If you know much about me, you know my soteriology (salvation theology) is not anywhere near small-o orthodox Christian. (Actually, it’s much, much closer to the soteriology of big-O Orthodox Christianity.) I’m sorry. I just can’t possibly worship a god for whom “justice” is eternal torture for unbelievers, or anyone, for that matter. And since I’m not a trinitarian, for me Jesus was a child born out of wedlock who grew up to be an incredible dude, way, way more in touch with God than just about any of us can manage.
I was on retreat last weekend, and I suddenly had a much bigger picture about what salvation is, and what it means (to me, of course. I can’t speak for you.) We live in a time that is precarious. We actually do need saving. Desperately. Between the suffering caused by the hatred and delusion of the -isms, to the greed and delusion that destroys the earth and impoverishes billions, we need salvation.
Carl Sagan once commented that one answer to the Fermi Paradox (the paradox that the galaxy must have the capacity for abundant intelligent life, but we haven’t met any of them yet) was that once a species gets to some level of intelligence, they are likely to do themselves in (we certainly are well on our way.) I was connecting that to the work I do in the world, helping people become more conscious, by among other things, tame their reptilian brain with mindfulness.
Could it be that the core issue of the evolutionary leap to sustainable intelligence is how we make it from a life where we needed those old neural circuits to survive, and a life (like now) when they just get in our way, and in fact, become self-destructive? And of course, what’s so interesting is that there is so much wisdom, in nearly every religion, that can help us do this. Yes, Buddhism is probably the one that’s got the most well developed system, but the mystical traditions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, as well as mystical and shamanic traditions from all over have this wisdom. Wisdom that can help us get past the greed, hatred and delusion greatly fostered by the evolutionarily older circuits in our brains. The core is this: What if every action anyone took were acts of compassion and/or love? What if we could be free of fear and greed? What if we chose to receive what is given by nature as a gift, rather than taken for granted? What kind of world would we create then? That’s salvation.
This is also the reason for sickness and death, because you embrace what deceives you. Consider these matters, then, with your spiritual intellect. Attachment to matter gives birth to passion without an Image of itself because it is drawn from that which is contrary to its higher nature. The result is that confusion and disturbance resonates throughout one’s whole being. It is for this reason that I told you to find contentment at the level of the heart, and if you are discouraged, take heart in the presence of the Image of your true nature. Those with ears, let them hear this. (Gospel of Mary 3:7-13)