He who learns must suffer, and, even in our sleep, pain that we cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God. - Aeschylus

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Love it to Death: The Cosmology of Love

One of the most deeply significant things for those who believe in the truth value of a particular religion is its understanding of the universe, multiverse, or whatever it is we're currently spinning around in these days.  For the purposes of my writing, I usually refer to it as the cosmos.  This understanding of the cosmos, or cosmology, is significant because how we understand the cosmos affects how we live our lives.

Or at the very least, it should affect how we live our lives.  There are certainly individuals who have beliefs about the universe which should impinge on their decision-making, and yet continue to make decisions seemingly unaffected by their beliefs.  For most of us, the cosmology we hold true has at least some impact on our lives, albeit perhaps not a perfectly consistent impact.  We human beings have a tendency to not let our cosmology impact our behavior where it would be inconvenient for us in some way.

For example, we might believe that we will go to Tartarus after our death if we displease the gods, but still we do not bother making any effort to appease them because it would cut into our profits too much.  We might believe the Buddha when he claims that the entire universe is an endless cycle of death and rebirth for us, but not bother meditating every day because we are too busy at our job.  We might believe that a Jewish man named Yeshua was the Son of God, but not do anything to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves as He taught us.

But when we actually let the implications of our cosmology be felt in our lives, it can be a powerful force which shapes us for better or worse.  The ancient Greeks seemed to have had a cosmology of conflict, a view of the cosmos in which it was an eternal battleground, filled with the fighting between the Titans, gigantes, gods, demigods, and humans.  Their cosmology reflected their social reality in which life was a constant conflict between warring city-states and between the powerful and the vulnerable in those city-states.  In this case, the cosmology is informative, explaining to us through narrative what our lives will be like, specifically that we should expect endless conflict between those who are different.  If we absorb the lesson, then we might be more at peace with the endless conflicts in our lives.

The Buddha had important lessons to teach as well, though the cosmology of the Buddha was the cosmology of suffering.  In the Buddhist cosmology, whether we are in the most torturous naraka or the highest heavenly plane, suffering will continue via the cycle of death and rebirth.  For the Buddhist, the cosmos is a prison of ceaseless suffering from which we must escape by transcendence through the liberation of our minds.  This cosmology is informative, providing us with the cold hard reality of suffering which we will face in our lives.  It is also transformative if we believe it, providing a way to escape the endless internal conflicts we face by accepting the reality of our suffering.

Jesus the Christ, Son of God, came to reveal a cosmology both informative and transformative as well.  In the Christian cosmology, the entire cosmos was created out of love, given freely to us to enjoy by Love, and redeemed by a profound act of self-sacrificial love after it was damaged by our exercise of freedom divorced of love.  For the Christian, the cosmos is a divine song of love to be heard by all who have ears to hear it.  The cosmology of love informs us that we are made out of love, by Love, and for the sake of love.  If we believe it, this cosmology of love transforms us by turning us toward Love, by teaching us to embrace suffering for the sake of love, by strengthening us to endure endless conflict by reaching out in love to those most hurt by conflict.

When we believe the cosmology of Love and allow it to transform our lives in the light of love, we accept the gift of love that is a cosmology which is greater than any other, a cosmology which holds within it all that is good, true, and beautiful in every other cosmology.  When we live as if we believe the cosmology of Love, we begin to exist within the cosmos as Love intended, our entire being a gift of love to all just as Love, the ground of being, gave all to all out of love. 

When we take our place in the cosmos of Love, we love to death all that would separate us from the cosmos created by Love with space so vast that only our love united with Love could fill it, with light so bright that only our love united with Love could outshine it, and with masses so heavy that only our love united with Love could escape its immense gravity by the sheer force of love which cannot help but to be drawn inevitably to Love.

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