Thanks to all of you who commented on my previous entry about the suffering of children and the Problem of Evil. I appreciate all your thoughts on this perplexing mind-bending theological, theodicy, philosophical (annoying!) cosmic question. I often ruminate on this puzzle, more-so lately, and so it came up last night at the weekly Eckhart Tolle meeting I attend.
There was a new guy at our meeting, a new author named Carlos Garcia who has just published a SciFi book called Unknown Contact where he converses with a god-like being via cellphone text messaging(!) and discusses cosmic questions, kinda like Conversations With God, but in a fiction setting with a Sci-Fi attitude. Carlos was easy and fun to talk to and our group got into quite a gab session around the table, waving our arms, completing each others’ sentences, etc. Two laptops looked mutely on. One belonging to Tad the shaman played a very cool video of Peruvian Shamans protecting Barack Obama with awesome dancing, smudging, and skull rattling(!). And my laptop showed a paused Eckhart Tolle talking to Oprah. (But I am still voting for the other guy, because despite my religious liberal progressiveness, I seem to be anti-big-government and mistrusting of anyone friendly to Marxism or terrorist “causes”. Just don’t like bomb-throwers or Big Brother and will never understand why anyone would want to sympathize with, shake hands with, or even sit at a table with bomb-throwers to “Let them have their turn to speak, they are people, too” Ick. But I digress…)
As I was animatedly putting forth my Big Question about suffering children, putting it forth like I did in the blog post before this one, Carlos interrupted, or rather completed my sentence, with something profound. He voiced a solution I already knew, something simple and obvious, but yet … one I hadn’t let sink in, was resisting. You know how it is when you are grappling with something like this for years and answers to your pain just won’t click until suddenly after all the blows to the rock with no results, the 100th blow breaks the rock. (I think that’s a Shankara metaphor).
Here’s how my simple epiphany went. I was saying something like, there’s a little girl in the children’s hospital terminal ward with maybe cancer or some other fatal wasting-away painful disease. She is one of dozens of suffering innocents in hospital. She’s crying and full of IV tubes, and knows which substances sting when they come thru the IV tube and which ones don’t. Once pretty hair she used to like looking at in the mirror while her mother combed it and put cute little hair ties in, is all gone. She is in a lot of pain today and is sick of taking the painkillers, and had to turn the TV off because it showed kids running around doing kid things now denied her. Sometimes she likes to watch kids playing and being “normal”, but not today. She says to her mother sadly, “Oh I was thinking, I sure wish I could go to school tomorrow. I miss Mrs. Johnson (her teacher) and the rest of my class, especially Jill, Chelsea, and Debbie who sit at my table. I miss school, it is so fun. Even riding on the bus is fun.” Her parents think, but don’t say, “Mrs. Johnson was your teacher 2 years ago, her class has long ago moved on. You’ve been here suffering far too long. But yeah, how nice it was when life was more like you and we hoped it would be.” The small girl tries to be brave, her parents try to be brave — and do a damn good job of it. (I have witnessed this kind of exchange many times during my several visits to various childrens hospitals these past 5 years with my kidney-disease daughter, age 5, who has never had to stay more than a week, thank god-ess, and is going to be just fine).
So anyway back to last night’s meeting. I get to the part where I say, Why does this little girl have to suffer? No human being made a free will choice that caused her suffering, such as when a vicious predator tortures and kills a child. Much physical suffering of innocents was caused by a flook of nature, not by mankind. She just happened to be born with this, like my own daughter was born with destroying cysts on her kidney. Why is pain and fear happening to this innocent kid full of IV tubes and body wracked with pain?
It’s her Karma, some say. She “chose” this in another life. Although this looks to you like a sweet little girl, an innocent human being, it’s really someone who has lived before and done selfish or bad things…. I was saying all this at the meeting last night, and was about to say the line I used in my previous blog entry, which is: this isn’t really an innocent person you are looking at, this “girl” was a guilty person in a previous lifetime, did awful things, so she came back and decided to suffer this time to pay that karmic debt. But I never got that line out because the new guy, Carlos, completed my sentence by blurting out just after I said, “this is not a sweet innocent little girl you are looking at”,
“Right, SHE IS ALMIGHTY GOD,” and nodded his head like we were in perfect agreement, like this was common consensus. I stopped for a half-second (amazing to render me speechless for even a half-second!) as the innocent victim’s godhood sunk in. I said, “Omg, yeah. You’ve really helped me with this puzzle.”
We all of us went on to discuss how each person is a fragment, a holographic miniature expression, of the Absolute (aka God). We humans decided and re-decide to incarnate as all these many billion people to express our (divine) consciousness, our (divine) self-ness, or something(!) thru ourselves. We are God. We are God, the Universe, having relationships, becoming conscious and aware of Itself. We are the One, the Divine One, blasphemous as that sounds. That fits in with what Eckhart Tolle teaches in his book, his “Bible”, the best “scripture” of our time, in my opinion, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.
I also badgered the guys at the meeting (I was the only woman there last night for some reason) about individual reincarnation, which I am not sure I believe in. They gave impassioned answers, and the two hours fled by. I think we individual “souls”, individual fragments of the Divine ONE, all get stirred up together after death, and so different and unique pieces break off of the whole each time and “re-incarnate” into bodies of new babies. There is no specific Cleopatra piece, no separate Napoleon piece that keeps getting reborn. The Cleopatra pieces are all stirred up and mixed with other pieces of the Whole. It is like water molecules, perhaps. They evaporate out of oceans and rivers, rain down to the soil, join the aquifer, enter your well, or the water supply, and several clumps of these water molecules end up in separate glasses of water on your dinner table. They will never be in the same glass again after this. Those water molecules don’t go away, as the laws of physics prove, but they don’t “incarnate” in exactly the same glass (personality structure) ever again. Yet each day we are pouring more glasses of water, there is an endless supply of soul-stuff, but it doesn’t appear in the same exact chunks.
We ALL have been Cleopatra, Napoleon and even Jesus, said Carlos and Tad the shaman at the meeting last night.
Once I got home and my family all went to bed, I picked up and read an entire Christian fiction book called The Shack. If you have lost a child, or like me you ponder the problem of innocents suffering, the Problem of Evil, you must read The Shack. It has swept the Christian circuit.
It’s also a good read for people who view God as a woman, the Holy Spirit as a woman, and ponder the existence of Sophia. It is a mainstream Christian book, yet approximately half of Christian pastors call The Shack blasphemy and dangerous, and the other half of Christian pastors (the progressive liberal Christians!) think the book is awesome. I tend to agree with the latter, and found a lot to validate my alternative beliefs, and much to help me with solving the suffering-of-children dilemma. I enjoyed The Shack immensely, altho some of the author’s treatment of Jesus was a bit corny for me, “sophisticated” alternative esoteric Christian that I am. <snort> I just reminded myself the author was using metaphor and most of all allegory, wonderful colorful allegory, to get his point across. Since he does it so masterfully, I can suspend judgement thru the few corny parts to get to the cosmic questions, the theological, philosophical “meat” I so crave.