Thursday August 11, 2016
5 a.m. All right, I’m ready to resume. I was getting a hint as to where you’re going with this, yesterday, but it is gone now. So, I’m interested to see what you have in mind.
Remember, for the moment we are looking at the world (that is, everything, not just physical matter) as flow rather than as structure. So movement, fluctuation, currents, now assume greater importance than relative positions.
Yes, I got that.
You think you do. We’ll see. It is one thing to have an idea as an idea, another to commit to it, even pro tem. It makes a difference, because the commitment leads to your seeing connections and analogies rather than having the idea sit as an undigested lump.
All right. We mentioned sin and illness in the same breath. Rather than contrast the two, let us for the moment compare them. What they chiefly have in common is that they produce, or measure (depending on how you think about it) the on-going state of one’s psychic health.
I put in “health” but it doesn’t seem right.
No, and “position” which you considered wouldn’t be right either. Let’s back up, then, and approach it from another angle. We really didn’t expect this to be an obstacle.
I get that you are saying illness or sin is a measure of the difference between where we are and – something.
That’s not right either. We may have to consider them separately and then try again to show what they have in common, because the two are too different to be lightly compared.
So let’s begin with sin, as having fewer “external” constraints than illness. What one chooses is more a function of a certain level of 3D consciousness than what seems to happen to one’s circumstances, as illness often presents itself.
Shall I argue with you as we go along, or would you prefer to make a statement before I register objections?
Either way. You rarely interrupt when we are going well.
No, I struggle to keep up. Well, is sin really always a choice?
I know, but in fact we seem predisposed to certain kinds of sins, the way an alcoholic is predisposed to drink. It’s still free will, maybe, but it isn’t very free.
The point is valid. And of course, anyone is more inclined toward certain sins than others.
It seems so. If I am covetous, I am not aware of it – but I am prone to envy. That’s one example. To avoid covetousness is not only no problem; the temptation doesn’t seem to arise. But it can be a real struggle not to envy another’s success, or whatever.
Not a bad example. Let’s pursue it. You are not prone to covet things, because ownership of things is not important to you. But “not prone” is not “immune.” Should you someday come across something you’d die to have, only somebody else has it and you never will, the feeling could arise.
Ah, I get it. That’s what they meant by “an occasion of sin” – the set-up, the precondition.
Well, that’s one thing they may have meant. In any case, given that the seven sins express a human range of possibilities, you cannot expect to be immune to temptation by any of them; it may depend partly upon circumstances as well as upon your internal makeup.
Now, look at the subject not as you expect it to be, but with new eyes. We’ve already said sin is not a matter of black marks in the book for which you will be punished. For a certain kind of psychological makeup, that is the only way the concept makes sense, as a sort of ledger-book accumulating debts. That is not a useful concept here. People of that psychology are unlikely to read this. (It is true that people of a different makeup may have been raised with those concepts, but they will have rejected them or will reject them, as soon as the limitation occurs to them.)
Sin is a useful concept if held to a measure of your proneness to given kinds of obstacles. In this, we are merely reverting to an earlier theological view (of which you are unaware) that sees sin as not a crime but a weakness. You aren’t responsible for the weaknesses of your character any more than you are responsible for birth defects. What you are responsible for is, what you do with them. If you encourage and indulge weakness, what do you suppose will happen? If you struggle against it, you will bring yourself closer to what you should be – that is, closer to your optimal functioning.
The situation is complicated as usual by the confounding of sin as tendency with sin as defiance of external prohibition. Again, we are not discussing sin in its aspect as “offense deserving punishment.” That ought to be able to go without saying, but in fact, it doesn’t. It is too widely assumed, too deeply ingrained.
So you might look at sin this way: Everyone’s psychological makeup has weaknesses. Those weaknesses may be regarded as the result of Original Sin, if you wish – that is, a human heritage that cannot be escaped in the world of perceived duality. But your weaknesses can tell you things about yourselves that you would otherwise have no way of knowing. That is, they can be made useful to you. or, they can be indulged and allowed to acquire more autonomy, diminishing your area of choice. It’s really up to you, continually.
Looked at this way, perhaps you can see that sin is less important than what you make of it. Your reaction to what you are prone to, more than the question of what those weaknesses are or how they manifest, is the significance and the opportunity.
And it is in this point (only) that we would draw the analogy to illness. What you do with your situation – how you allow it to affect you, what choices you make – determines not only the “why” of the illness but the value of it.
I think that means, after we react to the illness we can look back and say, “aha, that’s why I got that, or why I brought it in,” or whatever.
That attribution of meaning isn’t really the point, that’s just something you are prone to do, to make sense of your lives retrospectively (and nothing wrong with doing that). The value of a thing and the value you assign to it emotionally or intellectually may not have anything to do with each other. What you think or feel is one thing; the actual effect is something different even if the two happen to coincide.
There is value in suffering.
Not exactly. There is value in one’s reaction to suffering, as there is value in one’s struggles against weaknesses.
Somebody said he didn’t know whether pain improves you, but he knows that it does deepen you.
Life is struggle. Nothing grim about that fact; that’s what 3D was invented to facilitate, change through reaction to pressure. That’s one way it might be seen, anyway.
So what is the commonality between sin and illness that you were seeking to make clear?
Humans naturally strive for wholeness, for health. They have an innate drive to be what they are, as best they can actualize their potential. This may not be obvious, if only because there are so many different patterns of potential, but I assure you, nobody enters into life, nor lives, determined to fail.
But what is it to achieve wholeness? Physical and moral and intellectual perfection while in the body? Or – effort, longing, progress, leading to a corrected condition after physical life and before the next stage of life?
That sounds like Bernard Shaw saying Englishmen consider the world as a moral gymnasium.
You can feel a swarm of objections rising, not yet formulated. Next time.
Very well. Thanks as always.