Religion is living with God. There is no other kind of religion. Living with a Book, living with or by a Rule, being awfully high-principled are not in themselves religion, although many people think they are and that that is all there is to it. Religion has got a bad name through being identified with an outward orderliness. But an outward orderliness can be death, dullness and masochism. Doing your duty may be admirable stoicism; it isn’t religion.
To find religion itself you must look inside people and inside yourself. And there, if you find even the tiniest grain of true love, you may be on the right scent. Millions of people have it and don’t know what it is that they have. God is their guest, but they haven’t the faintest idea that he is in the house. So you mustn’t only look where God is confessed and acknowledged. You must look everywhere, to find the real religion. Nor must you look, in others or in yourself, for great spooky visions and revelations. Such visions and revelations come to many, a great deal oftener than we think; and to those to whom they come they are sun, moon and stars. But in most people who know God, and in all such people most of the time, living with God is not an apparition but a wordless and endless sureness. Like the silence of two friends together. Like the silence of lovers.
God is waiting to live like that in every single person in the world.
It’s odd, but though I’ve had one or two experiences that might fall under the heading of “mystical” – direct experiences, if you like, of God, or what of God filters through the doors of perception when they crack a little ajar – I really wouldn’t describe them as remotely spooky. That sureness Canter describes is present always, and even before it came to underlie everything for me, the glimpses I had of what lies beneath and beyond the world of the senses still had that quality of almost ordinary reality. What I encountered was solid, real – solider and more real than my own flesh or the earth it rested on – and not remotely uncanny.
Without wishing to become lost in the semantic maze of the theist/non-theist discussion, this is why I don’t like the term “supernatural” when applied to God. To me it gives the impression of something standing over against, separate from, reality. That which I encounter in the depths of my own being, in the eyes of my sisters and brothers, in the wrapped life of a dreaming cat, in the gathered meeting or in mist across the sea just before dawn, is not separate from reality: it is the solid ground in which is rooted the great tree from which the leaves of the phenomena grow, and are nourished.