A friend asked me what my take was on the problem of evil, or theodicy, so I thought I'd write about it here.
Thinking of God as a male human(s) out in the universe somewhere seems to be a primitive, magical, supernatural, and archaic conception of the Divine, literalizing the pronouns of "He" and "Him," and in the Christian tradition of "Father" and "Son." I've written about this specifically at least once before, but it's worth discussing more.
In spirituality and mysticism we often encounter discussion about the ego, the psychological self, the "self" that we think we are. This is often referred to as a kind of illusion, something to rid ourselves of to see reality as it really is. It is called an obstruction, a veil, something which hides the Divine from us, which obscures our perception, and that it must be torn from top to bottom and done away. Sometimes mystics loudly loathe the ego, punish the ego, call for its death, its annihilation, its crucifixion, its extinguishment, extinction, falling away, passing away. This all sounds quite harsh to the "self" that we think we are, and so some spiritual teachers deny that we need to eradicate the ego, but rather transform it into something good. Which is it? Do we need to allow the ego to fall away, or transform it into a "healthy" ego? I'll share some of my thoughts about that.
Over the past several months I've explored the nature of the human ego as it relates to spirituality in many of the major religious and spiritual traditions, as well as in science. As I noted in a series of posts, it seems that a recurrent theme throughout many of them is the idea of sacrificing ego, overcoming ego, transcending ego, even experiencing a kind of "death" of the ego, so as to realize the true nature of the self, of reality, and of God. We might ask then, what good is the ego? Is it all bad? Do we want to destroy our ego? Is that true spirituality?
The word mystical is derived from the Greek mystikos meaning "secret," and muo meaning "concealed." Why all the mystery? Why is it concealed? Why do people keep it a secret? This seems like shady business. But is it?
An addition to the BHT, a passage in which Paul talks about coming to know Christ directly within one's Self, which is the resurrection. (The painting above is "Saint Paul Writing His Epistles," attributed to Valentin de Boulogne, dated 1618-1620.) 7 Whatever things I gained in the world, any advantages and wealth, all of that [...]
I thought this short video was a beautiful summary and illustration of Buddhist philosophy from Dr. Daniel Brown, a Harvard Psychologist and Tibetan Buddhism scholar. I believe this philosophy may similarly be found in most of the world's religions, framed in a multitude of different symbols. This is perennial wisdom.
An addition to the BHT, my translation of Exodus 3, one of the signature chapters of the Old Testament and Torah, where Moses first encounters God in a burning bush, which I perceive was a mystical vision of God within Moses' very own mind and heart (cf. Psalm 104:4; Isaiah 33:14).
This is one of the most beautiful TED talks I have ever seen. It is simple and pure goodness, light, and beauty. Thandie Newton is a wise and humble soul, as well as a fantastic actor. Let her words sink in deeply.
Each of us goes through life with two main selves. Most people remain aware of only one of them directly, which is the first one.