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Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:5-8)

There is an Ultimate Reality present around us and accessible to us. Apart from this Reality, nothing exists. The Absolute is Reality; He is the Real. Nothing exists outside of this Reality. All Reality resides in Him. This Absolute, self-characterized simply, but accurately as “I AM,” is the One from whom all else arises: all meaning, all explanations, all time, all power, all love, all origins, all means, all ends, all matter, all life, all death.

This One warns:

Look around you. All that you see, hear, taste, touch, or hear is real, but only in a temporary and purposefully limited sense. The possibilities for existence far exceed what you see around you, even though you have no access to them right now. The possibilities are without limit because I AM without limit. Therefore, put no stock in what you see. Do not try to extract meaning and significance from your present state of reality. Don’t allow your present existence to define who you are. Otherwise, you will be like a blind person who believes that what he “sees” is an accurate representation of reality.

Sooner or later, you will discover the depths of bankruptcy inherent in your current reality, because built into you is a strong sense that there is MORE. All attempts at extracting meaning or significance from your current reality will be futile. Scrambling to discover meaning will lead either to hopelessness and depression, or to a frantic life in pursuit of comfort and happiness in an effort to cover over the deep misery of your life. Because of the fundamental nature of your present reality, you will never succeed, and there is no greater curse. You may accumulate wealth and comfort, or adopt grand visions that produce great accomplishments, or engage in the most imaginative distractions, or make valiant attempts to rationalize your existence. All such attempts to convert the present reality into Ultimate Reality must and will fail. You will find yourself living in a wasteland, even if you succeed at constructing a life of material or psychological or religious abundance for yourself, because such a life will be nothing more than a charade, a cover-up, a cheap substitute.

The charade will be so effective in your mind that the wasteland will appear to be an oasis. Because your mind is so limited in perception, you will convince yourself that all the abundance that you have used to dress up your life is satisfying and meaningful. Material abundance will make life easy. Psychology will be used to bury misery. Religion will create an illusion of relief. But the wasteland will be revealed for what it is when the charade is stripped away by the “storms of life”: when wealth is lost, when comforts degrade, when grand visions falter, when distractions are unavailable, when freedom is removed, when loved-ones die, when health fails, when dishonor descends, when war is waged, when depression overwhelms, when the strong exploit the weak, when injustice prevails, when wrong pretends to be right, when evil wins. “Welcome to the desert of the real.”

A true oasis exists and that is the oasis of the Ultimate Reality, the Reality that extends above and far beyond the present reality. Wealth cannot take you there. Knowledge does not confer access. Philosophy does not point the way. Then how? I will draw all people to Myself. In this oasis, in the “I AM,” the present reality is cast in a different light and takes on new proportions. When wealth is lost, when comforts degrade, when grand visions falter, when distractions are unavailable, when freedom is removed, when loved-ones die, when health fails, when dishonor descends, when war is waged, when depression overwhelms, when the strong exploit the weak, when injustice prevails, when wrong pretends to be right, when evil wins, the oasis is unaltered. Beauty and truth abide. Honor and majesty flourish. Meaning and significance blossom. Love endures. The curse is lifted.

The desert of the real is superseded by the oasis of the Real.