Friday, July 03, 2009

We are all equal before God

Inequalities seem to permeate every level of human existence. Only a little observation and reflection is required to confirm the seeming omnipresence of inequalities.

Intelligence is not distributed equally across humanity. There are huge discrepancies between, say, severely challenged Down's syndrome individuals and the intellectually gifted.

The chasm between the rich and poor appears to have existed since the beginning of recorded history. In between these two extremes has been a fluctuating number of moderately rich and moderately poor people.

Any quality one cares to mention reflects this same inequality of distribution. Creativity, health, beauty, handsomeness, spirituality, talent, ambition, leadership, business sense, athletic ability, power, charisma, status, illness, fame, honesty, kindness, and so on, are all unequally distributed.

This is true within, as well as across, all racial, ethnic, and national groups. Moreover, it holds, as well, across history.

The distribution of most, perhaps all, of these qualities probably could be reflected fairly accurately by a bell-curve. In other words, there would be relatively few people on the low and high ends of a scale depicting the degree to which a person possessed a given quality. As one approached the median from either end of the scale, the numbers would gradually increase until they peaked at the median point.

Despite all of this inequality, Sufi masters maintain we are all equal before God. How does one reconcile the overwhelming evidence of inequality with the statement of Sufi masters concerning our equality in relation to God?

According to the practitioners of the Sufi path, we each have a unique essential or spiritual capacity. This capacity refers to our potential for reflecting the Names and Attributes of Divinity. Consequently, no two individuals have the same reflective properties of spirituality.

Sufi masters indicate every modality of spiritual reflectivity is precious to God. God cherishes each capacity because each potential has a uniqueness about it.

Uniqueness does not fit a normal distribution. Indeed, God has equipped essential human capacity for maximum distributive dispersal. Nothing is ever repeated.

According to Sufi masters, the Divine will desires for all uniqueness to be manifested. Every instance of uniqueness displays, in reflected form, more and more of Divine beauty and majesty. Every modality of uniqueness brings into existence a potential for unique reflectivity which has not been displayed previously and which will not be displayed again.

No matter how beautiful a given expression of spiritual reflection may be, there are other potentials for reflection which have a dimension of uniqueness to them not found in the first potential. The reverse, of course, is also true.

We each have been brought into existence to bring to dynamic realization our respective unique capacities for spiritual reflection of the Divine Names and Attributes. Since our potentials are unique, different circumstances are necessary to activate them.

The package of qualities associated with each of us is not arbitrary, nor is it a matter of the luck of the draw. These packages of qualities have been assigned to us by God.

The assignment of these qualities is related to our essential spiritual capacity for reflecting Divine Names and Attributes in a unique fashion. More specifically, each package of qualities is uniquely designed to provide the individual to whom they have been assigned with the sort of experiential challenges, struggles and possibilities out of which essential capacity may be brought to mature fruition.

The inequalities inherent in the various quality packages are necessary so that the different capacities for uniqueness can develop. However, one must be careful not to misunderstand what is being said here.

There is often a difference between the quality package which God assigns to certain individuals and the quality package which people try to impose on those same individuals. The quality packages which people try to impose are shaped by ignorance, bias, injustice, evil and so on. These human generated quality packages are not, taken in and of themselves, conducive to the realization of our unique spiritual capacities. For example, if a government or ruler wanted to impose hunger, poverty, torture, danger, homelessness, and various forms of other abuse on a given group of people, this "quality" package could generate many problems for individuals trying to realize their essential spiritual capacity.

At the same time, the attempted imposition of such human generated quality packages is part of the quality package which God has assigned to us. The attempted imposition of the human generated quality packages constitutes obstacles, challenges and injustice which we are being asked to struggle with and against.

Consequently, one is not being asked by God to endorse those processes involving the attempted imposition of human generated quality packages onto humanity. One is being asked to resist them but to do so in ways which will help one to realize one's essential spiritual capacity. Knowing how to accomplish this is very difficult.

The challenge each of us faces is to engage and embrace the quality package assigned to us by God in accordance with the manner in which God intended such packages to be used. Those packages, when properly understood and utilized, become the key to finding our way to realization of our essential spiritual capacity.

Among other things, the quality packages assigned to each of us by God involve a mixture of trials, tests, struggles, conflicts, and challenges. Those packages also contain what ever assets are necessary for the realization of our capacity for spiritual reflection.

The assets necessary for spiritual realization are not necessarily money, power, status, education, talent, creativity and so on. In fact, such qualities, more often than not, can be obstacles and trials with which one must struggle in order to overcome their potential for undermining one's quest for spiritual realization.

On the other hand, low-tech and low-capital qualities such as kindness, perseverance, simplicity, openness, sincerity, and so on, may be very important assets to have in one's quality package. What counts as a potential asset and what counts as a potential liability will vary from case to case, according to what is necessary for spiritual realization.

Having something can be just as much a problem as not having something. Each of these conditions entails its own brand of difficulty. Each of these conditions contains its own potential for benefit and development.

We each are being given, by God, an equal opportunity, in the form of our present lives, to realize our unique, essential, spiritual capacity. Each of these unique capacities has a dimension which renders them equally important to God as far as God's desire for the manifestation of all uniqueness is concerned.

Each of us has been given a quality package of equal functional value with respect to what is necessary for the realization of our essential spiritual capacity. Since the quality package assigned by God fits essential spiritual capacity like an appropriate key fits a certain lock, any given individual's quality package is useless to everyone else. This is so because that package has the potential for unlocking only a specific lock in the form of a certain capacity.

Ultimately, no quality is of value unless it can be utilized advantageously in the quest for the realization of our spiritual uniqueness. According to Sufi masters, whatever inequalities exist in the composition of the qualities in the packages that have been assigned to us by God, such inequalities need to be seen in the light of the underlying equalities which they are intended to serve.

Apparent exceptions to the foregoing relationship between inequality and equality do exist. For example, there are people (i.e., infants, children and some adolescents) who do not seem to live long enough to really say they are being given an equal opportunity to realize their unique spiritual capacity.

However, for every departure from the relationship between inequality and equality, there are Divine concessions and compensations which become operative. Those who have not had an equal opportunity in the above sense will be subject to different considerations, none of which will be to the person's disadvantage.

These exceptions to the rule give expression to their own mode of uniqueness. As such, they are exceptions which prove the rule concerning God's desire for all modes of uniqueness to be manifested.

(This essay is from the book Streams to the Ocean by Dr. Anab Whitehouse,)