Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Spiritual Reality

EDIT: wording change. Also, this post may imply that Buddhism does not connect with reality as much as (a certain kind of) Christian theism does. I am not sure this means that Buddhists or Christians are in practice any more or less connected with reality than each other. In other words, people don't always live according to their own ideologies. My opinion, as someone who knows something, but not a lot, about Buddhism, is that the ideology of it lends itself to a kind of anti-realism, which might not be what follows from a certain kind of Christian ideology.

Romans 8:

1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don't walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the law couldn't do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace; 7 because the mind of the flesh is hostile toward God, for it is not subject to God's law, neither indeed can it be. 8 Those who are in the flesh can't please God.

Thinking like a preacher, I see "You choose which law to live by. You'll always live by a law. The law of fleshly desires, which wants a pound of flesh from everyone who has hurt you, which wants you to be responsible for yourself because there is no God, which demands responsibility of and from others (among other things that we naturally want) -- or the law of the Spirit, which trusts in God, which listens, which does not believe in a strict accounting, at least not one up to humans to understand. To see things as though there is no God is to rebel against God, against the law of the Spirit. It is to reject God."

Thinking like a philosopher, I see a kind of approach to reality here. We think things have natures. Some people don't like that. They say that things have no natures. Nature: A thing has its attributes, its way it is. Anti-nature: Or it doesn't -- we can throw away the strict accounting -- anything goes (at least on some level).

We are tempted to see reality as impersonal. The modernists (nature and nothing but nature) and the postmodernists (anti-nature mixed with nature) both think reality is impersonal. But what if reality is personal? What would that look like? Things might still have natures, but be more like words, spoken with the breath of a person. Or there might be a reality other than nature.

Buddhism may be attractive to some as a way to soften the word "is", which can soften anxiety. "Non-dual" could be a way to soften "is". DBT treats borderline people who have black and white thinking by borrowing from Buddhism's softer "is".

We might see a softening of "is" in "seeing things in a Spiritual way rather than natural way". Things really are a certain way. But the way in which they are is partially unknown to us, is known by God instead. And in order to know something, it's known against the backdrop of our relationships with God. For something to be, it must be by the will of God, according to the legitimacy of God. So for something to really be itself requires that God exist -- and, according to a different logic, it follows that we trust him. And so "is" remains as true and even clear as ever, but a bigger fact -- not really a fact, but a person -- sets it in a different context, allowing us to bear it.

We get wrapped up in our interpretations of what we see. But God has an interpretation of things, which we can hear from him, and by aligning ourselves with him. The Spirit is life and peace.

If reality is fundamentally personal (which is pointed to by Descartes' cogito ergo sum), then we relate to reality, instead of figuring it out, controlling it, possessing it, taking it for granted, denying it, or ignoring it. But the greater personal reality is God, and it's in the context of trust and loyalty toward him that we can rightly approach what is, and thus come to know the truth.

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