Chapter 8: The Quest
Our obsessive search for meaning is unnatural to our fundamental structure. We are meant to be meaning, not search for meaning. When we search for a meaning that will give us life we have already defined ourselves as dead. Our fundamental nature and our power to define are both infinite. Any attempt we make at self- definition can only make us less than we are.
As soon as we begin to seek self-definition by accumulating knowledge about ourselves, even our idea of God cannot save us. If we have any awareness of or idea of God, the source of that awareness of or idea of God is in the meaning for ourselves that we abandon as unacceptable when we begin our search for meaning. If we include the idea of God in our search for meaning, we only make that idea of God an active participant in our destruction and death. We would be better off, in this situation, if there were no God. We cannot make a name for ourselves by rejecting the name we are born with.
If there is a God at all, we all have a primordial memory of such a being. We may or may not be conscious of this ancient memory yet it is our birthright. We all want to live forever. Our hunger for eternity springs from our self-awareness. Our self-awareness can only have come about in one way. We were once living as part of another life source, and now live separated from that source.
Our primordial memory of God is reinforced in us by our natural structure. If we survive our childhood and emerge as adults in this world, we all believe to some degree, that life must be self-definition. As children, the well being of our individual identity is nurtured and protected by our parents. As adults, we must nurture and protect our own individual identity. We all have a primordial memory of a light or life force, that was apparently self-definitive; in whose embrace the idea of our individual identity was originally nurtured and protected. If we believe in our idea God, it is his embrace that we long for.
Whether we know it, or not; all of our ideas about a benevolent God, or a source of life, spring from our primordial memory of our birth into self-awareness. If it was truly the embrace of a benevolent God that we once enjoyed, then that God was no less benevolent when he separated from us, so that we might live as individuals independent of his embrace for definition and life. Our memory of the peaceful embrace of a benevolent God pulls us backwards to a certain degree. We cannot live in a memory. We cannot find a true idea of God again until we find ourselves. We must grow up.
If our bodies are already adult, yet we still seek definition, our adult bodies can only die; because they may not become again the bodies of children. A child may search for meaning without consequences, since the self-awareness of a child is not completely independent. A certain amount of life sustaining intervention is permissible in the life of a child, because a child is still in the process of becoming self-aware; however its adulthood is inevitable. The child had better be meaning by the time it is in possession of an adult body, or that adult body will die because it has no meaning.
There is little chance that a child will be meaning by the time it is adult given our present understanding of reality. In this system Adam does raise up Cain inevitably. If the parents of a child have no satisfactory meaning for themselves; out of their own lack of self-confidence they are certain to teach their child to search for meaning. There is no way the parents will believe that the child is in possession of its meaning while they are still searching for their own.
We may believe that to love God is life. This may eventually prove to be true, but in our present world, by the time we are adult, we are simply not capable of loving our idea of God.
We may argue, with some merit, that we cannot love what we cannot see or hold in our arms, and so cannot love our idea of God. In the end however, our problem with God is deeper than this. We cannot see or hold God in our arms because we are incapable of loving him. If we could love him; we would see him.
We are all born with a capacity for emotion. By the time we are adults our capacity for emotion is diminished to the point that we cannot love God. A normal emotionally stable adult is inclined to reason his way through an emotional problem. A child is an intellectual reactionary. This reactionary tendency of the child will alter its emotional capacity whether the child is aware of it or not. By the time the child is an adult and able to protect itself by reasoning its way through an emotional problem, the child now adult is hopelessly emotionally disabled. Though the adult is now reasonable, he cannot love God because his emotional capacity has been diminished by his childhood.
It is hopeless for us to try and love our idea of God out of our present understanding and emotional capacity. It is also hopeless for us to try and understand and restore our childhood emotions. Our only hope is to correct and restore our intellectual relativity to our idea of God. This would at least give us a chance to love our God for his wisdom.
If we are definitions in the process of defining ourselves, a good word to describe what we recognize ourselves as is – something. If we are something, we are established, but we are still trying to understand what established us and how, so that we may establish ourselves. If we define ourselves as something not yet fully defined, then it is obvious that the something, which we have yet to fully define, must be defined by an external source during our quest for self-definition. Since only a child may be sustained by an external source of definition, if we have an adult sense of identity, we are already dead.
If we begin our search for meaning because we want to establish our adult individual identity eternally, our method is sure to kill us, but at least our motivation and goal is correct. If we are trying to establish a collective human identity eternally, we are in error. A collective identity, or harmonious community based on knowledge, only makes us less than individual, less than human.
To establish a harmonious community based on knowledge given our comprehension of reality, is to dig a mass grave. We have not handled a Christ in the flesh, so our community however enlightened, can only have its harmony based on knowledge about the legendary Christ and not on the knowing of Christ. If we attempt to define ourselves and can only find more new unknowns for every something we define; the more we know about ourselves, the less we will know about ourselves. If we attempt to define Christ, the more we know about him, the less we will know him. We should not be surprised that the Christ of modern Christianity has become meaningless. This Christ is the product of two thousand years of relentless definition.
The phenomenon of Christ enters our search for a meaning that is life for us, as something we know about. Christ may be something we know about, but he is not someone we know. We will never know our Christ in this life as long as we consider him someone we must know about to live. When we make knowledge about Christ a part of what we need to know about ourselves in order to live, before we actually know Christ; we force ourselves to know Christ before we can know ourselves. Knowing about Christ does not necessarily compromise our individuality. If we know about Christ but have no opportunity to actually know him until after we have died, we have no hope of self- definition through the accumulation of knowledge about ourselves in this life. However if we have conformed and defined ourselves according to our knowledge about Christ, in order to become an intrinsic part of a harmonious community to be later established in eternity, we have hopelessly compromised our individuality. To love our brothers as ourselves, we must refuse to define our brothers or ourselves, and allow our brothers to define us according to their need. This is being all things to all men.
If we know about Christ, it is inevitable that we will eventually know him. Because our idea of Christ is beyond death, most of us will never know him until we know death. If we die having known about Christ, it is certain that we will know him beyond death, regardless of our preconceived ideas about him. Knowing Christ is inevitable, but it is no guarantee of eternal life. To live, we must be known by the Christ our idea aspires to.
If Christ is to know us, we must be individual. If we have compromised our individuality to be a member of a harmonious community our identity is no longer unique. We have become an intrinsic part of a collective identity. Christ cannot even see us as individual, because our whole and most important sense of identity and well-being is based on what we and our group think we know about Christ. It is all the more difficult for us to surrender what we think we know about Christ in order to know Christ and be known by him, when we hold the same ideas with so many in common. What we believe about Christ, in this case, had better turn out to be true. If Christ cannot know us as an individual, we have no name and we are lost.
Something separated from us in the first place in order to establish our individual identity. It is that separation which causes us to long for harmony. If our idea of God has caused us to long for harmony it is obviously not his intention for us too long for the original harmony out of which we came. He has sent us out to find a new kind of harmony – the harmony in which we may be individual and self- sustaining.
Most of us in the West are at least emotionally attached to the idea of the sanctity of the individual, even though we cannot really define the meaning of individual. Certainly the idea of individuality has touched something deep inside us that we recognize as part of the true beauty of the human condition; but we can never have the reality of individuality until we are certain of it meaning. Those of us who recognize the remarkable potential and beauty of human individuality, clutch the idea like a talisman, instead of analyzing what it means to us and why.
We may suggest the source of human individuality is anger or outrage and not be far from the truth. It is outrage that reinforces our individuality, but that outrage is founded on fear. It is the fear that causes self-awareness. It is our fear of separation from our idea of a life sustaining God.
This same fear of separation from God is also responsible for our failure to establish ourselves as self-sustaining individuals. We remember our idea of God as our primordial source of life and definition, and our small spark of individuality simply disappears in our perception of his immense and dominant light. Our fear causes us to long for the primordial harmony we once enjoyed with this terrifying life sustaining God.
If we are afraid of God, then we must use that fear to establish the dignity of individuality, not compromise our individuality. We must be outraged until we find a reason not to be, and we must not let our fear of death be that reason. We must stand or fall as individuals regardless of the cost.
When we become self-aware, we develop a sense of individual identity. Eventually we become aware that everyone dies whether they have a sense of individual identity or not. At this point we either give up trying to establish our individual identity eternally and become part of a collective identity, or we are outraged and filled with hatred for anything or anyone with power over us. The only logical choice is to hate the cause of our fear. We simply never hate long enough or deeply enough to overcome our fear of our idea of the God of our primordial memory. Instead our hatred of God becomes misdirected at our human brothers.
If we have become self-aware, it is because we have been separated from another source of life, and now become responsible for our own life. If we hate our primordial source it is because it seems to have abandoned us to suffering and death. If we have a sense of individual identity, it is impossible for us to love the God of our primordial memory as long as we are unable to establish our individual identity eternally. The only sensible course open to us is to hate the God of our primordial memory, and love our brothers at any cost for their potential to establish their individual identities eternally. If we persist in this way, we will discover at the bottom our hatred, that our idea of God is altogether lovable, and that we only die because our potential is so great. If we do not understand our idea God, we may not love him above our brothers or ourselves.
Since our search for meaning by accumulating knowledge about ourselves makes it obvious that our meaning is infinite; then the true meaning of individuality is infinite. If we are to establish our individuality eternally, we must establish our eternally secure individual infinity.
If God has separated himself from us, we are in error to long for a reunion with the God we remember. The God we separated from is no longer the same for us, and we are no longer the same for him. A reunion with our memory can only make us a memory. Our whole relativity to one another has changed. Prior to separation we were not self-aware.
If we have separated from our primordial perception of God, it is a separation we have agreed to. We may never consciously want to separate from the embrace of our own earthly parents, but we will; and we will leave the comfort of their embrace because we will agree with them that it is the best thing for us. Regardless of any conscious effort on our part to stop it, our body will inevitably go through its metamorphosis into adulthood. The adulthood of our body is the natural consequence of the driving force of self-awareness within us. We are never forced out of our parents’ house. We agree with them that it is best for us to leave, in order to discover and develop the full potential of our inevitably unfolding self-awareness.
Our idea of God does make an intrinsic contribution to the cause of our separation from him, but he is not the cause of the separation – we are. God has given us the wherewithal to discover a reason why we must separate from him. If our idea of God has provided us with the wherewithal to discover self-awareness then we must assume that it is his intention that we do so. If it was always God’s intention that we become self-aware; then we are certainly not created by God; but instead born of what God has recognized himself as.
Whatever becomes self aware because of its own nature, which it has come into possession of irrationally; is born, not made. If God has provided us with the wherewithal to become self-aware, the source of that provision cannot be the imagination of God.
God cannot have imagined us as provided with the wherewithal to become self-aware. He would first have had to be aware of what constituted the wherewithal to become self-aware. He could only be aware of what constituted this wherewithal if he was already self-aware. If God is self-aware, he became self-aware irrationally and accidentally. He could not have planned to become self-aware and then made himself self-aware. God cannot have imagined himself as self-aware; nor can he have imagined us as provided with the wherewithal to become self-aware; even if he was already self-aware. Clearly and finally, once God has become self-aware he cannot imagine anything into his reality. Whatever has become self-aware, has become real to itself. Because it has become real to itself, whatever it imagines can only be unreal.