This essay is another of my adaptations of old journal entries. The original was written on 2/22/1988.
At last I learned that there is no salvation. I had retreated from belief in God and Jesus to the seemingly finer ideas of Buddha-mind and eternal Christ-Light, hoping for deliverance through them. And for a time, not seeing the circularity, I could sincerely use their conceptual milieu to frame subjective experiences — “satori,” “pure awareness,” “cosmic consciousness” — as evidentiary. But life proved the emptiness, as it were, of such enlightenment. Eventually, I saw that those concepts, too, had functioned as superstitions, attempts to make something of nothing. I had to acknowledge that there is nothing to believe or hope in.
There is no salvation. There is nothing I can do, or anyone do for me, that can rescue me from being what I am: a human animal conditioned in every sense. No deliverance from guilt, pain, death. No act, belief, or experience that would make acceptable the unacceptable. No person, institution, concept, or intuition to hope in. Nothing to hold, seek, or look forward to. Nothing anywhere any better than this.
Shall I believe or trust, then, in this? That is, shall I worship what is? If I can do that, then what is has become an abstraction — has become what is not. Must I trust, then, in an ineffable truth beyond my knowing? But there is no unknown truth, for the mind, which trusts only what it knows, must quietly conceptualize the mystery.
No salvation. Nothing and no one to believe or hope in. When I ask myself why I continue, the answer is that I live because I love. But that is not simply altruism; I allow myself to love because loving makes me happy. The beauty of love is that my living becomes bound up with that of the other, and together we may discover ever deeper, richer ways of being human. Because there is greater happiness for me in suffering for one I love than in experiencing pleasure without love, loving is my only activity that might be called spiritual. But spiritual or not, it is not salvific; ultimately, not even love remains.*
Nonetheless, I assert that I, who can neither believe in God nor hope in salvation, am Christian to the extent that I live in the love that is personified in Jesus. The four evangelists presented their own ideas about Jesus and who his followers are; I, perhaps no less inspired, present mine: Jesus is one who lived that love which would suffer rather than deny itself. His disciples are those who walk the same path. Although I know that the path has no end, I feel privileged to walk it with them.
* Cf. 1 Cor. 13:13.