The Jewish Zohar Shekhinah and the Christian, & Mormon Holy Spirit

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by ScholarlySeeker, Mar 27, 2021.

  1. ScholarlySeeker

    ScholarlySeeker Active Member

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    This morning's research work. Enjoy!

    The Jewish Zohar Shekhinah and the Christian, Mormon Holy Spirit

    We are now 21 years (2+ decades) in a new Millenium, and we need, and truly ought, to expand our spirituality and accept the call for the remythologization for our new age we are now in. Just what does this mean actually? The great Jewish scholar Arthur Green describes this idea best of all: “We have seen the theology of despair which comes out of the Holocaust: we must now go beyond it to a renewal of real life. We have lived through the dead end of historicism as an ideology and have been crippled by the conclusion of the critical consciousness; we must now move from the critical to the post-critical age in our religious formulations. We have seen the unidimensional flatness and poverty which positivism and historicism have lent to our once sacred existence. The need for demythologizing is past; a remythologizing of the religious consciousness is what this hour calls upon us to create. And here it is the Kabbalist, the one who has most successfully accomplished that task in the past, who is to be our historic guide and mentor.”[1]

    Renewing re-energizing theology is the calling need of our day. Radical with the heartfelt spiritual loving intent of expressing expansion of understanding rather than keeping things in the old stale grooves of “us vs them,” which served their purposes, but a bright new era has arrived and we are feeling the uplifting delicious sunshine, let us bask in it, breath in it and live in it. New scripture in the form of the Jewish Zohar has given us the impetus for “engaging Torah” as the rabbis in the Zohar love to say.

    I approach the interesting expression “engaging in Torah” in a broad sense (I am not Jewish so am at liberty to go outside of Orthodox thinking, yet remain within the realm of valid theological spirituality none the less) of comparing religious expressions across the board, not limiting definitions nor concepts within any single tradition, which has just been far too narrow a methodology for centuries. We are in a new Millenium, and new contacts are simply demanding to be made, new visions, hopes, loves and expressive meaningful connections and work to disregard old prejudices, foibles, and anomalies across religious, historical, scientific, and spiritual frontiers.

    Since Mormonism claims to be a part of Israel through Joseph, and the Jews are the ancient tribe of Judah, still with us today, amazingly enough, I have found it particularly interesting to compare and contrast and connect the two traditions (which is what they are supposed to be doing themselves all along, though they apparently aren’t getting the point and have lost the big picture) and begin hopefully seeing an expansion of viewpoints overall which I believe are quite helpful, even though, sometimes painful, since it means no longer imagining only one can be in charge at a time in God’s “Plan.” It’s supposed to be God’s Plan, not Judah’s or Mormonism’s alone. I can’t help but think that in a new Millenium it could be quite useful and fruitful to begin seeing if there are areas which can merge, even though perhaps it can be painful since some aspects of cherished traditions may have to give way to greater overall visions and views of reality than either are used to. Orthodoxy’s on both sides may have to become a bit more flexible than they have been in the past. Growth pains are never enjoyable to go through, but in the long run always are beneficial.

    One thing that can become very helpful is eliminating old labels of perceived opponents (usually wrongly perceived based on limited understanding) such as “pagans” and “apostates,” and even “heretics” and “anti-Mormons”, “liberals,” and move into a larger arena of congenial embracing of the “other” instead of crowning oneself King of truth. There is only One King, and neither Judaism nor Mormonism nor Christianity nor Islam are it, but are a part, each a piece, not the entirety of that proposed “Kingdom.”

    It may be an apt time to reassess our thinking in this regard and recognize we are part of something vastly larger than our own little selves, with our own pet “revealed” truths in the work of salvation. More Brotherhood across borders and less finger pointing and disdain are truly called for with all sides coming together in mutual approbation and humanly love. In other words, it’s perhaps time to recognize others’ cultures and their expressions as a part and parcel of the overall picture, not whether they are authentic or not based on our own supposed superior culture and knowledge as a basis for acceptance. All the expressions are authentic on the esoteric depth, a depth far too little visited, appreciated, and expounded on across borders of cultural police patrols keeping out putative enemies, which is vastly more illusion than reality.

    The actual real enemy is our ignorance, not a perceived outside enemy of “other” who doesn’t think and believe like we do. It is time to deliberately cultivate a mentality of less narrow thinking, and broader understanding of people’s cultural differences, and scriptures, with real kavanah, (heartfelt intention)not a smug fake Brotherhood in order to appear good so we get brownie points in heaven. But we are in genuine need of real goodness, that which stems from our hearts to “other” without labeling the “other” except as “one of us,” and treat him and his own spiritual truths with respect, care, and love. Granted, it’s a huge order, and I am not anywhere near the ideology, but we begin to move in that direction and let details work out as they will. I have decided to turn in my disdain for the “other” (those who don’t think, believe, and feel like I do, but I think they ought to since I am right and I have to convince them they are not - it’s this thinking that just has worn out its welcome isn’t it?) for the lofty ideal and see what comes of it.

    With that very long preface and attempt to mollify disdain and outright outrage (a ridiculous reaction but one which happens none the less when one is called upon to perhaps change one’s view a bit to get a larger picture of truth) because of a radical something I am going to propose, let me begin.

    Joseph Smith said on an occasion “What will save our spirits will save our bodies. Our actions in our earthly tabernacles will determine the future for our spirits.”[2] Isaac Luria, perhaps the greatest medieval Kabbalist taught “During the recitation of the Shema, the lower union transforms into the higher union. Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.”[3]

    I am particularly struck at the congruence of these two statements, the overarching truth manifest in them, directly, no deep scholarly elaboration, mystical ululation and difficult expression, no elaborate philosophical jargon and discourse, just two blunt statements of direct truth from two founders of two religions which still have enormous influence in the world today, one from a Mormon, the other from a Jew. And they are exactly the same principle, though culturally expressed with their own particular inflection.

    The unification Luria is talking about is the human with the Divine to put it shortly and directly. That is the pure goal and alchemical gold of all esoteric meaning whether Jewish, Muslim Christian or Mormon. Otherwise there is simply no point to anything.

    What energized me to write this paper is my reading (I do daily) of the Zohar, in “Parashat Mishpatim: - :Laws,” the “Sava de-Mishpatim” - “Old Man of Mishpatim,” where Rabbi Yose exhults on encountering Rabbi Hiyya - “How happy I am to see the face of Shekhinah.”[4]

    Daniel Matt’s comment here on this is quite revealing! “According to rabbinic tradition, ‘whoever welcomes [literally, receives the face of] the wise is considered as if he welcomes Shekhinah…’ The Zohar transforms the rabbinic simile into an actual description of the righteous, who are called the face of Shekhinah ‘because Shekhinah is hidden within them: She is in concealment, they are revealed.’”[5]

    Who is Shekhinah? In as short a possible way, She is God’s Wife. She is the Female aspect of God Himself. She is the wife, daughter, sister, everything to do with the Divine feminine God within humanity and God, the great unifier. Her symbolisms elaborated in the Zohar are innumerable as she is one of the singular most important parts of Jewish esoteric spirituality. And Shekhinah as “Mom” (I say this with reverence and adoration, not sarcasm, but holy reverence) is utterly celebrated, cherished, relished, praised, glorified, and loved as longly, loudly, and joyfully as humanly possible in the Zohar. All else may pass away, all things, all galaxies, the entire universe, “Mom” never becomes outdated, or irrelevant or passes away. “Mom” is eternal.

    Judaism in its lofty spiritual accomplishment within the elaborate, ornate, and delicious Zohar has brought back a concept which Christian, Muslims, and Mormons can now begin to cherish greater, and appreciate on a vaster scale. This ties in with an astonishing occasion occurring in Jesus’ life which has gone missing in Orthodox Christianity, and which grooves perfectly with the Zohar conception of Shekhinah.

    When Jesus was baptized, the image of a dove descended upon him and a voice was heard declaring him the Son. According to some of the Early Christians’ understanding (probably not all of them as they were never actually united in their theological ideas and beliefs), Jerome, one of the many early Christian Church Fathers, quotes the Gospel of the Hebrews which declared that Jesus was the Son the voice had been waiting for. Jesus described that voice as the Holy Spirit “My Mother.”[6]

    Gershom Scholem, the indefatigable Jewish Kabbalist scholar, described how Philo described the Creator Father of all, and the Mother of all, and the Son. The Father was the husband of Wisdom (personified wife of God) while the Hebrew Qadosh was described as the Holy Spirit, it was the same spirit who was the Mother in the Hebrew scriptures.[7] This same Godhead of Father, Mother, Son, who was birthed to them as the Logos(!) is further described by numerous biblical scholars, of which for now one reference suffices.[8]

    Mormonism has somehow missed out of this magnificent theological development of the “Eternal Family” of Father, Mother, Son, yet does have some esoteric teachings of the idea of eternal spirits of mankind, and the serious importance of the Holy Ghost. One of the truly exalting themes was told by B.H. Roberts, a prominent early Mormon theologian and church leader. He did say the Holy Ghost was a “pure spirit of intelligence.” Also a personage of spirit, not yet embodied. In light of that, he distinguished yet another spirit within Mormon theology which fills the immensity of space, a “creative and upholding power and vital force - intelligence-inspiring power - the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”[9]

    In the Zohar, this is the Shekhinah. In the "Haqdamat Sefer ha-Zohar," Shekhinah with Binah (the Mother) as Mother and Daughter comprised the two ends of heaven, above and below.[10] In the “Parashat Hayyei Sarah,” we read “The sea resembles the sky, as we have learned, and the sky, the Throne of Glory.” Both Sea and Throne of Glory, which is in the very Highest heaven, is symbolized by Shekhinah.[11] Shekhinah in the “Lekh Lekha,” is the “et” of the Hebrew language, that is, she comprises the entire alphabet of divine speech itself! Cf. Jesus being the Alpha and Omega.[12] Shekhinah is the Moon, as well as identified with and as Metatron in the “Va-Yeshev.”[13] Shekhinah is the Tent of Meeting, which itself, was a model of the entire Cosmos, in “Va-Yhi.”[14] In the “Parashat Shemot,” Shekhinah is the Garden into which the rivers of heaven flow. The Garden is symbolic of the entire Cosmos, she is that.[15] And there is much more symbolisms and levels to the depth of “Mom,” which the Zohar elaborates. She is one of the singular most all inclusive symbols in all of esoteric literatures.

    Now, putting together the three components, the Mormon one, the Christian one, and the Jewish one, seems to me a more desirable all inclusive completing of knowledge rather than a competing which one is more authentic type of thinking. We are interested in the whole truth, not fighting singular aspects of one culture’s ideas against another’s attempting in a silly manner to verify one and denigrate another. A coming together, and interweaving makes a stronger spiritual cloth in the blanket of truth than a single thread every time and always in my thinking. It encompasses, exalts, enlarges, and expands our intellect, our spirit, our appreciation for the total light we are receiving from all ends of the earth and from all humanity. They all three (Christian, Mormon and Jewish) mutually support, give credit, and coordinate in a delightful unifying conjunction of theological, cosmological, and spiritual excellence. It just seems to me this is a superior way to go.

    Endnotes
    Leonora Leet, “The Universal Kabbalah: Deciphering the Cosmic Code in the Sacred Geometry of the Sabbath Star Diagram,” Inner Traditions, 2004: 54.
    “An American Prophet’s Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith,” Scott Faulring, editor, Signature Books, 1989: 466.
    Isaac Luria, “A Discourse on the Nature of Circular and Straight Energies,” in “Kabbalah of Creation, The Mysticism of Isaac Luria, Founder of Modern Kabbalah, A Translation of the Gate of Principles” translated with commentary by Eliahu Klein, North Atlantic Books, 2005: 24.
    Daniel Matt, “The Zohar,” Pritzker edition, Stanford University Press, (12 volumes), Vol. 5, 2009: 1, (2:95a). Hereafter cited as “Matt, The Zohar.”
    Matt, p. 1, note 3.
    Margaret Barker, “The Great High Priest,” T & T Clark, 2003: 242-243.
    Gershom Scholem, “The Mystical Shape of the Godhead,” Schocken Books, 1991: 143f.
    Margaret Barker, “The Great High Priest,” pp. 237f.
    B.H. Roberts, “The Truth, the Way, the Life, An Elementary Treatise on Theology,” edited by John W. Welch, BYU Studies, 1994: 226-227.
    Matt, Zohar, Vol. 1:6, note 30.
    Matt, Zohar, Vol. 2: 203 and note 2.
    Matt, Zohar, Vol. 2:57 and note 450.
    Matt, Zohar, Vol. 3: 86f, and notes 9 and 10.
    Matt, Zohar, Vol. 3: 458 and note 733.
    Matt, Zohar, Vol. 4: 1 and note 3 and 4.
     
  2. PricelessPearl

    PricelessPearl Active Member

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    Love the Mother part. I have studied the Tree of Life, Hebrew alphabet and had teacher’s knowledge of Kabbalah, but I dropped it when I wanted to learn more about the Bible.

    Although I have several icons in my home of the Mother and Child, it’s easy, I find it easy anyway, to forget about her, or better, it’s a struggle to give her her place in a patriarchal system. She is there for sure but takes a backseat (or maybe it’s my negligence and others have no problem honouring our Mother).

    Anyway, I enjoyed the reverence the post gave her. I tend to clump Father, Mother, Son all together as YHVH to keep my mind unified.

    thanks
     
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  3. ScholarlySeeker

    ScholarlySeeker Active Member

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    Well thank you, I enjoy writing on all kinds of themes. The idea of clumping or rather uniting the Father, Mother Son is not out of the realm of what the Zohar does as well.

    I know there are so blasted many good subjects I want to study that I hop, skip, and jump around - Lol. Probably drives people nuts, but what the heck. I really dig the Tarot also and am right now writing up some stuff on the logos. The Bible really is an astonishing amazing book. If I could just find my Quran I could get back to reading it too. I moved my library downstairs a while ago from being upstairs and do you think I could find anything? Lol......sigh.......the difficulties that occur when you try to clean up.

    I have a lot of Mormons in the family, and was actually raised Mormon, but no longer really believe it specifically. So I am trying to nudge them into opening their minds a bit more and recognize the goodness in other religions. They love to pretend only they exist as Gods darlings and God helps no one else and will do nothing else for the world except through them. This new publication of the Zohar just has me thrilled out of my gourd, so I am using it as a basis of saying hey you all might want to look at this, this is incredible.

    So many of the Mormon women want to know more about Heavenly Mother, and are aware that Jews have the Shekhinah and Catholics have Mary, but where are the Mormon "Mothers" the Divine Feminine in Mormonism? So I am hoping they start looking into this wider parameter more. They have a legitimate point I think, the leadership is far too strongly Patriarchal and should begin recognizing the Divine Feminine more. Its everywhere except Mormonism......oh well, they might get it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2021
  4. PricelessPearl

    PricelessPearl Active Member

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    Please don’t be offended, I refer to Mormons as ‘funny bunnies’. They have some far out beliefs. But I thought that they do believe in a Mother and that she will appear at a certain point to humanity (which isn’t far fetched - I have often thought that what the world/earth needs is its Mother).They see her as an actual person. I could have that wrong.

    I studied Tarot too. It is wonderful really. I was only interested in the major arcana and have had some beautiful visions and revelations from using Tarot. Again I gave it up to study the Bible, which I don’t do nearly enough of.
     
  5. ScholarlySeeker

    ScholarlySeeker Active Member

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    :):):)
    No offense taken at all. That's quite amusing actually......
     
  6. stranger

    stranger wolfwing, a feral angel

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    Wow Pearl, quite interesting. I had never delved into the Tarot myself until Thomas here on the list recommended a book on it (about 75% of the stuff I've read here since being on the list has come from him). The author's salutation "Dear Unknown Friend" had me from the getgo. I had the kindle version and could hardly pull myself away from the computer. You know, Tarot has always had that veil hung on it (evil, forbidden). It's awesome when veils are lifted, if only a little bit. They are there for a reason though... Apparently I wasn't yet ready to hear from that source just yet. I read it all but I retain stuff funny... Not any kind of a super memory or anything, just something that goes to the heart (and perhaps stays there?) To be called forth when it is needed? This is the way with me, I go through life knowing nothing (or so it feels).

    There was a guy who used to post here called Cobbler's Apprentice, he and I have corresponded but I'm afraid I let my end of it slip quite a bit (I lose track of time easily, have trouble putting points on it and remembering them). He was Pure Land Buddhist, not a theist, and followed what he called a "way of no calculation". It's the same for me although I am theist. I really hope he can come back here some day. As one of our members (Tea) pointed out he is somewhat of a nomad, I didn't have a good understanding of that before. I think I do now.
     
  7. PricelessPearl

    PricelessPearl Active Member

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    My favourite Tarot teacher is Dr Paul Foster Case. I came across his book The Book of Tokens Tarot Meditations; my path changed forever. I am still discovering this site and need to make a point of checking out suggested readings. (Honestly, sometimes I think I need less in my head not more. Not because I think I know everything but because God has already given me so much, and I am not really seeking to gain more words, and theories and practices but rather to understand what God has already put inside me in Christ Jesus and all the magnificence of what it actually means to abide in the Son of God.) Not to preach.

    I never planned on becoming Christian. In fact I ran from it having been exposed as a child to it; and I benefited greatly from going down various spiritual paths. But I opened the Bible one day and began to read and it shattered me into 10,000 pieces. I descended into hell and spent years roaming around. That was years ago. But now when I read the Bible I am raised to the highest. Why I don’t read it more often I do not know. If I knew how to add an emoji here I would (smiley face)
     
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  8. stranger

    stranger wolfwing, a feral angel

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    Okay, now I'm going to quit calling you just "Pearl" and remember to always call you PricelessPearl because that is what you are. Thanks for that author recommendation, I will check that out tomorrow. There's an emoji function at the top of your page but I like the way you did it here better. (Doesn't have to be perfect for the heart to shine through it and sometimes imperfections even help.) Perhaps we can talk a little more tomorrow. Take care and have a good night.
     
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  9. ScholarlySeeker

    ScholarlySeeker Active Member

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    Paul Foster Case is indeed top man for the Tarot. His book "Tarot: Key to the Wisdom of the Ages" is incredible. I might add Jason Lotterhand "Thursday Night Tarot" is exceptional also. Richard Robert with Joseph Campbell "Tarot Revelations" is one of the coolest ones I have ever read.
     
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  10. PricelessPearl

    PricelessPearl Active Member

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    You are sweet. Thank you. I am working tomorrow but will check out the site when able.
     
  11. PricelessPearl

    PricelessPearl Active Member

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    And here I thought that I had consumed everything Joseph Campbell wrote. I just might have to get that one. I like Lotterhand as well. Thanks.
     
  12. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi ScholarlySeeker —

    Interesting stuff here. Sadly, I don't see any 'Christian component' you speak of?

    Oooh ... we have to be really careful when we start anthropomorphising like this ...

    I think @RabbiO will know better than I, but as I understand it, while the noun is feminine, we should not make that grounds to assert an overtly anthropological model in regard to the Godhead, because as soon as we do, we risk polytheism?

    Speaking as an apophatist, whenever we form a mental image of the Divine, we risk idolatry. And I say that with cautious regard to my own favourite terms, lest they, too, become idols.

    Divine qualities, we can say, flow from the Divine, but they do not define the Divine.

    I'd be interested to hear about that.

    And that!

    +++

    I am conscious of the fact that the Abrahamic Traditions have emerged as inescapably patriarchal and, too often and too easily, rankly misogynist. But having said that, don't start me on the male narrative of the Divine Feminine!

    To me, when the Divine term is masculine, I read 'Transcendent", and when it's feminine I read "Immanent" – but it's all the One God.
     
  13. ScholarlySeeker

    ScholarlySeeker Active Member

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    I do believe that is how the Zohar presents it, yes....
     
  14. PricelessPearl

    PricelessPearl Active Member

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    Morning Thomas - It was when I first started calling God Father that my experience of God moved from something intangible (not sure that’s the best word to use) to a relationship, to an experience of love. There had always been awe, respect, wonder, trust but I think because a father is an image or symbol- that which it represents became available for me to know or experience. The Bible is full of imagery of God as far as I understand it anyway (every character and place is a personification of an aspect, feature or quality of God - what I term Consciousness. For example, Jerusalem is called our mother in scripture.)

    I am God’s wife. He is my husband as Israel is the bride; the church is the bride. Israel is also called the son - it all helps me figure out consciousness. Viewed either macro cosmically or micro. Anyway, what I am going on about is that imagery is good. Idolatry I define as giving power to or worshiping God or something outside of oneself. God is in us, is our very consciousness. We worship God not the created - although the created is God. That doesn’t exclude using an image, words, to help open the mind to the divine. Not to me anyway. We think in image and are image.

    I find the mother and father both transcendent and imminent as each implies the other. (Really, I find the whole bloody thing indivisible as well as a mystery.)

    I am new here and your name has come up several times in conversation. Nice to meet you.
     
  15. Tone Bristow-Stagg

    Tone Bristow-Stagg Active Member

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    I see the that the "Renewing re-energizing theology is the calling need of our day" was achieved in the 1800's.

    I personally see the answer to all division is that there is One God who gives the same Holy Spirit in every age through every Messenger.

    That oneness becomes our unity, in our diversity.

    The simplicity negates the complexity we have made of Faiths.

    Regards Tony
     
  16. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    I agree with you from the point of view that our souls belong to God .. are from God.

    You can't say "the created is God", imo.
    Almighty God is not created, He is eternal.
    It is possible to philosophize about male and female parts of God .. but it is quite meaningless really.
    Male and female are a manifestation of the physical world .. the created world..
    It is true that male and female have different natures .. it is none but God who gave ALL of his creatures the natures that they have.
    That is why trying to "pin down" what God is in this way is rather futile .. He is of INFINITE nature.
     
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  17. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi PricelessPearl –

    The Catholic Church sees itself the same way.

    Again, by extension of the bride and groom analogy, we are all sons and daughters of the Divine.

    Oh, indeed, no argument there! :D I'm a Catholic symbolist, for me symbol is everything.

    OK. We have different definitions.

    I would say God is present to our consciousness.

    Here we disagree. I don't support pantheism, and if we were discussing panentheism, then that's a nuanced conversation, but at base level, what is created is, by virtue of its created-ness, its contingency and its finitude, not God.

    And you, too.
     
  18. PricelessPearl

    PricelessPearl Active Member

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    I agree
     
  19. PricelessPearl

    PricelessPearl Active Member

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    Okay, definitely a huge disagreement in this. Respectfully, I don’t see how anyone could rise above a consciousness of separation (or fall from grace) without God being All. But, again, respectful, I hear you.
     
  20. PricelessPearl

    PricelessPearl Active Member

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    Okay. I say Consciousness (I AM or YHVH) is the only thing there is and is the One and only Being or LORD presenting itself to our senses. We mistakenly identify Spirit as matter. Enough from me.
     

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