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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Early Gnostics

I've been reading some of the early Gnostic Gospels. One I'd never read before is "The Greatest Human Evil Is Forgetfulness of God." Quite a title isn't it?

Here is a quote from it:
Elevate yourself by mental power. Maybe not all of you can do that, but some of you can!
For the degeneration that flows from forgetfulness is drowning the earth, infecting soul and body, veiling the soul like a cloak and stopping you from abiding in the heart. 
So don't be swept away by this mad flood!
Find the way into your heart! Look for a good teacher to show you the path to the gates of remembrance, where there's a light, radiant and bright, free from darkness. 
This was written in a time of Roman excess, yet what I read seems almost as if it were written for this very time where you and I live. Spirituality is not the prime goal of most people. It seems that a version of hedonism is the main goal - do what you want- eat, drink, drug yourself, ignore meditation and prayer, ignore your heart, destroy those you define as "other."

To stop the drowning of our earth with darkness, we simply must turn to spirituality, to an open heart, to compassion, to focus on kindness. It can only begin one person at a time. You and I can turn away from the darkness and to the Light, even more than we have before, and shine that Light so others are drawn out of the darkness to It.

Saturday, December 23, 2017


I've been thinking about how powerful we are in potential and how we often meter that power down, often because of wounding.

For me, another name for my wounder is "teacher." I have had many, many, many wounds in my life, beginning with birth. It took me awhile to forgive and then finally move to gratitude for what I had learned from each and every teacher - and perhaps what they learned from me. I came to believe that wounding cracks the shell of ego, and ego has to go in order to truly awaken and grow spiritually.

What people often do is to ignore the teaching and go straight into self-pity or maybe some kind of revenge. In that process, we are victim, and we name ourselves things such as no good, unlovable, worthless, less than, etc. All of these shut down potential in us, not in the wounder. We wander around life being less than we can be, maybe in some perverse ploy to show how badly we are hurt and how wrong and bad our wounder is. But they then "win" and we are the loser for we bury our potential in a pile of sorrow, tears, recrimination, fear, etc.

It seems to me we begin to unlock our potential by changing about how we speak to ourselves about the events in our lives - for example, rename enemy to teacher, or challenge to rise above, or opportunity to exercise our compassion, or...

Then, I suggest we do some focused forgiveness practices such as in my book, The Key - Forgiveness and Beyond. I also think journalling daily is incredibly helpful. We need to examine ourselves in order to set ourselves free. This is really essential in order to release our potential. We need to cease our addiction to our own pain and judgments and open to the freedom of infinite possibilities that are already within us.

I'm going to write more later about the vast potential in each of us. Let us begin our journey to express more by practising the suggestions in this writing.

Infinite One, I know my life is lived out in Your Presence. Lead me to forgive and release and open in ways needed for me to step into more of the possibilities that You have placed in me. Guide my thoughts, words and deeds to be more and more in harmony with You. I seek to be the fully free person You created and call me to be. Open my heart. Open my eyes. Open my mind. Open all of me to Your Great Good.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Mechthild of Magdeburg

Mechthild is one of the historical women that I have studied and has made a difference in my spiritual journey. She lived 1207 to 1282, not the typical historical time for enlightened, educated women to flourish, but she did anyway.

In preparing for a brief spiritual experience for our Methodist Women's meeting, I decided to introduce Mechthild. I have already introduced Hildegard. I have printed out 20 quotes from Mechthild and will roll them up and tie with ribbon. Women will pick one which I will request be a spiritual practice for 2018. Two of the quotes I'm going to share are:
Prayer is naught else but a yearning of draws down the great God into the little heart; it drives the hungry soul up to the plenitude of God; it brings together these two lovers, God and the soul, in a wondrous place where they speak much of love.
The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw and knew I saw all things in God and God in all things. 
I find listening to those who "knew" leads to encouraging my "knowing" and often opens me to new byways of awakening, just the thing my soul needs at any given moment in my journey.

Mechtild's statement about prayer leads me to understand a bit more about the dynamics of prayer going on within me as I pray. Her description is lovely and powerful at the same time. My little heart opens to be filled with the infinity of God and has been ever so hungry for God. The union is love. From that union, I am led to understand that God is everywhere, in everyone. I breathe in God and am at peace.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

2nd Century Thoughts on Satan

The 2nd century Greek philosopher, Celsus, was vehemently opposed to Christianity. So I wondered what bothered him so much.

According to Elaine Pagels this is one of his arguments:
What makes the Christians' message dangerous, Celsus writes, is not that they believe in one God, but that they deviate from monotheism by their "blasphemous" belief in the devil. For all the "impious errors" the Christians commit, Celsus says, they show their greatest ignorance in "making up a being opposed to God, and calling him 'devil' or, in the Hebrew language, 'Satan.' All such ideas, Celsus declares, are nothing but human inventions, sacrilegious even to repeat: "it is blasphemy... to say that the greatest God... has an adversary who constrains his capacity to do good." Celsus is outraged that the Christians, who claim to worship one God, "impiously divide the kingdom of God creating rebellion in it, as if there were opposing factions within the divine, including one that is hostile to God!
Celsus accuses Christians of "inventing a rebellion" (meaning sedition) in heaven to justify rebellion here on earth.
He has other objections too, but today I thought I'd put this one up to consider.

As it turns out, quite a few people thought (and still think) about this division and the ludicrous notion that God has an antagonistic also divine being fighting him, perhaps an equal. If God created all, and God is all good, then how can this be accurate? It does not make sense. In the creation stories, God saw that all was "good."

I invite us to think about this. It has been a very long time since I believed in satan. I arrived at that conclusion on my own. And, I find Celsus' argument very interesting.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Knowing vs Following

In the 1st century, there were various groups with divergent assessments of what it meant to follow The Way. The teachings of Jesus had quite a wide range of interpretations. There were 2 primary groups, however. These were Gnostics and Orthodox. As we know, the Orthodox "won." The Gnostics hung on for about 300 years, but did not totally vanish, for their ideas began to surface in the mystics of the Middle Ages, the Reformation and more recently in the teachings arising again such as Lectio Divina, journaling and Centering Prayer.

Although there were various groups of Gnostics (from the Greek for knowing), they had some common ideas. They believed that the kingdom was within, and silence was a door to it. They believed that each person needed to have direct relationship with the Divine, and not be subject to outside authorities. They believed that rituals and rites did not create actual change within a person. They believed that all who enter the Presence, find the same Oneness. They shunned the quest for worldly wealth and status in favor of living a Divinely led life.

In part, they lost because such a teaching defies organization. The Orthodox, on the other hand, had creeds and rituals and things to follow that were understood easily. They organized, gained power and then merged with the political rulers. The Orthodox then called all others heretics, burning their books (even the early ones from before the 4 Gospels), punished their heretics and seized all power. They did their best to stamp them out forever. But they did not succeed entirely. As I mentioned, for example, the mystics were quite Gnostic without probably knowing it.  Fragments, scrolls, books, etc. keep turning up in what are called, "finds." The most famous finds I think are the Nag Hammadi find in 1945 in Egypt and the Dead Scrolls a few years later at Qumran in the caves. They begin to give us a peek into the early history that had been suppressed and supposedly destroyed.

I guess I could say that my heart leans toward knowing and against being subject to outside opinions and controls. Orthodoxy kept a version of Christianity alive for 2,000 years, but it tried to destroy the wonderful and unique inner knowing. We could debate whether or not Christianity would have survived at all without the strict theology of Orthodoxy, but it seems clear to me by the extremes to which it went, it also damaged the journey into the kingdom within. By distorting and taking away the mystery, many today are leaving the fold or are struggling to believe myth as reality. The science of today discredits much of theology, if it is held to be actual reality. But, as we see in the emergence of Perennial Philosophy across time and space, truth can be hidden within stories, stories that in themselves are not true but hint at and point to Truth.

Do we dare to walk The Way of Knowing? I can do no other.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Waking Up

I'm reading a book on Buddhism that led me to some thoughts on Christianity that I want to share with you.

Originally, what we now call Christianity, was called The Way. Sometimes we think of the Tao for it too is The Way. I was toying with some ideas though about The Christ Way.

What does it mean to follow, to walk The Way? To me it means to walk a path that encourages in each of us the awakening to Reality. The goal of Buddhism is to wake up, remove oneself from the illusion and fully see, act, be, etc all as it is. What if the goal of Christianity is to wake up in the manner that Jesus awoke? He showed and taught a way that leads to awakening.

It is reported that he asked us to follow, to come to know what he knew, to do even greater things. In walking The Way, what do we see as signs of awakening? What was he showing us?

In his reported statement that what you do to the least, you do to me, he is showing us that all is connected in Oneness. When I see that doing X causes pain in one person, I can also know that pain reverberates to everyone, including myself. When I see that doing Y creates harmony, I can know that too reverberates to everyone. Every time I choose to awaken, it touches everyone with a sprinkle of awakening.

If we look at the things reported that Jesus said and did, we can see what walking such a path involves. It is a servant path, as in washing the feet of his disciples; he was servant, not making himself above others. It is in listening and seeing beyond the rules made by man, as in it is all right to heal or to provide food and pick the corn, even on the Sabbath. Rules apply to those who are not awake and do not see the Whole. It is about generosity and sharing- as in feeding the crowds. It is about Love as he taught and modeled Love - unconditional, pure, non-manipulative, non-discriminating, given to all even those named "enemy." It is about forgiveness, given and to give.

All of these things, and more, show us The Way to awaken and see with Christ conscious eyes, hear with Christ conscious ears, and live as we are called to live.

For so long we have slumbered in the illusion created and maintained by the unawakened. The blind and asleep ones have led us astray into ideas and activities that only keep us asleep to the One and to who we actually are.

When I look at the life of Jesus from the point of view that his life was an example of awakening, I can follow in a new way and begin to actually step upon the path of The Way.

Friday, December 1, 2017

What is Moral?

We are told it is bad/immoral to lie, to bear false witness. In general, I think this is accurate. But then special circumstances pop up to make us question the absolute nature of this rule, maybe any rule. Say the Gestapo is banging on your door and want to know if you are hiding Jews. It seems to me it is moral to lie to them and protect the lives of innocent people. What do you think?

Then this argument can get polluted by the confusion of the unawakened mind. Yesterday a jury found a career criminal, an illegal alien who had been deported 5 times, killer of a young woman in her prime, shooting her with a stolen gun in midday, --- innocent. There was no dispute that he shot her nor that she died because of it. So now we see in this "sanctuary city"(certainly not a sanctuary for citizens), the value that says that it is immoral to control our border and so we must protect those who come without following the rules. It seems to me that jury made an immoral decision and set a violent man free to continue his violence. He learned he can get away with anything just because he was able to sneak into this country.

Clear thinking seems to be rare. It saddens me.

Perhaps there are no absolutes, but then the thinking about when the exceptions are more moral than the rules needs to be pristinely clear. Let us consider these things and do our best to see clearly.