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Sunday, December 31, 2023

At Least Consider This

If you are not a serious scholar of religion, you may not know this. The scholars have many viewpoints about the Bible. Historically there have been fiery debates, violence and wars over divergent understandings of what was or was not meant by various sections. Within the Bible there are not homogenous stances, but often widely different statements, sometimes opposite statements.

This has led a growing number of people to just throw the whole thing out. If you are one of those people, please consider what I am going to share today.

Context is important and affects everything. What era is it - Iron Age, Bronze Age, Greek/Hellenistic Age, Roman, etc? Who was writing? How long after the fact was it written? Is our thinking about it mostly influenced by later philosophers or theologians? How do we know what we think we know?

For me, the crucial issue is the New Testament. Jesus's teaching has been the guide for my life. I am convinced over and over again that by all of us actually living his teaching, we would bring forth the kingdom of heaven here on earth - peace, loving kindness, end of poverty and hunger, etc. 

Let's go back to the first century Roman Empire - brutality controlled society, literacy at 5-10%, poverty for the vast majority, dirty, smelly, short life expectancy, etc. Into this came Jesus's message. The people called him Rabbi and some called him Messiah, King of the Jews, the one to sit on the throne of David. Only the Roman Emperor could be ruler, no exceptions. They crucified all who fought their rule, thousands of them. They only crucified for sedition. Jesus was crucified. They thought they were done with him.

But, he appeared to people after he was crucified. His followers grew instead of disappearing. People told stories about him. Those who had heard him in person shared what they remembered of what he taught. The stories spread around the Mediterranean area. Peop!e who could write and could afford papyrus wrote down the stories they heard. Since they were in different areas, some heard other stories and wrote them down.  Some were copied and shared. 

Eventually, some were lost and so no longer copied, and later in the 4th century and beyond, some were destroyed because the people in charge didn't like them. Some were buried to save them. Scholars knew about some of them because earlier writers mentioned them or quoted parts of them. 

Starting in the 19th century, archeology became a thing and parts of some of discarded writings started to be found. The big find in 1945 was in Nag Hammadi. Some of the Gospels found had been mentioned very early, as in the first century. The Gospel of Thomas, for example, has been dated by many historians/scholars as old as the Gospels in the Bible. It has 114 sayings of Jesus, half of which are in the Gospels in the Bible.

I have gone on a long while here, and I could continue. But I want to ask you to consider that through all of this and more, a string of the life and teachings of Jesus has made it here to us in the 21st century with his core teachings intact. 

Whether you call him teacher/rabbi, savior, or both, he is here and can open our hearts and lives to a bigger life with The Divine Presence, The More, The God. 

In his name, I ask that God awaken us this very day, the last day of 2023, so that we walk into 2024 living and loving the teachings of the amazing man from Galilee. Come into our hearts Lord Jesus.


Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Monolithic or Not?

This morning I was praying for guidance about someone with whom I had a conversation yesterday. He is 1,000% sure he is right about everything. He is aggressive in his conversation and hostile to any other viewpoint, so not at all convincing about his points of view. He does not have the magnetic draw that Truth has.

I know there is so very much we do not know. With so many holes in our knowledge and understanding, it is quite unlikely that we can be absolutely definitive about anything. It seems to me that we need to be open and questioning while living and making choices with our best guesses. As you know, my yardstick is the teaching of Jesus.

I also look for patterns that seem consistent and possibly mostly true. My dad said little quips that seemed mostly true like you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, you can do anything you make your mind up to do, still water runs deep. 

The great religions and philosophies that we know about teach some form of karma, sowing and reaping, so some form of personal responsibility for one's life choices.

But there are holes in it all. I don't see how we can be responsible for seemingly random occurrences or other people's choices that affect us. We can be responsible for our responses to it all though.

Maybe the yin yang symbol is a good explanation of some of it. In light there is a seed of darkness. In darkness there is a seed of light. Little to nothing on earth is all anything. Everything can change, everything is in the process of change.

There have been great holy men and women across history. They thought they were teaching great truths that could lift others and that others could understand and live by. But along came the less enlightened who diluted and twisted the great teachings into strange shapes and shadows.

I can imagine the horror Jesus must experience as he watches his holy teaching of love, forgiveness, generosity, care for others, healing, prayer, meditation, oneness with God, etc into wars, pogroms, gas chambers, slavery, all manner of violence and tortures for those with different theologies - all claiming to be following  Him.

It seems to me nothing on earth is monolithic. There are many ways to look at anything here. Maybe we could be more charitable to our companions on this journey on earth. Maybe we could be more humble and give our egos a rest.



Saturday, December 23, 2023

Interesting or Liberating or Shattering?

I have recently heard a discussion regarding the opposite perspectives of  the Gospel of John and the Synoptic Gospels as well as the Gospel of Thomas.

I had not really defined it as such, but now that I've seen it, I can't unsee it.

The Synoptics and Thomas come from the understanding that the Kingdom of God is Light and is within. Let your light shine... You have come from the Light and are Light... the Kingdom is within... etc etc etc

John comes from the point of view it is outside a person and has to be gotten, achieved, received, or gained by  belief in one outside of self. 

Which is true changes religion and therefore life. 

If we don't have the Light, it's pretty scary. Who can we trust to tell us how to get it? If we don't have Light, how can we even be alive? What energy energizes us, if it is not Divine Light within?  How can our Light go out if we don't have it to begin with?

If we have Light, it's a matter of tuning in to it and letting it guide us. Its the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom within, the Father doing the work with and through us.

It seems to me that the authors of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and Thomas were onto something wise and profound and true.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Faith - Works

 Note - You may notice that I have switched to a larger font. My macular degeneration has degenerated, and so I need a bigger font to see what I am writing.

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James, the Righteous, the brother of Jesus, the leader of the Jesus movement after Jesus left, yes that James, told us that faith is dead, if it does not lead us to do good works. He implied that faith is a verb and not a noun.

For as far back as I can remember, I have done my best to live that teaching. Yet I see and hear so many who claim to be followers of Jesus declare loudly, You just have to be saved!!! This generally means believe a list of things, thanks a lot Martin Luther.

Jesus did not teach - sit on your rear and just believe this or that. He taught to care for others, to actually forgive, even though it might be challenging, to be kind and generous. He taught about actions we should take, and those very actions lead us to enter the kingdom even while here on earth. Think sheep and goats (yes that again, I don't think most people get the significance of his story about the sheep and goats). Think what we call the "Lord's Prayer" - thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!

How could we help.that happen if we just sit down and don't participate? We need to give our faith some exercise. Stand against the darkness. Stand for the light. Refuse to fall for false ideologies (communism, fascism, anarchy, terrorism, etc.) Use Jesus' litmas test - what is the fruit of ........? What has it historically brought? What is it likely to bring in the here and now?

We are at a critical juncture. Will we rise up to preserve our freedoms, our Christian beliefs that are based on what we know about the teachings of Jesus (rather than manmade theologies often at odds with the man from Galilee), our culture our art, our music, our very way of life?

Or will we watch as it crumbles, as so many have done in the past - from Rome's fall to Hitler, the signs were ignored until it was too late?

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Ways To Read The Bible

This morning in my prayer time, an idea presented itself, and urged me to write it here. Part of it I had realized before, but this morning it was enlarged.

The basic original idea is that there are many ways to read the Bible - the surface level only, trying to make it fit a preconceived bias, as myths with meaning, as literal, as symbolic of deep spiritual truths, as a study for scholars, trying to unpack deeper meaning and what obvious metaphors meant to the people of the time, etc. And one way I've also taught is that it is every person's story. That is, the characters and stories represent the human journey with it's pitfalls and triumphs, it's turning toward and away from God, life and death, etc.

This morning I was shown that it also has a thread of listening and following Divine Guidance/Holy Spirit - or not listening, or hearing but not following - and what happens in each case.

So Adam and Eve heard, but did not follow Guidance, and ended up making a mess of things. Jonah heard, refused, got himself in a lot of trouble and finally relented. Moses heard, resisted, did most of it but not all,  and didn't get to go to the promised land. You can look at examples yourself regarding your favorite stories,  look for the thread.

Now, let's look at our own lives. I can say with assurance, that regarding my mistakes, as I look back at them, I have usually said " I knew I shouldn't have done that." I didn't heed the Guidance.

Taking the Bible as a cautionary tale of what happens when we don't listen or don't follow, and conversely what happens when we do, it is time to pay attention. It has always been time. As I matured, I have tried more and more consistently to listen and follow. I suggest to us all, it would save us a lot of pain and anguish, if we strive to listen and follow Guidance.  

You can discern Guidance from ego. Ego wants attention and applause. Guidance wants us to be humble. Ego wants to win, to be the center. Guidance wants us to serve quietly. Ego is all about self. Guidance is about others. Ego doesn't ask how this or that feels or affects others. Guidance is about respect, lifting, caring about others.  Ego is about greed. Guidance is about generosity at all levels. Ego is about creating a personal kingdom. Guidance is about participating in creating the Kingdom of God on earth.

I can hear Jesus saying, "Decide today, whom shall you serve?"


Saturday, December 2, 2023

Another Wrinkle on the Collective Unconscious

One of my mentors, a long time ago, spoke of the band of psychic energy around earth that was made up of all thoughts and words and emotions of humanity. It was a jumble of good and evil, of brilliance and ignorance, of hope and fear. He didn't see the clusters of light that I saw, just a bubbling mass of human thought and emotional energy.

He said that the job of those of us who seek enlightenment is to break through that layer to the Cosmic Consciousness beyond it. We need to be careful to not be distracted by the psychic level (collective unconscious possibly, although he did not use those particular words), but to persevere with contemplative practices that teach our minds to be focused and one pointed.

If we succeed, we touch The Presence. Some say Christ Consciousness. Some say Buddha Consciousness. Some say Brahmam or Absolute Consciousness. 

According to the Power Thesaurus, there are a whopping 384 words in English that are synonyms for Cosmic Consciousness!

Whatever name you call it, there have been, and are, those who succeeded in not getting sidetracked in the band of jumbled energy and spent/spend a significant portion of time in touch with Higher Consciousness.

It is a worthwhile endeavor to seek what Jesus called "the kingdom of heaven." Since many have attested to their own experience of it, we can know it is touchable. From the great Avatars, to the known mystics of every religion, to little known citizens of earth, there are written records of their experiences.

Reading their words is exquisitely inspiring. Seek out Jesus of course, but also Meister Eckhart, Mechtild of Magdeburg, Jacob Boehm, Hildegard of Bingen, Brother Lawrence, Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich and others in the Christian tradition for example. Let them reach across centuries to quicken your deepest knowing. Something exceptional awaits you.

God bless you on your quest๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ™

Friday, December 1, 2023

Who Am I on the Spiritual Spectrum?

This morning I was wondering how I could explain my spiritual perspective.

The thought came to me that I am a metaphysical Christian who has deep respect for all religions, for all ways people have come to seek and know God across all history, and also a person who thinks science not only does not conflict with God, but instead points to an even more  incredible Divinity than the mystics have known. 

I believe in goodness and oneness, in love and kindness. I believe we are here to learn and grow in our relationship with God and one another. I believe we are accountable for how we live our lives. I believe life was, is, and shall be after we leave this earth. I believe because God is Love, we don't need to be afraid of God.

I know all the names of God are about the same Divine Presence. I believe arguing with one another over man-made theologies is counterproductive and actually dumb. It is our egos arguing, not our souls. We approach spirituality from different vantage points, from different cultures, from where we are on the unfolding path. 

I believe in individual responsibility. I believe there are spiritual principles that we can and need to learn and with which we need to get in harmony. 

I believe the Presence of God can be experienced in all natural things - the first look into your baby's eyes, a magnificent sunset, a redwood forest, a beautiful flower or even a weed. I believe there is no spot devoid of God.

I wish and pray for we the people of earth to wake up to such ideas and save ourselves and our planet from the hideous forces working in the opposite direction - before we destroy this incredible place. 

Shall we save the future?

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Visions This Morning - Maybe a Gamechanger

During my prayer/contemplation time this morning, I had several visions. I want to discuss one of them with you today.

You probably recall Carl Jung's writing on the collective unconscious. Briefly, very briefly, the idea is that thought is energy. Energy cannot be destroyed, only changed. The energy of our thoughts and words and emotions go into an energy field called the collective unconscious. We can tap into this energy field - for good or ill, depending on which energies - inspired ones or the boogeymen of our fears.



So my vision was of earth with this collective unconscious band of energy surrounding it. In the field, I saw balls of various sizes, each containing the energies directed toward various spiritual figures across history. I saw energy coming to the various balls of light, and I saw energy coming out of them.

The first smaller ball I saw in detail was St. Joseph, who somehow developed the reputation of being able to help a person find lost items. It started long ago with some kernel, and it grew and grew. Now some people add to it by believing, and some draw from it by asking for help. When the lost item is found, the belief and thanks go to the ball of energy of St. Joseph.

Then my attention was drawn to a huge ball of light. It was the Jesus ball of energy. It started with the actual Jesus of 2,000 years ago, so it began as a largish ball. Every thought, every hope, every request increased the shining ball of Jesus energy field. Across the past 2,000 years unimaginable amounts of energy went to and from the Jesus energy field ball of light in the collective unconscious. And it grew and grew.

This is not to say there are not other, higher spiritual things going on. This is to look at the mental energy from humans on this particular planet.

In my studies, I came to notice that Jesus, as reported in the Gospels, never asked us to pray to him. He never took credit for the healings. He deflected to God - It's the Father within doing the work. He told us to pray to God - Our Father. He called us equals - brothers and sisters, greater things than this shall you do. 

So, my evangelical friends and family who pray to Jesus and praise Jesus, etc. were somewhat problematic for me. They say they are Christian, but not doing what Jesus asked and taught in this regard. As much as I love and admire and try to model my life in Jesus' Way, I have been uncomfortable with praying to Jesus, with needing him as a pathway to God. I think living what he taught is a pathway to God, and so in that way Jesus leads me to God. 

Then this morning, my vision seemed to explain it all to me. Over time, so much energy has been poured into the Jesus energy field in the collective unconscious, that praying to Jesus taps into that ball and opens all kinds of spiritual help. It is likely particular to this planet, but it is nevertheless real. On other planets in the vastness of the billions of galaxies, there are likely other spiritual stories and other make-ups of each collective unconscious energy field.

It seems that the desire to seek the spiritual is hardwired into sentient beings. Across all history there is strong archeological and historical evidence for the universality of the spiritual quest and belief system. So I am pretty sure this is true across the vast expanses of time and space.

The important thing is to attune oneself to the highest understanding and live our life as best we can. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Miracles Are Afoot

It's a miracle! The repair bill on the car was forgiven!! They realized my husband had left a message not to replace the water pump, but they did it anyway. A lot of prayer, and a call from a friend, and my husband's conversation with them, all added up to getting our car back, and all we had to pay was for the smog test! Praise God!

Now I only urgently need money for a root canal and other critical dental work. I call for another miracle๐Ÿ™☝

I know it is not currently thought to be cool to believe in miracles, but I do. I've seen countless miracles in my life. I know there is more than meets the eye that is happening here. Whatever name you want to use - God, Higher Power, Jesus, Allah, The More, Divine Presence - there is a Spiritual Presence in which we live.

I know that our "solid" physical world is mostly empty space with whirling atoms going at amazing speeds. I know what we "see" are signals that our brains interpret, and that they arrive upside down, but our brains turn them around. I know that we are traveling at tremendous speeds when you add up our spinning globe, our huge orbit around the sun each year, the travel of our solar system through the Milky Way, the Milky Way's movement, and on and on. But it seems to us that we are standing still.

I know that the cereal, blueberries, and milk I had for breakfast are right now being transformed into my body.

I could go on and on, but I won't. I just invite you to think on these things and other examples that come to you.

Jesus said not to judge by appearances. We do anyway. It might be interesting if we opened ourselves to what is beyond appearances.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Thoughts on What to Do

 I've been contemplating the seemingly dangerous times in which we live. This morning, during my prayer time, some thoughts wafted into my mind. I want to share the tender beginnings of these ideas, knowing they will take more form in the coming days.

Teilhard de Chardin's idea came to me - We are spiritual beings having a human experience. Then the common statement of life after life experiences came to me - I met a being of light who asked me two questions: did you learn how to love (unconditional love), and did you complete your purpose for coming to earth? And then my life flashed before my eyes, the good and the bad, all of it.

Then I thought about how all of us come from a spiritual realm and inhabit a tiny human body that grows miraculously from two half cells to be trillions of cells that form our adult bodies. And, then, at some point, we give our physical bodies back to earth, and our spiritual being, our soul, goes back to the spiritual realm.

I thought about our great spiritual teachers that have given us much wisdom about how to be spiritual and human while here. I thought about how we humans have divided ourselves, pitted ourselves against one another based on various interpretations of what the great teachers have been reported to have said.

So now we have thousands of variations/denominations of all of the great religions, each promoting the idea that they have the "right" understanding, often then attacking verbally or physically those who have the "wrong" understanding. For the zealots of each fraction, they seem to think that gives them the permission to do all manner of unspiritual things to the "wrong" thinking groups.

Often what is considered the "right" understanding was decided upon long, long ago by pre-modern men who were ignorant or misguided by their own biases. Without critical thinking, looking closely at history and archeology and geology, etc. the ignorant "right" ideas lead people far astray from unconditional love and from the purpose for which they came to earth.

So, the questions I now ponder - How can we lead people to understand the simple truth of who they are and stop fighting over ideas that came from some dusty and distant past that only lead us to destroy one another and our wonderful earth? How can we be led to at least tolerate other understandings? How can we lay down violence and cruelty? How can we get the cloudy veils on our eyes and hearts to drop away so that we can see with clear spiritual understanding? 

Can we at last have a great spiritual awakening on earth?

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Overcoming

 At my Tuesday night Bible Study at the homeless shelter, a man talked about us all having to carry a cross as Jesus did. 

But.... Jesus overcame the cross. It seems to me that we are to overcome the crosses/challenges/trials in our lives too. He gave us clues -- Greater things than this shall you do; It's not I, but the Father within doing the work.

By listening and following the Way as taught by Jesus, let's overcome whatever obstacles come to us. I think together, as good people, we can overcome the evil showing up as wars, violence, hatred, prejudice and all we see and read in the "news." Let's make some good news. Let's overcome together.

Let your light shine brightly. ๐Ÿ’–

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Evil

It has been a bizarre 10 days or so. Extremely mentally disturbed people, voodoo curses of all things, car troubles, tooth problems- for goodness sake, what's going on?

Then this morning during my prayer time I had vision that brought me to tears. I saw our beautiful earth with a cloud of darkness, a dark and ugly fog moving from all directions until it joined and the entire earth was covered. All was still and in darkness for a thousand years, and then a little light ignited in the vast field of darkness. 

Tears and sorrow. Then a message came and a challenge, perhaps futile, but I must share it.

The people of earth have had great spiritual lights come to teach, but they have mostly been ignored, or worshipped as something other, but not believed. A tiny tiny percentage have taken, for example, The Sermon on the Mount seriously enough to actually implement it in their lives and live it. Many talk about it, few practice it.

So evil is growing and moving more quickly and comprehensively than ever before in the history of humanity. 

There is a slight chance it can be stopped and vaporized. It would take a major shift in a significant number of people. Genesis 18 came to mind when Abraham bargained with God to save Sodom and Gomorrah unsuccessfully. Perhaps it is a metaphor for today. Can enough of us turn away from this darkness in time to stop it?

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

When Salt is Not Sodium Chloride

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus/Yeshua says to us, You are the salt of the earth...

Obviously he did not mean that literally. So as is said of late, let's unpack salt, open it up, consider it.

I ask my students to tell me what salt is. The usual answers include: a preservative, a seasoning, a mineral. 

I add that it also enhances flavor, it's used in sweet and savory foods to bring out the flavor. And that back 2,000 years ago it was precious. Roman soldiers were partially paid in sa!t. It was scarce and valuable.

Jesus called his followers salt. So let's add all we know about salt and apply to us, his followers.

We are to enhance everyone and every situation, be lifters. We are precious in God's Eyes, one of a kind masterpieces, and need to live as such and realize the truth of this for each and every person. We are valuable just as we are and as we strive to be, for we are all in process. We are to preserve the brilliant teachings and understandings presented to us without biases and distortions. We are to season our lives with Love, unconditional Love. We are to remember that our bodies are made of earth minerals and belong to earth, while our souls are of Spirit and belong to eternity.

Salt in this brief statement is more than salt. One question comes to mind, if Jesus is issuing the challenge to be full fledged salt, are we ready to accept His challenge and step up and be all that and more?


Sunday, October 15, 2023

Jesus Spoke to Me

As  I shared, I've been teaching the Sermon on the Mount from the point of view of it being Jesus' guidance to us for how he expects us to act to be his disciple.

This morning, during my prayer time I heard something new. A voice said:

It is more. I've thrown down the gauntlet. You say you want to follow me and be part of my kingdom. I challenge you to live what you call the Sermon on the Mount. I issue this challenge to you. Will you do it? I tell you, it is oh so simple, and yet it is not easy. Because of this, few have taken up the challenge I fling across all ages to all people. Few hear. Fewer still listen. A tiny fraction try, and less succeed. Yet this is an exceptionally crucial time. Listen with your deepest self and follow me.

 I was shaking. Had I heard right?  Jesus was challenging not only me but everyone who said they wanted to be his discipline, and maybe also those who never thought about following him.

Will we listen and act as asked?

Thursday, October 12, 2023

The Shelter Is My Teacher

For six weeks now, I've been leading a Bible Study at the emergency homeless shelter. We've been going through the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus' teaching on how we should live as his followers. I didn't know what to expect when I told the director I would do it. 

What I have found are dear people, who, because of various life situations, have hit bottom. They are at first sort of shell-shocked. Then they are grateful for the faith-based group that is helping them. They find jobs sooner or later or leave the program because they aren't trying. Some come back weeks later, tired of living in their cars or on park benches, ready to try again.

They come open and wounded. They tell their stories. We apply the ideas in the Sermon on the Mount to their lives. And things happen. They start to heal. They begin to move forward.  They inspire me. And I know God has led me to this place and these people. It is a God thing for sure.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Second Birth


The union of the soul with God is its second birth.

Spinoza, 1632-1677 CE, father of modern philosophy

At my meditation workshop Saturday, I gave the choice of several quotes and scriptures to learn and practice Lectio Divina, Divine Reading.

The focus of Lectio Divina is not a theological analysis of biblical passages but viewing them with Christ as the key to their meaning. For example, given Jesus' statement in John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you", an analytical approach would focus on the reason for the statement during the Last Supper, the biblical context, etc. In Lectio Divina, however, the practitioner "enters" and shares the peace of Christ rather than "dissecting" it. In some Christian teachings, this form of meditative prayer is understood as leading to an increased knowledge of Christ.

I selected the above quote from Spinoza for me to contemplate that day. I want to share with you some of the thoughts that came to me while contemplating it.

In those moments of conscious union with God, I am made new, lifted, restored, yet I am me. I see a rose. It is a rose, but it is made new. It speaks to me of its beauty, and I know it in a new way.. I see a rock, it speaks to me of its strength and endurance, and the rock, being still a rock, makes itself known to me in a new way. My second birth changes me, yet I am who I have always been. I remember more of who I have always been, of who you have always been. The second birth opens new sight, new hearing, new understanding, new questions and on and on. It is a shift, a paradigm shift or two, and an epiphany and things beyond words. I cannot pour its full meaning into words. I can only hint and point. And by the way, it happens many times, each with its new gift of meaning and deepening and union.

Trust me, there is more than we have so far even imagined. May God stir that second birth in you.

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