Friday, March 8, 2013
Some thoughts from today on suffering, as shared with a reader who asked a question about it during an exchange this morning.
I don't talk so often about the question of suffering and what it actually means, because it is impossible to understand this question properly unless one acquires a certain kind of experience. I could proceed to explain with many paragraphs, in some detail, what I am trying to talk about, and one could read it and take it in with the intellect, but it would probably seem like another theory, whereas it's not a theoretical prospect in the least.
I'll give it a try, nonetheless.
The only way to acquire the understanding that real suffering is actually a form of joy, even though it arises as sorrow, seems contradictory, confusing, and even just a set of rhetorical ideas. But it isn't, because suffering contains and transmits the nature of our relationship to God; and it is one of the essential esoteric meanings of Christ crucified.
You will have to trust me — if you are willing to do so — when I say that to experience the sorrow of His Endlessness, directly, is the deepest and most extraordinary kind of joy that one can ever feel, but it arrives as sorrow. It's a strange thing, but it contains its opposite embedded within the context of worship, which is perhaps the only right impulse or force in man, and could straighten him out in short order if only he engaged in it actively.
If one has a certain kind of energy in one's being, then such worship becomes possible, but real worship is only possible if God allows it, activates it, in your organism. Up until that happens, there can be an enormous amount of worship, but it is all mechanical and attached to the outer self, no matter how earnest it is. This kind of worship ought to be objectively good, because it attempts to serve, but because of its origin in and attachments to the outer, it can't actually do so, and frequently turns into a destructive force because it is under the influences of the outer, which have no actual power over the inner, but can create very bad results within the outer.
All of that doesn't really explain the experience, still, which involves the transformation of opposites. Maybe we could look at it from the point of view of Christ; joy appears as water, in its ordinary state, but if it is transformed into wine, it is a strong thing of another level that goes into one as sorrow, deep into one's Being.... this feeling is quite unmistakable... and this has a much richer effect on the energy of one's life than the joy did, because it is of a higher nature.
Its higher nature puts it in opposition to joy, because joy is in many senses of the lower nature. What we experience as joy and happiness on this level, induced by the outer and its conditions, are often just rather sophisticated forms of selfishness, when viewed from a higher level. It doesn't mean they are all bad; if experienced through right action and/or grace, they too are good and necessary.
On this level.
Frankly there's a lot of confusion on this point, which self observation actually ought to help clear up, if engaged in seriously enough.
But sorrow, real sorrow, which is a sense of the presence of the Lord and our inadequacy in relationship to him, is an absolutely right organic response to the question of God, and if and when it is given, it produces a higher level of feeling experience which I can only use the word sorrow to describe, even though it's fundamentally inadequate. (The question of remorse of conscience can't be separated from it, by the way.)
This sorrow is actually a form of joy, but it is a higher emotion, so we don't actually have words for it. It's just that if you sense it, you will know that real joy does not have anything to do with what we usually think of as joy.
May your soul be filled with light.