Longing, Oneness, and Paradise
Since I've been dealing with a kidney stone the past two weeks (and the little bugger has yet to pass on to a better place), I've been spending more time than usual curled up on my bed, reading and thinking. (I've also spent some time on Netflix, but we're not talking about that right now.) Although the experience has not been fun, I've benefited not only from the rest, but also from the chance to learn something about myself.
We humans are passionate creatures. I'm not talking about being angry or romantic, but simply being full of desires and emotions. No matter who you talk to (unless it's the no-absolutes-do-whatever-you-want people), most people agree that some of these desires and emotions are more healthy/productive/virtuous than others. Our desires for food, sleep, love, and everything else contained in Maslow's hierarchy can be easy to detect and understand. But there are some basic parts of ourselves, sourced deep in our individual essence, that can be more difficult to recognize. These motivations can drive the entire trajectory of a life without the person being fully aware of them. That's partly why people have such a hard time getting along; at the root, they don't understand what they truly want or how another person's desires place that person in opposition to them. So they fight over surface issues without ever dealing with the reality beneath.
One desire of mine that I've known about for a long time is my desire for knowledge. I want to understand everything. I love learning about the way the world works, in part so I can operate more effectively in it, but also simply because I love knowing. I have an insatiable thirst to know. My favorite topics in science are the elements and genetics, because both deal with the building blocks of reality. And every time I learn something fascinating or suddenly connect ideas I'd never connected before, I get a little adrenaline rush. The Internet is a dangerous place for me because it offers infinite knowledge to a very finite brain. I've experienced its addictive properties more than usual in the last several days because my normal shutoff mechanisms that signal saturation have not been working as well. I find myself scrolling and clicking, scrolling and clicking, scrolling and clicking...
In thinking about how to stave off an Internet addiction, I started thinking again about the desire for knowledge behind my madness, and that combined with other thoughts led me to realize something more fully than ever before. My behavior is largely motivated by a desire to understand other people completely. Not just facts - because there are some things I couldn't care less about - but people.
When I was a kid, I loved to draw. I wasn't good enough to want to do it for the rest of my life, but I was good enough to enjoy it for a time. But if you ever looked at my old spiral-bound notebooks or my sketchbook, you would notice something: 99% of my drawings featured people. People were all I wanted to draw. Sometimes I drew characters from my stories, sometimes characters from other peoples' stories, and sometimes characters with no prior existence, but they were all people. My fascination with people has been a part of me since I was born.
As a shy child, I desperately wanted to befriend people, but froze in fear of rejection. I still deal with that fear a lot more than I like to think about. Fear of rejection is normal, but I've been convinced that rejection means locking the door with me on the outside. Once someone has written me off, will they ever consider me worth their time and attention again? My gut response is "no."
I know I'm afraid of other people thinking poorly of me. Some of that is fear of being a truly worthless, unlikable person who just hasn't figured it out yet - but I've figured out that's a near-sighted lie I can stop telling myself. But the other cause is one I only just recognized: I'm afraid of other people cutting off all hope of a relationship, because that would mean I could no longer get to know them.
I love people. Did I say that already? Sure, they annoy me with their normal foibles and their seeming inability to use common sense or follow the rules of the road so everyone can stay safe, but they're also downright fascinating. And today I realized that I wish I could get to know every single person I meet in their entirety. I wish I could understand everything about the way their minds work, their passions, their hangups, their quirks, and their surprising talents. I wish we lived in a world where we could be honest all the time. "The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" would be reality, because we could break down the barriers that fear and shame and self-deception build in all of us.
I know this is impossible. For one thing, people don't want to be known completely. We're all afraid of being "found out" in one area or another. We know we're not perfect, but we also know other people are harsh judges, so we hide the areas where we're weakest. I try my hardest to be a "safe" person, and to let people know I don't judge them for their human frailty - but the problem is, I do judge people sometimes. There are people I find annoying for no good reason at all. At home I learned others would despise weakness in me, so I also learned to despise weakness in others, especially if that weakness looks anything like the kind I've been beating down all my life. So I am not the open-minded, nonjudgmental friend I try so hard to be.
In addition, there is not enough time in the world to spend getting to know everybody, even if I limited the pool to people I have already met up to this point. I can't even get to know one person in a lifetime. There are a handful of people I've known almost my whole life. These people are colloquially called my "family." But even after living with these people for years and years, I still don't know everything about them. Although it could be argued that I know too much about them in some areas, there are some aspects of their thinking and behavior I can't make sense of no matter how much I try, and of course they are often unconscious of these aspects, never stopping to analyze that part of their thinking.
In short, wanting to know every single person in their entirety is impossible. No question about it. However, this impossible desire has governed my behavior for most of my life. I've tried to make and maintain friendships, avoiding any possible dealbreakers like the plague, in hopes of getting to know as many people as possible as well as possible. I long to reach a level of intimacy (not sexual, but psychological and emotional) where the people around me are comfortable to talk with me about anything and everything, and I feel the same way with them. To be honest, and real, and share the joys of honesty and reality. If we lived in a perfect world, there would be no fear of being rejected by others for being honest, even when we admit the darkness inside - for all of us fight the darkness in our own ways, though they are the same ways it has been fought by countless others since man grasped the darkness for himself.
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve had an insatiable thirst for knowledge too, and look where it got them, and all of us. By claiming the ability to know evil, we've lost our hold on knowing good.
As I write, I realize that the desire to know everybody is a desire for Oneness. The concept of Oneness is discussed in most books on traditional macrobiotics (I've read a few ). It's derived from traditional Buddhist thought, and, as I understand it, describes becoming united with the universe in its entirety. Every person becoming integrated with the combination of every other person and everything else that has ever existed, which I believe is sometimes referred to as Infinity. This is considered the highest state of man, because in Oneness with Infinity we find our true calling, our purpose, and our satisfaction.
I've done some thinking about this idea, and I discovered that Oneness is also described in the Bible. The difference is that while becoming one, each personality retains its own essence, and the union occurs only between the three persons of a very personal God and the human souls who accept his payment for their sin and trade self-will for God-will. This exchange seems like an infringement upon one's rights to those who have not made it, but those who give up themselves to their Creator find they are accepted into the state of Oneness that they were designed to find their purpose and satisfaction in.
In the book of John chapter 17, Jesus (God the Son) is praying to God the Father for the souls of those who have believed on him and who will believe on him. He discusses the idea of Oneness in the biblical view:
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world."
When humanity sinned and alienated itself from a holy God, God loved the people he created too much to let them all live and die separated from the himself, when he alone could give them satisfaction. So God the Father sent God the Son to earth as a human being named Jesus, so that Jesus could live the holy life all the rest of humanity found impossible.
When he died on the cross, his perfect life let him bear the sins of the world as his own; his human nature let him pay the price for sin in the stead of other humans; and his Divine nature let him pay it in its entirety, for rebellion against the infinite Creator God carries infinite weight. His resurrection proved that the price was paid in full, and new life was the result. In order for sinful people to receive this new life, all they had to do was put their trust in the death of Christ to save them. As he had taken their sins as his own, he let them take his righteousness as their own, so the holy God would consider them guiltless and accept them into fellowship with himself.
That fellowship is the same fellowship that Christ, our substitute, has shared with the Father and the Spirit since before the world began. The Father loved Jesus "before the foundation of the world," and Jesus said the Father loves the world even as he loved Jesus. What does it mean to be loved by an infinite creator God? To call him Father, and to know that the worst of your failings and sins and weaknesses cannot change his complete love for you, the love of the one who "formed your inward parts, and knitted you together in your mother's womb" (Ps 139)? A love that loves you exactly as you are at this moment? I have not begun to comprehend this love, but I can say that it is the joy of my life, my bread and water, my security and hope for the future.
One of my teachers has said several times in class that in the New Earth, she hopes she can be a mathematician, because she would love to understand the intricacies of math and how it reflects the God who created it. The New Earth is the final destination, the ultimate Oneness, after sin has been removed and all those who trust in Christ have been regenerated to have new, perfect bodies which never decay or get sick or die. In that Infinity, we will look on God face to face and bask in the joy of knowing he who is our satisfaction and purpose. But we will also be surrounded by millions upon millions of perfect human beings, with no shame or fear or self-deception to hide their true selves any longer. And I wrote my teacher today, and I told her that I think when I get to the New Earth, I want to be able to draw people. But I want to draw them in such a way as to reflect the essence of their souls. Because to me, spending an eternity getting to know countless people in their entirety, and getting to talk with them in complete honesty about anything and everything, and having no fear of judgment or rejection because we are all perfect, and sharing in perfect love forever - that will be paradise.
|Posted 10-11-2017 at 10:37 PM by Vballspieler|
|Posted 10-12-2017 at 08:25 PM by Flygirl|