I wonder whether we see how we are given no choice but to live within the contradictions of life, in which our aspirations towards the great sense of the soul are tempered by the realities of our own inner limitations. We will, for example; hurt others; and so much of that hurt comes from inadvertent expressions of the way objects, events, circumstances and conditions endlessly recombine themselves so as to challenge us.
One also might call it fate and karma; it doesn’t matter. The fact is that the configurations of the universe contain both good and bad; they cannot be any other way—and we are caught up in it. The theoretical territory of higher metaphysical planes where everything is “good” (as though that were even possible without measuring against an opposing bad) is unhelpful and even deceptive; on this level, evil is evil. No use in whitewashing it. All of us are required to inhabit this polarity and even the best of us are forced at times to navigate waters beset with every kind of reef and sandbank. Rare indeed is the man or woman who never does anything completely free of evil; just as every evil person also paradoxically embodies good, in some small action or another. It is rather a question of who and what inside us chooses, and which force predominates.
Those of us inclined towards the great sense of the soul hope always and forever to not be evil; yet so often that hope finds its fundamental expression in seeing the evil we already have, not that which is headed for us as we stand here like deer in the headlights. Today—not in some theoretical or hypothetical other time or territory—we will meet evil in ourselves and others and be forced to deal with it. There are, forever, choices on the table.
Sometimes, as in matters of love, one person’s evil will be another person’s good—and this is even more confusing. Yet love on our level is also like this; while it still wields ultimate power (as Swedenborg points out, every man’s own love, good or evil, is the substance and fabric of his whole Being) it cannot exercise the temperance God is able to bring to it. Indeed, because of this, love suffers—because it knows itself better than we know it, and suffers for the ends it cannot help being turned to in this material universe.
Love, then, needs our help. First of all, it cannot be without us: we are the agents of Love on this level, and must help it find both its way and itself within us.
Second, we are responsible; and if we can respond to the presence of love—its very material, molecular, and organic existence within us as an active force—we can perhaps bring to this life a little bit of that gentle expression which ought to infuse each moment.
We can, in summary, inhabit life today; we can be more gentle and caring; we can attempt to understand.
These may seem like big ideas, but they can find the reality of their own Being within the small and utmost daily actions of the moment.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.