Saturday, May 29, 2010

Behold What You Are...

Last night I was attacked and I had to fight for my life. Thankfully this was only in a dream.

As I wrestled violently I realised that my survival required shedding any ingrained inhibitions I carry about hurting other people. I sought every opportunity to damage, incapacitate or even kill my assailant as I launched into a no-holds-barred battle to the death.

Thankfully I awoke before the contest reached a conclusion. I listened to the quiet bedroom, where my wife slept peacefully beside me, and thought about falling back to sleep, but couldn't. I didn’t want to doze off still gripped by the vague and troubling echoes of this nightmare.

I wandered in the nighttime stillness of my house and wondered about the dream and what my choice to fight and kill said about me - perhaps about all of us - as human beings.

I am a peace-loving person who hopes and prays to never experience such a life-threatening situation. Yet I realized how easily my entire being can suddenly switch to death-dealing. I can instantly become a killer by the mere belief that my own life depends upon it. I pondered on how entire societies can be manipulated into war simply by the threat, real or perceived, that Some Enemy is out there ready to attack.

How can our world ever become truly peaceful when our inherent natures are so suddenly violent and murderous?

I think our only hope is expressed in a song which is coincidentally, now playing on my computer

(sample linked here - click on Embrace the Mystery)

the lyrics:

Behold what you are

Become what you receive

Take up the bread and wine

Embrace the mystery

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Two Views of the Universe

There are only two ways to view the "universe and everything." Each viewpoint must face The Big Questions:

1. Where do we come from?

2. Is there a point to our lives and our struggles and sufferings?

3. What happens to us when we die?

The Two Views:

1. The background state of everything is lifeless: The universe and everything is comprised of lifeless matter or energy. Somehow it all came into existence at the Big Bang and what existed before that is unknown, but whatever it was, it is lifeless. Somehow within that lifeless universe we must come up with an explanation of how life and consciousness come to be, then we must deal with The Big Questions.

2. The background state of everything is Life: The "universe and everything" exists within a background of Life. Eternal life exists beyond time and space, has always been and will always be. Time and space themselves are constructs that only exist temporarily within this Life. This Life is called God. He is a creator and so, in accordance to our normal experience of this world, Life creates everything else. That is what we see around us all the time. Living beings create and manipulate non-living matter and energy. In this respect, viewpoint 2 is actually more consistent with reality.

Within this viewpoint we can easily handle The Big Questions, but must also face The Biggest Question: Who is this Life - this God? What can we know about him? Can we know her personally? Does she have a name? What is he like?

This is historically handled in at least three ways.

1. By what we see around us. As we can know Beethoven by listening to his music, we can discern God by our observations of the universe and all of creation.

2. By our relationships with one another. As we all share in the ultimate source of life, we must all reflect in some small way the nature of our Creator Being.

3. By revelation. Anytime this Being interacts and communicats with us we have a chance to discover his nature. Sometimes these interactions are recorded for posterity as in the documents collected in the bible.