a problem

OK, here goes. I'm attempting to do some longer, organized writing, expanding on the essay I posted about (and linked to) yesterday. And I think I can write in short pieces, posting them here daily, and have each piece be coherent in itself but all of them together presenting something more valuable than the parts. We'll see...

Obviously something is wrong.

I look around and I can see it everywhere. In my struggles every day, in the difficulty I have in working, in my reactions to other people, in the pain in my body. And I know I’m not the only one. There is suffering everywhere. People in pain, people in anguish, people in a rage, the people I spoke with today as well as people far away that I hear about. We have a serious problem.

But I have become convinced that the problem is not pain, or disease, or war, or poverty. We have struggled with such things for thousands of years, and managed to eliminate or reduce many of them, and yet the problem does not go away. New forms of suffering replace those that are removed. The problem is deeper. As far as I can tell, acts of violence and destruction are not the problem but rather symptoms of the problem. Disease and hunger and loss and death are not the problem, but rather severe challenges by which the problem becomes known. The effect of all these things on us is what makes us aware that there is a problem.

The problem itself is deeper. Many people have described it in many ways, but there is a similarity in their conclusions that I agree with. The problem is separation from God. This is the ultimate cause of all suffering.

This is not a physical separation; God is everywhere. God is here. I cannot go anywhere and be out of God’s presence. But I can turn myself against God. I can direct my heart, my will, my intent away from the will and intent of God. I have done this. And in doing so I have become confused, so that even when I want to turn back and unite myself with God again, I am not sure how. Since the moment I chose to act independently of God, I am no longer sure what is my desire and what is God’s, what is my intent and what is God’s. And this confusion is present in every choice and action in my life. Every moment. Often I recognize afterwards that my intent and action was not of God, and there is suffering in me and in those around me. And I know that there is a separation between me and God. This is my problem.

And from what I can see, it is not mine alone. It is the fundamental problem of human life.