Why Do We Suffer?

eyeless_girlVarious explanations have been offered down through the ages to explain the suffering experienced by so many in physical reality. In some traditions, there are good gods and evil gods, constantly vying for supremacy over their Creation. In Fundamentalist Christian tradition, it’s humans’ fault that pain and hardship exists in the world, which was cursed because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience at the dawn of time; catastrophe is frequently seen in this tradition as God’s punishment for unrepentant human sin. In traditions where reincarnation is espoused, pain and suffering is often explained as the logical outcome of misdeeds done by the sufferer in past lives.

In atheist materialist tradition, physical reality is a mindless mechanism unaware of and unconcerned with the suffering of its creatures. Stephen Fry, noted British actor, writer, and outspoken atheist, recently said in an interview that in light of all the horrors that exist in this world (such as certain insects that can burrow into childrens’ eyes), a compassionate loving God could not possibly exist. The argument is simple and compelling: as God, the deity is presumably omnipotent and omnipresent; as a loving God, the deity is presumably concerned with the suffering of others. Logically, then, if God created insects that burrow into children’s eyes, God is either not loving, or It does not exist.

The visions I experienced in the fall of 2013 showed me unmistakably that a multiversal Consciousness (which many call “God”) does exist, and that Its nature is love and light. These visionary experiences I have since learned resemble those of many religious and non-religious individuals down through history and across all cultures. The symbols vary from person to person and culture to culture, but the gist is the same: that we are each of us known, accepted, and supported by a universal consciousness that is personal without being individual, and that is utterly familiar without being comprehensible. [For a compelling examination of mystical experience from the viewpoint of a nonmaterialist neuroscientist, see The Spiritual Brain by Mario Beauregard and Denyse O’Leary (New York: HarperOne, ISBN 978-0-06-162598-5, paperback $14.99), available through Amazon.com.]

My visions have given me hope that ultimately, whatever happens to my body, the core of me is eternally loved and safe. But my visions did not give me any theology with which to understand why life in physical reality involves so much suffering, or why “God” appears to do nothing about this.

The Kinds of Suffering

Not all my suffering arises from the same vectors or conditions. I’ve broken down the stuff that causes me the most pain into several categories, organized according to the forces and actions involved in the suffering I experience.

Suffering That Results Partially or Primarily from the Actions of Natural Forces: My severe juniper pollen allergy, worse this winter than ever before in living memory; my genetic predispositions towards osteoarthritis, depression, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes; the aches and pains that come from the natural aging of my body; my spinal damage due to a mild case of polio as a child in the Fifties; the physical distances between things and people; the deaths of loved ones from AIDS, alcoholism, and heart attack.

Suffering That Results Partially or Primarily from the Actions of Others: My ongoing PTSD, the result of my upbringing in a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic pedophile mother, an angry chronically depressed father, and a sadistic, mentally ill older brother; the economic and sociopolitical forces operative nationally and in New Mexico that make access to employment and medical care difficult for low-income people like me; my struggle for self-acceptance as a gay man in a homophobic culture; Santa Fe’s socioeconomic stratification; the high cost of education; the suicide of my lover Stuart.

Suffering That Results Partially or Primarily from My Own Actions or Inactions: My years of resistance to acknowledging, and seeking help for, my incest background and eating disorder; my poverty, which partially results from my having made unwise education choices as a young man; my loneliness, the result of self-imposed social isolation; my perfectionism; my attempts at controlling a physical reality that is naturally in a constant state of change; my lifelong tendency to resist exercise;  my lifelong practice of eating foods that harm me; the harms I have done to others; the depression that comes from my insistence upon listening to radio news and reading newspaper accounts of the world’s pain; my resistance to acknowledging the good things in my life because I’m so pissed off by the bad things; my resistance to asking for help from God and others.

I recognize that I have not experienced horrors and brutalities that so many of the world’s peoples experience on a daily basis. Nonetheless, suffering is suffering. What kind of help can I expect the “God” of my visions to give me in dealing with the sufferings of everyday life? To what extent can the “God” of my visions directly affect or mitigate the hardships spacetime affords me? And how can I best access this help? We’ll look at this issue in the next blog.

Next: Accessing Divine Help In Spacetime.

 

 

 

 

 

On Giving Up Theology

MAJORTRUMPS.XII.TheHermitI tend to continually compare my idealized inner picture of the world as I feel it should be with the reality I perceive around me. As a result, I am usually disappointed, because physical reality has its own rules and patterns that often do not square with my idealized inner picture. In an attempt to discover and understand these rules and patterns, I have spent most of my life exploring different philosophies, religions, and lifestyles, hoping to find one that would feel like home.

The Good Boy

As a child, I thought by being “good” according to my familial value-set, I would be rewarded with the love, safety, and belonging that I craved. When that didn’t work, I asked my Dad to send me to a psychiatrist, because I felt something was wrong with me, and if I just fixed it, everything would be smooth sailing from then on. That didn’t work, either.

Bible College

My father died suddenly, and I had a psychological snapping experience: I converted to Fundamentalist Christianity. I found a community of Bible-believing Christians who were really trying to live their faith. I did my best to follow the rules, which entailed giving up sexuality, dressing conservatively, and accepting the doctrine that I was bad through and through, a sinner deserving of eternal punishment in Hell. I even went to Bible College at my pastor’s urging and with my family’s money. But in the end, I found that no matter how hard I tried, the Fundamentalist doctrinal system was not for me the doorway into the unconditional love I’d been craving. I would pray and pray and confess sinful thought after sinful thought, but I never felt the love of Christ we sang about in chapel.

Coming Out

After that, I got into looking for love big time. I lost weight and sought out other gay men. I figured as long as I stayed slim, placed enough personal ads, and had sexual encounters in which I put my partners’ sexual needs before my own, the Universe would reward me with a longterm lover. I did find a lover, Alex, and we were together for two years, working as psychics, before his sudden suicide put an end to our earthly relationship. But if truth be told, having a lover did not satisfy me either. Almost as soon as Alex and I had moved in together, I had started gaining weight again in an unconscious attempt to put a shell of protection around myself. Inside I was still convinced I was ugly, unloveable, weak, bad, and a failure at being a man. Furthermore, I had failed to save him, so I was a failure as a partner as well.

Opening To Channel

After my lover’s death, I tried to practice, and expand upon, the the spiritual system Alex had channeled. I began doing trancework myself, and gradually, as I got better at opening my heart and mind to spirit, I felt a measure of that peace I had been seeking as long as I stayed in trance. But you can’t stay in trance twenty-four hours a day and function in physical reality. When I wasn’t channeling, I still found myself miserable, lonely, and scared.

Twelve Steps

After bulking up to over 360 pounds, in 1998 I got into a Twelve Step program for compulsive overeaters. I followed that system’s rules and procedures, and worked the Twelve Steps, a series of introspective spiritual surrender exercises. Suddenly, I started for the first time sensing a Higher Power’s benign presence around me, and lost half my body weight in 2 years. So there I was, thin again, and guess what happened? Despite my spiritual progress in the program, I still felt ugly and unloveable inside. So I left my Twelve Step program, and, increasingly tormented by the fear that the Universe was just an unconscious meat machine with no Divine Love, no survival of consciousness after death of the body, and no inherent purpose, I started overeating again. I ended up regaining all but around 60 pounds of the weight I had lost.

Letting Love In

Last November, at 302 pounds, I finally gave up the idea that any single system of philosophy or psychiatry or theology or spirituality was going to save me from my internal pain. I realized, finally, on a deepest gut level, that I had been embracing systems in an attempt to gain some control over my life.  So one day I threw up my hands and said to Divine Love, “I give up my illusion of control over my life and death. I open my heart to You fully. I realize that all the love and safety I had been seeking in a constantly and inexorably changing physical reality is only found in You. Please fill me with Yourself.” Then I went about my normal business.

But a few weeks later, something unexpected happened. While leading a group of clients in a Heart Chakra meditation, I suddenly had the first of a series of spiritual experiences that left me breathless with a genuine, transformative awareness that Divine Love is real—and not only real, but unconditional, for It is complete in Itself and needs nothing from me, only seeking my good. And the Love felt familiar—it felt like home. I thought, “How could I have forgotten You’ve been there with me all this time and I never noticed?” It was that real. Again, the high did not last for more than a few months. But in the course of it I started a love relationship with another gay man. When the Divine Love high wore off, all my incest trauma crap came rushing up, and I was forced by my escalating terror to terminate the romantic aspects of my relationship with him. I thought, “How could I have been so stupid as to think my so-called Divine Love experiences were real? The atheist materialists must be right. Spiritual experiences are just brain farts with no inherent meaning.”

Love and Flesh

celloatSarajevoIt’s been several months since my breakup with my lover and my fresh cascade of self-disappointment. I’ve calmed down a bit, and have realized a few things. Just as I had tried for years to immerse myself in systems and communities so I would not feel ugly and lonely, I had been trying to stay in the high of my visions so I wouldn’t have to feel the pain that physical reality often triggers in me. I had become, in a sense, addicted to spiritual bliss. I was using spiritual bliss to numb my pain and keep me in a protective shell where nothing could touch me, exactly the way I had once used sugar. I was trying to use spiritual bliss to protect my heart chakra from pain.

I realize now that my visionary experience of Divine Love last fall was not a brain fart, or withdrawn because I am a sinner. I know that that Love still exists whether I feel it or not. And because It is Truth as well as Love, Love refuses to be used by me to close my heart to my own pain and the pain of others. Love knows that, ultimately, I am safe; and that, ultimately, I will learn to keep my heart open to It even when I feel lost and abandoned. And I do not have to learn in isolation. Divine Love is expressed not only in visions, but through people, animals, and Nature as well. Recognizing Divine Love in the world around me is now my stated goal, and my prayer.

How have you experienced Divine Love? I would like very much to hear your story. •

A Message From “The Family”: On the Yearning For Love

homelessmenhuggingMister Rand has been involved of late with much pain concerning loves lost, ignored, feared, or missed.  He wonders whether he will ever find freedom from his inner child’s need to cleave to another and depend upon another totally for his sustenance, a need that has interfered with Mister Rand’s ability to relate to a beloved equal to equal. So he asks, What is it that I am fated for? Am I fated never to find a partner because of my wounds? And we know that many people ask similar questions much of the time.

We cannot provide Mister Rand [with] an answer that will satisfy him emotionally, because from our viewpoint, and the viewpoint of the Greater Self, Mister Rand is surrounded, filled, and made by Love for Itself, just [as] are all beings that exist in physical reality…And from the Greater Self’s point of view, love is never lost. It cannot be lost, because it is the stuff of which realities are constructed. It is reality itself.

But how can this be true? asks Mister Rand. In physical reality there is so much hate and pain. How can Love lie at the heart of all realities when this reality has so much evil in it? And again we say, there is no answer that can satisfy Mister Rand on the heart chakra level. For in part he still cleaves to the notion of God as omnipotent and separate from both Mister Rand and creation itself. And we do not see this as the truth.

As your writer George Macdonald once wrote, God is made of Love in all parts of Himself, and thinks nothing of Himself, but only of how He may woo His Creation back to Himself.  For God does not need anyone to love God. For God, it is enough that you love yourselves, for God does not see the divine nature as separate from you. Love one another and you love God. Love the animals and you love God. Love the trees and you love God. Love those who hate and persecute you, for they are trapped in the endless cycle of force threat and blame which narrows and narrows and narrows their consciousness until the only thing that exists for them is raw unfulfillable need. This state of raw unfulfillable need is what your writers sometimes refer to as Hell, and as Mister Rand knows only too well, one can be in Hell while still on Earth.

But  there is hope. For returning to Love is inevitable. In the end, everyone and everything is safe. Though your corporations destroy this world a thousand times over, it will be reborn. Though your religious individuals quarrel and condemn and are condemned in turn by your nonreligious individuals, beneath all this furor Love is still present. And the way one can know this is true is simply by observing that, when Love is accepted as a foundation for all one’s dealings, all one’s dealings thrive. If Love were illusory, loving others and oneself would not produce happiness and joy. They would produce only hunger for more love. For understand this: the yearning-love of which Mister Rand speaks is not Love in the way we see things.

Yearning-Love is a state of consciousness that arises when one fears to believe that one is worthy of being loved. It is a state of consciousness that arises when one demands that God prove to one that one is lovable by sending one the perfect match. And there is no such creature on Earth or in Heaven except Love itself.

We are sorry that Mister Rand is in pain. We are sorry that he thinks that because he has more flesh on his skeleton than is healthy for him that he is an abomination and desolation; that because he is homosexual God does not want him; that because he did not save his brothers or mother or father or lover or dogs from their illnesses and deaths that he has failed Love. Physical reality is the only reality where pain is available, but its wonders are far more numerous than its pains. One must however be willing and able to see the goodness and love around one, and until one has felt fully one’s force threat and blame wounds, given them a voice, treated them with tenderness and consolation, and cradled them not to cling to them but to parent them as they were never parented, until one is willing to do this, one will feel cut off from the Love that is at the center of oneself and everything else.

And so we encourage all who suffer from unsatisfied longing for love: breathe into your heart and let out the breath slowly. Let yourself relax and soften around the clenched fist within you. Let yourself feel a bit more of the pain you are pushing out of sight, give it a voice, paint its picture, write down what it says to you. And invite Love into it. Try this with yourself for a month, and see how you feel at the end of this time. And we thank you for sharing.

Recorded in trance session, Oct. 14, 2013.