Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Letting Go of Truth and Justice

written by guest blogger, Andrew Zurbrugg
I've always had an interest in knowledge, specifically knowing capital 'T' Truth(s). And I've always had a desire to understand the nature of all the injustices in the world. These two topics are often addressed directly by religion. Despite my agnosticism, I've always had a fascination with religion and spirituality. But it was generally through the lenses of these two topics, and mostly an abstract or academic interest. So a lot of what I read about religion, philosophy, and spirituality was concerned with trying to understand how different belief systems dealt with Truth and explained injustice.

For example, being raised with Christian dualism, I was quite interested in theodicy. Despite the paradox of a benevolent God, countless people throughout history have believed in the tenants of Christianity.  And at least some of them had to be reasonable, rational people. So I learned about it.
To skip over all the messy details, there is no explanation for the suffering and injustice in the world that will satisfy the skeptics. There is no perfect defense of God, Christian or otherwise, hence the consistent and infuriating chorus of “God works in mysterious ways.” And even if you assume this to be true, it still doesn't answer or resolve anything.

As I began to develop a deeper, more direct interest in spirituality, questions of injustice and Truth kept coming up. Why should I put faith in a God who is quite content to let me suffer?  I’m perfectly capable of suffering all on my own without God in my life.  And unless God would grant me Truth through divine revelation, welcoming God into my life will get me no closer to that goal either.
After quite a while of struggling with these dilemmas, I decided to let go of my pursuit of Truth.  And I decided to choose a spiritual path despite the injustice that may occur in my life and the lives of those around me. Letting go of these pursuits opened the door to spirituality for me. Once I did this, I was able to begin my journey.  I started finding synchronicities and developing my chakras.

I've experienced so much growth and learning over the past few months that would not have been possible if I had not let go of these questions. When I say I let them go, it doesn't mean I’m no longer interested or that I don’t still ask the questions. It means I accept the reality that I’m not likely to get answers. With this acceptance, I've found it’s possible to travel a spiritual path while still being perfectly grounded and still maintaining a healthy sense of doubt and skepticism.

Andrew Zurbrugg is a writer and seeker of wisdom from Fort Wayne, Indiana.  In his blog, The Spiritual Journey of a Skeptic, he describes his experiences trying to unify spiritual practice with rationality.  He graduated from Purdue University with a B.A. in Communication and a B.S. in Information Systems. Andrew practices Theravada Buddhism and hopes to contribute positively to interfaith dialogue.

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Donald Schellberg said...

If you take humans out of the picture, the world seems to be pristine and beautiful. Evolution plods on creating more and more advanced life forms of incredible complexity. Nature is not an easy task master but it is fair, weeding out the weaker members so the strong can prevail.

Animals, however, don't have much of a choice, that is simply the way they are wired. My dog will always growl at my cat when the cat comes too close to my dog's food.

Human beings, on the other hand, do have a choice. We can be as altruistic as the Mother Theresa or we can be a serial killer.

I am a father of 3 children, all about grown up (18,19,21) and there were days when they behaved really badly. The dad or mom always get the blame even when you your best to keep them on the straight and narrow.

It is a bit unfair to put the blame on God, the Father for the misdeeds of His creatures. Was God remiss in some way, for neglecting his children, such they would act against his good wishes? Were man and women deprived of a spiritual education, that caused them to act in an evil way? Are we a product of God's neglect?

The history of religions, indicate otherwise. Jesus died an agonizing death so people could find the spiritual way. Mohammed lived years as an exile, his cousin, the Imam Ali was murdered while praying. The Bab was executed by firing squad. Baha'ullah was sentenced to life imprisonment. God did His part, we chose not to do ours.

Andrew Zurbrugg said...

Thanks for the comment.

Is it unfair to blame God? You have brought your children into the world and raised them. But you did not weave the DNA by which they are constructed. You did not create the framework of their minds; you've only helped to populate their minds with content. So is that really a fair analogy?

I think it's over-simplistic to ask if God is to blame for suffering and expect the answer is yes or no. It's a question of degree. And the free will response leads to another question which i never hear asked: What about inclination? Why are we not more naturally inclined to act benevolently? Why is suffering often so intense, rather than merely uncomfortable? Asking questions of degree makes a lot more sense and leads to more conversation than arguing about black and white.


Donald Schellberg said...

The lack of benevolence is a societal issue. We are heavily influenced by our environment, which makes us more or less benovolent. We contribute to our environment and our environment exercises its influence over ourselves. The biggest factor in creating a benevolent society is through religious faith, but religious faith shorn of superstitions, fanatacism and grounded in a spiritual reality. God has left us the tools for a benevolent and just society, but it is our decision on whether we use these tools at all, and if we use them, that we use them in the way they are supposed to used.

As far as inclination,every thing as a purpose. For example, some people are more aggressive by nature. This can be a good thing if it is used to protect innocent people (e.g. police officer). That same inclination, however, can be used in very negative ways (e.g. bullying people). The choice we have is how to use our inclinations, and religious faith is what equips us to channnel those inclinations in positive ways.