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Monday, September 18, 2023

What Do They Have to Do With One Another?

 Matthew 5:3

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

 Philippians 2:3-4 (New International Version)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

I was preparing my weekly Bible lesson for a homeless shelter. We're on the Sermon on the Mount, and the verse from Matthew above is one we will be discussing this week. Then the one in Philippians popped up for me in my reading. I saw them together.

Salt is what enhances other things. It's added in small amounts to most foods to enhance other flavors, in everything from soups to cakes. So Jesus is asking us to enhance whatever or whoever comes to us. Encourage, lift, comfort others and don't try to be the big deal, the main thing. Quietly, without ego, go about softly enhancing. Be like the salt.

Then Paul tells us something similar. Don't do anything from ego. Be humble. Don't put yourself above others. 

Let's consider the importance of being salt and discover the sweet ways we can enhance all those who come in our lives.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

The Gospel of Phillip

The Gospel of Phillip is one of the Gospels found in the 1945 discovery at Nag Hammadi. The quote below was fascinating to me.

 Light and darkness, life and death, and right and left are siblings of one another, and inseparable. For this reason the good are not good, the bad are not bad, life is not life, death is not death. Each will dissolve into its original nature, but what is superior to the world cannot be dissolved, for it is eternal.

The first thing I thought of was the yin yang Yin and yang - Wikipediasymbol that was introduced to me by my sociology professor back in 1960. It was thought- provoking to me, a newbie at the time to such things. The idea that in all darkness is a little light and in all light there is some darkness sparked a cavalcade of thought.Nothing is purely anything. Life is not cut and dried, either this or that, but some of each. The goal, of course, is to keep as little darkness in one's light as possible and to shine as much light in the darkness as possible.

The writer of the Gospel of Phillip expressed that idea with the concept of siblings that are inseparable. The way he put it makes so much sense to me.  But there is that which is superior, that which is eternal, and It does not dissolve into Itself, for it is Divine. 

I hope you contemplate this little quote and allow your own cavalcade of though to flow.

Monday, August 28, 2023

All for God

 After having given myself wholly to God, to make all the satisfaction I could for my sins, I renounced, for the love of Him, everything that was not He, and I began to live as if there was none but He and I in the world. – Letter 1 -  Brother Lawrence

Brother Lawrence always inspires me via his words. This little quote reminded me of the process of our spiritual awakening. First we start out - it's all about me; then it's mostly about me and a little about God; then it's about me and about God; then it's more about God than about me; and finally, it's all about God.

Imagine living life from the vantage point that this life is all about God, and definitely not about my ego. Imagine eliminating everything, every thought, word and deed, that is unGod-like. Imagine living with agape/unconditional love as the constant goal. 

Brother Lawrence practiced the Presence of God all day, everyday - while doing dishes, while weeding the garden, while walking, while participating in life in little ways and bigger ways. He became an enlightened person, sought out by others for his divine understanding and deep connectedness to God.

In the turmoil of life, it is still possible to keep our minds attuned to God, to hear Guidance, to serve others without expectation of return, to give unconditional love and encouragement, to live aware that everything is done in the Presence of God. 

May God bless you as you journey to ever more awareness of The Presence. May your day be blessed, your mind and heart lifted, and your burdens lifted.

 


Saturday, August 19, 2023

Life Is a Shipwreck...

Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats; Life is a desert, but we can transform our corner into a garden. —Voltaire

Oh how I love this quote! Mountains of troubles in every life, across all times and places. And we can sing as we bob along in our lifeboats. Life's not out to get us, but to teach us, to strengthen us, to lead us to be more. Even when things seem barren, we can create a garden. There are options always options.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Disaster or Teacher or Both?

We prayed for Maui, for our burnt down Methodist Church and its people, for all those suffering from the fire.

I have experienced and observed a huge amount of disaster over the entire course of my life. It seems disaster touches us all. I'm pretty sure you have had your portion of disaster too.

It is painful. It causes post traumatic stress. And it is our teacher. We can ask our selves  What did I learn? Did I respond with caring and compassion to myself and others? Was I a light? If not, we can do better next time and/or make amends. We just need to be aware and honest about how we're doing, take responsibility, and do our best to do be better.

Shine our lights into the darkness, and the darkness has no choice but to vanish.


Wednesday, July 26, 2023

There Are Tons of Ways of Looking at Everything

 I used to do an exercise in workshops around this very idea. Example:

Let's form small groups of about 6 people around one chair. Now imagine with me that you have never seen such a thing before. Maybe you live in a remote jungle in a community that has nothing that looks like this. Now brainstorm together what this strange object is and what its uses might be.

People came up with the most fascinating array of ideas. Maybe you can play this game with yourself right now, or later with friends and family.

One of the points is, that once we decide what something is, we don't have to think about it again, it just gets a label and then it's settled. This is much more important when we think about social issues, racial issues, economic or political or religious issues... We already have a position on this or that and are often unwilling to rethink it.

Let's brave a religious issue. Some say that we should actually describe the current most followed religion "Paulianity." Ouch you might say, or how dare you, or blasphemy. But think about it. I know the Gospels are long after Jesus' life, but they are likely at least partially related to what Jesus said and did.

I mentioned recently on this blog about the sheep and goats and the difference being who took care of the needy and who didn't. There are other similar references to doing good as a requisite for a good eternal life. Think rich man who was told to follow the Commandments, who responded he already did that, and was told then give everything for the poor. How about the poor woman who could only give a mite to the offering, but was upheld as a hero. Think of the beatitudes or the two great commandments.  I think you get the picture. Jesus, as his brother James did too, uplifted those who were good and kind and generous and who would therefore have a good eternal life. 

But then Paul, the self-appointed apostle who never met Jesus, enters the conversation. What quotes of Jesus did he offer in his 7 authentic letters? What was his idea for a good eternal life (salvation)? Believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus, that was Paul's core message.

Paul's view won historically, so that is what is taught in most so-called Christian churches. Paul's idea "Paulianity" I suggest is actually what it is. I'm not trying to disparage Paul. He said many thoughtful things, many of them more Greek than Jewish. I enjoy reading Paul. But his eternal life insurance plan is far different than the one Jesus taught.

I urge, and have for decades, let's go back to the ethical teachings of Jesus in order to be able to say honestly that we follow Jesus, maybe without the apocalyptic side of him. Obviously the Son of Man did not come in his lifetime, or any lifetime, to wipe out evil and establish God's Kingdom. But then, we could do that ourselves, if we activated the ethics of Jesus.

There is another way to look at everything, then another way, and another, and on and on.


Thursday, July 20, 2023

After This Life

Perhaps because of my experience last week, I have been contemplating life here and what comes next.

Plato and Socrates played important roles in our foundations of thought, including in the formation of early Christian thought. What were their basic premises about what  happens after this life?

The basic idea was that possibly the soul and the body were two different things, and death was the soul leaving the body. Then the soul had to go through some purification to get ready to return to earth and try to do better or to go somewhere else.

Even if this were not the case, it is better to live a good and honest life and do one's best to be a good person.

In general, I think these possibilities make much more sense than what emerged centuries after Jesus of a violent and horrible deity that delighted in obscene tortures of those misguided souls who didn't march to some ignorant theologian's musings turned edicts.

Sometimes I feel upset for God for the horrible things made up about the One said to be pure unconditional Love. In what way does obscene torture speak of unconditional love, except in the mind of the psychopathic killer? I also feel sad for the people who actually believe the misguided men who made that all up as well as other fantastic and wild ideas that have nothing to do with Jesus and his life and teaching.

Mark is the oldest Gospel by far, written sometime after the destruction of the Jewish Temple and much of Jerusalem in 70 CE. It's not written during Jesus' lifetime of course, but at least 40 years later. It's not by an Aramaic speaker, but a Greek speaker. It's written somewhere in the Mediterranean area by an unknown author (the Gospels were given names sometime after 150). We don't have any original copies, only copies of copies of copies. But at this time, this is the best we have.

Try an experiment. Pretend you have not read the other parts of the New Testament, and just read Mark. Just read Mark for a month or two and let just Mark tell you what he understands about Jesus. Don't add details you might "know" from the other Gospels, written later by the way, between 85 and 100 or maybe 120 according to some scholars. Try to understand what this first Gospel that we have is saying on its own. Try to peel away the man-made theologies laid upon it by later men. 

I am very interested in seeking Truth, in trying to understand Jesus without centuries of misguided and sometimes evil people making up stuff about his teaching and him. I am seeking to believe Jesus rather than believe in the made up theologies. I am seeking to live according to his moral and ethical teachings. I am seeking to peel the layers away that obscure him. I hope you will join me. Maybe it's time we save Jesus.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Life Continues- Here and Beyond

 "Life Continues" is a saying of one of my soul sisters, Evelina. This week has brought that to the fore in my life.

Wednesday we went for a "meet the new doctor" appointment, our doctor of 25 years had retired. I had some chest pains, she had her staff give me an EKG, and she called 911. Firemen and paramedics filled her offices, and I was whisked to the hospital in an ambulance. In emergency the EKG showed the same blip as in the doctor's office, so they admitted me for observation, which turned into 3 days and a number of tests.

It began to feel like a mission experience. I often say that wherever we are, we need to remember we are ambassadors for Christ. I was given the opening to speak to quite a few people who told me how inspiring our conversation was and how it made them want to do more and be better. From the paramedic in the ambulance to the nurses to the cleaner to the techs, I had this opportunity to hear their stories and share a bit. It almost felt magical.

Then yesterday I had the second half of the nuclear stress test. They put radioactive liquid in my veins and then a chemical that makes you feel like you're running a marathon. My chest expanded, my head expanded, then I broke into a sweat and was dizzy. Then my blood pressure dropped low and both numbers were almost equal. Suddenly the room and all the people started going away from me, getting smaller and smaller. Then I saw a white veil, a sort of filmy curtain between us. I felt immense peace. I was safe and in a seemingly familiar place. Then I was back in the room, they had put the bed so the head was way down and the foot way up. They put me on a saline drip. And my blood pressure was rising. They had me drink some caffeine. And one by one, the people left the room.

Gilbert, my beloved and kind husband, was in the room. He saw what was going on, saw my stark white face, and he began praying. I am sure he is part of the reason I didn't keep on going away, as well as the medical personnel of course.

So, it seems that God is not done with me yet, and I have more to do here. I am so very grateful for the wonderful/awful week I just lived. How blessed I am. Life Continues.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Apocalypse or Not?

In historical scholarship, Jesus is often spoken of as an apocalyptic prophet. His ministry began with the fiery apocalyptic John the Baptist. He spoke of the Son of Man coming to end the violent and evil world and establish a Kingdom of God free of evil and suffering. His later followers taught he was returning soon, in their lifetimes.

The Cambridge University dictionary defines apocalypse: a very serious event resulting in great destruction and change.

But what if it was a different kind of apocalypse of which he spoke? What if the end of the evil world could come simply by living the things he taught? How earth shattering would it be if people began to live with love and forgiveness and generosity? What a death blow to evil it would be if we all lived as he taught!

One of the big hints about this is his story about the sheep and the goats coming to judgement day. The sheep are welcomed in, he says not because they believed in him. They were welcomed because they took care of him, giving him food and drink and comfort. They said they didn't remember doing that. His response was that whoever they did it to, it was like doing it for him.  The goats were directed to hell, and they asked why. He told them it was because they didn't give him food and drink and comfort, etc. 

That ties in with James' idea that faith without works is dead. How we live, the choices we make, change everything. It's not claiming Jesus lives, it's living as Jesus called us to live. We can be made new. The world can be made new.

It's not likely, but imagine with me the powerful, the greedy, the mean spirited, the evil doers suddenly had the fog drop from their eyes, ears, hearts, souls - and they turned to live whole- heartedly out of Jesus' playbook. That would be the most amazing apocalypse ever. The end of all that is evil!

It is not likely, but it is at least remotely possible. It begins with you and me. Can we live as he taught us? Can we begin a ripple that reaches out to include more and more? Can we begin the apocalypse of love and not the one of destruction toward which the "leaders" on our lovely planet seems bent on creating? 

Ask yourself, which apocalypse do you want to be part of?

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

The Many Faces of Sin

The New Testament term for sin, hamartia, comes from the sport of archery; literally, it means “missing the mark.” New Testament sources teach that we suffer distress, mental and physical, because we fail to achieve the moral goal toward which we aim: “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.” --- Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels

I have read this idea many times and places over the years. I'm currently rereading this book, and it seemed to me we might discuss this idea.

The idea of sin has occupied the hearts and minds of people for eons. Some claim it to be the work of evil forces. Some say one dip into it means torture for all eternity. Some have said all you have to do is pay a penance, and you're off the hook. Some say all you have to do is believe a certain way or in a certain person.

What is defined as sin is different in different times and cultures. What is defined as sin right now varies wildly. In general, the 10 Commandments have been a basic guide to stay out of sin for many people, and as an under-girding for much of the world.

Considering the archery reference for sin is incredibly helpful. It takes sin out of some dark metaphysical place to personal evaluation and personal responsibility. When we do not honor our own moral compass, we create problems at every level for ourselves and others. And then we can re-aim, try again and get closer and closer to that which our inner self knows is the right and moral thing to do and to be.

My long time guide to check oneself out comes to play here  - What would I think or do or say if I stood in the Presence of God? For I do in fact stand there now and always.

Monday, July 3, 2023

Knowing

Gnosis, knowing, insight, intuition, epiphany, and other words related, have been the ground out of which great art, literature, science and human progress have sprung. 

The Gnostics, early Christians, later became known as heretics because of the Imperial need to control. The empires could not allow a variety of opinions, so a rigid belief structure was put in place. Believe this or lose everything, often even your life. 

Many weird stories were made up about the "heretical" Gnostics and concerted smear campaigns ensued . Sometimes the weird stories were true about a small group or two, but everyone was included whether or not they fit. Elaine Pagels wrote about Gnostics:

On this basis, like artists, they express their own insight—their own gnosis—by creating new myths, poems, rituals, “dialogues” with Christ, revelations, and accounts of their visions. Like Baptists, Quakers, and many others, the gnostic is convinced that whoever receives the spirit, communicates directly with the divine. One of Valentinus’ students, the gnostic teacher Heracleon (c. 160), says that “at first, people believe because of the testimony of others …” but then “they come to believe from the truth itself.”

It occurred to me that Gnosis in general needs to be encouraged, right now. We would do well to turn within and listen. There are many far fetched  notions being flung around currently. Many of us feel queasy about at least some of them, but we haven't grounded ourselves in our own knowing. The Gnostics taught that we can tune in to The Spirit, The Divine Presence and be enlightened and guided directly. I know this to be true. 

My suggestion is - select some notion, take it within, sit quietly asking for insight about it, listen, journal about it, read what you wrote. Consider it. Is there more you need to know, or are you at peace about it now? If you need to know more, repeat the exercise the next day. Listen to your inner knowing, your gnosis.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Our Bodies

As the various systems of my body begin to fail, some words came to me to share with you, dear soul friends.

Our bodies are temporary appendages for our souls. They are sort of like spacesuits for our souls, so that we can navigate here on earth in this dimension. 

They can also be considered to be precious gifts. As such, it is important for us to honor and cherish them. It is important to treat them well and take care of them the best we can. Feed them with the most nutritious foods you can, rest them, take them for walks, avoid harmful substances, enjoy them.

I know the young think themselves invincible, or at least there is time to later in life to take better care. But that later in life time comes quicker than imagined. And there we are with variously damaged bodies, not able to live as fully as we want in our waning years.

I don't know what caused me to have Guillain Barre, or Conn's disease, or low thyroid, or other maladies, or now stage 3 kidney disease, but I do know I have not always taken perfect care of this beloved body. 

This body has taken me on many adventures, tasted many foods, heard glorious sounds, viewed breathtaking beauty, enjoyed pleasures of this earth. And I am grateful to it. I will do the best I can to take care of it for whatever time I have left๐Ÿ’—

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Can We Figure It All Out?

All of my life I've had this need from deep inside of me to figure things out. How does this happen?  How does this work? What happened? What is the truth about ______? How can I make a positive difference with my life? etc. etc. etc.

I know that it is highly unlikely for anyone to arrive at ultimate and final truth and understanding. For one thing, everything is complex and at some level connected to everything else. For another, we don't have access to all information, all facts, all data about anything. But still, my mind quests after understanding as much as I possibly can.

This requires me to be willing to give up a cherished belief when I discover that it does not hold up under scrutiny, new information, the application of logic or one of life's great aha moments. I have long realized that The More is pure Intelligence, and has no notion that I should not use my portion of it. By virtue of being a part of the grand scheme of the universe, a part of The More, I am actually obliged to hold any little partial truth lightly, always willing to let it go when a bit of more understanding strikes.

It is always startling to me when I come across a person operating under the dictum - My mind's made up, don't confuse me with facts. Or a person who deliberately skews the facts to shore up their particular point of view. There seems to be some, perhaps delusional, part of me that seems to think that everyone wants to know the truth and grow and expand. 

How do we navigate this path with a wide spectrum of truth seekers, sometimes truth seekers,  plus those with closed hearts, minds, ears - those who are spiritually and intellectually lame? It is not useful to have heated arguments. That just takes people to the limbic brain of emotions and no logic and opens no minds to the joys of an actual quest for truth.

Example is one way. I've been told numerous times that I am believed because people watch how I walk my life, and I am congruent, and so what I say carries some weight.

Gently redirecting the conversation sometimes works. Yes, and there is another way to look at that too, for example....

Sometimes a tiny tidbit of education is helpful. A day or so later, email a bit of information, such as I found this, and the majority of scholars say....  It's something to consider.

I often think of Jesus saying The well have no need of a physician. The intellectually closed and lame need gentle surgery to open them to possibilities beyond their closed systems. Their closed hearts cannot just be ripped open.

Of course, there are also those grand epiphany moments in life, when all of a sudden a person KNOWS. They seemingly happen on their own, perhaps facilitated by a lifetime of little hints that suddenly come together.

To answer my question in the title - NO. We cannot figure out all of that which is infinite by nature, if we could, then it would be finite. We have to come to be comfortable in the quest and enjoy the ride. And, we have to allow others to be wherever they are on their journey of awakening without making everyone with a different awareness bad and wrong. We're just all here on earth to grow and expand and above all to learn unconditional love.

I send you my love, dear friends across this little blue planet. How blessed I am to be here with you.

 



 

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Portable Hell

In recent days, I have been distraught, close to overwhelmed by seemingly intractable circumstances that go on and on. This week I notice my patience shredding and who I am and how I deal with it all simply not me. Also, I have been having flashbacks of some of the horrors in my past. I share this to set the scene.

At 4 something this morning I awoke sneezing and then shifted into crying. I began to pray. I had a vision that is the point of this post.

Hell - a pit, darkness, fire, ice, torture, nightmares, separation from God, in old English being walled off.

Not a place we go after leaving earth, a place we carry with us. The pit is in us. The memories torture us. We know the ice of fear, the hot flames of despair, the terrible stabs of betrayal, the ache of failures, the terror of separation from all that is good and holy. Hell is portable. We torture ourselves with our memories.

Eastern Christianity teaches Jesus harrowed hell and took all of the souls with him at his resurrection. I saw this in my vision, as also an individual event. I saw the Christ bring Light and clear out our own portable hells, when we invite him in sincerely and willingly. I experienced my hell being wiped clean. This morning is a very new day.

"Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest."

Monday, June 12, 2023

Marcus Borg Brings Jesus and Buddha together

If Jesus and Buddha were to meet, they would recognize one another as fellow prophets because they were teaching the same truths.

This fascinating book by one of the primo Christian experts, Marcus Borg, compares the lives and teachings of two of the most enlightened beings in our known history.

I used to do a workshop comparing what great spiritual lights said on specific subjects from Lao Tse, Buddha, Jesus to various mystics. My premise, now and then, is that they/we tap into the same Cosmic Energy. Some are more fully connected than others of course. And, furthermore, they all agree with one another in amazing ways, so that if I gave you a quote, it could have been said by any of these great lights and be consistent with their teachings.

It is enriching for our souls to know what is the spiritual consensus across the eons of time and the expanses of cultures. It is freeing to go beyond tribal limitations and embrace the workings of the Divine in hearts and minds everywhere and at all times.

Just a couple of examples: 

Jesus “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

 Buddha “Consider others as yourself.”

Jesus “Give to anyone who requests it.” 

Buddha “Give when you are asked.”

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Seek Truth or ...

Lately I have seen numerous examples of seemingly intelligent people seeking to cling to biases, preconceived beliefs, and to ignore or shout down what would more likely be the truth. In a state of cognitive dissonance, they become agitated.

As a person who has sought, searched for, closer and closer approximations to truth, it is astounding to watch. It is fascinating, and yet disturbing. It is almost as if the particular bias is a religious tenet of some high and noble, but yet unknown religion. The mythical altar is strewn with protections of the sacred tenets.

I ask you, please, if you have some belief or other that you protect from all questions and alternative ideas, go for it - dare to consider it from other perspectives. If it is true, it will hold up to any investigation. If it is not true or partially true, it is best to know. Dare to question. Step out of any box that restrains. Be all you can be. Be free.

Monday, June 5, 2023

This Struck Me This Morning - Reaching Me From the 200's CE

We worship, therefore, the Father of truth, and the Son, who is the truth; and these, while they are two, considered as persons or subsistences, are one in unity of thought, in harmony and in identity of will. ---Origin

Oh my goodness, I love this point! It makes so much sense when considered with many things Jesus is reported to have said, such as: The kingdom is within you, Greater things than this shall you do, (calling us) brothers and sisters, Our Father, It's not I it's the Father within doing the work, etc.

Jesus as one in unity of thought with God and in harmony and in identity of will with God, that's what he asked us to do, to become. That's what it means to be a follower of The Way.

As Paul suggested, we need  to put away childish things, to stop looking through a dark glass and see face to face, and we need to be transformed by renewing our minds.

We need to do the spiritual work to move in the direction of unity with The Divine One. Listen with your heart...

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Dark Nights of the Soul

One of my favorite writers of the 20th century is Rufus Jones. As a person who has walked, or sometimes crawled, through the valley. I appreciate this quote.

If you have not clung to a broken piece of your old ship in the dark night of the soul, your faith may not have the sustaining power to carry you through to the end of the journey.

I know for certain that every valley, every dark night of the soul, has been my teacher. Every wounding makes me stronger in its healing. There have been times I have barely been able to cling to the broken pieces of my faith. But I did manage, sometimes as a seeming miracle that I held on at all.

I also know that without those times, I  would not have been able to go through recent dark nights - I was given the sustaining power to keep on going by the faith developed in me by previous dark nights. I know I'll be able to be sustained for the remaining course of this life journey.

Perhaps there is a new way to look at your valleys too. May God bless you and lift you.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Origen vs Celsus

I have been wading through the long argument of Origen as he refutes Celsus' attack on Christianity. Just to refresh the memory, Origen wrote in the 200's and Celsus in the 100's. It seems to me that Celsus' arguments must have had a continual negative effect for Christianity, a thorn in its side, for such a renowned man as Origen to write a refutation in exquisite detail, seemingly sentence by sentence, a hundred years later.

This morning I read several things I want to share with you.

He mentions that some of the Bible is written as a Hebrew figure of speech, some as allegory, and all so that people at different levels can understand from where they are, that is, the simple at the surface level and deeper and deeper as spiritual senses develop.

One figure of speech mentioned is the famous the eye of the needle for a camel to go through. He says it is a figure of speech meaning the straight and narrow. He says the rich and the poor are not what can be seen, but rather rich or poor in wisdom, understanding, and discernment.

Apparently. Celsus said that the saying It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom God, is from Plato. Plato said it thusly, It is impossible to be distinguished for goodness and at the same time riches. Origen's argument is that Jesus was not acquainted with classics or any literature for that matter. The flaw I see in that argument is that he was apparently raised in Nazareth, a short 4 kilometer walk to Sephoris, the capital of Galilee and on a caravan trail. His father, a builder, would have found work there, as would his apprentice son. There a person would be exposed to many people and many ideas. I imagine he would have heard any number of exciting ideas discussed and argued from people of many diverse regions.

Another figure of speech he mentions is from the 18th Psalm, He made darkness his secret place. Origen said that God is hidden from those not ready or are unable to face His splendor and His deepest Truths. This is another example of the message available at different levels to folks at different levels. 

Later, Jesus took his disciples apart to teach them sayings the multitude were not ready for, so he obviously taught at various levels.

Oh Divine Presence, prepare our hearts to receive ever deeper and deeper understanding of You. Lead us on Your Path, leading us ever farther. Open our inner senses to You. Lead us away from the simple surface to dwell in Understanding and Communion with You.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Ego --- Go

Some thoughts from Aldous Huxley in his book "The Divine Within", which I am re-reading, seemed to be so pertinent to the current times as I read them this morning. Let's consider them.

A measure of detachment from egoism and alter-egoism is essential even if we would make contact with the secondary aspects of cosmic reality. Thus, in order to be fruitful, science must be pure. That is to say, the man of science must put aside all thoughts of personal advantage, of “practical” results, and concentrate exclusively on the task of discovering the facts and coordinating them in an intelligible theory.

This statement seems obvious. It is what I learned in the sciences in the university. Science is neutral, only seeking the truth about whatever it studies. It puts forth hypotheses, tests them, reaches tentative conclusions, then tests those, until a reasonable certainty can be found.

But some "science" these days is the slave of those in power. It is bent to conclude what those in power want it to say. Absurd things are spoken of as "science." They even have the gall to say absurd, obviously untrue things, with a straight face. The egos of the power hungry, the power drunk, shout down actual science.

Why are such absurd things happening here in this advanced society? 

There are many hypotheses. Some are wild conspiracy theories. Some are timid. It has been my practice to look for patterns in all manner of things. What do the patterns of the elites portray as we look at them? 

Most go against the long established understandings of science, philosophy, psychology and the study of history. Most have a control feature. Most have an upending of freedoms at their root. Most create confusion. Most have a very dark side. Many are part of the global push to one world government, ruled by a few. Most have a Marxist theology. Most follow the pattern laid down by Saul Alinksy in his "Rules for Radicals."

The patterns that are there for all who look and are willing to actually see, are dangerous to our way of life. If you and I are awake and see, then it is up to us to awaken others.

Look. Ask God for Guidance.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Navigating Being Human

There are many writings and speakers across history who have declared tenets for the ideal human life. They pretty much agree that we should avoid wickedness and strive toward virtue.

However, there are many, maybe most, people who struggle with living a virtuous life, and quite a few who just give up. There are, of course, some who have not significantly been exposed to the ideal. Then there is the problem of defining virtue and giving help in avoiding the pitfalls that lead us astray.

In my study and experience, there are several essentials to living a virtuous life: kindness, integrity, service, generosity, a spiritual underpinning, a community of others also striving toward ideals - all with generous splashes of forgiveness, self-reflection, critical thinking, and a commitment to life-long learning. 

Our egos can lead us astray. We can become boastful, judgmental, and even cruel. This especially so when the ego labels some as "other" and therefore not worth receiving kindness or consideration. Or when we elevate ourselves as higher than or better than the "others."

To protect our ego positions we can engage in confirmation bias. We ignore any study or opinion or person not in agreement with our positions, and we recite and pay attention only to those in lockstep with us. We even out and out lie to demonize others and to elevate ourselves. This results in a lot of negativity including fear, persecution, violence, and the shutting down of free speech.

We become easy prey for the propagandists and demagogues of this world who have gone far astray from the ideal human.

The question I think of is - then how do we help those who have gone so far astray as to be a danger to themselves, others, and even our civilization?

So far, I don't think anyone has come up with a workable and useful solution to bring all those who have gone into the far reaches of negativity back into the human ideal, or at least moving in that direction. 

Of course, we strive to keep moving in that direction too, knowing full well we have broken places in us that are in need of care and healing. 

While that is important, that doesn't solve the larger problem of restoring those with a cruel, violent and criminal sickness and who do not know or care about the ideal human they can be. They obviously don't know about our responsibility here to develop and be all we can be, and that we will be held accountable when we pass from this earth.

I know there is some success in prisons where religious groups lead studies and discussions. There is quite a lot of success in 12 Step programs helping people rise out  of various addictions. There are some effective groups restoring those who have been trafficked and in prevention of it. There are those who see and do something about it.

But nevertheless, my heart breaks to see the horrors of war right now, or the rampaging youth destroying buildings and carrying out armloads of stolen merchandise, or the shootings and stabbings going on in neighborhoods and parties and even on the streets. So much is going on in plain sight that is the opposite of the ideal human.

Won't you pray with me this week for wisdom and for an answer, or more likely answers, to be found? There has to be a way through and out of this. I offer a simple prayer:

Oh Divine Presence, You have inspired many over the centuries to show us Your Way, the Way we as humans are to be and live. You spoke through Jesus great and wondrous words. Help us to hear with our inner spiritual ear, to see with our inner spiritual eye, and to heal our lameness in our spiritual walk. Grant us Wisdom to live as closely as possible to the ideal You have shown us. Guide us to find a way to restore those who have gone astray. We are open to You and are thankful to know that because You are everywhere present, You have heard our prayer and are even now in this moment in process of answering. We listen. We seal this with the ancient seal of faith, Amen, Amen and Amen

Monday, May 1, 2023

A New Way to Look at Eyes to See, etc.....

I sent this quote from Origen out to some of my friends, as I find it fascinating. Part of his works include detailed arguments against Celsus who wrote extensively against Jesus and Christianity. In this section he is discussing Celsus' argument that Jesus was just another sorcerer and his disciples were low class and charlatans. Here he gives what seems to me a profound thought that I don't believe I've heard from others. 

I would say, moreover, that, agreeably to the promise of Jesus, His disciples performed even greater works than these miracles of Jesus, which were perceptible only to the senses. For the eyes of those who are blind in soul are ever opened; and the ears of those who were deaf to virtuous words, listen readily to the doctrine of God, and of the blessed life with Him; and many, too, who were lame in the feet of the "inner man," as Scripture calls it, having now been healed by the word, do not simply leap, but leap as the hart, which is an animal hostile to serpents, and stronger than all the poison of vipers.  And these lame who have been healed, receive from Jesus power to trample, with those feet in which they were formerly lame, upon the serpents and scorpions of wickedness.

Blind in soul - how powerful a thought. Across history, and maybe even more so currently, there are so very many blind in soul. There are so many who ignore spirituality, morals, laws, duties, and who instead are busy with things that are opposite of all moral ideals. I would say that not only are many blind in soul, they are not interested in or aware of soul. What a powerful thing to be able to heal the blind in soul and lead them to see from a spiritual lens.

Deaf to virtue and God - Perhaps a large number of people have tuned out virtue and God. This is for various reasons. They are turned off to what seems mythical to them in the world of science and "modern" knowledge. They fill their ears with temporary things only, not aware of the eternal journey upon which they tread. What a wonderful thing to be able to open the inner ear to the More.

Lame to the feet of the inner person - Many may not be aware of the inner power to trample wickedness and negativity. to smash addictions of all kinds, to stamp down desires that lead astray, to walk over the temptations of this earth and walk with the Christ within. How exciting it would be to heal such inner lameness.

I offer this prayer for myself and you:

Oh Divine Presence, I come this moment to seek Your healing. Open my inner eye wherever it is blind. Open my inner ear wherever it is deaf. Open my inner feet wherever they are lame. Restore me to fullness of life. Lead me in Your Ways in all I think and say and do. I am filled with thanksgiving, for I know You hear my prayer and even in this very moment healing has begun. I ask this in the name of Christ and seal it with the ancient seal of faith, Amen, Amen and Amen.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Reprise

 I am in the process of turning these posts into a book, which I hope to have done in a few months.

I only share what comes to me as urgently needing to be written, I feel like much of what I write comes through me, not made by me and my individual intellect. Not exactly channeled, but from something, someplace More than just me.

I am finding myself re-inspired by the writings I have posted over the years. They read in such a way as I think to myself, I really wrote THAT!?  I hope you will go back and read some from earlier years and find inspiration there too.

Thank you for walking this journey with me.


Saturday, April 22, 2023

Three Levels

So many interesting thoughts surge through me as I read the works of Origen. I want to discuss with you today one particular concept.

He says that just as humans are body, mind, and spirit, so are the scriptures! They are layered so that they speak to people who are at different levels.

The body level is where simple people take things literally, even the most absurd, and never go on to deeper understanding. He says that the law of Moses, for example, says not to eat goatstags, griffins or vultures. He notes that there are no such things as goatstags, no one has seen a griffin, and not even starving people have ever eaten vultures. So this has to mean something other than at the body level. Also, laws like the ten commandments are needed for the simple people at this level. He discusses many things in both Testaments that are absurd at the literal level. Yet, simple people accept them.

The soul level is where people go deeper. They seek to go beyond the surface. They know there is more to life than the physical. They understand the ten commandments are important, but they are unlikely to do those things anyway. They know they are accountable to a higher power for how they live. They discuss philosophy and other deeper things.

The spirit level is where people are in touch with higher wisdom. They seek to understand the allegories in the scriptures and know the mysteries contained therein can only be discovered by contemplation, study, and listening deeply. They also know that because God is infinite, all of the mystery cannot be understood, but they keep moving toward deeper and more full understanding even so.

If one has a goal to awaken spiritually in this lifetime, it may be important to consider these three and endeavor to move to the next higher one.

Monday, April 17, 2023

Triggered/Buttons Pushed Tyranny vs Freedom and Self-responsibility

We used to talk about getting rid of our buttons, taking back our power, or as Wayne Dyer said, "Pulling Your Own Strings." It was a time of understanding our personal responsibility and our power to change our experience of life.

Today, the "woke" crowd screams "I'm triggered," and expects everyone else to change. The despots want to throw tyranny on others, expecting them to jump to their demands and stop triggering them. Irrational, as Dr. Spock would have said.

What I have learned, among other things, is that it is not possible to get everyone else to agree with us 100% or even close to that, to get them to do and be as we say we want, or to control them in any meaningful way.

But, I have learned that we can control ourselves. We can stop being puppets on other people's strings. We can stop giving our power away. We can become responsible for ourselves.

How can we get there, if we are stuck in the powerless position of expecting others to shape up? First, we check our self-talk. What are we saying to ourselves? Is it about how others need to change or about how we need to not be so sensitive, or maybe about how we just need to brush the dust off of our feet and move on?  Is our self-talk empowering or disempowering? Does it lead us to magnificence or dependence on the whims of others? If it leads to not-so-good places, change it - reword it.

We need to observe our reactions. I learned a very long time ago that if a particular criticism is invalid, it is not useful and is needless to get upset over it. If it has some validity to it, then we would be foolish to ignore it, as we could improve by heeding it.

If someone states a different opinion than ours, how do we react? Do we get upset? Do we argue or name call or remove them from our life? Or, do we say, that is very interesting, I've not looked at it that way, tell me how you arrived at that?  Is there room in our heart for others to see from a different vantage point?

Do we view others as "teachers" or just "other?" Do we view others as spiritual beings having a human experience with all its ups and downs? Or do we judge others, speak negatively about them, and even enjoy their foibles and troubles?

Do we view everyone as a Divine Child of the More, neither greater nor lesser than us? Do we understand the concept of Oneness, of One Creator of us all?

A conscious life takes some work, that is, we have to be engaged in our own inner process. We have to be aware, to correct our own paths, and to rise above the pitfalls of life rather than wallow in them. 

This self-responsibility leads to freedom. We are no longer puppets on other people's strings.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Origin Still Speaks - Fertile Ground or Rocks

The grand early Christian thinker, the foundation of many understandings of Christian theology, across the many many centuries, speaks to us today via his writings. "The Works of Origin" can be downloaded and considered by anyone interested in delving into the development of Christian teachings. He is part of my study to discover when and why this and that got added to the original teachings of Jesus and the Christ teachings of Paul.

One of the interesting things that I have found is that he frequently quotes the Gospels - some passages worded almost identical to the ones we read today, some identical, and some not in what we have today, that is new to me and not in the current writings we call the Gospels. He develops what he thinks each means in interesting ways, some new to me. Sometimes he adds really interesting perspectives.

One of these is his discussion of Jesus' teaching on seeds falling on various kinds of soil, from fertile to rocky and producing good crops or little or just weeds. He goes on to write of good and bad husbandry. A good farmer tills his ground, takes out rocks and weeds, and tends his seeds and crop. A bad farmer doesn't prepare his soil, just randomly throws seeds, and does not care for them. He says that is how it is with us and spiritual growth. Some of us prepare ourselves to receive spiritual understanding by living virtuously and engaging in spiritual practices. Others are busy with earthly excitements and do not prepare. Included here are those who are said to have a closed or hardened heart, exemplified by the Pharaoh in resistance to Moses. 

To me, that explains a lot of why so few people across history have had genuine spiritual experiences of connection to the More. Today, and maybe always, few know the need and importance of preparing their heart and mind for More. Few seem to know that hole they feel can only be filled with God. Few know of the incredible rewards of walking this life while awake in God. Let us decide this day to be good farmers and prepare the soil of our hearts and minds through virtuous living and spiritual practices. Let's see what happens.

Friday, April 7, 2023

Peace and Spirituality

 Along with love and joy, peace is one of the fruits of the spirit. But it is also one of the roots. In other words, peace is a necessary condition of spirituality, no less than an inevitable result of it. In the words of St. Paul, it is peace which keeps the heart and mind in the knowledge and love of God.   "The Divine Within" Aldous Huxley

I like Huxley's commentary on Paul's Peace. Paul wrote of the fruits of the spirit as indicators of whether we are of that Tree, that God-Tree, that Vine and its Roots. He included Peace as one of those key fruits in at least two ways - to grow spiritually, it is a necessary condition, and Peace is the inevitable result of spiritual growth. 

If we are to take Peace seriously, we need to do an honest self-inventory. Are we peaceful? Do we give ourselves excuses to be not peaceful? Do we blame others and refuse our own responsibility for our unpeacefulness? Do we strive to turn our unpeaceful tendencies around, or do we like to be disruptive and unpeaceful? The chemicals surging through our bodies when we are angry and disruptive can be addictive.

Or, can we honestly say that we are making progress in a life of peace? Can we say that we are more and more at peace? In the arc of our lives, do we see a trend toward peace? How close are we to being peace/Peace that passes understanding? Huxley says that Peace is God, as we cannot actually understand God, but we can live in close harmony.

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me...

Monday, April 3, 2023

Hypothesis Dilemma

No working hypothesis means no motive for research, no reason for making one experiment rather than another, no way of bringing sense or order into the observed facts. 
Contrariwise, too much working hypothesis means finding only what you already know to be there and ignoring the rest. Dogma turns a man into an intellectual Procrustes. He goes about forcing things to become the signs of his word-patterns, when he ought to be adapting his word-patterns to become the signs of things.       
                   ---Aldous Huxley "The Divine Within"

I am re-reading this book, and I came to the above statement in Chapter 1 this morning. It struck me that the second situation is where we currently find ourselves as a culture - with press, government, religion, media, etc etc etc.

The newly emerged "cancel culture" shouts that only the "approved" ideas can be spoken or written. "Don't believe your lying eyes", we used to say. Force your ideas to fit into the "approved" ideas. Shout down others who disagree with you. 

The cherished bedrocks of American life of free speech, inquiry, testing hypotheses, open and honest intellectual debate, innocent until proven guilty, equal justice for all, integrity, work ethic, meritocracy and more are under attack by loud mouth ideologes who require obedience to their Marxist positions.

If we are to preserve our way of life, we must bravely refuse their screams and threats. Our principles are worth standing for and with. We have not always lived up to our ideals, no one has, but we know where to aim and re-aim until we hone in and get ever closer. This wonderful experiment, initiated by our brilliant ancestors, has been a beacon of hope and dreams to the world over our centuries. We must keep that light burning.


Friday, March 31, 2023

The Work of This Life

 "The whole work of this life," he (Augustine) once said, "is to heal the eye of the heart by which we see God."

Such a profound and many layered statement.

Healing our eye, our inner eye/the eye of our hearts, removes distortions, frees us for depths and heights of our life in God, leads us to live the great spiritual truths that now well up from within, from the Kingdom of God within our very souls. Dogmas fall away. Superstition dissolves. We awaken to a new life.

Our healing requires our active participation. As you know, I heartily recommend daily meditation, contemplation, study and prayer. 

I also recommend that we become observers of ourselves in a calm manner, and to reverse any thought, word or deed immediately that is not of the highest, most kind and compassionate. Nip every negativity in the bud, and then reverse it at once. Do not let weeds grow in heart and mind.

Let us become masters of ourselves so that we can be lights unto this weary world.

May God bless you on this journey.๐Ÿ™

Saturday, March 25, 2023

What About This Life?

It seems that people have been trying to figure out what their life is ultimately about since humans first came upon the scene. I sometimes think of Shakespeare's:

 All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances...

We have played many parts in this particular life story in which we are playing currently, or as some suspect are concurrently playing with other stories in other dimensions, or as still others suspect in this chapter of a long string of life stories across the ages - or just maybe all of the above. We cannot be certain, we can only look at mostly circumstantial evidence.

I have read Ian Stevenson's and others' works on reincarnation, and they are quite convincing. There are evidences of it here and there in various scriptures - such as when Jesus asked who do people say I am? (They replied, "Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets."Nevertheless, it is this life of which we are currently aware that is where we can grow, expand, learn, and do. It is this particular life where we can fulfill our assignment/s or not.

We can look for patterns to discern what our assignment/s are. I seem to have born with a dual sign on my back - kick me, rise to the top of whatever you get into. I seem to have had an unusual portion of evil villains, extremely mentally ill people, and people who ask me to lead whatever, and those who hold me up and encourage me. I seem to have been given a double or triple dose of spiritual seeking, intuition, creativity, and resilience.

Sometimes I joke - standing in line, getting ready to come here, I signed up for multiples of everything - heck, I want to get all the karma over with and not necessarily have to come back to this planet again, at least unless I volunteer for some strange reason. But then, there is the odd chance I did volunteer this time.

What do we do with the patterns we see in our lives? 

First of all, I think we have to take the "negative" teachers and do what Job did - keep the faith, stay with God, don't give up. With the "positive" teachers I think we have to do what Jesus did -  don't fall into hubris, stay humble, stay loving, deflect: It's not I, it is the Father within doing the work; your faith made you whole, in the modern vernacular, don't buy your own press.

What difference does it make? That's where a lot of "modern" people, and probably people across history, miss it all. We all leave this stage. We all are accountable for our performances. We all have to experience a life review. We came here to learn. Did we? We came to this particular planet in this particular dimension where the curriculum focuses on love. Did we learn to love, to Be loving, to express compassion and all things related to unconditional love?

If we cannot give a resounding "yes" to the questions that will be coming our way when we leave here, there is time to do some repair work. Honestly survey your life. Are there people who need to be forgiven? Are there some kind and loving things we can do? Where can we be more like a child of God in our words, actions and deeds? What needs to change? Then do it, do it all. Become the best version of yourself.

Monday, March 20, 2023

The Holy Spirit Came When?

This morning I'm reading Origen, known as the first genius of Christian theology (185-253 C.E). One of the things he proposed was that the Holy Spirit came only to rare individuals, such as the prophets, before Jesus' ascent. After the ascent, the Holy Spirit was available to at least all of the followers of Jesus.

While I like a great deal of what Origen said, I disagree with this idea.

First of all, I think it ludicrous to think God, and the voice of Wisdom and Guidance that we now call The Holy Spirit, only became interested in us humans after Jesus left the planet. That God didn't guide people from the very first, but only very much later, is hubris of the first order. Only to "my" group makes no sense.

I heard this week that it is estimated that 99% of all written material from antiquity is lost to us, at least at this point. Civilizations rose and fell. Libraries were burned. Victors wiped out the cultures of the vanquished. History marched on. Some things got incorporated into the culture of the victors, but who knows what and why and how. It melded together or was discarded.

Also, there were very very very few literate people at any given time until quite recently, historically speaking. In the Roman Empire, it is thought that less than 5% of the people were literate. In the Middle Ages literacy was below 20% and did not increase until the Enlightenment and industrialization. 

Even so, we have some examples strewn across history of inspired people other than the Hebrew prophets. There were the well-known, such as Buddha, Lao Tse, Confucious, Plato, Aristotle and others, before Jesus' ascension. We can imagine other people sitting around a campfire, speculating about the big things, such as the meaning of life. And sometimes one or more at each campfire across thousands and thousands of years and all across this planet, had an epiphany, an aha moment that hit them and led them to know more. They couldn't write it down, or even if they could, it disintegrated between then and now or is buried under layers and layers of civilizations built upon other civilizations.

Just in my life, in conversations, people speak of inspired events in their lives, of moments of spiritual understanding and insight. Very few write them down to share with others in the future centuries.

In many of the ancient writings that we do have, Wisdom is spoken of with reverence. It was thought to come to at least some from something More. The Holy Spirit is our Counselor, our Guide, Wisdom expanded beyond our finite understandings. And I fervently believe that It is and was available to all open and seeking souls. May we be so open.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Restoration

Yesterday my only first cousin and I met and hugged and talked for the first time in decades. We had lost touch, and because of Ancestry, we found each other again. He was the closest thing I had to a brother growing up. He's the only person left from my early life. It was wonderful. We will stay in touch.

Now I hope and pray the rest of my life will be restored. I am hoping this was the beginning, and the rest of my family will be restored and my assets returned. Perhaps this was a turning point.

That leads me to more restoration thoughts. Can we restore the original and brilliant teaching of Jesus, stripping away the questionable theologies heaped upon him over the centuries?

Can we restore the dream of so many of us, likely the vast majority of us, for peace. Can the crazed dictators and warmongers be stopped? Can sanity, compassion, dignity, kindness, forgiveness and essential goodness take the lead?

Can we restore logic, science, actual free speech and common sense? Can we stop the Marxist attempt to stop and demean  religion, destroy our values, redefine words, rewrite history, mock biology, and take down all free nations?

I think almost all of us want this restoration. Will we allow the tiny majority to stop us? In a real sense, the future awaits us to decide what it will be.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

A Window to More

This morning a thought came to me that I want to share with you.

Jesus, among other things, was a window through which we can see our potential once we align with the Divine. So many hints - Greater things than this shall you do. Let you light shine. Our Father... 

He modeled what a life is like that is devoted to the Divine by his words and his deeds. He called to us to follow him - not to worship him.

I have a little challenge -re-read the Gospels from the point of view that Jesus is asking you to do greater things, to let your light shine, to remember we have one and the same Father, our Father, to see through the window he opened for us.

As we look through the window of Jesus, what do you see? What calls you to be more? How can you be the person he is presenting as your possible you?

Thursday, March 2, 2023

What Is Your Species?

I came across a twofold thought from Rudolf Steiner this week that tweaked my mind. 

First of all, he said that all humankind is one species. I have long thought that. We have minor variations in size, color of skin and eyes, etc. - surface stuff. But we are all human, of the same species. Or, I might say all children of the Divine and therefore siblings.

It's the second part that gave me a new thought. He went on to say that each individual soul is a species unto itself. No two are alike. We each have a different bio. We each have different memories. We each have our own prism through which we view and evaluate life. We each have known different people. We each have traveled in different times and to different places. We may have lived other lives, none alike. Who we show up to be is a mixture of all of this. 

That makes a lot of sense to me. And yet, I have a caveat - It is amazing how different and yet the same we are. Across history, we see so much that is alike. Humans want to love and be loved. Humans form families and care for one another.  Humans struggle with issues such as greed, lust, fear, hope, generosity, etc. Wars are fought and people die, often for seemingly trivial issues that could be talked out and hugged out.

People have spiritual urges and deep questions. People go on voyages and adventures in search of something. People can be heroic or cowardly, open or closed-minded, faith-filled or fear-filled, and on and on.

And yet, we actually are one species, within which we have unique lives. Perhaps if we looked at one another with this understanding, we could be more charitable in our interactions. 

If we saw that each person is a work of great art, created by God with details sculpted by life, we could love and appreciate one another more.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Meditation Insight re: 23rd Psalm

This morning in my meditation I had a different view of this Psalm come to me, and I want to share it with you.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, [Even though I sometimes resist or even forget]

I shall not want; [But I might want other stuff than what is good for me]

He makes me lie down in green pastures. [Whether or not I want to at that moment]
 
He leads me beside still waters; [Do I have to give up chaos?]

He restores my soul. [Sometimes my weary soul resists being restored for some strange reason]

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. [But sometimes I don't follow]

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, [Sometimes I want to sit down and have a pity party and stay in the valley awhile]

I fear no evil; for thou art with me; [I get scared anyway because I forget God is actually present]

Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. [If I let You, You ward off attacks with your shepherd's staff]

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies; [Even if people are against me, You are with me, showing those enemies they have no power]

Thou anointest my head with oil, [You seal me to You whether or not I deserve it]

My cup overflows. [Sometimes with what I don't want but apparently need]

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; [All things work together for good, even though they might not seem so at the moment]

And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. [No matter where I am in this life or the next, I dwell in the Presence of God]

Amen!

We can, and often do, resist our higher selves, but we don’t have to. Life can lead us to listen and follow.


Monday, February 20, 2023

Is Peace Possible?

As we possibly stand on the edge of WWIII, it seems to me that we who see clearly, we who love God and God's Expression that we call Creation, have some sort of spiritual obligation to stop the destruction and violence that seems to be accelerating.

I have often said that we need to be peaceful ourselves, following the great spiritual maxims to love one another. If we cannot be peaceful in our personal hearts and lives, how can we ask our collective nations to live in peace? We must demonstrate the possibility of peace with our own lives, our words, our actions. Then we must listen to be guided to participate in the world in such a way as to be part of an outbreak of peace on earth.

I am told in prayer that this is no longer just a good idea, it is on the verge of being urgent. We are on the edge of the most terrible war in the history of this planet, war with weapons so destructive that it is unlikely many, if any, will survive. You see it - guns and knives, attacks on each other, a proxy war between the West and Russia in Ukraine, China vowing to take over the world and now talking of supplying Russia with weapons, dictators of the world rattling nukes and voicing threats, leaders in the West talking of the great re-set of global government - and on and on. There is actual danger to us all.

We see all this. What can we do? Do we believe, have faith, that there is a solution, that we, just ordinary people, can do something to turn it all around? 

I don't know the answer. I do believe there is an answer. Let us pray that we will be inspired by The Divine Presence, known by many names, so that we do know what to do, and that we are given the courage to do it.

Oh Divine Presence, Holy One, Creator of all that is, we remember it is in You we live and move and have our being. We remember Your nature is Love. We remember the countless times in history You inspired people to do great deeds, to make meaningful differences, to stand for the right thing. We need You now so very much to bestow Your Wisdom upon us. We need Your Leading, for we alone do not know how to bring Your Peace to this precious earth You have given us. Dear Lord, speak to us, show us the way, Your Way. Rise up at least a few great leaders to inspire the people of this planet to love and save one another, to even embrace one another as children of You, as siblings, as one human race. We raise our voices together as one voice. Hear our prayer. Grant us Wisdom and Courage. May it be so! We seal our prayer with all that is Holy, and with the ancient seal of faith, with the fervor of our very heart of hearts,  Amen, Amen and Amen

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Jesus as THE Door

 Origen said a simple statement that intrigues me:

But it would require both much time and labour to collect together all the titles of the Son of God, such, e.g., as the true light, or the door, or the righteousness, or the sanctification, or the redemption, and countless others.

I don't recall reading this passage before when I first read "The Works of Origen." That is often the way with most any meaningful writing, at different times different things stand out and speak to us.

The idea of the teachings of Jesus being a door to God, to spiritual awakening, to at least partial resolution of my quest is striking me as most profound. I have come to think of his teachings as brilliant, as roadmaps as to how to live my life, to pointers to rise out of ego and into true spiritual steps, to incredibly inspired. To think of the teachings as a door means walking The Way leads me out of my limited consciousness into the infinite possibilities of The More. The teachings are not ends in themselves, but a doorway through which I can enter That to which He is pointing. 

That leads me into Paul's universal understanding of en Christo - the energy that animated Jesus animating us. The Cosmic Christ, the Universal Christ, the Energy of God flowing freely, Guiding, Urging Onward, Loving, the dark glass cleaned, the scales falling from eyes, the veil lifted. Being made new.

The Door!!! Simple yet life-changing.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Thoughts From an Early Christian

Origen lived from about 185-253 C.E. He was influenced by Plato (as were most of the early scholars) and Clement of Alexandria among others. Many have said he is the most brilliant and greatest genius the early church ever produced. On my Kindle this morning I was re-reading a book of his. I chose the below quote to discuss with you this morning.

For so long as any one is not converted to a spiritual understanding, a veil is placed over his heart, with which veil, i.e., a gross understanding, Scripture itself is said or thought to be covered: and this is the meaning of the statement that a veil was placed over the countenance of Moses when he spoke to the people, i.e., when the law was publicly read aloud. But if we turn to the Lord, where also is the word of God, and where the Holy Spirit reveals spiritual knowledge, then the veil is taken away, and with unveiled face we shall behold the glory of the Lord in the holy Scriptures. 

This idea, it seems to me, explains the wide array of opinions and theologies that endeavor to speak of what the scriptures say. They start with the same documents, but do not argue the same understandings. Some say this or that and others say the opposite. What are we to think? Origen notes that reading the scriptures without spiritual understanding is to read them through a veil.

It seems to me, that thought is related to Plato's, Aristotle's, and Augustin's idea that Virtue is necessary to know God. Origin tells us to turn to the Lord and let the Holy Spirit reveal spiritual knowledge.This leads me to Lectio Divina, or Divine Reading. This practice has been used by the mystics across times and places. It is part of "modern" Christian practice, brought forward by Centering Prayer and many current leaders in new Christianity.

With no agenda, no predetermined idea of what it should mean, or what you were told it means - with open heart and mind read a line of scripture slowly, read it word by word, re-read it, sit in the silence and let it roll in your mind. After just a few minutes, write down any ideas that come to you. Just write without evaluating, it's called stream of consciousness. After no more than 5 minutes, then go back and read what you wrote. Often you will be amazed at the thoughts that came through you.

It takes practice, but the veil can be removed. Let those with eyes, see, those with ears, hear.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Revisiting Aristotle

 For some reason, I felt led to re-read Ethics, which I have not read for a very long time. This quote below spoke to me this morning, such that I want to share it with you and also some ideas about it.

And as at the Olympic games it is not the finest and strongest men who are crowned, but they who enter the lists, for out of these the prize-men are selected; so too in life, of the honourable and the good, it is they who act who rightly win the prizes.

Participation has always been a part of my life, of who I am in life. So, I understand Aristotle's idea that you have to enter the Olympics in order to have a chance at winning a medal. You have to enter into life in order to give the gift of self. And, of course, it is a spiritual obligation to give one's best, most honorable, most excellent part of oneself.

The discourse we enter with this wholesomeness offers a lively debate on topics chosen, and after hearing all sides, some consensus may be reached or else more discourse must follow. It seems that the current situation is filled with those who wish to stop such discourse and limit conversation to what those in power have deemed to be the case. It seems to me that this is a move toward authoritarianism, not toward freedom.

There are many challenges in life, personal, spiritual, political, etc. In order to arrive at the best solutions, the best course of action in the midst of the challenges, we would be wise to listen to all points of view with the honest desire to find the best, not to just defend our particular point of view. Courage is needed to rise to these times and be the most sincere and honest people, truly seeking the highest and the best.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

More Regarding "The City of God"

I am finally to a more philosophical part of the book (9,300+ location in the Kindle) - I have persistently slogged through the many arguments against the Greek and Roman gods. And we arrive at his discussion of Plato. He describes Plato as the greatest of the philosophers having travelled Egypt and Italy in search of knowledge and truth, and adding his own brilliance. Here is a quote I'd like us to consider today.

Plato determined the final good to be to live according to virtue, and affirmed that he only can attain to virtue who knows and imitates God,--which knowledge and imitation are the only cause of blessedness.

Augustine makes the point, in agreement with with Plato, that all earthly things change and pass away, but that of the Supreme is eternal and changeless. So, it is useless to seek felicity in the body or mind.

Their conclusion is stated in the above quote. Virtue is what we should use as our guide in order to live in felicity. And virtue, perhaps the glitch for many people, requires us to know and imitate God - and therein is the path to a blessed life.

In many ways, in this "modern" time, virtue is scorned, and the opposite is portrayed in fiction and song and culture. It's a bit like Augustine's pages and pages bemoaning the violence and licentiousness in the theaters of his day. He ties that and the cavorting of the gods as major reasons for the fall of Rome, plus allowing the barbarians to gather at the gates and overwhelm in their invasion.

Many parallels to today it seems. I wonder if we have the wisdom and the will to turn to virtue, to seek to know and imitate God???

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Startling - Augustine's "The City of God"

Near the end of his life, Augustine spent a decade writing his major work, "The City of God." I'm at location 4,900+ out of 29,000+ locations on my Kindle, and he still hasn't given much in the way of his Christian theology, for which he is most famous.

His beginning is odd. I'm not sure - stoic, fatalist, or just coldly observant. He writes at the beginning of this book of the sacking of Rome that went on in his lifetime, beginning in 410 C.E. This book was completed in 426 C.E. in Hippo where he lived. He writes of the huge numbers of deaths in Rome and says things like They were going to die anyway, sooner or later, for all die. He writes of the stacks and stacks of corpses and says things like Dead bodies feel no sensations, so it really doesn't matter they are not yet buried. For someone who is going to be sainted, this seems oddly lacking in compassion, although technically accurate.

I guess this fits in with the next sections and premises. Rome and Greece have been wicked, violent, licentious, while true to their gods who were either ineffective in protecting them or were demons. He argues through huge mountains of data regarding wars and insidious attacks and murders and intrigues and horrible things in the history of these powerful nations. He indicates that there is a popular point of view that they were sacked because of Christianity and the people's slacking away from their traditional gods. Augustine, in excruciating detail, debunks this theory.

I look forward to getting to the point where he feels his case is laid sufficiently and can go forward explaining his view of Christianity. So far, in his defense of Christianity, he has made a few comments such as Christians would not behave so. He has made a point that I have made from time to time, that once Christianity became an imperial religion, its nature and teaching changed. I personally work to peel the imperial stamp and theology away, and to go back to the brilliant teachings of Jesus.

I also see in the history of Rome some disturbing parallels to our current situation as a nation and as Western civilization. I am reminded of the old adage He/She who does not know history is condemned to repeat it.