Monday, June 30, 2014

Book Highlight: Grand Central Question

Chapter 5:  Pantheism and Pain

We once again delve into Abud Murray's book Grand Central Question as chapter 5 begins Part Two of the book entitled Eastern and Western Spirituality or the Gospel:  Which Gives Real Answers to Suffering? Murray explains that even though pantheism has many different forms each form has the fundamental beliefs that follow:  This world is to some degree an illusion. The idea of an individual self is an illusion; we are truly divine. In fact, the divine is all there is. Succumbing to this illusion results in the pain and suffering we experience and we will cycle endlessly through life after life until we realize our full potential as one with the divine. This realization comes through our own merits via various paths depending on the system of belief (i.e. Hinduism, Buddhism, New Spirituality, Scientology, etc.).

Murray also writes of the great influence pantheism has had in the West which is demonstrated by popular books by Deepak Chopra and Ekhart Tolle and by films such as Star Wars, The Matrix, and Avatar. An influence that leads him to conclude that “our neighbors, our coworkers and even our relatives may be at least a touch pantheistic” (page 125).  The reason for pantheism’s appeal is because we all experience pain and suffering and desire a better state of being. Pantheism emphasizes the Grand Central Question of how to escape the present state we find ourselves in and answers it by stating that we are living an illusion that must be overcome through our own efforts. But, Murray writes:

are pain and suffering more profound because they are real and not mere illusions? Does the reality of pain tell us something deeper about ourselves, God and the nature of true peace beyond the idea that we need to escape it? Is pantheism’s Grand Central Question answered in our efforts to rise above it by becoming God or in God’s initiative to deal with it on our behalf? (pages 134-135)     

In the next chapter, Murray examines these questions and determines how the gospel answers the question of our pain and suffering and also if that answer is satisfactory to both the heart and mind.

Stand firm in Christ,

1 comment:

bbrown said...

It is interesting to me that pantheism seems to represent the opposite end of the mind/body dilemma from Enlightenment modernity. Whereas the modern naturalist project has fostered the belief that the mind is merely neurochemical synapses, the ancient Eastern view says that only mind or soul was real, all else illusion.

As with most things, the right balance is the key.

This article, posted today on "The Imaginative Conservative", explores some of these themes.....


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