• Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Develop a global partnership for development

Monday, July 28, 2008

Things temporal vs. things eternal - what's that about?

In the Collect for Proper 12, Year A, the church prays, "that we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal."  Hmm.  What does that mean?  Don't we live in the realm of the temporal?  Don't we spend the majority of our time working to secure enough of life's temporal things to make us comfortable, to quench our thirst for more, to make us feel good about our existence?  Well, yes.  And to a certain extent, we need to pay attention to "things temporal."  However, the temporal things of life are merely tools, instruments by which we find the things of eternal value.

This Collect reminds me of the writing of Eckhart Tolle, who, in A New Earth, differentiates between the ego and the conscious self or awareness.  The ego is that part of us that is unconscious, unaware that we are so much more than our thoughts, compulsions, desires, fears, etc.  At the core of our existence, if we can get to it, we won't find "things temporal."  We won't find stuff, status, self-aggrandizement.  Rather, we'll find self-giving love - love that does not seek to own or co-opt or win.  We'll find pure love that does not need to protect itself with artificial barriers that serve to divide, to make us right and the other wrong.  That's the problem with so much religion.  We want to be right, to believe that our doctrine is better than someone else's.  So, we create a barrier, a limitation that keeps us from loving freely.  Then, we can't get to the "things eternal" because we are trapped in a cycle that exists in the realm of the "temporal."

How do we break free of the temporal and experience the eternal?  Tolle says that consciousness or awareness is the answer.   We cannot eliminate the temporal.  We can't pretend that it doesn't exist.  We can't even deny that we long for it.  However, we can have an awareness that it is not who we are.  We can create a little distance between who we are and the temporal things of life.  We can make room for the eternal, for the divine, for love.  Who we are is eternal, is love, is Truth, is divinely created.  

When we operate from within the eternal, we realize that all barriers are artificial, that all people are worthy of dignity and respect because they also are eternal.  So, the challenge is to live and interact with people with the awareness that each is created in God's image and that we don't need barriers to make ourselves feel superior.  We can transform our world by raising our awareness, by shattering barriers, by living into the love of "things eternal."

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