Building A World Of True Love - An Introduction to the Divine Principle
Building A World Of True Love - An Introduction to the Divine Principle
Part 1 : The Purpose of Life
Man and the Universe: A mirror of God
Harmony, precision and order are evident in nature and the vast cosmos. For millions of years, the cycles of life, nature and the universe have repeated themselves with remarkable consistency. It cannot be that this marvelous universe was formed as the result of an accident. Everything which exists, even the smallest particle or cell, has some meaning and purpose. For example, every part of the human body has a distinct, unique function and interacts with other parts to achieve the higher purpose of sustaining life. There must be an origin of universal purpose and design, a first cause, which gives purpose to everything and maintains harmony in the universe. We call this first cause, God.
Throughout history, humankind has tried to understand this first cause. Religions have sprung up and guided people on how to connect to the source of life. Three of the world's major religions -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- teach that God is our Creator and that He is a being of love. Let us dwell on this for a moment.
How can we know anything about our Creator if He is invisible and intangible, and therefore not accessible to the probing of science? According to the scriptures of many religions, God's character can be understood by examining the world He designed -- the world all around us.
Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. (Romans 1:20)The power of spiritual forces in the universe -- how active it is everywhere! Invisible to the eyes and impalpable to the senses, it is inherent in all things... (Doctrine of the Mean 16)I believe in God only I spell it Nature. (Frank Lloyd Wright)
Indeed, just as the paintings of an artist reveal something about his or her personality, so too God's personality is reflected in the things which God created. This follows from the inter-relationship between cause and effect. Could a chaotic cause create a harmonious universe? Could a heartless God create a world which has great beauty in it? This would defy all logic. Therefore, we can learn about the cause, God, by studying the effect, the creation.
The Parenthood of God
What universal attributes can be found in the created world? One is that all entities have the attributes of male and female, or, in the mineral realm, of positive and negative. These paired attributes are called dual characteristics. We see men and women, male and female animals, staminate and pistillate plants all exemplifying the pair system. On the level of the mineral world, we discover polarities such as protons and electrons, cations and anions, plus and minus charges. The world is made in such a way that everything exists and multiplies through the reciprocal relationship of give and take action between male and female, positive and negative.
What can this tell us about God? If these dual characteristics exist everywhere in the universe, then God, who is the cause, must embody not only the essence of masculine nature in His divine personality, but the essence of feminine nature as well. Where would feminine nature originate other than from the same Creator and Designer of life?
Thus, man and woman are equally essential expressions of God. In fact, the most complete human expression of the heart and personality of God would require a man and a woman together. Some religions call God our Heavenly Father. But since God is the origin of femininity, God must have motherly characteristics also. God is the original Parent of mankind, and we human beings are His children.
In God, masculinity and femininity are perfectly harmonious. In the creation also, masculine and feminine, and positive and negative, are in harmony. This occurs through myriads of give and take relationships. For example, the body maintains its life through the give and take action of the arteries and veins, and of inhalation and exhalation. Both plants and animals maintain their functions through give and take action among their various organs and systems. Material things come into being and maintain their existence through physical-chemical reactions based on give and take action between particles, atoms, and molecules. We find that even the solar system exists through the give and take action between the sun and the planets in their orbital movements.
There is a second duality which all created entities share: everything has an internal character as well as an external form. The internal character gives purpose and value to the external form. We see that on every level of existence, consciousness, reason and law shape the behavior of energy. Particles, atoms and molecules are made of energy, but are guided by the invisible laws of nature. Plants are made of cells, but are guided by what scientists call the plant mind, which directs the physiological functions of the plant. It has been found that plants are sensitive to their environment, responding to music and human emotions. Animals are made of tissues, but are guided by their (invisible) instincts. The human being also has a body that consists of cells, but, in addition, we possess a unique human mind, which enables us to think and feel in a distinctly human way.
Since everything God created has an external form and internal character, He Himself must have external and internal aspects also. The external aspect of God we call Universal Prime Energy, which is the cause of all physical energy (for example solar and electric power, the force of gravity, magnetism, etc.) and hence is the cause of all matter. God's Universal Prime Energy creates, develops and sustains the cosmos.
The internal aspect of God has to do with personhood -- motivation, purpose and identity. To understand this, we must look at ourselves, since human beings manifest not only the greatest complexity and sophistication of any creature, but also the greatest self-awareness.
The main attributes of the human mind are emotion, intellect and will. We have the capacity for selfless love and the impulse to pursue truth and goodness. We value the beauty of nature, we are delighted at the arrival of a newborn baby, we enjoy the harmony of music and dance, and we like to express our own creativity. We aspire to become knowledgeable and wise. Our conscience urges us to do good and reject evil. Everyone dreams of a world of peace and harmony.
The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil ... Gerard Manley Hopkins
What could be the origin of these common qualities and aspirations? We cannot claim to have created them ourselves; there must be a prior source, our Creator. God is the source of the values we all cherish: love, truth, beauty and goodness. God's power is guided always by reason and principle, but is expressed above all in His impulse to love. Heart is the essence of God's being. Heart is the impulse to love and seek an object to love. God loves each one of us individually, and rejoices when we return His love and multiply it by loving others.
The Suffering of God
Joy is created not by an individual alone, but through our having a substantial object that reflects our own nature. An artist feels joy when she is able to express herself in a work of art. An architect feels joy by seeing his building completed. This is because a creation reflects the invisible character of its creator; we see ourselves reflected in what we create. This likewise is characteristic of God Himself.
God feels joy when He sees Himself reflected in the creation. Therefore God wants His love and His ideal expressed through a substantial object. God has the power to love, but He needs someone to whom He can give His love, otherwise His heart cannot be satisfied. We as God's children are God's ultimate creation, born with the capacity to receive and reciprocate His love.
Religious scriptures regard human beings as special in that they were created in the likeness of God. For example, the Bible states that the human being was made in the image of God. We resemble God most in our creativity and responsibility.
I have breathed into man of my spirit. Qur'an 15:29
Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Genesis 1:20
The superior man reflects in his person the glory of Heaven's virtue. I Ching 35: Progress
The ultimate joy is that which parents feel through their children. All the internal and external traits of the parents are reflected in the child. Further, the child has the potential to develop the parents' qualities to new heights. All parents are proud when they see their children become successful individuals; indeed, they wish for their children to be greater and happier than themselves. This is precisely the heart of God toward us.
In reality, however, human beings have never been able to return God's love fully. We are meant to be the objects of God's love, but we are separated from God, our Parent. We are not a true reflection of our Creator. Instead, we have given expression to selfish love, which is incompatible with God's selfless, sacrificial love. God's immense love is unrequited; He sits alone amidst His own creation; He watches His children suffering at their own hands. Surely, God as a parent suffers greater pain than we do when He sees the sorry state of humanity.
God has traditionally been perceived as a being of authority, omnipotence and mercy, but His suffering heart has not been fully understood. We have been like children, who look up to their parents with a sense of awe but with no awareness of their parents' worries. As we mature spiritually, we can recognize the suffering heart of God. Each one of us has the potential, through prayer and reflection, to discover the heart of God, His loneliness and grief which resulted from the loss of His children, and His longing for reunion with each one of us.
The history of humanity up to the present day is the history of God's efforts to help us change ourselves and repair our relationship with Him. God is not a cruel judge who is heartlessly watching us suffer and waiting for the right moment to condemn everyone for their shortcomings. Rather, He is a heartbroken Parent who has been trying to show us how we can break out of our misery. Unfortunately, we have almost always refused to listen, and when we did listen, we usually failed to understand. Today we are challenged to overcome the obstacles of the past and achieve our potential to realize our happiness and the happiness of God. Therefore, we need to understand the ideal which God envisioned for man and woman. Through fulfilling our true purpose, we will experience everlasting joy and bring joy to God.
The Purpose of Life: Perfection of Love
According to the Bible, God gave the first humans three blessings: "Be fruitful and multiply ... and have dominion." (Gen. 1:28) The first blessing, to "be fruitful," means that we should perfect or mature our character.
A tree is fruitful when it becomes mature and bears fruit. Similarly, a fruitful individual is someone who is spiritually, intellectually and emotionally mature and bears the fruit of love, wisdom and goodness. Such an individual personifies God's own nature and heart. A fully mature person has such a close relationship with God that he or she is able to feel God's joy or sorrow and communicate with God fully. Such a person naturally lives and acts in accordance with God's will.
In His original ideal, God wanted everyone to be perfected in love, able to give true and unconditional love to every human being and to the creation.
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you ... You must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48
Jesus personified God's true love. He said: "He who has seen me has seen the Father." True love is sacrificial life for the sake of others. In an ideal relationship, however, sacrifice is rewarded, as the person who receives true love will naturally reciprocate that love. True love acts like a magnet, drawing others to it and inspiring true love in them as well. The world's great saints and sages, as well as countless unsung righteous men and women, were motivated by a force much greater than themselves: the power of God's love, which inspired them to deny themselves and live for the sake of others.
Our innate desire for perfection is reflected in the fact that everyone desires to be the greatest, the best and the brightest, and everyone wants to marry an ideal husband or wife and have the most wonderful children in the world. At the same time, we realize our own imperfection; we see the gap between what we want to be and what we are. Many of us will readily identify with the conflict the apostle Paul describes: "I do not the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do." (Rom. 7:19) We feel torn between what our conscience tells us to do (or not to do) and what our selfish nature wants us to do. We feel guilt or shame when we do things that conflict with our conscience. Perfection is impossible as long as this inner contradiction persists.
Even though humanity has fallen into spiritual mediocrity, God has never given up His original ideal, which is that every individual reach the perfection of love. With God's help and through our own efforts we will eventually fulfill that potential. We will achieve the original, boundless joy and happiness for which men and women throughout history have longed.
The second blessing of God to the first humans was to "multiply." God desired to see a true man and a true woman marry and together raise sinless children. The children, raised by their perfected parents, would also become true men and women. These children would grow up experiencing the masculine love of God through their father and the feminine love of God through their mother.
Have we ever in history has such a family? No, not really. The first human ancestors, whom the Bible calls Adam and Eve, tragically failed to achieve an ideal family. Instead of multiplying goodness and love through their descendants, they multiplied selfishness and corruption. As a result, we have never seen "true parents" who could raise sinless children and create a sinless lineage. Every person has been deprived of true parents, parents who perfectly embody God's love.
When the family declines, the spiritual foundations for life are lost ... and society is plunged into chaos. Bhagavad Gita 1.40
From true parents, a true family, society, nation and world can be generated, with children experiencing the love of God as an everyday reality. It is in the true family that God's love can blossom on all levels: between parents and children (parental love), between husband and wife (conjugal love), from the children (brotherly and sisterly love). If the members of a God-centered family practice these forms of love within their own home, then their family will become a model for their neighbors, their community, their country and for the family of humankind. This true family would lead to nothing other than the kingdom of God on earth.
The strength of society lies in the strength of its families. If we cannot build healthy families, we cannot build a healthy society. If a society denies the sanctity of the traditional family -- its basic unit -- it will be beset by divorce, free sex and homosexuality. Such a society will inevitably decline. This is because the prime victims of permissiveness and dysfunctional families are the children, and they are the ones who will decide the future of our communities, nations and world.
The third blessing, to "have dominion," is fulfilled naturally by mature, God-centered individuals and communities interacting with nature. God created a wonderful environment for us to live in so that we could enjoy life to the fullest. The beauty of nature is a telling expression of God's boundless love for His children. he intended our interactions with the creation to be based on love and appreciation, not on selfishness and exploitation. Unfortunately, the latter have all too often been the case, resulting in pollution, the destruction of habitats, the extinction of species and other serious damage. We will solve environmental problems when we free ourselves from selfishness and our societies from corruption.
God intended that the first human ancestors fulfill the three blessings and thereby establish on earth the kingdom of God about which Jesus spoke. This was God's plan for building a world of true love. There would be no destructive conflict or corruption of any kind in such a world. Men and women would live together harmoniously as one big family. Most of us are probably inclined to think that the realization of such an ideal world is impossible. But is that necessarily so? Is it not more likely that God, with the power to create the universe, is able to determined to achieved His original ideal?
God, the Parent of humankind, has worked through various religions to liberate His children from evil and selfishness. However, God did not create human beings as robots which can be manipulated by the touch of a few buttons. No, He created us with a will of our own. Therefore He needs our voluntary cooperation. Consequently, even though God is determined to bring about His original ideal, the accomplishment of this ideal in the life of each individual depends upon how quickly and completely that person is able to respond to God's words.
Responsibility and Freedom
The fact that it took millions of years for the cosmos to be created implies that a time period is necessary for everything to come into existence. Nothing becomes what it is instantaneously. A flowering plant, for example, starts as a seed and reaches its maturity when it has grown to its full size, producing flowers and seeds for the next generation. Humans also need a time period to grow physically and spiritually.
Ideally a person's spirit and body would grow harmoniously together so that by the time a person reaches adulthood, he or she would not only be physically but also spiritually mature. The human body, given proper care and nourishment, grows to maturity automatically in accordance with its genetic inheritance. But spiritual growth is a different matter.
God instilled the power of creativity in human beings. He gave us free will and an original mind inclined towards goodness and unselfishness. Unlike plants and animals, whose growth is guided and controlled by the laws of nature, humans perfect themselves based not only on the principles of biological growth, but also on the fulfillment of their responsibility.
Why did God give such responsibility to human beings and not to other creatures? First of all, God wanted human beings -- His children -- to rule the creation with responsible love. To give us this authority, God had to make human beings superior to all other creatures by giving us a responsibility which no other beings have. Second, God wanted to give us each the unique privilege of participating in the development and creation of our own responsibilities. We are therefore co-creators with God and are to inherit God's creativity. Third, for us to be able to love. Love which does not come freely from the heart is not true love.
Gain: The superior man, seeing what is good, initiates it: seeing what is bad, he corrects it in himself. I Ching 42
However, if we have freedom, we also have the capability to misuse that freedom. Therefore, God gave man and woman a guideline, as expressed in the commandment to Adam and Eve, so they could stay within the Principle while growing to maturity. Adherence to the commandment was their responsibility.
When man and woman reach perfection, they have such a caring and disciplined nature and such a deep oneness with God that they can never betray God. Therefore, a person can act in an unprincipled manner only prior to attaining perfection, while still in a state of spiritual immaturity. This is precisely what happened with the first human ancestors. They misused their God-given freedom while they were growing towards perfection.
By sustained effort, earnestness, discipline, and self-control, let the wise man make for himself an island which no flood can overcome. Dhammapada 25
In today's society, freedom is emphasized while responsibility is down-played. The result of this imbalance can be seen all around us: crime is at an all-time high and immorality is rampant. This in turn, has created a climate of fear and mistrust, which has substantially limited everyone's freedom, from the elderly who are afraid to leave homes, to women afraid of being sexually harassed at the work place, to students who must pass through a metal detector before they are allowed to enter school. The solution to these social problems begins when individuals learn to value their responsibilities as much as their freedoms.
Where Do We Go When We Die?
While many people share a belief in some kind of life after death, it is not commonly understood that even during our physical lifetime we exist in two realms at once -- material and spiritual. God created each person with a physical self and a spirit self.
Just as the physical world is the environment for our physical self, so is the spirit world the environment for our spirit self. But whereas our sojourn on this earth is temporary, our life in the spirit world is eternal.
God, the universal Parent and source of love, created us as His children to be the recipients of His love for eternity. Through the physical life on earth, centering on the family, we practice all kinds of love, thus creating within ourselves the basis for this eternally developing relationship. Once we achieve this purpose for which God placed us on the earth, there is no longer a need for us to prolong our physical existence. All physical bodies naturally age and die. This is why God did not create a physical world alone; He created a spirit world as well.
This world is like a vestibule before the world to come; prepare yourself in the vestibule that you may enter the hall. Mishnah, Abot 4:21
Now man is made of determination; according to what his determination is in this world so will he be when he has departed this life. Shankara, Vedanta Sutra 1.2.1
In God's original ideal, we on earth would be able to interact with the spirit world through our five spiritual senses. However, because we separated from God and failed to achieve spiritual maturity, our spiritual senses have been impaired to the point where we have become ignorant of the spirit world.
Today, perhaps the most dramatic testimony to the existence of the spiritual dimension comes from those who have had what are commonly called near death experiences. Many of these individuals, who were pronounced clinically dead by doctors but who later revived, recall remarkably similar experiences while they were dead. As recorded in such books as Dr. Raymond Moody's Life After Life, they tell us that after they died they floated outside of their bodies and viewed their bodies from a distance. Other spirits came to help them, and they often recognized them as friends and relatives who had previously died.
Many people have had some limited experience of the other world, when they were able to see or sense things beyond the realm of their physical perception. In rare cases, individuals have been able to communicate directly with the spirits of people who has passed on. In his book, Life in the World Unseen, Anthony Borgia writes about his communications with a decreased Anglican priest. Describing his afterlife experience, the priest reportedly said that the spirit world, with mountains, trees and flowers. But its residents, he said, occupy different levels corresponding to the level of spiritual maturity they achieved during their life on earth.
Others with direct contact with the spirit world have also testified to the different levels or realms there. It is not God who sends people to one place or another. People themselves determine their place in the spirit world. Their destination correlates with the ability to love they attained during their life on earth. For example, the few saints the world has known dwell in the spirit world close to God in a realm of brilliance and warmth. But those whose lives were marked by greed and rapacity gather together in a realm virtually devoid of love. And environment of violence in the spirit world draws the violent soul. An environment of goodness draws the loving soul. Therefore, the oft-used terms "heaven" and "hell" are not merely locations in the afterlife, but actually correspond to the development and purity of heart, or lack thereof, in a person's life.
In God's plan for an ideal world, the spiritual realm, like the physical world, was never meant to be a place of torment, fear and punishment. God intended it to be a place where all men and women, having perfected themselves, would live harmoniously together with God and their families for eternity. Thus, all men and women, no matter what kind of life they have lived here on earth, eventually will be elevated to the highest realm of the spirit world. This is because God, as the Parent of all humankind, cannot suffer anyone enduring eternal separation from him, and, as the almighty Creator, He will ultimately draw all His children to Him. But again, because human beings have their own freedom, this process of restoration and development requires that each person take responsibility for his or her own growth.
How Does Spiritual Growth Come About?
Existing in both the physical and spirit worlds, each of us consists of both a spirit self and a physical self. The spirit self is in the subject position and gives purpose and direction to the physical self. Furthermore, the physical self is composed of a physical body (made up of cells) and a physical mind (which manifests itself, for example, in the desire for food and sleep). In the same way, man's spirit self has both a spirit body and a spirit mind. As the spirit body takes a form similar to that of the physical body, people can be recognized in the spirit world. This explains why some people who have contact with the spirit world are able to identify friends and relatives who are deceased. The spirit mind is the core of a person's being, containing heart, emotion, intellect and will. Through the spirit mind God is able to communicate with us, inspire us and guide us in our growth.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Matthew 18:18
The spirit self needs the physical self for its growth. Our actions of good (or evil) provide the good (or bad) nourishment for our spirit. In return, the spirit gives energy to or drains energy from the physical body. When the spirit self has fully matured and achieved the purpose of life, its attachment to the physical body is no longer essential. It can continue to live freely and eternally in the spirit world, even after the body returns to the earth. But the spirits of people who never attained maturity must return to the earth in the spirit, in order to complete their process of growth through influencing persons on earth.
Each time a person acts in accordance with God's will and the principles of love and service, that person's spirit receives vitality from the physical body, experiences true joy, and is able to receive more of God's love and truth and so grow. On the other hand, if the spirit self receives bad vitality elements resulting from selfish actions, it will make the person feel guilty and his spirit will decline. The only recourse for this person is to repent and right his or her wrongs. The development and quality of a person's spirit self is thus dependent on the quality of his or her actions.
What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? ... For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead also. James 2:14,26
It is not sufficient to only hear and believe the Word of God, it has to be practiced also. We need to deny ourselves and live for the sake of others. The physical lifetime is our greatest opportunity to achieve spiritual growth. Once our life on earth ends, we can no longer receive vitality elements from our physical selves and our spiritual growth therefore becomes much more difficult. In other words, since our spirit selves grow on the foundation of the good actions performed by our physical bodies, our experience of love, beauty and joy on earth conditions our ability to experience them in the spirit world. This is why our life on earth is so important. It is on earth that God's ideal and His purpose of creation must be realized.
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