There’s an urgency to this moment. We must choose between a world of subjects and a world of objects.
In his book Carpe Jugulum, Terry Pratchett has a character define sin thusly: “Sin, young man, is when you treat people like things.”
We’re seeing the consequences of this everywhere these days: People are being objectified.
St. Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335-c. 394) offered a beautiful, succinct, and useful definition of sin. Sin, he [suggested], is a refusal to keep growing.
Namaste asks something huge of us: If the divinity in me recognizes the divinity in you, how could I abuse, debase, violate, or harass? I would, after all, only be punishing myself.
Here we have an antidote to objectification. Something infinite, immortal, mysterious, loving, and alive abides in me and it is from this light that I bow toward that which is infinite, immortal, mysterious, loving, and alive in you. What if this was our set-point, our baseline, the fundamental assumption we had about every single person we encountered? All our reputations precede us: We’re divine.
Mystics from every tradition testify to the aliveness and sentience of all things, that the natural world is lit up with the flame of divinity. This does and must include us. We’re not taught this. In fact, most of what we’re taught opposes this.
A world of objects is a kind of hell. A world of subjects—divine beings honoring the divinity in the other—is surely heaven. May we point our feet toward this heaven and begin the hard and necessary work of walking there.
[Richard Rohr, Center for Action]