SUFFERING AND THE UNKNOWABLE WILL OF GOD
It was taught in the name of Rabbi Akiva: A man should always accustom himself to say, “Whatever God does is for good.” Once, while Rabbi Akiva was traveling, he came to a certain town and looked for lodgings but was everywhere refused. He said, “Whatever God does is for good,” and went and spent the night in a field. He had with him a cock, a donkey, and a lamp. A wind came and blew out the candles, a cat came and ate the cock, and a lion came and ate the donkey. He said, “Whatever God does is for good.” The same night some soldiers came and carried off the inhabitants of the town. Rabbi Akiva said to his companions, “Did I not say to say, ‘Whatever God does is for good.‘ ”
-Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 60b-61a
With all that we are going through in the world today, it is more important than ever that we remember what we are, why we are here, and how our experiences now relate to all of that. Otherwise, we will get lost in the experience and lose sight of its purpose. We are souls rooted in God. We enter the earth round of incarnations to learn unconditional love. It is a concept that we throw around, but one that few really understand and even fewer live.
Every soul in this dream, at this time, is learning his own lesson; however, that lesson is connected with attachment to the things of the material world. We talk about the final battle between good and evil. But there is no battle between good and evil. The battle that is being waged on earth today is between the spiritual world and the material world. If we were to assign God to the Spiritual and Satan to the Material, then it is hands down a victory for God, because there is no power on earth that can prevent the fall of all those who held material power, along with all those who have been striving for material power and all those who have served material power. But it is not that easy. Losing everything is only the beginning of the journey, just as it had been for Job.
The accumulation of wealth in the material world requires a narrow sight. Even if we do not consider ourselves to have hardened hearts, we must close our eyes to that which would prevent our focus on the goal of accumulation. When I was in business, my partner and I began with an equal opportunity to amass wealth. He was able to close his eyes to the needs of those workers whose efforts were necessary for our success. I was not able to do that. He felt that his position was earned by him, and obviously sanctioned by God; it was his right to be wealthy. I felt that it was the Grace of God that had placed me in that position, and not my right. I felt that it put me in a position where I was more responsible for those who were not in my position, not less. He became wealthy not by screwing other people, so to speak, but by not seeing them.
I was driving in a car with a friend of mine in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and as we drove from the airport I saw that there was a beautiful view of the ocean to my left, and to my right was the very sad view of extreme poverty. I asked my friend, as I looked at the broken down shacks to my right, how could they live their lives of affluence while they had to see this poverty every day. He just turned my head towards the ocean and said, “We look this way”. This position that we are facing, is one created not only by those who did not care, but also by those who would not see. The fall that we are facing is rooted in the belief of Cain, that “I am not my brother’s keeper”.
There are so few of us who even love God unconditionally. We live life in accordance with what we believe to be the will of God in order to gain the reward of such living. It does not matter if we seek the reward of our faithful deeds on earth or in heaven; the point is that we are acting on condition. What we do, we do as a means to an end. In Job, we see a righteous man who we find, after being tested by Satan is perhaps righteous in the Biblical sense but not in the Spiritual sense. It is clear in the beginning that he is good to those God favors, that he prays and gives the sacrifices required by scriptural law. It is clear that his actions throughout his life had been without sin. Yet, as is often the belief, he felt that in some way, the wealth, position, power and respect that he enjoyed was due to his life of righteousness, a reward from God. In the beginning, he took the loss of everything in stride, understanding that God gives and so God can take away. But as time went on he became angry, certain that he was a righteous man – holding up his end of the agreement – but God was not holding up God’s end. He reached one point where he came to the belief that there is no benefit in trying to please God, in living a righteous life. As Satan told God in the beginning, Job’s love was conditioned on the life that he was given, not from his heart. Job goes through all of these different scenarios with three of his friends, always ending up in the same place. Finally, the last person to speak to him is the youngest, waiting till the end because of his lack of age and the apparent learning that goes with it. This young man speaks of God, not from scriptural reference but from the words that have come into his heart. He tells Job that it may not be about reward or punishment; it may just be that God is speaking to him, teaching him something through these trials.
We want to believe that we are suffering because of the few greedy people who have robbed us. That we are suffering because we have been deceived by a corrupt government, but that is only slightly true. A better way of looking at it is that the system that we have fallen victim to is a system that we ourselves have fought to hold in place because we desire the material wealth that is only possible through a system such as ours. We yell foul, only because it has broken down before we have had the chance to reach the top. I say we because this is a Democracy and we have, and have always had the power to change the system, which we have not done because we have wanted our own chance at the golden ring. Whether we can count ourselves among the haves or the have-nots, we are not separated by greater values but by lesser opportunities. We need to learn, first and foremost that it doesn’t matter whether or not we profited by the system – we still chose to hold it in place. The capitalist system, contrary to Democracy, creates mountains where those who can climb, can look down and feel superior to those who cannot.
So as we continue down this road of economic collapse, we are given a chance along the way to find our hearts, to forget about what we have left to lose and consider what we have left to share with those who have nothing left at all. It will be a long road down, and all along the way we will have this opportunity to rise up and embrace the God within our hearts, perhaps this is the rising in our bodies, while we live to the Spiritual principals that are buried in our hearts. For those Christians who are waiting for Christ to come and take them up in their bodies, perhaps, Christ is here already, waiting for them to enter their hearts and rise up to Christ’s level of unconditional love, while they are still in their bodies. The number 144,000 breaks down in numerology to the number 9, which is the number of Universal Love.
More than any time in our recorded history it behooves us to remember that we are souls, and as souls we are learning. Our Teacher is God and the text is the book of life with all of its stages and all of its experiences. United, as One, we can have more happiness in our lives than money could ever buy. We just have to open our hearts and see God, love God, and server God in and through every creature on earth. In this final battle, the material world has no chance against the Spiritual, we just have to take a side and live it.