Each week, spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra responds to Oprah.com users' questions with enlightening advice to help them live their best lives.
Q: I have long struggled with the question of religion in my life. I have gotten to the point where I'm okay with saying that I don't believe in the Bible as a literal word-of-God work. I don't think anyone is coming back on a cloud to save us, etc., but I haven't yet figured out what God (attach your preferred reference) is to me yet.
I have experienced coincidences in my life that I don't believe are just coincidences, and I can look at my beautiful children and see what real miracles they are. But when my then-3-year-old daughter asked me, "Mommy, what's God?" I felt I really didn't know how to answer that because I'm still trying to figure that out. I think that we as humans are all interconnected on a spiritual or soulful level, if you will, but I can't reconcile myself to the notion that there's one entity from whence we sprang and to whom we shall return.
What do you believe "God" is? How do you worship that entity? How can I explain my beliefs, such as they are, to my daughters without denying them or discouraging them to be soulful/spiritual people without all the dogma that gets attached to religious theology? I want them to know that it's okay to ask questions, to explore different ideas with open, intellectual minds and find an inner peace that all of us seek.
— Patricia E., San Bernardino, California
Your letter contains many hints about how to find God. In India, there are three main paths: through action, such as giving of yourself to others; through devotion or worship; and through the mind, which searches for the truth. Your life contains a little of all of these paths, which is commendable, but rather disorganized.
In our society, most people are conditioned to believe that God lives in a church or synagogue; therefore, to walk away from organized religion means you no longer have faith. There is another interpretation, however. You could be one of the millions of people who are searching for God outside organized religion, which means you are walking your own path.
The search for a new, more personal way implies a new version of God. What should replace the traditional white male sitting above the clouds dispensing justice and mercy but remaining forever invisible? The answer depends on you and your own awareness. My feeling is that God is found by expanding one's consciousness. I've laid out the reasons at length in a book, How toKnow God. My basic argument is that wherever you start, you can grow in awareness until God-consciousness unfolds itself naturally.
But whether that idea clicks with you or not, appreciate that you are walking your own path. Your need at this moment is to organize your journey. Find a guide book, some companions along the way and a map to show the road ahead. There are countless teachers and writers to help you, not to mention the major wisdom traditions both East and West. Look into them and make it a priority not to live any longer in vague confusion, which is your present state, I'm afraid.