Sunday, December 17, 2006

Cosmic Sunday Sermon: Dude, Where Are You?

A Sunday re-run, as per my attempt to cut back blogging on weekends. This one's from about eight months ago, so it may be new to newcomers anyway. Plus I added a few things here & there, as they occurred to me.

*****

So, in the Book of Genesis, after Adam devours the apple and becomes the prototype of fallen, alienated, and egoic man, he goes into hiding. First, he knows deep down that he is naked, with all that word implies. Next, he tries to hide from God among the trees. As if.

The very first thing God says to the newly naked, self-sufficient and fugitive man is, "Where are you?" Evidently Adam has entered a new psycho-spiritual space that is not even familiar to God. Why would it be, if this was his first crack at creating a being with free will? To capture the emotional tone of the situation, it is more like, "Dude -- where are you?" Remember, just a moment ago they were intimate pals who could gambol about the garden together in the cool of the day. But not now. Somebody changed.

The spirit of the primordial lie has been transferred from the serpent, to the woman, to Adam. It has already taken root, to such an extent that Adam seems incapable of telling the truth. Instead -- like most humans since -- he just uses the gift of speech to "plug holes," to paper over, and to confabulate, like a child who is caught red-handed doing something wrong.

Emotion no doubt interfering with the clarity of his diction, Adam momentarily resembles that other archetype of prideful but insecure grandiosity, Ralph Kramden: "Homena-homena-homena.... I was, ah, afraid because I was, er, naked... Yeah, that's it. Naked! Nobody wants to be seen walking around naked in public."

I remember my first big lie. I was about four or five years old, and discovered a bucket of used motor oil in the garage. Not too far away was a paint brush. It was the work of an instant to decide that it would be a good idea to slap a coat of oil on the outside of the house.

Not too long thereafter, I heard the sound of my father's car arriving home from work in the cool of the evening. "Gagboy! Where are you?"

Hiding in a tree in the back yard, of course. There are times that the best course of action is to preserve a tactful silence. It's something I still do at times.

Come to think of it, a reader recently requested that I write something about spirituality and married life. Jot that one down in your notebook -- better yet, tattoo it on the inside of your eyelids: Preserve a tactful silence. It will serve you well in perilous times. No promises, but you may well be able to avoid the old "conversation with the flying plates."

Anyway, there was something about the tone of my father's voice, don't you know. Something that said "discretion is the better part of valor," but of course I wouldn't have expressed it that way as a young gagboy. I just thought it best to make myself scarce until the whole thing blew over in a couple of years.

Upon discovering my whereabouts, my father asked me -- rhetorically, of course -- if I possessed any knowledge of the oil job on the house. Having no familiarity with the concept of "rhetorical," I responded in the negatory. "Ahh, why no. Nothing at all. Never heard of it. Good day at the office, what?"

My son is only 20 months old. Other parents have informed me that it's a bit of a jolt the first time you catch your child in a brazen lie. We can well imagine the somewhat flustered mindset of the Creator, caught off guard in this way.

***

Hieromonk Damascene asks, "How can the human ego, immersed in its own gratification, hide from the ever-present reality of God and the spirit? How else than by a constant state of distraction into sensual pleasures, thoughts, memories and fantasies?"

Thus, man's fall was at once "a fall into distraction, and that is how his consciousness started to become as compounded and fragmented as it is today." Naked and on the run, we seek ever greater props and distractions -- food, drugs, debased entertainment, meaningless sex, popularity, recognition, glory, power, group status.

But that primordial question, "Where are you?," continues to ring out from the depths of eternity. It is not heard by the ego, but by the spirit: Self calling out to self. It is experienced as an unnamed suffering. On a spiritual level, it is analogous to our ability to sense physical pain. Without any sense of pain, we'd soon injure ourselves beyond repair.

Which some people do, for it is the same way with the spirit. There are people who fall so far from the source that they no longer hear the "Where are you?" These people are either difficult to be around, or they are downright scary. The scary ones are the people who have extinguished the still small voice of vertical conscience.

You will know these folks by a mild shudder or revulsion you feel in their presence. Either that, or the hair stands up on the back of your neck (apparently, that's why it's there--sort of a personal demon detector). In truth, these are not humans, nor are they beasts. They are monsters -- big ones, like Stalin, Yasser Arafat, Hitler -- but petty ones as well, which I will refrain from naming. You know who they are.

In Orthodox Christianity, "metanoia" is the word used to describe what happens when we acknowledge the suffering that lies underneath all of the distraction and self-deception. It is translated as "repent," which means literally to humbly "turn around" and face what we have been running from -- to change the spirit, purify the eye of the soul, and realign ourselves around that from which we had been fleeing.

Now, instead of being an open system that seeks "nourishment" only from the fallen world, we turn to another source of vitality, and begin the process of becoming an open system in dynamic rapport with a nonlocal source. It is, as Paul said, to be "transformed by the renewing of your nous," for renewal can only occur in an open system, not a static one.

To embrace the lie -- any lie -- is to enter a parallel universe and a spiritually closed system, alienated from the "really real," as Gregory of Nyssa called it. A closed system is equivalent to death, as all living things are open systems in a state of dynamic equilibrium. Much depends on what you are open to. You are what you eat -- both physically and spiritually.

Mmmmm, medicine of immortality....

According to Hieromonk Damascene, "we know that our metanoia is genuine -- that is, that a Divine change has really occurred in us," when we have a spontaneous revulsion for many of the things that previously appeared "sweet" or alluring to us.

I personally have seen this gradual change in myself. No, it is not complete. But I have seen chain after chain "drop away," not necessarily big things, but just little annoyances that bind you to the ephemeral. Denied nutrients, they just start to whither and die. Every once in a while one might cry out, "Where are you?," but it is increasingly easy to ignore it. "Go away. If you must know, I'm walking around with Petey in the cool of the evening."

UPDATE--

Oh, and since we have a specific request from a reader to toss some Sri Aurobindo into the mix, here's how he describes the psycho-cosmic situation alluded to above in his poem Savitri:

A Nature that denied the eternal Truth
In the vain braggart freedom of its thought
Hoped to abolish God and reign alone.
There was no sovereign Guest, no witness Light;
Unhelped it would create its own bleak world....
It's huge misguided fancy took vast shapes,
It's mindless sentience quivered with fierce conceits....
Leaders of the cosmic ignorance and unrest
And sponsors of sorrow and mortality
Embodied the dark ideas of the Abyss.
A shadow substance into emptiness came,
Dim forms were born in unthinking Void...
Accustomed to the unnatural dark, they saw
Unreality made real and conscious Night.
A violent, fierce and formidable world,
An ancient womb of huge calamitous dreams....
It was the gate of a false Infinite,
An eternity of disastrous absolutes,
An immense negation of spiritual things....
Being collpased into a pointless void
That yet was a parent of the worlds;
Inconscience swallowing up the cosmic Mind
Produced a universe from its lethal sleep....

Maybe I will name names. Nah... let's just reflect on what we can personally do to wake from the lethal sleep that dreams this bleak world.

Fitness and unfitness are only a way of speaking; man is unfit and a misfit (so far as spiritual things are concerned) -- in his outward nature. But within there is a soul and above there is a Grace. This is all you know or need to know... --Sri Aurobindo

Paul the Apostle knew this well; and, being possessed of a very clear understanding of the matter, he wrote in his letters more plainly and with greater lucidity that there are in fact two men in every single man. He says for instance: 'For if our outward man is corrupted, yet the inward man is renewed day by day'.... Of these two men he tells us that the one, namely, the inner man, is renewed from day to day; but the other, that is, the outer, he declares to be corrupted and weakened... --Origen

18 Comments:

Anonymous Joan of Argghh! said...

The Psalmist says, "If I regard sin in my heart, the Lord will not hear me."

That's always been a sober admonition to my horizonatal control mechanism. But your essay brings it a bit more into focus. The Lord can't hear me because, "regarding sin," or giving it a place of serious consideration doesn't necessarily make the Lord turn His back on me, it puts me out of range of hearing Him... and vice versa I suppose.

And it's very pedestrian sin, usually; a second helping, a thoughtless retort, an unchecked attitude. Little foxes spoiling the vine. Pretty soon I've wandered off in undisciplined and therefore ungoverned areas where all manner of predator can accost my spirit with impunity.

Repentance may be just as pedestrian and unremarkable from the exterior view.

I know that friends have a tendancy to be dismayed when I tell them I am struggling with a little prevailing attitude. Oh, they think, how dramatic and silly. It's just hormones or whatever and nobody cares all that much. Well, hormones may be a part of my horizontal control mechanism, but I am still the mistress of my house, so to speak, and should seek to rule the unruly and bring it into line with the peaceful cool of the day. If I don't rule my own horizontal in the small things, how can I expect to prevail in the important matters?

12/17/2006 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger ximeze said...

Alan, Mr Pibb & Gecko:

left notes for you tagged onto yesterday's thread.

12/17/2006 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

I'm considering writing some Christmas meditations-- since the dissolution of my family Christmas has become 'unhinged', and while meditating on the idea of Rebirth-- I fathomed a deeper level of Christmas.

I'm going to try to start with Rebirth, but whatever comes on Monday is what's there.

If I can do 7 of 'em, I might compile them somewhere.

Anyway, to read them you'll have to follow a link to my real blog.

Last week was a brake week. Almost cliffed that sucker!

----

I've often said the whole of the teaching of the Bible is contained within Genesis.

This is what makes this 'creation account' unique.

Even as we become more sanctified, there are still parts of us within that act like that Adam, using language as paper to defend themselves.

Paper is just paper, but if you fold it REAL good it can be pretty hard. But a little fire (spirit) burns it right up.

Funny how that works out.

12/17/2006 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger tbelltim said...

As always, Mr. Bob I really appreciate your writing and insights. You are quite wrong though in saying that Adams fall caught God by suprise. When God said to Adam "where art thou", God knew exactly where he was, he wanted Adam to realize where "he" was. In that day when Adam sought to become God, and disobeyed the only command he was under, he died "spiritually" which you immediately see in all his actions, i.e. blame the woman, blame God, try to "HIDE" from God, the ultimate in victimhood, "the woman that THOU gavest me, she gave me to eat" and on and on. Anyway a minor point but important in any view of what really happened in the garden. There was a "Savior" before there was a "sinner" so nothing caught God by suprise, the fall was included in Gods' decree. Thanks again for all
your insights.
tbeltim

12/17/2006 06:27:00 PM  
Anonymous walt said...

There's a whole lot written about "metanoia" in a book entitled The Mark, by Marice Nicoll. I was not aware that it was a concept from Orthodox Christianity.

12/17/2006 06:35:00 PM  
Anonymous walt said...

Sorry, that's Maurice Nicoll.

12/17/2006 06:38:00 PM  
Anonymous uss ben said...

Aaarrhhh!
MSN (around here) has been down all day.

Until now that is.

I'm back.

Right.

Oustanding post, Bob, even better the second time around.

More filling you might say.

12/17/2006 07:14:00 PM  
Anonymous uss ben said...

Tbelltim-

Bob cannot cover every single aspect of an event, such as the fall, in one post, thus he has had several posts about the fall, in different contexts.

God did not see Adam as he was, because Adam chose to change, by believing the lie.

Just as we cannot hear a frequency that has stopped transmitting on that frequency.

Adam went from O--k to k--o, reversing perfection (Truth) and all of his blessings by sinning and eating (absorbing) the curse (lie).

Adam chose death instead of Life.

God cannot perceive (see)
k--o, just as Adam could no longer perceive (see) O--k.

The fall is the reason we cannot see God directly.

God could not "know"
or "see"
what and where Adam was.

Can we "see" where Islamofascists or serial killers are without becoming one?

No. We would have to eat that apple first, to understand what it tastes like, to see, know, hear and feel where/what it is.

12/17/2006 09:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Post, G-Bob, am soooo HAPPY to see Repentance spoken of for the Gem it truly is - our "compass" that gets us back on course with the Creator when sin derails us into shadows and we become "lost."

As Joan of argghh!! rightly observed "...sin...doesnt necessarily make the Lord turn His back on me, it puts me out of range of hearing Him..." and Metanoia (choosing to enter it embrace it, instead of hiding in denial) is the ticket that puts us back on track to Hear & Abide in God.

What an Incredible Blessing to be ABLE to have the LIBERTY to Choose to Respond Rightly & turn BACK TO God when we've blown it thru our sins, instead of hiding endlessly like a criminal on the run.

What do you do with your Liberty?

God's got your "number" anyway - we are the ones hiding from ourselves when we sin & break relationship all around; we hide & avoid the very wellbeing & "gifts" we beg God to give us yet we Refuse to Repent & get right w/Him again. Pretty demanding of us?

Repentance is abhorrent to people who embrace the Lies of their internal dictates: "I dont wanna suffer. I shouldnt have to suffer. I'm entitled to Not suffer! Its okay when I avoid Truth/God." God as our Parent is saddened by our silly childish Lies but more saddened to experience the anguish of separation from us.

While its okay to feel fear, its not okay to "avoid facing the music". To do so is to make ones own self deliberately sick w/Hypocrisy & other evil illnesses.

To then go and hide ones sickness, wishing to fool others that one is well, healthy & holy is even more evil. Is it not the intention of the AntiChrist to do just that? Before the actual AntiChrist ever hits the scene, the AntiSpirit is already here & well ensconced in its rule.

Courage to submit dethrones the False Lord/usurper of your spirit instantly. And Courage is a choice & act of Love. It is Love that casts the enemy down and Love that "casts out" fear.

To make onself degenerate further into Evil & Spirituopsychoillness is what I call sewageicide - slow poisoned death of the spirit by not flushing.

When we sin and face it not, we deliberately deny ourselves the very transformation / transcendence we seek.

Some of us never get outta the proverbial playpen, still sinning & "thinking we can "hide our sins" from God (BIG ROFL) thinking we are escaping whatever it is we fear to face. But when we embrace the Lie we only escape the Power of Godly Truth, living deceived under the Power of the Ring eventually choosing bondage to it if it masters us.

If the utter Spiritual Transformation of a former callous self-righteous abusive arrogant murderering Pharisee like Paul fails to move someone toward Truth/God, I dont honestly know what will. "Circumcize your hearts, you Pharisees..."

Sin is our choice to hide from His WellSpring, from the Richness of Transcendent Relationship He desires to share w/us each day & evening when You refuse to repent. I dunno about you but I dont want to be hiding from the plethora of Gifts my King gives me not only at Christmas but the other 364 days a year.

I enjoy my intimacy & relationship with Him waaay more than my relationship w/sin.

Certainly, theres no Logic in an abusive soul-robbing Choice that compounds sin & abets ones own Spiritual decay & demise, a choice that separates you from the very God you seek to touch & be touched by.

Truth is Sanity. God is Sanity. I'd rather face Him anyday no matter what I've done, than stoopidly run from Him into the Enemy's embrace.

RIVERC: Just for You, Brother:

Psalm 51:16-17: "...the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart..."

HEART in Hebrew is LEV (as in Tribe of Levi) and it has many layers of meanings.

GATE in Hebrew is SHUR and is broken down thus:

SH = shin = Brining forth, Birth
U = ayin = A broken heart & contrite spirit w/arms outstretched to God
R = resh = Harvest

HENCE: The Shur (Gate) is thru the broken & contrite Heart (submission of will) so the Spirit soars w/life.

AND: The Gate (Threshold) to Holiness (Transcendence) is a broken heart & contrite spirit that brings forth in us New Birth for Gods Harvest.

As most know, Gates are very important to temples & cities in OT. Threshold is another name for Gate. Choice is the Key we all can use to unlock it.

If people spent more time choosing the Truth Gate instead of hiding from Truth/sin...well, we'd have triple the Bloggers here, to be sure! Hehehe..

Only when individual members of The Christs Body (True Church) Choose to stop hiding and "Enter in By the Narrow Gate" (Submission of Will) will the Body experience a more collective comprehensive "rebirth" - and Rebirth, though painful, is unto Spiritually Resurrected Life & Gods Harvest (Heaven & Judgment Day).

VERY Kewl to see how Heart, Will, Gate & Spiritual Rebirth connect.

Princess says: "Submission of Soul is the Bridge taking You away from sin and into Him." and "Submission / Repentance is the Key if you desire to return from sin & live free again."

I cant find the exact ref at the moment, so forgive me, but in my extensive research on Submission / Repentance I've encountered the Hebrew exact def for Heart which means "the Seat of the Will, the Seat of Choice"; hence David was named a man after Gods own "heart" meaning he was after Gods Will, not only meaning David wanted to get touchy-feely with God. He was after posessing the Knowing of Gods Will in order to be enabled to ABIDE in His Spirit abundanty.

So the Choice to Submit our Will to God is, clearly to me, The Key to The Gate unto Transcendence & Gifts of Wisdom we have yet to imagine.

Entering thru the Gate means you immediately come under the response-ability (responsibility) and protection of the King and He is both your Host and Defender. When we draw near to Him He draws near to us.

"We are henceforth to "worship" defeat not victory; failure, not success; surrender, not defiance/rebellion; deprivation not satiety; weakness, not strength. We are to lose our lives in order to keep them; to die in order to live unto Christ."-Malcolm Muggeridge.

We release (submit) our Will in order to gain Gods Will, and that is done in Brokenness, Submission, Repentance, in Dying to self, Confession, Refuting lies w/Truth, so we Live In & Abide In & Are Reborn In Him - not only at salvation, but throughout our temporary time here.

In my temporary time here, I've come to love to battle victoriously over the enemy within me, & without, every chance I am led, done every time I choose Repentance, thru Submission of my Will, and when I choose to "face the music" in deliberate Brokenness upon God. I know my enemy feels it.

Even as it hurts & causes me pain to enter into Submission, still I have the UTTER satisfaction (perhaps good kind of pride) & Joy of knowing I kick the Enemy in his weasely face even as I'm running to Father's arms to restore my relationship w/Him, to enter willingly into Refiners Fire & to be refined as Choicest Gold.

Does that make me a Golden Girl?

Submission is my Sword o Choice to "stab" in the Enemys face as surely as Eowyn in LOTR stabs the Witch-King and he crumples up & disappears in smoke.

She & Merry both fall under the influence of the Black Breath, until the King comes & breathes on her three times to revive her & call her back to life from wandering the halls of darkness & despair on the edge of death.

God give me the sanity & strength to desire to Choose Truth more than Sin. May I not seek to avoid Him/Truth, but to Choose Submission/Repentance when I have sinned. May I Love God well while I Hate the One True Enemy will all I am - even to Repent with my last dying ounce of breath.

May Christs name and all of His line forever be a hated curse on the Enemy's lips.

~ PsychoPrincess ~

12/17/2006 10:45:00 PM  
Blogger PrincessSpirit said...

Why o why doesnt my sign in work?? (groan). Any ideas?

PsychoPrincess

12/17/2006 10:47:00 PM  
Blogger PrincessSpirit said...

Heheh it just did work finally! -P2-

12/17/2006 10:48:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Middle of the night. It's fun watching everybody's dreams scroll by like so many movie trailers . . .

The God/Adam issue - What Did He Know and When Did He Know It:

The Godhead, the Primordial Oneness, I believe, saw/sees all that transpires, has and will transpire. However, God, the actualized God in time and space, whose Body includes us, does not, I think, know what man will do. To have the capacity of being surprised - that, I believe, was one of the reasons the Godhead died to Itself in order to give birth to God.

12/18/2006 12:31:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

It is clear, leastaways, that when God says 'Where are you?' He means it.

Its not entirely rhetorical, nor is it entirely literal. Yes, he knows that Adam is hiding in the trees. But what he wants to know is where the inner man has gone-- he simply vanished.

And yes, God knew what was going to happen. But we're relying on our conceptions, that for instance, if we know something beforehand it obviously can't surprise us, right? (As if.)

I see His 'where are you' more like the thing where two people are talking on the cell phone, and one person was supposed to have arrived 10 minutes ago.

First person: 'Where ARE you?'

Even if you know where person 2 is, you will still ask them where they are.

Needless to say, there are a hundred different ways to look at His words in that situation.

12/18/2006 05:34:00 AM  
Blogger GeorgeD said...

I am someone who believes that a discussion of repentance without Jesus Christ at the center of it is a vain babbling. The Name must be named.

12/18/2006 06:17:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

George: Indeed, without a King, there is no Kingdom.

12/18/2006 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger the tim guy said...

Dear USS BEN and all who read my little post on the fall of Adam. My only source of information is the bible. It is very clear from a biblical perspective that the Omniscient God is all know "He looked down upon mankind and saw that the thoughts and intents of the heart (inner soul being) was ONLY evil and that continually" God does know the "beginning from the end" as he dwells in eternity. So as I said the Savior (Jesus Christ) was "The Lamb (sacrifice for sin) slain from BEFORE the foundation of the earth," i.e. the remedy for sin and fallen man was in place before Adam (the representative of all mankind) was even formed. Left out of all this, why God permitted the fall? When He created abosolutely free moral agents (Adam/Lucifier)= temporal and spiritual= who He knew would rebel and seek to become god themselves is a deep mystery, but the fact that He did it is quite clear, especially to anyone who is slightly enlightened and honest. I said all that to say this, if God cannot foresee all that is to come, then He is not God, we are left to fatalism, random events to which all beings and creation must react, a sad case at best. But this is not the reality of a biblical world view "He doeth all things according to His will." is enough and I rest in that.

12/18/2006 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hey Georged, your post made me consider the difference between repentance and atonement and if there even is one. I came across this wonderful sermon and thought you might enjoy it and perhaps answer your question.

http://netivotshalom.org/drashot/members
/heinsteinYK5763.html

12/18/2006 05:53:00 PM  
Blogger GeorgeD said...

lisa, Thanks. There are lots of sermons there. I will dive in.

But no atonement = no mediator = no "scapegoat" = no repentance.

John 14:6 is the boldest statement ever made in the history of the Creation. If anyone else ever said it (or anything like it) they have fallen into insane obscurity.

You'll be happier if you live well than if you don't but you will not be reconciled to the Father without His Son and his cosmic sacrifice.

12/19/2006 06:19:00 AM  

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