Friday, June 8, 2012

If you can cure one leper, why not cure them all?

Mark 1:40-45

New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Heals a Man With Leprosy

40 A man with leprosy[a] came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”

41 Jesus was filled with compassion. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. Be clean!” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

43 Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44 “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 45 Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.

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This is probably the heaviest topic ever brought to the LBC for a Friday topic and I don’t pretend to really know the answer.  I would proffer a few ideas I’ve considered.

First, if the point was to heal all lepers, you would assume it would not stop there as all illness should be healed.  That begs the question of why a Creator would create or allow the illnesses in the first place, then.

Perhaps, if you believe in God, you might believe that a life is a learning situation.  Why does a child not have the teacher solve all math problems for him?  Because it is in the effort and the solution that the child learns and develops.

There is a similar approach to the question, to consider the idea of karma, which is not simply reward and punishment as many take it.  It is a dynamic system within which consciousness develops understanding through experience.  Growth, effort, ignorance and error – all go into the generation of associated experiences on the eternal path to the light.

One challenge on that path could be leprosy.  It might be an affliction for a person of little compassion to experience what it actually feels like from the inside so that he or she might develop understanding and compassion.  For another, it might be an opportunity to serve a community of one’s fellow passengers on the journey.  Thus, leprosy would have no single meaning applicable to all.

And, if a fully realized expression of Consciousness appears – Christ in this case - perhaps the simple, humble request for healing or the rock solid belief that one CAN be healed is an essential truth finding expression.  Christ often emphasized belief as an essential element in what we think of as miracles.  Maybe the truth fully realized really does set you free.

All that I know with certainty is that the ultimate mystery of life has brought me to this question with these perspectives (and others unspoken).  Beyond that, at least today, it is not mine to say.  I just know that the suffering of many is experienced as very real.

This topic was brought to us by the Magpie.

25 comments:

  1. Old Foss, solving a mathematical problem is not the equivalent of being riddled with a physical disease. Where the former can be solved the latter leaves you in the hands of god(s), medical science and the luck of finding a competent surgeon.

    Can compassion be taught? I don't know. Up to now I always thought you either have it (innate) or you don't. And whilst I do feel compassion, to the point of exhaustion, I never claim: "I know how you feel." Because I don't. I am in my skin, you are in yours. But we are all together in what I call "the human condition". And that is the foundation of 'compassion'.

    David put a darned difficult question, and the way all of you, so far, have tackled it reflects on each of your characters, so very illuminating, true to form.

    As you seem to indicate and, among all your other merits, you are a Minister: There is many an answer. Which, and you may agree, reminds me: Questions are like rabbits. One begets lots of others. Answers being more elusive.

    U

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    1. U, I don't know whether compassion can be taught, but I think it can grow from experience. You are right that we don't know what another is feeling or experiencing, but if it appears close to what we have experienced, it seems that often we treat it with greater care and tolerance.

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    2. Compassion is taught in the Buddhist traditions.

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    3. Psst! It needs two rabbits.....
      I have no idea how one acquires compassion.... one feels it or one doesn't, perhaps.

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    4. David, if the rabbits were like those loaves and fishes ... LOL

      I will leave it in Ramana's knowledgable hands on this. Perhaps it can be taught, but I don't know if this is done in an academic manner, habitual practice or reflection upon experience.

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  2. A great approach to the subject and perhaps the answer is in the belief although I have seen that fail too often with the excuse that the belief was not strong enough. This is a terrible guilt to carry.

    Isn't it just like our beoved David to stir the pot so wonderfully. I do wish he was blogging again.

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    1. Maria, I think if I wrote on this topic on 12 occasions, I would probably find 12 different aspects of the question to ponder. It is humbling.

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  3. The problem of indiscriminate suffering has certainly been a stumbling block for many.

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    1. Roni, I don't see it going away any time soon.

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  4. Being human, I suppose we all deal with some form of 'leprosy' on a daily basis. For some it is a physical illness of the body or maybe an addiction, but worst of all are the invisible tortures of the mind.

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  5. The key in the Jesus story is how the cured leper went around publicising the cure despite Jesus telling him not to. I bet that, that would have been the start of the religion.

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    1. I think you might be right, Rummuser. Fantastic insight.

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    2. What them was what others worshipping other dieties called? What about jesus makes it suddenly religion?

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    3. Timing and cultural expectation, shackman. You see what fulfills your expectation at the right time, you build a religion around it.

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    4. That is exactly my point - I think what/who others worshipped prior to jesus was religion - jesus started nothing and most of what passes for christianity was already in play elsewhere

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    5. A very excellent point, shackman. However, this is where our experience leads us to different conclusions. I have come to believe existence is at its base ALL conscious, an expression of consciousness itself. I think like Gore Vidal that history, the sum of consciousness of the time, the zeitgeist, creates a roll and someone fulfills it. Thus, it was a more meaningful fulfillment than what you are saying than just marketing to a ready audience. It was a roll necessary to the next stage of conscious evolution. It was a roll that Jesus literally was born to fulfill, although I take away much of the religious trappings that everyone so chafes against, often throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

      For example, I believe he was every bit a man and not born of a virgin. It is just that I believe all men have the potential he demonstrated although humanity does not recognize it.

      What humanity does recognize is that it does not serve us well as religion. What it doesn't recognize is what it could mean.

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    6. For example, I believe he was every bit a man and not born of a virgin. It is just that I believe all men have the potential he demonstrated although humanity does not recognize it.

      I agree with that 100%. Right man at the right time. Taking away the religious trappings is very Thomas Jefferson-like of you, Fossil. Boil it down to its substance and it comes out more logical than many are willing to admit.

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  6. I do believe that part of our purpose in experiencing this mortal existence is experiencing illness. How can we appreciate our health if we never have illness? And just by the mere fact of being human, we are exposed to all kinds of malfunctions of the body. This is part of the human experience, and as difficult as it may be at times, we do learn from it.

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    1. Delirious, I think you are right. We can (and do) learn from anything we allow ourselves to.

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  7. The short answer is the right one I think. (Or vice versa.)If you can, do it.

    Imagine it another way. How would you explain to each person with leprosy why, despite being able, you choose to not cure them.

    At that point all the other palavering may seem less relevant.

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    1. Paul, I would put this idea to you:

      An American Baseball pitcher, the greatest strikeout artist ever, Nolan Ryan, could throw a 100 mph fastball. Another Major League Hall of Fame pitcher, Jim Palmer, was also excellent, but threw more slowly.

      When seeing the count go to 3 balls and 2 strikes against one hitter, Ryan threw him a curveball. The man got a hit that time. Palmer commenting on this said that if he could throw 100 mph, that is most assuredly what he would have thrown with a 3 and 2 count. Ryan responded that when Palmer could throw 100 mph, come back and talk with him about it.

      Maybe, just maybe, if we had the power to heal a leper, we might understand why healing all lepers would not be the answer. Who knows? Maybe it is just too easy to comment from the bleachers.

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