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Circling Enlightenment

One man’s story of the evolution of God

Wolf and mountains illustration on notepad

Pyrenean wolf (“Storm”) by Carol Wellart

There’s a Zen parable that goes something like this: An unenlightened person stands in front of a mountain and says, “That’s a mountain.” A semi-enlightened person stands in front of a mountain and launches into an agonizingly detailed description of every rock, leaf, tree, animal, etc.— and eventually concludes that the mountain is a mountain but not just a mountain. An enlightened person stands in front of a mountain and says, “That’s a mountain.” And that parable has some striking parallels to the evolution of my belief in god. The Unenlightened Steve When I was young I never gave God a thought. I simply assumed that there is God and I prayed as intently to escape death as I did to escape my father’s disapproval as I did for a Charleston Chew or a game-winning homer in my Little League. Later, I added on prayers for a passing grade in Chemistry, a ’57 Chevy, a hot date with Jane Salonen, peace on earth, good will toward men. It was all the same. God giveth. God taketh away. If He likes you, you get what you want. If not, tough noogies, you’ll be miserable. Or dead. In the m …

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