Posts Tagged ‘yin-yang’

What if God Was One of Us?

September 18, 2008

Circles are perfect. They have no beginning, no end – yet they are whole, lacking nothing. Circles are pure and simple – yet they wield the power to contain and define complex ideas. One example that comes to mind is the yin-yang symbol.

Dark and light interlocked in a balancing embrace. Together, light and dark are in harmony and yet that is not enough. Within the dark is found light and within the light is found darkness.

Each side contained by and containing the other – each by its opposite defined.

Could this be the nature of God? Good and evil, light and dark, creator and destroyer – together as one? Two sides of a single coin, spinning in eternity, never to be caught, both heads and tails and yet neither? Immortal brothers wrestling on the line between order and chaos?

Familiar strangers, unable to blend or to separate, neither able to win or to lose…

If people were created by such a being (one containing both good and evil), wouldn’t it follow that we would also contain both good and evil? And don’t we?

If an omnipotent and omniscient power of good pre-existed evil, then the power of good must have created the power of evil, or at least have watched it come into existence, allowed it to be. Perhaps God needed evil to exist and so he created the serpent, knowing that Adam and Eve would fall into temptation. Perhaps evil is a variable in some cosmic experiment, and we are the lab rats. Perhaps evil is necessary for us to grow spiritually.

But the more I think about it, the more I look at the yin-yang, the more I wonder. Isn’t it possible that good and evil have always existed together? That possibility gives God some humanity and makes him a little more accessible. Such a god would be keepin’ it real. Know what I mean?

Sort of like that song originally released by Joan Osborne, One of Us:

What if God was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home

If God had a face what would it look like
And would you want to see
If seeing meant that you would have to believe
In things like heaven and in Jesus and the saints and all the prophets…

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The Underlying Theme

September 17, 2008

The actual core of a thing is usually simple. For instance, the foundation of a home is pretty straightforward as compared to the things that are built on it, around it, over it. On the surface, the eye sees a complicated arrangement of roof and walls, doors and windows. Just below the surface, under the vinyl siding, run unseen rivers of electricity, water, and air. Deeper still, buried within the structure’s core, lies its foundation – the intrinsic mechanism that makes all the rest possible.

Is life any different? On the surface, life – including all the systems that make life possible – is very complicated. Thousands of scientists around the world spend their days working hard to uncover the mysteries of life’s roof, walls, doors, and windows. Priests and philosophers attend to the flow of life’s electricity, water, and air. And yet there are a few who seek to know life’s very foundation, its underlying theme.

How does the mechanism of life work?

Does God sit on his throne, picking which prayers to answer, weighing the devotion of each child before deciding who gets blessed that day? Is God really that interested in my day-to-day life that he knows the exact number of hairs on my head as the Bible claims? Religion has cast God as some kind of spiritual micromanager, complete with all the “omnis”: omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent (all powerful), omnibenevolent (seeking the good of all), and omnipresent (present everywhere, in the past as well as the future).

Omnis, by definition, are transcendent, meaning they are as limitless as life itself. God gave us the capacity to choose from a limitless set of possibilities. Why would God micromanage such a creation? That would be predictable, downright boring. Everyone loves a mystery. God already knows the outcome of the things he has chosen to control. He gave us free will so we would have the capacity to do something unexpected. God wants to be surprised by life! That is why he made us and our world so variable, so chaotic. For it is only within a state of chaos that all things are possible. (Of course, some order is required too – yin and yang.)

In this context I believe the very purpose of life can be understood a little better. God created the universe and put billions of people in it, all different, yet all created in God’s image. Because God creates, we create. In a sense we are all just like life itself. Each of us builds a unique life on a common foundation. Simple.

Deep down we are all made of the same stuff. The differences between us are something to be celebrated, encouraged, nurtured, for they are the very reason we were created in the first place.

The Opposite of Love

January 2, 2008

What is the opposite of love? At first glance, the obvious answer is hate. I looked up the antonyms of love and hate in a few online references, and in all cases love and hate were listed as opposites. That got me to thinking.

I know that I have both loved and hated someone at the same time. When my ex-wife suddenly left me years ago, there was a brief moment when I hated her. This happened shortly after our separation and at a time when I still loved her, so the two emotions can exist together in a kind of dark harmony.

I began to wonder: If love and hate can mingle together in one heart simultaneously, are they truly opposites?

For example, most people would say that light and dark are opposites. In the classic yin-yang symbol, light and dark seem to exist separately, each defining the other. However, at the core of the light there is a spot of darkness, and at the core of the darkness there is a spot of light. The lines are clearly defined, however, and there is no blending of the two. On the other hand, I am looking at a shadow on the wall of my office. It is not pure light or dark, but appears to be a mixture of both, a subtle blending not seen in the yin-yang symbol.

Perhaps light and dark are opposites only in the sense that they tend to define one another on a continuous gradient between the two extremes. If this is so, any area on the wall that appears brighter than another would seem to be light; the contrast between two adjoining areas produces the sensation of relative lightness and darkness.

For example, say we assigned a scale of one to ten to the light-dark continuum, with one being pure darkness and ten being pure light. An area of level three would seem to be very dark unless it was compared with an area of level one, in which case it would appear as light. A logically bright level eight area would appear dark when compared to a level ten.

This is very interesting, but it occurs to me that there would be no way to make a level one area appear as anything other than dark (since there is nothing darker than pure darkness), or a level ten anything other than light (since there is nothing lighter than pure lightness). So at the pure extremes of light and dark the gradient model does appear to break down and offer us the possibility that light and dark are really true opposites.

Likewise, take the opposites ‘something’ and ‘nothing’. There is no gray here. Either something is something or it is nothing. It cannot be a mixture of both. One can never equal zero.

I have always believed the opposite of love is fear, not hate. In my own thoughts I theorize that it only appears that hate is the opposite of love. Since hate is often the result of fear, I think that hate is the symptom and fear the cause, making fear the deeper, hidden and true opposite of love.

Perhaps fear is the true opposite of love just like pure dark is the true opposite of pure light (and something is the true opposite of nothing). If this is so, hate may be just a point on the love-fear gradient, a transitory dot on the line between the two extremes.