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Does 'your' Christianity Involve The Supernatural?


Mike
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Hi everyone,

 

This is something I've been thinking about as of late, and I thought it might be interesting to ask for other perspectives on the matter. It is basically a question of whether the supernatural, very broadly defined, plays any role in your religious views/practice. Progressive Christians, I wager more than any other Christian group, will tend toward philosophical naturalism.

 

I'm not really sure where I place myself, because 'supernatural' and 'natural' can really be more a matter of convention/consensus than fact. Indeed, it is possible to have versions of theism which are naturalistic.

 

For instance, a supernatural event might be considered one that suspends the laws of physics. But what if one rejects the metaphysical concept of "physical law"? Or furthermore: what if one professes no belief at all in a "natural" world (is 'natural' a real predicate?).

 

Another example, any view which professes belief in the immaterial will be considered supernaturalism by many today. But what of a naturalized view of immateriality, which has indeed held a strong place in Western philosophy until recently? By many people's definition, I am a supernaturalist. - that is, if 'naturalism' is just another word for 'materialism'.

 

Yet I'm not happy with the notion of 'supernatural' because it generally evokes the image of an external force breaking its way into the world, whereas 'natural' conjures to my mind the idea of an inwardness, radiating outward. The universe not as the product of an outside force, but as the Divine seeing its face in a mirror, a Self-expression, without any 'outside' to speak of. Strictly speaking, there is nothing either natural or supernatural about such a state of affairs.

 

How do you relate to the notion of the supernatural? Is it really a useful category? Is naturalism today merely a synonym for materialism?

 

Peace,

Mike

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Mike,

 

As you may know, I am no philosopher, so I probably won't use any terminology that would be recognizable to someone who is!

 

At any rate, I do not think of God as being supernatural, but neither am I sure if the way I think of God fits any of the other examples you give, either. I believe God is present in everything that exists and is as close to me as my own DNA; I also believe that I live in God. Though it says so in the NT, I believe it is true – and I do not mean metaphorically. I do not have the words to say exactly what I mean, all I can do is give analogies that are so far off the mark as to be practically useless. We live in the universe, we live in God. (No, I'm not saying God is the universe, but you get what I mean by useless analogies.)

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Mike,

 

To me from a natural point of view God and Creation which is one is supernatural. To me, from a supernatural perspective all is natural and therefore the supernatural does not exist. While one may consider them two domains or even as visible and invisible, any separation to me is arbitrary. Any separation would be a perception only as both are an integrated whole. From a dual view, it seems to me, the physical or manifested is a world of effects while the power of cause exists in what we might call the unmanifested or invisible domain. In that respect, the power of cause is not intrinsic to the physical even though it might represent a condition which has consequences.

 

"Is the supernatural really a useful category ?", you ask. Perhaps only to the mind concerning perceptions and communications. "Is naturalism today merely a synonym for materialism?" In my view, it depends on who is speaking.

 

Just my thoughts,

Joseph

Edited by JosephM
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For much of my life, yes, I have to say I believed in the supernatural. From a very young age, I experienced and witnessed events, incidents, in which there seemed no rational, 'material' explantion, at least within the consensus reality I accepted, as most of do at least when we are very young. Those occasions seemed to me "proof" of the existence of another realm apart from this material one, and the best explanation I had given my childhood socialization experience was of a separate God, acting through angels and a "holy spirit" upon this world.

 

For a combination of reasons, my perspective has definitely changed. I still believe in the supernatural as commonly defined in our society's consensus reality, but not that it is separate from, or of a source separate and different from, this material realm with which we are most familiar. I've moved away from thought of a duality between material to immaterial, toward a single reality in which elements are on a continuum of a single reality. Supernatural has, for me, become simply the part of reality we don't know--yet--- cannot at this time or with present technology, quality or quantify, and that most humans are not---yet---aware of, perceptive of.

 

I find evidence in written and legenday accounts from cultures and societies across the span of time and distance that there have always been some portion of the population that had some capacity to percieve further into that realm of "beyond-material natural" than most. There are so many today that have that---whether born with it, aquired through preactice or experience I cannot say I know---that are finding one another, sharing, bringing this potential for human perception of what is beyond the scope of conventional consensus, or 'material' reality, bringing it from behind the closed doors of the secluded mystics and hermited prophets and holy men/women and sacred secrets known only to select initates, into mainstream conversation.

 

Whether this means, or is because, there are more such people now than at any time in the past, a true evolutionary change in progress, or is an effect of the development of modern technology that allows sharing of ideas such as never before existed, I am not sure. But I am sure that it is happening, for whatever reason or cause.

 

I think that until, whether as an individual or a social collective, we have entered into that perceptual awareness of a single reality, rather than that of dual realms, the concept of the "supernatural" as separate and different from the "natural", there will continue the problem of trying to sort out what is mere superstition and magic born of ignorance, from what is 'real', but yet beyond present awareness.

 

I use the term 'ignorance' in the sense of "ignore-ance', because I believe to see, to know, to experience, that part of reality, lies within all of us. If so, then it may be that bringing into human consciouusness of the known from the depths of the unknown is merely a matter of changing social ideas. But I am in that drawn to what R,M. Bucke observed over a century ago, in his classic work, "Cosmic Consciousness", of how it has always seemed to those that had entered into comprehending the "beyond-natural" have also seemed to be convinced that if only they could onnly convince others to believe in it, it would happen for them. If they persisted in that effort, they often met their death at the hands of others that found their message threatening.

 

So I don't know. Is the capacity to percieve, comprehend, this non-dual reality, the 'beyond natural' as just an extension of the 'natural:, within every human? Or is it truly something that has evolved into expression within only some humans? Or will it someday become the norm rather than the exceptional?

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Just catching my own inconsistency in my last two paragraphs above, that I both say I know, and that I don't know, reveals an interesting element of my thoughts. Perhaps it is on some level I know, on some other, I do not know.

 

Another possibliity to add to the above is that human capacity to percieve, comprehend, that 'extended level of reality' beyond our present consensus reality concept may not be new at all. It may have been, among primitive human societies, simply accepted, what came to be called spirits and gods that were based in real perceptions. But that human society, in the advances of science and technology that brought reliance on knowledge of material nature has served to draw a veil, that referred to veil of "ingore-ance", that has hidden it from view. As the mists of Avalon closed over the Lake as belief in the magic was lost.

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Ilia Delio refers to a knowledge learned by the body, a knowledge gained by sitting, praying, gardening, being with, or here and now. It includes active prayer or meditation on the path to mysticism. Like God it is difficult to access intellectually. Gardening and praying with others for four years - then you have that knowledge.

 

Monday our pastor observed that, in spite of what Pat Robertson may burp into public air, if one visits an Alzheimer patient and just is present with them, open to the possibilities, vulnerable, sitting with them regularly over a period of time somethings happens to the visitor. I think this is an example of knowledge that is gained and accessed by the body.

 

That's as close to supernatural as I can get

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Thanks for your thoughts everyone.

 

Yvonne wrote,

 

At any rate, I do not think of God as being supernatural, but neither am I sure if the way I think of God fits any of the other examples you give, either. I believe God is present in everything that exists and is as close to me as my own DNA; I also believe that I live in God. Though it says so in the NT, I believe it is true – and I do not mean metaphorically. I do not have the words to say exactly what I mean, all I can do is give analogies that are so far off the mark as to be practically useless. We live in the universe, we live in God. (No, I'm not saying God is the universe, but you get what I mean by useless analogies.)

 

I think your meaning is clear whether you express it in philosophical terminology or not (it's probably best without it anyway :)) Ultimately analogies are all we have to work with in theology. In theological terms, what your words suggest to me is that God is immanent in the world, which is also to say that the world finds its transcendent meaning in God.

 

Jenell wrote,

 

 

But that human society, in the advances of science and technology that brought reliance on knowledge of material nature has served to draw a veil, that referred to veil of "ingore-ance", that has hidden it from view. As the mists of Avalon closed over the Lake as belief in the magic was lost.

 

I think this is the great problem with modernity -- the disenchantment with reality. And though I wouldn't be so foolish as to suggest that science hasn't changed things irrevocably, I do think that people, impressed with scientific methodology, have been prone to draw unwarranted metaphysical conclusions based on it. Huston Smith once wrote that premodern people tend to see the phenomena of life as ontologically transparent, windows to the Divine, and intrinsically meaningful. To me there's nothing about science and technology that in themselves should deny the possibility of that kind of seeing, but rather all the other presuppositions that are carried along with them.

 

Peace,

Mike

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Mike you are on a roll.

 

I feel your question is not of religion, but of science where our conditioned minds are under the laws of nature. In evolution, species flourish, suffer and go extinct all under the laws of nature, which seems applicable to everything whether we believe in God or not so religion doesn’t seem to matter. Relating this to your post on transcendence, I imagine all living things of the universe emerging out of an ocean of pure energy or consciousness, being maintained in this ocean with the laws of nature and finally dissolving into it in the end, transcending nature in a supernatural state, one in the pure energy.

 

The weaving together of all things and their undoing in the universe cannot happen without a method. This method I feel is the natural law observed by the scientists. It preserves order in the centrifugal and centripetal movements of creation and implies movement and the mutability of all the visible structures in nature. In nature there exist recurring patterns of clash and cohesion from the atom to the galaxies and beyond. There also exist a harmony and a similarity of structure between these levels of materiality.

 

Nature’s physical inspiration seems to transcend to a point between the in breath and the out breath or between exhalation and inhalation where the breath is still. A state of pure energy permeating everything in and out in perfect stillness that is not spectacular or dramatic, but subtle impressions that attunes us to unity in this permeation. Nature renovating our whole being, mind seems to blink and we are in the present moment above time in a supernatural state of transcendence. In another blink we are in material nature until we blink again to be in supernatural nature.

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To seek in mediations to focus, or un-focus, if you will, upon infinity, of space and dimension, and eternity, of time, that our immediate point of conscious awareness exists within, has been for me a transcendant experience at times.

 

To percieve myself, my personal point of conscious awareness as a still point set in the midst of eternity and infinity extending in all directions, all dismensions, all time, has seemed to me at the first to move me toward a sense of smallness lost in the vastness of it all, of that I exist within, and yet, paradoxically, at some point, it can seem it all turns inside out, and my sense is as being greater than it all, as if all has become within me, I encompass it all within..a strange experience very hard to describe or imagine.

 

Imagine that to the same extent we percieve that which moves outward, away from ourself, to begin to percieve inwardly, into that opposite direction of the infinite, the eternal. just as vast as that we've perceived outwardly. To comprehend infinity toward the smaller in the same sense as toward the greater, the further inward as the further outward...

 

In recent decades physicists have begun to move in that direction in exploring the material reality...such patterns as star systems revolving around galaxies, planets around stars/suns, moons around planets, we find proceeding ever inward, into the structures of atoms, sub-atomic particles. for now, recent efforts to explore ever further into smallness, through experiments using such technology as super-colliders, has seemingly stalled, failing to yeild expected results, sending scientists back to the think tank and drawing boards, but no doubt eventually this level, too, will become comprehended by and within human intelligence.

 

For each of us as individual persons, we have access to this process, this path of inward discovery, into our own human mind, psyche, soul, Self, perceiving our place within the Collective Consciousness, the Greater Consciousness....and who knows what even beyond that, into the infinite, eternity, of that dimension. Whether in traditions of religious mytisicism, Eastern thought systems, or primitive shamanic experience and practice, there have always been some few among all races and cultures to begin upon and proceed for some time and distance in that direction than has been common among the societies within which they found themselves.

Some of those "rooms" "places", "levels" within have been, even if not fully and adequately for those not similarly intiated into those experiences, articulated into spoken or written words, or drawn symbols, metaphors, and analogies, there are those even deeper, or higher, are lower, or further within, or really far out, that cannot be expressed through any of those means. When in some of my own mystic experiences, I found myself in a "place" in which " "could not find words", it was impossible to find words for use in trying to describe it to others, for I had not even words for myself...I found myself in "places" or "levels" within my own mind in which if I even sought to find words while there, I immediate "lost" that state, that sense of being in that "place." And eventually, I entered into places where there we no longer even images, symbols, in even my own experiencing of them, places below even my own level of conscious awareness...it was as if to be resting, drifting, floating, "somewhere", but without any knowing of where that was, or exactly what I was experiencing, what was going on when in there, yet knowing "something" surely was. It was as if my concious awareness had been left to wait, still and quiet, by a door way, a threshhold, unable to enter in, while some unconsciouus part of me went in to attend to matters that were of concern, but beyond my conscious capacity to know or understand or even observe.

 

Soma has referred to a deep level "observer state", but there are yet further, deeper states, into which the human mind, soul, spirit, can move, that are beyond our capacity for conscious observation. Yet one in such a state knows, by whatever way one can know that, something IS going on, some part of oneself IS "somewhere beyond", and when its over, whatever matters were attended there, bring about real, sometimes subtle, sometimes dramatic, changes in conscious levels, and ones life. In another post, I described a state in which I felt, and was represented within my dreams, as having to fight my way across a fearful chasm, across a narrow bridge with flames licking all up around, through horrible monsters, the greatest two of which guarded a set of doors set into a cliff at the other side...of knowing i HAD to make it across and to and through those doors...and that I eventually did. I also have referred to my percepetion of that as having come before the mercy seat, gaurded by the Cherubim who stand, wings outstrecthed and over-arching to mercy seat atop the ark of the Covenant....and yet I cannot describe anything beyond those doors once i has entered in. It was such a "place". But there's no doubt a LOT of very important "work" got done in there, for the dramatic changes it brought about within me and for me. I think a lot of nasty baggage I had carried for years got finally dealt with once and for all, even if I don't know all of exactly what it was.

 

I've come to think of such things as The Revelation of John as not some literal account of an apocolyptic future of the world in a material sense, but in sense of a model of both the potential for transformation within each individual, as well as human society as a whole, perhaps for the human race as a whole, and possible even beyond, for all creation.

 

Certainly this could be considered my having a "supernatrualistic" view of reality. And yet, to me, I don't percieve it as supernatural, but simply a glimpse into an extension of the "natural".

 

Jenell

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I come at it from another angle. For me God is Spirit (John 4:24) and is not found in the natural order of things. Nature and the natural world has some wonders that inspire but if one says (IMO) that God is in all and what is natural is of God then one has to answer (IMO) to the chaos of the universe and the tragic events such as the Indian ocean tsunami, events such as those recently in Japan, disease, famine, or why God did not intervene with natural forces in wars to stop the evils of such things. If God is bound by natural law then I feel God appears wonderous but also very inept and chaotic. I think the sense that God exists is the sense of something super natural and beyond the laws of the natural interpretation. A sense of moving from the laws of this world to the laws of the spirit and I believe at death we go to be with what is the spiritual.

There is the arguement that if God is all powerful and does nothing to stop tragedy then is God also love. If God is every where and does not stop chaos then is God a God of order and if not of order then how do we say God exists. For surely there is some sort of order to all existence that is can be recognised as existing? For me that order of God is in the spiritual as I cannot understand it in the materal or bound by materal laws. So I guess I do believe in somethings supernatural.

I am happy with science of this world but not when applied to the spiritual. If science is used to interpret the spiritual then I feel it is often at odds with the spiritual. I see the reverse is also true in that if one uses the spiritual to interpret the materal then it is often at odds with science.

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I wish Michael Morwood's book "Tomorrow's Catholic" had a title appealing to non-Catholics. In it, Mowood touches beautifully on just this subject, that is, is God

'supernatural". If any of you chance to read it, I would love to discuss is. Morwood maintains that "God works with what God has to work with"; not intervening, not disrupting the laws of science or nature, but working with what is. Is there chaos? Yes, because there is some degree of freedom, with freedom there is chance.

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Chaos? It seems to me there is no chaos. Only divine order. It seems to me that chaos can only present itself as a result of, or product of, the inability or limitation of the single mind to see the whole.

Joseph

Good point.

 

George

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There is an interesting analogy that I once read somewhere about the spirit's relationship to the "material" world. It came to mind after reading Yvonne's post, "God works with what God has to work with." There can be no intentionality -- purpose -- without an object in mind. That 'object' is the 'material' world. Moreover, a builder cannot attain any purpose without the raw materials to do so. The material world, then, is something of an 'object-ive pole' of existence.

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Chaos? It seems to me there is no chaos. Only divine order. It seems to me that chaos can only present itself as a result of, or product of, the inability or limitation of the single mind to see the whole.

Joseph

I have a difficulty with the idea of a divine order in which so much occurs to the negative such as famine,decease, disasters like earthquakes, volcanos, tsunami, etc.

The fact that we exist after 7 billion years of earth's development almost as an after thought and for so short a period.

Sure it is remarkable that we have an existence like none other that we have been able to find in 12 billion light years of known space. Yet, we hang from a fragile cord in this materal world and for many we have a reasonable life but for others I do not think it is so easy. For the mother in the sudan who makes a decision as to which child she will feed. For those who were drowned in the new years tsunami in the indain ocean. For those millions who died from epidemics like small pox. For those who have recently drowned in the floods. I just hope for something better and that is where my faith lies. I can only see disorder and chance in this materal existence. The idea of divine order in the context of this world then I feel there are some hard questions I would like to ask of God. Sorry but that is my opinion.

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Pete,

 

If we humans are the primary focus of the universe, then the natural world would seem to be unjustly chaotic and malevolent. But, maybe we are not the center of the universe. Maybe, the universe did not develop for our individual comfort and sense of well being. Maybe, storms, floods and the like are byproducts of a bigger order. Maybe, we are as well.

 

George

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That maybe of course, but if we are to say that then it seems to me a little like saying God (IMO) had no choice as to how the universe turned out and that the suffering of the earth was an inevitable by product of something bigger that is unseen that God has no control over the consequences of or cared about.

I guess it all comes down to how one sees God and that I feel is personal. For me to call the materal world a divine order is to say that God is either uncaring or incompetent. I know all this hinges on ones vision of God and as I said it is "I" that finds the difficulty seeing the divine order of the materal existence and yet "I believe" it exists in the spiritual. For me one has to see disorder in order to see the spiritual need for order. In the materal world one can hope for order but that does not mean it will come. Andomeda still comes our way and the sun is still expected to go red in 7 billion years if we exist till then. The materal word is expected to burn out in the further future. For me hope is in the spiritual and that of the view of God that I believe in. I cannot prove that is founded on anything other than faith and a personal sense that it is. I feel that the supernatural plays its part in that sense. Others may of course view it differently.

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Hi Pete,

 

Your resopnse is only natural and understandably so. I also at one time saw what looked like disorder (chaos) in the universe. How can one deny that all the things that are visible from the standpoint of the limited thinking mind seem to verify your conclusions. I certainly would not argue otherwise and i have no proof to offer you, perhaps only my own testimony to serve no other purpose than to assist in keeping you open to your own subjective experience of reality beyond the thinking mind.

 

Sometime back, one of a number of subjective experiences i had confirmed to me a divine order in the universe. I tried to put it in words and so i wrote them down at the time to share but they are only mostly meaningful to me since my experience went beyond thought and my vocabulary in putting the experience in words is lacking. Here is a portion of my experience put to words....

 

 

It is the understanding in this mind that evolution is the continuous unfolding of creation. They are one and the same. Everything in the concept of time eventually returns to its source. Existence is certain whether in or out of form. That which is real and eternal is not apparent and perhaps life here should be lived in the moment and taken less seriously and acknowledged for the temporal melodrama it is.

 

There are those who are here to make war and are fighters. There are those who will kill and those to be killed. There are farmers who live to make food. There are politicians who make politics and financiers who make money. There are those who live off their labor and those who live off of others. There are those who are hungry and those who are full. There are those who play games and those who are serious. There are those who save the trees and earth; there are those who save the animals. There are those that take and those who give. There are those who speak and those who are silent. There are leaders and flocks; there are priests and the sage. Each according to his appointment it seems. A most wonderful dance is seen of the universe, with nary a dust speck out of place.

 

What more can I say of these things seen; who source is not readily apparent. Existence itself will speak of the truth as I sit dumbfounded in awe.

 

It seems to me there are then no victims and perpetrators. They are one and the same in endless cycles of self inflicted pain and suffering in a universe of perfect harmony and justice where the concept of time makes it to appear as a separate unrelated event. Man’s justice system fails miserably even with the best of intentions but the inescapable truth becomes known that the killing of another goes not unpunished. There is no Judge that sits behind a desk to judge nor God that awaiting your appearance at his throne for all judgments is at the hand of ones true Self as chosen by ones actions simultaneously and not as a result of the action itself.

 

So Pete, to me life here in the flesh is like a vapor that appears for a moment and then passes away. Not to be taken too serious. Puttings ones trust in the understanding of this life alone would necessitate we look at the flowers and trees and see that they neither measure, complain nor judge but rather fulfil in harmony that which is placed in their design and power. And we likewise each fulfill that which is in our design and power to live in harmony with the whole. Should we be overtaken by the rudiments of the world, it would be good, i think, to remember that our days are numbered.

 

Just the ramblings of a man for consideration and from the perspective of this Christian it involves the supernatural since what we deem natural or seen is all manifested from the unseen ,

Joseph

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Its a viewpoint and I do not wish to take that away from you. For my own point I guess we have come from two differing places. I have worked in health much of my life and witnessed a lot of suffering. It is painful to witness things like the pain of a child who has a brain cancer and know that there is little one can do to change things as they slowly die. I see also those who are tormented by voices in their head that cripple their lives and will not leave them alone. Those with dementias constantly lost and seeking assurances they once had from their past. I wonder then what can be the feelings of God who is said to be able to change things and appears to not do so. It maybe part of a larger tapestry but for me it is the bit presented to me that I cannot get my head around and the associated trauma inflicted on a helpless individual. I see my father who has had a stroke and has lost much of his comprehension of what is occuring around him but knows something is very wrong and his suffering of intermittent TIA's and my mother who has become bed ridden and I can see her energy slipping away from her. She says that getting old is not fun. I then look at those further afield and who also suffer their personal tragedy and I am not in a space that feels removed from it to the point of being able to see it just as the nature of things.

For me this life is about growth of the spirit/soul in preparation for the next life. The disorder of this life as a ploughed field not for the materal of this life but for the spiritual of the next. It maybe unprovable but I believe the next life is there and I long for something better than this one. I feel I can trust God in the spiritual but in the materal I only have many many questions. It maybe a belief in the unseen, call it supernatural or what ever but I cannot see meaning in this life without it. I have seen too much that I did not want to see.

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Hi Pete,

 

I share your inclinations about theodicy. But it seems that "chaos" and "order" always to depend on a particular vantage point for their definition. Is there any way to apply either category to an ultimate reality, to the whole? I'm not sure, since both chaos and order seem to emerge from relative existence.

 

As George points out, perhaps our chaos is part of a higher order. This would decenter our particular realm of existence. But personally I don't see either order or chaos as being "ultimate". Spontaneity and creativity are more my cup of tea. :) Of course, spontaneity can look like chaos, but only from the outside. What is chaos on the outside can be order inwardly and vice-versa, perhaps.

 

Peace,

Mike

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Hmmmmm ...

 

 

Point 7

 

By calling ourselves progressive, we mean that we are Christians who form ourselves into communities dedicated to equipping one another for the work we feel called to do: striving for peace and justice among all people, protecting and restoring the integrity of all God's creation, and bringing hope to those Jesus called the least of his sisters and brothers.

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Pere, I hear and feel your struggle, your anger, your pain, all that have to go along with one trying to sort thiese matters out in some way that seems acceptable or comprehensible to them...I have been there, too. I think many people confront this same matter at some level, some time. I pray you come to your place of peace in it.

 

Something I've experienced in ordinary life seems relevant to me somehow in this,even if I'm not sure or could explain how so. But it is what I try to draw on when I feel that sense of discord pertaining to this matter.

 

I am, always have been to some extent, at some times more so than at others, extremely sensitive to loud, random and discordant noise. Crowded rooms with many people talking at once, busy city streets, amusement parks and fairs, and my first venture into a gambling casino nearly scrambed my brain! I feel like it is actually scrambliing my thoughts, and sets my nerves ajangle. I can only imagine what horror it would be to find myself amidst the din of battle on a battle field...if unable to shortly escape it, I might just throw myself into the line of battle fire!

 

I was in a particularly sensitive state some years ago, psychologically, emotionally, and physically, when through a series of events, I was repeatedly being thrown into such environments. I was becoming tense, anxious, moddy, cross, just generally I was not taking it well, I was not good.

 

I was having an especially difficult evening, and feeling my nerves had just about had all I could take, when it was as if a small inner voice whispered to me, "find the harmony within the disharmony." So clear it seemed, i stopped in mid-step and mid-thought. My thought "what?" Again, it whispered, "find the harmony within the disharmony."

 

I took a deep breath, focused on relaxing my taught muscles, calming my mind, and incredibly, within a few moments, caught my first fleeting sense of actually doing that very thing. Briefly at first, it is something now i've worked at many years, can enter that state more readily now in such situations. Somwhere within the cacophany of discordant noise, I can always find, not knowing quite how, some harmonious refrain running through it all, that my mind can take hold of, that smooths and unfies the chaotic noise into something much more bearable for me.

 

The best common example I can think of to compare to this effect, is if one has listened to a singing group that is performing a piece written with multiple part harmonies...like children commonly do with "Brother John", but more complex. If you hear such a piece being performed unexpectedly, and catch only bits and pieces of it, as from in another room, it cansound like just a bunch of random, discordant, chaotic voices...only in focusing, listening for a moment, so as the catch the rythym, the flow (I'm not musically educated, so don't know the exact correct term) does it begin to sound, feel, organized and comfortable...at least for me that is so.

 

In any chaotic event, or situation, and to a further extent, within my thoughts on what you are struggling with here, I try to move toward that state, try to find the harmony within the disharmony. Sometimes patterns, rythyms, can begin to emerge. But I am also quite aware that there may well such such greater patterns and rythyms over such breater spans of time, comprehending them simply aren't possible for any of us.

 

I've found my best resource in trying to comprehend that principle within Native American spirituality. To think of reality, and life, as flowing in cycles, each blending into the next, that may appear chaotic and turbulent and even tragic if one focuses only upon some point within the blending process. As the advent of white settlers and buffalo hunters and cattlemen and farmers brought doom to the way of life for the plans tribes that centered around following the buffalo, just to see that one point seems so tragic, so final. Yet it should be remembered that our mental image of that as having been a timeless way of life for those peoples is an illusion, for that way of life did not exist at all, did not arise and develop, until after, and as a direct consequence of, Europeans bringing horses to this continent, that eventually escaped and multiplied and spread across the plains. the way of life of the plains peoples that followed the buffalo and hunted them from horseback wasn't a timeless tradition, but just another brief period of adaptation to the changing conditions humans found themselves having to suvive within.

 

In the aftermath of the recent devastating tsunami that struck Japan, tv images showed us ancient stone pillars placed upon hillsides by anscestors of those peoples devastated by the tidal surge. Thet were clearly carved with messages, warnings..."do not build/take residence below this mark." I still sorrow for the people stricken by that disaster. But their society had set themselves up for that terrible thing, not to blame them or say it was their own fault, but to demonstrate how their tragedy was predicated on having forgotten, as a people, the cycles of nature over the greater span of time. That the way things are, aren't as they have always been or will always be. All is becoming, and becoming in change, transformation.

 

Jenell

Edited by JenellYB
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Pete said....

For me this life is about growth of the spirit/soul in preparation for the next life. The disorder of this life as a ploughed field not for the materal of this life but for the spiritual of the next.

 

Perhaps then you can see that this perceived disorder in realily is really not chaos but order for the spirit. A bigger picture.

 

Joseph

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And Jesus was a sailor

When he walked upon the water

And he spent a long time watching

From his lonely wooden tower

And when he knew for certain

Only drowning men could see him

He said "All men will be sailors then

Until the sea shall free them" leonard Cohen.

 

The church has long seen the conflict between tragedy and a belief in a God who said to have it all in hand. They therefore took from judaism the concept of adversay and created a devil to blame for such ills. Some gnostics believed in two gods. One evil one that created the universe and a good one which seeks to rescue us from it, The Cathars also believed in a duality of the divine and a fight between good and evil. Many in the church talk about a judgement day in which good will be seperated from evil. All I believe is that still small voice within is I feel at odds with what I see as the chaos of the universe. Now I am not saying that where I stand now that none other has not seen suffering and I am not preaching that people should make the same sense of it as I have. We are dealing with the faith in unseen here and not a tangible issue for us all to see the same. I just see a God that leads us through the chaos and disorder of this materal life towards the order of the divine spiritual. Now because I believe in realities beyond this one I feel I should answer the question "Does my faith involve the super natural" with the answer yes. Others may see things differently and I am not against that but for me I do not see harmony or some overall divine order in this life as there is so much (IMO) that I feel stands at odds with it. People are free to follow what works for them but in order to be true to myself, this is where I stand.

Edited by Pete
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