In my life, I have experienced two sources of unconditional love:
- A parent’s love for their children, and
- God’s love for his/her creation.
‘Unconditional’ means you are loved, no matter who you are, what you are, what you have done or not done. On the basis of that definition, I know beyond any doubt that my mother loved me unconditionally, because, no matter what I did that ‘peed’ her off, she would get over it quickly and return to her kind, outgoing self. She never reminded me of past transgressions, nor did she ever feel a need to tell me all of the things she does for her kids and our father; of how little time was left her by us, at the day for her day, for her to recuperate, to heal, to have her own fun.
The creator loves so unconditionally that he/she gave humankind free will -and mastery over his/her creation. The creator must have know he/she was going to be in for a rough ride, but gave us free will anyway, because it is the only way a living soul is conscious, ‘living,’ and not just ‘going through the motions’ like a robot.
God intended for us to extend and be stewards over his/her creation. But it is necessary for us to want to be, to choose to be ‘stewards,’ else, a spiritual disconnect, a rift in the soul occurs, between our ego and our ‘good sense/aka ‘higher’ self.’
When we experience the rift, we progressively go further and further into our own heads. We begin to ‘sleep-walk’/’sleep-talk.’ The Sounds of Silence – Rockin’ In the Free World. It is the only way left to us to manage with the lives we are living.
We and the World, our world, are far, far, from where we need to be; from where the creator intended for us to be.
This is because the World, our world, is plagued by ego.
Ego is of its nature, conditional; transactional. Ego is our barometer. It provides us feedback. Our ego let’s us know what is enjoyable TO US and what is not.
Ego can only tell us what it likes and what it doesn’t like. It therefore takes a binary view of everything.
Ego has infected our religions. In my tradition, Jesus, who went around healing people he knew nothing about apart from the fact they needed healing, and preaching that ‘God the Father’ is not transactional god, but rather a forgiving, loving god, is also supposed to have said this:
I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. [John 14:6]
Here Jesus is supposed to have attached conditions. Very restrictive conditions to receiving the benefits of the creator’s love (agape).
And yet, agape, god’s love for his/her children, is by definition, love without conditions attached. It is just love. It is just loving. There is no condition attached to this love, only the hope that the be-loved will be happy!
How then do conditions, such as worshipping the creator in this way, but not that way, come to exist? It is because humans have developed many different systems of worship, and raised them up to the creator; but it was not the creator who is responsible.
Therefore it’s people. Us. Human ego.
We have attached conditions upon god’s love. We are not only telling one another that it is wrong to worship this way or that way, we are speaking for god. How can any of us presume to speak for god, much less persecute or ‘correct’ anyone with a different way than ours?
‘Knowing’ god requires a lifetime of search and discovery. The search does not end until we are ‘birthed’ from the womb which is our body (and Mother Earth’s womb), and have crossed the River to the other side.
Do this and you will have eternal life (Say that and you will not).
‘I am the only way.’ Worship me and you will have eternal life. (Worship anyone else, and you will not).
That is transactional. That is not ‘long suffering.’ What is transactional is entirely of the ego. Only this time, we are talking about the ego of religious institutions. William Blake had the Catholic Church in mind while writing The Mental Traveller.
That’s where the conditions come from. From us. Not from god, IMO.
In the ‘Temptation of Christ’ Lucifer first tries to tempt Jesus with the power of acquisition: ‘Command these stones to become bread,’ because Jesus was hungry, having not eaten for some time. Jesus wouldn’t bite.
Next, Lucifer tries to tempt him with power over the Angels (among others, I assume): ‘Jump from here, to make the angels catch you so that you won’t be hurt’ but Jesus did not want to put god to the test, as if he had some authority over god. Jesus didn’t bite.
Finally, Lucifer ups the ante and offers Jesus rule over god’s earthly creation, if Jesus would only bow to him once. Jesus didn’t bite on that one either.
There is an ‘if’ attached to each of Lucifer’s temptations. Just like there is in the book of John and other places in the bible. In fact, the notion of ‘covenants’ forged between god and man, made and then broken, is a recurring motif of the Old Testament.
Transactionality, even as it manifests in covenants, or contracts between humans and their creator, is entirely of the ego. Ego is transactional by its very nature.
Jesus was not. Everything he did, even his crucifixion, as brutal as that must have been, was done because he felt compelled to serve. He felt compelled because HE SAW HIS FELLOW HUMANS IN SO MUCH MISERY. He couldn’t just ignore their misery, therefore, he spoke up about it, to remind folks of the Golden Rule.
Even during the lead-up to his crucifixion, Lucifer tempted him through Pilate and at his trial before the Sanhedrin. All that Jesus needed to do was say he was sorry for preaching. All that he had to do was to ignore what was in his heart and use his head; to save himself rather than devote it to the consideration of the needs of others. All that he had to do was give up everything he stood for and adopt the worldview of others.
He denied Lucifer. He denied ego. He chose to serve in the Light, rather than to be served in the darkness, where you cannot tell if it someone honest or Lucifer doing the ‘serving.’ That is what Lucifer finds so frightening. He is afraid that others will see through the veil of ego just like Jesus did.
And then, they would see, feel, and hear the presence of the creator in all things, they would know they are not alone, they would see the world of Light, aka the Garden, and learn how to find their way back to it after being absent for so long. They (we) need only put our egos aside. Remove the moat from our own eye, as it were.
The spiritual battle between the ego and the light is the subject of the Last Temptation of Christ, a novel by Nikos Kazantzakis. The movie version, starring Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, and Barbara Hershey, is on YouTube. This is the battle between the ‘spirit and the flesh,’ the darkness and oppression the human soul exits in under the cloak of ego v. the liberation of the soul living in the Light.
I have often been put off by the call for repentance. Today, while listening to St. Michael’s daily service on YouTube, it occurred to me why the focus is on ‘repentance.’ It isn’t because we are flawed beings (our creator loves us and would not have doomed us that way), but rather because ego is part of the fabric of life, that we all have one, and that it must be breached for the light of the creator to enter into our souls.
Even the creator has an ego. This makes me wonder if the Gnostics didn’t get it right when they claimed the god of the Old Testament was an entity inferior to the creator (to wit: was created by the creator). The existence of the ‘demiurge’ explains the transactional nature of the Old Testament.
Ego could also explain the New Testament, in places where people are being judged and condemned for their beliefs, or being told that there is only one way to the creator, and that the ones saying this own it. Scholars believe the ego we see in the NT are interpolations at the behest of those pursuing Christian orthodoxy, a one party-line scenario, such as Emperor Constantine had done, but there have been many others.
When you ‘repent,’ you effectively reject the rule ego has over your thinking/over the lens through which you see the world around you.
You are suddenly no longer ‘transactional.’ No more quid pro quo. À la your mom and Jesus, you want to give to others because you see that others have a need which YOU can fill. That’s it. That’s enough. That’s ego in balance with the mind and soul. It is the individual human spirit living in the Light.
In fact, in the act of repentance, it is your ego that ‘rejects’ itself, because something the mind created from an epiphany it experienced (the proverbial lightbulb coming on in your head) has breached the ego’s cloak upon your soul and mind and allowed the creator’s light in.
Your light is simultaneously exposed for all the World, our world, to see. This does mean you will no longer encounter opposition, only that you will know others and be known, that you will tolerate and be tolerated, you will not condemn others or live in fear of condemnation.
You suddenly operate at a different frequency; your ‘photon’ is spontaneously elevated to a higher level, that of the ‘visible light spectrum.’ You are fully cognizant of your existence in, and as, light.
Ego gives shape-reference-a starting point(POV) to things with souls. It is what differentiates us from all other living things.
Ego is designed to react, not to think. It provides us with feedback (through our emotions and sensations) on what we are experiencing in and around ourselves. But if we allow ego to do the ‘thinking’ for us, we are giving it permission to do that for which it is not designed, and it is tantamount to giving your child the keys to the family automobile.
We need to educate and nurture our egos, but the mind needs to parent the ego-child, else we may discover it is the child, not us, doing the driving for us.
Even with respect to ourselves, we must love ourselves and one another unconditionally. To the extent we are able to do this, we extend the love of the creator upon his/her creation.
That is the effect of setting the ‘self’ aside as we go about our daily lives.
‘Dying to self, that’s when we’re born into Eternal Life.’ [the Prayer of St. Francis].
An epiphany after posting, while on my walkabout:
Our Sun sits at the centre of our solar system, casting forth its light. The darkness surrounding the Sun is vanquished by the Sun’s light, for as long as the Sun shines. It’s light reveals the existence of other objects, like our Earth, which exist independently of the Sun. The planets, moons, and asteroids orbiting the Sun reflect its light and are thus brought into ‘relief’ against the background of darkness which surrounds everything.
Without the Sun’s light, we would exist in darkness. Actually, we wouldn’t exist at all. None of the objects are able to make their own light to drive away the darkness, ever encroaching upon them.
The Sun informs us, by its example, that it is not enough to be a reflector of light. To stem the encroachment of darkness upon one’s psyche, you must produce your own light, like the Sun does.
This is easy. At the centre of each human’s being is the Soul. It is the light of the soul that imparts the energy of ‘life’ to the mind-soul-spirit of the individual. The soul is of the creator and is forever. Every soul exist with and in god, the way every leaf exists with and in the tree.
The human soul is the light that dispels the darkness that is forever encroaching upon it, like the Sun drives away the darkness which surrounds it.
To prevent ourselves, our spirits, from becoming awash in darkness, to become conscious of anything apart from wondering what might be hiding in the darkness, WE MUST let our light shine. It is the only way to drive the darkness that surrounds us away.
More importantly, it permits us to expel the darkness that is in us, that has infiltrated our spirit, and which weighs our spirits down.
Be as the Sun. Be as the creator intended for all things with souls to be: creators in their own right, of their own light.
That’s likely how Jesus rolled. How Gandhi rolled. How Mohammed (PBUH) rolled. How Joseph, Moses and Noah rolled. How the Buddha rolled. How my dear departed mom rolled.
They all had egos. They all overcame their ego to let their light shine forth into the World, our world, for THE MUTUAL AND ETERNAL benefit of other folks, including you and me.
They had different life experiences, they were born to different cultures at different times. They did, however, have one thing in common: they had hearts that loved. Loved other folks, other things, because they were created by god. They loved god.
Without attaching any conditions to their love of god: Jesus was brutally crucified. The Mahatma was gunned down in the street. Mohammed (PBUH) died a short while after leading a bloodless assault upon Medina. He may have caught fever. The Buddha may have died from something he ate. None of them, even in their great physical and spiritual travails, ever said they ‘hated god,’ or that they should have gotten a better deal from god. It was their love of god that allowed them to endure and to persevere on god and creation’s behalf.
That love had to be unconditional. Had it not been, none of these venerable folks would have inspired a major religion; in their turn, inspiring untold millions of human souls across the ages to be kind toward one another and toward the planet and its other inhabitants, to practice the Golden Rule, to never do violence for any reason, save for when your own life or that of the vulnerable is under direct and immediate threat, and to be happy. [Aside: the creator relates to us the way the tree relates to its leaves. If all of the leaves are healthy and happily doing their thing, the tree is healthy and happy too].
Love is the Light. By their example, the leaders of the world’s faiths have revealed this to us and the World, our world.
Let’s light up the World.