Beauty in Simplicity

The Sun always rises in the east and sets in the west, as does the Moon. I stand at the center of the World and observe this daily, so I know this to be a simple truth. I like simplicity.

The Sun must pass under the World to return from the west to the east where it rises everyday. I can fathom no other way for it to return to the east without me seeing it because it is so bright. It is the simplest way, and I like simplicity.

The Sun does not always ascend to its highest place. When the Sun ascends to its highest place, the day is long and hot. The Sun’s high place is a little lower with each passing day until it passes low to the horizon when the day is short and cold. In the days that follow, the Sun will gradually return to its highest place. In this manner, the Sun prescribes the seasons of growing and of rest. It is simple and I like it.

I stand at the center of the World with my feet planted firmly on the ground. I watch the comings and goings of humankind and try to make sense of their ways. I have studied their ways all of my life, but I find these things difficult to fathom. The ways of people are complex. I like simplicity, though.

I have learned the ways of humankind by watching, listening and reading. There are many who claim to understand human behavior, and they are happy to explain this to you if you simply join their religion or buy their book. However, the explanations can be as complex as the behavior, so the value is dubious. Credibility also seems to dwell within simplicity. Did I mention that I like simplicity?

I then stumbled upon these simple words:

…[T]he eagerness to benefit ourselves makes us harm our fellow persons, due to our will to receive self-gratification. Thus, if no being would find contentment in favoring itself, no being would ever harm another. (Kabbalah for the Student, p.52)

All the human behavior I have observed in half a century, from trivial to world shattering, is explained in a few simple words. I like simplicity. There remains an annoying little detail, though: Kabbalah!

The Kabbalists who recommend this book say that Kabbalah is not a religion, and I have no problem with that. They also say Kabbalah is not Judaism, which I have no problem with, either. The Kabbalists say that Abraham and Sarah taught Kabbalah in their tent, and that Abraham and Sarah were not Jewish. I suspect that I will eventually discover that the religion of Judaism didn’t exist until Moses delivered the Law unto the people. Whatever the case, I do not expect it to present a problem.

The problem comes from tracing Christianity back to Judaism, Judaism back to Moses, and Moses back to Abraham and Kabbalah. Something seems to have gotten lost in the process, because Christians seem to have a preoccupation with the Devil in matters concerning human behavior. People who believe differently than these types of Christians are alleged to be deceived by the Devil (a.k.a. Satan.) This appears to be a deviation:

Rabbi Maller pointed out that in the Jewish view Satan is not a Devil, (an independent source of evil in opposition to God) but rather an angel of God whose role is to tempt and test people. Without temptation humans canโ€™t produce evil or good out of their own free will. Satan never forces a person to do evil. Satan gives us the opportunity to do evil, and when we resist doing evil, we have the opportunity to do good. No pain, no gain. (Devil Is Christian Not Jewish, Earthpages.org)

The Jewish perception of Satan seems more in keeping with the Kabbalist perception where our human proclivities are the real issue. There is no apparent attempt to externalize the human potential to do bad things by asserting any entity as the epitome of evil. The potential to do good or bad lies within us, but we only choose when presented with a choice (a.k.a. Temptation). The Kabbalists assert that the inclination to do harm is rooted in self-gratification, the eagerness to benefit ourselves, self-centeredness, or egoism. Since egoism resides within us, does it not stand to reason that we are the Devil if we choose to harm others in any manner for self-gratification? (Is this the Devil?)

Life is full of temptations and tests. When we fail; blaming the teacher or the test is a cop-out. Blaming the Devil or God is also a cop-out. God tells us to choose between the blessing and the curse. The choice is ours and so are the consequences. (Devil Is Christian Not Jewish, Earthpages.org)

Personal responsibility is a common theme in modern Paganism. Pagans do not naively believe that there aren’t harmful forces that require caution, but they do not believe in the Devil. Once again, the Devil is a Christian concept, not a Pagan one. I believe that the potential for good and bad exists in many aspects of Creation, including people. This appears to be a common belief with many Pagans, too.

I love the light and warmth of the Sun. My entire being rejoices with the Spring when the days are noticeably longer and warmer. The first green shoots are certain signs that the Earth reawakens. However, as the days get hotter we realize that the Earth will become parched, and nothing will grow, if the rains do not come.

I love the rains that slake our thirst and that of the Earth. Rain clouds provide a brief respite from the heat of high summer. It is a delight like dessert after a meal, unless the rains are torrential and cause flash flooding.

I love the caress of the gentle breeze that cools me under the bright Sun. I am thankful for the winds that bring the rains. I am thankful for my breath. Nevertheless, the winds of hurricanes and tornadoes are very destructive.

I love to watch the dance of fire. Food cooked over an open fire has such good flavor. The fire warms me as the days grow cool again, but a fire that jumps its hearth can destroy home and food.

No matter where a Pagan looks, the potential curse can be found within the blessing, or vice verse. Why would this be any different with humankind? There is often more evidence of this in human nature than in Mother Nature. However, many Pagans believe they will suffer the consequences of their choices, so they try to make good choices so they will suffer good consequences. Some call this karma and some call it honor, while others simply call it taking personal responsibility. It might even seem like the spiritual equivalent of Newton’s Third Law of Motion to some.

I might have recognized the simple truth in my youth if the doctrines of psychology and pseudo-Christianity did not permeate the culture of middle class America. I suppose I should feel real foolish for thinking that people with degrees and positions of authority actually knew what they were talking about, but I am going to forgive myself instead. Obviously, I was deceived by the Devil!

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7 thoughts on “Beauty in Simplicity

  1. Steve, you always amaze me with your own unique way of putting things. Cheering you on! Teresa

  2. Your question about Paganism a while ago is always in the back of my mind. Often when I write, I am thinking about trying to provide you with insight into Paganism, at least my perception of Paganism anyway (it is a very diverse group.) I suspect this is the source of the “unique” aspect you speak of, and I suspect my fellow Pagans find these things quite common. Nevertheless, you obviously qualify as a muse to me, and your cheers are always appreciated.

  3. Steve, wonderful job on writing this and for the way you presented the information to us, and for the manner in which you represented it. I found it well thought out, well balanced, and fair in speech and tone. If we could all strive to convey ideas and emotions in this manner, I believe man would at least be more civilized. I agree with all you wrote, and I especially like how you kept coming back around to your own thoughts, grounding yourself inward and keeping control over the emotions that arise through these issues. It is great to show the mechanics of a peaceful and a sound mind. There is much to be said for that. I like how you think. I so appreciate this entry, and it was a delightful read, while still retaining that thought provoking element. Thank you for sharing this.
    warm regards
    celeste

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