"Smorgasbord" Religion, Being of a Faith, and the Personal Journey

Nick_A

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Hi Path

Oh, I've heard all that before and the staircase analogy and so forth. But I notice I can learn from every being, mineral, plant, or animal, so why bother thinking of myself as somehow higher or them as somehow lower? I can draw nearer to God without judging other beings' quality. For me, where I am at, so to speak, relative to other beings, is irrelevant.
This is what self knowledge is. Self knowledge doesn't judge subjectively but simply seeks to experience what is.

Can we recognize differences without being egotistical about it? My USCF chess rating when I used to play was 1942. It meant that I was stronger than many but weaker than many others. I could get better but wasn't called to put in the study. Can I just accept it for what it is without either being intimidated or feeling superior? I believe so. However if I want to get better it means appreciating relativity in player strength.

We are a microcosm and as such have within us the same structure as the great universe and its levels of reality but just lower in scale just as the numbers ten to one are lower in scale then one hundred to ten. Can the higher within our collective being help the lower by allowing the light of consciousness to shine on it? I believe so and what happens through objective experiential self knowledge.

Recognition of objective quality is a completely different experience then being influenced by conditioned subjective quality. Unfortunately subjective concerns for quality of human life have become a dominant influence for control in society so objective differences in quality as they relate to conscious human potential are really lost. An esoteric student teacher relationship within a tradition that hasn't been secularized is an objective qualititative relationship. It may not be politically correct but it is genuine. When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

How is that different from Buddhist enlightenment to you?
Buddhism in the West has this idea of no self. Somehow we've become attached to the world that does not allow us to see that freedom isn't provided by the world but rather through becoming unattached. The trouble for me is that this excludes human meaning and purpose in the context of universal meaning and purpose and why we got here in the first place. My gut feeling and from what I've learned is that esoteric Buddhism doesn't have no self as an end but like Christianity is just leaving behind the created self which for us from our limited perspective, the result feels like no self rather then the seed of the soul. Enlightenment is just becoming aware of the human condition from a conscious perspective.condition.

I think Eckhart Tolle described this quite well- the awakening of the other-self that watches the body/mind self. This seems to happen in all religions, to those open to it.
But the universe is based on a triune relationship which means a higher, lower, and a middle. We are the middle between the higher and lower. So as we are the watcher of the lower, we are in turn noticed from above. the Gospel of Thomas describes this beautifully:

(3) Jesus said, "If those who lead you say to you, 'See, the kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty."

Why does it have to be very rare?

Because the world struggles against it to retain the status quo and our worldly life is a large part of our collective being.

Doesn't it seem that you're assuming that "we" are a plurality in a constant state of inner opposition? It seems that is a big assumption- as everyone is different. Please don't take offense, but you seem to be a bit of a pessimist. You often look toward the worst in humanity and talk in a way that seems despairing about yourself, others, the world around you. I look and see that there is joy and pain, beauty and ugliness... and figure why sit around despairing about it? Roll up my shirt sleeves and get to work...

It isn't being pessimistic but rather just experiencing self awareness. My experience is the same as Paul's in Romans 7:

14We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am!
If it is different with you then you have more inner unity than I do and have become master of yourself. But for me and others I've spoke to, Paul seems to hit the nail on the head.
If I feel inner opposition, reflect on that and change it so I am in harmony. If I feel opposition in the world, reflect on that and work toward peace. Any task seems enormous, but the reality is we need only to step forward one moment at a time, and that is very do-able.

This is that great question if we can change what we ARE by what we DO. I don't believe so especially in modern times since I've observed that what people do on Monday is often completely different than on Friday so all that really happens is trying to adjust rather then having the direct inner experience of the human condition that can change what a person IS.
If I focus on inner turmoil, I develop more inner turmoil. It can be no other way, because my brain will interpret my focus as my goal. If I focus on my inability or turmoil or what have you, it becomes my goal state in my brain. I am feeding it, energizing it, and maintaining it. If, however, I focus on the ideal state without judgment, that becomes my goal state, and my brain and body cooperate with me to further me toward that way of being, that consciousness.
Does it really have to. If we become our inner turmoil through focusing on it then I agree. But conscious experience of turmoil is what allows for a person through self knowledge to provide the direction. Animals cannot do it but a human being has the potential to be more than just a conditioned animal but it requires becoming open and able to do it as well as feeling the need to be more then just part of the world. I love how Simone Weil puts it:
"Purity is the power to contemplate defilement."
Stunning! It is a higher conscious level of reality observing a lower. At one level of being defilement has only a relative meaning and people argue what it means. She is referring to the power of potential human consciousness to experience the nature of defilement without judgement so without being sucked into it.
 

path_of_one

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Can we recognize differences without being egotistical about it? My USCF chess rating when I used to play was 1942. It meant that I was stronger than many but weaker than many others. I could get better but wasn't called to put in the study. Can I just accept it for what it is without either being intimidated or feeling superior? I believe so. However if I want to get better it means appreciating relativity in player strength.


Sure. I recognize this stuff too. But there is a difference, in my opinion, between this sort of thing and sweeping generalizations about other beings. We can't really know what the interior of mineral, plant, or animal life is. We don't experience life as other beings do, so how can we claim to know? I just don't see the value in seeing life in terms of level, unless you wish to speak of biology and complexity. But then, that does not speak to spirit. Biological and social complexity is not necessarily spiritual complexity.

Can the higher within our collective being help the lower by allowing the light of consciousness to shine on it?

Sure- isn't this the boddhisattva idea?

Yet the danger is always that in seeing one as higher, and another as lower, that the higher forgets to learn from the lower. The higher may forget that the lower is a gift. It is a gift, not a duty, to serve other beings. I am wary of seeing anything in terms of levels unless it is situational for this reason. I observe that this conceptualization of the universe and life too often results in a "false" higher- in which one thinks they are above another when they are not, and therefore miss the opportunity to learn.

An esoteric student teacher relationship within a tradition that hasn't been secularized is an objective qualititative relationship. It may not be politically correct but it is genuine. When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

To me, it has nothing to do with political correctness. Rather, it has to do with danger and trust. The student has to be sufficiently discerning, that is- already conscious enough, to ensure s/he is not taken advantage of by the teacher. Too often, this is not the case and teachers are masquerading, so you get personality cults.

A real teacher, in my opinion, is always learning... the student and the teacher are different, but equals in a relationship of giving. They give different things, but the relationship enables constant learning for both.

Buddhism in the West has this idea of no self. Somehow we've become attached to the world that does not allow us to see that freedom isn't provided by the world but rather through becoming unattached. The trouble for me is that this excludes human meaning and purpose in the context of universal meaning and purpose and why we got here in the first place.

Anatman is not only from Western Buddhism. From Thich Nhat Hanh's "The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching":

The Three Dharma Seals are impermanence (anitya), nonself (anatman), and nirvana. Any teaching that does not bear these Three Seals cannot be said to be a teaching of the Buddha...

When we look deeply into impermanence, we see that things change because causes and conditions change. When we look deeply into nonself, we see that the existence of every single thing is possible only because of the existence of everything else. We see that everything else is the cause and condition for its existence. We see that everything else is in it.

From the point of view of time, we say "impermanence," and from the point of view of space, we say "nonself." Things cannot remain themselves for two consecutive moments, therefore, there is nothing that can be called a permanent "self."


Nonself is not what a lot of people think it is, and it isn't only about attachments, though the realization of nonself/impermanence makes attachments irrelevant and sheds light on why they cause suffering. Attachment causes suffering not because things are impermanent, but because we wish they weren't. It is our attachments to how we want things to be, rather than how things are, that causes suffering. Death causes us suffering because we wish for some kind of "self" that has our body, personality, and so forth to go on. When we see that impermanence and nonself can liberate us, and we let go of our desire for things to be as they are not, then we are freed from suffering.

My gut feeling and from what I've learned is that esoteric Buddhism doesn't have no self as an end but like Christianity is just leaving behind the created self which for us from our limited perspective, the result feels like no self rather then the seed of the soul. Enlightenment is just becoming aware of the human condition from a conscious perspective.condition.

I don't know about esoteric Buddhism, but I can say that this gets closer to what I believe nonself actually is. In recognizing that I am nothing, I am everything. In the awareness of my own impermanence, I am no longer a self, but I am freed to experience unity with all beings.

And in this way, though I can see a relative truth about my consciousness compared to other beings (as you describe the universal staircase), I can choose to see an absolute truth about "me" being a completely transient illusion. "I" am the stardust that makes me, my ancestors speaking through me, the beings I ate for lunch living in me. There is no "I" to really speak of, only relationship.

But the universe is based on a triune relationship which means a higher, lower, and a middle. We are the middle between the higher and lower. So as we are the watcher of the lower, we are in turn noticed from above. the Gospel of Thomas describes this beautifully...

I love that passage, but I don't think Thomas was talking about three levels of existence. Just my personal opinion. Trinity, for me, is not a definition of how the universe or God operates, but rather a tool to embrace the mystery of the Divine. It speaks to relationship, and to the inability of anything to exist without everything else.

Because the world struggles against it to retain the status quo and our worldly life is a large part of our collective being.

I think there is a sort of spiritual/energetic flow to the world, and the status quo certainly has an impact. But I also think that a single conscious person has a great deal of power to change this. Like a light in the darkness, total darkness requires no light at all, but light only requires a single candle, and the darkness cannot overcome it. When I recognize this principle in myself and my world, the struggle eases and I have more clarity.

If it is different with you then you have more inner unity than I do and have become master of yourself. But for me and others I've spoke to, Paul seems to hit the nail on the head.

Of course, I struggle at certain times and in certain ways. I am flawed. But no, I do not connect or resonate with Paul's despair here. I can recognize my flaws without feeling I am without any redeeming qualities. Most of the time, I can both recognize "good" action and I can do it. I can even recognize when I am becoming hormonally/clinically depressed and change it. Maybe I am just really in tune with my body/mind; I really can't say.

I don't believe my nature is to be sinful. I believe sin is an imbalance of my nature. To be honest, whenever I read this passage I feel like giving poor Paul a hug. He seemed very at war with himself, very torn up inside. He speaks of having a "thorn" and never quite reveals what it is, but it is obvious that it plagued him. He seems to struggle with forgiving himself. But what we cannot give ourselves, we cannot give others...

This is that great question if we can change what we ARE by what we DO. I don't believe so especially in modern times since I've observed that what people do on Monday is often completely different than on Friday so all that really happens is trying to adjust rather then having the direct inner experience of the human condition that can change what a person IS.

You have never seen consistent improvement in yourself or others?

Who we are is impermanent, so of course what we do impacts it. There are all kinds of feedback loops going on there. If we smile and laugh, it can make us happy. Or when we are happy, we smile and laugh. When I recognize that I am becoming anxious, I do a breathing meditation, and my anxiety is ended. My consciousness about my own feelings and my understanding of what to do about it changes who I "am." When I recognize that I am becoming angry, I have a choice to think about the impermanence of me and the other person, and to realize that all I want is to love them with all my heart while I have them. And over time, it gets easier and easier. I recognize more quickly what I do that is unwholesome, and I can correct it with other things I choose to do. And this changes who I am.

Now, I think all that is possible because of the Divine Spirit within me. But it is up to me what I do with it.

Does it really have to. If we become our inner turmoil through focusing on it then I agree. But conscious experience of turmoil is what allows for a person through self knowledge to provide the direction.

This depends on your sense of what "focus" is. I would say that we can develop awareness of when we are in turmoil, and then change it. This is related to my examples above about my own anxiety and anger. I can become vigilant about my own feelings, but this is not the same thing as focusing on turmoil. When I am vigilant, I am in a state of listening to my mind/body. I recognize at the very first sign that I am becoming angry, or anxious, or that my stomach does not feel quite right. I got to be very good at this because I have sensitivities/allergies that can cause chronic pain, which must be managed very carefully in order to avoid pain medications altogether, which was very much a goal of mine. I also have a tendency toward clinical depression, which again, if I catch it at the first signs, I can treat on my own without any medication or therapy.

So I developed a keen awareness of my own body/mind, and I listen. I have developed a nearly constant state of listening in this way. But a side effect is that I listen to other things, too. I listen to my heart rate start accelerating when I grow anxious. I listen to my thoughts increase as I grow angry. I see thing right away, and then I can choose actions that bring my body/mind into balance with my spirit- I can create wholeness and balance within myself.

This kind of awareness I find very useful.

But a focus on turmoil means that is what we keep thinking about, over and over again. And likewise, I found through my journey in depression and pain that it was not useful at all. If I tell myself over and over again that I have a chronic pain condition, it is part of my body, I cannot control it, etc. then indeed I will. I am conditioning my mind/body to give me chronic pain by telling it that it will do so. If I accept and focus on my brain's tendency to go wonky and make me depressed, then I spiral into depression because nothing is telling my brain to do otherwise. So, a focus on the wretched state of humanity would also condition the mind/body to continue to be wretched and rebel against one's consciousness/spiritual nature.

Instead, I choose to look at my mind/body and say "It has a few glitches here and there, but I am learning how to balance it and make it assist me!"

I do understand the "wretched man" feeling- I used to feel very much that way, and on occasion, have that "dark night of the soul" and once again feel like a battleground. But I see that as one more weakness my mind/body has, and one that I can and do overcome. Druidry helped me a lot in developing awareness of my mind/body and learning to love myself and focus on my potential in order to reach that state, rather than wallowing in an inner war. And in so doing, I found a lot of joy and peace. When I am not in this state now, I know it is because I am not practicing diligence in what I need to do in order to change who I am and to bring my mind/body back to its rightful place- a tool of my consciousness.
 

Nick_A

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Hi Path

Sure. I recognize this stuff too. But there is a difference, in my opinion, between this sort of thing and sweeping generalizations about other beings. We can't really know what the interior of mineral, plant, or animal life is. We don't experience life as other beings do, so how can we claim to know? I just don't see the value in seeing life in terms of level, unless you wish to speak of biology and complexity. But then, that does not speak to spirit. Biological and social complexity is not necessarily spiritual complexity.
I am also interested in the unity of science and religion so naturally I would be interested in the difference in quality of being between a mineral and vegetable for example.

The spiritual aspect is part of the cosmos itself within which our earth exists. You recognize in Gaia that the earth itself is a living being but not in the way we experience life. So is the solar system itself within which the earth is a part and still higher the Milky Way within which our solar system is a part. They all have a different time span for their existence and function through different blend of consciousness and universal laws.

Some in modern times like Ken Wilber have came across this old idea of levels of reality and constructed their own system based on "holons" for example. I just prefer how I've learned it since it treats the universe as a living whole explaining human meaning and purpose within the universal flows of involution and evolution that connect these holons.

Yet the danger is always that in seeing one as higher, and another as lower, that the higher forgets to learn from the lower. The higher may forget that the lower is a gift. It is a gift, not a duty, to serve other beings. I am wary of seeing anything in terms of levels unless it is situational for this reason. I observe that this conceptualization of the universe and life too often results in a "false" higher- in which one thinks they are above another when they are not, and therefore miss the opportunity to learn.
I was referring to the nature of our personal being: ourselves as a microcosmos. We have our higher part that should shed light on our lower parts helping them to want to cooperate with conscious evolution. Fallen man has created the opposite. the higher part has fallen asleep and content with imagination so consequently our being is governed by the whims of our lower parts.

To me, it has nothing to do with political correctness. Rather, it has to do with danger and trust. The student has to be sufficiently discerning, that is- already conscious enough, to ensure s/he is not taken advantage of by the teacher. Too often, this is not the case and teachers are masquerading, so you get personality cults.

A real teacher, in my opinion, is always learning... the student and the teacher are different, but equals in a relationship of giving. They give different things, but the relationship enables constant learning for both.

Agreed. This is why real teachers push away students. A real teacher needs a real student or one who isn't governed by superficial concepts of right and wrong since a student will have to face these things as part of self knowledge. The student needs the teacher as much as the teacher needs the student. A teacher then is simultaneously a teacher and student. It is part of the ladder that connects teacher to teacher and finally to the conscious source of a legitimate teaching..

I love that passage, but I don't think Thomas was talking about three levels of existence. Just my personal opinion. Trinity, for me, is not a definition of how the universe or God operates, but rather a tool to embrace the mystery of the Divine. It speaks to relationship, and to the inability of anything to exist without everything else.

The trinity in existence in contrast to the Holy Trinity as ONE is the unity of three forces described as yin yang and qi for example. These are not random combinations but dictated by universal laws which is why everything is connected as you've said.

Yinyang (Yin-yang) [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

From the point of view of that passage from the GoT, yin is what we observe, qi is what we are, and yang is noticing qi. Qi then has its reality as a connector of universal substances. It receives from above and gives to below. The soul then is yin for a higher yang and yang for a lower yin. Its individuality is qi

It is what "I" would be for us. But as you've correctly IMO noticed, we don't have this "I." We lack inner unity that connects the higher with the lower.

I don't believe my nature is to be sinful. I believe sin is an imbalance of my nature. To be honest, whenever I read this passage I feel like giving poor Paul a hug. He seemed very at war with himself, very torn up inside. He speaks of having a "thorn" and never quite reveals what it is, but it is obvious that it plagued him. He seems to struggle with forgiving himself. But what we cannot give ourselves, we cannot give others...
If human nature could not be other than it is there would be no use in worrying about it. But if sin is not us but rather something unnatural within us that can be seen for what it is by a conscious light, Then it loses its hold.

But it doesn't want to be seen. The light means its death. This is why I disagree with the hug. Paul needs to increase the struggle so as to invite the help from the Holy Spirit leading to re-birth and the hug just defeats the struggle.

You have never seen consistent improvement in yourself or others?

There are two types of improvements if you believe that what Jesus said was right in that we must give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's

I believe I have improved in both but also know that I'm nothing as compared to others that have been human enough to really grab the bull by the horns.

Meister Eckhart describes the problem well but dealing with it is something else.

People should not worry as much about what they do but rather about what they are. If they and their ways are good, then their deeds are radiant. If you are righteous, then what you do will also be righteous. We should not think that holiness is based on what we do but rather on what we are, for it is not our works which sanctify us but we who sanctify our works.
That is the unification of what is given to God and to Caesar. But understanding it much less living by it is something else completely since we would rather allow self justification determine what it means to do so.

I agree with you that the first step is dealing with the body as you are trying to do and even that is a step in the right direction. You've developed listening which is great. The harder step occurs when there is control and we can begin to impartially experience our normal lives without changing anything but like a scientist would just to document what happens.

For what it's worth I've read that depression for whatever reason including chemical, leads to the loss of taking in impressions. So I agree there is no sense on focusing on the wretched state of humanity but go outside and sense life's impression as they enter your senses through the eyes, ears, nose, mouth skin etc. receive as many strong impressions of outer life without judgment and it does ease depression. I know some that work in this way and it does help.

Take a group of depressed kids and put them on a farm for a while and the difference is amazing. They have received impressions and come out of their head.

I do understand the "wretched man" feeling- I used to feel very much that way, and on occasion, have that "dark night of the soul" and once again feel like a battleground. But I see that as one more weakness my mind/body has, and one that I can and do overcome. Druidry helped me a lot in developing awareness of my mind/body and learning to love myself and focus on my potential in order to reach that state, rather than wallowing in an inner war. And in so doing, I found a lot of joy and peace. When I am not in this state now, I know it is because I am not practicing diligence in what I need to do in order to change who I am and to bring my mind/body back to its rightful place- a tool of my consciousness.

But the "Wretched Man" is a conscious experience and not a feeling. It is witnessing our inner emotional states that are in frequent change. But why bother with it if we first cannot make use of it? That is why no legit teaching ever speaks of dealing with this without first having become conscious of it and some impartial will. Without it, we can do ourselves serious harm,

It is one thing to superficially consider a concept with our normal associative thought and quite another to begin to take it seriously.

We can love ourselves but what does it mean? Do we love what we are now or our potential? This doesn't mean we should have any negative emotions about what we are but just learn about it because we have this incredible potential to be real human beings. that is why I'm happy if I can just accept myself without negative reaction rather than thoughts of love.

It never ceases to amaze me when I experience what I am as compared to the scope of the universe itself and that this speck can have any significance and yet it does. I think that is part of the meaning of the Seal of Solomon or Star of David where one triangle points down at something from the point of view of everything and yet everything also leads to the apex of another triangle pointing up which is the source
 

path_of_one

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The spiritual aspect is part of the cosmos itself within which our earth exists. You recognize in Gaia that the earth itself is a living being but not in the way we experience life. So is the solar system itself within which the earth is a part and still higher the Milky Way within which our solar system is a part. They all have a different time span for their existence and function through different blend of consciousness and universal laws.


That is my understanding and experience. I don't assign levels as it just isn't my thing, but I think different beings have a different type of existence and are also alive qualitatively, but differ in the quantitative aspects of life.

I was referring to the nature of our personal being: ourselves as a microcosmos. We have our higher part that should shed light on our lower parts helping them to want to cooperate with conscious evolution. Fallen man has created the opposite. the higher part has fallen asleep and content with imagination so consequently our being is governed by the whims of our lower parts.

We harness our creativity too often to suit our egos and not often enough to suit consciousness of truth.

Agreed. This is why real teachers push away students. A real teacher needs a real student or one who isn't governed by superficial concepts of right and wrong since a student will have to face these things as part of self knowledge. The student needs the teacher as much as the teacher needs the student. A teacher then is simultaneously a teacher and student. It is part of the ladder that connects teacher to teacher and finally to the conscious source of a legitimate teaching..

Yep. Even normal, academic education should work this way, IMO. At least, it does for me- did as a student and now does as a teacher. In academic education, I think this was elaborated on by the likes of Friere and hooks (bell hooks doesn't capitalize her name), who discussed that teaching is not about instilling ideas and facts into people, but rather about liberating them and yourself through facilitating critical thought and activism for justice and mercy.

The trinity in existence in contrast to the Holy Trinity as ONE is the unity of three forces described as yin yang and qi for example. These are not random combinations but dictated by universal laws which is why everything is connected as you've said.

That's an interesting idea. Can't say I've heard that one before. I mean, I've studied Taoism and understand yin, yang, and qi, but not in reference to the Trinity. Haven't put any work into aligning the two.

If human nature could not be other than it is there would be no use in worrying about it. But if sin is not us but rather something unnatural within us that can be seen for what it is by a conscious light, Then it loses its hold.

Yep.

But it doesn't want to be seen. The light means its death. This is why I disagree with the hug. Paul needs to increase the struggle so as to invite the help from the Holy Spirit leading to re-birth and the hug just defeats the struggle.

I don't think "it" has a personality. Our egos do, and we don't want to kill off our ego, which full consciousness does (back to that anatman thing).

Paul may need to increase the struggle, but I've seen a lot of people unable to withstand it. Sometimes, even though suffering brings us to awareness, we need a break and a hug. That's just my take on it. I see it like we're running a marathon and we begin to be in so much pain in the midst of it that we are about to collapse. We're feeling so awful that we're in danger of never finishing the race. A cup of water or helping hand, a compassionate touch from our fellow runners can encourage us to get back to the race. I believe in a sense of balance in the journey. If we "fry" so to speak our mind and body during the spiritual development process, then we descend into depression or illness and we can't finish it. I'm attentive to my weaknesses and what I need for encouragement in order to have my mind/body cooperate with my consciousness.

I believe I have improved in both but also know that I'm nothing as compared to others that have been human enough to really grab the bull by the horns.

Well, with examples of the likes of the Buddha and Mother Theresa, we certainly have some inspiration for what is possible.

I agree with you that the first step is dealing with the body as you are trying to do and even that is a step in the right direction. You've developed listening which is great. The harder step occurs when there is control and we can begin to impartially experience our normal lives without changing anything but like a scientist would just to document what happens.

I am not sure why, if we saw that we were sinning, we would not wish to stop it. Why watch myself get road rage when I've already learned to nip it in the bud at the first elevated heartbeat? That's my point. It's not that we are being partial, but if we have any standard to which we aspire and can recognize the difference between our own selves and the ideal standard, and we have found something we can do about it... why would we not do something about it?

For what it's worth I've read that depression for whatever reason including chemical, leads to the loss of taking in impressions. So I agree there is no sense on focusing on the wretched state of humanity but go outside and sense life's impression as they enter your senses through the eyes, ears, nose, mouth skin etc. receive as many strong impressions of outer life without judgment and it does ease depression. I know some that work in this way and it does help.
Take a group of depressed kids and put them on a farm for a while and the difference is amazing. They have received impressions and come out of their head.


Yep. I think there's more to it than that, at least in my own case. In terms of physiology, we know that exercise, sunlight, and being outdoors increases the "feel good" hormones when they are low, and sunlight also increases vitamin D. If we are deficient in vitamin D, we get very tired and depressed. But there's more to it than that for me. Exercise and sunlgiht helps me deal with the physiological end of depression, but specific outdoors places (particularly woods/mountains, places of solitude with lots of trees) help me deal with the existential pain that can emotionally drive depression. It is hard to be so sensitive to suffering and still function. I've learned that certain spiritual practices along with a large dose of solitude among the trees does wonders to connect me with God and life in a way that is uplifting and brings peace.

But the "Wretched Man" is a conscious experience and not a feeling. It is witnessing our inner emotional states that are in frequent change. But why bother with it if we first cannot make use of it?

"Wretched" to me implies feeling. Otherwise, it's just me observing my own impermanence. The "wretched" implies a feeling, an emotional judgement of that observation. If what Paul meant was simply that he observes his own impermanence, then I do not understand his apparent agony over it. Impermanence is only problematic until you accept it and deal with it. It then becomes liberating.

Just as impermanence means that our emotional states fluctuate, it also means that we have a capacity to change. And that is a very good thing.

We can love ourselves but what does it mean?

To give our own ego-selves the same forgiveness we are called to give all beings, the forgiveness that is given only because God's grace is working through us. It is to look upon ourselves with compassion.

Do we love what we are now or our potential?

Both. We love our potential because that is our true self, and a vessel for the Divine. We love what we are now because we are called to love all beings with the same unconditional love that God gives to us, unmerited and boundless, by virtue its eternal being-ness. If we cultivate loving compassion for all beings, we will find that we love ourselves, too. And in fact, as we are honest about our faults and weaknesses, mistakes and sins, we will find that we are able to forgive and love ourselves and therefore forgive and love others that much more, because as we learn to be unconditional in our acceptance of grace for ourselves, we learn to be so with others.

It never ceases to amaze me when I experience what I am as compared to the scope of the universe itself and that this speck can have any significance and yet it does.

Me too. I had a dream when I was a little girl, ten years old, about being in the presence of God. I was in an infinite space with no sense of containment, and it was all a white light. And I felt a watchfulness. This watchfulness was a kind of love I have never felt on earth. I felt as if I was in God's hand, if God had a hand, yet obviously I could not see anything but this light, and there were no boundaries in the space. But I had this feeling of being lifted up, like an open elevator, the motion moving my hair as if wind. It was motion without a destination, and without any apparent source. I felt so very, very small. Yet, I felt incredibly significant. Somehow my life was so limited, and yet so significant. I've had other dreams, one other in particular, where I felt like I was directly in God's presence, but that was the first time and it made a very powerful impression on my life.
 

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Hi Path

That is my understanding and experience. I don't assign levels as it just isn't my thing, but I think different beings have a different type of existence and are also alive qualitatively, but differ in the quantitative aspects of life.

Could you accept that there could be a distinction both in quality and quantity? Take for example this idea of holons:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holon_(philosophy)

One whole exists within another whole? You've read that old axiom that you can't see the forest for the trees. Take a tree as a holon. It also exists within a higher holon called a forest. We can see this from the point of view of this one cosmos called Gaia and say the difference is in quantity. while it is true that the needs of the forest differ from those of the tree it is still quantity. the tree may want to live but for the forest its inner life is just cycles so trees die and become part of the earth creating good soil for new life and new trees.

Now suppose that God is the quality of white light and the highest of vibration. What happens when it devolves into colors?

"Colours are the deeds of light, its deeds and sufferings." (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

This to me is an expression of quality rather then quantity since they represent objective vibratory qualities rather then just additional quantities.

The universe can be seen then as the living white light outside of creation devolving into all possible colors that comprise creation .

This is how I see man's conscious evolution. It is a change of being "Isness" rather then just normal adaptation to a conceptions of morality. It is becoming the consciousness of the forest as opposed to the tree we normally are.

We harness our creativity too often to suit our egos and not often enough to suit consciousness of truth.
But can a tree know truth or must it first acquire the consciousness of a forest. The forest and tree live by different realities and laws. What is true for one is not necessarily so for the other. When Simone was drawn to the good beyond which the earth can know, she is referring to knowledge of the forest which as a tree, she is psycho/spiritually drawn to but incapable of.

Yep. Even normal, academic education should work this way, IMO. At least, it does for me- did as a student and now does as a teacher. In academic education, I think this was elaborated on by the likes of Friere and hooks (bell hooks doesn't capitalize her name), who discussed that teaching is not about instilling ideas and facts into people, but rather about liberating them and yourself through facilitating critical thought and activism for justice and mercy.
Perhaps at some point we could discuss education. Now that I've been involved with presentations honoring Simone Weil's birth centennial, the question of education has come up and I don't believe you would be adverse to what she brought

[SIZE=-1]
[SIZE=-1]Weil lamented that education had become no more than "an instrument manipulated by teachers for manufacturing more teachers, who in their turn will manufacture more teachers." rather than a guide to getting out of the cave.[/SIZE]
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This is what is missing in education; the idea of acquiring a human perspective by becoming open to the light of consciousness that leads to inner freedom from darkness or the "shadows of the cave."

I was reading Eileen Joy's remarks on this and she stresses this freedom as well. You may find it interesting:

1996 Conference on Values in Higher Education


There are many arguments, all highly learned and intelligent, which can be made against this kind of training. Some will say that the object of instruction should be nothing more and nothing less than a strict adherence to knowledge for its own sake, and that the application of this knowledge is an individual and private concern, even more a disciplinary concern, perhaps even a market concern if there are bidders. Then there are the anti-positivists, such as the late rhetorician James Berlin, who has written that "truth is always and only truth for someone standing in relation to others in a linguistically circumscribed situation." While this statement is part of a larger discussion admirably devoted to the project of acknowledging and including otherness and difference in our discourses and knowledge practices, the teacher who accepts this statement without modification is obligated to teach her students how to skillfully traverse and navigate these dialectical lines of relation, and to understand that the domain of truth is always subject to a variety of liens and sub-lets. Further, Derrida and his followers would have us know that language comprises endless chains of significations and representations and is ultimately indeterminate, opening up beneath us, if we dare to look, a bottomless abyss which is predicated upon an original, yawning absence. Here, one must live within a vertigo. And then there are those scholars, like Althusser and Foucault, who tell us that knowledge is always ideological, always shaped within power relations, and that truth itself is an effect of power, not its antidote. And this is why Foucault, sadly, could say that the soul was the prison of the body. But the highest good is neither private, marketable, relative, nor trapped within the warren of ideology, although it can be experienced, accommodated, instrumentalized, and ultimately devalued by all of these means. If we convince ourselves, as teachers, that our students can never know anything which is outside of ideology or which is not in relation to someone else's approbation or censure, or not subject to a variety of contexts or to a mise-en-abyme of indeterminancies, then we let the darkness close in on us. In this kind of space, only resistance is possible, and the good people live underground. I would like at this point to return momentarily to Simone Weil's phrase, in her "Draft for a Statement of Human Obligations"þthe reality outside the world. For Simone Weil, the moral individual's attention is always focused upon this reality, which is the same as saying, the moral person's attention is fixed upon an unfathomable and alien otherness which seeks to constrain and legislate the here-and-now of our present reality. How can this be? Call this otherness God, as Simone Weil would have, and our postmodern pragmatism leads us to balk, and perhaps logically so. We do not think we can allow ourselves, in other words, to construct an ethical philosophy upon a mysticism, and yet we must. This is not the same as saying, because I believe in Godþbecause I believe God is watching meþI must be moral. For Simone Weil, moral action did, indeed, follow from the notion of God's gaze; therefore, she was able to say, "Men can never escape from obedience to God. . . .The only free choice given to men, as intelligent and free creatures, is to desire obedience or not to desire it." For myself, I have found, after much reflection, that moral action must proceed from an impulse which is always prior to any ontology, theology or philosophy which might claim that impulse as a logical outcome of its principles. True moral action, therefore, is before Reason, and perhaps even before God. As a teacher who believes deeply that the students of this university should consider themselves first as solitary moral persons, and secondly as social beings with social obligations, I would ask that they contemplate a civic ethics founded upon a negative non-rationality, what Simone Weil called the void, of which she wrote, "The world must be regarded as containing something of a void in order that it may have need of God." Goodness then, proceeds, not from a plenitude or fullness, but from a lack. To ask our students to contemplate emptiness, however, as a ground for the moral self, is not the same as asking them to accept the indeterminacy of language or the impossibility of human agency.

continued
 

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Her whole theses though not really all that long is food for thought and explains well the need for this connection of worlds, the higher and lower, to produce the human fruits of education. This is leaving the cave but I cannot see it ever happening in modern times since we celebrate the cave with such pride.
I don't think "it" has a personality. Our egos do, and we don't want to kill off our ego, which full consciousness does (back to that anatman thing).

But "it" is our personality. That is why it is so strong; it lives our lives.
Paul may need to increase the struggle, but I've seen a lot of people unable to withstand it. Sometimes, even though suffering brings us to awareness, we need a break and a hug. That's just my take on it. I see it like we're running a marathon and we begin to be in so much pain in the midst of it that we are about to collapse. We're feeling so awful that we're in danger of never finishing the race. A cup of water or helping hand, a compassionate touch from our fellow runners can encourage us to get back to the race. I believe in a sense of balance in the journey. If we "fry" so to speak our mind and body during the spiritual development process, then we descend into depression or illness and we can't finish it. I'm attentive to my weaknesses and what I need for encouragement in order to have my mind/body cooperate with my consciousness.
I agree which is why I'm against a lot of modern religion that begins from this faulty foundation of fear. To build on that is a dangerous form of escapism. I've read this page many times and I see how much this quality of love is misunderstood. I know I am not capable of it now yet I know it exists.

Love and Knowledge: Two Paths to the One

This is no path for the faint of heart. If we imagine that the path of love is an easy one, constantly filled with heavenly perfumes and sublime ecstasies, we will be very shocked the first time we are badly burned by love's fire, and we will not go very far along the path unless we willingly dive back into that fire, and embrace the purifying passion of eternity. We must be willing to love, even through the most extreme pain, suffering, and affliction. Even when it seems impossible for us to endure, even when it is impossible. Like Christ, we must be willing to literally die for the love of God, we must cling to supernatural love above all else, and trust God's love completely and unconditionally with all our heart, mind, and soul.

What is the secret to this capacity for such profound love? It seems that in order to love so deeply and completely, in order to endure this radical purification of the heart, we must already have a saintly capacity for loving God. The wonderful truth is that we do—there is in everyone a seed of sanctity in the depths of the heart, and we need only take refuge in it, and have faith in its power. If we do not, we will falsely imagine that we are powerless in the face of affliction, and allow it to overrun our soul. We will be like a man who has forgotten that he is actually the king, and stands by watching as injustice and suffering spread throughout the kingdom. In other words, the key that unlocks the door to the depths of love is the realization or faith that the capacity for divine love is already in us. Simone Weil, a modern mystic, explains it this way:
Extreme affliction...is a nail whose point is applied at the very center of the soul. ... But through all the horror he can continue to want to love. ... It is only necessary to know that love is a direction and not a state of the soul. If one is unaware of this, one falls into despair at the first onslaught of affliction –Simone Weil (Waiting for God, p. 134-135).
If we imagine that it always feels good to love, then we will not realize that it is love that rips our hearts open, and makes us vulnerable to the horrors of the world. Love is not a feeling. Love is a willingness to open our hearts to pain and suffering and to bear it. So when we willingly open our hearts to the experience pain and suffering, when we face affliction rather than turn away from it, we are manifesting the purity of love, which is to be highly vulnerable. As Simone Weil says,
Purity is...highly vulnerable in the sense that every attack of evil makes it suffer, that every sin which touches it turns in it to suffering –Simone Weil (Gravity and Grace, p. 66).
Pure love is not only vulnerable to contact with evil. It is also vulnerable to separation from goodness. Just as pure love does not push away evil, but turns it into suffering, pure love also does not cling to goodness, but turns the separation into longing. In Simone Weil's words,
To love purely is to consent to distance, it is to adore the distance between ourselves and that which we love. –Simone Weil (Gravity and Grace, p. 58)
So, with pure love we are vulnerable to suffering due to both contact with evil, and separation from goodness. In both cases, the intensity of the suffering is in direct proportion to the depth and purity of the love.

To the ego, this is insanity. The last thing the ego wants is more suffering. Why on earth would someone want more love, if it only makes one vulnerable to deeper suffering? The mystic's answer is that suffering, when purified and transmuted in the inner alchemy of the sacred heart, is recognized to be a manifestation of divine love itself. So when the mystic prays to God for suffering and welcomes affliction with open arms, this is not some sick masochism or martyr complex, but is rather an acknowledgement of a deep mystical truth. The mystic knows that affliction is the fuel of the fire of love, and that suffering is this fuel burning in the heart, feeding the sacred fire to grow even stronger. For the mystic, this fire of purification is what burns away the residues of attachment and aversion in the soul, and allows God's will and grace to more perfectly become manifest there. This is why Simone Weil writes,
Love of God is pure when joy and suffering inspire an equal degree of gratitude. –Simone Weil (Gravity and Grace, p.55)
Anyone can thank God for joy. But the mystic thanks God just as much for suffering, because suffering is an opportunity to purify the heart and deepen the capacity for love. And when suffering becomes so unimaginably extreme, when it becomes so incomprehensibly intense that it completely overwhelms our own capacities, then we have been given the greatest blessing. For, like the cursed death that is at the same time the blessed resurrection, here is the place of the crucifixion where our total powerlessness as human creatures becomes completely undeniable and obvious, where we are finally emptied of every last trace of our self will, and a space is opened in the soul for God's supernatural power to flood in. Simone Weil elaborates:
The irreducible character of suffering which makes it impossible for us not to have a horror of it at the moment when we are undergoing it is destined to bring the will to a standstill, just as absurdity brings the intelligence to a standstill, and absence [brings] love [to a standstill], so that man, having come to the end of his human faculties, may stretch out his arms, stop, look up and wait –Simone Weil (Gravity and Grace, p. 102).
Because this kind of irreducible and horrific suffering finally brings the will to the point of perfect surrender, this moment of grace is described by Hadewijch of Antwerp as follows:
He who knows Love and her comings and goings has experienced and can understand why it is truly appropriate that Hell should be the highest name of Love. ...For she ruins the soul and mind to such a degree that they never recover. –Hadewijch of Antwerp (Son of Man, p. 274)
Forever ruined, the soul has passed through the mystical death, and is reborn in the life divine. Thereafter, it is God who lives in and through the purified soul, bringing peace and love more fully into the world.
So I admit my animal love which isn't a bad thing but try not to be abusive to what I don't love. Yet at the same time I know love exists at a quality that is beyond animal love I have yet to allow to really affect me.
I am not sure why, if we saw that we were sinning, we would not wish to stop it. Why watch myself get road rage when I've already learned to nip it in the bud at the first elevated heartbeat? That's my point. It's not that we are being partial, but if we have any standard to which we aspire and can recognize the difference between our own selves and the ideal standard, and we have found something we can do about it... why would we not do something about it?

What wishes to stop? If it is just another aspect of your personality it just means that one aspect is temporarily dominant over another. But suppose the light of consciousness just sees it as it is without thought of change. Perhaps the reality itself leads to real change. This should be the function of conscience in relation to consciousness. But for us conscience is a conditioned reaction rather then an emotional realization within the light of consciousness.
"Wretched" to me implies feeling. Otherwise, it's just me observing my own impermanence. The "wretched" implies a feeling, an emotional judgment of that observation. If what Paul meant was simply that he observes his own impermanence, then I do not understand his apparent agony over it. Impermanence is only problematic until you accept it and deal with it. It then becomes liberating.
But the whole purpose of the conscious experience is to invite the Holy Spirit, this experience that attracts us to wholeness which is what makes it holy. It is a quality of emotion that we don't understand until experienced but allows us to witness ourselves in perspective. It allows us to experientially value higher life to the degree that we outgrow dependence on the ego satisfactions of our lower natures.
Both. We love our potential because that is our true self, and a vessel for the Divine. We love what we are now because we are called to love all beings with the same unconditional love that God gives to us, unmerited and boundless, by virtue its eternal being-ness. If we cultivate loving compassion for all beings, we will find that we love ourselves, too. And in fact, as we are honest about our faults and weaknesses, mistakes and sins, we will find that we are able to forgive and love ourselves and therefore forgive and love others that much more, because as we learn to be unconditional in our acceptance of grace for ourselves, we learn to be so with others.
But on the other hand if we love ourselves rather than being impartial to it as stressed in Buddhism we ignore precisely what must be witnessed. I agree with acceptance and forgiveness of ourselves. I just don't see how this self love cannot become just an expression of ones personality and egotism.

There is something in us within this seed of the soul that has an awareness of its reality much like the acorn has an awareness of the Oak from which it fell. Many of us feel it to degrees as you obviously have. It just seems that the task is how to be able to connect our need to experience and feel higher life and human potential while our lower lives are dominant and block the light. There is this separation yet we can become as ONE. It just is not easy and this ONE is not something we can comprehend anymore than a caterpillar can comprehend a butterfly.
 

path_of_one

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Could you accept that there could be a distinction both in quality and quantity? Take for example this idea of holons:

Sure, but it just isn't my concern. I get the whole ecosystemic thing and it works biologically/ecologically, and while I suppose it would also work spiritually, I find much more practical use in my spending my time on moment-to-moment cultivation of being awake than in thinking about all this intellectually.

I'm highly intellectual as a scientist, and I like to think I'm good at it, but it's not really my primary "self." I'm really more an artist type and most joyful when I just am, when I maintain a sense of awake-ness in life, a sense of communion with God and with all other beings, and create out of this joy and peace. I don't think my purpose is to figure it out intellectually. Maybe for some people it is to figure it all out... but for me, ideas are not prioritized the way being-ness is. All these ideas... I mostly think they complicate things and take us into a realm of perception, rather than reality. I just don't think that becoming at one with God necessitates all these ideas.

The universe can be seen then as the living white light outside of creation devolving into all possible colors that comprise creation .

I can understand this. My experience is that God and the Universe is somewhat like the Mandelbrot set. One of my own experiences of God was this way. Difficult to describe, but essentially it was as if all the potential sound existed as one sound, then devolved to every sound imaginable, all working together.

This is how I see man's conscious evolution. It is a change of being "Isness" rather then just normal adaptation to a conceptions of morality. It is becoming the consciousness of the forest as opposed to the tree we normally are.

That makes sense. Becoming conscious of what we really are is to become conscious of our inter-being-ness with all other things, which means we become aware of consciousness at other levels of unity (Gaia, for example).

When Simone was drawn to the good beyond which the earth can know, she is referring to knowledge of the forest which as a tree, she is psycho/spiritually drawn to but incapable of.

I don't know that we're incapable of it. Incapability assumes quite a bit that may be faulty.

This is what is missing in education; the idea of acquiring a human perspective by becoming open to the light of consciousness that leads to inner freedom from darkness or the "shadows of the cave."

It's not missing in all education, but we don't have an institutionalized way to deal with this issue. Public education becomes increasingly more about creating robotic people without capacity for critical thought or creativity. That's why they keep harping on about test scores and reading/math. Reading and math are languages and means of communication that should develop naturally through the development of self-reflective learning, critical thought, and practical application.

I won't get too far into education... I could rant for days.
 

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I agree which is why I'm against a lot of modern religion that begins from this faulty foundation of fear. To build on that is a dangerous form of escapism. I've read this page many times and I see how much this quality of love is misunderstood. I know I am not capable of it now yet I know it exists.

Exactly.

So I admit my animal love which isn't a bad thing but try not to be abusive to what I don't love. Yet at the same time I know love exists at a quality that is beyond animal love I have yet to allow to really affect me.

Why haven't you let it affect you?

What wishes to stop? If it is just another aspect of your personality it just means that one aspect is temporarily dominant over another. But suppose the light of consciousness just sees it as it is without thought of change. Perhaps the reality itself leads to real change. This should be the function of conscience in relation to consciousness. But for us conscience is a conditioned reaction rather then an emotional realization within the light of consciousness.

In me, what wishes to stop is that in me that is of God. Conscience is a conditioned response to tell me right from wrong- culturally bound. Awareness is what allows the realization of harmonious action- that shows qualitative difference rather than dualistic falsity.

But the whole purpose of the conscious experience is to invite the Holy Spirit, this experience that attracts us to wholeness which is what makes it holy. It is a quality of emotion that we don't understand until experienced but allows us to witness ourselves in perspective. It allows us to experientially value higher life to the degree that we outgrow dependence on the ego satisfactions of our lower natures.

Yeah, more or less. I don't think we necessarily ever understand experience of the Spirit, but we can experience it and I do believe it is self-altering.

But on the other hand if we love ourselves rather than being impartial to it as stressed in Buddhism we ignore precisely what must be witnessed. I agree with acceptance and forgiveness of ourselves. I just don't see how this self love cannot become just an expression of ones personality and egotism.

It depends on the kind of love one has for oneself. I would not agree that impartiality is oppositional to real love. On the contrary, impartiality is a function of real love. When a parent truly loves their children, for example, they are impartial, loving each wholly. When one has real love for self and others, there is no self or others, and one is impartial toward all beings. There is a difference between self-esteem, self worth, and self love.

There is this separation yet we can become as ONE. It just is not easy and this ONE is not something we can comprehend anymore than a caterpillar can comprehend a butterfly.

I don't find that unity is difficult, but rather it is difficult to translate to daily practice. I've not found overcoming separation hard, because it isn't something "I" do- I need only be open to God doing it for me. But then the real work begins, because having experienced ONE-ness, I am still in a human body and mind in a society and world... and I have to cultivate a capacity to translate ONE-ness into action within life.

I don't think comprehension is necessary, as that depends on the human mind, which is limited and flawed to begin with. In many ways, I think the human drive to comprehend God is an egoic drive and unbeneficial to real unity. Experience of ONE-ness can be cultivated and does not need to be comprehended in order to be life-changing. When I have experienced God directly, I had no concept of comprehension and no questions to ask. I simply basked in the glory of IS-ness. In this life, I am most at peace, joy, and love and therefore most harmonious, when I cultivate this unity. It is free from ideas, from perceptions. It requires no comprehension. It is enough to just be in Being-ness.
 

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PoO,

Sometimes it strikes me when you write like this that what you are calling God is constantly referenced like "God" could be substituted for "me". I do not intend any put down but it does sound like that to me. Like God is your definition of reality removed to a third party. Have you ever considered that?
 

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PoO,

Sometimes it strikes me when you write like this that what you are calling God is constantly referenced like "God" could be substituted for "me". I do not intend any put down but it does sound like that to me. Like God is your definition of reality removed to a third party. Have you ever considered that?

Of course. It makes perfect sense that it might seem that way to someone who doesn't believe in an experience of God. I'm a panentheist, so I necessarily believe that God is in and through me, as well as beyond me. God is the only "real" reality, and is not for me to define, but certainly for me to experience.

I would say experiencing God is an experience of deepest self at the same moment. And when we experience deepest self, we find God. I don't think the two can be independent. I don't think we can really find God without finding who and what we really are. And I don't think we can really find ourselves without discovering our interbeingness with God and all other beings.

But if you decide that God is not part of the equation, and insist on perceiving another's experience that way, then it all is reduced to "me." As is any other person's definition of God. Because I acknowledge God as being in and through me, and found within and between beings- that is, in relationship and process- an atheist must necessarily reduce it all to me and me, just as if I thought of God as being entirely "other" than me, an atheist would still reduce it all to my own thoughts and projections.

That is atheism, and I fail to see how you as an atheist could see it any other way, since God is already a non-option as reality unto itself. Without a clear projection of a God in my belief system for an atheist to debunk, the only logical perception of what I'm talking about is to think I am externalizing myself to more than one entity.

But while the atheist would say God does not exist, and there is only me and me, I would say "I" do not exist, and there is only God in Being-ness. That is, you would say any idea of God is false, and I would say any idea of a separate "I" is false.

And no offense taken at all, Tao. The way you are interpreting what I'm saying makes perfect sense to me, knowing something of your worldview. I don't think it is an accurate interpretation, but at the same time I feel no need to correct it. It really makes no difference how my experience is interpreted by others. It is what it is.
 
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Nick_A

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Hi Path and Happy Easter

Sure, but it just isn't my concern. I get the whole ecosystemic thing and it works biologically/ecologically, and while I suppose it would also work spiritually, I find much more practical use in my spending my time on moment-to-moment cultivation of being awake than in thinking about all this intellectually.

I'm highly intellectual as a scientist, and I like to think I'm good at it, but it's not really my primary "self." I'm really more an artist type and most joyful when I just am, when I maintain a sense of awake-ness in life, a sense of communion with God and with all other beings, and create out of this joy and peace. I don't think my purpose is to figure it out intellectually. Maybe for some people it is to figure it all out... but for me, ideas are not prioritized the way being-ness is. All these ideas... I mostly think they complicate things and take us into a realm of perception, rather than reality. I just don't think that becoming at one with God necessitates all these ideas
I agree that in many ways they do but there are ideas and there are ideas. Thee are great ideas which make people aware of the human condition of being in Plato's Cave. Such ideas are necessary for awakening. This is the idea behind sacred text. Can we awaken to the human condition and human potential without some form of ideas is a good question but I believe they are as necessary as both physical and emotional experience.

It is the intellect that has the responsibility for awakening our capacity for "feelings" to regain their rightful place that is normally denied by our corrupt emotional states.

I can understand this. My experience is that God and the Universe is somewhat like the Mandelbrot set. One of my own experiences of God was this way. Difficult to describe, but essentially it was as if all the potential sound existed as one sound, then devolved to every sound imaginable, all working together.

I agree and that is a topic in itself. God the "Word" is actually vibration or sound from which the process of creation initiates and begins the process of involution or the ONE into the many. Cosmology is based on Pythagoras' Law of Octaves. The universe is a giant octave where the notes are cosmoses.

Everything in the universe is connected both through quantity and quality and we can become conscious of it.

I don't know that we're incapable of it. Incapability assumes quite a bit that may be faulty.
If we exist as a plurality, it stands to reason that we are incapable pf the sustained experience of inner unity.

"Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace" Simone Weil

This is typical Simone. She adds a new conception into our normal beliefs about egotism. We are drawn to inner unity and to be master of oneself. Yet we see we cannot and continue to react in opposition to our higher values. The fact that we have the potential indicates our greatness, Yet the human condition in relation to it reveals our wretchedness.

It's not missing in all education, but we don't have an institutionalized way to deal with this issue. Public education becomes increasingly more about creating robotic people without capacity for critical thought or creativity. That's why they keep harping on about test scores and reading/math. Reading and math are languages and means of communication that should develop naturally through the development of self-reflective learning, critical thought, and practical application.
We could start a thread on education. I'll help you rant. I tend to believe we have a lot of the same gripes. My research on Simone has produced some interesting articles with food for thought.

weil


These are, we may think, essentially religious ideas, reminiscent of the mysticism of Julian of Norwich, or of the Zen Buddhism whose guiding idea according to Simone Weil is ‘to perceive purely, without any admixture of reverie’. Yet she insists that these ideas should be grounded in our most ordinary educational practices. She writes that ‘the development of the faculty of attention forms the real object and almost the sole interest’ of school study. An exercise in writing Latin prose, or a geometry problem, can be a training in the right attending that can one day be of inestimable value to our fellow human beings in their hour of need. School study can thus have powerful spiritual effects, Simone Weil insists, ‘quite apart from any particular religious belief’. The connection with love is found here too:
Intelligence can only be led by desire. For there to be desire, there must be pleasure and joy in the work. The intelligence only grows and bears fruit in joy...It is the part played by joy in our studies that makes of them a preparation for spiritual life.
Perhaps the exercise of craft skill may work in the same way. The craftsman opens himself to his materials, attuned to the quality of the wood he is planning or the wallpaper he is hanging. He uses his craft knowledge but is only peripherally aware of it, if at all. There can be a kind of unselfconscious harmony in gardening, cooking, even in driving a car. Done in the right way we may find these activities, as we say, spiritually refreshing. It is not only in academic study but also in vocational training that attention can be nourished. The philosopher Iris Murdoch has drawn on and developed elements of Simone Weil’s account. The Sovereignty of Good has a famous example of how a woman may scrutinize her perceptions and come to see that her ‘pert, familiar, tiresomely juvenile’ daughter-in-law can equally, and perhaps preferably, be seen as spontaneous and delightfully youthful. Here is the attempt to perceive justly rather than impetuously, to attend without envy, prejudice or neurosis. We might consider the importance of this dimension of the moral life in education, noting that for children grasping the distinction between bullying and teasing, for example, is perhaps less a matter of understanding facts or of thinking ‘whether you would like it if someone did that to you’: it is more a matter of seeing the facts in a different light, with a different quality of attention. So too for the teacher there is a difference between seeing a pupil or student as on the one hand lazy and uninterested and on the other lacking in confidence and consequently reluctant to commit himself.

Modern education ignores these things since politics doesn't allow for supporting such individuality. Consequently we end up with the robots you refer to.

Why haven't you let it affect you?
It has affected me but I've acquired a balance. My ego allows me to experiment enough but then says enough.
In me, what wishes to stop is that in me that is of God. Conscience is a conditioned response to tell me right from wrong- culturally bound. Awareness is what allows the realization of harmonious action- that shows qualitative difference rather than dualistic falsity.
What you call conscience I call conditioned external morality. Conscience for me is associated with consciousness and allows a person to experience the inner morality Plato spoke of. As a whole we've lost this ability and are guided instead by external culturally defined morality.

Where consciousness objectively knows, conscience objectively feels. Neither have anything to do with a conditioned reaction but rather have a far deeper origin than our personality. As consciousness develops within us, we can open to the experience of conscience which feels the value of higher consciousness and aids in our striving towards it.
Yeah, more or less. I don't think we necessarily ever understand experience of the Spirit, but we can experience it and I do believe it is self-altering.
I agree. In Christianity, the self altering experience is called "metanoia."
I don't find that unity is difficult, but rather it is difficult to translate to daily practice. I've not found overcoming separation hard, because it isn't something "I" do- I need only be open to God doing it for me. But then the real work begins, because having experienced ONE-ness, I am still in a human body and mind in a society and world... and I have to cultivate a capacity to translate ONE-ness into action within life.
Here I would add that inner balance between the mind, body, and spirit, doesn't happen without the conscious endeavor to do so and achieve "presence." This oneness you refer to that can only be sustained through presence and requires a quality of conscious attention we don't have but can acquire. The trouble is that only a few have the need to acquire such a quality of attention.
I don't think comprehension is necessary, as that depends on the human mind, which is limited and flawed to begin with. In many ways, I think the human drive to comprehend God is an egoic drive and unbeneficial to real unity. Experience of ONE-ness can be cultivated and does not need to be comprehended in order to be life-changing. When I have experienced God directly, I had no concept of comprehension and no questions to ask. I simply basked in the glory of IS-ness. In this life, I am most at peace, joy, and love and therefore most harmonious, when I cultivate this unity. It is free from ideas, from perceptions. It requires no comprehension. It is enough to just be in Being-ness.
I agree that the desire to comprehend God is normally just an expression of our egoistic need. However it is not always the case. There may be a need to experience but once we have experienced such a contact, how is it developed?

We define comprehension differently. It is a relative word for me. We can comprehend things physically, emotionally and intellectually. Real comprehension as I understand it, is the result of the conscious integration of mind, body, and emotions with the help of the Holy Spirit. Consider this diagram:

Esoteric Christianity, Dwight Ott - alternative Christianity

Largely ignored by church teaching is the sevenfold nature of all things, spoken of many times in scripture, from the seven days of creation to the seven seals of Revelation. This is the law of transformation, - of creation.

7. understanding (comprehension)
6. knowledge (science and conscience) {-- KINGDOM
5. receptivity (directed attention)

4. intellect (conditioned thought / metanoia) { -- CHANGE

3. emotion (automatic feeling)
2. senses (physical senses) { -- ORDINARY HUMANITY
1. superstition (imagination)
The Bible, or anything else, can be approached through any of the seven levels. It is only with metanoia, - a change from automatic, conditioned thinking, to conscious thought, that an entrance into the higher levels (the Kingdom of Heaven) can be made. John the Baptist was at the pivotal point, but had not entered. Jesus said John was the greatest of once-born men, but that the least in the kingdom was greater. So this state has levels. Levels 1, 2, and 3 are those of ordinary humans. Level 4 is the dividing line between unconscious, conditioned thinking and the birth of a new process of thought that is conscious. Levels 5, 6, and 7 are the levels of the kingdom, -- the highest potential of humanity where there is peace, order, and unity. Lower humanity falsely believes it has the higher qualities of real experience, real knowledge, and real understanding, thus it sees no need for effort to change.
Objective human comprehension occurs at a conscious level much higher then that of ordinary humanity or as is said: inside Plato's cave. We have the potential to understand, to comprehend in the higher objective meaning of the word which reveals human meaning and purpose. However the word is seldom considered from this perspective and comprehension normally just refers to simple associations.
 

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The other big parts of my conditioning were cultivating compassion and service for others, social justice, and experiencing God through nature- God as in and through the universe, the earth, and her creatures.

Over time, I tried in various ways to connect to a sense of religious community.
What I found was interesting. The beliefs I'd developed on my own were quite Buddhist. Except that I had this personal mystical relationship with God (which I experience as both this infinitely incomprehensible Being) and Christ (which I experience as a personal comforter, teacher, and yes- deliverer). Most other stuff in Christianity made little sense to me, and most of my ideas about God, Satan, and whatnot seemed more Jewish than anything else. And I found modern Druidry, which is not a religion for me at all, but more a community to learn more about mysticism and shamanism as it relates to Earth-based spirituality. I'm intuitively shamanic- it seems to be part of my baseline personality type and is part of my life as far back as I can remember- so this nature-based mystical practice resonates too. But I can't get my head around polytheism. :eek:


So... thoughts? What do you or would you do in a similar situation?

I got the best of the best right from the start with an awesome upbringing and the best church in the world, so I had no need to go looking any farther and never had a need to belong or try to connect to a community. I already had the best right from the start that allowed me to develop on my own. I have never connected to or thru these religions and it aint going to start that way any time soon.

One of the Christs favorite places to be was in an earthy garden, alone. From there, you already know my answers:)
 

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P_o_o, perhaps this will resonate with you:
Matt 8:19-20
19 A scribe approached Him and said, (Q) "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go!" 20 Jesus told him, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man (R) has no place to lay His head."
;)


Indeed it is true.;)
 

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Matt 8:19-20
19 A scribe approached Him and said, "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go!" 20 Jesus told him, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head."
Indeed it is true

Who was the Son of Man?
 

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Of course. It makes perfect sense that it might seem that way to someone who doesn't believe in an experience of God. I'm a panentheist, so I necessarily believe that God is in and through me, as well as beyond me. God is the only "real" reality, and is not for me to define, but certainly for me to experience.
Interesting. Panentheism is viewed by some respectable philosophers and historians as virtually agnostic. And if "god" were real I believe we would be able to prove it. There is no proof of anything that does not have far better and observably factual naturalistic or material explanation. All you can justifiably say is God is real to you. While you call yourself Panentheist the writing you do that prompted me to ask is far more Christian influenced than that. The Christian paradigm is all about the singular, 1 God, 1 saviour, 1 book, 1 church. It does "me" in spades. (Does Mee see the irony?) I think a genuine Panentheism and an agnosticism/atheism such as my own does not do "me" in quite that way. I believe I have exactly the same emotional responses that you do to the kind of things you ascribe to God. In Panentheism God is bigger and beyond our universe and we dwell within as a part of it. An agnostic/atheist says if there is a God it is bigger and beyond our universe and we dwell within as a part of it. No difference. But the Christian mindset is altogether different. It personifies ego, a universe that revolves round a personal relationship to a fictional super "me". It has nothing to do with anything actually observable that does a good job of accounting for our existence, it is not about that, it is about a personal relationship not being built between self and God but between two aspects of self.
Materialism is not just a dirty word of association with capitalism but tends to get used as such to attack some Atheist POVs. You can see this especially in some of c0des posts against atheism. But he is by no means alone. The kind of materialism first extolled by greats like Democritus and Plato is a method of inquiry. It is the birth of the scientific method. But the two definitions of materialism are I would say deliberately obscured. The theistic scholars fill their propaganda with such trickery. I am a materialist. But I am not a gun or share wielding capitalist after some oil in the Arabian peninsula. I think like some others you can tend to merge the definitions. And as they are such separate definitions an actualised merge cannot but lead to false thinking.
I have said it before, and i'l say it again, that we sometimes are saying exactly the same thing. But at other times you do tend to fall back on Christian/monotheistic paradigms that to me are flawed by their inevitable personalisation. However benign or even comforting that can be for an individual when expressed on mass (accidental pun) it is responsible for most of the great crimes of history.
I think my agnatheism is just self-honesty. It says I dont know anything I cant be certain of and so I'm not going to use faith as a substitute. The universe is quite amazing enough and there is no time or need to ponder the validity of faith.
 

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Interesting. Panentheism is viewed by some respectable philosophers and historians as virtually agnostic. And if "god" were real I believe we would be able to prove it. There is no proof of anything that does not have far better and observably factual naturalistic or material explanation. All you can justifiably say is God is real to you. While you call yourself Panentheist the writing you do that prompted me to ask is far more Christian influenced than that. The Christian paradigm is all about the singular, 1 God, 1 saviour, 1 book, 1 church. It does "me" in spades. (Does Mee see the irony?)

I never said I was a Christian. Some people say I'm a Christian and some people do not. But since I do not claim to the doctrines as my own, but only an experience of Christ and a value placed on his teachings, I can't speak to this for you. You may interpret my experience and my expression any way that you wish; I can hope it would be uplifting to someone, somewhere... but these are just my ponderings and others interpretations do not change what IS for me.

I think a genuine Panentheism and an agnosticism/atheism such as my own does not do "me" in quite that way. I believe I have exactly the same emotional responses that you do to the kind of things you ascribe to God. In Panentheism God is bigger and beyond our universe and we dwell within as a part of it. An agnostic/atheist says if there is a God it is bigger and beyond our universe and we dwell within as a part of it. No difference.

In my experience, there is a difference, or there would not be two different ideas and words that connote those ideas. But whatever floats your boat. If you wish to see panentheism as the same thing as agnosticism, I don't see how my views would matter to you.

Basically, in my way of thinking, I get to express myself in the way I see fit, and you get to express yourself in the way you see fit. We've each tried to define the other's experience as our own, but neither of us are willing to say that is so. It all seems a bit pointless, really. All these words and ideas, that is.

But the Christian mindset is altogether different. It personifies ego, a universe that revolves round a personal relationship to a fictional super "me". It has nothing to do with anything actually observable that does a good job of accounting for our existence, it is not about that, it is about a personal relationship not being built between self and God but between two aspects of self.
Materialism is not just a dirty word of association with capitalism but tends to get used as such to attack some Atheist POVs. You can see this especially in some of c0des posts against atheism. But he is by no means alone. The kind of materialism first extolled by greats like Democritus and Plato is a method of inquiry. It is the birth of the scientific method. But the two definitions of materialism are I would say deliberately obscured. The theistic scholars fill their propaganda with such trickery. I am a materialist. But I am not a gun or share wielding capitalist after some oil in the Arabian peninsula. I think like some others you can tend to merge the definitions. And as they are such separate definitions an actualised merge cannot but lead to false thinking.

OK. In my spiritual life, I just toss all this whirlwind of ideas out the window and AM. I'm really kind of skeptical about the value of any of the -isms outside of very limited intellectual amusement. You seem to wish to remove yourself from the responsibility humanity has for the world being a crappy place. I don't. I'd rather just be here, recognizing every person's faults and potentials, no matter what -isms they have. I accept that the human legacy is one of violence, anger, hatred, fear. In acceptance, I have a chance to transform it. What we resist, what we see as a war... it feeds it. It reifies it. I choose not to do this whenever I can remember to be so. Peace needs awakening. Love needs awakening. I am not particularly concerned if I call this awakened love "God" and someone else does not. We are each who we are, where we are.

I have said it before, and i'l say it again, that we sometimes are saying exactly the same thing. But at other times you do tend to fall back on Christian/monotheistic paradigms that to me are flawed by their inevitable personalisation. However benign or even comforting that can be for an individual when expressed on mass (accidental pun) it is responsible for most of the great crimes of history.

By virtue of my being human, I must necessarily express myself in ways that are flawed and tied to the great crimes of history. The difference between you and I is that I do not try to hide it from myself. I can look with eyes open at the pain and suffering, including that which I cause, and I have found strength enough to be honest. I do not lay the blame on this or that church, institution, or society. I can be true to historical fact while still seeing clearly that it is our collective faults and weaknesses that cause all this suffering, and the seeds of these weaknesses lie in myself and every other person. But fortunately, I have a choice in what I do with what I am given.

I think my agnatheism is just self-honesty. It says I dont know anything I cant be certain of and so I'm not going to use faith as a substitute. The universe is quite amazing enough and there is no time or need to ponder the validity of faith.

I am glad you found something that makes sense for you. If you are implying others' views are self-deceit, then you are in good company with the religions of the world. I have not the time to elaborate on "self" and "honesty" and "faith." But I imagine you can piece it together. Essentially, I choose not to believe that you have deceived yourself, and I believe the same for me. I also choose to believe you have deceived yourself, and I believe the same for me. I am comfortable in the messiness and I feel no need to make tidy boundaries around me and you, as that's all rather pointless and a waste of time.

If the universe is quite amazing enough and there is no time or need to ponder the validity of faith, why do you do so? You seem to spend a lot of time pondering the validity of my own and others' faith, and the validity of your avowed lack of faith. Conversely, while I ponder what it means to be faithful a great deal, I rarely if ever ponder the validity of my own faith. I think validity is an irrelevant issue.

Peace to you on this day of peace,
Path/Kim
 

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[/i]
Who was the Son of Man?​


A beautiful and complete paradox.

I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
 

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"what am I"... Someone who seems to be very, trying.... Trying to look for something, something that isn't there....... But really wishes it was.

For some, when we give up looking, we find what we are in need of... Peace and rest..... Less of this stress and nonsense... OH where do I fit in?! What are the answers to these questions that are really not even worth asking....... Not looking to fit in, but just being, that's the life for me.... These roads of many, they all twist and turn and wind.... And none of them are worth the effort it takes to walk down them.... They all lead to nowhere.

"They once appeared to be paved with gold... Tempting with promises of rewards but they could not keep... But the traveller becomes tired and old, confused and alone, the terrain far too steap, stumble and fall, down to a heap.... Alone and weak, restless, need to sleep. And at this spot shall we meet."

I like this post because I am a lot the same. Religion(s) is the circle of dead ends. People think they are going somewhere due to a culdesac of rituals, traditions of men and vain repetition. That goes for interfaith and reformation as well. I think of that verse that teaches to come out from among them and be separate. It doesn’t say go join or create another institution or write some new dogma and make another dead end in the gated community of religion, but that is the first thing they do –create another dead end with a prison gate. To me it says, knock down the gate, get away from it and don't make another one, and be free in Christ.
 

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I accept that the human legacy is one of violence, anger, hatred, fear. In acceptance, I have a chance to transform it.

This is real good. I think where we might differ in the human legacy is I just accept it and do not try to change it, where you might try to change it for the better(?) because I am convinced it is never going to change. St Francis and the wisdom to accept the things I cannot change and the human legacy is what it is. This is also where I accept the abstract of free will because there are too many things against my own will that I could never change and that go against my own will or the way I wish things could be. I think it is easy to fall into other ideas that are more or less cliché and not real or go to extremes. It was easier for me to just accept it for what it is and keep a safe distance. Thus it also allows Thy will be done and not my will be done, since that is the way it is going to be anyway. This of course does not mean I do not make plans and try to make the world/things/people close to me a little nicer, when I am allowed to do so.


And I found modern Druidry, which is not a religion for me at all, but more a community to learn more about mysticism and shamanism as it relates to Earth-based spirituality. I'm intuitively shamanic- it seems to be part of my baseline personality type and is part of my life as far back as I can remember- so this nature-based mystical practice resonates too. But I can't get my head around polytheism. :eek:

I suppose I could come into some applicable terms such as, druid, celtic, apostolic, deist, humanitarian, native american, and like you, not in terms of following it as an over inflated hot air religion. I keep coming back to this post because it makes the most sense to me.

I only have one god for me and we might have the same god. I have no problem with there being other gods. I am aware of other gods but they aren't the same as mine. Not a real big deal to me.
 
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