Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ten Hard Questions for Soul-making

Like Siddhartha Gautama, I find myself intrigued with the hard questions of suffering. Unlike the Buddha, I do not dismiss them by saying 'it is not important to know why we suffer, but only to put an end to suffering.'

I agree with Nietzsche that 'when one knows the reason why, he can endure almost any situation.' When I was in school, the teacher who could convince me there was a good reason to study the course material, got better results than the teacher who simply said, 'because it is good for you.'

If you believe we are here by dumb chance and that there is no rhyme or reason behind the Cosmic experience, these questions are not for you. Go read Russell, Hitchens or Dawkins.

I do not expect absolute and complete answers. This blog site is aimed at wrestling with these questions, not getting them right. I hold to a position that Soul is made in the grappling. Welcome to the Soul-Gym - now, go build some Psycho-spiritual muscle!

Here then are hard questions. I hope you do not find these questions too morbid. They go beyond the typical response which says that suffering results from 'free will.' That response is like saying, "My poem is crappy because it has rotten verses." The Creator of the thing must take, or be assigned, responsibility for the thing it has created, and the way he/she created it.

1. If there is a 'Creator or Conscious Source', why did He/She/It make us with a free will that would result in such atrocities and suffering as the holocaust and so many internal and external wars? Why is the human brain hardwired to worry, fear, disagree, form opinions, judge, feel lonely and grieve?

2. Why did the Source create or allow a world with earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, flesh eating animals, meteors, Big Bangs, birth defects, poisonous plants, crushing gravity, consuming fire, engulfing water, lightning bolts and rolling rocks that can maim or kill us?

3. Why did the Creator introduce or allow disease, old age and death?

4. Why did the Creator give us nerve endings that can experience so much pain as well as pleasure?

5. Why did the Creator make us to evolve into this world naked, cold, hungry and vulnerable to attacks and exposure to a Nature that can be quite hard on us? Why evolve a being without giving it clothes, food and shelter? Why make existence so difficult? Why make beings with such strong yearnings for more than we have?

7. Why did the Source create a being or allow the likelihood that we would choose to steal, kill and cheat another due to our insatiable desires? Why give us such unfulfilled desires?

8. How does one say 'it is ALL God' and then blame humans for the selfish ego? Is that not like the artist blaming the painting for having flawed brush strokes?

9. If it is ALL God, then how can people claim that the so called 'negative' emotions of fear, anxiety, grief, depression, loneliness, etc. are not part of God? Did these emotions originate with humans, or are they eternal too? Are they as eternal and necessary as their ‘opposites’ of love, serenity, joy, ecstasy and relatedness?

10. Why do we humans have the strong innate idea of personal and collective Utopia and bliss, and so consistently and often deliberately create so much dystopia? Dystopia is a vision of a society in which conditions of life are miserable and characterized by poverty, oppression, war, violence, disease, pollution, nuclear fallout and/or the abridgement of human rights, resulting in widespread unhappiness, suffering, and other kinds of pain.


Why do so many people argue against duality? Does not the motivation to debate from a contrary opinion prove them wrong? How can one oppose duality while taking a dualistic position against duality? Why is the human brain simultaneously obsessed with unity and made to think in opposites?


Why do humans NOT wonder and question why we experience happiness in the same way that we question suffering? Put another way, why do we expect and take happiness for granted, but feel suffering is foreign? Why do we not assail God with the question, "Why have you made me so damn happy?"


Some will find these questions depressing, troubling and disturbing. Good. Both Jesus and Lord Krishna said that one must wrestle with such issues before finding lasting peace and joy:

In the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, Saying 2, Jesus said, "Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be sorrowful. When they are sorrowful, they will marvel, and will reign over all. And after they have reigned they will rest."

In the Hindu Bhagavad Gita, after Arjuna sees a vision of Lord Krishna with sharp teeth devouring men on the battlefield, Arjuna says, "O Lord of lords, O refuge of the worlds, please be gracious to me. I cannot keep my balance seeing thus Your blazing deathlike faces and awful teeth. In all directions I am bewildered...O Lord of lords, so fierce of form, please tell me who You are. I offer my devotion unto You; please be gracious to me. I do not understand Your mission, and I desire to hear of it." ~ Gita, Verse 11:25, 31

Lord Krishna responds, "O best of the Kuru warriors, no one before you has ever seen this universal form of Mine, for neither by studying the Vedas, nor by performing prayers, nor by acts of loving kindness or similar activities can this form be seen. Only you have seen this. Your mind has been perturbed upon seeing this horrible feature of Mine." ~ Gita, 11:48,49

1 comment:

MandyArwen said...

Wow Michael...these are extremely heavy questions...REALLY heavy...and sorrowful. I feel sad after reading them. I feel like I need cheering up. My heart feels inspired by all God creates and thanks God for all the good things in life. I see God's light. Thank you for sharing.