The Much Touted “Second Coming”
and Philosophical Thoughts on “The Sacred”
I do not restrict notes here to “The Second Coming of Christ” because I recognize a general human longing for, and belief in, “transformation to a better world”. This longing and associated belief is in non-Christian as well as Christian perspectives, including secular.
Here we are. All of us the world over. And we find:
“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! …”
(opening lines, William Wordsworth, 1807)
Wordsworth certainly would have commented on our current times! In fact, he did! “Getting and spending”. He also comments on the consequence of getting and spending: “We lay waste our powers” … “have given our hearts away.”
And of course he was well aware of something ‘sacred’ in nature, uses a capital letter to give it a “province” of its own. His line on nature suggests we view it as external to ourselves. Ironic, given that we generally interact at all times with that which is “of nature”, starting with the activity of breathing!
The amount of thoughtful material, from ancient times to current, on problems with “materialism”, the mysteries of “innate human power”, our inter-relationship with “all that is natural”, and on the nature of our “hearts”, is beyond massive. I have in my years only gathered bits and pieces. Some from teachings of Jesus, some from teachings of Buddha, some from teachings of First Nation and other Aboriginal understandings, some from insights that have come to me while exploring the list in this sentence!
I’m not going to attempt a real essay. I’m sticking to laying out a few present ‘conclusions’ that have been with me long enough to reach “worth sharing” significance. I’m also leaving a lot out of potential ‘notes’ out. I’m also not (for once!) offering extensive background of how I came to these conclusions. I’m happy to respond to comments or questions, but at least want readers to have the ‘bits and pieces’ as possibly helpful during these times.
I’ll begin by saying I believe in “something” I call “sacred”. It is my belief that every aspect of being alive, every aspect of “consciousness” that is not of human creation or scheme, is “sacred”, is “divine”. Anything we cannot claim to have actually “done out of our own brains and activity” is not ours. All life, all capacity of life, all forms of consciousness, all in nature that supports life, is sacred. From weather, to mountains, to soil, to our earth’s dynamic involvement with the universe and beyond … it is all sacred because we did not engineer it.
It is my belief we are born with vulnerabilities that cause us to worry about “staying alive in the most fundamental physical sense.” We are born to protect ourselves. The impulse is innate. Out of this impulse we eventually find our way to fear, to excessive accumulation, to ‘need’ to acquire power and wealth, and to push others aside as we do so. We have been at this for many ages. We are not aware of this about ourselves. We have developed multi-generational practices, stretching ages back, that support this original “fear of not-surviving.”
We have complex human institutionalized social and governing interactions, all based on these practices, in turn based on original vulnerability. We compete, we declare enemy, we exert “power over”, we accumulate “wealth” – originally to “survive”. In our complexity, however, we also “explain and “justify” these behaviors to ourselves as if they were “sacred”.
Economic policy is not sacred. Never was, never will be. We invented it to serve an original useful need (method of sharing life-supporting food and other provisions). Originally we did this for “common weal”; originally we recognized “community supports individual and vice-versa”.
We’ve taken ourselves a long way. Have had a lot of interesting times. Have invented a lot of interesting things, some helpful, some less so, some merely ‘fun’.
Weirdly, ironically, it’s innate urge to “something better”, innate capacity to practice imagination, that has been instrumental in our often well-intended stretch — a stretch that has taken us perhaps to the brink of extinction!
We’ve begun to wonder how close we are to some “end of the road” in human civilization’s “progress”. We’ve begun to become particularly fond of “being rescued”. It’s appealing to believe in a Christian “second coming”. It’s appealing to believe “something” will “happen” and transform our world to “something better”.
On the Christian “Second Coming” concept: It’s not coming. Not as thought, not as commonly believed. It’s not coming from external source – a “god” out there and a “god-son” once known as Jesus. Jesus taught “the kingdom is within”. (Cannot be external in source or eventual ‘arrival’.) The ‘promised’ kingdom will arrive when all the other key principles taught by Jesus are largely common practice: Compassion, Serving self by serving others (a way of honoring inter-connectedness of all of us), “As you do to the least of these, do you also unto me” – again: service, inter-connectedness – both material and sacred meaning caught in a quick and meaningful instruction. IF a Christian believes in the sacred quality of Jesus, the “Christ” aspect, then this last quoted instruction should lead to great effort toward “universal” approach to human need. Tribalism, in its many forms, is ‘out’, will have to go.
On Buddhist teachings of exploring consciousness by meditation: There is no “external God”. Everything we can learn about the nature of who we are, in essence, can be explored by “going within” (sound familiar to “the Kingdom is within?”). A major principle accompanying Buddhist teachings is Compassion (sound familiar to “what you do to the least of these…”?) It is from Buddhist teachings that I have come to rely increasingly on “experiential” study of “what it means to be human, to be conscious”. There is reason and cause within any thinking human to ask and probe: “What is it that is exclusively ‘me’, what is it that is “all of us”, and what is it that is “all of Life”. Buddhist teachings, including meditation practices, are helpful in working with these questions, along with the question: What IS Consciousness?”
Christianity likes to borrow from “pre-Jesus” times, and has an “attitude” about “dominion over Nature” as a result. Buddhist teachings offer a balance: there is sacredness in the life of “the least” of any representation of life. We did not invent insects, plants, mammals, fish and birds … these are, by my definition, sacred. (I do NOT count “invention” of more recent times by gene manipulation! By my definition, such developments are not ‘sacred’. They result from human “ego”, which is rooted way way back in ‘fear’, trying to invent ways to “human success”. Possibly a huge discussion here, and I’m skipping along!)
On First Nations and other Aboriginal teachings. As limited as my explorations of diverse “wisdom teachings” are, they are especially limited in study of First Nations and other Aboriginal teachings. That admission aside, I’ve learned from these teachings. Aboriginal teachings generally make clear the inter-relationship of “human” to “All That Is” on this earth, with provision to relate to something “bigger than mere physical existence, mere ‘materiality’.” Animal life is not only considered sacred, humans are cast in relationship to animals as siblings. “Brother Bear” is a profound concept. That which honors and supports animal life supports human life. Life is sacred and not taken without just need, just cause. (I am not rationalizing practices of warring or other cruelties among these people any more than among ourselves in our current dominate culture. Humans are humans. Prone to excess, prone to lack of discipline toward the “best we can be” – so far, at least.)
I am, by nature of my style of thinking, a “generalist”, a “synthesizer”. I know how to nit-pick an argument, and appreciate the sometimes value of this (and the more frequent just plain ego-fun involved.)
You are most welcome to “tear into” what I have said here, but I can assure you it may not make much difference. There is a lot of material involved in my “synthesizing” I’ve not included, some of it my own nit-picking on my own thoughts.
My ‘thesis’ is this: Until we know more of who we are, the nature of our consciousness, the nature of our longings and our propensities; until we know more of ‘why’ we are inclined to brutalize ourselves and our world, including all Life; until we appreciate there is “something” that can be called “sacred” and choose to honor it; we will pretty much continue “same old, same old”.
There will be no external “second coming” that will “save” some of us, exclude others, and “justify” bashing one another on the head, denying one another’s essential humanity, and destroying life-sustaining Earth. IF we want ‘a second coming’, some kind of ‘new world’ that leaves ‘corruption’ behind, all deep teachings, in their essence, point to inclusion, to need to understand our ‘fears’, to “tame the wild ox”, to “find solution” by discovering, and practicing, internally available wisdom, (more consistently, with greater discipline).
My Best! –MaggieAnn