God/dess & the Coin
God/dess is in the tossing of the coin...
Not in the coin, not in the answer it gives, not in the one who tosses it.
So the story I just read goes. ("Contamination" by Richard Bowker, in Perpetual Light, edited by Alan Ryan, Warner Books, New York. 1982, pp. 88-105)
It's an interesting thought. I'd have said god/dess is in the tossing, in the one who tosses, in the coin, and in the answer - and in all the preceeding actions and all the subsequent ones. God/dess is in the weave - or more accurately, god/dess is the weave, and the weaving, and the weaver.
But, if we take this one element - the tossing - out of the matrix and consider its significance...
"In the tossing" - this is the point where randomness meets consciousness, where chance meets choice. This is the point where unconscious creation (or destruction) enters, and it is also the point where the universe contributes to any process. Either of these inputs can change any process from our straight-line thinking to something new, different, unexpected. God/dess is in the point where there is potential for a change. Simple, that is.
My life, your life is full of these points - they happen an uncalculable number of times a day. In fact, as far as I can see they happen all the time, as constant as the flow of time itself. That potential is in every moment; it's just so much easier for us to recognize it in some places than in others. Intention meets chaos, and results are unpredictable - and they are often unknown even in hindsight. "What if?" is unanswerable.
Because this is so, it is something of a wonder that we ever manage to fulfill any dreams or carry out any plans. You might be standing in the grocery store considering soup when the person next to you sneezes, casting virulent flu germs into the air. Unknowing, you inhale a few and some days later you are sick. Maybe seriously ill. Perhaps you will die. And none of this was in your plans, your hopes, your dreams. Or perhaps, because you were home being sick, you missed the 37 car pile-up on the freeway just when and where you normally travel to work.
Yes, I know the point of view that says, "You chose to be there." I think I probably even agree with it. We chose on some deep and hidden level to be there when the person sneezed, chose to be ill, chose to miss the pile-up - chose to live or to die. But it is not usually a conscious choice. Unconscious choices are made on many levels, from just below the surface to way deep down, from the individual submind, from the collective unconscious, and from the part of you and of me that is god/dess.
So what can we do about this? Give up the illusion that we are in control? That's a start. But then it is important not to give up the making of the choice, the making of the effort. This is not about becoming a chip of wood tossed on the sea, entirely at the mercy of the elements. We have minds and hands and legs. We can choose to assume that they have a purpose and that we have choice - even if we do not have control of the universe. We have choice even though god/dess chooses to act through the points of interface between ourselves and nature and others - even though god/dess sometimes chooses to turn our personal choices on their heads.
We start into action with an intention. We may be helped along our course by the "random" factors, the tossing of god/dess, or we may be deflected into a new direction by them. Or we may circle around the "obstacles" and resume travel toward our goal. We may even reach it. However, even though the goal may be that which we envisaged, we, through having made the journey and overcome the obstacles, are no longer the same person who set out on that path in the first place. (Let's don't get into what is really "first" here!) We have been changed "in the tossing." And how this change affects us is also - to a great extent - our choice.
Many times I've listened to people argue that we have no choice, that everything is predestined, that we are simply robots whose actions are all decided by previous conditioning. If we believe we have no choice, then we also often tend to assume that life has no meaning. The two denials seem to go together. Yet, the funny thing is that such people always act as if they have choice. They make decisions, they choose actions - and then blame fate or a mechanistic universe for them.
We cannot know which is true - choice or fate. We can only have faith one way or the other. It seems obvious to me that since we so firmly believe that we have choice that we continually base our actions and mental processes on that assumption, it might be reasonable to suppose that is true. However, I acknowledge that we do not know. Not really. And we cannot know. So make your choice as to what you believe - or take yet another path, shrugging your shoulders and saying, "I don't know." That is a choice too.
Still, perhaps the meaning of life may be found most truly "in the tossing" - in that place where intention collides with god/dess and is transformed. This is the point where we are often most aware of the action of god/dess in our lives, especially when we don't like that action. (I write that smiling gently, amused at our presumption in thinking that our approval or disapproval of god/dess matters.) Perhaps we need to be a little more aware, as we walk our paths, of these tossing points and of what we do with them. It is so easy to sleepwalk through life, so confusing and difficult to try to stay awake.
I've been told that, once we are truly awake, it is easier to stay that way. I hope so. It's something to look forward to.
© Copyright 2001 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.
Your comments will be read with interest.