When we are in the midst of a storm – like the culture war that is raging here in America – there is only one way to get through it. Love is the lighthouse and forgiveness is the light in the lighthouse. Sure many people may say love is the light but that just seems to easy – even cliche. I think that the lighthouse is love because it is the foundation that holds the light. Forgiveness radiates. How does this work? Love is what we give to others and forgiveness is what we ask for ourselves. We are all perfectly imperfect. Have you ever noticed what happens when someone asks for forgiveness? There is an immediate pause, a respite, a calm, things immediately de-escalate. What would happen if the US asked Korea for forgiveness? What would happen if the opposing sides – non-racists and racists asked for forgiveness from each other? Would that not bring calm and open the opportunity for dialogue? That’s what we need – and we don’t need to agree – we just need to stop hurting each other when we disagree.
So please, let this be our mantra: “I love you, forgive me.”
We can ALL learn how to live on love and forgiveness.
…or, how to start your day serious and end with a smile…. 😉 Have a GREAT weekend everyone.
David Sylvian & Robert Fripp – GOD’S MONKEY
Pixies – MONKEY GONE TO HEAVEN
Lancelot Link & The Evolution Revolution – EVOLUTION REVOLUTION
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”
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
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 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
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.
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?
Who co-opted our values
Who changed the primary meaning of the word
Who dared to stare at the face of God
and say, “Who are you?”
and, “How much?”
When did values change to only mean
When did the noun co-opt the verb
Will we ever be able to recover
which cannot be defined
by material value
Maybe some day
it will be an innocent child
who recovers the truth
and once again
focuses and directs
away from materialism
the values of humanity
breathing new life
into old meanings
A GREAT documentary.
A Fabulous talk.
This blog includes a lot of light and dark spots. Life is full of light and dark. While yesterdays post may have seemed darker. Today’s post is much lighter and inspirational. Enjoy.
After viewing the video. I couldn’t help but think that this example in the video is what the true mission of Jesus Christ was all about. I believe this because of What he said (when he was quoting the Old Testament prophet Isaiah,
The spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the lords favor.
~ Isaiah 61:1,2 & Luke 4:18,19
This video provides an example that fulfills all those things mentioned. Think about it.
It’s not about religion. It’s about life changes outside religion.
Not only is the world lost –
It doesn’t want to be found.
Merrily we roll along,
Afraid of what will be found –
The age of exploration is dead.
Merrily we roll along,
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.
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.
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?
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.
Peace of mind. 3 words just loaded with meaning when joined together as an idea. They suggests not only mental but also spiritual and physical states of existence. It is, [sadly] too often, something longed for but seldom experienced. So how does one experience peace of mind? I think it is a gift that we need only receive to experience. Can you receive it? Can I? Do we need help receiving it? One of the beautiful things about peace of mind is that it doesn’t remove us from life’s difficulties but gives us a way to deal with difficulties that is both positive and beneficial not only for ourselves but others. So for those who want to escape life’s difficulties – I’m sorry peace of mind will not provide escape. But it will allow you to perceive life struggles as if they were moving in slow motion giving you time to respond effectively. Peace of mind is natural state of existence that, in this day and age, is constantly under attack from exterior forces – often created by ourselves. We tend to blame others and don’t take responsibility for how we have had a part in creating this noise that disrupts our natural state of being.
So, how do I achieve peace of mind? Here are some easy steps. Once the practice is established it doesn’t take long to receive this gift.
1. Stop – just stop what you are doing.
2. Find a quiet place that you enjoy being in. [I have several places I can go – even at work – if I need just a couple of minutes to reconnect to this gift.]
3. Sit. [close your eyes if needed] Focus on your breathing for a couple of minutes. Then…
4. Take responsibility and admit to yourself that you have also had a share in disrupting peace of mind – either for yourself or others.
5. Think about and see the things around your daily life that disrupt your peace of mind. It might be technology or other people – even family.
6. Letting go: Forgive yourself for how you have disrupted your own peace of mind and the peace of mind of others.Then forgive others for how they have disrupted your peace of mind.
7. Receive your peace of mind [you may have to verbalize it at first saying, “Thank you, I receive this peace of mind”]. Imagine how to carry it with you through out your day at work, with family, strangers and friends.
Some people may need help receiving peace of mind. Look for ways to help them receive and achieve peace of mind. Give them peace of mind. This will also help your own peace of mind. Give the gift of peace of mind. I give it to you. Right now. Can you receive it, and accepting it, be grateful?
Music often plays a role in my experience of peace of mind. The video is for one of my favorite Japanese artists Missa Johnuchi. Enjoy this song. I apologize, in advance, that I don’t have a translation for the Japanese lyrics. But again it’s the music itself that I find to be the very expression of peace of mind – like it’s title. [If any reader does have a translation of lyrics please post in your comment. Thanks.]
PEACE OF MIND by UNESCO Artist for Peace, musician/composer/conductor Missa Johnuchi
Go in peace.
What if the good things you have have nothing to do with you?
What if there are a finite number of possibilities for good things to happen?
What if someone else suffers because of the good things you have?
I find these questions interesting. And they certainly fly-in-the-face of popular social thought that is reward driven. People don’t like to think about limitations. We live in a time when people want to think that there are limitless possibilities for good things to happen. But what if these popular ideas are incorrect?
What started me thinking about this was in my morning Bible reading. I read from (one of my least favorite books):
And when the Lord your God has thrust them from your path, say not your yourselves, “The Lord has enabled us to possess this land because of our virtues”; it is rather because of the wickedness of those nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you. It is not because of your virtues and your rectitude that you will be able to possess their country; but it is because of their wickedness that the Lord your God is dispossessing those nations before you…. ~ Deuteronomy 9:4,5 (Jewish Publication Society Translation)
So let’s look at this in a broader context. Let’s look beyond the Judeo-centric idea of a “promised land” here. What if this applies to all of us and the good things we have? Now I hear people talk about how proud they are that they’ve worked so hard at this or that and have acquired this or that because of their efforts, their virtues and their goodness. These people are so “works” oriented that they forget that the good things they experience once belonged to someone else. We should be grateful for the good things we experience, however we define “good” and realize it has nothing to do with us. Many churches have fallen into this self praise approach and the whole “prosperity gospel” approach that has taken hold is about as unbalanced as it can get. Sure many Christians give lip-service to God but in their hearts it’s propaganda to show how much their god favors them for their virtues and goodness.
Now it is, admittedly, a little difficult to wrap ones head around the idea that if someone suffers loss it is because of their error but my gain has nothing to do with me. And that’s just one of many beautiful paradoxes in the Bible. Why does my goodness and virtue have nothing to do with the good things I experience? Well I see it like this – virtue and goodness is the norm it is what is natural (so much for the “born into sin” preachers). After all, when the world was created, when humanity was created, God did not create it already in a state of sin. When you were born, you were not born into “sin” or born to be a sinner. When you were born, God said the same thing “He” said when the world was created, “It is good.” You were born into good therefore goodness is what is natural. It takes effort to do wrong. And that’s why wrong-doing has the negative consequences of loss.
So this is why we should NOT look on our own virtue or goodness as something reward worthy. If we are virtuous or good we in our natural state of existence, as God intended.
The other part of this is to understand the displacement of good things. I’ve often said that we all bring our own suffering on ourselves. We are ultimately responsible for the loss we experience and the suffering we undergo. This is another thing that our culture will not want to hear. Why? Because no one wants to be responsible. People don’t want to feel responsible therefore people don’t take responsibility for their actions. They blame others. Ironically these are the same people that will tell you they are “entitled” to have good things. They are “owed” good things. They’re owed because”they’re good people at heart” or “they’re not bad people”. And the verses, quoted above, are the very antithesis of entitlement.
When bad things happen to us a result of our misguided, and/or wrong actions and thinking, others will benefit and have the good things that we previously enjoyed. Others don’t enjoy the good things because of what THEY did.
Now here’s the real clincher. God has so many good things he wants people to experience that even some people may benefit in spite of their wrong doing/thinking. Like the old saying in Matthew 5:45, God causes the sun to shine and the rain to fall on the just and unjust. Sun and rain are symbols of blessing, enlightenment and spirituality. So if we have and experience good things it has nothing to do with any merit we may think we possess. And if we lose something it is most likely because of what WE did or didn’t do.
Is it possible that we have over-read and over-interpreted the Bible?
Has over-reading lead to mis-interpretation and misunderstanding?
Have we missed the whole point?
To many titles came to mind when I created the image:
“TWIN SONS OF DIFFERENT MOTHERS”
What would you title this?
Music today is by post-rock band HAMMOCK. Enjoy their song and this inspired video (best in full screen), BREATHTURN
I’ve always been drawn to the old testament prophets in the Bible they were the creative masters of their time. One such prophet was Ezekiel and the following passage has always inspired me when I’m feeling close to death (physically, creatively, spiritually etc.) It is unusual in that is starts from a place of death/decay/destruction and comes to life. It seems to fit this image and the inspirational music. And this text about moving from death back to life is better than any Frankenstein story. Enjoy.
“The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he set me in the middle of a valley; it was full o bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of Man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the sovereign Lord says: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you and you will come to live.'” So I spoke to the bones and as I was speaking there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together bone to bone. I looked and the tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them. Then, I said, “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these bones, that they may live.” And breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet.
…Son of Man, people say, “Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone.” Tell the people this, “I will put my Spirit in you and you will live.” ~ Ezekiel 37:1-14
The bottom line: no matter how dead we may feel. It doesn’t matter how dead we perceive others to be, there is ALWAYS hope. There is a Universal force (whatever name you give it – God, Allah, Yahweh, Buddha nature, Jesus etc) that can and will give us what we need to carry on. You can be the light. I believe in your victory!
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.
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.
*** 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.
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.