Faith, Judgement, Crises, etc.
Reply to Play_Nice_Now's message #5796:
Well, Play, it seems we agree on a few things, at least: Language is imperfect; We all don’t agree; and Love and Compassion are of immense value.
In trying to bridge the apparent gap between our perspectives, however, I find a number of inconsistencies in your assertions that make such an attempt somewhat difficult.
To arrive at a mutual understanding of each other’s meaning, two parties could represent their ideas with their own symbolic language. While they may eventually “feel” like they have shared similar perceptions, they may do so without certainty. Explaining the concepts and defining the terminology may give a more accurate picture, but that requires some level of agreement on the usage of the terms involved.
>>"Faith is the belief in something that isn't known."<< [PMCV]
I very much relate to that definition, as I see “faith” as “belief, in the absence of proof.” Its etymological origin is “trust,” which furthers my understanding of this term to denote belief in something or someone in spite of the doubts which likely accompany the lack of proof. It is a means of “accepting” something—not a means of “understanding” it. The latter is a function of “reason,” not faith.
>>What do you gain if you gather all the knowledge in the universe and don't have the faith necessary to more fully understand or accept it?<< [#5780]
>>This is where we need to have faith in something we may never understand. To accept it as part of "the plan".<<
In those preceding statements, you seem to be somewhat aware of the “acceptance” aspect of faith, but you also make the following comment:
>>Faith is all about not having doubt.<<
It seems that now you’ve moved to some reference of a Supreme Faith, where all doubt has been removed. While I might view that as one’s faith having played some role in guiding him in the process of discovery, I would still tend to think that once one has reached understanding without any doubt, we’re no longer talking about faith. One is no longer in need of merely accepting something after it is known through experience. Of course, another way one might view the comment of “faith without doubt” is that one is simply not admitting room for doubt—the Ultimate in acceptance, by way of supreme denial.
>>"Faith is belief and belief is dualistic, it has a sister which is doubt and doubt is suffering."<<
Faith, the way I think of and define it, is a combination of emotions, beliefs and knowledge. Truth is something faith accepts fully and is rooted in love and compassion. More than that, truth is the first born child of love and compassion. [#5780]
Those look less like definitions and more like constructions of you own myth. Don’t get me wrong—I have a great appreciation for myth and metaphor, but such “defining” of terms is not really helpful in a conversation with those who are outside of your perspective. If I ventured to an orthodox religious discussion group, I wouldn’t expect to make any sense there if I chose to define my beliefs by jumping in with an enumeration of the Principles which emanated in pairs from the Prime Source. They’d definitely think I was loopy. Such imagery serves its purpose, but then, its purpose is not to offer technical definitions.
>>And, like the gnostic, I believe this knowledge of the spiritual is something inherent in all of us. Before knowing this, at least,it takes a pinch of faith to believe that. No?<< [#5806]
No, not necessarily. This actually reminds me of one of Hyperborean’s questions earlier about the mindset of someone approaching Gnostic literature. As you stated, in your particular case, faith played an important part in the recognition of that inherent, internal spark (if I follow your description correctly). For some people, however, the gnostic experience comes to them when they are utterly without faith, following no path whatsoever—whether this is the result of rebellion from a strict religious upbringing, or perhaps there never was any indoctrination to begin with. I think that is an important distinction—that gnosis sometimes just comes to a person.
Now, perhaps, we should talk about “judgement.” This is another word that seems to carry a lot of baggage, perhaps from association with mainstream prejudices in the world. A judgement need not be synonymous with “condemnation.” Do we check the flow of traffic before crossing a highway? Do we do that out of fear? Frankly, if I were afraid of getting hit by a truck, I doubt I’d go anywhere near a busy road—might never even leave the house. That’s what fear does. As it is, though, if we wish to see another day, most of us would use common sense to cross only when it appeared safe to do so. In making that determination, we have made a judgement about the traffic. Heavy traffic isn’t judged “evil,” it is merely assessed and dealt with accordingly.
>>I do accept that light and dark exists in our world and live with it every day. Gnostics don't? We all judge.<< [#5776]
Yes, yes, and yes. I see we’re in agreement again, although I’ve yet to get to the point that primarily separates our views. When I made the comment about the intentions of my hypothetical criminal, I wasn’t questioning his ability to eventually find salvation, nor was I suggesting his actions merited some mainstream hell. I did, however, use his actions to question your concept of some ultra-compassionate Creator who would not only allow, but actually stage such behavior.
>>I also believe we are doing exactly what we should be doing every minute of each day. No matter what it is really.<< [#5776]
>>I don't see us as being flawed. I see us as being perfect. Just the way we are.<< [#5792]
>>The Prime Source has its reasons for their being or they wouldn't be here, I'm sure. If for no other reason than to facilitate our desires to experience light and dark as separate from one another so that we may know them better.
. . . . We have free will to do what we want so we need to take the responsibility for our thoughts and actions.
. . . . this experience of light and dark is something we want to experience. That the Prime Source loves us so much that He/She/It facilitates this desire for us with His unlimited compassion.<< [#5796]
So I understand you correctly, are you so loath to admit accepting a little judgement in the world (or of it) that you’d tolerate the actions of that criminal as “equally valid” in your mind? If it were a loved one of yours who was on the receiving end of his raping and murdering spree, would your immense faith lead you to reassure her, “It’s alright honey, the nice rapist was meant to experience you in this way… and you must have been ‘asking’ for it, too, so it’s ALL good”?
My questions are not meant to sound completely flippant; I’m just trying to make sense of your brand of universal compassion and your view of a world which has no flaw. You appear to recognize on the one hand that we need to “take the responsibility for our thoughts and actions.” Yet, if the rapist’s behavior is as justified as any other, how is he bound by that same responsibility, seeing how we’re all “perfect… just the way we are”? What is there to be responsible for if everything under the sun is fair play?
I guess I have difficulty seeing why compassion is even necessary in a world where everything is perfect and nothing is in error. I realize that you said the problems started with human judgement between light and dark, and yet I fail to see how we judged that separation in the first place? On the one hand, Light was light and Dark was dark, so we can only experience them jointly in this earthly realm. If that’s the case, then we didn’t cause that separation—Light & Dark began as distinct. On the other hand, if Light and Dark were already part of a greater whole in the other realm, then why would we have to come here to experience the same?
While it may not look like it to you after reading all this, I really do see a similarity in our thoughts. When I take a look at the world around me, though, my idealistic notions of unconditional love are tempered by my Kantian pragmatism.
Anyway, the other aspect which still concerns me of this omni-beneficent creator you portray is his “personal” involvement in our lives:
>>… God wouldn't give us anything we couldn't handle….<< [#5773]
>>The lord never gives us more than we can handle.<< [#5776]
Again, that sounds nice in theory, but its practical application is another story. I’ve known too many people who have suffered horrific grief and abuse in their lives. Some did manage to deal with it—some of those even, quite well—others, not at all. If only one person found the hell of his life in this world intolerable enough to decide it was no longer worth living, then I fail to see what is so glorious about the “gift” of darkness that your Prime Source prepares for us that we’d all be clamoring to participate in it. If he’s set the stage and we all finally have our tickets, the fact that many of us are checking out before the final act must indicate that the show’s a flop. Seriously.
So you’ll see that I really do (to a degree) see where you’re coming from, let me share the following story with you.
In my earlier post, I mentioned speaking to a friend on the telephone the other night. This was the same friend who endured one tragedy after another last year after being diagnosed with breast cancer. The mastectomy might have been enough for most women, but my friend was also unable to begin the reconstructive phase as she had contracted (probably at the medical center during the initial biopsy) a very rare fungal infection, deep in her chest. After months of different treatments, the specialists finally discovered the cause of her continued illness, and the reason her surgical wounds would never heal. Having started on several more months of the proper treatment, she finally was able to go back to work in limited capacity. That capacity was further limited one evening when she was driving home from work and was struck by a drunk driver—ending up with a totaled Explorer and a cracked sternum. Oh, her injury wasn’t diagnosed right away because by that point, she was quite accustomed to having terrible pain in her chest on a regular basis. It was two months after the fact when she could barely move that she had to demand that the local doctors take an X-ray. The radiologist was white as a ghost when she delivered the news to my friend, asking with a sickened incredulity, “How long ago did you say this accident was?” She couldn’t believe that someone could have endured that sort of pain for so long—without medication.
So much for the back story—I left a lot out—but the point of that was to appreciate my friend’s comment about those events. She said that she wouldn’t have changed any of that. Through it all, she always realized that there were plenty of people worse off. She had self-discoveries along the way which have proven invaluable to her in the aftermath.
I very much admire and relate to that attitude. She faced bodily adversity in this world, but never lost touch with her spirit. Some days, it’s taken her more strength than others to cope with the mundane problems she’s faced, but she recognized them for what they were and managed to cope. There’s a big difference, as I see it, in acknowledging one’s problems as they’re encountered and effectively dealing with them by rising above them—and in convincing oneself that one doesn’t have problems in the first place—that everything is perfect—that all our hardships are either deserved or craved.
That’s not to say that one approach is right and the other is wrong—it’s just that one makes more sense to a Gnostic than the other. The other, in fact, strikes me as amazingly reminiscent of a Conversations With God outlook.
If you’ve never read his works, I’ll tell you that it shouldn’t come as much surprise that we’d actually see a good deal of common ground between these two perspectives since Neale Donald Walsch incorporates a great deal of Gnostic thought in his works. Unfortunately, the terminology has been omitted or altered so that the concepts could be passed off as his own. Of course, the whole “flawed universe” thing had to be changed to make the books more palatable to the pistic masses. Speaking of sales, he was also careful to include a whole section on crafting an explanation of why people should expect to have to pay for his volumes—books of the personal revelations which God allegedly gave him to share with the modern world. Personally, I still maintain that if a modern God wanted to get the Word out, he’d have chosen some geek to upload the whole thing onto the WWW—for free access!
Anyway, after Sylvia Browne, the CWG might be an interesting alternative worth pursuing if the Gnostic worldview should ever fail to satisfy. It’s sort of like Gnosis Lite, with a big smiley face stamped on it. It’s less filling (in the spiritual sense), to be sure—but goes down smooth! My recommendation though: Get it from the library if you must—the man’s made a killing already.
Otherwise, I hope the discussions here will keep you challenged.