(Original post date: 23rd November 2017 — Updated: 18th April 2018)
Today, rather than putting my own thoughts down on this virtual paper, I’d like to share a post with you that has struck a chord with me and got me thinking about the whole love thing .
The post was from the page This Cloth, This Colour, This Cut which contained the musings of one Paul Cromford, my husband. Sadly, he has discontinued his blog page. However, as I have a terrific communication link to the writer of that post (!) and not having been coerced into sharing his musing nor doing so from some sycophantic wifely devotion (I do actually value his musings and, it has to be said, I am his harshest critic. Really!) I am fortunate to be able to post his writing directly on this page. I hope you find “Giving Up The God Business” as intriguing and thought provoking as I have.
Giving Up The God Business
Here’s another thought-experiment for you, and I hope you’ll follow it all the way to the end of this post.
Imagine that you wake up on a typical rainy morning; you indulge in a bit of wishful thinking along the lines of “Why can’t it be sunny?”, and instantaneously the rainclouds vanish, leaving a glorious sunrise.
What just happened? You are understandably surprised by this turn of events. You dare to suppose that your own wish had a bearing on the phenomenon, and you try another one: for example, “let my toes put forth cow-parsley” — something elaborate, something to factor coincidence out of the equation — and suddenly your feet resemble a hedgerow.
By such means and with such tests, probably over a period of days, you become convinced of what, in fact, is an objective truth: you are now omnipotent; you have dominion over all things; you can bend and remake natural law; you might reasonably expect to live forever. You have become God.
The realisation fills you with amazement, delight and horror, as you consider all the possibilities and the responsibility involved.
Those possibilities: do I need to spell them out? The cleansing of a polluted Earth, the eradication of famine and poverty, the willed obedience of all creatures?
That responsibility: yes, of course. If you were to carelessly or indirectly wish the annihilation of the entire cosmos, you have no way of knowing, as a creature of that cosmos, if you would also cease to be. Therefore you must impose some framework of discipline on your thoughts. Possibly, as God, you could instruct your own mind to avoid certain concepts, cordon off a few neural pathways for evermore. Easy-peasy.
But what if that’s the only surgery you can perform on your own brain? Humour me here ‘God’, but you did start out as a human being, and although we’re very good at blocking off things we’d rather not think about, and we can fall prey to false memories, what we can’t change are our mental responses to any stimuli. We can change the way we handle those responses, but we can’t alter the initial triggers.
So, what if you, ‘God’, can’t avoid a growing sense of ennui regarding your now-perfect Creation? You can have everything just the way you want it, all the time. All The Time. There are no problems left to solve, no challenges left to meet, no goals left to achieve. Not a creature anywhere in the universe has anything but lavish praise for you; every sentient organism adores you implicitly. It’s heaven — or if you prefer, Heaven.
But you can’t will yourself into enjoying this constant perfection. Your human past undermines you: you remember the satisfaction of winning, of striving and succeeding against adversity; you recall the joy of finding that certain other human beings, free to give their affections anywhere, bestowed them gladly on you. It dawns on you that a state of incessant perfection is a condition of permanent stagnation: no prospect of improvement, no potential for growth, no further development.
So what can you do? There’s only one answer: you, ‘God’, must relinquish full control, undertake a partial abdication of your supremacy. You have to give up the God business. You must restore to all sentient beings their free will, and let them take you or leave you, according to their lights. You know this; we all know this. Only when we have the freedom to make our mistakes can we value the good things we also make.
And there’s a holiness, a supreme grace to this fact: that we, keepers all of an innate, godlike creative spark, are free to direct that spark wheresoever we will. For people of a Christian persuasion, it’s a fundamental source of wonder that their Deity basically gave up using the stick (the entire Old Testament) and decided to try the carrot (the entire New Testament); renounced supernatural powers — a debatable point viz. the reported miracles etc — in favour of trying to persuade folk in the guise of a frail human frame. And perishing horribly as a result.
We’ve reached the end of the thought-experiment, but now, normal human reader, let’s ask a highly pertinent question: have I just been defining one aspect of the concept of ‘true’ love? You know the one: Khalil Gibran’s “If you love somebody, let them go”. We’ve all been faced with that idea at some point, and many of us have even acted on it — some of us more successfully than others! Is this act a sign of ‘true’ love? And does it mean we are manifesting our own streak of divinity in the process?
If the answer to those questions is ‘yes’, and I believe that to be so, then don’t you think we ought to be finding a quiet happiness in it, as well as the pain, sorrow or frustration that usually occurs when we’re ‘letting them go’?
Obviously, I’m not arguing against these negative feelings, because they’re natural human responses in affairs of the heart. What I am arguing is that we should also, if you accept my premise, console ourselves with this thought: that at such moments — the realisations that a loved one is going their own way and not playing the part you’d written for them, that you can’t control them, they don’t belong to you and never did — at such moments your acknowledgement of their needs, your acceding to their will, is your version of giving up the God business. You’re demonstrating your own little bit of holiness and supreme grace.
The knowledge of this fact is what should persist, when all your short-term negativity has melted away. And that knowledge, a truly virtuous thought, will in time put a calm smile on the face of your soul.