Like many, I experienced some traumatic religious experiences in my youth. To summarize, at the age of sixteen, I was asked by church officials to choose between my divorced parents, with the understanding that the wrong choice would mean my excommunication resulting in never reaching “total freedom” (the ultimate goal of all Scientologists). This was followed closely by the decimation of my religious belief structure. Despite the strides I have made over the course of the last twenty-six years to find a way to live and grow spiritually, I still struggle with the concept and practice of religion and ritual. Choosing the Ishvarapranidhana, surrender to God, group for the first experiment would afford me the opportunity to raise my awareness of my reactions toward God, religion, and ritual. My experiment became an activity to define what Ishvarapranidhana meant to, and for, me.
I went about this by adding a daily meditation with a mantra and expanding my current daily meditation to include a mantra. I selected Om and Soham as the mantras. In addition, I performed some limited research regarding what various translations and interpretations of the Upanishads had to say about God. I journaled to record my thoughts and experiences.
Although no one quite yet has the universal answer for who or what God is, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the definition of God that I find most appealing was also found in some translations of the Upanishads. The difference that I continue to contemplate is the personification of God that seems to thread through every definition, if only implied. God, for me, is a collective energy that is found everywhere and in everything in the universe. Although greater than the sum of its parts, I am not comfortable with the idea of this energy having a separate identity or individuality. The research did not result in me redefining what God is for me but did have me review whether or not my current perception still fit.