- Bob Ginsberg
If You Are Waiting for God to Intercede.....Don't Hold Your Breath
If you believe that our physical world is governed by certain spiritual principles and is part of a purposeful design, there appears to be something wrong with that design. For example, assuming that there is meaning to our physical existence, what is the purpose of one’s suffering in the dying process? I accept the fact that we are all put here for a relatively short period of time and everyone dies. That is easy to understand and accept. However, how does physical suffering benefit the human soul? If we have an exit point, so be it, but why are so many trapped in a physical body to endure unspeakable pain?
As I watched my wife’s body be decimated by pancreatic cancer, I became more and more infuriated. She never lamented about her lot in life but was saddened by the torment of experiencing her body be ravaged from the inside. She believed, as do I, that if you are to be shown the door it is cruel to block the passage to what lies beyond. She was not afraid of death because she knew that her consciousness would continue in another realm. In the last few weeks of her life she pleaded with the universe to take her, but her pleas fell on deaf ears. Death and dying are not the same, and it is a mistake to equate the two. Death is the easy part, but the process of dying can be excruciating.
I am very much aware of the spiritual explanations for such suffering. It is often said that it is a learning experience for both the dying person and their loved ones. This makes little sense to me. If I am told that being with and caring for my wife though this horror was a testament to our love for each other, or was a learning experience for both of us, I do not buy it. After forty- six years together our bond of love was strong and unyielding. Devastation and suffering were no bonding agents.
I have a hard time believing that our individual physical lives are part of a specific design. I bristle at the notion that there are no coincidences. Of course there are. This is not to say that there are not organizing forces at work when combined consciousness is focused. Synchronicities, where two seemingly unrelated events combine to form meaning, happen all the time. However, the point on which I am convinced is that our physical lives are random. People suffer, catastrophes happen, and those who were able to dodge the ticking time bombs have simply benefited by the luck of the draw.
I will always remember attending a grief support group for bereaved parents after my daughter’s death. What struck me about the conversations among the parents is the sheer anger expressed. People would say things like “Fuck God. My whole life I have been taught that if I attended Church and abided by all the rules then God would protect me and my family…God failed to live up to the promise.” This reinforced my feeling that the negative effects of religious dogma outweigh the positive.
I also remember a gathering that my foundation hosted. I listened to the anguish of a parent as he described his son’s death after a drunk driver lost control of his car, hopped a sidewalk, and struck his son down. He discussed the fact that his clergy, friends, and family consoled him by telling him that “God needed another angel”, as if there was not enough help on the other side and a recruitment drive was taking place. He further pointed out that he was also told by some that “God does not interfere with what goes on in our physical universe.” I agree with that statement. I understand than many believe that their God will save and protect them, but I am not one of those people.
The father then related his thoughts that if the same drunk driver lost control and missed hitting his son by a fraction of an inch, the same people would have pointed out that this was a miracle created by God. Really? It seems to me that you cannot have it both ways. Along the same lines, I cannot even count the number of times I have heard people say things such as “God never gives you more than you can handle.” How does one reconcile that with the epidemic of suicide that permeates our world?
I do not know if I am more angered or amused when I hear our politicians end every speech with God bless the United States. It is absurd to think that a loving God would choose to bless some of its children over the others. I will bless this one, but the other one, nah. That very notion is at the root of the chaos that permeates the physical world. We teach disconnect rather than bonding. We teach power and material wealth as opposed to love and compassion. We feel that we are both entitled and empowered.
The belief that our physical lives are random is not inconsistent with the belief in God, in the existence of a spiritual universe, or in life after physical death. Randomness can indeed be part of a design if we imagine that after physical death our consciousness continues to another realm where we can now see with some new perspective, a perspective that remains hidden while in the physical realm. We are given the tools to navigate the physical world and we use them the best that we can. Free will, genetics, and life’s circumstances dictate our existence. It will always be a mixture of shit and joy. However, once freed of the physical body we can then evaluate how we reacted to each circumstance and grow from such retrospection. This is the purpose of the petri dish that is physical life. Physical life must be random for the plan to work.
The next time something bad or good comes your way, it is not because you are being punished or rewarded by a grand designer. It just happened to turn out that way. However, we should bear in mind that there will come a time, after physical life ends, that we will judge ourselves based upon the compassion, love, or malevolence that we show to others while here. There is an end game.