HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated October 31, 2010 12:00 AM )
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. — Albert Einstein
I am often captivated, awed and fascinated by the great mysteries, the unknowable, the unanswerable questions that challenge us from time to time. These questions have the ability to stalk and nag us. They challenge us then leave us stumped.
It is almost as if our spirit goes into a fit, screams these great questions and then waits for an answer which is supposed to come from paying attention to everything and anything that happens — the wind blowing, the silence that is deafening, the darkness that blinds our eyes, and the deeper darkness where our soul sometimes finds itself. We can ask for guidance from others who are wiser than us, and it is sometimes given, and we have enough satisfaction to silence our restless spirits — but only for a while.
Often, the answers to these questions are ours alone to figure out. And they demand a lot before answers are given. They want us to feel the isolation and alienation of the dark night of the soul before they are revealed.
To my mind, these tumultuous periods come when our spirit gets bored with our existence and wants the earthly ride it is taking with us to be more exciting.
I once read a description of spirituality as something that is not “suburban” in feel, but more like a “wilderness.” It is definitely not a paved road. And it is not given to us pre-chewed or processed. We are supposed to figure it out ourselves. That is the spiritual journey, and woe to those who are called to take it amid much pain and suffering.
Sometimes, the important questions come rushing at us in the midst of inexplicable, unfathomably tragic situations we find other people (and sometimes even ourselves) in. Tsunamis, floods, calamities of all kinds, great tragedies, senseless acts of violence and hate inflicted on the innocent and undeserving — such cataclysmic events can animate these questions from the depths and stare back at us, wanting answers.
In the midst of chaos and mayhem, we find ourselves asking: Why does God allow such horrible things to happen? And how can God not prevent them when innocent lives are involved? Is there a God? If so, what are all these senseless, crazy tragedies telling us about God?
Throughout history many have asked these questions and have gotten various answers. And always, the answers they have intuited pretty much described, summarized and solidified the core of their belief system and the kind of God they believed in.
There are those who take solace in the idea of a “punishing God.” There are some Christian fundamentalist pastors in the US who subscribe to the belief that tragic events like the World Trade Center bombing in New York happened because God was punishing America for its sins, notably those committed by gays and lesbians, drug users and those who engage in abortion and sexual promiscuity.
Others ascribe to the “explanation” that God’s will is too hard to comprehend because we are only human. As the saying goes, “God writes straight with crooked lines.” We may not understand it but everything happens for our own good. To be honest, I have never found comfort in this. It doesn’t explain anything.
There was a time when, searching for an answer to why bad things happen to good people, I was prompted to write a book that led me to meander into the spiritual world. And yet I only wrote around four pages in which I directly tried to answer my original question.
I do not presume that my answer will provide solace to anyone except myself. But in my own journey, this is how my soul read the configuration that life seems to have presented as “the answers.”
First of all, I believe there is a God. And in my lucid moments I know that there is nothing that is not God manifesting Him/Herself. Why? Because everything comes from God. And this is easier to accept when we don’t judge immediately.
And yes, God allows horrible things to happen. In fact, God may even be causing some of these tragedies. But why does He/She do it when God is love and all that?
Let me just point out that perhaps we have been reading life wrong all along. Human existence is not the main gift that God cares for. As spirit, we have been around, even before we were born as humans, and we will be around after we die — for eternity. Our human life is a mere blip in the field of time around the vast timelessness.
Our lives are like little boats tossing in the ocean and they are not the main thing. The ocean is the big story. But our problem is, we see ourselves in the small boat instead of the vastness of consciousness that is the ocean itself. It’s a case of mistaken identity. The greater gift of God is the timelessness and eternal spirit and consciousness that precedes and follows human life.
This is why life, and all its material goodies, and the physical attributes of the human body are all perishable. They don’t really matter in the end. If they did, they would have been made to last forever.
The great questions are meant to awaken us to our bigger identity — our timelessness and eternal spirit. And these questions often surface when our small earthly self is threatened.
Have you noticed how we become bigger and better persons when tragedy strikes? We share our material gifts as if they are of no value because we wake up (if only temporarily) to the bigger truth that they are really of no value.
Don’t get me wrong. I celebrate life and all its blessings. But I also understand that all these — including what we call bad and good and everything in between — are manifestations of The Timeless Entity at play in the field of time.
When my wife Lydia was diagnosed with cancer seven years ago, I tried to understand why God would do such a thing to us. After much reflection, I intuited that the physical “us” that was asking the question and complaining was not the bigger entity that is eternal. That epiphany affected me profoundly.
It is a realization that I have to process often to help me cope with all the crazy stuff going on in this vale of tears. But when I am awake, my crazy spirit can shout a hearty “Praise God” with authenticity, in acknowledgment of everything that happens in my earthly existence — the good, the bad and whatever.
I won a new car in a raffle. Praise God! A relative I love died. Praise God! It’s crazy. But it all makes sense in the larger scheme of things, since everything is spirit manifesting in whatever way it wants to. Whatever shows up is coming from the same source.
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