Why is that? We are all born with that purity, that boundless joy, as evidenced by the baby's laugh. We miss it. We lost it somewhere along the way. Surprisingly, few people seem to think it is worth finding again. We were born with it and it's in there somewhere, yet it remains lost. But, why?
As the infant learns to interpret and respond to sensory input, everything is new and a tremendous leap ahead in terms of growth and development. It is raw, concrete data that sets off physical and emotional responses. It is this concrete, what-you-see-is-what-you-get interpretation that will set some infants off into a terrified scream the first time you try Peek-a-Boo. Even the first "boo" will scare those that weren't concerned with the initial disappearance. Then, the adrenaline rush becomes the cause for the glee and laughter once the baby learns that it is just a game. Each infant is different, but each is reacting to the concrete: you disappeared, you came back sooner or later with a "boo" to heighten the surprise. It's so fun!
Jump ahead 5 or so years, and though Peek-a-Boo is no longer played, concrete thinking continues all the way up to around 12 years old. Parents take their kids to church to "pray" and learn about God. To a concrete thinker, all that is understood is that this God will punish you if you are bad, you learn from your parents when you are bad, so you get a double whammy. Not only are your parents mad at you, but God is too. To punish you, God must be some big, bad person to fear more than anything else because your parents fear him too. You start noticing how many other people must have been bad too by the looks of them. The fear of God is solidly implanted.
Rebellious, abstract, independent teen years come and take that child away from church and religion to be replaced by the importance of peers. But, the initial interpretation of God as a big, bad meany remains. God is left to be thought of as an anthropomorphized old man with long, white hair and a beard sitting up there. The infant's purity and joy is buried deeply now.
God is an abstract, not a concrete person, you suddenly realize. You have to dig deeper than all you learned, you have to get past all the concrete deductions in order to intuitively understand the abstract. That abstract is whatever each and every one of us interprets and can be no other way.
If you choose to find guidance in reaching your understanding of God, no matter if it is through a religion, reading or talking with others, the only one that can decide and know what is the truth is you. No one way of thinking, no religion, no teaching is better than any other. No one's interpretation is more right than anyone else's. They are all a piece of the same pie. It may be that you find one that rings most true for you, and that helps you solidify your conceptualization of the ultimate abstract. That is your path and your right.
Some become uneasy, even fearful at the prospect of deciding to dig deep within themselves to think through this abstract. Placing the belief within, inside oneself, outside the symbolism and ritual of a group religion means that the concept of God is something that no one else can give you or decide for you. It must come from within yourself. The only one that can do it is you.
The other side of your struggle to find your God is purity and joy. God is within you.
Believe not what you have heard said; believe not in traditions merely because they have been transmitted through many generations; believe not merely because a thing is repeated by many persons; believe not solely upon the authority of your masters and elders. When upon observation and analysis a principle conforms to reason and leads to the benefit and welfare of all, accept it and hold it. ~~Buddha