… on… becoming….

58 years ago at this time I was in the second trimester before my birth.

In only a few months I will come into being for the 58th time.

So much has happened since I was first conceived.

I continue to change and evolve –

Into a being who is genetically predestined by choice.

I am the paradox.

I am the quandary.

I am the essence of joy and sadness –

Working out my own salvation with care and understanding.

My own manifest destiny.

 

… on… being… and… becoming….

Happy New Year everyone!

This is the time of year where  people make resolution after pointless resolution.   They are ALL a waste of time.   I even overheard someone the other day say, “well I better make my New Years resolution – even though I know I will fail after 2 weeks.”   This kind of futility will kill us – if not our body it will kill our soul.   We need to stop talking like this.   We need to stop committing to things we know we will fail at or have no true intention of completing.  In addition to this we need to STOP looking to others for the changes we want to see.

messages from the future #77 wm sm

It’s time to stop trying and start being!

BE the peace you want to see in the world.

BE the joy you wish others to have.

BE the happiness you seek.

BE the faith you want to see others convert to.

BE the acceptance you would want in others.

BE the tolerance you wish to see in others.

BE the kindness where you find it impossible.

BE the love that others cannot or will not give you.

BE.

Just BE.

When you find your being… you will find your becoming… a light to the world….

messages from the future #57 evn smlr

You need to understand “being” won’t be easy and you may suffer for it because others want you to be what they want not what you are.   But it’s time to terraform this desert that has become humanity.  You are all Desert Roses – bloom free for the world to see. It’s a new year with 365 brand new days.

Your music moment today is provide by Sting – “Brand New Day” the title track from the album BRAND NEW DAY.  May it give you the energy you need to start to bloom in this new year.  🙂

… on… hate….

messages-from-the-future-22-evn-smlr
Being a citizen of the United States Of America the past 8 months have been excruciatingly difficult to endure.  We have a President (along with other White House leadership) with no self-control, no discretion, no discipline, no compassion and no love who continues to emotionally/psychologically abuse, harass and harm the very people he is supposed to lead.  Never has so much damage been done in and to the office of President of the United States than has occurred under Donald Trump.  It will only go to deepen the cynicism and distrust that people have for politicians.  I think the notion of a politician being a force for good is not even possible with the current leadership.  It has been depressing to daily and sometimes hourly see breaking news stories of how the President has, yet again, done something so outrageous and shocking that it is virtually unbelievable.  We are being forced to watch a reality media show that is seemingly never-ending.  And the media is focusing on the sensational.  Now I have no great love for the media and that is about the only thing Donald Trump and I have in common.  Our reasons for disliking the media are completely different.  I would like to see more investigative journalism and less sensational journalism.  Trump just decries anything he doesn’t like as “fake news”.  But it’s NOT fake news it is the reality we live in.

This past weekend we saw many developments in the United States.  The rise of racism, talks of secession, hatred for all things non-white.  And in the past few months we’ve been seeing the increased likelihood of nuclear war with North Korea, Venezuela, and a trade war with China.  Sure with all this “madness” it would be easy to throw in the towel and say it is WAY bigger than anything I can have any power over or change.  But I’m not ready to do that.  Now more than ever we need to be strong.

We do need to look at both sides of a story but we also need to address and stand up to those values and positions that would harm others or enslave them for ones own enrichment.  For example: The American Constitution has a provision for free speech and lawful assembly.  These laws apply to ALL people – even people who believe differently from me. So for neo-nazis, white supremacists etc; we must acknowledge they have the right to protected free speech (we just don’t have to like it).  Just like people who oppose them have the right to protected free speech.  Now I know a lot of people are going to be uncomfortable with that notion. But as a follower of Jesus Christ I am a FIRM believer in what he taught about loving ones enemies (I’ll explain more on that later). It’s just that in these troubled times it is difficult to STOP, take a moment, consider, weigh ones reactions before making those reactions public.  But that is exactly what we must do.  I do not love Donald Trump’s policies I specifically hate his approach to what should be collaborative, positive working relationships.  I hate his non-stop “twittering”.  But I do NOT wish him dead.  I hate now Trump and many in the white house continues to hold his business interests (even if they are in his children’s names – who are his official presidential advisors and aides) creating conflicts of interest. I cannot hate a man who is misguided, foolish, delusional and emotionally unstable.  I can honestly say I’ve had to think about this long and hard.  The past 8 months have shown me that we all have the capacity for hatred but we do not all act on that.  I understand why people may think that the only way to solve this crisis we face in America is to kill or assassinate Donald Trump.  I understand because I felt myself slipping into the same hate for hate thinking and had to stop myself.  I pray to God that Donald Trump is not assassinated.  Here’s why.  I don’t have any confidence in the Vice President that would take his place.  And killing Donald Trump would only give the alt-right extremists the martyr they’d love to have – which they would use to justify further violence.  On top of that as a Christian I am against the death penalty for anyone because I believe that just as God gives life he also takes it away it is not up to man take life away.  And anyone who behaves abominably should have the opportunity to change or, to use an archaic term, repent.  If they are killed we are depriving them of that opportunity.  So death is NOT the answer.  But Donald Trump should be impeached and that needs to happen ASAP (in my opinion).  I seriously doubt that Trump will survive to the end of his first term.

Sadly America can only blame itself for creating AND electing Donald Trump the tyrant. No one should be surprised by what he is doing.  He used the same tactics in his reality TV shows.  People who have participated in his shows “THE APPRENTICE” and “CELEBRITY APPRENTICE” have noted how Trump would pit people against each other, he would harass and harangue people to create and build drama in the show.  He is a victim of his own celebrity – believing in a false value of self.  Unfortunately, we can see that what works on television isn’t what works as a world leader.  He has also gotten support from an “Evangelical Right” that uses scripture to justify and encourage Donald Trump giving him a false moral justification for all he does.  This same type of Evangelical movement that uses the Christian Bible to justify white supremacy also supported Hitler and The Third Reich (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Evangelical_Church).   I also think it may be time to do away with the electoral college.  There was a time when the electoral college had value.  But in the internet age the electoral college is an archaic institution that can only do more harm than good.  It is time to elect leaders only by popular vote.

Now about love.  It may seem odd and unlikely to read about love in this type of post.  I think it is necessary to bring the needed balance and provide level-headed options to the discussion.   Please consider this; how do we love a tyrant, a despot, an oligarch, a hate-filled man? We CANNOT react in the ways he reacts.  We can find ways to slow down the discussion allowing time for all parties to think about their positions.  We can act respectful to them without agreeing with them.  We can seek to remove them from their position for their own good.  Donald Trump is clearly over his head and he is being battered on all sides continually and that would be enough to make anyone crack.  The kindest thing we can do for America is also the kindest thing we can do for Donald Trump.  Impeach him.  Remove him from the position that is causing him so much distress.  And wish him well as he leaves.  Now I’ll be the first to admit this is easier to type than actually practice.  Love is not some easy fluffy romantic notion – it is something we have to work at.

One of the benefits of writing this is that it also reaffirms what I believe and helps give me the strength I need to practice what I “preach”.  I cannot hate Donald Trump I can only hate the carnage he has created while in office.  I do not believe there are evil people only evil actions.  And I choose to not act evil or out of malice toward my fellow Americans, or any living beings.  And if I do act evil (because I am human and have occasional weakness) it is a weakness that I quickly seek to remedy.

Matthew 4:43-45 (NIV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Feel free to agree or disagree on any and all points.  That’s why it’s called free speech.  We can disagree and still be respectful.

***If you think more people should see this post – feel free to re-post.

….on…. take me to church….

It’s been a long time since I listened to Sinead O’Connor. I loved every track on her very first album. But everything after that was sort of hit-n-miss and I eventually lost touch with her career.

I recently came across this wonderful song from 2014 album I’M NOT BOSSY, I’M THE BOSS. It seems to have the same kind of edgy energy that I liked in her first album. The Chorus hits home for me and highlights the need for pure love and how the institutions of today fail to provide it – which is highlighted in the lyrically sharp chorus,

“Oh take me to church
I’ve done so many bad things it hurts
Yeah take me to church
But not the ones that hurt
‘Cause that aint the truth
And that’s not what it’s for”

… on… grow where you’re planted

Rock Side Planter smlr
Nature can teach us so many things if we only take the time to stop and listen. This photo was taken at a local area called Gorge Metro Park. And yes it does live up to its name since it is a large rocky gorge carved out by the Cuyahoga River over centuries and cuts right through the city of Cuyahoga Falls. There are several trails in this park where one can observe huge rock overhangs, cliff walls and large monstrous boulders. This image is a detail from a cliff wall. It was well above arms reach and I had my zoom lens out to its max of 200MM. I was mesmerized by this patch of grass that seemed to be growing happily on a small outcropping of the cliff wall. I took this photo a few weeks ago and have been pondering over it ever since.

As a species, we humans are a restless lot. We never seem to be satisfied with where we are at – neither in physical location personal, emotional or intellectual development. It seems are constantly dissatisfied with what life hands us. Now some people would praise that and say, “Duh! That’s how progress is made” But is so much dissatisfaction really beneficial? I think there’s a difference between the dissatisfaction that encourages progress and the dissatisfaction with life’s circumstances that are imposed on us that we have no control over. Can we ever accept contentment and happiness – even if they are fleeting?

I wonder if we need to take the time to truly cherish where we are located in life. I wonder if we can grow where we are planted like the grass in the photo. Talk about an inhospitable environment! That poor grass is in a bad location all around – lack of nutrients, lack of water, limited light and limited attention. But it is still growing. Is its life circumstance sad, tragic or unacceptable? Absolutely not. For it has shown me beauty and taught me something valuable. That patch of grass can be content with its limited life span because it has served some purpose for the betterment of the planet – even when it has reached maturity and “gone to seed” it will feed other animals and as it decays on it’s little rocky outcropping it will become fertile soil for the next generation. You and I are the exact same way. We may live an ever so humble existence – we may lack one thing or another – we may be living in circumstances that have spiraled beyond our control. And like the grass – we have worth – we have value – we exist for the betterment of the planet; it may have happened in the earlier part of our lives, in the present or may even happen in a fleeting moment in the future but we have worth. It’s not the amount of time we have or how much we do with it. The fact that we ARE is enough.

In our birth we bring joy and wonder.  As we grow we become a symbol and a beacon.  When we die we make room for others.

So go ahead try to appreciate where you are no matter how rocky it may seem.  Just stop for a while and then slowly feel your way around lest you fall off the cliff.  Then relax and grow where you are planted.

“Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” – Matthew 6:29,30 (NIV translation)

“If the problem has a solution, worrying is pointless, in the end the problem will be solved. If the problem has no solution, there is no reason to worry, because it can’t be solved.” – Zen saying

“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” – Zen saying

“the quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.” – Zen saying

“Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and grass grows by itself.” – Zen saying

…on Peter Gabriel – Amazing


“I’m Amazing” – lyrics by Peter Gabriel

Run into the cage
With what I grew up hating
Keep on recreating
Please help me

Something’s got to change
It was something that you said
Happy times ahead
Happy times ahead

Saw the kind of blood
Like a picture’s going to shatter
Can you recognize the pictures of a bone-luck setter
All the people, all the faces in my head that are running around
I’m trying to make connections but the circuits are down

Look at me
Look at me
Look what I can do
I’m amazing

I’m living from without and I’m living from within
Got light in every layer of my illuminated skin
Could swallowing a lightbulb transform into the sun?
I can jump into the darkness
I can shine on anyone

Look at me
Look at me
Can you see what I can do?
‘Cause I’m amazing

Look at me
Look at me
Look at me
Can you see what I can do
‘Cause I’m amazing

Reaching out my hand
I’m going under water
Sunlight filtered into shafts
I’m going under water
With the human race
I’m going under water down
Under water down
Under water

Trying to put it together in my head
Feeling the weight of what you said
The weight of what you said
Happy times ahead
Happy times ahead
Happy times ahead

Look at me
Look at me
Look what I can do
‘Cause I’m amazing

Look at me
Look at me
Look at me
Look what I can do
‘Cause I’m amazing

Cause I can!
And I will!
It’s moving in me
The spirit is free
Oh what did I leave?

On his website Peter Gabriel[hereafter PG] states,

“I wrote a song a few years back – ‘I’m Amazing’, which was, in part, inspired by Muhammad Ali’s life and struggles and at the time of his death, when so many people are celebrating his life and thinking about all he achieved, it seemed the right time to release it.”

I do not believe we should see this song as a tribute to Ali. I saw one video posted on YOUTUBE that said this song was “about Muhammad Ali”. I disagree. PG is an artist; and as such, he uses all of life as inspiration in creating his art. Ali was only one part of the equation that helped clarify the point PG was trying to make. PG has something much bigger than one mans life that he want’s us to consider. If there is any comparison to Ali that can be made accurately is that the song deftly alternates between “Float like a butterfly, Sting like a bee”.

So what makes this song, it’s music and lyrics so powerful? Peter Gabriel has become an undisputed master of using various music influences from around the world in creating his own unique sound. “I’m Amazing” is a blend of these influences that borders on genius. The music moves forward and has it’s own pulse points with a fusion of sounds electronic, tribal and organic with lyrics both spoken and sung, chant and vocal ululation. There are ebbs and flows in the overall song structure that help propel the listener through the song with rhythmic emotional intensity.

Lyrically, the song offers intense criticism of our culture and society. He is careful not to place blame. He simply let’s the character in the song make observations and leaves it up to us to determine any cause and make appropriate adjustment in our own lives so that we do not end up in the same predicament. What is NOT said in the lyrics is just as important as what IS said. PG does not write on the surface of things but gets under the skin. While on the surface if you just read the lyrics it may seem like a positive paean with the old “pick yourself up by the bootstraps” mentality. But listening to how the lyrics are sung provides a whole new wealth of meaning that seems truer. It is funny how music can add clarity to the meaning of words. By themselves lyrics are ambiguous and can be interpreted by each individual as they wish. But what is lost is the authors intention. Music provides that intention. I have not heard such snarling sardonic expression in pop music for a long time and it is refreshing. A true wakeup call. I love how the lyrics switch between introspect/retrospect/prospect as the singer looks to escape his own mundanity and latch onto all the promises made by a self-help society with “happy times ahead”. Drowning in his own misery he not only seeks for a way out but becomes so self-obsessed that all(and everyone) else is left behind. The character acts/does because he can and never asks if he should. It’s only after it’s too late does he contemplate what was left behind.

This is a most welcome addition to the canon of music written by this great artist.

… on nirvana/heaven…

The Kingdom of Heaven is near. ~ Jesus Christ [Matthew 10:7]

messages from the future #14 wm sm

This is Nirvana
We do not see that our life right here, right now, is nirvana. Maybe we think that nirvana is a place where there are no problems, no more delusions. Maybe we think nirvana is something very beautiful, something unattainable. We always think nirvana is something very different from our own life.
—Maezumi Roshi, “Appreciate Your Life”

…..Samsaric Capitalism…..

In the Samsaric world of Capitalism
I am neither positive nor negative.

I know that promises breed hope –
Without a guaranteed reality.

What will be, will be.
Not what is promised or guaranteed.

Guarantees are empty absolutes;
To live by them is to live in delusion.

If we want to remove the Samsaric sting
We must accept the beauty of a flawed reality.

Like wrinkles on a face, spots on skin & gray hair describe aging –
Broken promises reveal an imperfect reality.

Where, O Samsara, is your victory?
Where, O Samsara, is your sting?

Embrace with loving-kindness all errors and flaws.
In doing so, we redeem and ransom ourselves and others from Samsara;
From the long list of disappointment-fueled anger and sufferings.
untitled

Deus Ex Machina

G-O-D

THE ULTIMATE APP

WIRELESS.  HANDSFREE.

NO DEVICE NEEDED.   NO POWER SOURCE NEEDED.

THE MENU IS ALREADY WITHIN YOU!
VERBAL AND NONVERBAL OPERATION.
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*While results are guaranteed, satisfaction with those results is not.

…from…notebooks…

Another entry from my journals…….

*********************

MESSAGES FROM THE FUTURE #19

MESSAGES FROM THE FUTURE #19


I feel gravity.

The invisible net
cast over me.
Weighted to hold me down.
Resistence to slow me down,
pressing in on me,
flattening me,
doing its very best to squeeze
and crush the breath out of me.

Having tried to think of God
as freedom, boundless, expansive
Creator of endless possibilities ………

What if God is merely the cage?
The trap, or pen, to corral all that IS free.
A reaction to regret.
Regret of even imagined freedom.

The body is the cage of the spirit.
Gravity is the cage of the body.
Invisible bars to restrain and hold back
the abandoned Tower of Babel.
Like the word cages and traps the idea.
In the beginning was the word…and the word WAS God.

Maybe Atheism is the cure for God!
The destruction of gravity’s cage.
The release of the spirit; free-flying bird.
The soaring on eagles wings.
Seeing, comprehending, knowing
beyond words.

The perfection of silence –
The unspoken truth of all things.
Silence: all that ever was, is and will be.
That perfection that comes immediately after
the last sizzle of water extinguishing flame.
The beauty of darkness and quiet.

Silence has no gravity.

 

 

******* About the artwork: Messages From the Future #19 (created 2013) is a digital, photo-based creation intending to question the spoken and written word. It highlights the paradoxical viewpoint of language as both lie and life simultaneously. A self-negating notion. “Silence is golden.”

A Christmas Prayer

Lord God,

Father in Heaven

Thank you for this day

Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth

A man who would be, and did, become Messiah

The hope of all Israel and all of humanity

A man who taught, and showed us,

That we CAN have a relationship directly with you.

In this way he was the door, the gate,

Through which your spirit that dwells within us

Has been awakened.

We thank you for this awakening that removes all Hindrance

Even if that separation is political, social, religious

And now we thank you for this meal

And time of togetherness between family and friends

We bless this meal in the name of Jesus

That it may give us physical strength and stamina

We bless you that you may give us the mental and spiritual  strength and stamina

To be a blessing to others we come in contact with;

Removing all wrong perceptions

In Jesus name, Amen.

I believe the best prayers are not prayers of thanks and requests (or to use consumerism terms – supply and demand).  The best prayers are when we pray what we believe – not what we want or hope for.   For example when we pray the Lords prayer do we hope these things are true that are mentioned OR do we really believe them?  And how do we believe them?

Maybe some day I’ll dissect and expound on the Lords prayer specifically.

But for now – Merry Christmas everyone.  Enjoy one of my favorite Christmas songs.

The Happiness Conundrum

INTRO:

“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” ~ Jesus [Matthew 7:3-5  NASB]

I’ve been trying to get the logs out of my own eyes for years – and will probably keep working on it for the rest of my life. It’s funny how easily our perceptions are blocked [log-jammed] and muddied by emotions. Emotions are a fact of being human – and self-control of those emotions is key. I find it interesting that one of the characteristics of “love” in the Bible is “self-control” but that characteristic is seldom preached – maybe because it’s difficult to look at oneself with the critical eye of awareness. Many people seek to control others and define their happiness in that context.

I’ve read a lot of wisdom literature over the years and have found (even in my own experience) that happiness is fleeting. Happiness is fickle. Happiness is something people constantly strive for only to see it slip through their fingers like sand. So what do we do when we aren’t happy? If we are seldom happy is that a bad thing? How do we cope, or what emotion is happiness replaced with when it skips merrily on its way?

I have found that happiness is the wrong thing to focus on (contrary to what all those self-help gurus say) When we are happy we naturally relax and enjoy the moment. But once it’s gone we immediately try to re-capture, control, and try to manipulate external circumstances to get back to that happiness state. Many people, unfortunately, despair and long for past happiness (“I remember when….”). But this is the mistake.

THE DREAM:
On September 29, 2014 I woke up early from a dream I had. I wrote the dream in my journal. I thought I knew what it meant – turns out it has multiple applications (for me). Now for the dream:

In my dream I was fighting a fierce dragon. It was boastful, conniving, cruel and threatening. I only had a sword. The dragon didn’t have to move around a lot. It was so much bigger than me it just seemed to mock me as I searched for its weak point. The dragon started to yawn and I seized the moment to go for the mouth. With one eye open the beast snapped its jaws down on my sword and with iron like strength just held on. I couldn’t move that sword no matter how hard I tried. I wasn’t going to let go either because the sword was my only weapon. We were at stalemate. Neither one willing to budge. I decided that instead of pulling the sword out – an impossible task – I would try the opposite and push it further in. I pushed with all my might and with a snicker the dragon opened it’s jaws wide and I went tumbling into its mouth. With one self-satisfied gulp the beast swallowed me. Inside I could hear echoes of its satisfied, mocking laughter. It all happened so fast, and caught me by surprise. I was tumbling down its steamy, moist throat just trying to get my bearings on the long journey despairing of my loss and my situation. I came to an opening which I presumed to be the dragons stomach and expected to be digested and totally consumed. Instead I noticed in this opening, fresh air, a breeze, sunshine the sound of birds and children laughing. It was a whole other universe. Familiar yet different. I saw clear skies and saw people enjoying themselves just like the world I had come from. It was magical and different – somehow better. I just stood in wonder and amazement asking myself who had really won – the dragon or myself and its other victims?

LOST HAPPINESS:
So what do you do when happiness is gone? What is the cause of your unhappiness? What emotions replace happiness? Anger, envy, jealousy, bitterness, fear, hatred or despair? Maybe it’s a combination of these emotions. How do you deal with these darker emotions? I recently (again) have lost my happiness at work. In fact I would say I hate my job. It is not the job I was hired to do. And after some corporate restructuring things seem to have gone “haywire” and all akimbo.  I’ve dreaded going to work and have been stressed, frustrated and angry.  So I have some decisions to make. Do I look at the situation and blame management, the union, or other people for the loss of my happiness? Or, do I look at myself? Do I look at my blocked perception and try to “fix” myself instead of something I can’t possibly win against?

On November 14, 2014 I wrote in my journal:

All things come to an end. But when one thing ends another begins. Happiness never lasts forever. When happiness is gone, what replaces it? Is the thing that replaces happiness worse than the thing that displaced happiness in the first place? I’ve been fortunate to know happiness in the past. Now that happiness is gone – do I get to choose what replaces it?

Initially I interpreted the dream as: whether I am facing an enemy or adversity I will remember the dragon. Because whether I fight or surrender the outcome is the same. One life is merely changed for another. I live on either way.
And I keep a small note on my computer monitor at work now with the words “remember the dragon.” This has helped in my work situation. I can see that the dragon is my work environment. And since I’m in the belly of the beast It may not be as bad as I thought. This interpretations definitely works on one level but I came to realize some other things.

With my understanding of the dream and recent questions of happiness I started asking questions about the perceived source of my unhappiness. The questions themselves began to evolve.

Do I need to look for another job? Yes.
What will I do? At 54 I don’t even know anymore. There’s nothing I “want” to do. Nothing I need to prove anymore.
What kind of work can I do? Same as above
Can I do the job I have now? Absolutely!
Is there benefit to the job I have now? Yes, I can eat and pay bills.
What would the consequences be for taking another job with another company? Answer: most likely, based on past experience, starting at lower pay than I’m making now and eventual dis-satisfaction.
Do I need to look for another job? No

When I was in my teens, 20’s and even my 30’s I thought I could, would and wanted to change the world. Now that I’m in my mid 50’s I realize I can only change myself. Change my perceptions. It’s been a long difficult road and I’m sorry for any harm I’ve done along the way.

So, back to work. When I realized I didn’t need to look for another job the next task became – how to survive my current work situation. I remembered that happiness is fleeting. Happiness is not a requirement and need not be a benefit of doing a good job. There will always be times I hate my job. And having “processed” all this before I went to work yesterday – it changed my whole day. Work was the same, all haywire and akimbo but I had changed. I was less stressed and when things were “thrown at me” (figurative) I may have been frustrated or even angry but I quickly got over it and moved on. I stopped seeing the company, management, union, co-workers as those who were making my life miserable.  And realized they were just doing their job with their own frustrations, stress etc.   It was all ‘n all a good day which is about all I can hope for until happiness returns. Just being less stressed made such a HUGE difference. I’m not perfect so I suspect on Monday I’ll have to remind myself again about this lesson.

CONCLUSION:
While happiness seems to have escaped me and things may not be pleasant right now – the good news is, I believe that happiness, being fickle, will return. And I will enjoy it when it does. In the meantime I know that I can be less stressed, less angry, less frustrated, less fearful, less hateful and more tolerant at work. While I may have removed only a “splinter” from my own perceptions – there are plenty of logs (wrong perceptions) left for me to work on.   All by the grace of God.

Thanks for reading.  I hope it may benefit someone.


Being and Nothingness pt.2

In the previous post I started writing about the connection between spiritual life and physical life. I hope to expand on that today. I wonder when the spirit enters a physical body if it (the spirit) is asleep and its function is to awaken at some time during that physical existence. Following that I wonder if our human existence provides various catalysts for the great awakening. That catalyst could be spiritual or physical struggle. I also wonder if anyone can truly point to a specific time or event for their spiritual awakening. It could be that we really don’t know but there are many epiphanies along the way and one of those epiphanies may actually be the awakening itself.

My question this morning – What made Jesus so successful? I’m NOT talking popularity/celebrity which is how we have come to define success since the dawn of the 20th century. I mean successful in terms of how he was able to accomplish the “miracles” that he did. Was it because he was the son of God? I don’t think that’s it; because we are all sons and daughters of God. Every single one of us, you, me, the greatest saint to the vilest criminal had our spiritual origins in God. Even the ultimate Adversary (Satan, Lucifer, the Devil, Big D – whatever you name him) had his origins in God. God Created him. We are all spiritual beings that come from God. So if all our origins are in God what made Jesus different?

I think it was because he came to spiritual maturation much sooner and he was able to give people the revelation that they were spiritual beings, providing the catalyst so they could have their own spiritual awakening. The people who were the recipients of these miracle’s were bound/limited by either bodily deformity and suffering or spiritual deformity and suffering. And with this spiritual awakening the things that bound and limited them in this physical existence ceased to do so – ceased to bind and limit them. I do have a special reason for saying this.

Most people calls these miracles because there is no “natural” or scientific explanation – like why a persons blood would change from one type to another, or why a new limb would be generated. I would argue that most people today don’t believe in true miracles. Miracles have become events like weeping statues, mold on a slice of bread in the shape of Jesus, etc. Or people call things miracles that are not miracles, as a way of describing things they consider unlikely but are totally within the realm of purely human endeavor – i.e. “It was a miracle that I got that job.” or “It was a miracle that the doctor was able to determine my disease”. But these are NOT miracles. Because people have deconstructed and diminished their understanding of miracle, they do not believe in true miracles and, therefore, do not receive miracles like Jesus performed. I have news for you. Those miracles are still available to YOU and me today. I’ve been fortunate to have received a few miracles of healing where no doctor was involved. I’ve also been fortunate to receive other miracles in the material realm for which there is NO logical scientific explanation.

Now, back to Jesus. Jesus had two responses for people depending on if they suffered spiritually or physically.

SPIRITUAL HEALING –
If there was a spiritual problem (demons, evil spirits, etc) Jesus would “cast out” the demon or evil spirit. What is the nature of demons or evil spirits. Based on what I wrote yesterday, about the cycle of being and the carnival of life, I think that what happens is that these “demons” or “evil spirits” are spiritual beings that are trying to take a short cut to spiritual maturity by hijacking another spirits physical existence. These demons or evil spirits are trying to get around the majority of bodily experience by dumping themselves into a physical body that is already well on the way to spiritual awakening or has already experienced a spiritual awakening and thereby skipping over the majority of human experience to spiritual maturity. When this happens the original or “birth” spirit is beaten down and in battle for the body with the new entity. By “casting out” the evil spirits Jesus made it possible for the original “birth” spirit to defeat its adversary and get self-control over its original human experience.

PHYSICAL HEALING –
When someone is suffering physically whether blindness, pain or crippled this may be due to either the fragility and sensitivity of the human body or a result of harm intentional and accidental, from others. I always found it interesting how often Jesus would tell people, “Your faith has healed you.” He didn’t take credit for himself or God but gave the victory and the credit to those who were healed. Is it possible that he didn’t heal but made it possible for people to heal themselves through their faith/belief? How is this possible? I wonder if these people who suffered from physical ailments had their spiritual awakening and it could even be that these ailments helped bring about this awakening. When they realized and saw themselves as spirit beings in a physical body they could then understand this was just a temporary situation and part of the journey to spiritual maturity. With this revelation the physical pain, illness, deformity ceased to have any power over them. They were able to “move the mountain” or even better the mountain within dissolved entirely.

Again you can receive miracles your self. When one views life where the human experience is merely a filter or step to spiritual maturity there is no such thing as a “bad” thing. IN fact there is a common teaching in the true Christianity that says we can take joy/be content/celebrate in our sufferings, trial and tribulations. (James 1:2-4, 2 Corinthians 12:10) Why? Because this is all part of our spiritual growth. It’s about awakening to the spiritual connection. The mystery. The divine connection to the Source. The Source from which we come and to where we will return.

Enjoy this classic gospel song written by Andre Crouch.

Being and Nothingness Pt 1

So good morning my friends.
I woke up this morning thinking about the connection between being and nothingness as part of the life cycle (although those words to describe just came to me as I’m typing here). Most people are afraid of nothingness but let’s call it spiritual existence for the time being. I think we come from God and return to God. Our very being is rooted in God or whatever name you give God. I use God here because it is the one name for the ultimate being that most people I know use.

I had an image rattling around my brain which I created this morning.

being a

I’m thinking about spiritual existence as a primary existence and that it needs the physical experience for it’s development which is why we are born physically. This could also explain why God came to earth as a man [Jesus] – aside from the evangelical understanding of the word “salvation”. I was also thinking how we begin aging the moment we are physically born. Aging is not something that happens when we turn 40. And the reason for this aging is that the physical experience from a spiritual perspective was never meant to be permanent or finite experience but just a transition being part of a spiritual beings maturity. I wonder if this misunderstanding of the “place” of our physical existence is responsible for why people make the judgements they do and take respective actions. For example. If we view our physical existence as separate from spiritual – the physical experience is all there is; therefore aging is a bad thing fraught with disease, weakness and terrors. In that case the only response would be to try and avoid aging by whatever means possible (medication,surgeries, fashion, youthful thinking, etc). I’m reminded of an advertisement for a “beauty” product where the main character says, “I don’t intend to grow old gracefully, I’m going to fight it every step of the way.” That just seems absurd, ridiculous and ultimately harmful.

For spirits that wish to mature, they must undergo the physical experience – it is not a choice. I also think Freewill develops before a physical birth happens and therefore not all spirits experience a physical birth and never mature. The physical experience is like going through a gate at a carnival. And we choose how we experience the carnival of life. Either it is a joyride and fun house or it is a house of horrors and freak show. Unfortunately, I think the latter has become the common viewpoint. The other thing I’ve begun to think about is that the human experience is the catalyst for how the spirit/soul will mature and live it’s remaining existence. In other words, If you choose to see yourself as a victim and allow your thinking to see all of lives experiences from a negative point of view that is how you will spend eternity. Now I’m not just saying everybody be happy. Let’s face it – SHIT HAPPENS!!!!! And sometimes it happens more to some than others. There’s no rhyme or logic it just IS/DOES. As a result there are times when we will be pissed off, angry, curse, hurt, suffer or inflict these on others as a reaction. But it’s this lifetime when we have the opportunity change our viewpoint and change our thinking and ultimately our actions before we leave this carnival and go back to a solely spiritual reality. We need to understand that about ourselves and also others when they lash out at us.

We are first created spirit, become physical beings and then return to spirit. After we are physically born we develop, mature and age in human terms. And it is during this process that we can have a spiritual awakening where we understand our human existence as part of a greater experience. I wonder if this is the primary role of parenting; to assist/train the child for a spiritual awakening.

All religions (including Christianity) are started by two kinds of people. First, those who had an awakening experience and secondly, those who seek control of the human experience. The problem is that these religious people stop maturing and become spiritually stillborn. They create a dualistic system of belief that forces people to choose the founders experience instead of letting them be free to have their own experience. Because a dualistic system of belief says either/or when it creates a set of rules, guidelines, regulations and then says, “This is what you need to believe, and this is the type of experience you need to have.” “This is what your spiritual experience should look like.”

Are there people who have never been awakened? I think there are. The sleepers are those who become so preoccupied by the material, physical, human experience and have chosen to shutout all other experience. Many of these people are very religious and some even participate in religion. They are religious in their devotion to partisan human experience instead of pursing and engaging in nonpartisan life experience (human AND spiritual).

Jesus is quoted in Matthew 12:31-32 where he talked about being a divided being. The Pharisees (a Jewish sect) had just accused him of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub (or the Devil/Satan – for modern readers). Jesus said that nothing can survive (i.e. “stand”) that kind of division and is ultimately defeated. He also said that people who make such a dualistic distinction are actually either choosing humanity over the spirit, denying the spirit, or choosing the spirit and denying humanity. And he referred to that division as blasphemy against the spirit – the one sin that is unforgivable. So here we have the strongest case for our human AND spiritual existence being connected.

So in conclusion, here are some questions to ponder:

– Where do I stand?
– What do I believe?
– Do I view life as a house-of-horrors or joyride?
– Do I focus on horrors and in my ineptitude inflict horrors on others? (the news media has mastered this)
– Do I nurture and raise my children to become spiritually awakened to see the connection – between “real” life and spiritual life?
– How do my beliefs affect my life?
– Am I denying the Spirit in some way, either through unbelief or in my daily practice?
– What am I doing to mature spiritually for when I leave this carnival of life?

Blessed Are The Disillusioned!

So I was reading my Bible – sheesh when will it end….. hahaha.
Matthew 26:31 “Then Jesus is saying to them, ‘All of you shall be snared in me in this night, for it is written,….” (Concordant literal translation from the Greek)

This is what Jesus told his closest followers. Of course Peter denies it and claims to be an exception and we all know how that turned out. With a literal reading there is only one type of understanding to this verse. But what if we look at it differently? The Greek use of the word “snare” here means to trip and fall. So why would Jesus tell his closest followers that they would ALL trip and fall because of him? Another way of putting it could be that they would all be disillusioned after what happens to his physical existence. And yes, he did say ALL which suggests that all who want growth to move forward must become disillusioned at some point.

Beyond a literal understanding of what happens:
What is he talking about? I wonder if he’s talking about spiritual growth because if we look at what happens after they all are snared/trip and fall we learn in the book of Acts about the metaphysical manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Could it be that being disillusioned (tripping and falling) is a necessary part of spiritual growth? …to move beyond our “normal” relationship with the an understanding of God based on our physical existence into a mystical relationship with God that connects the physical with the spiritual?

Disillusionment as part of spiritual growth? And if that’s the case, could it be that those who refuse to allow themselves, or deny, disillusionment are the ones who wish to “stay asleep” in their own comfortable stagnate understanding? Could it be that, like Peter, they try to deny disillusionment but, unlike Peter, when it happens they instead prefer to maintain the illusion and call that illusion faith?

It is interesting that Jesus approaches disillusionment as a fact-of-life and does not deride, curse, punish those who are disillusioned. And could it be that is because he knows that it is a necessary step to greater understanding and relationship with God?

Disillusionment may be the very thing that wakes us up! Blessed be the disillusioned.   There is no worry about gnosticism heresy because this disillusionment connects the physical/material with the spiritual.  The true gnostic heresy would deny one or the other in the same way that some people insist on a literal reading of the Bible.

So disillusionment is necessary for individual growth in that same way that falling is necessary for walking and moving forward; as Laurie Anderson describes.

With that understanding this song takes on new meaning.

So for all of you who may be disillusioned with the Christian religion and have been accused of “backsliding”, being atheist, agnostic or otherwise. Good news – you are blessed!!!! You are blessed because you have moved beyond the mere religion of men. 🙂

“The search for truth takes you where the evidence leads you, even if, at first, you don’t want to go there.”
~ Bart D. Ehrman, Forged: Writing in the Name of God

“Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest, and sacrificial.”
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible

“Never shy away from opportunity and wholehearted living. Never be fearful of putting yourself out there. The courageous may encounter many disappointments, experience profound disillusionment, gather many wounds; but cherish your scars for they are the proud emblems of a truly phenomenal life. The fearful, cautious, cynical and self-repressed do not live at all. And that is simply no way to be in this world.”
― Anthon St. Maarten

So where do all these ideas from this blog come from? They come from my unique relationship to the Creator that is best described in this song.

Your belief in Christ will NOT save you…

Today I’m writing about the institutional church’s emphasis on missions, evangelism and promotion/marketing the salvation of the soul. For too long I have heard that if we only believe in Jesus then we will be saved. But this is untrue a fallacy and deceit. Okay some readers may start quaking and shaking because I’m challenging one of the basic tenants of the what has been preached as “the faith”.

The problem arises when, in our challenged attention span, we fail to understand the scripture/teachings in the larger context and what it means for our lives. For example, Jesus said, (in the ever popular verse)

“For thus God loves the world, so that he gives his only-begotten son that everyone who is believing in him should not perish but have life eonian.” – John 3:16(Concordant Literal New Testament – CLNT)

Out of context this verse clearly suggests that belief alone will save. But wait! What is the larger context where this appears? To understand the context we must read the entire section where this verse appears – John 3:1-21 in addition to the larger context of Jesus overall teachings throughout the gospels. Jesus is having a conversation with one of the Pharisees named Nicodemus who was a chieftain. Briefly, Jesus talks about how the times have changed and are changing. Previous perceptions of heaven are re-evaluated. Throughout his ministry Jesus talks about Heaven being here and now. In this section of scripture he points out that the Pharisees were making distinctions between celestial and terrestrial existence/being. Jesus says in verse 13 that the only one who has gone to heaven (as the pharisees teach) is the one who has come from heaven. In short, Jesus brings heaven back down to earth. The “one” he speaks of is the only-begotten son of mankind. And the belief in what the only-begotten son of mankind has done (bringing heaven down to earth) is what saves mankind. He then goes on to say that our actions here on earth reflect what we believe. So it’s not the belief that saves us. IT IS our actions here and now that reflect what we believe that matters.

So it’s not so esoteric as a “soul” that is so often preached in churches. It has nothing to do with heaven as a separate place to escape from this existence or find as a reward for believing. Belief alone will not save; it is how our actions are determined by our belief. As is written in James 2:19-20

“…the demons are ALSO believing and shuddering. Now are you wanting to know, o empty man, that faith apart from works is dead?” (CLNT)

Many translations turn that question into a statement. But it is in fact a question and the writer goes on to say that actions are not separate from belief. Actions illustrate and are inseparably linked to belief. No wonder so many so-called Christians, church workers and religious people are accused of hypocrisy and bigotry; saying one thing while doing another. It’s our actions here and now in this existence that show what we truly believe. Our actions at work with our co-workers, customers, suppliers, investors shows what we truly believe. Our actions at home with family and neighbors shows what we truly believe. Our actions in our “play” or social activities show what we truly believe. Going to church or saying we are Christian doesn’t mean squat! Anyone can, and does, do that. Jesus said in Matthew 7:21 that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter heaven. He continues by saying that the people who experience heaven are those who do Gods will. In other words, not most who go to church or say their Christian will never experience heaven as Jesus taught. Only those whose actions are in line with what Christ taught will experience heaven on earth as he taught.

Enjoy this delightful satire

10 Things

Dumpster Diving #78 Nearly Ten The Geometry of Time

Dumpster Diving #78 Nearly Ten The Geometry of Time

10 Things that Christianity got WRONG:

10.) Thinking Heaven is about escaping life instead of living life.
9.) Emphasizing the divinity of Jesus and diminish his humanity.
8.) Choosing Duality instead of seeing Jesus as the ultimate non-duality.
7.) Missions; let’s face it, it’s proselytizing a sales pitch to try and get others to be part of the group.
6.) Reading the Bible literally – ’nuff said.
5.) Having a personal Jesus – teaching that Jesus came to change their world instead of helping THEM to change the world.
4.) 7-day church.  It only promotes separation from the world not participation in the world.
3.) The “right” to bear arms against anyone we disagree with – to defend ourselves.
2.) 10 commandments/rules and regulations/rituals – [even though Jesus said that he was the end of the law]
1.) Exclusivity, being part of the “chosen”, us vs. them – [even though Jesus Christ was inclusive]

10 things Jesus NEVER saw coming:

10.) That he would have a religion named after him.
9.) A government which allowed him to be murdered would turn him into a state sponsored religion.
8.) People would actually pray to his mother.
7.) Temples/Churches would be built in his name that had nothing to do with what he taught. [And most of the people who attend those “temples” and read this still won’t “get it”.]
6.) That some worthless King(James) of England would make a political move and commission his own Bible that would be written with the intent to justify/legitimize his own English Church and that this would become the standard for “modern” Christianity even though it is inconsistent and full of errors in translation.
5.) That people would use him as an excuse to disengage from the world – except when they want donations.
4.) That his name [Jesus] would become a marketable commodity where trillions of dollars would change hands – even in church.
3.) The industrial revolution.
2.) The technological revolution.
1.) The internet and the information revolution.

10 things Jesus actually taught:

10.) That he would be the source of much misunderstanding and division turning, even, families against each other causing much suffering.
9.) Pray in a closet – not in public.
8.) Politics gets it wrong.
7.) Religion gets it wrong.
6.) You can have peace regardless how horrible your life circumstances may be.
5.) You’re a narcissist? – so what! love God and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.
4.) It’s your faith, what you believe, that heals you. Healing comes from within.
3.) Love your enemies – because when you do, you no longer see them as your enemy.
2.) The kingdom of Heaven is within you – here and now.
1.) Churches are like tombs filled with the bones of the dead.

Bonus – The thing Jesus’ life revealed – He is the Saint of Impossible Causes (like me).

declare your self unsafe

(fyi – this is a re-post from my previous blog in 2012)
UN SAFE

What does it mean to be unsafe?
I think it means to be open, unlocked, unconditional and taking risks. Certainly easier said than done. In our culture these things are typically lauded but not encouraged. A strange paradox. I think that in terms of faith, especially the Christianity I live, the paradox is even more profound because the institutions encourage conformity yet the Savior it proclaims was the ultimate individualist, open, and risky person around.

In our culture we have let fear define safety. We close up our borders, we increase security by increasing surveillance and decreasing privacy, we cast the dark light of suspicion on anything we do not understand or are not familiar with. We use religion as a weapon. And I am ashamed to say that many; who claim to believe in Jesus Christ are just as guilty as those who don’t.

Let’s look again at just a couple of examples of what Jesus taught;
“Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:43-48)
“Do not resist an evil person” (Matthew 5:38-42)
“Do not act for the purpose of being seen or recognized by others” (Matthew 6:1-4)
“When you pray, go into your room, close the door…” (Matthew 6:5-15)

I could go on. I just want to encourage everyone to live a life of faith that is unsafe. Don’t be afraid to be open, to take a stand against “accepted” public opinion. Take the risk of fighting others by trying to understand them and accept them that they may see, in you a different way to live. Love “keeps no record of wrongs.”(I Corinthians 13:5) “The only thing that counts is faith, expressing itself through love.” (Galatians 5:6) “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and work… so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” (I Thessalonians 4:11-12)

Well that’s all I have to say right now.
I declare myself “unsafe”; An urban explorer of the human soul.
Enjoy this video by Mike Stand and THE ALARM – UNSAFE BUILDING

Is God A Contradiction?

I was reading Exodus chapter 33 this morning.  And something really stood out for me.  A major contradiction between verses 11 and 20-23.   

Verse 11 states,

“The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one man speaks to another.  And he would then return to the camp….”

Then in verse 20-23,

… He (God) said, “you cannot see My face, for man may not see Me and Live.” And the Lord said, “See there is a place near Me. Station yourself on the rock and, as My Presence passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock and shield you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you will see My back; but My face must not be seen.”

Talk about a major contradiction. First we read that Moses regularly speaks FACE TO FACE with God, just like you and I would talk to each other, then we read that God says that no man may see him and live. This is exactly the kind of contradiction that Atheists throw out to prove that God does not exist. I read an interesting side note in the Jewish Publication Society’s translation of this text which stated that the two verses came from different sources. Basically the Talmud was hobbled together from multiple sources which explains the contradictions. But are these contradictions a reason to stop believing?

I got to thinking, Is it that God does not exist because of these different and conflicting versions of events; or is it possible that God exists in both sides of the contradiction? Maybe God is IN the contradiction. I think that in our “modern” age people have forgotten about the beauty of paradox, mystery and contradiction. But if God is the God of ALL then he is also the God of paradox, mystery AND contradiction. I’m very interested in mysticism and exploring other religions. It seems to me that even though the religions of men try to exclude others that God is actually present in ALL religions in one form or another revealing “Himself” to humanity in different ways according to each ones ability to understand and comprehend.

Could it be that God is bigger than the contradiction? Could it be that God is both sides of the contradiction – the unifying force of a contradictions two sides? An ultimate non-duality. Maybe another way to put it is to say that when we view these contradictions in our religions, politics and events of our lives we should not think they disprove the existence of God but that God is in each position and point-of-view.

So what do we do with this? I’m not sure we DO anything with it. I don’t think we should try to remove the contradiction from our “sacred” texts. Contradiction is a part of life. A part of human experience. Why shouldn’t it be a part of our spiritual experience? Let it be. Understand that it’s okay to try to do good but shit will still happen. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail. That’s life! Contradiction is okay.

Here’s a great song that talks about contradiction.

Believe…you…live…

Believe that you are more than any given circumstances you find yourself in.

Rise up and live the “more” that is you within the circumstances.

The power is in living and realizing that “more” is not only knowing but

Being and acting on that being.

 

 

 

John the Baptist vs. Jesus Christ – Who Are We Really Following?

INTRODUCTION
I’ve been thinking about Christianity and how it seems to be serving two masters. I will suggest that modern Christianity in its institutionalized form actually follows John the Baptist in practice while claiming to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. Many people are not going to see the problem with that. But I hope to show that the difference between John the Baptist and Jesus Christ is significant and that by blending the practices and teachings of both John and Jesus we are actually of a divided mind and trying to serve two masters at once. Just like Jesus’ arrival on the existential scene brought an end, or completion, to the Old Testament he also brought an end to what John the Baptist taught and practiced. I’ve struggled and labored to find the right words for this post since 7/20. I am not attacking Christianity, because it is the spiritual tradition I identify with most. But I have more questions about it than previously. In fact, The older I get the more I question why I believe what I believe. I’m not even sure this article is complete as I think of new aspects to this subject. This is only a blog post, not a book (even though I think I could write a book on this).  I wanted to post it anyway to possibly stimulate discussion and see what other ideas are out there. So if you’re not interested in this subject you can just skip over the rest of this article. For fundamentalists, conservatives, and evangelicals who read this – you may be offended by some of what I say. It is not my intention to offend but I only wish to stimulate thought and self-examination.

A WORD ABOUT BAPTISM
This post is not about baptism but because it is the practice most associated with John the Baptist I will make a brief statement about it. I think too much emphasis is placed on baptism today. How many people have been baptized more than once? Is it necessary to be baptized at all? Too many churches use baptism as an act of membership. It is part of the team uniform for being a member. Therefore like many others, I have been baptized more than once because at different times in my life I’ve been a member of different churches in different Christian denominations. Now this is utterly ridiculous. Is not the Jesus of one denomination the same as Jesus of another? Why so much emphasis on baptism? Should it continue?

I will suggest that the practice of baptism as it is now used needs to stop. If someone wants to be baptized they should have the freedom to approach someone and request it. But it should not be part of some institutional agenda to help measure who is part of the team. Baptism should not be a requirement – suggested, spoken or unspoken. It should only be discussed in the context of a historical practice. Placing such importance on baptism is the way of John the Baptist not Jesus Christ.

PREPARING THE WAY OR LIVING THE WAY
In Christendom it seems that there are those who see themselves as preparers and those who are practitioner’s. The preparers are those who evangelize in the hope of getting everyone on their side before Jesus Christ returns. they are actively involved in missions around the world. They want to be on the winning team. And they set up institutions to ensure their success. While the practitioner’s really don’t give a damn about being on the team – they are more concerned with living what Christ actually taught; seeing and living the kingdom here and now; loving one’s enemies, giving freely to those who ask without placing conditions on the giving, looking after those who are defined by their culture as disadvantaged, treating people as equals, and seeing ALL people as being created in the image of God regardless of their race, politics, sexual orientation, country of origin, and religion. Looking after the planet with the same environmental concern that one has for a garden, etc. I get so fed up and irritated with all the sports metaphors and this concept of “team” that preachers, teachers and churches constantly rely on. They have missed the point. Being a part of the kingdom of heaven is not some team sport!

A TALE OF TWO KINGDOMS?
Now I wonder why anyone would want to be a preparer. It seems that I grew up for most of my life being taught and thinking about the second coming of Christ. I wonder if because we know the end of the story we are at a disadvantage. Isn’t the second coming more of an epilogue; a final period at the end of the story? I guess I’m wondering, what is there to prepare for? Whose job is it to prepare? Is the kingdom to come more important than the kingdom of heaven that is already here? But most importantly should we even bother? Why do we think it is our responsibility to go out and evangelize others in preparation for the second coming?

Is the second coming of Christ more important than the first? John the Baptist preached a new kingdom to come with a benevolent ruler that would baptize with fire. What is this “second coming” all about? I can’t help but think that it will be less of a deal than what people have taught for centuries. Revelation 21:1 says that it is merely a replacement of the old heaven and earth with new ones. Another way to read that is that it will be a replacement of the old ideas of heaven and earth with new ones that will significantly impact how life is lived on this planet. Two significant characteristics that separate the old from the new is that the new will be incorruptible and also there will be no temple (churches, synagogues, mosques, etc). These are BOLD changes from the world we currently live in. But let’s not get side tracked. Because again, because that’s the “end” of the story. But it is important to be aware of this in light of the discussion about who we are following. John the Baptist did NOT preach this vision of the end. He preached that there was a change coming. He wanted people to be aware and knowledgeable about this change. Jesus taught that the change is here! You are forgiven. Start living now as if the new heaven and earth have already arrived. LIVING THESE CHANGES NOW IS THE PREPARATION for the second coming.

I love the parable Jesus told of the 10 virgins were watching and waiting for the bridegroom (Matthew 25:1-13).

(my modernized version) 10 women were waiting for their man for a late-night party. 5 had flashlights and 5 didn’t. As it got dark the ones who were prepared got out their flashlights and were just hanging-out, waiting and watching having a good old time like women do. The ones without flashlights got nervous, were afraid of the dark and decided to go buy some flashlights quickly before the man hosting the party arrived. While they were gone the man they were waiting for arrived. The five women with flashlights went inside for the party and the door was locked. The five who weren’t prepared and left to get some flashlights came back knocking on the door and crying, “it’s not fair, let us in”. And the man simply said, “go away, I don’t know you.”

My understanding of this story is; “Sure, watch and pray – but all the watching and praying isn’t going to make a bit a difference if we’re not prepared by living NOW in the manner that Christ taught.” In other words, preparation doesn’t mean paving the way as John the Baptist did. True preparation is living and BEING the way.

WHAT JOHN AND JESUS SAID ABOUT EACH OTHER
John the Baptist announced the coming of Christ. That was his message and function. He was the one shouting “prepare the way”. That was his job. And it seems that Christianity has fallen into that trap. The trap of preparation, as if that was the end of the story. In doing so they are equating the second coming with the first arrival of Jesus on the world scene. But is that correct? By focusing on the second coming of Christ are we jumping over and ignoring the teachings and presence of his first arrival? Are they just cool stories? I wonder if the need to prepare actually ended with Christ’s arrival. It turns out that there is some precedent for this question. Even after Jesus arrived and was baptized by John people were debating. And how did these key players respond to the debate? First let’s look at why Jesus was baptized and the result of that baptism. Jesus requested, yes, he asked to be baptized by John (Matt 3:13) Why? Because it was “proper…to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”  With the baptism of Jesus the focus shifted from the preparation message of John to the acceptance message of Jesus.  In the baptism John’s message was both completed and ended. Now it would have also been proper for John to stop preaching at this point but like most institutions he felt the “need” (it was a worthy cause) to continue perpetuating the message of preparation and was eventually imprisoned. John watched Jesus closely and he even questioned him at one point. (Matthew 11:2-6) “When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?’ Jesus replied, ‘Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor….'” And then Jesus does something remarkable he addresses the change in message from John’s to his own. He does this in a simple statement in Matthew 11:11 & 12 “I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” And here is the BIG change, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.” Do you see the change in message? It officially changed from future to present.  John is not “top dog” in the kingdom.  Its the “Everyman” who is “top dog”.  Why?   John the Baptist preached about the future, Jesus preached the power of NOW as people are now LAYING HOLD OF THE KINGDOM.  Again preparation is not about paving a way to the second coming of Christ. It’s living these changes in the ever-present NOW. All four of the traditional Gospels record this.

Another amazing incident that is very telling is recorded in the Gospel of John (3:22-36). Jesus and John are both baptizing in the same area. John’s disciples were very concerned and went to him and asked John, “Rabbi that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan – the one you testified about – well, he is baptizing , and everyone is going to him.” Can you see the concern and jealousy start to develop? But John, who I suspect knew that his message had become obsolete said (vs 28), “You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him….'(vs 30) He must become greater; I must become less.” So John surrenders his message of preparation. So why do we get stuck on this idea?

Jesus Christ message was, “the Kingdom of God/Heaven is within you”. His purpose and function was to live that message so that people would understand their day-to-day lives with a new and enlightened perspective. And many did and still do.

So if the Kingdom is here and so very near that it is within us what are we preparing the way for? Why does anything need to be prepared. The preparation was done and completed more than 2,000 years ago. Jesus was (body) and is (spirit) here. It seems to me that if we are focused on preparation we are following the wrong master. Like Jesus we should focus on BEING.  It’s not about the institution it’s about the individual.

FORGIVENESS AS COMMODITY OR FORGIVENESS AS GIFT
Of course we cannot discuss the differences between John the Baptist and Jesus without touching on the subject of forgiveness. Baptism for forgiveness of sins was one of John’s modus operandi. John’s mission, as spoken by his father, was to give people knowledge of forgiveness. John did that by saying you can be forgiven and adopted a practice called baptism. It was a sort of spiritual economic exchange. You can be forgiven if you are baptized. Baptism became the ritual and focus of the message. It became institutionalized and became the model for all sorts of “rules of the game” by which people were expected to follow. It was the way to prepare/pave the way for the coming of the Christ. But we must also look at John’s description of baptism which suggests that with Christ there will be a change. He said, “I baptize with water but there is one coming after me who will baptize with fire” We have here the comparison of the material world of men and institutions compared with the spiritual/metaphysical world. John knew the difference. He knew a change would come and I think he would be disheartened if he still saw people preaching baptism by water for forgiveness of sins today – If he saw how baptism is being used as an “outward sign” of being in the club. In fact I think he might be more than a little irritated.

When Jesus was baptized by John it was the equivalent of John handing the torch to Jesus to carry on. Which Jesus started to do because Jesus also started baptizing.   And the gospels only record Jesus baptizing other in the earliest part of his ministry.  At some point he abandoned it.  Why?  Because it became irrelevant.  The message changed.   Jesus changed the message. There was no more bargain, forgiveness was not something to be purchased with baptism being used as coinage. It was now a gift. When Jesus talked of forgiveness it was simply YOU ARE FORGIVEN. There’s no “you must do this…” or “that” to be forgiven. You just are forgiven. Period. You are no longer a slave to your past. You can redirect your destiny with a fresh start. People may try to use the past as a weapon against you (the media has perfected this – ask any politician) but as long as you know you are forgiven their weapons are of no good.  For Jesus’ grace, mercy, and forgiveness was a gift.  It was not some commodity to be traded. To continue to follow John is to say, “I will be forgiven” but to follow Jesus is to say, “I AM forgiven.”

CONCLUDING REMARKS
People need to embrace the gift and pass it on because that is where real changes will start to happen.  As long as the gift is used as a bargaining tool it will never be effective and produce lasting change.  Remember you are forgiven. To the believers I say, let John the Baptist go – embrace Jesus. As long as the gift is used as a commodity to prepare the way it will never be effective.  It’s time for a change. One master, one message. To teachers, preachers, churches, and other religious institutions. I think it’s time to re-tool. It’s to to re-evaluate what message your actions are sending. Do your actions and policies promote a paving of the way for the second coming or do they actually promote the more radical idea of acceptance and living in the kingdom of heaven that is here now within each of us? Do you teach your people that they are part of the kingdom already or are you still inviting them to come get ready for the coming kingdom? Do you teach your people to see the kingdom of heaven in others or do you promote exclusivity and separation from others who may not fit YOUR criteria of religious belief? And like the story above of the 10 women; If you want to be part of some exclusive spiritual “club med” where your team, your church, your religion is the definition of rightness then you are watching and waiting without a flashlight. if you follow John the Baptist’s methods and practices you may want to buy a flashlight before it gets dark.  I’m not saying it’s going to be easy.  It’s not.  You will fail as I have failed.  But we must pick ourselves up and learn from these lessons and allow them to change us and help  us grow toward perfection.  Perfection is the new spiritual “singularity”.  It is possible and it is near.

If you are one of the few that have made to the end of this post, whether you are Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist or any other belief or non-belief tradition; know that there is only one message: YOU ARE FORGIVEN! Accept it and enjoy. You have a blank slate to fill, a new book to write, a new picture to make, a new movie, music or art to create. A new life to live. Go ahead, say it out loud, “I am forgiven.” And view everyone around you as forgiven and live accordingly. If you are reading this, if you are alive and on this planet, in this place and time in all of existence, then you are already a part of the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is already within you. As Richard Rohr wrote on his blog – UNPACKING PARADOXES in a post on forgiveness,

“To help people ACCEPT THAT THEY ARE RADICALLY ACCEPTED is the only real task of Christianity.”

When we accept that we are unconditionally accepted and when we in turn unconditionally accept others we have taken our first steps on the road to perfection.

Enjoy this song by Sanctus Real – FORGIVEN

“Forgiveness is the cash you need – All other kinds of silver really just buys strange things – Everything has music – Everything has genes of God inside – But learn from those courageous addicted lovers of glands and opium and gold – Look, they cannot jump high or laugh long when they are whirling – And the moon and the stars become sad , when their tender light is used for night wars – Forgiveness is part of the treasure you need to craft your falcon wings – and return – to your true realm of divine freedom” ~ Hafiz(Hafez of Shiraz)

Who was Isaiah really talking about?

Matthew 3:3, Mark 1:3 and Luke 3:4 all recount the same event.

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness,

‘Make ready the way of the Lord,

Make His paths straight!’” [NASB]

 

This verse is an inaccurate/incomplete quote from the prophet Isaiah. (40:3-5)

“A voice rings out:

‘Clear in the desert

A road for the Lord!

Level in the wilderness

A highway for our God!

Let every valley be raised,

Every hill and mount made low.

Let the rugged ground become level

And the ridges become a plain.

The presence of the Lord shall appear,

And all flesh, as one, shall behold –

For the Lord himself has spoken'” [Jewish Publication Society]

 

Without regard of the differences in text this message is always associated with John the Baptist. But John the Baptist DIDN’T preach this. And Isaiah didn’t talk about baptism. John the Baptist preached baptism for forgiveness of sins which isn’t mentioned at all in the previous quotes.

 

Now I read in my Jewish Bible a great commentary that said that throughout history this text from Isaiah has always been perceived by the Jews as a metaphor that God would clear away all obstacles to salvation.

 

My next question is; What is salvation?

Before salvation humanity was perceived to be separate from God. Humanity attempted to connect with God through laws,rituals,sacrifices,etc. After Christ, those previous attempts (and that’s all they were) become utterly worthless. We now need to look at what Jesus taught. He was THE WAY to a relationship with God. HE was the one who actually fulfilled The prophecy in Isaiah of paving the way to salvation/communion/oneness with God. (John 14:6) Jesus said to him,

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

In his daily actions and teachings Jesus, the Christ called out to humanity and cleared ALL obstacles to God – and that happened more than 2,000 years ago. Humanity has had that direct line and communion with God ever since then.

More than ever before the good news for humanity is that WE ARE ALREADY SAVED. WE ARE CONNECTED TO GOD. WE WERE SAVED BEFORE WE WERE BORN (because every single person alive today was born after Jesus, the Christ.) WE WERE SAVED BEFORE WE EVEN WERE TAUGHT THAT WE WEREN’T. Anyone born from now on is ALREADY SAVED. Now that IS good news!!!

Now the reason I think this is affiliated with John the Baptist is because at that particular time he was on the public scene before Jesus. He was already preaching and baptizing etc. He was going against Jewish tradition so naturally he was seen by the masses as the one removing all obstacles to salvation/communion/oneness with God. Baptism was outside the institutional realm at that time. But like all things in modern Christian religion John’s message and practice of baptism has BECOME the institution and therefore becomes the obstacle to salvation.

The failure of ALL religion, Judaism and Christianity included, is that religion continually reinvents the wheel by making salvation/connectedness/oneness to God something to be attained. Religion teaches that each person must remove the obstacles of salvation through, practices, rituals, behaviors, regulations etc. But this is wrong and anti-christian. Why? Because Jesus already did the work.

What does this mean for us now? When we view and understand that EVERYONE, (yes every single person including Hitler, Saddam Hussain – insert name of most hideous evil person you know) is already saved, even if they persist in their religious beliefs, or do evil, or are just plain jerks – it changes how we interact with them. This realization allows us to act with mercy, forgiveness, grace, peace and love. It allows patience, long-suffering and endurance and all the other fruits of the spirit.

The way of Christ and the true nature of his salvation will never be taught in religious institutions/organizations. It may be alluded to – but to practice it would mean the end of the institution. The Way of Christ can only be practiced and taught (through our daily actions at home, work, play) outside the realm of religion. Because it is about life, living and being – not religion. Of course when people ask us what’s changed that’s when we can tell them the good news.

Good and Evil

*** note:  This post was first blogged on my other blog mobius faith imaging.   Since this blog will be about my spiritual and philosophical ideas It seemed an appropriate first post.

While I am an artist there are many things that inspire me and give me energy.   Music, Film, Nature and Mysticism.    There are times when I am in this meditative space where time seems to slow down.   A time/space when that which is normally solid and concrete becomes fluid and dynamic.  A time that leaves me feeling paradoxically exhausted, rested and energized.  While this doesn’t happen often – last night was one such time.   The following is the fruit of that time.

Many people want to think of God as all good and that God would never do any evil.   But I wonder if that’s true.   There are instances in the Jewish and Christian Bibles where God says he will “work evil…”  If that’s so then God is not only the God of Good but also the God of Evil.   God is not Good OR Evil he is the totality of Good AND Evil.   God cannot be divided.   God is the ultimate non-duality.    It is humanity and religion specifically that try to divide God.  And see Evil as something that must be eliminated.
While evil can be defeated it can never be eliminated.   So that next thing is how to defeat evil.   All that is evil can only be defeated when we recognize the capacity for evil within each of us.   We both hold the secrets of good and evil.   After all that was the whole point of the story of the Garden of Eden.   Humanity had consumed the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.    It has been with us from the beginning.

When we recognize the ways we can be evil and accept it – evil has no power over us.  It is always there.   It is always waiting for us to forget or deny its existence.  It’s always waiting for us, goading us and trying to get us to fight it.   Evil feeds on fear, pride and hate.  And when that happens — well — Shit happens!

And it’s not about control.   We cannot control evil.  We can only balance it with Good.  Co-existence.

The evil we see in others is the same evil that is within us.
Example :   Who am I to judge a murderer?  The evil in that person who murders is the same evil in me when I enjoy saying, “he had it coming to him.”   Just because I chose not to murder doesn’t mean I am less evil or that evil doesn’t exist within me.   It just means that I didn’t murder someone.  The person who murders has the same power as me to create or defeat evil.

Recognize the evil within you
Forgive yourself and others
Be at peace
Love yourself and others
Be the balance
You and I were created in the image of God
We hold within us the seeds of the totality of Good and Evil.