“God is three, and God is One.” What is that, but a Koan? Koans such as “the sound of one hand clapping” are impossible things, which one tries to understand then simply accepts. Accepting the impossible, realising it is even though it does not make sense, is an important part of spiritual maturity and wisdom. It is a pity that Christians, most damagingly Calvin, have tried to make sense of the Trinity and other doctrine, and it is our fault that Westerners have to turn to Eastern Wisdom where lived Christianity could have given some of the answers.
Religion helps one surrender the need for things to be other than they are, and I have been thinking of my progress in surrendering through the prism of the Christian concept of Faith and Works. James’ epistle mocks faith without works: “So you believe Jesus is the Christ? The devils in Hell believe that, and tremble.” Pelagius, the British heretic, believed one could earn Heaven.
I have a vague idea that Catholic and Reformed official views differ on this, but do not know how precisely. God gave God’s only son to be a sacrifice, to be Incarnated as a human being. We could not earn God’s mercy, so God gave it freely, asking for nothing, like the father of the Prodigal son.
I am terrified of what I imagine are other people’s demands on me, and I flee, and so I want my own salvation through my own Works: I will do Good, and will be OK. Not in the eyes of God, but those of Society. And it occurs to me that no-one has any demands of me. My landlord would like the rent paid, but apart from that I can think of none. I have just skived off CAB this week, and Les forgives me. He is not angry. The judgment on me, if any, is my own.
The demands on me, and the salvation I might gain through meeting them, are alike my own illusory creation.
So rather than saving myself through Works, I seek salvation through Faith. I believe and trust in the World, in Reality. Everything is OK. There is no demand I can meet, no Good I can be, that will make everything OK, that brings within my power and control the ability to Make it all right, and much of my effort towards that and certainly my worry (adding a cubit to my stature?) has been wasted, and yet so far, everything has been alright. I have not always been happy, or seen my way clear, but I have always been all right.
Christianity has the idea of God incarnate, God coming into being as a human, God’s complete empathy with any human suffering possible, God suffering with God’s suffering creation.
I have had faith in myself. Now, I will to have Faith.