Hi my friends.
I’m going to expound upon this in a podcast I’m posting tomorrow, so don’t worry if this doesn’t feel full enough. I will hopefully fill in some gaps on the podcast.
So a couple of weeks ago I sent out a letter with a one page summary of what I’ve called the z-theory. (I plan on changing the name to something warmer and friendlier, so stay tuned for that!) I will remind you of the dream that prompted the z-theory:
There is a huge waterfall. Oceans of water pour over the rim of the cliff. The water tumbles down and explodes at the bottom. The deluge spreads over the land covering and consuming everything.
Then last week I sent our Sunday letter with an explanation of the first part… the water over the top of the rim… that which we cannot see. I’ve heard back from many of you that you found it very helpful. Thanks so much for your responses. I so so so appreciate it.
So this week I want to describe the second part, that is, the water pouring down over the rim. This is the part we can finally see. It is the oceans of water tumbling down.
“The water tumbles down and explodes at the bottom.”
This whole visible part of the waterfalls is the most spectacular. It is a spectacle! To us it is the overwhelming, thunderous evidence that there is an unlimited supply of water above the rim. Perhaps if we were primitive and superstitious we could believe there was a water-god up there spewing water out of his mouth. We don’t know because we cannot see it. But now, even though we haven’t seen it, we are smarter and less superstitious. We can fairly guess it is a huge river infinitely fed with rain, mountain snows and springs and lakes, which are in turn fed by rain, mist and dew. But for now all we see and smell and taste and hear and even feel is this great downpour of water.
This is the evidence we have of what is above the rim. The infinite and invisible is now finite and visible. This is the revelation of the Wholly Other, the exposure, the incarnation of the mystery, the transmission of truth, the manifestation of the unknown, the discoveries of science. It is the encounter and reception of the unknown now known, the mysterious now perceived.
This is what we call the Christ, the Torah, the Buddha, scientific discovery, revelation, the condescension, the incarnation, the transmission, the embodiment, the coming down and the coming out.
I remember long ago when LIsa and I were dating we went to visit my dad’s family in California. They all lived in Long Beach and Lakewood. I had a cousin there. Lisa and I were in BIble College, and my cousin had lots to talk about. She’d experienced a lot of pain in her own family and in her life. Although everybody down there seemed to be Christian, she couldn’t believe everything that was dished out to her. She wasn’t sure she believed in God. Heaven. Hell. She was going through a huge intellectual change at such an early age.
I remember how deeply affected I was by her. I loved her so much, not just as a cousin but as a friend. She was, and is, a beautiful person who’d suffered so much and just wouldn’t believe pat answers. She rejected the simplistic faith of our family. She was considered rebellious. I remember how tormented by the logical conclusion that she was going to Hell because of her lack of faith. How can this be? How can a God who claims to be Love throw such a beautiful person in Hell forever just because she didn’t think according to what was considered correct? I was angry and confused and very emotionally involved with this intellectual problem. I was 21 years old.
Now, add to this intellectual problem the bigger picture that there are good Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, Nones, you name it, along with my cousin. Are all these good people going to Hell even though God is love? As you can see, I was getting deeper into intellectual trouble.
What the fundamentalist mindset does is just simply draw the line and say, “Yes, you’re going to hell. Period!” Simple. Done! And shut your ears and shut down your brain to keep out conflicting data. Or, if you are at all intellectually curious, you will try to make sense of this. I chose the latter.
I look back to that time as a huge turning point for me. Although I was to remain in the church for decades following this and even be a minister within it, my encounter with my cousin and the conundrum she caused changed my life and flung me into this quest to try to understand these two conflicting truths. Not just conflicting, but contradictory: 1. God is Love, and 2. You’re going to Hell if you’re not a certain kind of believer… preferably a bible-believing, born again, conservative, fundamentalist evangelical. This is an impossible equation.
Thus began my search to understand something that is simply not understandable. It took me a very long time to come to the obvious conclusion that I cannot see or define what is above the rim. I cannot see it or describe it. That is, God. All I have to go by is the waterfalls pouring down. That is, all the testimonies that claim to describe and define it. The tradition I was in was Christianity. It claims to have not only the best description of what is God, but the only valid one. This is Jesus. Therefore, you have to fully subscribe to this Jesus in some way to be connected to “God”. You had to completely agree with Christianity’s definition of God, that is “Jesus”, in order to be saved and go to Heaven. Of course, there are as many varieties of this Jesus as there are religions in the world. Doesn’t make it any easier, does it?
Then you have the bible which is the document, the holy book, that Christianity calls “The Word”, which obviously reflects “Jesus”, the “Word become flesh”. So there you have the package, the witness, the physical manifestation of what we call God. I spent years and years and years studying this bible. I got my B. A. in College in Bible and Theology, and then I got my Masters in Biblical Theology, studying Greek, Hebrew and even Aramaic… all the original biblical languages… so that I could try to understand this book that talked about Jesus. I was still stuck looking at the waterfalls from a Christian perspective.
I spent something like 30 years studying my brain out trying to understand this huge problem. I studied Judaism. I studied Buddhism. I studied Hinduism. I studied Islam. I studied all kinds of spiritualities and mystics. I studied science and atheism. You name it, I studied it. I meditated. I talked with Buddhist masters, philosophers, scholars, you name it, all in an attempt to understand this problem. I tried to find everything that was similar to Christianity in other religions, philosophies and spiritualities. So, for example, I found so many similarities to what the Buddha taught and what Jesus taught. Same with Mohammed and Jesus. Etc., etc., etc. I was driving myself crazy because I always came back to the same place: Jesus was the only way to God. Even if you were a Buddhist that talked like Jesus, if you didn’t believe in Jesus, too damned bad! Again, the problem was I was still looking at the waterfalls from a Christian perspective. I did this for over 30 years!
I gave up. I went to sleep.
Then I had the dream of the waterfalls in May of 2009, and I woke up with a peaceful mind. I finally saw that what I thought was the problem wasn’t the problem. I was the problem! My mind was the problem. I was believing my own thoughts! I finally saw that my mind was limiting. My perspective, my viewpoint, my paradigm, was the issue. I finally saw that my perspective was a Christian one and that I was looking at the revelation of what is invisible with Christian eyes. As soon as I saw that my eyes were the problem peace came to my mind. Theologically, stillness came and has never left.
I now knew that the Buddhists describe their perspective on reality with Buddhist eyes, Jews with Jewish eyes, Muslims with Muslim eyes, Hindus with Hindu eyes, atheists with atheist’s eyes, and so on. We are all seeing and experiencing the same thing through our own filters. This suddenly gave me a profound respect for all perspectives and allowed me to humble myself with my Christian perspective to sit among all other perspectives on the same level. Sure, I do believe there are sufficient ways to explain Reality and less sufficient, more insightful and less insightful, more mature and less mature, more superstitious and less superstitious. More honest and less honest. But we are all perspectives experiencing the same Reality.
Some like to say “All paths lead to the same place!” Now we might say, “There aren’t all paths, just one path with different experiences and thoughts about this one path!” Or even better, “There is no path!” We are all already there.
Excuse me for this being such a long letter. But i hope this helps you. I’m going to expound upon this in a podcast tomorrow.
Another installment next week!
Peace my friends!