Not that I’m terribly schooled in Platonism and Neo-Platonism, but I do like the idea of “Ideals” and “Reals” and so forth.
This brings me to an idea about life, and, you guessed it, specifically religion. The reason for terrible things being included in religions is that a religion is, well, real, as opposed to ideal.
One might think of it this way: there is an Ideal Torah that pre-exists this world that doesn’t include the sort of things we consider mucky. (You know, stoning people to death and all that jazz.) The Torah received in this world is a real Torah, and in order for it to exist, it has to necessarily contain some kind of error, discrepancy, contradiction, and so on.
The argument might come up that if a Perfect God dictated the Torah, then it would be unable to contain errors.
Of course, that misses the fact that this reality is broken, we’re broken, and so anything that humans heard on Mount Sinai would have necessarily been heard in a broken way. (Again, suspend disbelief for a second, and consider what’s going on in the story and the mythology- mythology simply being defined as the stories of a religion without applying any truth value to them.)
The way to work with the “broken” nature of this reality is to accept the brokenness- ourselves, the world, you name it, and go with the grooves. Those people who cling so hard to the brokenness of our religions and deny it- those who claim that their religion is perfect in all ways and always has been- they stab themselves in the soul with the jagged edges of the gaps and things missing because they refuse to admit that there may be yet a more perfect version of the religion, of the teaching- the spirit of the Law as opposed to the letter of the Law, the truth that is being conveyed beneath the messy stories and rules.
This gives us the opportunity to do something curious- you can check out this link on the kintsugi, the art in which Japanese people take broken pottery and cups and fill in the cracks with gold and silver.
The idea is apparent- the cracks and breaks are treated as part of the history of the object (as stated in the article) instead of as an absolute ruin.
Such an idea runs somewhat parallel to the Jungian concept of the Shadow and its integration, along with other ideas that one’s greatest shame or trauma can also be the source of one’s greatest strength.
The broken nature of reality, in other words, can be healed and made more beautiful that one ever thought.
So what do I mean about the “broken nature of reality,” anyway? Some people would assert that the universe is perfect in some way, and I can see that. I can also recommend that they explain war, murder, rape, child abuse, abuse of the ecosystems, and so on. Something’s very wrong, and in each case of the wrong, humans are inevitably involved.
The point is this: setting aside the religious stories for a second, the heart of the matter is that we humans are the ones who ruin this world, and we’re the ones who have to repair this world.
That isn’t an easy task, and none of us get out of this world without leaving some kind of footprint. Something necessarily has to die that we may live, whether it’s an animal, plant, or microbe. That’s no excuse to cause needless suffering, but it is a wake-up call to those who would feel self-righteous due to their restraint in some aspect (for instance, people who abstain from eating any animal products and walk around feeling morally superior).
That’s all for now.