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I had a long and interesting weekend with much thought and prayer and trying to get to a better understanding of theology.
I had sometimes suspected this before, but on the weekend it dawned on me that Jesus maybe was so much of a real human that he also knew doubt, that he had an authentic growing up - that he had not always known about his identity as a son of God, and that this identity was not as singular, that he did not mean to say that he was the only son of god but perhaps more something like a new kind of son of God that in fact we all are, only we are different in beliefs and religious opinion.
The Gospels often have Jesus referring to himself as the Son of Man, and for me this is not simply a title or figure of speech, it is more about Jesus identifying himself with men and seeing in himself just as much a son of man as a son of God.
I would even go as far as saying that in Jesus not only the Messiah himself sits on the right hand of God but also we have that right. This really means, not only the father and Jesus use might and authority, we do too. But not all of us use their human authority in the way that God wants us to use authority. Everyone who has power, in God's mind, should be serving the genuine good with this power. Everyone who governs should also serve. Everyone who hears about justice should not stop at hearing but also act justly.
Jesus acted justly even when he was "the only one" so far, but he quickly went and searched for friends. Serving God while being fully on your own is pure harshness in my mind. It doesn't work, and it doesn't pay off really. I think this is actually the job of the church, to provide workes in the wineyard with co-workers. And in the end many things can be considered doing a service. You don't have to be a Mother Therese to serve. Raising a child has to do with service. When I cook food for the others it is also doing a service. Seeking God is a service too - in the way Jesus describes it in the Sermon of the Mount ... Jesus doesn't say that God simply hears prayers and answers them, but that he rewards us for praying because it is more of a work and a sacrifice sometimes, than something that is pleasing to us, something that we do to enjoy ourselves and feed ourselves.
One thing I kept pondering about again and again was the definition of God as "spirit". In a way, every human is part of God because we all have and at least partially ARE spirit. God is something like the ancient mother spirit who birthed us. I think Jesus doesn't mind us calling God mother, and privately I think he actually called God mother sometimes.
Jesus is this person that does not come off as a mere masculine He to me. He also has a feminine aura sometimes. Many people do not like feminine men but I don't share this dislike. For example, I enjoy being with gays and transgendered people because they don't exhibit the "bite" of certain heterosexuals and of those who COMPLETELY identify with their genetic gender without also allowing in themselves qualities of the other gender. Physically, gender is somewhat fixed, but our soul is another story. Our souls are often remaining like children that have to bear with a tough world and in bearing this world they also toughen up to some extent. But in their core they remain being children.
I have a friend who relishes a lot in God calling us to become mature. And of course he makes sense. But when I look into my inward life, when I am completely honest, I think I have often been more mature when I was 10 years old than now that I am 36. I have experience, but did that turn me into a real grown up? What is a grown up but simply an older child? I cannot pinpoint a day in my life where I turned from child into grown up. Sure, I have grown a beard. I have sexual interests now. I have a sense of independency from others and I understand and know about things now that I did not understand and know about as a kid. But my distance to my childhood does not make me rejoice. If anything, I am often sad about that, because in my childhood I was saner than today, I was happier, I was more joyful, I could even think better. When I am really honest, my time as a grown up has often been bad so far. Things did not work out very well. I have no romantic partner, I have no career, I have no children and I have only a very few accomplishments. I have a rather busy thoughtlife that I think goes deeper than the thoughtlife of many others, but it often had more to do with pain and how to get away from it, without succeeding all that much. I know times of elation but they did not last long and in the end I am again unhappy without a real satisfaction of my heart.
I think I know God now, but this knowledge of God has not become a genuine happiness in God. When I work on my theology I pursue enlightenment and I do find my things like I described them in my posts here. But when I compare this to how I just usually "felt" in my childhood, so safe from harm, so protected in my family, so attached to a beautiful and sensitive life, this all pretty much pales. I have already lost my dad. I "know" from my spiritual sense that He is in heaven. But my heart worries and complains and is afraid and does not always help me with agreeing to what I believe in. It almost seems as if my heart is my enemy sometimes. It dictates fears even though my spirit would claim it is beyond most fears. It dictates worries although my spirit claims I don't need to worry. It dictates reluctance and doubt while my spirit wants to get closer to God. I often relate to that verse in the hebrew bible that says the heart is wicked. I have known the feeling when the heart is solid and warm and glowing with love. But many times my heart feels like a completely crushed and disowned 3 year old.
On the weekend I prayed about this for a long time and got some replies from God. The idea is, if you believe in God, your spirit becomes something like God's vicar in you. But the human being is not just spirit. There is also the rest of your body, or the flesh, as St Paul put it. In my spiritual identity I love God and the spiritual things. In my fleshly identity I run away from God and wish I were alone. The key should be a sense of integration. But that gives me a dilemma ... I only reach tranquility and an equilibrium when I am on top of the waves, when my heart has become silent, when my flesh seems to become like dead, or as others might put it, when my flesh feels healthy and strong. And in the middle of all that, there is a small voice that says things should be better than all of that, a sense of quietness in me, a sense of warmth, someone to hold in my arms, a sense of peace that may not be spectacular, but real enough to allow me to live in peace rather than in this constant conflict.
But there are a few things I cling to. If someone would ask me, did you really dig yourself so deeply into religion, are you really someone who has the experience to talk about it, have you really been in this hell as deeply as you claim, etc .... then my answer is yes, I know what I speak about. In a way suffering bestows honor on those who suffer, and a renewed sense of the dignity of man. I may know the TRUE worth of life only from seeing how absent it is often is from daily life that should be much more wholesome and "sacred" in the true sense of the word. But it does not matter that much from where I know it, it matters that I know it.
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spirit - active and passive
The doom of man in a religious setting is that He cannot get God to do something for him. He probably seeks security because life ain't easy and because the world does not always give us a safe spot to live in. And it is common to get to seek God especially at the point where we are at the end of our rope. When we are genuinely happy we desire to keep things as they are, not add something to it.
It is my experience as a christian believer that God is active - only that it is required for myself to have a sincere and worthwhile plea that God can make true.
I can given an example ... years ago I often had this little wish that I could have a happy and great moment with a child. I envisioned that I would walk past a child, he would sing a tune and I would chime in as a grown up singing with him, and we would both be happy. Then sometime later I was on holiday in the mountains for wandering with a church group. It was a sunny day and I happened to walk down a street in a village when I overtook a group of children that was going wandering too. There was a boy walking before me, and he sang, "I believe I can fly". I know this song and like it too, and when I heard the young boy sing it, I chimed in and also sag the song, loudly. The boy turned around and greeted me with a sincerely happily surprised smile, and we both sang the song together.
Today I think this was something that my God arranged. It is a precious jewel in my memories and it still gladdens me to think of it.
In this incident, and others that are similar, it can be seen that God and how we can approach him cannot simply be described as it being a passive or active thing. I mean, when I sit here and pray for God to lift my spirit, it may be that God wants from me to stand up and go outside into town and walk around. I might meet someone or see something that would cheer me up. But neither is it the case that I must always DO something to have God. I don't always have to engage in something special that would draw God's things to me. The key is prayer-infused action. I have to act, but in the same time I must watch out. And I don't watch out like I usually do, I have to search somehow. I have to knock repeatedly. I have to wait with expectation and yet also with the flexibility to allow God's coming to me against how I would expect His coming. I have answered prayers like the one with the boy above that meet my own dreams and I have those that seem to come from God's own dreams.
I must be able to receive. I must be able to wait patiently. I must be willing to rise and go there for some things. What I require is both prudence and courage.
Like I found earlier, it is not always good to consider God to be a God. I mean, there are many so-called deities in the world. Allah, Yahweh, Krishna, Brahma, Thor, Zeus, Manitou, etc. The real "God" is not a God like these entities are God. The real God is the Spirit. It is important to see cosmic nature in God. This Cosmos here was not created by a word but it was born by God. The Cosmos and God are one, it is like God is such a part of the Cosmos that He can sail away from it to do something different somewhere else, and by this He is spreading the Cosmos, birthing new parts of it. And then God also moves within His cosmos, from here to there, there to here. And He does not move, He is there or He is not there ... and in fact at least His shadow is always there. To compare Spirit to Space is impossible. How can Spirit move through space? And yet Spirit can be present. Man actually requires the Spirit to be wrapped up like a presence, like in my example when I met the singing boy. Humans don't understand what pure Spirit is. Spirit always has a will, a sense of doing something. God is creative.
I need to become free like Jesus. The barriers are removed, instead of being a servant of God I am His child, able and willing to be a good person, but not required to slave for God. I am supposed to be a peace. A spirit-filled person for whom doing the things of God, when they are needed, becomes natural, someone for whom the Spirit is something that I understand. I am not too deep in my understanding. I hear the wind and I still don't quite know where he is coming from and where he is going. Like Nicodemus I don't quite understand how I am supposed to become born again. But I do have traces now. I feel spirit when I listen to certain musics, when I feel certain athmospheres, when I dare to be free despite the things of the world. I still have issues with freedom vs love. I know that freedom becomes silly if I ignore love. That's wisdom. But who said I would easily be wise. Love is as daring an adventure as freedom. And one needs spirit to love in a way that does not trigger the impulse to run off. Unspiritual love is not very fulfilling. It is like loving a woman that wants intercourse, but no talk and no kisses. This is where I believe the water comes in. Spirit allows the free love and water allows the humility. Water washes off dirt. It is pure and beautiful, and yet it doesn't mind to become dirty if this is the necessity now. It doesn't hurt the water to be dirty.
People do not want to work when it becomes painful. When people say, they love to do what they are doing and that they hate to do this or that, they mean to say that xyz does or does not give them a good feeling when they do it. Either immediately, or, when they are disciplined, after a while. Sometimes nothing can be more interesting than doing laundry. When the morning started off well, if the radio is playing a good tune, if another person is close that works too, if "you get into the mood" for doing it. Work is not always like carrying a bag of coals to China per foot. Work is spiritual too. But the good feeling is a necessity, or we can't do it right.
That is where I think, for me, art comes in. My means to take my spirit with me and to keep being spiritual even in activities that I don't enjoy, like cleaning the bath here. Art, spirit, allow me to do something with different eyes. I am stuck into happenings. I am stuck deep inside of them, but as they really are, in the spirit, not as they appear to be from a primitive view. Work is hateful when looking at it from the primitive POV. Sleeping is much better. But work from a spiritual POV, provided it is sensible work and no slaving, is meaningful. When meaning comes, it is like Jesus comes in and gives me flesh and blood so I have a body that can endure to do work. And what Jesus does is a kind of art, He gives meaning to things. God is sane and omniscient, and that means He always sees the best. He knows the future, the grand summit of souls that all praise life and the cosmos, the song of the spirit that does not merely vegetate but who is alive and sees and listens and sighs and laughs. Work must be a lively thing. I have the image of negroes slaving on a farm and singing, "we shall overcome". I have the image of a poor lady doing laundry and singing, "As time goes by" while she is lining up the wet clothes. One mission of Jesus is to enable us to spiritualize life. And in these things, the aim is not to glorify God somehow but to let God in us glorify other things.
The suffering of religious people comes when they disallow God to glorify other things than God. This is something that happens frequently in christianity, islam and judaism. God seems to be so deserving for glory that everything but God is seen as a desert. But if there is one person on this planet who is receiving the most praise from people, it is God. Yet, whom or what does God praise? Is God the constant attention to Himself, to work, to slaving, to doing, or is He also the dream, the song, the joy of being free? Hindus say God is breathing in all things. The bit of christianity is, you can talk with this God, you can ask Him something, you can be with this God in a special way. This is why I perceive that the christian cultures (not specifically christians, but the christian culture circles), made the best art. (I am saying this from the POV of someone who is not too well versed in art, it's an ad hoc statement, I was thinking of Goethe, Rilke, Else Lasker Schüler, Beethoven, etc. From this POV there is also something I'd call christian atheism. It's more cultural than religious, although religion always plays a role as a frequent object of thought. Like, Nietzsche was nothing important without his thoughts about how to do better than christianity.) The idea of bread and wine. Wind. A window. Roses. Graveyards. A frigate on the sea. A colorful coat. Rapiers. Signet rings. Radios. White plates. Kitchen. Couches with men taking an afternoon nap. Sunday morning in a village, with church bells. Brooks. Picnics in forrests. Museums, Factories. Mayors, teachers, pastors and drunkards. Beggars. Pizza. Motorbikes. Chewing gum. Rock'n Roll. For Elise. Universities. Youth. Hospitals. Heart disease. Cigarettes. Medicine. Pain. Joy. Spacetravel. Science Fiction. Theaters. The east is different. Peace. Father. The dove. Horses. Oil lamps. Heat. Sand. Olives. Palm wine. Camels. Lemonade cans. Muezzins. Caves. White bread. Market places. Ramadan. Cold nights. Starlit skies in the desert. Lovely names for children. Fireplaces. Tents. Motorbikes on long and dusty roads. Thirst. Bakhshisch. Derwishes. Rumi. Averroes. And further east it is different again, until over Japan you reach America and enter the west again. And then north and south. East, West, North, South are spiritual differences. There are realms associated with them. Realms of life, I would say.
Tomorrow I will write more about these things.