September 21, 2003
READING FROM SWEDENBORG AC 5376; 6138; 8403.
Don't listen to this as doctrine. Listen to it as a description of your own life and experience.
“For the regenerated are not regenerated at one time, but continually, through the whole of life, and also in the other life. When a human being is being regenerated and becoming spiritual, he is continually in internal conflict or combat.
“With those being regenerated, that is, whom the Lord forsees will SUFFER themselves to be regenerated, individuals often are in a state of desolation and is at last far reduced by repeated desolations that he no longer wants to be his own ONLY.
“No one is regenerated without temptations, one after the other. The reason is, that regeneration takes place for the end THAT THE LIFE OF THE OLD PERSON MAY DIE, and a new life which is heavenly may be insinuated.”
The Pain of Being Human
Sometimes it can seem that existing as a human being is a chronic disease for which there is no cure. Just look around a bit and you can see all kinds of evidence for that--------------everywhere.
Small details of that evidence abound, but consider this: no other creature on this earth spends anywhere near as much time trying to kill each other off as we do------and it's been happening that way from the very beginning of time!!
Cain kills Able and we're off to the races and IT'S NEVER STOPPED SINCE THEN!!!!!!!!!
So what is THIS all about?
Maybe we do indeed have a disease that needs some kind of cure!
But our most basic “DIS-EASE” with being human is that it is sooooo humbling to any kind of ego that would be puffed up, so very limiting to us who would be god!!!
Behind the neurosis and obvious craziness in any of us, there lies a force much more hidden, dark and destructive than we might ever believe, one that no drug or even psychotherapy could ever reach. I will name it in a moment.
But before we get all bent out of shape thinking that we have such a nasty thing within us, it's existence forms the other half of our spiritual freedom, and in that sense it is good that it exists.
However, it really is the deepest possible sickness of all when chosen: it is our desire to be God.
To throw God out and just take over, and this one desire spawns many other lesser evils by the hundred.
Does it seem to you that you want to be God------can you even relate to this notion?
The idea of being totally in control-----that you want to control all things in your life.
The idea “that you stand alone, proud and independent!!”
The idea that what's yours is yours and it's ALL yours!
There are many ways, some subtle, some not so subtle, that we would take over God's role in life. Some, throughout history, have even thought they actually were God. The Divine emperors of Rome, for example. The leader in North Korea, this very day, believes that he is a God…..quite openly and literally!!
But there is a massive solution to all this, one quite readily available to us: OUR HUMANESS JUST MIGHT NOT BE A DISORDER AT ALL, BUT OUR FINEST HOPE.
Many folks have developed the illusion that true humanness equates with constant happiness and a pain-free existence. If we just pull things off right and get a few breaks, we'll become stunningly happy -- indeed, we should be happy!
Get the right spouse, the right job, the right amount of money, a good doctor and an excellent stock portfolio------and it's easy street.
In this mind set, being human should have no or little pain-----few or no struggles REALLY.
Way down deep, isn't that really what we'd all like------esp. on certain bad days? I know I would!
But the plot thickens because there's something about pain that is very important. Medically speaking, pain used to be considered only in a physical way. It came from tissue damage or organ failure and this was transmitted to the brain as pain through the nervous system.
If there was no physiological involvement, then pain was belittled with the words “it's all in your head.” I can't tell you how many times I've heard THAT ONE!
Now the scientific community knows better.
It understands that pain is highly personal, that some of the greatest pains of the human condition come from within the human heart and psyche of a person.
Not only the body can hurt, but our heart and soul as well.
But although heart and soul pain is never pleasant, we might do well to think of it as our friend. It brings us strong messages about:
who we are,
where we have been,
whether we love or are loved,
what we believe,
and most important of all, WHAT we love.
Life without pain is not possible, though it can, and should be, without devastating pain all the time.
Indeed, it would be a disaster to remove all pain from our lives----even if we could.
Physical pain notifies us something is wrong.
Emotional/spiritual pain announces something inside needs healing, needs to be assuaged by more growth and wisdom. To run away from this kind of pain is running away from ourselves, which absolutely never works in the long run.
And there is another piece to this:
Human nature is such that we can feel a subtle uneasiness in the midst of a life that otherwise seems filled with satisfaction.
All our basic needs may be met and all our relationships going pretty well, yet there may be an inner nagging, an emptiness, a longing for something else to make life truly complete.
This kind of pain is the edge of our hunger for God. It is soul-produced pain.
When we go to a spiritual director or psychotherapist, our chief desire is that he or she will take away our pain and make us feel good again. But there is a great wisdom known to the most competent of counselors. They know our humanness must be lived and experienced so that it can teach us what it really means to be human. They know the best way out is through. And sometimes that hurts, and takes time. This is the legitimate suffering that Carl Jung was talking about and that Swedenborg was talking about when he talked about “suffering ourselves to be regenerated.”
Not all suffering is good for the soul, however, and there isn't anything wrong with feeling good, feeling really good, but there is also a kind and level of pain that is important to simply feel, and to NOT do so usually means we will hurt ourselves and others.
One example: We lose a loved one to death, or a deep and important relationship comes to an end, and if we do not feel that loss and grieve it, we will be hurting our bodies and others we know and love.
So truly, we need not seek out the pain of being human, it will find us if we do not manipulate too much!!
And if we do not run away, nor dull ourselves to the natural sufferings of life, but instead reflect and try to understand as deeply as we can, our humanness and rightful place in life, then God's love and wisdom will eventually lead to our transformation.
But know! Suffering is, in fact, guaranteed for anyone who takes on the deeper call of growing and loving.
However, such people will find a fullness of life unknown to the escapist, the overly fearful, or the timid.
Perhaps the most important part of all of this pain of being human is that we become a very dear, caring friend with our emotional/spiritual pain.
It's sort of like inviting our suffering in like a sad, rejected, long lost friend who's been trying to find you your whole life.
Is such living massachistic? No, it is, in effect, drawing closer to God, settling down to being a REAL child of God so we can hear what the Lord is saying to us, so we can be in true relationship to Him/Her instead of trying to BE Him or Her.
May it be so.
Lord, why aren't we all born directly into heaven-------enjoy ourselves right from the very first moment of our lives AN D JUST STAY ENJOYING OURSELVES?
That be soooooo nice and wonderful!
Joy. Happiness. Love. Sensitivity. Tenderness. Faith in You. Compassion. Mercy. Playful, relaxed learning and infinite meaning from the very beginning, for everyone, for all of eternity.
Isn't this a better picture Lord?
But, no Father…that is NOT what happens. We find it hard to be that open and that innocent because we are all born in a sense as “Dr. Jekell & Mr. Hyde.” That is, both
self-centered and loving too; cold sometimes and equally warm and caring at other times; lovers of justice and then wanting it all our own way, no matter what.---etc. etc. etc.
From the beginning we are SET UP for internal conflict of the highest magnitude that often leads to bad choices oft times realized. And therein comes the pain and struggle of human life, making THIS world sometimes a place of immense suffering and pain.
But what's sooooo amazing, Lord, is that even in the pain and suffering, especially when we embrace it, YOU can have your finest hour with us!
Lord, give us the courage and vision to laugh AND to cry with equal vigor; help us embrace and accept both love and loss; positivity and pain; betrothal and betrayal; joy and sadness, so we become whole and allow You to be the best God You can be with us.
The Lord's Prayer