You’re standing at the end of the driveway, watching through tear-soaked eyes as your eldest child heads off to college for the first time. You know that letting go is a part of being a parent, and that he or she is embarking on an amazing journey, but the experience is painful, nonetheless.
It seems that freedom has a price.
If you’re a parent, then you know, all too well, the long process of letting go.
From the moment they take their first steps, to the sad farewell as they head out on their own, our job as parents is to steadily grant our children more and more freedom.
After all, how can any human-being live a worthwhile life unless they are free to experience it?
And yet, the more we let go, the greater the possibility that they may fall.
So, there seems to be a conundrum:
Keep them close / Keep them safe
Let them go / Let them fall
But, did you know that this conundrum extends far beyond child-rearing?
In fact, you could say that God was faced with the same decision.
Want to know what God chose?
“So, do you go to church?”
“No, I’m spiritual, not religious.”
“I’m spiritual, not religious” has become a pretty popular response to the question of religious affiliation. Some believe it to be an excuse to avoid getting up early on Sundays, while others feel a deep sense of identification with the term spirituality.
So, what is spirituality and why are more and more individuals and groups calling themselves spiritual?
The human experience is fascinating (to say the least).
We experience the external world through our senses, and these experiences are then interpreted by the mind based upon previous experiences. Thus, we are living simultaneously in two realities: Outer and Inner.
“There is an eternal truth, and his name is God.”
“No, there is only logical argumentation based on observation.”
Both: “What do you think?”
“I think that if the two of you stopped bickering, you’d really discover something.”
Both: “Well, who asked you?”
The relationship between science and spirituality has certainly been an interesting one, and yet, what if all of their problems were due to a simple misunderstanding.
*The reason that I’m using the term “spirituality” instead of “religion” will have to wait until next time.
Well, I think that we’re going to have to travel back a ways.
The Horizon Principle
If you look around at the multitude of beings that inhabit this planet, you will notice that each has a unique talent helping them to survive and thrive.
We humans are not different.
Some would say that our talent is intelligence; however, intelligence is merely a byproduct of our true talent – curiosity.
I recently had the pleasure of seeing the movie Noah and had a very interesting, and rather intense, reaction.
I realize that there has been a great deal of controversy surrounding Noah. Various religious groups have voiced their objection to certain elements of the film, or the fact that the film was made at all; however, I will not be taking any of these critiques into account.
WHY – because I believe Noah to be a free expression of an artist’s interpretation of a very old story (one that actually predates the Torah). While a great many aspects from the Jewish and Christian narratives made it into the film, in the end, each of us has our own version of the story made unique by our individual perspective.
This move is one such perspective.
Furthermore, if I had spent all of my time analyzing the authenticity of Noah, I might have missed out on its powerful message – a message that I’m only just beginning to understand.
So that I don’t ruin the film for you, I will simply give you an overview of the basic story as it’s popularly known, followed by the message and what it might mean for us.
If you know nothing of the story of Noah, you’re in for a treat.
It feels good to feel good, doesn’t it?
We spend so much of our lives in the pursuit of feeling good. In fact, many believe that feeling good is what life is all about.
I like to feel good!
But, if feeling good is so important, then why are we not better at it? You’d think that after all these years we’d have figured it out.
Well, I’m not saying that I have the answer to this baffling conundrum; however, I do think by examining three simple concepts we may be able to inch a little closer to feeling good.
What do you say?
The Three Concepts
The primary obstacle to feeling good is that we don’t really understand what we mean by “good”.
Generally, our pursuit of feeling good involves three factors: pleasure, happiness and joy.
Aren’t they the same?
Pleasure is the positive physical and psychological response to external stimuli.
A young man was swimming downstream, struggling to move faster and faster through the water.
“You sure seem to be in a hurry.”
“I have to get there as quick as I can.”
“Where the water is taking me.”
I’ll tell you one thing – I have been this man on more than one occasion, swimming as fast as I can, thinking that I can make life move faster than it’s already moving.
I find that when it comes to the River of Life we have four options.
Let’s look at them, and maybe you’ll find yourself somewhere in the water.
We can’t write an entire article based on an analogy if we don’t know what the analogy means.
Let’s break it down.
Life is constantly moving – you can feel it every day. In fact, you could say that life is taking us somewhere.
As soon as we’re born, we embark on a journey.
I’ve heard it said that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
Well, if this is true then the beautiful tree that is sitting outside my window somehow “needs me” to be beautiful. It’s not beautiful in itself, but is made beautiful when I look at it in a certain way.
While there is some truth to this statement, I believe that the concept of “beauty” is slightly more complex.
In fact, I bet that if we take a moment to consider what makes something “beautiful”, we might just discover one of the most interesting relationships that we can participate in.
This is going to be beautiful.
Think about some of the things that you consider to be beautiful.
What characteristics do they have in common?
“I love You!”
“Which Me do you love?”
“What do you mean?”
“Do you love the Me that I was, the Me that I am, or the Me that I will be?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Do you love the Me that is my body or the Me that is my mind?”
“OK, now I’m confused.”
“Well, it was You who made the statement!”
Let me guess, you’ve had this conversation before.
No – well then you’ve never dated a philosopher.
The question being asked above has to do with personal identity.
Do you know who you are, and, if so, how do you know?
Let’s take a look.
The question of personal identity doesn’t merely relate to who you are NOW, but who you are over time.
Personal identity is about continuity.
What makes me the same me that I was yesterday?
Have you ever been in a car with a curious child?
If you have, then you know how a few innocent questions (did I say a few?) can make a short drive feel like an eternity.
But, what exactly does an eternity feel like?
When most individuals use the term “eternity”, they are referring to an extremely long period of time.
However, if we look at the concept of eternity a bit closer, I believe that we can find a more meaningful definition.
Let’s take a look!
The most common use of the term “eternity”, at least in our culture, is in
reference to heaven.
Do you believe in heaven, and if so, what is it like?
Something like this, perhaps – clouds, pearly gates, white robed angels playing harps, etc.
But most importantly, heaven is everlasting, right?
Ever wonder why there are so many different belief systems?
Ever wonder who’s right?
Well, this may come as a shock to you, but I’m going to answer both questions RIGHT NOW
If we’re going to talk about belief, we should start with where belief comes from.
*I’m going to pay specific attention to religious belief.
Religious belief is constructed in three stages: Experience, Definition, Reinforcement
Religious belief begins with our experience of the transcendent.
The transcendent is that which is beyond the perceived “self” .
Most of the time we are caught up in our thoughts, emotions, and body, but during an experience of the transcendent, we are taken beyond the constructed definitions of who we think we are.
The transcendent experience is the ONLY experience that is an experience in and of itself.
Let me explain.