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Friday, June 30, 2017

Metaphor or Literal

In my daily meditations, I am re-reading some of Meister Eckhart's writings, including many of his sermons. I am struck by how he mines each scripture for deeper meanings, not taking them literally. For example, when he was talking about Jesus throwing the sellers out of the temple patio, he sees metaphor. He says that the temple Jesus wants to clear out is the temple within us all in our very souls. All obstacles between us and God must be kicked out. All distortions have to go.

I'm preparing to speak on July 16th on forgiveness, and I see a direct application from his understanding of the throwing out of all that does not belong there - in this case resentment, bitterness, judgment and things that require forgiveness.

People may not realize it, but the Bible was not taken literally and was not considered to be inerrant until the Enlightenment. At that time, facts had to be proven or they were considered false, and so people began to declare that the things in the Bible were literal facts rather than deep, metaphorical, spiritual teachings to guide our lives. The religious people began to panic and changed their orientation to the Bible. Today, this is one of the obstacles to people who consider becoming Christian-- it cannot be taken literally -- the earth is actually billions of years old, people did not live with dinosaurs, there were not 2 original people who were thrown out of the garden, etc etc etc. Ever since the Enlightenment, followers of Christianity and Judaism have significantly dwindled, and many of us think this literal/inerrant fantasy is the primary reason.

BUT, the stories are significant, powerful, magnificent teachings to instruct and guide us. They are way more powerful when we realize the ancient people share with us their walk with God, their folly, their conclusions, and their profound understandings. It is exciting to contemplate the stories, the songs, the prayers, the wisdom and listen to what they mean in the life of the people of the 21st century.

We are to clean the gates to our inner temple so that we can know God, and there are many more messages that can change our lives. If we listen to the parables, to the teachings of love and forgiveness, the understanding of God's Presence always with us, our lives can be lifted and brought into the Spiritual Light, into knowing and knowing that we know - God and I are one!

Good gracious hallelujah!

Monday, June 26, 2017


My usual morning begins with a couple of cups of tea and inspirational reading for an hour or more. One of my favorite readings is anything by Meister Eckhart (1260-1327 c.e.). I am currently re-exploring "Meister Eckhart Selected Writings." He is one of those that are called "mystic." That is, he had direct experiences with God and wrote with incredible insight and inspiration. He never fails to touch me deeply.

This morning's reading included ideas about God in us, Christ the Son being born in us, The Holy Spirit residing with us - in other words, Oneness. Below are a few lines from him to tweak our thoughts:
If your works are to be living works, then God must spur you into action from within, from your innermost part, if they really are to be alive. For that is where your own life is, that is the sole place where you are truly alive...
 Sometimes a light becomes manifest in the soul, and it seems to us that this is the Son, even though it is only a light. For where the Son becomes manifest in the soul, there too is the love of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, I say that it is the nature of the Father to give birth to the Son, and it is the nature of the Son that I should be born in him and in his image. It is the nature of the Holy Spirit that I should be consumed in him. dissolved in him, and transformed wholly into love...
Therefore the Spirit's blessedness resides where it is in the process of being born, for it lives where the Father lives...
As a follower of The Way, I have understood for some time that the Christ is to be born in me/us, dissolving all false sense of separation from God and embracing the Holy Spirit to live a Spirit-filled life. We are called to become as Christ-like, Christ-filled, Christ-expressing as we possibly can. The task is not to worship Christ as some outside deity, but to become Christed ourselves. The blindness in our lives then drops away, and we see and know what cannot be expressed in words. We live as Love, Light, Wisdom, Kindness, Justice and as all qualities of God, for the ego has dissolved in such a way as the soul is freed to answer the Divine Call that is always being sent forth. We are transformed into what we are meant to be.

The puzzle that comes to me is this - what is it that keeps people from focusing their lives like this? What happens that significant numbers of people are running in opposite ways? As an observer, I see people preferring violence, greed, lust, selfishness, betrayal, materiality, mind/soul-numbing drugs, and on and on.

So I ask, what needs to be said or done to reach those lost in a negative loop to help lift them onto the real task of life on earth, the task of discovering who and what we truly are.  Jesus suggested we should judge righteous judgment, not appearances. I think we need to be seeking the deep knowing of our Oneness with God, birthing Christ in us and living a Holy Spirit guided life. I really don't understand how so many get side-tracked. Let's pray.

Here we are Lord. Guide us to You. Help us turn away out of the negative loop. Help us clear the way for the birth of Christ in us. Lead us to be the persons You had in Mind when You created us. Oh, what a world it could be.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

What Can We Give?

In Richard Rohr's summary of meditations for the coming week - for Monday he says:
We can only give away who we are. We can only offer to others what God has done in us. 
This  has soooo much meaning to me. I hope you will re-read this several times and discern what meaning it brings to you and your journey.

To me, it says that the only thing that authentically can come from me is what I personally can attest to from my own knowing, from my very being. 

I want to share an experience/vision I had almost a week ago. I have not shared it, as I had to take some time to process it.

The followers of Jesus were originally known as followers of The Way. I pray sometimes, show me the way. Sometimes I am addressing a specific thing in my life, and sometimes I am addressing my life path in general. I have known for some time that The Way means being ever more Christ-like, continual refinement and surrender, and sincerity of the journey.

Last week I was praying show me the way, and suddenly I saw a winding path, and up ahead was a figure walking the same direction I was, but a distance ahead of me. He partially turned, looked at me and suddenly a brilliant flow of light emanated from him, came to me and connected us. It seemed that my heart and everything in me opened and filled with this light, this Light. He spoke in my heart, I am The Way, follow me, I am The Way to God. And it was as if a curtain had opened to vistas beyond and I fully knew that following The Christ meant becoming as much like him as possible, and in that would lead to a full and deep knowing of God, of Oneness, of Spiritual Life, of that which is beyond the senses of earth. I knew what I already had come to understand at a powerful and deep and new level. Even this day, a week later, I still feel that flow of light that came rapidly, filled me, connected me and educated my soul at another level.

I realize that none of this fits accurately into words, yet I try to share a glimpse of what has been made known to me in hopes that others seeking The Way, can benefit in the manner most wonderful for each.

Lord, bless these words in such a way that they may enter the hearts of all reading them and lead each to You. Thank You for Your Light and Love.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

My Life - A Construction Zone

Meister Eckhart's understanding is dear to me. I first found him in the 1970's, and he has stayed with me. He has profound mystical insights that inspire me and also are in harmony with my own insights for the most part.

When he gets into science, his ideas can be easily seen as a product of the ignorance of scientific truths of his day. For example, he thinks about women, "A female is born only when nature is diverted or obstructed so that its work lacks full strength." I mean really!!! He also affirmed that the baby in the womb receives its soul on the 40th day. I suppose that is partially because the number 40 is metaphorically used frequently in the Bible.

I can forgive his scientific weakness, for in the 1200's and 1300's little was known. He inferred the best he could.

But as for the spiritual, the insights that are useful, it seems to me, are those directly received by those who are prepared and are of sound mind and sincere heart. Religion gets off into the weeds when unenlightened, yet mostly educated, people pontificate on this or that scripture verse or on some idea or the other that someone else has proposed. It really gets in the weeds when some mentally unstable people start proclaiming strange and often violent ideas.

Meister Eckhart said:
All that God works he works in the One which is identical with himself. God gives to all things equally, although they are not equal in their own works, and all things strive to effect in their works that which is the same as their own being. [makes me think of Jesus' by the fruits you shall know them]
[In the same sermon, he says:]  God is the fruit of the virtues. God fructifies all virtues and is himself the fruit of virtue, and this is the fruit which 'remains' for us.
The thought that all receive equally, yet are not equal in their works made me first think of all the other creatures with whom we humans share this earth. They all receive the same air, the same rain, the same sunshine, etc. yet each gives what is true to its nature. We don't expect the alligator to give milk or the parrot to herd sheep.

But then my thoughts turn to us humans. What a variety of ways to be human there are. Both Jesus and Eckhart say that our works are reflective of our being. It seems to me that we can diagnose our spiritual health, our awareness of Oneness with God, by looking around at our works. How are we spending the coin of our lives? Are we creating works that are in alignment with God? Are we creating works that God can fructify? (I love that word)

Perhaps our first diagnostic tool could be to note how our lives exude love or not. Love is what most great spiritual lights indicate is required, including Jesus' great commandments.

If we are judgmental, withholding, angry, resentful, mean, greedy, self-centered, etc, we are bound to notice less than joyous results in our lives. Notice how any one of the negative mindsets we might employ lead to unhappy places and are also visible to others. We cannot hide our consciousness. With awareness of self, new choices, new habits, new inspirational studies we can turn negativity on its head and flip into life in the Light. Perhaps for a time, our lives look like a major construction zone as we reconstruct our inner life to produce works that are in harmony with God. It can take a day, but most likely it is a lifetime of construction and reconstruction.

Let us pay attention to what we are creating in our lives and trace the results back to the inner being that created these works. There we find where our deep spiritual work begins.

How thankful I am, that You have forgiven me for all the works that I have created that are not in harmony with You and Your Love. Give me the strength and courage to look at myself and my works and then help me to work on the inner part of myself to heal and lift and become that person You had in Mind when You created me. Place Your Love around me and help me soak It all in and then shine that very Light back into the works we create together. Lead me to do and be one whose works are worthy of You.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

A Vision

I had a vision yesterday. I saw Christianity, but also all religions, as pillars under a pier. The pillars represented all the teachings originally intended. These teachings were to uphold humankind in the journey here on earth through the twists and turns, confusions, and challenges and lead us to awareness and spirituality, lead us to know God.

Then I saw barnacles attach themselves to the pillars. In the case of Christianity, I saw the barnacles representing many false teachings put forward by perhaps well-meaning people, but people nevertheless who did not fully comprehend the clear, strong pillar originally placed among us.

For example, I saw St. Augustine's fantasy of original sin, which amazingly got incorporated into the "theology" of the "church." I don't suppose he took to heart the beginnings where it was said that God made many references to the goodness of the creation. God's stamp of approval was upon creation. After all, it came forth from God. Then, of course, there had never been in Judaism or The Way that became known as Christianity any idea of original sin taught. This was a pure invention, perhaps a mistranslation.

Another barnacle example I think was the Council of Nicaea and the work of Athanasius and Constantine which culminated in "the creed." What they said Christians were to believe is of historical interest, but hardly believable that they in the 4th century could categorically state what Jesus meant and what God meant. Surprisingly, it is still recited regularly. Of course, there is the work of the council to determine which of the existing writings would be given the seal of approval, and which should be destroyed. As if they knew so much, they could make such drastic decisions. Fortunately, some of the works they thought they destroyed have been turning up in various places, giving us an expanded peek into the diversity of understandings already at play in the 4th century.

One more barnacle I'll mention came from Anselm about 1,000 years ago. He came up with the "theology" of substitutionary atonement. He declared that Jesus was a substitute for us and our sins. The idea divided into various theories, I'll note just one here from Wikipedia:
The widest held substitutionary theory in the West is the penal substitution model. Both the penal theory and Anselm's satisfaction theory hold that only human beings can rightfully repay the debt to God's honour [Anselm], or to God's justice [penal substitution]) which was incurred through their wilful disobedience to God. Since only God can make the satisfaction necessary to repay it, rather than merely forgiving humanity, God sent the God-man, Jesus Christ, to fulfill both these conditions. Christ is a sacrifice by God on behalf of humanity, taking humanity’s debt for sin upon himself, and propitiating God’s wrath.
This theory makes the Infinite God blood-thirsty, angry like the worst of us humans, and One who engages in child abuse. It is absurd. Jesus died a gorry death (as did thousands at the hands of the Romans), and that satisfied some horrid deity.

This theory does not require us to become like Christ, to deeply work on ourselves, to be transformed, to play our part in bringing the Kingdom of God here and now (Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done; the Kingdom of God is within you). It simply requires us to believe our sins are already taken care of because God demanded Jesus pay. Ewwww, you've got to be kidding.

Peeling off just these three barnacles gives us a glimpse at the pillar that has been there all along, waiting for us to come to our senses and turn to the original meanings. It is said by many scholars that the parables are the closest to the words of Jesus because stories are easy to remember, especially those with profound meanings. Remember, the Gospels were written between 68 and 120 c.e., long after the events occurred. I challenge you to go to the New Testament ( I like The Message translation) and read Jesus' parables, just the parables one or two days this week. Imagine you are sitting before Jesus and he tells you these stories. Let yourself feel them and know what they mean to you and your spiritual journey. Go directly to the pillar before the barnacles attached and covered it.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


Last night we were watching on PBS the gala the night before John F. Kennedy's inauguration. It was an odd experience. I had experienced all of the entertainers in one way or the other in my youth (The Hollywood Bowl, The Greek, movies, television, etc.), and I had watched with interest during the campaign for the presidency. All but one of them at the Gala are gone from earth. Each one touched me inside in various ways - inspiration, humor, admiration, as a role model, etc. No one else knows those feelings and where the thoughts led me.

I thought how no one else could know my inner life. Then I thought, most of my life is inner - that is who I am beyond the surface is greater than the surface, my interiority is complex  - my thoughts, my aha's, my secrets, my deep spiritual moments, my questioning, my pain, my hurts are primarily within me. No one knows my inner life except God and me. It has never been there for others to know. Except maybe in the way Tagore spoke of Buddha (even though of course I am not he, I do aspire to enlightenment): They directly felt in him what he was preaching, in the living language of his own person, the ultimate truth of Man. It reminds me of Gandhi who told people if they wanted to know what he believed, simply watch him live his life. We show our consciousness to those who are awake and watching. I really like the way Tagore put it - in the living language of his own person...

There is the outer of my life - historically gone except for my inner knowing of it. There is no one alive that has known me since birth. Many of the places are gone (our 1st house removed, my 1st school now a MacDonalds, the hospital where I was born is gone, etc.).

So, I came to the conclusion that God and I are in some sense alone together. Others cannot possibly know the caverns of interiority that are in some deep place in the thing called me. That made me think of Ella Wheeler Wilcox's poem "Conversation":

God and I in space alone 
and nobody else in view. 
And where are the people, O Lord, I said, 
the earth below and the sky o'er head 
and the dead whom once I knew?

That was a dream, God smiled and said, 
A dream that seemed to be true. 
There were no people, living or dead, 
there was no earth, and no sky o'er head;
there was only Myself -- in you.

Why do I feel no fear, I asked, 
meeting You here this way? 
For I have sinned I know full well-- 
and is there heaven, and is there hell, 
and is this the Judgment Day?

Nay, those were but dreams, the Great God said, 
Dreams that have ceased to be. 
There are no such things as fear or sin; 
there is no you -- you never have been-- 
there is nothing at all but Me.