Spiritual Suffering

It is possible that we see practically eye-to-eye, Eris. The sheer ambiguity of language, however, makes it brutally difficult to pin down except as the process of discussion and debate unfolds.

I would presume that hell is the antithesis of heaven, and its metaphysical particulars are similarly constructed. Jesus teaches of hell as “the darkness”. Assuming that heaven is the Kingdom of God, He teaches of heaven: Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:20-21

I think we can assume, then, that hell is the same. The darkness is within us. He refers to God’s love and goodness as “the light”. Of the light and the darkness, He teaches: “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” John 1:5; “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” John 3:19; “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’.” John 8:12; "I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness."John 12:46. And there’s much more along those lines in His teachings.

Jesus teaches on this specifically: "Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’? If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came–and the Scripture cannot be broken-- what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, `I am God’s Son’? Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does."John 10:31-37

(In the above passage, Jesus is referencing Psalm 82:6: “I said, ‘You are ‘gods’; you are all sons of the Most High.’”)

But even more specific than that, He teaches: “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” John 14:20

We all are One.


Right, except as analogies to help establish philosophical reference frames. Thus, it was necessary to mention the brain, simply so you would know that I was not talking about the brain! See above where I had to make that differentiation.

It is a part of nothing. Jesus teaches “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.” Matthew 5:30 That is precisely what God does with His own hand.

I have no idea what you’re talking about. :smiley:

There are times when I’m expositing from a spiritual frame of reference, and times when I’m expositing from a physical frame of reference. I beg you to spare me the tedium of tagging each and every instance with its particular reference frame. I’m confident that, with ordinary care, you can discern which is which. If I speak of temporal matters, the reference frame is physical. If I speak of eternal matters, the reference frame is spiritual.

I just think it might mean more to you (or someone else) if I talk about the physical experience of desiring something you don’t yet have to augment discussion about the spiritual experience of a desire fulfilled (or not) even before the world began with there being no difference between that moment and after the world has ended. Don’t you think so?

Sort of. In the same sense that if the steering went out on a car. It is you who steer the car; the steering assembly is only a tool you use. Likewise, you (as real spirit) steer your morality; your brain is only a tool you use. But if your brain fails, it can frustrate your spirit’s desire. Suppose, for example, that you wanted to stalk a man, have sex with him, and then eat him. If you have a stroke as you approach the man, you might be unable to fulfill your desire.

I’ve never bought into that theory. Knowledge of something is not the same as the experience of it. I might know that you have a tooth ache, but that is terribly sterile knowledge as far as you’re concerned. The spirit makes its moral decisions that are manifest from two reference frames, one real and one not. We are more familiar with the unreal, since we are trapped here. For a time. :wink:

Right. That should have been worded, “Only people who desire goodness would suffer from its evasion.” In fact, Jesus teaches: "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."Matthew 5:10

Thank you, Spiritus. There is no greater assurity than your endorsement, and no greater honor at SDMB.

D’oh! Why the hell can’t I pay attention? :smiley:

No. Even if you have a stroke, your spirit still has the same desire that moved it to will your brain to go and eat the man.

Then, indeed, neither Heaven nor Hell is a place but a state. Should you pursue the matters of God’s spirit then, having cast off your earthly clothes (that is, flesh), you are free to pursue the one thing that matters without distraction or limitation. Should you pursue matters of the flesh and never know God, then having cast off your earthly clothes you suffer forever…

Or is it forever? Can a person come to know God in Hell?

This does tie in well with the thought that God suffers when we suffer. :slight_smile:

A person “knows” God anyway. But not every person loves God. A person is in hell because his decision has been to love something else more. He knows God is there, but has no desire for Him. Because he cannot ever have that which he longs for (since nothing is real but spirit), he suffers eternally. The darkness is where we grope around looking for what isn’t there.

It is the case with many (I dare say most) of the atheists here that they have beautiful and pure hearts, filled with longing for goodness, mercy, and love. They reject the god that has been presented to them, and I don’t blame them. But within their hearts is the same God I worship.

Some time ago, after a round of discussion with Gaudere, I was moved to pray seeking understanding specifically of how she could be an atheist and still be happy. In the quiet of my spirit, I heard God say to me: “I am the Love Everlasting. Whatever men say about me with their minds is vapor. I cannot be known by the mind, but only by the heart. Stop dividing the world between theists and atheists, and start dividing it rightly, as I do. There are those who love and those who don’t. Those who love, they are my disciples.”

It was a singular revelation that answered at once, for me, many many questions. “Atheist” is merely a word. And words are mere emulations of meaning. Heaven is filled with atheists — quite possibly more of those than theists.

I know I’m going to get in way over my head here, as philosophy was never my strong suit. but I have to point out some alternate beliefs (Catholic).

People are created as physical and spiritual creatures all at once, and neither the body nor soul ever perishes. Yes, the physical body dies, but we are given glorified bodies, and reunited with our bodies at the end of the world. (I used to think that the spirit (soul) was the only important part, and good riddance to this faulty body, but in fact your body and how you’ve experienced the physical world has an impact on your soul, and therefore on who you are as this complete being.)

Human beings’ souls are separate from God’s Spirit. God is God, man is man. The ultimate good is for our will to match His, but He does not “suffer” if this doesn’t happen. He doesn’t cut away part of Himself even as He may cast away an individual’s soul. We may be one when we are all following His will, but we are not one One. :slight_smile:


Thank you, gigi! :slight_smile: It’s always good to hear opposing views. You weren’t in over your head at all. You explained your view lucidly.

Could you explain how catholicism reconciles “God is God, man is man” with “I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”?

What I mean is that God as an entity exists, and has always existed, and men are created, body and spirit (soul) at some point in time. The man’s unique spirit did not exist before, as part of God say, and get hooked up with a physical body, or as seemed to be implied above, is never really linked to the physical body but remaining part of a common spirit.

When I say, God is God and man is man, I don’t mean that the two never meet or have a relationship, but that they are distinct beings. But there is a connection, and thus the idea that “I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” Clearly, since Jesus was God and man, His will was in concert with the Father’s. Human beings live “in the Spirit” meaning that God is always there offering grace and sometimes humans decide to allow that grace to be part of them. Allowing God to take a place in your heart (meaning your deepest spiritual part) instills His grace and leads your soul in the right path,. but does not make you all the same entity.

We are His children and formed in His image but we have the choice of being apart from Him or living according to His will. And we need His grace to do this latter.


Good explanation. And now I would be interested in seeing you tie your views in with spiritual suffering. Does my conclusion on the matter, that the spirit suffers when its desires are unfulfilled, fit with your views, or no?

I knew you were going to ask me that! :wink:

I believe that the spirit suffers when it is apart from the will of God. But I think it’s true that physical and earthly desires can be the immediate goal and when met, feel like happiness. Does the spirit have different desires from the body, and suffer when the body’s desires are met? “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” would imply that earthly desires will distract the spirit from its true desire, even in those who seek the will of God. This would then lead to the idea that the frail physical nature of man is an impediment to the spirit truly being free, and yet all parts of man are important.

And yet saving the soul is most important, as reflected in the Scripture above–cut off your hand if it’s standing in the way of your soul’s salvation; gaining the world is nothing if you lose your soul.

I guess I believe that because man is constrained by a frail physical nature, the grace of God is essential for the strength to follow the inclination of the spirit. And this inclination of the soul transcends* earthly desires.

So perhaps the soul suffers when immediate desires are met, because this is a distraction from the truth.

Stop me, I’m ramblng…
*I’ve gotten in trouble for this word before because it implies that the physical world is unimportant and all that is important is the spiritual realm. Not so, I merely mean that the physical world can stand in the way of the spiritual and we must be careful not to follow its dictates to the neglect of the soul. Certainly experience of the beauty of the natural world can bring us closer to God its Creator.

Well, I’ve been off working for a living for a while, but I’ll try to weigh in on this even though it’s late in the game.

I’m good so far. Note that it does not preclude God’s ability to implant desires within us as part of His love.

You’re going to have to do a lot better than an offhand reference to Kant before this will pass muster, my friend. “Categorical moral imperatives” are human constructions; God does not have to fulfill them to be God (i.e., to be good). I have a lot of problems with Kant, and this is one; you certainly can’t take Kant as gospel and expect everyone to follow you down the yellow brick road…

True; however, in saying it we need to keep a lot about desires, their objects, and how they work in mind. This is encountered on many Eastern paths (and on the path of Christian rennunciation).

OK here.

And I’m pretty happy with your end conclusion, even though I disagreed with some of your steps, if you replace “suffer spiritually” with “are spiritually unhappy”.

I’d like to deal with the interesting part of your take:

I’d like you to explain why, other than a Randish contempt for Kant, you feel this way? Jesus’s own moral imperative to us is, “Be Perfect,” which is just about as categorical as you can get.