Architects of a New Dawn

We’d like to show the side of the world you don’t normally see on television.

Here is my Question and I`m longing for answers, thoughts and insights from your different perspectives & spiritual backgrounds, dear Brothers & Sisters:

What about all the suffering and pain that people must experience in this world - like accidents, illness through no fault of ones own, War, Murder, absurd tragedies?
What about the Shoah/Holocaust and all the daily victims of structural Violence?

Its easy to sing "Hallelujah", when everything is fine, to praise the goodness of Life when I'm on the "sunny Side of the Street" (most of us in USA and Western Europe) and can enjoy the Beauty of Nature, to believe in the goodness of Men when I'm not to much a Victim of the dark Side of Men ... But what to say the parents, when they lost theit child? How to deal with someone who cannot bear his physical pain any longer? What to do in the Middle of Hell-Experience??

I ask you you this as a protestant Pastor, who has to deal with it again and again.
I have my confessional Ways to deal with the Problem of THEODIZEE and I try to deal with this problem in the way, that sometimes I have no answers and believe in a God, who suffers with us (my look at the Cross), limited himself (= lots is in our Responsibility!) and works through the Spirit of Forgiveness, inner Healing and Reconciliation ...
And sometimes I think Life & Believe are a "Nevertheless" in the Way of Camus` "The Plague" ... and a Bob Dylan "Never Ending Tour" as an unsatisfied Soul is nearer to me than spiritual Bright-shining- Vibes ...

I'm very interessted in your Views (please excuse my unperfect writing as a Posting from Germany)

be blessed
Thomas

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I can surely understand and feel the passion behind this question. My master, Prem Rawat, has been asked this since he was a young boy because he talks about the beauty of life. Naturally our minds think "what about the ugly parts, the painful parts?" I know I react that way.

I always have to remind myself of his answer: Yes, but what about that beauty, the love, the gift of life, etc etc. (not a direct quote). He continues to invite me to consider that even those who suffer deserve to know what is within them.

For me this is the "eternal" debate or dilemma: How to honor this life and feel blessed when I also suffer at times, and see it all around this world? So do I dismiss the gift and the beauty, the love and the joy simply because the other exists as well? Do I disregard the Creator's incredible generosity because (in most cases) human beings make a mess of it all?

It's answering a question with a question. I keep asking and answers do come.

Hope this helps in some small way.
I believe the suffering of others teaches us the most. I adopted a dog that was feeble and required lots of care. She was like a suffering barometer for the people who would meet her. Then my mother in law suffered a stroke and I helped care for her. She suffered with a lot of pain. The suffering of others teaches us just how strong of heart we truly are. Our own pain teaches us to let go. Suffering is like grief. It has it's own agenda. First it makes you sad and sorrowful. then it makes you angry and resentful. Then it gives you remorse and then sends you thoughts of death. This is the death of your suffering, the end of your grief. Even if your pain remains, it is time to let go of suffering. If I hadn't learned from the suffering of others I might have been too overwhelmed to learn to accept my own suffering. I wouldn't have been able to see through my tears when my mother in law passed on and I read to her from Corinthians.
Love, Erin
Blessed Thomas,

Wow! You really know how to start a discussion.

My experience as being raised Christian, fed me enough spiritually to provide the impetus to want more. And being raised on a ranch in Wyoming connected me to nature's wisdom, but my decades long search through religions and philosophies left me empty and believing that I'd be chopping wood and carrying water while white knuckling it to the end.

Then one day while chatting with the other two vegetarians at the firm I worked at, I learned of Vipassana. My anxiety ran high while driving to my first ten day silent meditation retreat, but eleven days later, I returned home a thousand pounds lighter.

So why am I telling you this? ...because my relationship with suffering changed. Buddhists believe the First Noble Truth is suffering, so they developed yoga... an art that in effect uses suffering as a guide. The practitioner goes to the point of pain, but not beyond. The dance of tension where the two sources of suffering, craving and aversion, meet is mindfulness - a tool needed to live a equanimous life.

In the western world we are indoctrinated to avoid pain. We have an entire medical culture built around killing pain. How could we not come to think of suffering as bad? I think the Buddhists got it right. Suffering is truth... not good, not bad... it just is. And somehow, we need to honor it.
Hi Thomas,

Great question, it goes to the heart of most peoples struggle with faith.

In my life, suffering has always been a form of education or preparation. I often asked myself, why me?
The answer has always been "It was your choice"

The most common lament is, why do bad things happen to good people.
The answer is why would bad things not happen to good people.

Again why do good things happen to bad people, same answer, it's a choice.
It's a choice like choosing to do good or do evil.

I believe in a higher power, a God, if you will. I do not believe it's a one to one relationship, but rather a symbiotic one.
Every bad experience I have had has taught me something of value, same as the good ones.

I'm no Theologian but that makes sense to me. Random violence is not random. It's all part of a construct that has a purpose.

I believe that purpose is related to freedom of choice. Only first hand experience can test the faith of an individual. I propose that is it easy to live a pious life if you have no temptation and have never sinned. To just accept the words of another as coming from God is the dumbest thing I can think of. But we need Pastors.Rabbis, etc to point things out to people, and to also show people that Pastors are fallible.

Here in the US there are many cults, I lost a brother to one.
The guy is like a robot now and believes that he will never leave this physical form because he and his leader are the part of the "real" 144 (thousand, million, whatever).

When our Father lay dying, my Brother pronounced that, this would never have happened, if my Father had gone to "his" church, and stopped believing in false prophets. If he would only turn to "his" leader he would be spared. Obviously a deluded idea referring to a person with Cancer, Arterial Sclerosis, numerous strokes, and 5 heart attacks who was 84 and in a bed for 10 years.

We can say we believe but we won't know if we believe until a time of crisis.
When all else fails we must embrace the inevitable, even if it's a horrible death.

I can't explain why the Holocaust came to be, but I understand it as a consequence of something that came before it.
Man called for a sacrifice and man delivered it. It had nothing to do with God and everything to do with human weakness.

Hitler saw an opportunity to wield power and he chose to use it to a bad end.

I don't accept the concept of a punitive or merciful Gods as to me that would negate the God concept.
I can accept a concept where God gave rise to the concept of life, but I really doubt that he is a "busybody" some one who micro manages everything. I think he left that up to us.

He/it does not need or want worship, worship is an abomination. Ego causes the want of worship. worship is a human invention, and a poor one at that.

It's a difficult puzzle to assemble because my statements give rise to more questions, but why should the most important thing in the life of an individual be easy. If it were, would it have value? I'm not sure. But am I being dogmatic in saying that?

Each person faces a number of challenges and I believe we evolve spiritually according to how we ultimately deal with those challenges,

The same challenge is different for each person. Let's take an extreme. The Holocaust.

One could say, it sent more people to heaven than to Hell if those places exist as we refer to them, So on a gross human scale, evil lost to good.

Hitler was defeated and this led to a number of things including the Iron Curtain, but the Iron curtain was instrumental in the downfall of the Soviet Union, and on we go. But in doing that (WW 2) many good people committed violence on good people. So ae evil, or bad absolute?

A Hindu would tell you it was all a perfect working out of Karma, but Karma and Dharma are both dogmatic and while these beliefs are easy to fit into a closed system, they are not self evident.

I believe life (including re-incarnation) is a never ending tour of experience, and I think I like that. I believe we all have to experience everything from every perspective to be fully prepared to accept the "surrender" or reintegration to the oneness of whatever God really is. I also think the discussion is never ending as none of us has "the" answer.

Dylan also said.
Don't follow leaders and watch your parking meters.

That is very sound advice.

I only have one Master, me.
To me, blindly following a spiritual leader is a way to have a recess in your path to enlightenment.

That's the best I can do, and it's true for me, not anyone else.

Best regards,
Ernesto Rafael Vega
I think that pain is an integral part of life. Could we appreciate the beauty of life without the ugly? I think certain illnesses and wars are the universe implementing population control...our earth can only hold so many. Things can be awfully hard sometimes but isn't that one of life's biggest challenges...to be able to find the good and the positive in any situation. Without the hardships in my life I think I'd be much less of a person. People who have had everything they want in life and spared every hardship they possibly could seem to me to lack something special that makes up the majority of the population. I don't think it's the pain and bad things that matter as much as the way that an individual handles them. I'm not quite sure that was an answer as much as my random thoughts on it.
Maybe suffering and pain are here to get us closer to each other and to the divine inside each one of us? I think it is all lessons down on this playground called earth.

If everything was rosie and wonderful all the time we might not grow as much spiritually? I too am answering your questions with a question.

Suffering and pain have helped to teach me to have more compassion and love for others.
Just to be good to everyone and for the nature. To do the things that can help, to give the sincere smile and say the words that come from the heart. To think about what is good for everyone and to stay focused on it. To get people together to create the change that would get things better for those who can't help themselves anymore. Most of all to teach the tolerance.
Thank you ... for the moment ... for all your answers, inputs & thoughts! ... I will contemplate :)

You`re beautifull!
Thomas
"I am a Def Con of Angora Goats." lyric by the The Mars Volta. Life is what you make it, dear brother and sisters. When people ask me if I'm doing okay I simply reply, "I'm not walking the Trail of Tears, and I'm not a man trying to survive in Ethiopia." That usually sets them up for pretty good responses. No matter how hard life gets in America, it can always get worse. I believe in being a realist and taking the day as is, no filler. "I am a Def Con of Angora Goats." lyric by the The Mars Volta. Life is what you make it. Pastor Thomas, I am not a religious man. I believe in god, the universe, cosmic conscious and all that, but I believe people manifest their own lives, Quantum Physics style. There is a book called "Prometheus Rising" that I think you would benefit from reading. It has to do with the relabeling of objects, in life, and it has to do with breaking out of the herd every now and again and realizing that life is pretty damn good if you just enjoy it for what it is. When people die, and we have funerals it's not for the dead, but for the living. They are headed for the next existance. There is no reason in trying to hold them back tethered to Earth, simply because of our own selfishness... Maybe that is a "dark" way of looking at it, but that's what I think is the way of things. Death is a part of life, and we are all going to have it happen. So why not let the time we spend right here and now be good, and quit our bitching about how bad we have it. Depression, I've been there. My first memory of life was my biological father kicking me across the floor to go over and get to my brother and beat him, because he was a drunkard. Now the man is dead. Do you think I suffered when I heard the news? NO... Drug addiction: Heroin, Candy flipping with Extacy and acid, alcohol, been there, still there with cigarettes, but I'm slowing down and I'm going to get on Chantix, and I'll quit. Now that we as Americans think we have it so bad. We are living like kings for the most part and people don't even see it. Everything is instant gratification. I am sensing a shift in the country and it's going to be hard for those that can't survive. That is evolution, and I can't get with most of the constant "Oh, I have it so hard, when they are shoveling two Big Macs, an xtra large order of french fries and drinking an Xtra large Diet Coke. Then they complain because they can't lose weight. What? People are spoiled in America and it's catching up with us.

Pastor Thomas you obviously care for these people in a way that I appreciate, but you have to separate yourself from their situation. When you surround your heart with negativity, eventually you start to hurt. I respect what you do, sir. I couldn't. I'd be telling people, "Quit your bitching! Let bygones be bygones and all that." Life is what we make of it. I'm just a wolf running against the pack, trying to find my own way. Later. i hope this helped. Go read that book!!!!
While I mostly agree that we create our own... I have a hard time believing it when in a children's cancer ward or burn center.
Or when observing a fetal alcohol child who has to suffer numerous surgeries and body casts pursuing treatments that don't work - meanwhile her intoxicated mother doesn't feel a thing.

This is when someone usually says... karma.

As architects of a new dawn, I believe we have resposibilities to effect karma, to plant joyous karmic seeds. I envision social changes that address the need for a system that not only discourages the exponential increase of childhood cancers and addicted infants, but addresses the system that benefits from the suffering of others.



James Murff said:
"I am a Def Con of Angora Goats." lyric by the The Mars Volta. Life is what you make it, dear brother and sisters. When people ask me if I'm doing okay I simply reply, "I'm not walking the Trail of Tears, and I'm not a man trying to survive in Ethiopia." That usually sets them up for pretty good responses. No matter how hard life gets in America, it can always get worse. I believe in being a realist and taking the day as is, no filler. "I am a Def Con of Angora Goats." lyric by the The Mars Volta. Life is what you make it. Pastor Thomas, I am not a religious man. I believe in god, the universe, cosmic conscious and all that, but I believe people manifest their own lives, Quantum Physics style. There is a book called "Prometheus Rising" that I think you would benefit from reading. It has to do with the relabeling of objects, in life, and it has to do with breaking out of the herd every now and again and realizing that life is pretty damn good if you just enjoy it for what it is. When people die, and we have funerals it's not for the dead, but for the living. They are headed for the next existance. There is no reason in trying to hold them back tethered to Earth, simply because of our own selfishness... Maybe that is a "dark" way of looking at it, but that's what I think is the way of things. Death is a part of life, and we are all going to have it happen. So why not let the time we spend right here and now be good, and quit our bitching about how bad we have it. Depression, I've been there. My first memory of life was my biological father kicking me across the floor to go over and get to my brother and beat him, because he was a drunkard. Now the man is dead. Do you think I suffered when I heard the news? NO... Drug addiction: Heroin, Candy flipping with Extacy and acid, alcohol, been there, still there with cigarettes, but I'm slowing down and I'm going to get on Chantix, and I'll quit. Now that we as Americans think we have it so bad. We are living like kings for the most part and people don't even see it. Everything is instant gratification. I am sensing a shift in the country and it's going to be hard for those that can't survive. That is evolution, and I can't get with most of the constant "Oh, I have it so hard, when they are shoveling two Big Macs, an xtra large order of french fries and drinking an Xtra large Diet Coke. Then they complain because they can't lose weight. What? People are spoiled in America and it's catching up with us.

Pastor Thomas you obviously care for these people in a way that I appreciate, but you have to separate yourself from their situation. When you surround your heart with negativity, eventually you start to hurt. I respect what you do, sir. I couldn't. I'd be telling people, "Quit your bitching! Let bygones be bygones and all that." Life is what we make of it. I'm just a wolf running against the pack, trying to find my own way. Later. i hope this helped. Go read that book!!!!
In the sense of stopping disease, or sickness of anything we are just taking ourselves further and further away from the, not to be Disney here, but "Circle of Life." Do you think a monkey has the ability to go in to a hospital and just get a shot for the flu, or any of the thousand diseases that we've created? No. I am not saying that when someone is in these states of being that I do not feel an overwhelming need to reach out and hold their hand and stroke their forehead, tell them I love them, because I do that and much more. When I was 19 I read "Thanatopsis" to my grand father who was lying on a bed, in our house, dying, and then I held his hand and was with him those last few moments. I am saying that we manifest a lot of the pain and sufferering that we feel, and see. Look around you. Did a lion come up to your house and give you (us, human race) lhyme disease, or Cholera, or AIDS? No humans did most of it, with mostly societal structures and building. We as humans spend a millions on learning new ways of torturing each other with new technology, making sure the flocks of people stay indoors and "Obey the Rules," but we have not even reached Mars with a human yet. WTH? I don't know, maybe I'm just way out there.
Thank you for this topic. I once heard, from someone quite brutal with words, that we may not be able to choose our pain, but we can choose how we suffer. I believe this to be true. I fought the notion for a good number of years, but realized that the power to choose was really my own.

I believe incredible soul growth can happen when we realize---as Terry put it: "Suffering is a deeply personal experience. We must understand suffering, come into contact with it, and learn how to overcome it without fighting it or running away from it."

I've often wondered lately how can we really help those on the other sides of our world who are truly suffering? Does throwing love across the thousands of miles or even down the block, or sending healing thoughts, or prayers, really have an impact on their suffering--does it shift it, does it ease it, does it matter? We'll never know...or will we?

I know this---one day, years ago, I was throwing a nice pity party for myself as I was undergoing chemotherapy, and I was telling myself how awful it all was, and that it was just too painful and too stupid and why me--blah, blah, blah. Suddenly, don't ask me to prove this because I can't, I just KNEW that people were praying for me right at that VERY moment! I could feel it. And, I was lightened, and my thoughts turned to more comedic issues---like how much I looked like Uncle Fester at the time... I also realized that I could control this suffering thing---even if it was only moment to moment.

I believe there must be something powerful for us all to learn when we are shown the personal experiences of others suffering, or else what could the point possibly be?

I don't have any easy answers for you, only prayer, only somehow throwing love as gently as I know how---and knowing in my heart that when we see the suffering of others, perhaps it is also to show that we are here to hold their space for them---to hold onto the faith that may be impossible for them to hold--to hold the truth of who they are, within us, until they can...

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