University of Life

(A chapter excerpt from the upcoming book The Last Salvation: How to Prepare for Judgment Day and the Coming Wisdom Era by Marvin Q. Lam)

Submited by Marvin Q. Lam

Meet King William Steinberg, the amicable ruler of the Zuchariah Kingdom. His kingdom encompasses almost the entire Planet Alythea, also known as Planet 49, which is at the center of the Milky Way. Alythea is a true jewel of the galaxy. Its breathtaking sceneries are characterized by majestic mountain peaks, mystic waterfalls, luscious forests, verdant meadows, emerald lakes, and crystal clear streams. The weather is temperate year round. There are no deserts, no swamps, no wastelands, and no badlands anywhere on this planet. Planet Alythea is home to 291 million happy souls. And King Steinberg is a happy man, for his kingdom has enjoyed peace and prosperity throughout his 118 year reign. The king is very much revered by his subjects, who appreciate his wisdom, generosity, and integrity. He has been happily married for 205 years to the same woman, and is the father of nineteen children. Contrary to popular belief, the king does not have seven wives, one for each day of the week.

The people of the Zuchariah Kingdom have enjoyed a peace that lasted almost 17,000 years. Life is good. In fact, it is too good for their well-being. Alytheans enjoy perfect health and legendary longevity. It’s not uncommon for this race of people to live to be 450 years old. Life is good but has become a little monotonous. There are no conflicts to resolve, no wars to fight, and no crimes to investigate. No crisis ever arises in this kingdom. There are no hard decisions to make. There are no challenges in life to overcome. It’s all very nice, but not very good.

The king loves all of his children very much. But lately he has become increasingly dissatisfied with them. His children do nothing but eat, drink, sleep, chat, and play all day. They enjoy playing hide-and-seek and treasure hunting in their enormous gardens and orchards. They usually spend two-thirds of their waking hours playing outdoors, day after day, month after month, and year after year, for the past 175 years. The king is very sad to see that his beloved children have not made any significant intellectual and spiritual progress. In his utopian kingdom, there are no opportunities whatsoever for them to learn. They just stagnate. The king has seriously thought about sending them off to school. Convincing his children to sign up for some “adventures of a lifetime” wouldn’t be too difficult for the king, but finding the right university to send them to poses a real problem. There’s not even a single university in his kingdom. In fact, there is none on the entire planet. Consequently, the king has no choice but to send them off to another planet in the galaxy. This approach may seem a little extreme, but it’s for their own benefit. The king is considering sending twelve of his youngest children to Planet 68, a.k.a. Planet Earth, for an intensive course of study that should not take longer than forty years. He has to inform his children of his decision, the sooner the better, because he’s getting tired of seeing his children’s minds waste away due to boredom.

One fine summer day, the king gathers his wife and all of his nineteen children for a pep talk. At first, the children object to the idea of going off to some foreign university in some foreign planet. After some serious consultation and serious soul searching, twelve of his youngest children agree to enroll in an extra-terrestrial university on Planet 68.

Today is the day. The day has come for King Steinberg’s children to leave the comfort and familiarity of their home and embark on an exciting journey of learning. Their spaceships are waiting on the launch pads. The twelve little astronauts are all suited up, geared up, and ready to go. The king hugs each one of his children one last time. He wants to say some final words to his children, but sadness overtakes him. He sobs like a baby. Saddened by the sight of their helpless father, several of his children break down in tears. “I don’t want to leave you, father!” cries one child. “Why do we have to go so far away?” wails another. This is the first time in his life that the king will be separated from his children for an extended period of time. The thought of not being able to see his children for the next forty years is unbearable, but the king knows he has to make a small sacrifice if he wants to see his children make progress. With a soft trembling voice, the mother tries to comfort her children. ”Dear children, when you feel lonely in that faraway land, just look inside yourself and think of your father and me. We’ll always be there in your heart.”

It’s time for the little astronauts to board their spaceships and bid their last farewell to their family. The king composes himself and gazes upon his parting children with such great tenderness. In this final moment, the king wants to say so much, but he cannot find the words. As his children reluctantly walk away, the king utters these final words: “Come back to me soon, you hear!”

The above fictitious story, which sounds like it comes straight out of a science fiction novel, is intended to illustrate a more down-to-earth scenario: mankind’s quest for the meaning of life. Why are we here? Did God put us here on earth for a reason? Is there a higher purpose to these brief miserable lives of ours? After we die, where do our spirits go? These are the questions that the world’s major religions have attempted to address one way or the other. We are told that if we believe in God, live according to his Laws, and perform good deeds, our souls will be guaranteed a place in the Kingdom of God. But still, that does not answer the question, does it? Why do we have to endure a brief tumultuous life on earth before God can grant us eternal life in Heaven? Why do we have to do it the hard way? Why can’t our Father in Heaven hand us our salvation on a silver platter?

All our troubles, headaches, and heartaches in life do serve a purpose. That purpose is the continuous evolution of the human soul. We can never stop evolving because the universe that we live in continuously evolves. “You should remember that God is the universe,” explains the Heavenly Father, “and God is also the Law of Evolution. Therefore, God has to evolve continuously. Because God has to evolve continuously, God has to learn endlessly!” If God, and hence the universe, wants to be everlasting, God has to constantly evolve. What would happen if one day God gets lazy and no longer wants to learn? When God stops evolving, the Law of Evolution becomes invalid. That would mean the end of the universe and the end of God! “In my state of tranquility, there is agitation, and in my state of agitation, there is tranquility,” continues the Heavenly Father. “Both states of tranquility and agitation have to be manifested in me at the same time. And that’s the everlasting Truth.” Eternal life or eternity is the state of tranquility. Constant change or continuous evolution is the state of agitation. Because God wants to be unchanged and everlasting, He must be constantly changing and constantly restless. In order to remain unchanged, God has to continuously change. In other words, God is eternally stable and unchanged because God is constantly agitated, perpetually restless, and endlessly changing. And because God wants to make progress, to evolve, and to change for the better, God never ceases to learn.

The only way one can make progress, or to improve oneself, is by learning. Learning is a never-ending process. It’s a lifetime endeavor. We don’t stop learning just because we’ve reached a certain age. The process of learning doesn’t stop when we graduate from high school or college. And when our brief life in this world comes to an end, the process of learning doesn’t stop there. People who never stop learning, who constantly yearn for knowledge, are the ones who reap the most rewards from life. Learning is good for us because knowledge is freedom. Ignorance is bondage. If we ever doubt the importance of relentless learning, all we have to do is look at our Creator, Almighty God. Even the creator of the universe has to relentlessly pursue higher knowledge. And how does God achieve His goal? Not by observation, but by first-hand experience. God learns by rolling up His sleeves and getting His hands dirty. Second-hand accounts won’t do. The best way to learn, and the only way to learn, is through personal experience.

The earth is a grand university, and we are its foreign students. Our permanent home is “up there,” not “down here.” The earth was meant to be our temporary home. Upon completion of our course of study, upon graduation, we are to leave this foreign land and return to our home in the Heavens. We are required to stay here for the length of time it takes to meet our objective, and not a day longer. Then, we have to hurry home, for our Old Man is anxious for the return of His children. Because our Father wants us to have the best education, He sends us to one of the best universities in the whole universe. Our planet’s University of Life, renowned for its unconventional approach to learning, is not a university in the common sense. It does not have classrooms, auditoriums, libraries, professors, or counselors. It does not offer any courses, curriculums, or semesters. There are no books to read, no lectures to attend, and no assignments to hand in. So, how are God’s children supposed to learn? Without any structured course of study, how can they learn anything? Obviously, we can rule out satellite classrooms and Internet courses. Two hundred thousand years ago, prehistoric men were not sophisticated enough to invent the wheel, let alone the personal computer. We learn through interactions with our environment and with one another. We learn from role playing and from interpersonal conflicts. Throughout our lifetime, anybody and everybody whom we come in contact with can be a potential teacher. We can learn from others’ strengths and virtues, as well as from their weaknesses and mistakes. Every event, crisis, situation, or obstacle in life can serve as a valuable lesson. And who are the best teachers of all? Our very own trial and error!

The earth is our classroom, and life is a never-ending lesson. We have plenty to learn from the day we are born until the day we die. Our journey of learning just goes on and on. Most of us can’t learn everything in a single lifetime. We have to do it over many lifetimes or incarnations. If we don’t get it right the first time, or second time, we have to come back and learn our lessons all over again. If a Little Soul does not meet the minimum spiritual criteria, it would get “beamed” back to earth for some more intensive training.

The endless tug-of-war between the forces of good and evil within our own little universe, or microcosm, provides unlimited opportunities for learning. The intricate interactions between the forces of yin and yang in nature provide a rich, colorful canvas for us to ponder the meaning of life. All adversities in life, all tragedies, despair, humiliation, grief, sorrow, and losses provide us with the incentives to seek a more permanent source of happiness. Our tears of sorrow fall to the ground and turn into the seeds from which true happiness springs. Life is the subject of our study. And life on earth provides all the necessary lessons for a lifetime of learning. Planet Earth is our University of Life.

Millions of years ago, our Creator spun off nine million, two hundred thousand (9,200,000) Little Souls from His Great Universal Soul and sent them down to earth. God’s Little Souls breathed life into millions of animals and pre-historic men on earth. Once a Little Soul inhabits an animal or human body, it is said to be incarnated. God exists in a realm that’s pure and ethereal. God is absolute purity. God is the purest and most fundamental form of energy. In order for something pure and light to descend to a heavy and impure realm, it has to become heavy. Before God’s earthbound Little Angels can reach their destination, they have to take on layers upon layers of heavy particles or impurities. Once incarnated, we, God’s Little Souls, got shrouded in so much impurity that we lose our self-identity. Our situation is a classic example of L.O.A., or Lost on Arrival. The poor Little Souls more or less forget where they came from and who they once were. They were like orphans at birth. They have no idea who their father was. Most of them don’t even know that they have a father in the Heavens. If the earth or nature is our mother, then who would be our father? That would be the Man Upstairs. God is our one and only Father, for we all came from Him. No matter what our national, cultural, racial, or religious background might be, we are all God’s children.

Almighty God split His Great Divine Soul into millions of Small Individual Souls and sent them down to earth. What is the implication of this cosmic event? “I want, of my own will,” says Almighty God, “to descend to this world to learn through the intermediary of my Small Individual Souls.” Through His children, or Small Individual Souls, our Divine Father has embarked on a journey of learning, to witness and to experience the opposing aspects of the Truth. God wants to learn both impurity and purity, evil and good, wickedness and benevolence, and lucidity and ignorance, so that He may understand and assimilate all aspects of the Truth in order to be omniscient and omnipotent. Therefore, God learns whatever we learn because God learns through us. The Father experiences whatever His children experience.

First, we learn to commit cruel, ugly, and evil acts, and taste the consequences of our actions. As we perform evil acts such as rapes, robbery, and murders, we accumulate karmic debts. The Law of Karma dictates that the wrongdoers must endure retributions for their wrongdoings so that they can pay back their karmic debts. As we continue to commit more evil acts, we immerse ourselves in a life of misery, despair, and anguish. Sometimes, we sink so deeply into the pit of despair that it seems there is no way of digging ourselves out. The Law of Karma never forgets or forgives. When our short miserable lives come to an end, our karmic debts don’t get wiped out automatically. Since our souls have come back to this world to undergo more training, we have to reincarnate. If we do not have the chance to pay back a karmic debt in this lifetime, the Law of Karma ensures that we’ll have the opportunity to do so in our next lifetime.

After many incarnations, or lifetimes, as we struggle through our unhappy lives, the innocence, beauty, wisdom, and goodness that are inherent in nature gradually and quietly educate our souls. These benevolent forces will slowly help us understand the Law of Cause and Effect, until one day we wake up from our nightmarish sleep. Once awakened, and armed with the power of knowledge, we fight to free our souls from our self-imposed prison. As the smoke of ignorance dissipates, we begin to see clearly our life’s purpose. We finally have the determination to redeem ourselves by refraining from committing more evil acts and by performing acts of kindness. When we are truly free, we clearly see the path that lies ahead. We now realize that we must find our way back to the Origin, that we must come home to be reunited with our loving Father. The day that we, God’s Little Souls, acquire adequate purity, wisdom, and courage to return to and reunite with our Heavenly Father, the Great Universal Soul, is the day that we have accomplished our mission, which is to achieve spiritual advancement and perfection.