortals. But in truth, God doesn't do anything to us; He simply lets us use our free will to do to ourselves and each other whatever we choose. Through this we learn, and our souls grow, and this is the reason we came here. God lets us have both bad and good experiences in our lives because that is the nature and meaning of free will. God created us "in His own image" which means, with the same power to manifest things and events in the world as He has. Even as Jesus said "The things I do, you will do also, and even greater things shall you do." We learn from all of our experiences; the purpose of human life is to learn and grow the spirit. Nothing else we do is more important, and how we do it is our free choice,

The only times God "does something to us" is usually when we have severely messed ourselves up. God will sometimes intercede to save us even when we did not dare to ask. This is the phenomenon of unexpected or undeserved blessing that has been named "Grace." But any time we make a positive choice and commitment that is good for us and loving in nature, God/the universe always moves immediately to assist our movement forward. In this way we are all co-creators with God.

There is no such thing as "fate" and our destiny is always open to revision at any time. Blaming fate or God is an artificial excuse for refusing to take responsibility for our own lives, and for what we have created and are creating in them. The lives we have, and the lives we dream of, are created by us from moment to moment, whether we know it or not.

Choosing not to know, not to learn, or not to accept responsibility for our thoughts, actions, and lives, does not release us from the operational laws of the universe. God 's universe is an orderly universe, ruled by fair and generous laws. The laws are the way the universe works; they are immutable, and they apply to everybody equally.

If we are living in a hellish circumstance, it is because we have allowed it to be our circumstance and have not chosen to change it. We always have the power to change it, but can only claim that power when we recognize and accept full responsibility for our lives and circumstances. The moment we truly and sincerely choose to change it, and take actual steps in a positive direction, the power of the universe for which nothing is impossible, steps forth to empower our efforts. This is not done by will or actions alone, but by conscious co-creation with God.

It all fits together in an incredibly wonderful design. We can have the life we really want. We don't have to know how it works, just to know that it does work. The good news is, whatever you believe, you receive. The bad news is, whatever you believe, you receive. Jesus said it clearly: "According to your faith, it is done unto you."

The essence of life is much bigger than this physical life alone, and the essence of each one of us is much bigger than the personality. Our power and our purpose here is greater than we can yet understand.

Since all of us are inescapably part and essence of the whole of God/the universe, all of us are inescapably part and essence of each other. Our responsibility is to live and create our own lives (not to try to change anybody else's) to use our gifts, and to learn about life and love and truth from our experiences in the world, and then to share what we have learned with each other.

this Month's New Thought Essay, Poetry, and Blog. Darkhorse Press New Poets