Thursday, September 07, 2006

Struggling With the Issue of Faith (updated 9.05.07)

That’s the title of Dr. Sanity’s thoughtful post today. Being in this somewhat murky state of mind, I decided to just steal it rather than come up with my own title.

In an interview last year, Siggy asked Dr. Sanity if she believed in God, and her response was, “I guess I have to say that I’m an agnostic and don’t take a position on whether God exists or not. I am aware of a very strong emotional part of me that wants very much to believe in an all powerful and all good deity that cares about me and all of humanity. But I also a very strong scientific and rational part that demands objective evidence of the existence of a Supreme Being. These two parts of me exist in a sort of dynamic tension right now and I expect that some day I might find a way to integrate them. Or, maybe not.”

Today, a year later, she says “That dynamic tension remains and the struggle continues unabated. I don't seem to have progressed too far along in resolving that conflict, but I have progressed. And, it is reassuring to realize that Siggy is correct when he says, “To struggle with faith is as much a part of faith as anything else.”

I think that last statement is very accurate, in the identical sense that we could say “To struggle with knowledge is as much a part of truth as anything else,” or “To struggle with love is as much a part of relationships as anything else.” Humans, by definition, are fated to inhabit--or at least span--the vast middle realm between being and nothingness, the absolute and the relative, matter and spirit, time and eternity. The paradoxes of human existence are impossibly difficult if you give them even a moment’s reflection.

Despite all of our scientific and technological advances over the past 300 years, I see no evidence that human beings are any happier than they have ever been. If anything, happiness might be even more elusive, because life is so much easier than it was for past generations, in that we expect things to go well and are devastated when tragedy and disappointment hit, which they inevitably do. No one in the past felt they were entitled to the things we take for granted--health, plentiful food, absence of physical pain, a long life, thriving children. Thus, it was no doubt easier not to become overly attached to the temporary and transient. Death was a constant reminder of the fragility and fickleness of existence. (In fact, this proximity to death probably conributes to the fact that the Islamists are willing to die for their idiotic beliefs, while so much of the West cannot muster the enthusiasm to defend itself.)

You could probably even say that this attitude prevailed in the West--let alone in undeveloped nations--through the great depression and World War II. As recently as the 1970’s, inflation was completely misunderstood by economists, and therefore untamable. The “boom or bust” business cycle really only began to seriously flatten after the Reagan revolution, in that our inevitable recessions are far less severe than in the past.

LIkewise, I am blessed to have diabetes at a time when it is so easy to control it with different types of insulin and instantaneous digital readouts of my blood sugar, but my mother, just one generation before, had no such control, with devastating results. My father died at 57 of an abdominal aneurysm that is easily detectable today with a $35 dollar exam at a health fair.

Given these profound existential changes, I think it is natural that humans began to focus on this side of the “time-eternity” divide, and look for our spiritual sustenance in the things of the world, so to speak--relationships, children, possessions, experiences. But does it work? I suppose for some. For others--perhaps we’re just neurotic, I don’t know--there is nothing in the field of time that will suffice or answer to this deeper call of the Spirit. It is a part of us that cries out for something that is not found in the objects of the world, and is only satisfied by one thing.

Is it real, this part of us that cries out for transcendence? I don’t know if that is the proper question. It’s somewhat analogous to falling in love and asking yourself if love is real or just an illusion, a trick of the nervous system. I’m imagining the Gagboy 10 or 20 years down the line, when he is at the peak of his enchantment with the opposite form of the complementary gender. “I know it looks like women are attractive, but don’t be fooled. It’s just Darwin playing tricks on you, trying to get you to reproduce. In reality, woman aren’t attractive or unattractive. To the extent that you find them beautiful, just remember that it’s an illusion programmed into you by evolution.”

“Gee, thanks, Dad!”

But isn’t this the same kind of “sophisticated” advice we might receive from the typical college professor regarding religion? “God? Probably nothing more than an illusion programmed into our nervous system. You can ignore it.” But doesn’t that just beg the question of whether everything isn’t just an illusion built into our nervous system, including the statement that everything is? That way madness lies. But also tenure, so there are compensations.

If we consider religiosity on a continuum from extreme atheism on the left side (“zero”) to mystical union on the right (“one hundred”), let us suppose that Dr. Sanity is at 50. Well, probably more like 49. I myself started at closer to zero, or at least veered in that direction after an initial interest in Eastern religions prompted by the Beatles’ (especially George’s) adoption of yoga. But I became seriously interested in philosophy during my college years, and virtually all modern philosophy is essentially atheistic, whether existentialism, positivism, phenomenology, what have you.

Just recently I have begun to think of religiosity as simply “the right way to live,” so to speak. After all, these are traditions that somehow nourished the human soul for hundreds and thousands of years, almost as if we were made for them and they were made for us. Regardless of whether or not we may attribute these traditions to a creator, I find that there is a wisdom in authentic religion that far surpasses what any single mind could have come up with.

It’s a bit like marriage and the family. No one “invented” either, but for most people it is simply the “right way” to live. Sure, you can experiment with other ways. Like Bill Maher, you can date porn stars, substitute dogs for children, and worship gaia, but is this really the way we’re built? Does he look happy or well adjusted to you?

I didn’t actually dive headlong into religion until 1995. In my case it was yoga, but once I did, the part of me that was hungering for transcendence all along began to “grow.” It reminds me of what they say about babies--”sleep begets sleep.” That is, if they nap more during the day, they sleep better at night. Likewise, faith begets faith. Just by taking that leap and living in the way humans have always lived, something automatic seems to kick in.

I don’t mean to trivialize it, but it reminds me of sports. I think it has to do with the arrival of the Gagboy last year, but before that, I was an absolutely fanatical Dodger fan. To be honest, the spell started to be broken when they were purchased by Fox from the O’Malley family, but from the age of nine, I lived and died with each win or loss. And yet--especially as an adult--I would sometimes reflect on the absurdity of my devotion. As Seinfeld said, when it comes right down to it, since the players constantly change, you're essentially rooting for laundry. But was I any happier when I thought this way? No, not at all. In fact, it just spoiled the fun.

There’s an old saying in baseball: “Don’t think, you’ll hurt the ballclub.” I think most philosophy falls into this category. There are ways to think that will be metaphysically fruitful and add to your fulfillment, other essentially circular forms of thought that are spiritually barren and go from nowhere to nothing (and certainly won't help you hit a curveball). To be honest, they aren’t worthy of man, itself a statement that touches on the mystery of what man actually is.

The "good news" of religion is that the world is not a closed circle, that it is not an eternal prison, that it has an exit and an entrance.... "Perdition" is to be caught up in the eternal circulation of the world of the closed circle... [whereas] "salvation" is life in the world of the open circle, or spiral, where there is both exit and entrance. --Meditations on the Tarot

25 Comments:

Anonymous Will said...

Hmm, being a baseball fan just for the zen-like sake of it . . . and being aware of mortality, death, destruction, suffering, the transient nature of material life . . . well, do both at the same time - be a Cubs fan.

(rim shot)

Seriously - faith does beget more faith, one need not think too much to understand that whatever works - that is, whatever produces wholeness and health - is the Truth. But ultimately, I think, the "mind" always wants to know, particularly in this age of mentation.

I'm guessing that nub of Dr. S's philosophical struggle rests on the conflict between the desire to believe in an "all-good deity" and the hard scientific fact of death and suffering in the world. For most agnostics, it's probably that simple, it should be that simple. One can even tell a child, well, suffering is a matter of God having given us free will and we screwed up royally, thus there's a lot of suffering. The wise child, however - and they're all wise while they're children - thinks, OK, fine, but what about the suffering of the innocents, what about animals, for God's sake, hunting, devouring one another?

I can only say that reconciliation between the brutal fact of universal suffering and the idea of an all-loving deity can come via a philosophy that understands that this might be the only way for the Cosmos to eventually realize Itself, and that God Himself - as odd as this may sound - suffers along with His Creation, *must* suffer for a time until all is resolved in Glory. Thus the alternative to universal suffering would have to be non-existence: God - and we - never having been born.

Obviously, I can't do justice to this theme in a short space, but I think it's a possible starting point for reconciling Dr. S's science/faith dilemma.

9/07/2006 09:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Bruce Kodish said...

Gen 32:28 And He said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with G-d and with men, and have prevailed."

9/07/2006 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Sigmund, Carl and Alfred said...

As usual, terrific insights.

I do want to add that it has been often noted that 'The greater the struggle, the greater the faith.'

It is in the exchanges we have with God/Creater/Insert Deity Here, that we validate the legitimacy of our faith/struggle/place.

Not a bad thing, you know?

9/07/2006 10:19:00 AM  
Anonymous stu said...

Just finished "The Magician." You were right about Medidations on the Tarot, Bob. It's absolute genious.

The clarity, understanding and transformation in my thinking from reading this one chapter is simply astonishing.

I remember in your post on Israel, you said "As I have said before, this war is not just ideological, or about power, territory, resources, or any other tangible entity. Rather, this is a war that is taking place on a deeply spiritual level within the collective consciousness of the world. "

I didn't fully understand the implications of this statement until I read the discussion in Meditations on "As it is above, so it is below."

Perhaps once your brain has fully recovered, you'd be willing to discuss some of the common typological and archetypal symbols we encounter and reenact regularly. And more to the point, what exactly they are symbolic of.

I have yet to read One Cosmos, so I apologize if you have already covered this subject in detail.

9/07/2006 11:03:00 AM  
Anonymous joseph said...

I always find it odd when otherwise brilliant people have this question about the existence of God. It's like waiting until all the evidence is in before believing we have a heartbeat. The way of looking at is backwards from the beginning.

If the Islamists would embrace baseball, they would immediately see the error of their ways.

9/07/2006 11:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Tanis said...

Hi Bob,
I've been reading your thought-provoking writings for a couple of months, but this
is my first post. Below I am including a prayer I think will resonate with you.
I found a clipping of it in one of my mother's journals after she died. I think this dates
back to the 1930's, perhaps earlier. For me it affirms your notion about religiosity
being simply a right way to live, and I think you'll enjoy the sports theme.

The Good Game Guy's Prayer

Dear God, help me to be a sport in this little game of life.
I don't ask for any easy place in this lineup.
Play me anywhere you need me.
I only ask you for the stuff to give you one hundred percent of what I have got.
If all the hard drives seem to come my way, I thank you for the compliment.

Help me to remember that you won't ever let anything come my way that you and I together can't handle.
And help me to take the bad break as part of the game.
Help me to understand that the game is full of knots and knocks and trouble, and make me thankful for them.
Help me to be brave so that the harder they come the better I like it.

And, oh God, help me to always play on the square.
No matter what the other players do, help me to come clean.
Help me to study the book so that I'll know the rules, to study and think a lot about the greatest player that ever lived and other players that are portrayed in the book.
If they ever found out the best part of the game was helping other guys who are out of luck, help me to find it out, too.
Help me to be regular, and also an inspiration with the other players.

Finally, oh God, if fate seems to uppercut me with both hands, and I am laid on the shelf in sickness or old age or something, help me to take that as part of the game, too.
Help me not to whimper or squeal that the game was a frameup or that I had a raw deal.
When in the falling dusk I get the final bell, I ask for no lying, complimentary tombstones.
I'd only like to know that you feel that I have been a good guy, a good game guy, a saint in the game of life.'

9/07/2006 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger gumshoe1 said...

very nice post,tanis.

9/07/2006 01:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Jacob C. said...

Did you read the vile things being said on Dr Sanity's comments section?

It just seems like fewer people are taking the position that God DOES NOT exist, and they prefer to believe that God SHOULD NOT exist.

9/07/2006 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger gumshoe1 said...

"There’s an old saying in baseball: “Don’t think, you’ll hurt the ballclub.” I think most philosophy falls into this category. There are ways to think that will be metaphysically fruitful and add to your fulfillment, other essentially circular forms of thought that are spiritually barren and go from nowhere to nothing (and certainly won't help you hit a curveball)."

Bob,in almost a direct parallel
to your comments and Dr. S's situation:

there are the Buddha's "Parable of the Leaves" and also his answer to
Malunkyaputa's "10 metaphysical questions":

the disciple Malunkyaputa
is quoted as complaining that the Buddha seems to be avoiding
the providing him answers to a series of questions that are bothering him (Malunkyaputta)"


Malunkyaputta wants to know:
"1)is the universe eternal?
or
2)is it not eternal??
3)is the universe finite?
or
4)is it infinite??
5)is the soul the same as the body?
or
6)is the soul one thing and the body another thing??
7)does the Tathagata(Saint) exist after death?
or
8)does the Tathagata(Saint) not exist after death??
9)does he both (at the same)time exist and not exist?
or
10)does he both (at the same)time not exist and not-not exist??"

the Buddha answered Malukyaputta by saying:

'Did I ever tell you,Malunkyaputta,"Come,Malunkyaputta,lead the holy life under me ,I will explain these questions to you?
(the implied answer is "of course not").

'Suppose, Malunkyaputta,a man is wounded with a poisoned arrow,
and his friends and relatives bring him to a surgeon.
Suppose the man should then say:

"I will not let this arrow be taken out until I know who shot me;whether he was of high or low caste;what his name and family may be;whether he is tall short or of medium stature;whether his complexion is black,brown, or golden;from which village,city,or town he comes.

"I will not let this arrow be taken out until I know the kind of bow with which it was shot;the kind of bow-string used;the type of arrow;what sort of feather was used on the arrow and with what kind of material the point of the arrow was made".

'Malunkyaputta,that man would die without knowing any of these things.

'Even so,Malunkyaputta,if anyone says:"I will not follow the holy life under the Blessed One until he answers these questions such as whether the universe is eternal or not,etc." he would die with all these questions unanswered by the Tathagata.'

_________________________

just as many non-religious/secular/agnostic/atheist
people seem to mock a version of "religions" and "religious people" that exists mainly in their own heads,they nevertheless,
continue to struggle with these very human questions.

as was pointed out here on One Cosmos,the non-religious
are *still* in need of
"a metaphysic"...humans are not built in such a way as to be able to exist without one.

that many of the non-religious
do not understand this need for
(and reality of) "a metaphysic"
is made obvious when they insist they "do not have one".

Dr Sanity herself demonstrates this when quoted as saying she "does not have a postion"...which of course,is,
in fact,her position.

no offense,Pat.

;0p

9/07/2006 01:46:00 PM  
Blogger gumshoe1 said...

_________________________________
BTW -

i personally find Buddism and Judaism as attrative as "faiths"
because they do not dismiss or discount the intellect.

in that regard Buddhism
has the doctrine of 'ehi passika',
or "come and see",and hence claims it does not expect people to
believe or follow it based on any kind of 'faith',but on personal experience that the teachings are indeed accurate and reflect Reality and Truth.

'ehi passika' =
"Take the teachings I offer you:
if they work,keep them and practice them in your life.
If not,reject them completely".

not many religions willing to
build their congregations that way.


as i recently read:

"Studying and questioning the Torah makes one a Jew,whereas studying and questioning the Quran makes one dead."

long live Truth.

9/07/2006 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger grant said...

Tanis, a beautiful poem. I have a quote in a similar vein from Norman Vincent Peale: "The trials or your life are there to make you, not to break you."
One aspect of the belief in God that has not been covered in this post is God Itself; there is nothing to stop God from twiddling with the controls of an individual mind, or dropping enough challenges on an individual person to convert their way of thinking when God deems it the right time. God may very well take minute control of how a person thinks on occasion, without abrogating free-well. Probably She works with free-will. This is not inconceivable. Some personal effort may be involved in achieving faith, but it is not impossible that there is a choosing mechanism from "upstairs" as well. I theorize that people need to spend some time in an "unbelievers state," which God has set up for inscutable reasons, and when it is time for the being to emerge into a higher understanding then the appropriate tweaking is carried out if needed, little nudges or pushes given (or a huge catastrophe, if the person won't move easily).
God can be seen as a server and each human mind as a workstation in my analogy. I theorize that He and we are in continouus communication but that some programs are only allowed to seep into "normal" consciousness at certain times and at certain workstations, for inscutable reasons.
The whole reason that God has involuted Itself into timespace and matter to begin with is itself inscutable.
The take home message is, if you want faith in your life, don't just think about it with your mind. Ask for it by name from the Master, too. He might deliver you a surprise.

9/07/2006 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger gumshoe1 said...

the meaning of "inscutable"
is inscrutable.

9/07/2006 02:41:00 PM  
Anonymous stu said...

I initially posted this on the Dr. Sanity thread, but perhaps others might benefit from it more over here.

>>The struggle you describe is something we all pass through as we develop and grow.

I went through my existential / atheist / agnostic struggle in college.

I spent four years trying to convince myself that existence is absurdity, that God is just a mass delusion, and that religion is a foolish myth. I tried to accept that my life was devoid of meaning outside of that which I myself created. And I repressed, fought and ultimately tried to accept that my bodily and egoic death would be my utter annihilation.

But no matter how many logically sound arguments and supporting opinions I used to justify this atheism, I was never able to truly and wholeheartedly embrace this belief. There was some part of me that innately knew that the atheist worldview could not be the whole truth. No matter how hard I tried to renounce God, this was something that, authentically, I just could not do.

At first I thought this inability to disbelieve in The Ultimate was simply a vestige of my traditional and authoritarian religious upbringing. That I was merely afraid to part with a belief deeply ingrained since early childhood. I assumed that as I grew intellectually and emotionally, it would become easy to cast off this burden of a mythological God.

But to my great surprise, the exact opposite happened. The more I learned about myself, the world and the interaction between the two, the more I realized that my atheism was merely a manifestation of rebellion against the pains of my childhood.

As I gained knowledge and cultivated my intellect, it became so clear that GOD IS A KNOWABLE AND VERIFIABLE TRUTH. My straw man arguments and external validations against His Existence could not stand up to my immediate and experiencial knowledge of Him.

And the doors that opened for me were unimaginable. The spiritual and psychological healing, the intellectual rejuvenation, the physical revitalization...I have no words to describe the feeling of unwavering, infallible certainty that came from simply accepting a Truth that I could not renounce to begin with.

Conquering my existential denial was just one of countless steps I will take on my long journey home. And I think it is part of the path we all travel on our collective return-trip to God.

Perhaps "Atheism Denial vs. Authentic Belief" is a universal stage of spiritual development, in much the same way that Erickson's stages are universal to emotional development.<<

9/07/2006 03:15:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Wow. Great stuff here today! Grant touched on some of the issues of faith that are always in the foreground of my own wrestling match with the Angel. I believe in God. But the issue of faith in a religion- faith in Jesus, faith in the Buddah, faith in the Torah is a thornier matter. Heaven knows my views have grown and changed. I can look back to a time in the not too distant past where the mere mention of Jesus, or Christianity would evoke a powerful gutfelt revulsion in me. I thought Christians were... Oh, hell just go over to Koss- you've heard it all before. I used to be like that.
It's different now. I pray daily:

...Father- for this one day I place my life and my will in your care. Please guide me, instruct me- show me the way that you would have me follow; teach me the path on which you'd have me walk...

There's more to the prayer. I pray in earnest. I pray for faith among other things. My exchanges with the gang here at OC and elsewhere have led me to the point where I now believe that Jesus was just who he said he was. I have to count myself in the camp of 'believer'.

Yet. There seems to be something lacking. I hear people talk of conversion- either by sudden overwhelming encounters with the Holy Sprit, or quiet evolution in thought, word, and deed. I hear people speak with great certitude of the presence of Christ in their life. I can't I feel that. It feels like I've put in my application but I'm still waiting to hear from the Downtown Office. The battle with my own nasty brood of mind parasites goes on. It seems I can't pray them away any more than I can pray away my thinning hair.
We've often used the analogy of the stereogram "Magic Eye" pictures when discussing matters of the faith.
Some see the star right away.
Others see only the visual noise, and conclude there is no star.
Others see only the visual noise, but come to the conclusion that that is what a star looks like.
Me- I know there's a star in there, but I really can't say that I see it.

JWM

9/07/2006 03:17:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Stu:
I hit the post button, and your very eloquent post was the first thing I saw. Synchonicity strikes again in this magic little corner of cyberspace.

JWM

9/07/2006 03:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Jacob C. said...

My reaction to religion is also like my reaction to a Magic Eye picture: I know there's supposed to be something in there, but I've been half-blind since childhood and I can never actually see it, no matter how hard I look.

My eyes are physically unsuited to stereographic pictures, and perhaps in the same way, my mind is unsuited to any particular faith. I wonder if such a thing is really possible.

9/07/2006 04:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael Andreyakovich said...

Bob:

Judging from the response to Dr. Sanity's post, you may as well follow up this essay with one called "Struggling Against the Issue of Faith." Petey certainly seemed to be enthusiastic about taking on the subject...

9/07/2006 05:09:00 PM  
Anonymous looptloop said...

Has Dr. Sanity traveled through a thought process such as the one presented in “One Cosmos Under God”? If one willfully and genuinely ponders the wonders such as those embraced in the expression of matter, life, mind & spirit, it is mystifying how one could deny a cosmological intelligence – a divine creator – God. The fact that some are unable lends to the notion that each of us is an avenue of the one consciousness, each just awaiting a touch of grace whereby we evolve and know a bit more about our true ground of being. It often seems to be an enormously heavy and tenuous cycle but I think those small steps, or gifts actually, provide the innate meaning behind those great wonders, those awe-inspiring inflection points of our existence as reasoned in Bob’s book.

9/07/2006 06:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Paul G said...

JWM said: "I hear people talk of conversion- either by sudden overwhelming encounters with the Holy Sprit, or quiet evolution in thought, word, and deed. I hear people speak with great certitude of the presence of Christ in their life. I can't I feel that. It feels like I've put in my application but I'm still waiting to hear from the Downtown Office."

I think that most people talk of conversion as a concrete event, something that happened to them once in the past and now they are "saved". There was a time not long ago when I myself would have referred to it as such. Now I would argue, merely from my own experience, that "conversion" is the process by which we seek God. In other words, life. Quiet evolution in thought, word, and deed, helped along by overwhelming encounters with the Holy Spirit, if you will.

There are bound to be frustrations (as any seeker can attest), but the fact that you are seeking in the first place means that the "conversion" that you yearn for is already in progress.

Actually, someone else summed it up much more eloquently:

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks recieves, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." - Matt 7:7-8

9/07/2006 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger Chip said...

The paradoxes of human existence are impossibly difficult if you give them even a moment’s reflection.

Damn! I gave them over 20 years.

1. Free Will v. God's Plan
2. Gnostic v. Orthodox (Yet doesn't everyone experience the orthodox through a sort of gnosis?) Perception is the best we can do.
3. The Word of God v. Imperfect Language (not necessarily deconstruction, but beautiful)
4. Endless creation regression. Now we have M-Theory to get past the Big Bang. OK, next turtle.
5. Why something instead of nothing?
6. Waves are particles, and vice versa. It's all how you look at it. We're particles viewed through rays/waves of light, or is it the other way around?

There's plenty more that confuses me, but those are in the top 20. This is a wacky messed up universe, but it's ours and I like it.

As you note, Bob, accepting a degree of confusion is critical to understanding.

9/07/2006 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger grant said...

God is a nebulous experience; one may not even be sure one has seen him for sure. I identify with jwm
and Jacob.
For myself, intuition is the most reliable doorway. Mixed in with regular hunches and the usual flow of impressions are found the occasionanal nuggets which God throws in. Discerning which is which is difficult; usually the divine intuition will bear some kind of startling fruit. (You will be somewhere at the exactly the right time to effect some kind of save or some kind of serendipitous event will take place).
Take care to listen to the gut. Follow hunches that seem to "come out of nowhere." These are the ones that will warm your spirit, because you know that you were noticed, singled out, touched, talked to, by God. There is a personal level to God and that is the level on which He comes. But, intense sincerity and discernment are vital to make any use of the intuition. Even with the best efforts, mistaken contacts will run 50-75%. Why is God so veiled and so nebulous? I wish I knew. It is inscrutable.

9/07/2006 09:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Paul G said...

Grant, if our visions of Him are veiled and nebulous, I don't think it is God that is the problem... It is inscrutable because we are so quick to turn our eyes to other things. I see this trait in myself constantly. As I quoted previously:

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Problem is, I keep finding other things to do instead of asking, seeking, and knocking. Sometimes through mere laziness, but most of the time through willful rebellion against my spiritual 'exercise regimen'. God is awfully nebulous when I keep willfully looking the other way.

On the other hand, as I continue to train myself to look for Him, His influence begins to manifest itself in nearly everything around me. A case of epilepsy becomes a huge turning point (for the better) in my life, a casual comment from a friend sparks a complete change in my way of looking at things, A day trip leads me to pack everything up and move to a different city. None of these things are coincidences, rather, they are evidence of the continual influence of the divine flowing down into me. I just have to make myself face the right direction and open my eyes once in a while.

None of this is to say that it isn't a struggle, or that I don't constantly have my own doubts and questions. I have a strong tendency to constantly demand evidence, but as I have grown 'vertically', I can look back and see that the evidence has been sitting in my lap the whole time. In fact, it is constantly pouring down in a torrent onto me. The fact that I can't see it most of the time is what is inscrutable...

9/07/2006 10:58:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Once, the more I learnt of without, the more I found that "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors ass" is just quaint and more than a bit silly. And then the more I realized of the existence, the necessity of a seamless, reality reflecting, integrated thought, then I found that the soul is settled and soothed with truth, integrity, honesty... and it becomes apparent that there is more to the "Thou shalts" than meets the sophists first glance.

"As it is above, so it is below."

The inspired stories illustrate, connotate, reveal more as you read into them, not just of them.

And what if we are wrong? Our desiring the world and the hereafter to be or not to be - will not make it so, either way.

I gotta assume that if there is a designer, the design wasn't by accident.

We have to venture within the depths ourselves, alone, but all the while feeling... something... ahh, something I feel... it's there but not - just like me, there... here... Are... AM.

Sigh.

[This comment kept growing, I cut & Posted on my site.]

Good thing you decided to give your brain a rest Gagdad, otherwise you might strain our brains with weighty issues. (!!!)

9/07/2006 11:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Jacob C. said...

GRANT et al:

I have felt the Presence of God. I've just never felt It in a church, that's all. My bedroom or the shower or the Grand Canyon or Sedona or the back seat of my aunt's Chevy, yes, but never in church.

9/08/2006 08:21:00 AM  
Anonymous sensei said...

It is not religion, (though God does come to church.) He loves us and he sent his son. so that we could find him and know peace and purpose amid suffering and seeming chaos. it is no more difficult to understand then quantum physics no more paradoxical than an expanding universe. There is no need to check your brain at the door of life. Are we afraid of seeming foolish? Are we sure that there is something to lose (autonomy, pride they're overrated) We know the truth we know his name is Jesus Christ, and we know that if people misuse his name to exclude or oppress that this does not diminish his singularity. Trust, trust, trust.

9/13/2006 12:42:00 PM  

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