Monday, 17 March 2014

Human Suffering & God

RELIGION often puts the cart before the horse, GRACE puts the horse back in front. – Richard Rohr, on Radical Grace     

It was unfortunate that Origen was declared anathema in 553 CE since it was he who was among the first to recognize our Divine Indwelling when he said “Who among those who have read the Gospels does not know that Christ makes human suffering his own?” Had Origen’s understanding of God’s divine indwelling been accepted from the beginning others might have viewed this world in a completely different context or light. No doubt this would have allowed all of us, to quote Richard Rohr, “to connect the dots better when considering human suffering.”

God’s Divine Indwelling clearly implies that “this life is not about us but about God experiencing Himself or Herself through all of us individually and indeed within and throughout all of Creation”.  That profoundly illustrates that any pain, suffering, or joy we experience – God also experiences that with us.  The knowledge that God is within the soul of each human being should provide us with the comfort of knowing that we are not alone; and journeys with us every part of the way from the Alpha to the Omega.  Accepting that God is present within and throughout all of Creation may be the first step necessary for understanding the significance of our True and False (ego) self.  Only God’s unconditional love incorporates and accepts both positive and negative aspects of our human nature.  To try and understand this radical definition of God’s unconditional love is almost maddening.  But Julian of Norwich expressed this best as follows: 
“Humans see some deeds as good and others as evil, but our Lord doesn’t see things like this; for everything is given its nature by God and so all that is done is done by God.  It is easy to understand that the best of deeds is well done, but the least of deeds is as well done as the best, for all things happen in the way and order that our Lord has ordained for them from beginningless time; for there is no doer but Him.”
This same radical understanding of God’s unconditional Love was recently wonderfully expressed by Mirabai Starr[1] in these words:
 “When we make mistakes and create suffering, we humble ourselves and God loves us all the more.  For those of us non-Christian and post-modern types, try substituting the word sin for shame, or blame, or even karma.  In other words, we screw up, but that only opens the tender heart of the cosmos where we can find refuge and come back into wholeness.”    
Now our suffering, such as from addictions, can be approached in terms of God’s desire to bring us to wholeness through his healing love.  This unconditional love not only brings us forgiveness and the awareness of the ability to forgive, but also allows us to transform the addiction into a blessing to freely love God, others and myself.  Rohr reminds me such a transformation can only be truly achieved by turning verbal orthodoxy into orthopraxy.

It has taken me at least ten years or more to understand the full significance behind the True Self/False Self as it was first explained by Fr. Rohr at a two day conference in Cleveland, OH. sometime around 2004?  What a blessing his insights that help us Breathe Under Water- Spirituality and the Twelve Steps (2011) have proven to be for all those burdened with addictions and other trials. 

In the face of so much continuing pain and suffering in the world and because we still ask “why does God not do something about it?”  We only need to accept that God does do something about it every day – he created you and me.  We only need to activate the God within -  the True self, or higher self if you prefer.  Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) understood this perfectly well; almost 500 years ago when she said:      

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours. 

Finally below you will find Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, coincidentally for today, which may help to explain why the False self with a dualistic mind is unable to process such things as human suffering, etc.,  

Dualistic Thinking – The Egoic Operating System
Dualistic thinking, or the egoic operating system, as Cynthia Bourgeault calls it, is our way of reading reality from the position of my private ego. “What’s in it for me?” “How will I look if I do this?” This is our preferred way of seeing reality. It has become the “hardware” of almost all Western people, even those who think of themselves as Christians, because the language of institutional religion is largely dualistic itself. It is a way of teaching that has totally taken over in the last five hundred years. It has confused information with enlightenment, mind with soul, and thinking with experiencing. But they are two very different paths.
The dualistic mind is essentially binary. It is either/or thinking. It knows by comparison, by opposition, by differentiation. It uses descriptive words like good/evil, pretty/ugly, intelligent/stupid, not realizing there may be 55 or 155 degrees between the two ends of each spectrum. It works well for the sake of simplification and conversation, but not for the sake of truth or even honest experience.
Actually, you need your dualistic mind to function in everyday life: to do your job as a teacher, a doctor, or an engineer. It is great stuff as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough. The dualistic mind cannot process things like infinity, mystery, God, grace, suffering, death, or love. When it comes to unconditional love, the dualistic mind can’t even begin to understand it. It pulls everything down into some kind of tit-for-tat system of worthiness and achievement, which is largely what “fast food religion” teaches, usually without even knowing it.

[1] Mirabai Starr, All Will be Well:  The Radical Optimism of Julian Norwich,

No comments: