Saturday, May 3, 2008

"Why?" is the Devil's Question

I was chatting with a friend this past week, and I was being immature (as usual) and began asking "Why?" as he was explaining something to me. I really didn't want to know why, but I wanted to test him to see if he knew why. After a couple of times, he said, "Why? is the Devil's question."

I said, "I beg your pardon? Did you just say 'Why? is the Devil's question?'"

He said that he had, and I asked, "Who told you that?"

"My priest," he said bluntly. "Why?" apparently caused Lucifer to rebel against the Most High, and "why?" opens us up to being faithless, according to his priest.

As a Gnostic, I was tempted to correct him, but also as someone who can respect another person's faith if it fulfills them, I let it slide. But the statement has stuck with me since, and it bugs me -- because it is both very wrong and right at the same time.

Initially, I was shocked by the statement. Not asking "why?" helped keep people in submission to a corrupt Church throughout the Middle Ages and led them to keep paying indulgences, even though there is no biblical proof of anyone's ability to purchase a loved ones' salvation. Not asking "why?" led the Church into a destructive acquiescence to the Third Reich in World War II. And in modern times in America, not asking "why?" has opened 13-year-old girls up to disturbing misogynistic, and polygamist marriages to 50+-year-old pedophiles in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).

The question "why?" allows us to use the minds that we've been given. If God is the Creator (which Gnostics don't necessarily believe, but orthodox Christians do), then shouldn't we use the minds He gave us? Or is this a "have faith in the Creator, not the creation" debate?

At the same time, there is a tendency for people to get hung up on asking the question rather than listening for an answer. Their minds and spirits are acting in the same immature way I was with my friend, asking, "Why? Why? Why?" If the spirit and mind are focused only on the question, then the answer may never come. Asking "why?" can become the habit, rather than something more productive, like listening.

The act of falling into a silent state of being is what Centering Prayer, a practice I use, is about. The practitioner sits comfortably with the back straight and their eyes closed. And rather than reciting a sutra or prayer, they just let their minds relax. There is no forcing of the mind to be blank -- if thoughts arise, the practitioner lets the thoughts occur without becoming attached to them. Divine revelation isn't the point either. The point is simply to listen by being silent. If the person finds themselves becoming attached to a thought or emotion, they can simply recite their sacred word (like "Abba" or "Peace" or "Trust") to return their mind to the task at hand.

By falling into silence and not necessarily expecting anything in return for our 20 minutes of time, we break the self-centered habit of always having to have our minds move at a million miles per hour. We're a vain society, and we love to think we're showing our importance by having our minds multi-task. It is so odd to us to think that our eventual evolution may actually involve embracing silence, not talking or texting or fitting as much stuff into our days as possible.

I run into many people who call themselves agnostics (more now than ever before). They don't want to say that they're atheists, because they don't want to shut off the possibility that there is something beyond this mundane existence. But they also don't want to know the answer, if there is one. They're stuck at the stage of asking "why?," and they have no desire to move any further. To go further requires sacrifices that they're unwilling to make (time, effort, ... noise).

To question the existence of a higher power is chic and hip -- it shows, so they think, that they're intelligentsia. They think like Obama thinks -- faith (and guns) are for the desperate. Those are niceties to cling to when all else fails. To ask the question "why?" in pop culture makes you sound really cool and intelligent in conversations, but no one expects the answer to the question ... they don't want it, in fact.

So, in a sense, "Why?" is the Devil's question. But so is not asking it. The Archon can keep you in submission if you follow either path exclusively. His control over the human race is found in the extremes of both choices. Gnosis, on the other hand, is found when you ask the question, and then silence your mind and actually listen for the answer.

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