Thursday 13 February 2020

What happens if someone seeks for the eternal and unchanging in this mortal life, on earth?

Since Ecclesiastes many people have noticed that in this mortal life on earth - all worldly things, all possessions, all relationships are subject to change, are transient - nothing can be held-onto.

My response is to say that this is a feature, not a bug, of mortal life; but others (with different metaphysical assumptions) cannot or will not give up the search for something which is permanent, unchanging, solid, perfect, complete - in this mortal life.

That pursuit leads to 'negative theology' - because the only thing that can be held onto forever without change or risk of loss; the only thing we can be sure of keeping is... nothing.

In other words, this leads to a theology of absolute abstraction - probably a deistic, impersonal life-philosophy of one-ness - as seen in so much of Eastern thinking. If one can persuade oneself that one is wholly satisfied with Nothing - then one can indeed get it, even in this mortal life.

If, one the other hand, we accept that mortal life is about change; then we can see that it is about Love; and love is not a possession to be held unchanged, nor is love a state that we want to hold-onto unchanged - but love is a commitment that we can build-around and build-from.

Christians make a commitment to love when we follow Jesus Christ through death to Heaven; and Heaven is the place of God's creating; where a commitment to love (to live, eternally, by love) is permanent...

Heavenly love is permanent - but love is alive, dynamic, changing (not static).


Lucinda said...

I think this is why this mortal life involves so many lessons that cast agency against love. It seems to me that agency just is, but somehow we needed to learn the incompatibility of love and captivity, like a child needing to grow up to realize that the parent’s counsel comes from love rather than bossiness.

William Wildblood said...

It seems that God offers us nothing or everything and the choice is ours. I can see the temptation of nothing but everything makes more sense in the long run.

Lucinda said...

So clinging to unchanging permanence and oneness seems to be an attempt to not grow up, to go back to when you trusted love because you couldn’t do otherwise, because it feels safer.

But non-agency is just not an option. It’s not real. Love must be chosen to be love.

I think part of what makes a person feel afraid of agency-based love is knowing there is a good deal about them that is in fact unloveable. This is where having a repentant heart comes in; the willingness to acknowledge unloveable aspects of our self as such, and the hope to change, is how to capture the best of the love we enjoyed as children. Parents don’t love their child’s ineptitude, but love their desire to grow and learn.

nathanael said...

Great post Bruce.

I know we disagreed on the topic of 'healing' the other day, but to me, if people embodied this worldview you're writing about here, then it would heal us! This is an attitude of healing for me, of bearing the pain of life, of facing reality in all it's high and low, and overcoming yourself (not losing yourself) and being a loving participant in Creation. There is the call of Love from 'above' and the call for Love from 'below'.

nathanael said...

@Lucinda — this is a great comment

"acknowledge unloveable aspects of our self"

I have seen lots of Valentines platitudes about "loving yourself",
any thoughts on this?