Some of us think about what happens after life more than others. Many dismiss such a future as ludicrous believing that there is nothing, that what we have right now is all that there is. I am one who believes that all of us are created for a reason, and that this reason does not disappear when any one individual dies. We may not be given to know what happens to us after life here on earth, but we CAN determine why we were allowed to evolve into the human beings that we are today. To explore this thinking is why I’m writing this.
I recently ran across my notes from a lecture given by Dr. Ron Miller in a series that he was developing about death and the afterlife, and as I was as shocked as everyone else who knew him at his death in May, I felt that sharing these thoughts might be useful.
This is not Dr. Miller’s full lecture by any means, just the snippets that made it into my notebook on that day in Elliott Chapel, Evanston, Illinois when he spoke to a rapt audience about a year before he died. Make of them what you will.
Death is a mystery that we need to confront. We are always a heartbeat away from death.
Attack of nothingness: death, meaningless, guilt. Tillich spoke of the courage to BE.
Gabriel Marcel said that there is “more to life than problems.” Where in life do I make a difference? A mystery can’t be reduced to a problem because you can’t objectify it. Can’t isolate it.
Participate in the mystery.
Marinate in a mystery.
The Divine is a mystery. To experience the Divine, you have to participate.
Encounter the mystery of a person.
In the West, we try to reduce everything to a problem, and therefore nothing important can be defined.
The way non-being threatens us:
- Death: Not taking for granted that we wake up. “This is the day the Lord has made.”
- Meaninglessness: How do we make meaning. What is the graph of my own life?
- Guilt: The creeping sense of inadequacy. Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing? Am I a good person?
- How do we view this?
- Distraction: Television, drink, sleep, medications, busyness, noise.
- Denial: Jog? Cult? Wheat germ?
- Stoicism: Stiff upper lip; can’t do anything about it; grin and bear it.
- Participate in the mysteries and somehow penetrate them: The ultimate role of faith; trust; approach
We approach God as a problem that we need to prove.
The idea that God belongs to us. Particularist.
God is a part of a larger reality. God is an object. Traditional theist.
The God beyond God. “God” is a symbol pointing to God the mystery.
I have never doubted God.
What God don’t you believe in?
When you’re ready, the teacher will appear.
The mystery of existence. I don’t have to exist, but I do. Nothingness makes sense. Existence doesn’t. A mystery.
Why IS anything? We exist AS something. Your WHATness is the same as your ISness.
Jewish mystics: God is all, kindness, compassion, what we emerge from, to what we return.
The horns of a dilemma: There has to be a third way.
Pan-entheism. The wave is water. We are what we are and at the same time we are to-be-ness.
The deepest mystery is our existence. The ground of being. That in which we are rooted. That out of which we grow. The reality of participating in the Divine mystery. This is true in all religions.
In the book Strong Religion, the authors show fundamentalists are all so alike. God is an object, a problem, to which they have the answer. There is no sense of mystery. There is a negative way of looking at other groups. It doesn’t matter which religion. They’re all playing the same game: milking the mystery out of everything.
Pseudo-religions make sure we have the right God in our lives.
Why am I here? Why, why, why? When you can’t get any more whys, then set up an altar and worship it. Money? Power? Prestige? What is your ultimate concern?? What if that God is the real God?
You don’t know God. If you think you do, it’s heresy. The paths that don’t go anywhere. Dead end.
Consciousness, compassion, having our roots in the ground of being. Deeply rooted. Be connected to the ultimate reality.
A biblical verse can’t exist in a vacuum.
Strong religion vs strong faith.
Martin Bubor, wrote his essay on existence,Ich und Du (later translated into English as I and Thou) in 1923. Feeling the other side. We have lost the “Thou” in the United States. Tu (close) vs Usted (distant).
Problem = I/it, and refers to how we relate to the world.
I/thou receives the mystery of the other: Divine, human, and all the rest of creation. We need to FEEL the other side. Turning. The possibility of turning to the Divine reality.
Bubor is a lone voice. The “I” in “I/Thou” is different from the “I” in “I/it”.
The mystery of the “we” community and the “I” individual.
Society = I/it = problem solving.
I//Thou = silence, art, music, feeling the other side. There is no recipe for achieving it except to be around people who have it.
Memory is the enemy of wonder. The clutter of memory. A child doesn’t have the memory so be like a child. See with fresh eyes. Put our face right here. The more we exercise the I/Thou, the stronger it becomes.
Again, the above notes are just scribbles that were found in my notebook. They may or may not trigger further thinking on your part.
For me, God is here, in everything, in us, in all the universe. God gives us strength to deal with what comes our way because we have been allowed to evolve and continue to evolve for a purpose. We may not understand that purpose because it may lie on the other side of life and death, and we are not given to know what it is. We must take it on faith. The trials and challenges that we undergo here in this life are ours to figure out, individually and collectively as we try to work toward compassion, justice, and harmony here on earth. God gives us the strength to do this whether we are believers or not or whether we belong to a religious institution or not.
We are not excused because we are not a part of organized religion.