My Lectio Divina yesterday provided me with some intriguing thoughts about human nature, admittedly, not your usual morning reading choice.
I use the word “nature” as meaning the independent and self-contain category of being. Independent because one is not the other, distinct but joined together as alive but with different characteristics and energy sources.
These ideas are filtered through my reality, so keep that in mind. Here are my thoughts in no order of importance.
Animals and other living things are aware of their environment, but they don’t know that they don’t know.
Humans know that they know. What they know depends on their unique life experiences and how they deal with the consequences of their actions.
Animals are bound by physical nature’s law (humans are subject to this, too) to live according to its rules.
Humans, because they have reason, but more importantly, because they can choose against the law of physical nature, can not stop this animal act (ovulation) but have the power to prevent or control it.
Being human is all about control, controlling self, and controlling others. This urge is part of the human condition. Genesis is a very early myth about how many people viewed human nature. It is the Origin of the Species of their time. Admittedly a story of creation but also why humans act with the dual capacity for nobility yet animality. Acting as an animal is not acting your nature if you are human.
St. Paul says, “With one man, sin came into the world.” This is significant because it points out that each human lives in a condition of choices, some good while others are bad. When humans think that evil is actually good, there is dissonance in their particular world in terms of the cosmological resonance of a higher force or Nature, God. There is the resonance that comes from God being one with his nature, and where there is dissonance, humans cause it by choosing something they think is suitable for themselves but which is actually hurtful to their nature in the long run.
G. K. Chesterton, noted author and apologist, writes: “I don’t want the Church to tell me that what I think is bad is bad; I need the Church to tell me that what I think is good is bad.”
But there is more to the Divine Equation than just what I can know and choose for my life experiences. Each human is the sum of their life experiences, just like a big ball of sticky notes stuck together for all eternity. We are the sum of our choices and consequences, not only our accomplishments, honors, academic or professional degrees. We can learn from those life challenges what is true for us as measured against the totality of those life experiences. One of the things we can learn that propels us forward is to realize that there is a reality outside of myself, another nature, one that is the Christ Principle, that against which we measure what is good. These are the two ways of teasing out the truth of the Diving Equation. “I am not you; you are not me; God is not you; and you, most certainly, are not God.” Acting your nature means realizing that there is animal nature, Human Nature, and divine nature.
Remember, we live in a condition of imperfection and both good and poor choices for the purpose of life. Everything in physical nature and human nature has a beginning and an ending. God now has a problem. How can God communicate with humans that we are intended to live forever in resonance with pure energy, pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service? Humans can’t get there from here unless God reaches down to our human nature (not animal nature) to raise humans to become sons and daughters of the Father. Humans needed someone to teach them that their destiny as humanity lies in choosing a way of life-based on love. God sent his own nature to become human to teach us that love of others as Christ loved us is the key to solving the Divine Equation. The Christ Principle not only shows us the questions to ask to move to the next level of our evolution as humans but provides us with the only answers that unlock this seeming conundrum of human nature. (Philippians 2:5)
I can solve the Divine Equation if I apply the Christ Principle to this convoluted ball of sticky notes called my life. A principle is one point into which all reality flows and also from which all reality flows, something like the Atlanta airport. This principle is of divine nature, not human, and has relevance because I am the one who must use this center to discover who I am as a human being, not be seduced into thinking that I can be God. It took one man (Jesus) to save us from an unfulfilled human destiny.
Read this remarkable passage from Saint Paul about Jesus being the archetype of redemption and what it means to you and me personally. I have taken the liberty of copying the whole passage so that you might take some time to meditate and, hopefully, contemplate the implications of Christ as The Christ Principle, the Second Adam, Our Savior, Our Redeemer, Our Brother and Friend, the Vine and we are His branches.
Faith, Hope, and Love.*1Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace* with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,a2through whom we have gained access [by faith] to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God.b3Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance,4and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope,c5and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.d6For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly.7Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die.*8But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.e9How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath.f10Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life.g11Not only that, but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Humanity’s Sin through Adam.12* Therefore, just as through one person sin entered the world,h and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned*—13for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world, though sin is not accounted when there is no law.i14But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam, who is the type of the one who was to come.j
Grace and Life through Christ.15But the gift is not like the transgression. For if by that one person’s transgression the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one person Jesus Christ overflow for the many.16And the gift is not like the result of the one person’s sinning. For after one sin there was the judgment that brought condemnation; but the gift, after many transgressions, brought acquittal.17For if, by the transgression of one person, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ.18In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all.k19For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous.l20The law entered in* so that transgression might increase but, where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more,m21so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.nhttps://bible.usccb.org/bible/romans/5
Now, read the six segments of the Divine Equation that you must solve using the language of love.
Each segment depends or builds on the one before it.
The Divine Equation is not about who God is. It is about who you are as a member of the human race.
Nature is about power, not control. Human nature seems to have three overarching themes:
Lay Cistercian practices are all about placing myself in the presence of Christ and being open to whatever comes of that.
More to come on this topic…