Friday, 17 April 2015

Letter from your Heavenly Father (Part Three - the problem of natural disasters)

My Dear Child,

I know that one of the hardest things for you to understand about your mortal life on Earth is the sheer amount and severity of suffering which some people experience.

You will know that I am a God of Love, and it is not my intention for my children to suffer as much as some of you do; and indeed - as any loving earthly parent will know - my own sufferings on your behalf are extreme.

Suffering is not a matter to be disposed of by a single, simple explanation - because there are different reasons for different instances of suffering - and some degrees and instances of suffering are wholesome overall and in the long run.

Also, it may, perhaps, be helpful for you to know that all earthly sufferings can, and will, be healed by me after you move on to the next step - if you allow me to do this, because you must of course consent to my help (sadly, not all of you do allow this).

But one cause of suffering which seems particularly hard for you modern Men to understand is that caused by 'natural disasters' such as earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes and tidal waves. These seem to be arbitrary and random, and at least some of these happenings may seem impossible honestly to explain as part of any divine plan.

Yet, you reason; if they are not part of my plan, then why do they happen at all; why did I not make the world so that things like this simply could not happen? 

And a further worrying question sometimes arises in your mind; which is that since natural disasters happen now, on earth, will they continue to happen throughout the eternities, even in Heaven? And if not, then why must they continue to happen now?

The answer is one that challenges your habitual understanding of the nature of the universe. You are probably assuming that the forces of natural disaster are non-living, and work by simple 'mechanical' causality; therefore natural disasters are predictable and therefore (in principle) preventable.

However, in fact everything in the universe is alive - to a greater (like you) or lesser (like a rock) degree. And although most living things lack anything which you would recognise or could detect as consciousness, nevertheless they do have a kind of consciousness and do have some innate powers of self-determination.

In other words, there is no bright line dividing the living from the non-living- rather livingness is a matter of degree and type, a continuum which varies greatly but which extends all the way down.

So, life on earth in reality includes all those things which you usually (and in most instances quite reasonably) regard as non-living - rocks, water, metal, oil, glass, plastic - yes, even man-made things are to some extent alive.

Therefore, the causes of 'natural' suffering are the same in kind as the causes of suffering inflicted by human choices. Natural things may choose to be either benevolent (good) or malign (evil) in much the same way as people; and the way we treat natural things may also be good or bad.

Thus the milieu or atmosphere of the earth contains influences both benign and malign; every good choice and act adds to the good atmosphere - and vice versa.

In a nutshell, natural disasters are the product of bad, wicked, evil choices by entities in the same fashion as are wars and torture - and these are unpredictable due to the unimaginable complexity of a mostly-unknown and sometimes un-influence-able multiplicity of interacting choices and purposes and responses.

Therefore, in Heaven there will not be natural disasters - but on the other hand there will always be natural disasters in those parts of the universe where there is not Heaven - those parts where at least some of the entities have chosen to reject Love as the primary principle of existence.

In other words, harmony comes from Love, and some suffering will always be necessary and constructive - as part of learning and creative-evolving. But the futile or harmful kinds of suffering are eliminated by Love - provided that we remember that Love is a principle which binds all and everything, including those things we habitually tend to regard as 'not alive'.

From your loving Father in Heaven


See also:


David said...

These posts are really very very good indeed Bruce. I cannot praise them enough. They resonate with me at a very deep personal level. There is something very heartening and uplifting in hearing what you already knew at an profound intuitive level, but had either forgotten consciously or denied publicly or to ones 'self' privately under the weight of the world's current secular nihilistic paradigm. I like how these letters state their insights and wisdom clearly and simply. It almost sounds 'obviously' true and beyond question to me that it is wonder more people do not see it the same way as the default wonderful view about reality rather than as a fringe belief. It feels sublime even to try and occupy that mindset for a brief time. Listening to a musical melody singing with love. Seeing each and every human being as a beloved brother or sister and taking a moment to pray for their wellbeing and joy in each encounter, treating inanimate objects with care and respect even somehow allows one to harmonise with the surroundings and resonate on the same frequency; stroking the bark of a tree on a woodland walk, directing a sense of gentle loving kindness towards much maligned objects like a phone or a computer.

An insight like 'Love is the structuring principle of reality' does not go down very well in conversation in my experience and the audience usually treats you like a mentally defective fringe lunatic of some kind. Equally to suggest inanimate objects are 'alive' in an important sense is liable to draw bemused looks in a philosophical discussion. I tried this once and by the end of the evening one person had opened their mind to the possibility in a childlike way and was in tears of joy by the end of the night. Some others there hardened their hearts and found me an irritating fool to suggest that God loves us and even exists at all. Why so angry?! Why do they want to believe in meaningless, random nothingness so badly instead?! How sad. The truth puts you at a fathomless distance even though you sit feet apart. It makes me think of JD Salinger storming out of the editors office when they told him Holden Caulfield is crazy and he was so fragile the fathomless depth opened up beneath him at realizing his own insights of truth were not shared by others. Perhaps the best thing a man can do in such circumstances is smile and tune into God's patient love. We cannot force the path of others but love will illuminate the way of truth before use and not devisive argument or falling into the fathomless distance across two sides of a conversation between flawed human beings. Only love can bridge the void.

George Goerlich said...

Your letters present a beautiful vision. I find it extremely interesting that out of your wide studies in religion and Christianity, you share an understanding is so simple. I find a lot of joy by envisioning the world as so alive.

Andrew said...

I agree with David. This is the sort-of-thing we believe as children, but have "corrected" through growth. The sense of everything so alive and interesting. Our own sense of immortality and an essential trust that we are loved.

Bruce Charlton said...

David, George, Andrew - Thanks for your comments. It's very helpful to know I have managed to 'get through' to each of you with this 'letters' venture.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

I don't know about this, Bruce. I tend to agree with the idea that everything is conscious and "alive" to some degree -- but for the forces of nature to be moral agents, capable of being deliberately malevolent, would seem to require that they have a degree of consciousness comparable to that of the higher animals. That degree of consciousness for "inanimate" things is hard to swallow.

Bruce Charlton said...

@WmJas - from Tolkien's Notion Club Papers and his writings on a meteor (which seems to report a dream of his, or a series of dreams) I got the idea that it is a matter of 'inanimate' matter having a tremendously slowed-up consciousness - with a timescale perhaps millions of times slower. Therefore, we would not normally perceive its changes, only its general disposition/ tendency.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Slowed-down consciousness seems plausible -- but then surely "inanimate" things would have little or no awareness of human beings and their activities and could hardly be charged with conscious malice towards us. To say that (for example) the people of Pompeii and Herculaneum were murdered by a literally malevolent mountain would seem to require that Vesuvius be conscious in a human-enough way (in terms of both degree and timescale) to be aware of the effects of its eruption.

If your ideas here are correct, though, it would mean that the near-universal pre-modern practice of treating rivers and such as conscious entities to be, if not actually worshiped, at least tended-to and appeased, was actually perfectly reasonable and perhaps effective.

By the way, if you haven't read it already, you should check out the 7th chapter of Moses in The Pearl of Great Price, particularly from verse 48 on. Enoch here has a vision of a conscious earth, and of "all the creations of God" -- explicitly including the seemingly inanimate ones -- mourning at the death of Christ.

Bruce Charlton said...

@WmJas - I suppose that slowed down consciousness (of some kind) would not be able to operate in any kind of focused and specific way to 'murder' someone.

It would be a matter of generalized, long-term, habitual malevolence expressed through disposition, habit etc. And indeed, if a natural entity was offended are harmed, the people who suffered revenge would often not be those who inflicted the insult but some later people.

This is often a feature of evil - willingness to 'punish' the innocent - and past suffering is used as an excuse for hatred, tormenting, killing - humans do this too.

I suppose, short term and specific harm would need to be inflicted by some other kind of entity - like a 'nature spirit' - rather than the inanimate entities.

I agree, this view does have implications for how we treat the world, and some pre-modern practices. It need not be worship and propitiation, but might be more like an attitude of friendliness, concern, empathy.