Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Wait for It

I'm gradually coming to the conviction that there are three types of people in the world: the empire-builders, the servants, and everyone else who hasn't figured out what they are yet.

The empire-builders are the number one source of problems in the world. They have tin ears, or tone deafness. Or they are making too much noise of their own to hear what's going on around them. They are internally driven, you can grant them that much. They set their eyes on something and they "go for it." But the empires they build are their own, destined for dust, and the most successful ones leave a wasteland of corpses and rivers of blood in their wake.

The primary challenge for the servants is refusing service to the wrong empire. They usually end up making a living working for one of the empire-builders, since the latter are the movers and shakers. But they can't ultimately give their hearts to that service, because there's only one empire worth giving one's heart to. There's a discipline in learning to wait; not allowing oneself to get enlisted in the wrong cause. That is why saints often become martyrs. Why they must often draw a line in the sand and say, "Here I stand, I can do no other." And, "It is better to serve God than men."

But even in the right cause, the central discipline to hone is still waiting. That's why in all the great hero myths, the protagonist must learn a kind of passivity. Yoda and Obi Wan counsel Luke not to tap into his aggression; that will only lead to the dark side. They advise instead patience, waiting, careful training, preparation. And of course, sufficient stillness so that he can discern the movements of the force. Superman can only use his super powers in certain ways; the great temptation is to use his powers in ways that serve his own ends rather than some higher purpose. Batman cannot kill the bad guys no matter how bad they are; even if it means that they inevitably escape from Gotham Prison or Arkham Asylum only to wreak more havoc and death! He can only keep rounding them up -- and trying to convert them through example. That's the way heroes operate. Because heroes are always in the service of a "higher" cause, a cause not their own.

We can't force things, even when it seems like the direction we are forcing is a good one. The best thing we can do is listen, hold back. There will come a time to act, and when it does, we will know it and we will act decisively. Until then, there is only one thing to do.

Wait for it.

6 comments:

Beck said...

How does one distinguish between being still / waiting for the truth of the higher cause of God in one's life vs. waiting / being still for living an authentic life true to one's core self?

Should one wait for both? Are they mutually exclusive? Or are they both reached at the same point?

J G-W said...

Wow! What an awesome question!

I believe that the nature of service to God is such that they are one and the same.

If we pursue some "authentic" selfhood apart from service to the Highest Cause, what we are actually pursuing is the authentication of a distorted self, a self out of balance, an uncentered self. This ultimately can become the source of our greatest pain and sadness.

But if we seek true self through service, we have to watch out because there are a lot of false gods out there claiming to be The High True God, gods I'd rather call "the powers and principalities of darkness"! And of course there are plenty of men masquerading as gods and bad causes masquerading as the Highest Cause. When we get caught in somebody or something else's empire-building enterprise, that results in a squelching of the high, true self. I think a sign of this is that we start to feel trapped, alienated, and wasted in such paths. We will eventually naturally want to escape...

Of course, the true path requires sacrifice, which can also be painful, and which also often leaves us wishing we had a way out. But I believe we will know at some level the difference between the challenge of sacrifice and the pain of waste...

When there is confusion, when we are not sure, when we haven't discerned yet what is what, that is when waiting and patience serve us best. I used the word "passivity," but this isn't "passive" waiting in the sense that we are waiting while actively listening. We are waiting while trusting that God -- the True God -- will make the way manifest.

Ultimately we can tell we are in the right path when those deepest, most sacred, most secret, inward parts of our being respond positively. The best description of it in any written scripture anywhere is Alma chapter 32.

Chedner said...

I'm so horrible at being passive, to the point that my parallel comic book character would probably be one of those "almost good villains."

robert said...

Well while waiting, the Church is moving aggressively to stop gay civil unions. There is a VERY disturbing blog entry at nine moons from a CA LDS couple which outlines the visit from the SP for a political contribution. That is weird enough, but the post is disturbing on many other levels as well...action anyone?

J G-W said...

Chedner! You're no villain! Couldn't be one if you tried! I love you!

Robert: We shouldn't let others set our agenda. We shouldn't waste our lives reacting to perceived abuses. We need to live full, vibrant, loving lives, building the kind of world WE want to live in. Worry less, live more! If we do, everything else will work itself out as a matter of course...

Be the powerful, loving man it is your inheritance to be! We ARE children of God...

robert said...

Uh oh...the true god argument. nothing dangerous about that.