Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Christian and Other Trinities, Love Without An Object, Light and Darkness, Relationship and Beyond

Christian and Other Trinities, Love Without An Object, Light and Darkness, Relationship and Beyond

[Opening note: Richard Rohr is a Catholic priest who is in the vanguard of a deconstruction movement redefining Christianity from a mystical and meditative perspective, and William Paul Young is a Protestant minister doing likewise, and is the author of a popular book that was recently made into a movie called “The Shack”. I sent the below email to them care of the contact link on Richard Rohr’s website and asked that it be forwarded to them (I could not find any contact information for William Paul Young, although he has his own website). I received a very nice response that my message had been received, and would be forwarded, as requested.]

Some time ago, I was afforded access to a webinar conducted by Richard Rohr and William Paul Young on The Christian Trinity. I recently viewed the webinar, and had a few thoughts I would like to share. The only way I know how to contact Richard Rohr is through this email address. I could not find any way to contact William Paul Young, and I am requesting that you folks who received this email forward it to him.

One of my mentors, Rabbi Joseph Gelberman, had a favorite little motto, “Never instead of, always in addition to.” It is in the spirit of that motto that I share these reflections with you.

I believe I heard Mr. Young make a statement to the effect that love (all forms of love) requires a relationship, something to be loved. There is a book that I never read, although I liked the title. It is called The Philosophy of Consciousness Without An Object by Franklin Merrill-Wolf. In keeping with the concept expressed in this title, I submit for your consideration that the deepest of all Love is the primal impulse of creative expression that is the source and substance of all, that it is Love for Love’s sake, Love Without an Object.

In the tradition of Veda Spirituality (I use this term to refer to the vast spiritual tradition encompassed in the Indian Sanskrit scriptures collectively referred to as Veda, and all derivative sources, encompassing, but transcending, traditional Hinduism), one common designation of the indivisible Non-Dual Reality that is The Source and Substance of All is Brahman. As is the case in many spiritual/religious traditions, despite the insistence that Brahman is One Without Second, there is also common in this tradition a designation of three-fold qualities of Brahman comprising its Unity, similar to how you have described the Christian Trinity. This designation is Satchitananda (Sat-chit-ananda), commonly translated as Being/Truth, Consciousness, and Bliss/Joy/Love. It is my analysis that this three-fold designation indicates the first primal stirrings of manifestation/creation from the dimension of transcendence into the dimension of immanence. An impulse from the dimension of all-encompassing Being generates the most subtle all-encompassing Consciousness. An impulse from Consciousness likewise generates Bliss/Joy/Love, from which emanates the primal stirrings of creation/manifestation, culminating in the relative world as we commonly know it. Again, I submit for your consideration that the Love at this level does not require a relationship, something to love, because it is the Source of relativity/relationship, but is beyond it at the same time.

Mr. Young also made a statement found in many spiritual traditions, including the Veda tradition, something to the following effect: “Where there is light, there can be no darkness. Light dispels darkness.” We can get into all kinds of philosophical musings on the metaphorical meaning of light and darkness, e.g., light represents truth/knowledge, darkness represents untruth/ignorance. However, I believe it is important to view certain positive aspects to darkness and re-think these matters. In the tradition of Torah Spirituality (I use this term to refer to the vast spiritual tradition encompassed in the Jewish Hebrew scriptures and all derivative sources, collectively referred to as “Torah”, encompassing, but also transcending, traditional Judaism), there is a concept that darkness is not merely the absence of light, but is itself a positive presence/substance that is not necessarily dispelled by light, but can co-exist with light. Jewish mystical teachings point to several Bible incidents involving this substance of darkness: when Abraham engaged in the Covenant Between the Parts, the plague of darkness inflicted on the Egyptians, and the column of darkness that led the Israelites during their Exodus travels during the day, replaced by a column of fire by night. There is also the darkness that descended upon Mt. Sinai when God directly addressed the multitudes that had just emerged from Egypt.

In addition, the opening lines of Genesis lead to an interesting conclusion about darkness and light, found in correlates in Jewish mystical teachings.
As narrated in Genesis, prior to light, darkness existed. There is a distinct sequence that is then described: first, God brought light into being, and next, God separated light from darkness. This indicates there was a period, no matter how brief, in which light and darkness co-existed, as if light had been infused into the darkness, resulting in a state in which diffused light existed amidst the darkness. It is not until a separate and distinct step when God “separated between the light and the darkness”, apparently separating and concentrating the prior diffused light, thus creating night (when darkness is prevalent) and day (when light is prevalent). It is interesting to note at this juncture that the terms “night” and “day” and “evening” and “morning” are used, even though the sun has not yet been created. But that is a discussion for another day!

There is no indication in these verses that light dispelled darkness. Quite the contrary, there are indications that darkness remained. This is supported by Jewish mystical teachings encompassing its version of a primordial Trinity: Ein, Ein Soph, and Ein Soph Aur (referred to in the Western Esoteric Tradition as The Ring Cosmos, The Ring Chaos, and The Ring Pass Not). As with my analysis of the Vedic Trinity, this appears to be another example of designating the One through the Many (at least three), and describing a sequence by which creation/manifestation occurs. Ein is Nothingness beyond description. Ein Soph expresses the concept that Nothingness is not actually void, but only appears to be void because it is the state of pure potentiality, with nothing yet manifest (like a fallow field that has a bunch of seeds planted below the surface, but no growth has yet broken through). It is therefore Everythingness in potential. This correlates to concepts of “World Without End” – if all that exists is Eternity and Infinity, there isn’t room for anything else. It is only the partial contraction of Eternity and Infinity that allows for Time and Space, and thus relative existence as we know it, to exist. Ein Soph Aur is the Everythingness of Ein Soph infused with diffused light (when God uttered “let there be light”), but before God separated the light from the darkness. The separation of the light from the darkness sets the stage for the rest of manifestation/creation to ensue and correlates to the “Big Bang” of physics.

There are other examples of light and darkness co-existing without one cancelling out the other. Just look up at a clear night sky, and what do you see? You see a vast darkness with pinpricks of light that we know are distant stars and planets. The darkness and the light co-exist. And what does our modern science tell us about dark holes and dark matter? It tells us that what we regard as the light-emitting visible universe is only a small part of the totality of what actually exists, against a backdrop of vast dark holes (that are sucking up light, not being canceled out by light) and dark matter. One last simple example: if you closely examine a simple candle flame in a still room, you will note that the flame is blue at its base (reminiscent of the sapphire base of the throne of God depicted in scripture), followed by a tongue of darkness around the wick, next followed by the yellow/orange glow of the upper flame. Again, we find darkness amidst the light. The Chinese ying-yang symbol of the Tao is a nice image portraying this co-existence of dark and light, indicating that even where one is prevalent, some of the other still exists.

Mr. Young made a statement something to the effect that “there is only relationship”. That is something I have pondered for quite a while. And I agree that in the world of relativity in which we generally find ourselves functioning, that is an important and profound truth. As long as we have any sense of a self separate from others, then all that exists is relationship, and it would appear that one of our important tasks is to examine the nature of our relationships with everything else, to fit together the pieces of the puzzle that is our life. And neither the puzzle nor the relationships are necessarily fixed, but are dynamic and changing, creating a bigger challenge to understand life generally and our specific relationships within life. However, I think it important to qualify/counter this approach with a spiritual viewpoint that a connection with the Unity that is beyond relativity and relationship also needs to provide us with guidance and a deep spiritual perspective.

Finally, I wanted to express my deep appreciation and connection with Mr. Young’s brief description of God the Father that he chose to use in his novel, The Shack. I have had profound inner encounters with the Divine Mother as a big, black, African-American type of female. His description thus struck a deep chord in me.

Whoever ends up reading this, thank you for your indulgence. I hope you see fit to pass it on to Mr. Rohr and Mr. Young. 

Om Shalom,


No comments:

Quote of the Week 381 - Heaven

Heaven is all round,

Translated to sound.

--Michael Hedges



Announcing Publication of New Book, DIMENSIONS: Navigation the Spiritual Spectrum

I am pleased to announce the publication of my new book, DIMENSIONS: Navigating the Spiritual Spectrum, now available at Amazon, in paperback print and Kindle versions. It is easily found by searching my name, or by searching the full title and subtitle. You can also click on the image of the book in the right hand column of this blog.

What a great way to start the New Year, cozying up to a fire, real or imagined, and reading a new spiritually inspiring book, sure to become a classic!

DIMENSIONS: Navigating the Spiritual Spectrum

Grounded in the traditions of Torah and Veda, Steven J. Gold takes us on an oceanic tour of the depth and breadth of spiritual consciousness. Sharing personal stories and insights into various traditional scriptures as examples, he urges us to adopt a spiritual worldview, to “ponder infinity, awake and arise,” to “find your inspiration and follow it.”

“The chapters…are records of what happens when Steve’s right mind, and heart, are given full freedom to wander where they wish. As discoveries and correlations are made, his well-trained left mind and sharp wit give his observations shape and form…” – Brother Shankara, Resident Minister, Vedanta Center of Atlanta

“Universal Ice Cream: Dive deep into Steve’s wonderful book to help find your favorite flavor on the Spiritual Spectrum.” – Rabbi Mitch Cohen, Spiritual Leader, Congregation Shalom B’Harim, Dahlonega, GA

“Steven J. Gold’s Dimensions is an exploration of spirituality from the inside out. If you are looking for a guide through the pathless land of truth, read this book.” – Rabbi Rami Shapiro, author of The World Wisdom Bible

Interfaith/Inter-Spiritual Contemplative Groups

Please check out the following, which is an ongoing activity that may be of interest: