Nature of God and Man; the Purpose of Life
Volume 1 * Part 3
Innumerable studies of modern culture have been done, but it hardly takes a trained scholar to detect the profound malaise which permeates much of twentieth century western society. The title of Carl Jung's well-known book, Modern man in Search of a Soul, suggests one level of this malaise while Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, a 1970s film replete with senseless violence, is a cinematic indication of the moral sickness of modern society.
Alienation, spiritual emptiness, meaninglessness and powerlessness are words which for many characterize the situation of modern man. The lack of meaning and loss of belonging strike particularly at the spiritual roots of modern city dwellers, especially in teeming, impersonal metropolises like New York, Los Angeles and London.
Divine Principle uses the concept of give and take to express one dimension of what is missing in the experience of modern secular man. The Principle explains that, for lack of proper give and take, we are missing the core relationships for which we were created. Indeed, since everything exists as part of a pair system, each aspect is created to relate to the other. This occurs through giving and taking, both in human society as well as in the natural world.
An atom, for example, exists because of the exchange of energy between positive and negative charges. Give and take between stamen and pistil creates new seeds for plant life. Zoologists speak of a vast web of life in which each part plays both a productive (giving) and receptive (taking) role. Throughout the universe, give and take provides the energy for the existence, development and multiplication of all things. It is the action whereby the polar aspects of all things can be harmonized and unified.
Beyond the interaction within the natural world, Divine Principle suggests there is a giving and taking of energy within God Himself. When Moses asked God for a name by which He could be called, He replied, rather enigmatically, "I am who I am" (Ex 3:14). Since God is the First Cause and the primal source of all that exists, we may think of His Being in terms of perpetually self-generating energy. This ultimate energy is the outer form of God, as heart is His inner character. The give and take between these polarities with the Godhead form the foundation for the Lord's eternal existence.
The late Paul Tillich is famous for having removed God from His throne in the sky and having identified Him as the "ground of being." Divine Principle would sympathize with this assertion. God's energy is the source and substance of our physical world. Causing the visible creation and operating through it, God is responsible for the infinite patterns which energy forms to make the world we touch, see and know.
If we think directionally, we may say that the source energy from God is in a vertical relationship to the world while the energy produced through give and take between different earthly polarities is horizontal. Since the energy emanating from God operates to stimulate give and take between distinct horizontal elements, there is no creation in which God's spirit is not at work. The universal law of give and take is an aspect of God's omnipresence; nothing can exist without this connection to the living, ever active God.
Flow of Love
In line with the principle of polarity, Divine Principle points out that wherever giving and taking occurs, two positions are established, one we may call the position of "subject" and the other the position of "object". Generally speaking, the subject projects an initiating and creative energy, while the object is to be stimulating and responsive. As the positions complement each other, both are needed for interaction.
Examples of subject and object relationships are many. In human affairs, these positions can be seen, for example, in the relation between director and actors in the theater, or -- in a family -- between parents and children. Husband and wife may also be thought of in terms of these categories, with the mates playing different roles at different times. In his most famous work the Hasidic scholar Martin Buber termed these two positions I and thou..
Since love requires "two" (the lover must have his beloved), the positions of subject and object ultimately exist in order that love might flow. As in the exchange of love two persons change places and alternate roles, we may think of love as occurring in a circulatory motion. Love is the power which unites. Therefore, in love the subject and object ultimately unite and become one. This can be true of man and woman, parents and children, or even an individual and God.
The Four Positions
Polarity, give and take, subject and object, God and man: do all these elements fit together? Yes; they converge in an interconnected whole which the Divine Principle terms "the four position foundation."
When a man and a woman -- or in fact any two entities in the role of subject and object -- have a relationship of give and take, they form a unit of four positions. We may think of this unit as the basis for everything which exists; indeed, it is the foundation upon which God carries on His creative work.
In the natural world, give and take between a proton and electron, for example, establishes a four position unit consisting of God as the Source, proton and electron and the resulting atom. Similarly, interaction between two atoms produces a four position foundation among God, the two atoms and the resultant molecule.
In human society, give and take between mind and body centering on God creates a four position foundation on the individual level. In a family, a four position foundation consisting of God, husband, wife and children is established. When a person enters a God-centered relationship with the things of the universe, he realizes a four position foundation on the universal level.
The ultimate in a series of give and take relationships is the exchange of love between a man and a woman, husband and wife.
For Divine Principle, the four positions on the family level, including parents and children with God in the first position, provides the natural foundation for human society. Indeed, this is the pattern for all other bases of four positions. On the community level, the four positions would be God, the leadership, the people and the community formed among them. Societal, national and international relationships are also based upon this pattern. Indeed, in the view of Divine Principle, the four position foundation provides an operative model for the realization of societal harmony. If social leaders were centered on God, embodying His heart and seeking to bring His love and truth to their people, then an ideal community would begin to be within reach.
As we all know, however, the give and take principle in action in society at large leaves much to be desired. Satisfying four position foundations are not being realized. This is the result of the quality of the relationships as well as the content. Certainly, if the content of our give and take were love, and if it were given with understanding, then a world of harmony and cooperation could result. The reason why Christianity historically has flourished, for example, is that it emphasizes the primacy of love: "so faith, hope, love abide," writes Paul, "but the greatest of these is love" (I Cor 13:13). The New Testament envisions a loving fellowship which through love binds together very disparate kinds of people:
Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love...and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him . (I Jn 4:7-8).
Divine Principle stresses that harmony among people can be achieved when such people first love God. We may say they then have access to a warehouse of love and can pass the cargo of God's love to their neighbors. When the Apostle Paul was spreading his new faith throughout the Hellenistic world, he was well aware that, in Jesus' eyes, the commandments to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself were the most important of the hundreds in the Torah. He knew that harmony on the horizontal level was dependent on the vertical relationship with God, that give and take flows freely between people only when it flows between individuals and God, and finally that "Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (II Cor 3:17).