Yesterday I did something I haven’t done since I was a high school student. I sat down and read the bible. Unlike at school, it was of my own volition and it was a fascinating read. I rejected the bible for many years because I felt it was forced upon me during my upbringing as a catholic. I never understood it nor could I relate to it. It only added to the many other confusing messages I got about life. My very basic idea about God was this cranky old man who lived in the sky watching your every move. I was told he loved me but if I was tempted by Satan then God would punish me. I was always having to admit to being a bad girl and repent for it, otherwise upon my demise he would send me to the fires of hell. There I would burn for an eternity, writhing in pain. I had been sunburned a few times over the hot, dry Australian summers and that was uncomfortable enough!
I remember as a young child sitting quietly in the school chapel with my classmates, waiting my turn for confession. I recall the distinct scent of the lacquer of the wooden bench seats as I watched a flickering light in a red glass dome on a table under a stained glass window. I called it the ‘jumping Jesus’ light and it only served to remind me of my restlessness. I was eventually called in for my turn and my anxiety grew as I tried to think of things I needed to confess to the priest. I usually made things up so I had at least three things to work with. The priest blessed me, told me to say three Hail Mary’s and four Our Father prayers and that was it. I was off the hook for another week.
So it’s a Sunday morning just before the dawn and I am up with you. Rubbing my blurry eyes while you wriggle and squeal in sheer delight of being awake. I switch on the television and start feeding you your bottle. On the channel is a bible study program, relating the current global financial crisis to the fall of Babylon in the book of Revelations. I was intrigued so when I got the opportunity later that day, I dug up a bible and opened it up to Revelations. I read about the battle between the Christ and the Anti-Christ and I began to ponder the symbolism of that story.
The concept of good versus evil has existed for a long, long time. Mostly we like to read the stories that end with the triumph of good over evil. However it made me wonder about one without the other. What would the world be like if there was only good? Or what if there was only evil? Perhaps it’s the phrasing that required rethinking. If I apply the concept of yin and yang, it immediately takes on a different tone. It describes opposite forces that are interconnected and interdependent. So when you take the moral labels away it is no longer good and evil, right and wrong. It becomes light and dark, day and night, birth and death. Who is to say what is right and what is wrong? Is birth right and death wrong? If birth is right and we want to admonish all that is wrong, that cancels out death. What would that mean for the world? Birth and death are related and connected. One requires the other in order for its very existence. If there was only up, you would never know down. If there was only light you would never know darkness so therefore, how would you recognise the light?
So sweet little boy, if you didn’t know tears or sadness would you recognise joy? We might wish to believe that a world without heartache would be a fabulous experience of perpetual happiness. If you never felt hurt, how would you know you are happy? Perhaps then that experience of happiness would become quite bland. Day in, day out eternal happiness. The same old thing every day. Imagine you are standing at a huge long table filled with food. The catch is, it’s all prawns. Freshly caught, delicious and flavoursome. That’s what you can sample from the table. You might be able to add some lemon, or tartare sauce. You can grill them or fry them or bbq them or eat them raw. At the end of the day, no matter how much you love them, it’s all that’s on offer. They will start to lose their appeal and you will take them for granted. Your palate will become one dimensional and that will be boring.
Now I want you to imagine standing at that table and there are dozens of different foods to sample. You cannot believe the incredible flavour of the tandoori chicken, or the peppery bitterness of the rocket salad. You may well sample the spicy meatloaf and after a strong dose of heartburn have a new appreciation for your prawns. Suddenly they are appealing again. A contrast has been created. A meatloaf yin to your prawnie yang.
In life you need to experience loneliness to appreciate and understand togetherness. When you suffer through ill health you will yearn for wellness. When you know the full force of your ego that separates you from others, it will be deeply humbling to accept the grace of the universal spirit that joins us all together.
These opposing, contradictory concepts are merely points of reference. You cannot have the one without the other. So in terms of the story of the Christ battling the Anti-Christ, I believe it is the war that we wage inside ourselves trying to avoid one aspect in favour of another. Both are required and when you accept this you will find a balance, you will feel a flow. You cannot ignore the heart and only listen to the mind. Just like you could never block out the mind and only experience the heart. They both serve a purpose by highlighting the other. Lean heavily in one direction and you will want to swing in the opposite way like a pendulum because there is a sense of the incomplete. Don’t reject it when you feel uncomfortable or when you are unhappy. Embrace it as it is needed. It is a gift given. You cannot ever have a one sided coin, it is impossible. Accept the diversity and you won’t struggle against the current, instead you will become part of the natural flow of the tides of life.
“A Warrior knows that an angel and a devil are both competing for his sword hand.
The devil says: “You will weaken. You will not know exactly when. You are afraid.” The angel says: “You will weaken. You will not know exactly when. You are afraid.”
The Warrior is surprised. Both the angel and the devil have said the same thing” – Paulo Cohelo, Warrior of the Light