A Conversation with a Friend
Guest post by Andrew Joyce
Perhaps we are God. And if we’re God, how could we allow ourselves to suffer?
I was hanging out the other night at the Tiki Hut, minding my own business, when I heard a voice behind me say, “Hey, man. What’s up?”
I should first explain that the Tiki Hut is a shack at the marina where I live. The denizens of said marina congregate there on occasion to commune with one another. I, on the other hand, avoid it like the plague. It’s not that I don’t like people; it’s just that I don’t like being around people. But that particular evening, I had the place to myself.
I turned around to see a dude who I had never seen before, although he did look somewhat familiar.
“Hello,” I said in response. I was a little perturbed at having my solitude interrupted, but decided not to be rude. “Are you new here?” I asked in a friendly manner.
I shrugged mentally. I didn’t care one way or the other. I was just trying to be polite. Well, I had done my part and started to head back to my boat. I had a six-pack of cold beers waiting for me, and thought it about time I paid it some attention.
“Want a beer?”
It was the dude. He was holding a plastic grocery bag I had not noticed before. It definitely had the outline of a six-pack. Figuring the guy might be lonely, and thinking I might as well do my Christian duty, I said, “Sure, why not?” I would have one beer and we’d shoot the shit and then I’d get the hell out of there. I reckoned I could put up with him for the time it would take to drink one lousy beer.
He reached into the bag and came out with two bottles of my favorite brew. Things were looking up. He did the honors of popping the caps and we both took a long pull of that cold, good-tasting beverage.
“So,” I said, “you moving in?”
“I’m thinking about it. I wanted to get a feel for the place first. Do you like living here?”
“It’s okay. As long as you pay your dock fees on time, they leave you alone.”
I’ll not bore you with the rest of the mundane conversation. That first beer led to a second and then a third. And by the fourth, I was starting to warm up to the guy. Then it dawned on me. We both had had four beers each, but we had started out with only a six-pack. When I mentioned that fact, the dude said, “No, you must be mistaken. There were two six-packs in the bag.”
Another mental shrug on my part.
As I popped the cap on my fifth beer, he asked, “So, what do you think of the state the world is in?”
If I had been asked that question on the first or second … or even the third beer, I would have bolted. I don’t get into conversations like that. Truth be known, I generally don’t get into conversations at all. I live alone and I like it that way. I don’t have to please anyone and I sure as hell don’t have to answer stupid questions. But I was on my fifth beer and the guy was buying. So, what the hell?
“It depends on what world you are talking about. My little world is doing just fine. I live on the water, I eat every day, and when it rains, I stay dry. What more could a man ask for?”
He nodded, but said nothing. Fueled by Guinness Stout, I went on.
“Now, if you’re asking about the world in general, I would have to say that, for the majority of the people, the place is a shit-hole. Wouldn’t you say so?”
“I would say that the majority of the people on this planet are living the lives they want to live.”
Now the guy was starting to piss me off. My Irish ancestry … and four and a half Guinnesses … got me up on my soap box.
“Do you believe in God?” I asked with a drunken sneer.
“I have heard of Him, but I don’t know if I believe in Him.”
“Well, if God is real, how can he let the suffering go on? How can he allow a baby to get cancer? How can the son-of-a-bitch let the world get into the fucking mess that it’s in today?”
“Good questions, my friend. Very good questions.”
“Don’t patronize me, and hand me another one of those goddamn beers.”
I was in rare form.
When I had been placated with my sixth beer (but who’s counting?), my new-found friend went on.
“Many people feel as you do. They use the same argument. ‘If there is a God, how can He allow the suffering?’ I think the answer is that there is no God. There is only the Oneness. There is only us. Perhaps we are God. And if we’re God, how could we allow ourselves to suffer?”
That was it for me. Free beer or not, I was out of there. The guy was crazy. But first I would finish my beer … just to be polite.
“It’s a shame we don’t believe in reincarnation, because that would explain many things. If reincarnation was for real, it would mean souls exist before birth. It might even mean we choose our lives. That life is not a crap shoot.”
About then, I was thinking, “You’re a crap shoot, buddy!”
“Do you know that physicists have proven—mathematically at least—there is no such thing as time; that we are living in a hologram? And if that is so, then what does anything matter? Look at it this way. We live in a dimension known as space-time. You cannot have one without the other. You cannot have time without space and you cannot have space without time. Right?”
“If you say so. How about another beer?” We were now into the third six-pack that wasn’t there. But what the hell?
“Think of it this way. Space-time is a manifestation only of the physical plane. Off the physical plane, there is no space-time by definition. Correct?”
“Please stop asking me to confirm what you are saying. I’ll admit it makes sense to a certain degree. So, I’ll sit here and listen as long as that magic bag keeps popping out Guinnesses.”
“Okay. Now visualize this. If you were to look into a dimension of space-time from a dimension of non-space-time, meaning a non-physical universe, what would you see?”
He smiled at me with such forbearance that I felt ashamed at having made such a flippant remark. I sobered up a bit and said, “I’m sorry I said that. Please go on.”
“I take no offense and I assure you, my ‘momma’ takes no offense.”
He didn’t seem drunk, yet he had had as many beers as I’d had. He took another deep swallow of his Guinness and went on.
“What you would see is all time happening at once. That’s what you would see. Now, here’s my point. If all time happens at once and we are living in a hologram—a false reality if you will—and if we exist before we are physically conceived, and if we know the lives we are going to live, and if there is no time, which means the duration of our lives are as one-millionth of one millionth of the time it takes to blink an eye, and that’s understating it … then how are we harmed?”
A good question to which I had no answer. But I had a question of my own, “Who the hell are you?”
“I’ve been known by many names over many lives. My time on the space-time plane is over. I come to visit once in a while because that’s what I do. I am a teacher. Sometimes to the multitudes, sometimes to just one lonely man thinking of drinking a beer by himself. In my last incarnation, I was known as Jesus Bar Joseph, or Jesus, Son of Joseph. In parting, let me say this. There is no God. There is only the Oneness and we are all fragments of that Oneness, playing out our existence. Working our way back to the Oneness where we will be reunited. There is no hell, there is no heaven. There is no loss, there is only us. Peace be with you, my friend.”
Then he glowed with such intensity that I had to cover my eyes. The brilliance was filled with LOVE. I have never felt such love. I have never been so loved. It was all I could do to not break down and cry right there on the spot.
Then he was gone.
Now, I sit here pondering his words. If we are all ONE, then hiding from my neighbors might not be such a smart thing. I think I’ll invite that nice young couple who live a few boats over for a Sunday brunch. If I can make it through that, perhaps I’ll visit the Tiki Hut a little more often.
You never know who you might meet there.