Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Why Be Good? (Post 3 of 5)

What a wonderful group of comments yesterday! Here's Jon (from The Wild Things of God) and his take on this subject.

I asked my teacher a while back, with tears coursing down my cheeks, "why is good better than evil?" He said, gently, "who's to say it is?" NOT the answer I wanted to hear! But he loved me enough to tell me the truth.

Whenever considering spirituality, there's always the two points of view to consider: the Unknowable, Ultimate, Absolute, Unmanifested, Godhead, Brahman on one hand, and the intimate, present, relational, manifest, "Son", Atman on the other. Creator and creation.

God as Creator knows no-thing, is no-thing, God as creation knows everything by being everything. And one thing all creation informs him about is pain. So in Buddhism, the "moral imperative" isn't so much that at all, but a practical directive to eliminate dukkha. All creation experiences dukkha, anicca, and anatman, and all creation says "this sucks." So the Son is about redemption, love, honesty, and recognizing that the same Self is in all bodies and minds, regardless of which little one your locus of experience is associated with.

Yet on the other hand, there is the Absolute, from which all things come. The Old Testament is very honest in talking about evil coming from God as well as good--on almost every page. What happens, happens ultimately through God. This is monstrous when God is viewed as a "person.": Why did the six million Jews die?

But the Absolute is Nothing. Everything comes from Something, and that Something is Nothing. This is even more difficult to talk about.

From encountering this no-thing, even in the safe, veiled, temporary vehicle called meditation, we can see that no-thing is no conflict, no harm, no ill, well, nothing at all. It is peace, because peace is natural in no-thing.

So the Absolute perspective, has a foundation of Good... but it is absolutely (pun!) not the Good of good and evil, but simply that fact that evil can only occur where there is care, differentiated selves to have self-interest, and desires and fears.

But God doesn't have care. (Once my teacher startled me by saying, "God doesn't care if you believe in Him or not!")

I'd say there's also the individual aspect. If I am not free to rape, murder and destroy, then I am not free to love, heal and build. We are born free, then become conditioned through morality (most of us, anyway, thank God!). But then even morality becomes a shackle as well, and our love is less free giving than conditioned response. Our freedom needs to be felt anew, realized anew, though it does not *need* to have all aspects acted out!

Neither Paul nor Jesus comprised this teaching. Paul said simply, ALL things are permissible, not all are beneficial. Jesus routinely challenged the edges of the system. I love the story about the fish and the coin. When the collectors of the Temple tax came, he asked his disciples if kings tax their kids or others. Others, they said. Jesus answered, then their own kids are exempt, implying that none of them owed the tax.

He paid the tax, but didn't take a coin out of the group's treasury, but out of fish's mouth!

The paradoxes cannot be resolved: it's just the way it is. And "bad" guys and situations are needed for the "good" to work against and work through. When you see that, it becomes easier to love your enemy. All are necessary. The game is no fun without challenge. You want a rollercoaster to make you scream as well as laugh.

1 comment:

anonymous julie said...

And "bad" guys and situations are needed for the "good" to work against and work through.

Ooh. That's also part of what I want to address (approaching, of course, from a perpendicular). Look for what I write later.

I'll also reference my post on three feasts; it is related.