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Scapegoating and At-One-Ment
by Ariel Bar Tzadok
Copyright © 2015 by Ariel Bar Tzadok. All rights reserved.
For those who believe in God, there seems to always be a keen sense of awareness that the Divine Presence feels to be very far away.
Most people naturally assume that God feels so very far away not due to any fault within God, but rather due to some fault within themselves. Some consider this apparent distance between God, and humanity, to be the normal state due to the wide gap that exists between spiritual and physical realities. Others consider this wide gap to exist only because of one reason, this reason being the sins, and unworthiness of humanity.
This type of “blame me” reasoning leads to an almost cosmic level guilt trip. The individual interprets the chasm between spiritual, and physical reality to be one's own personal fault. Woe to the individual so cut off from, and distant from God! Whatever can be done to bridge this terrible gap? What kind of atonement, and sacrifice can be offered to appease God, to receive from Heaven Divine forgiveness so that the intolerable distance between the individual, and God can finally, and permanently be repaired?
It is this philosophical outlook, and state of mind that has, for centuries, been at the foundation of many of the cherished religious beliefs around the world. While it may be considered a novel, and even nice idea to appease God, and to seek Divine favor, the philosophical concept of humanity, and God being distant from one another, due to Divine wrath towards man's sinful behavior is unsubstantiated. True, no human being is perfect. We all “sin” and fall short of the glory of God. But this “glory of God” is actually the inner human potential to raise our humanity to the level of the Divine. As the poet Alexander Pope put it, “to err is human, to forgive, divine.”
God is never distant, not from the individual, not from any place, and certainly not from the world, as a whole. Fundamental to religious faith is the belief that God is truly transcendent, and immanent both at the same time. In other words, God is here, God is there, God is truly everywhere.” Like the words proclaimed by the angels themselves (Isaiah 6:3), “M'lo Kol HaAretz K'vodo,” (the whole world is full of His glory).
This glory of God is the Divine Presence, and it is to be found everywhere! Yet, where is it? How come we do not see it? The answer is rather simple. We are looking in the wrong places. God's glory resides everywhere, and in everything in creation. However, in order to see it, one must first see the glory of God within oneself, within one's humanity.
From within, one will be able to see the glory of God that surrounds one in all things, and places. However, if one fails to look within to see the inner glory, then one will also fail to see the glory in the world around us. This explains why God is not seen, and why the Divine Presence feels so very, very far away.
The sense of distance is actually an illusion, one brought about by our “sin” of acting less that the human that we were created to be. We have the Image of God within us. When we gaze upon it, we will see it. When we unleash our inner, concealed divinity upon the world, then we will see it in the world, in each other, in every place, and at every time. It is not that the Divine Presence is missing or distant, but rather it is we who are distant from ourselves.
Our distance from our own inner humanity is what separates us from unleashing our inner Divine presence. For many, this is a very difficult concept to accept. Many simply cannot believe that they have so much power, and the answer that they have sought for so long is actually so close that it is proverbially “right under their very noses.” But this is exactly where God is to be found, “right under our very noses, with each and every breath that we breathe with our mouths.
For centuries prophets, and sages have made every effort to teach us this vital lesson about our own inner positive potential. For the most part, the wisdom of the wise has been ignored. Instead of looking within oneself to unleash all of one's inner goodness, a terrible psychological projection and transference has occurred.
Instead of one seeing fault within oneself, one instead looks at others, and makes two false claims. The first claim is that there is nothing wrong with the individual himself, or herself. The second claim is that all the problems are the cause of the other guy (or group). This false, and deluded belief states, “I am right with God, and therefore, the reason why I don't feel, and see God is because the “other guy” is so bad, and so evil, that “he” is keeping God away. It's “his” fault that God is distant. Everything is “his” fault. “He” is the definition of all that is evil.”
This delusional transference of one's own faults, projected onto an innocent “other” is usually followed by all sorts of fears, prejudice, and even violence. The modern term to describe this behavior is scapegoating. For centuries, Christian theology felt comfortable in scapegoating the Jewish nation, blaming Jews as individual for all bad things that happened in Christian lands. To their credit, large segments of the Christian community have evolved beyond this delusional, harmful mentality, and have begun to discover the glory of God within each individual.
Nevertheless, the psychology of scapegoating exists to this very day. Groups do it to other groups, and individuals do it to other individuals. This is a common problem in that the individual refuses to look inside oneself to discover, and repair what is faulty, and imbalanced. Instead, the individual wishes to delusionally deny personal responsibility, and to more easily unload one's own guilt onto the shoulders of another. It is specifically this behavior that is “sinful” in the eyes of God. It is specifically this behavior that makes God feel distant and separate, when in reality, God is no such thing. God is not distant from us. It is the individual, who by refusing to see God within, has made himself, or herself to be distant from God. Blaming this distance upon another only worsens the situation by adding lies to denial.
Seeking religious ritual solutions to this psychological problem does not work to solve the dire situation. The only way to stop blaming others for what oneself is guilty is to take a good long look down one's own inner dark tunnel. If one overcomes the fear to look into the darkness within, one will see a spark of light deep down at the bottom of one's internal darkness. That light is the light of God, the Divine Image within. It is there because God put it there, and it resides within each and every human being, no matter who one is, and no matter what one has done.
Repairing the perceived distancing from God begins by taking a step inwards, into one's own self, and inside there, to discover one' inner humanity. This discovery will then shine light into the mind, and renew one's sense of self, and one's outlook upon the world. This is how one is restored to the Presence of God. This is how one returns to being “one” with God. This rectification is called atonement. The word atonement, can also be read as, “at-one-ment” with God.
This is how we return to being one with God. This process of return, in Hebrew, is called Teshuva. In religious jargon, Teshuva means to repent. But repentance should never be delegated to the rituals of religions. Sincere repentance is a change of heart, before it is a change of behavior.
Heart must precede action. This is the way of things. When one's heart reopens to God within, then one's return is simply a matter of walking the inner path all the way home. Along the path one will then come to see all those others upon whom he projected his delusions, scapegoating them for one's own faults. One will see that, like oneself, those others are equally along the path, walking towards the light of our united inheritance, that being individuals created in the Image of God.
True atonement, true return, is both an individual thing, and a collective thing. The path is begun individually, but one is never alone along the path. There are always countless others. They are not the bad guys, on the contrary, like ourselves, the others are also the good guys. It is just that scapegoating blinds the psychological eye from seeing this.
With scapegoating gone, the inner eyes of intelligence and
wisdom can readjust, and begin to see the spiritual reality for what it truly
is. And what truly is the spiritual reality? The spiritual reality is simple:
God is here, God is there, God is truly everywhere. “M'lo Kol HaAretz K'vodo.
All is one. All is returned. This is “at-one-ment.”
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