What bothers us most of the time? We often complain about problems, thinking these are external, and saying we are supposed to be peaceful, but these external threats attack us. So, we believe:
Life is a war. We live on the battlefield.
Is that so?
Perhaps, it is to some extent. Human history consists of various external threats, from starvation to illness to warfare and other human brutalities. Life has never been without such external threats that we can’t control.
Why is that so? Because we lost Paradise by turned away from God?
Since God kicked us out of the Garden of Eden, it seems we have no choice but to accept this cruel fate. Can we never break this curse in sorrow?
Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.Genesis 3:17-19
When we realized ourselves naked to hide our bodies with the fig leaf, our self-consciousness emerged. We see ourselves in ourselves. At this very moment, the Garden of Eden vanished itself. We lost the Garden of Paradise. We lost face to face communication with God. We were no longer innocently unconscious.
More strictly speaking, God didn’t necessarily kick us out of the Garden. We turned ourselves away from Him. We left Paradise. We have become unqualified as the residents. While the Garden still exists in parallel, we can’t see it anymore because of self-consciousness. That is to say, we see ourselves in ourselves. So, we believe:
Life is a war. We live on the battlefield.
All the external threats are around us. That is what our conscious selves believe. That is what we see conditionally because of what happened to us, because of how and who we are now.
Let me repeat this part. Because of how and who we are now, we only BELIEVE that life is a war, and we live on the battlefield. Can we break this curse in sorrow? Can we get out of this cursed, self-believing, self-indulgent, and self-imposed prison?
The answer is yes and no.
We must remember that we should never neglect the bloody, brutal physical reality of our human history. We have been facing various threats above-mentioned. We need to accept them. So, the answer is no. It is not a type of curse that we often see in fairytales and epic fantasies.
On the other hand, the world we live in is not only such outside-in physical reality. Another thing we must recall is that life is the way what and how we believe so. Remember that the world of existence is because we see ourselves in ourselves after eating the fruit of knowledge, turning us away from God.
The universe we exist in is ultimately the inside-out reality. We can never see anything beyond what we can see ourselves in ourselves. Beyond the outside-in external, superficial, and physical reality, there is the metaphysical, cosmological reality that is beyond the way that we see ourselves in ourselves.
Can we see such a transcendental super-reality of no-boundary? If we can, then possibly we could see there has been the Garden of Eden in parallel. Perhaps, we could meet God there. We could turn ourselves back to God. That is what we call repentance.
Repentance in Greek means metanoia (μετάνοια). It signifies beyond (meta) mind (noia), just like metaphysics (beyond physical domain). Metanoia implies the way that we see ourselves in ourselves beyond our consciousness. It is our selfless surrender toward God beyond the physical and conscious universe that we do exist.
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.Matthew 4:17
God is not in this world. More correctly, He is in this world, but we can never find Him in such a way that we see things in this world. We see Him beyond all things in the world. We see Him in the universe and as the universe beyond physical and conscious perspective. Perhaps, we could barely say He is within us. God is in the Garden within us.
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.Luke 17:21
Let’s find the Garden within ourselves. How can we do that?
Can we recall the very moment when we were nobody nowhere? If we can, that should be the Garden that we are supposed to be back. The Garden has been “there” within ever since.
We only left “there” because of ourselves. As long as we are full of ourselves, we can never find it. Only when we forget ourselves and become nobody nowhere, the Garden could emerge itself. Or, we could realize that we had been “there” — only that we had turned away from it.
Who am I? Let’s ask ourselves and contemplate this inquiry.
Who are we in this Garden within ourselves? We are nobody nowhere. Let’s become the humble gardeners in it. All our self-help efforts to be somebody would be counterproductive.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.Matthew 16:25
We are nobody no-where. That means we are humble gardeners now-here, seeking God alone in the Garden within. Only at that very moment, all things in the world would be no longer external threats but blessings in His grace.
Image by congerdesign