HERETIC ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Saturday, November 03, 2018

Universal Truth; 'I AM ( 'You ARE' ) the Light of the World!

According to Scripture, Jesus said that He was the Light of the world: He also told His disciples, 'you are the light of the world' Matthew 5:14a ). The apostle John also noted that, 'as He is, so are we in this world. ( I John 4:17 )' In all three of these statements, the obvious referent is the world of Jesus' Day, even to the Jewish economy itself, but especially as Christians, we have been taught to accept that they were referring to the entire Creation, As the case may be, though; this IS one of the universal truths of Scripture!

Even though Jesus was battling the prevailing Jewish notion that THEY  ( only ) were the light of the world ( He may have even been revealing a little subversiveness against the Roman concept here ), His statement rings true today as it did then. It should be noted that much of the reason the world is in the deplorable condition it's in ( arguable, at least ), is that the disciples of the Christ have not done a very good job in following in their Master's exalted footsteps! Immediately, some would most likely object that the Gospel has made great strides in turning this world into a Paradise ( 'back to the Garden' ) & indeed, much of what we call 'growth' has occurred because of Christianity. On the other hand, though, the other side of the coin, so to speak, much has been done in the name of 'God', or 'Christ' that is not only deplorable & despicable, but morally repugnant!

The majority of Christians would most likely argue that the world is in the shape it's in because it belongs to, or is ruled, by the 'devil', or 'Satan'. There is actually some truth to such a statement, since there ARE many 'devils' in this world & the moniker 'Satan' is simply a transliteration of the Hebrew word for 'adversary'! The blame could easily be laid on the shoulders of those who do not follow the Christ & again, they would not be far wrong; a false theology can be found at the root of all the evils that have been & are still being perpetrated in this world, at least those done in the name of 'God'.

'A false theology', I say, because, for one thing, then, like today, Christians were under the assumption that all humanity is under some 'Curse'! Even though, according to Scripture, Jesus the Christ, the Son of 'God' came to break the 'Curse' ( Genesis 3 ), He, again, in this false theology, failed to accomplish this in His ( first ) Parousia & must yet return again, in bodily form, to finish what He started in the first century. Another reason we may posit as 'a false theology' much of what has been known for centuries as Christianity is that the English Bible has been translated from the Greek & Hebrew ( Aramaic ) Scriptures in such a way as to, anachronistically in many cases, force them to be applicable to a different culture & time from what they were originally written.

When Jesus spoke those words, recorded in Matthew 5, to His disciples, His immediate ( direct ) meaning was that they, those who followed Him, were as He was, 'the light ( that ) shines in the darkness' ( John 1:5 ( Psalm 112:4, Isaiah 9:2 & 58:10, ). Again, in the original context, they, as the 'light of the world' were in direct opposition to the Jewish economy of Jesus' Day, 'the darkness'! Although these words were originally spoken to Jesus' disciples in the first century, they apply as well to those who follow in His footsteps today. Contrary to popular opinion though, this exalted moniker applies to non-Christians as well ( better, in some cases ) as Christians!

In order for one to actually BE 'the light of the world', yes, they MUST follow in the footsteps of Jesus! With that said, though, it should be noted that probably as many, maybe more, who do not 'claim the Name', so to speak, actually walk the Path that Jesus walked than some who call themselves 'Christians'! This is not a denunciation of Christianity, though much room for improvement exists on that account; rather, it is to rebuke the prevailing notion that one MUST be a Christian in order to be 'the light of the world'. Neither is this to say that one doesn't have to follow the Path that Jesus walked, though He DID live in a different Time & Culture, for unless one walks as Jesus walked, in kindness & compassion, they will never ( truly ) manifest 'the light of the world', even 'the light ( that ) shines in darkness'!

This Universal Truth must be universally accepted before we can truly move forward! Christians, like the Jews of Jesus' Day, must realize that they alone are not the ONLY 'light of the world': one can follow the Path that Jesus followed, without ascribing to the tenets of Christianity, especially what is known as Christianity today. The Love & Compassion that Jesus showed is not exclusive to Christianity; the choices that individuals make, no matter whether they are Buddhist, Christian, Muslim or Jew, are what determine whether they manifest 'the light of the world', or 'the darkness'!

May we ever choose to manifest the Light!
Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, November 02, 2018

A Great Sadness

No one could say for sure where It came from; It seemed to simply appear out of nowhere! The ones who were slightly more awake knew that it had something to do with the way that the world had been working since Time Immemorial, but even they seemed to be affected by It. Notice that it's the way the world had been working, NOT the way it should be working! It had pervaded nearly every aspect of everyday Life & seemed to be gaining ground, claiming its victims all the while, at an alarming rate. As Time wore on, this Sadness was joined by, if not linked inextricably to, Its partners in crime, Fear, Anger & Hostility.

From the beginning of Time, humanity has been plagued by this Dis-ease. Some might say It's gotten horribly worse over Time, apocalyptically so, in fact, while others with a fresher, clearer perspective bear witness to the fact that, while in some It does seem to have grown & festered, in others, It has become all but extinct. The reason for this distinction, it should be noted, is personal ( individual ) choice. Every individual ( human being ) has a choice, whether he or she wants to admit it or not & while some choose to focus on material possessions & the more mundane aspects of this often dreary existence they mistakenly call 'Life', these others seek seek & search Within for the True Meaning of Life, the actual ( spiritual ) causation of the outward manifestation!

As with any Dis-ease, the causation is based in the spiritual realm, though, of course, it usually manifests most clearly in the physical realm. This is not to say that everyone that manifests a physical Dis-ease has a spiritual deficiency, though this often proves the case, but it should be clear that all physical manifestations are rooted in spirituality, whether it be an individual problem ( sometimes ), or whether it is the conglomeration of generations of ignorance & Fear. Whatever the case may be, there is but one cure for this Dis-ease & that is to get to the heart of the issue, understanding this seminal Truth & putting it into practice by purposefully making better choices.

Sadness is usually caused by a lack of something, or more correctly, a perceived lack! Focusing on the mundane ( normal? ) aspects of what we call 'Life', whether it be material possessions or human companionship, causes us, when we experience, or even fear the lack or loss of these things, to feel that lack in such a way that Fear, Anger & even Hostility are often the 'natural' resulting emotions. It all begins with Fear; because we tend to posit that 'Life' is simply the mundane aspect of this existence we are currently, as human beings, experiencing, we view the loss of our material ( physical ) existence as the loss of 'Life'. Life is so much more than this human experience! When we understand this glorious Truth & live by it, we will no longer Fear the loss of materiality; Anger & Hostility will be things of the past ( though, in our human experience, they may continue to crop up from time to time ), for we will have realized that, though while in this human shell, we must follow certain conventions in order to continue to exist in this human experience, we are infinitely more than this human experience!

Rooting out the cause of any Dis-ease is not so simple as many seem to think! Many is the physician out there, particularly in this day & age ( Big Pharma ), who seem happy to simply throw any variety of drugs at the problem, hoping to at least stave off the problem for a time ( remission? ), while, on the other hand, there are those who genuinely wish to use their accumulated knowledge for the betterment of humanity. The problem is, even those who are in the business for nobler purposes than lining their own pockets usually, but not always, seem to gloss over the glorious fact that we are more than mere humanity. Humanity is simply the outward manifestation of our inner nature! To get to the heart of the issue, one must face this often uncomfortable fact. Again, this is not to say that every single individual out there who is plagued by Dis-ease has a spiritual issue, just that, in order to manifest physically, It must begin in the realm of Spirit, with the intent of the heart, or inmost being!

So many, especially those whose consciousness has been altered by certain brands of religiosity, have looked & still look for salvation from their own inner turmoil, to a source, or sources, outside themselves, rather than rooting out the problem Within, in their inmost being ( or at least as far as we can fathom while in our human condition )! This is not to say there IS no Source outside our own Spirit for salvation, just that, for whatever reason, most have been taught that they can look only to an outside Source, since they are, by their very nature, corrupted. However, the Tide is turning; many who have been brought up in the chains of religiosity have begun to shake off that most unnecessary of burdens, while others who have never known those chains, with an open mind are eagerly exploring the infinite reaches of an otherwise finite mind. As Time passes, we may envision a world where Fear, Anger & Hostility, as well as Sadness, become things of the past!

Now that they knew what It was & where IT came from; what would they do about IT? 'Can we fix the problems of the past with visions of the future?' Well, no; we can't retract what has already been said & done, in other words, we can't change the past, but we CAN set a course for a better future! The victims that the Sadness had already claimed needed not remain victims, or wait for some outside Source to come save them; by their own choices, they could leave their chains behind, or they could wait for a Salvation that would never come!

Charles Haddon Shank

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Craft

Bible-believing Christians know that witchcraft is evil, of the devil & that those who practice it are destined for 'Hell'! However, with that being said, if one is really concerned with knowing the Truth of the matter, one will find that witchcraft is nothing more, in essence, than unlocking the Power within oneself rather than searching for that Power 'somewhere out there'. This is not to say there IS no Greater Power out there ( though probably not as traditionally understood-'dogma' ), just that it must be understood, as you've read before ( in this blog ), that, being of the same Essence as that Greater Power, we ourselves bear that Power within ourselves & must simply awaken to the realization!

As defined by Merriam-Webster's online dictionary, Wicca is a religion. To be more precise, maybe, it is a nature-based religion & thus, more a way of life, not unlike Christianity in that respect. Unlike Christianity, though, Wicca honors the female aspect of the Creator, or the Divine Feminine. Wicca, as I understand it ( I could be wrong ), is not dogmatic about its beliefs, either, but rather honors the Divine in all its glorious aspects, especially Nature, which, it might be noted, is the physical manifestation of its Power. As a religion, then, Wicca falls under the umbrella of Paganism, which predates Christianity & in fact forms the foundation for much of what we know, again, traditionally speaking, as Christianity!

Although not necessarily known as such until sometime later, Paganism, as an umbrella term ( anachronistically in reverse? ), can be noted as predating Christianity. A 'pagan', in simple terms, was anyone not a Christian or Jew ( mostly the first, rather than the latter ). As such, then, 'Pagan' was a large denominator, covering everyone, from those who worshiped Nature itself to those who, like Christians, worshiped a God or gods who were petty & must be appeased through sacrifice ( human or animal )!

Modern Paganism, which is also an umbrella-term ( including Wicca ), is a throwback to the Ancient Ways, the Old Ways of understanding what ( or Who? ) made the world go round. Ranging from those who worshiped a single entity ( monotheistic ) to those who worshiped a multiplicity of gods ( polytheistic ), Paganism, from culture to culture, revealed a people's perception ( only ) of who & what 'God' was. As we've noted previously, every culture known to man ( kind ) had their own version of a creation story, all of which are similar yet dissimilar. Culturally speaking, these stories are all pieces of the same puzzle, a grasping for 'God' that has gone on for Time Immemorial!

In our English Bibles, we read about the error of those who worshiped 'the creature rather than the Creator' ( Romans 1:25 );: while it must be noted here that the Christian Scriptures are the Story of Israel, not humanity per se, this passage has been applied, in the widest sense, to any who do not acknowledge the Christian or Jewish God. While there may be some value to this consideration, it should be understood that, while there is a Supreme Being, an Intelligent Designer, if you will ( the All ), there are many aspects to the Divinity, most if not all of which are manifest in the Creation.

To worship something, again, in simple terms, is to ascribe worth to a particular object. That object may be another person that we hold in high esteem or simply an idea, true or false, that one holds ( especially referring to Deity ). Thus the Nature Worship of Wicca & Paganism, in those terms, sounds a bit different than worshiping 'the creature rather than the Creator', does it not? Now, admittedly, there are those of both 'camps' ( although the same could almost be said of certain forms of Christianity ) who are guilty of this, but this by no means implies that Paganism as a whole idolizes what is created, rather than ascribing worth to the One True God, the Source of All that Is.

Wicca, being associated with the sadly misunderstood terms, 'witch' & 'witchcraft', naturally enjoys ( just a BIT of sarcasm there ) the stigma normally attached ( in the Christian 'camp', anyway ) to those terms. 'Witches', contrary to popular opinion ( and you probably won't find anything near this definition in any but the oldest dictionary, if at all ), depending, of course, on the person, CAN be evil ( or rather, DO evil-using their Power wrongly, whether purposely or ignorantly ), are simply those who have learned how to tap into their own inner resources as well as utilizing what Nature has provided. As another religion, one might note that Wicca, along with other forms of Paganism, is simply another way to use our innate creativity & to explain the Nature of it all: as a way of life, Wicca requires simply that one live in harmony with his or her surroundings & that they respect the Divinity in All its many forms!

Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Intentional Grounding

Having been born into this life in mid-September of 1971, biologically speaking, I am a Virgo! Astrologically speaking, Virgo is an Earth sign. Although I AM a spiritual ( spirit ) being having a physical experience, as far as biology is concerned, I have always enjoyed the sensation of being in or around water ( though I don't swim & I'd likely think twice if I were ever in the midst of one of those big storms, either on or in the water ), but when it comes down to it, I've always preferred, when given the choice, to plant my feet on solid ground. Lately, I've begun to practice 'grounding' ( among other similar pursuits ). Simply put, 'grounding' is basically taking your shoes & socks off while you walk on the naked earth or just enjoy the sounds of silence ( Nature ) with your naked feet planted in the ground. It can also include planting your bare feet on rocks, or sitting on a rock with your naked feet in a mountain stream or creek.

In life, whatever your pursuits, one's true intentions are what really matter! Whether we are able, in these biological bodies, to follow through with our intentions may be another matter, but to accomplish anything one must first have the intention. It is said that 'the highway to hell is paved with good intentions': this is a fairly popular phrase ( it's really almost cliche' ), but it's actually quite untrue! First of all, though it's only a metaphorical statement ( there IS no 'hell' ( not in the traditional sense of the word ), if someone's intentions are truly 'good', good WILL be manifest in their actions. Secondly, the one with good intentions, though their actions may put someone else through the fires of hell ( again, metaphorically speaking ), the burden of guilt falls, not on the one with good intentions, but on the one who has chosen, for whatever reason, to walk 'the highway to hell'!

You've probably heard it before; 'I never meant to hurt you'! Growing up in a fairly strict Christian house, I would often hear, 'well, you didn't mean not to!' The startling truth of these words hurts; if one's intention was truly NOT to hurt someone ( else ), they would have honed their intentions ( thoughts ) a bit more carefully before acting on them! Then we have those who claim to act without thinking ( often with the result of someone getting hurt ); no one acts without thinking first, whether consciously or unconsciously .

One of the things in this life that is so often under-played is our unconscious ( desires ). An example is something frequenters of the bar-scene are quite familiar with; 'mean drunks': 'well, he's a good guy ( or girl ) until you get some liquor into him ( or her )!' In my experience though, getting 'all liquored up' only serves to bring out one's true nature! I'm not a scientist, or even a chemist, but common sense tells me that alcohol dulls the senses ( which is the reason many people drink ( especially to excess ), so when that occurs ( their senses dulled ), their true nature ( unconscious desires ) shows & we see either 'mean drunks' or men & women acting on their animal desires, doing or saying things they might not normally do or say, whether because they're not being honest with themselves or because 'it just ain't right'. Some people are just plain assholes though!

As long as we're being honest, both with ourselves & with others, there are some genuinely good people out there, many of whom do frequent bars ( even drink to excess ) that are what I like to call 'happy drunks'. These are those who drink to forget their troubles ( for awhile ), who are actually quite pleasant to be around, though in the 'day-to-day' they might be a bit of an 'asshole'. Again, you can 'blame' this on their senses being dulled by alcohol, though it might just bring out the 'best' in them, because their unconscious has a bit more leeway!

As far as not meaning to hurt someone else through our actions, one could consciously have no desire to harm another, but if they do harm another through their actions, it is because they either don't care ( if they hurt someone ) or because they actually do ( unconsciously ) wish that person harm! I must say, though, that just because one hurts another through their actions, they are not necessarily a 'bad' person; some people are simply careless in their thoughts & actions, through ignorance, willful or otherwise, they do not know themselves & therefore cannot be honest with themselves or others, for that matter!

To know oneself is the beginning of wisdom! By knowing  ourselves, getting in touch with what has been called 'the inner man', we thereby begin a slow-dance with our divinity, with our unconscious ( even subconscious ) nature, our true nature. We are more than mere human beings; we are spiritual & thus divine in nature! When we realize this glorious fact & accept our true nature, we will begin to be honest with ourselves & others; no longer will we hurt others ( intentionally or not ) because we will understand that by hurting others through our careless actions, we are really only hurting ourselves. Then, if someone IS hurt by our actions, we may understand that they are only receiving their due, paying their karmic debt, so to speak: that is not on us, that's all them!

'Grounding' is one way in which we might achieve this, one way in which we can understand & know ourselves. Meditation is another way in which we can, by stilling our minds, get in touch with our unconscious mind, even our subconscious nature. If one would truly be honest with themselves, which is where it all begins, one must first make sure their subconscious aligns with their unconscious ( desires ) & therefore, with their conscious ( thoughts ), though not necessarily in that order.

No matter the 'sign' we were born under, we still have a choice! Being an Earth sign, especially a Virgo ( for example ) explains a lot about choices I've made in the past & continue to make ( speaking of karmic debt ), but through it all, it is the choices we make, based upon our unconscious desires, that are manifest in our actions! We are responsible for our actions, no matter how good or bad the intention, whether conscious or unconscious.When we harm others, though we consciously 'didn't mean to hurt them', then we need to step back ( 'be still and know.....' ) & meditate on whether we actually did mean them harm or whether we were simply helping them pay their karmic debt!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, October 05, 2018

The Myth of Creation

Word of Warning; if you read the title I've chosen for this post & immediately think something like, 'Okay, NOW, this blogger's really gone off the deep end!', I counsel you to stop reading right now: however, if it didn't piss you off or offend your sensibilities, read on.......

According to the Oxford Dictionary ( online ), a 'myth' is, first & foremost, 'a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.' Although a secondary definition might include anything from a fairy-tale ( legend? ) to a complete & utter falsehood, the term 'myth' does not necessarily connote an untruth. Many people ( this is not unique to Christianity ) have a tendency to take literally the language of creation when reading the account in our English Bible Genesis 1 & 2, or really, the creation account in any other Scripture ( from another culture ). This results in confusion for some & disbelief for others, so, in most cases, the creation is either disregarded, or at the least, grossly misunderstood!

Other creation accounts ( from other cultures ) may seem, at first glance anyway ( especially to our Western eyes ), to be more akin to the complete & utter falsehood end of the spectrum than anything else, but one simply has to open their eyes to the cultural relevance of whatever Scripture they're reading to understand that, although metaphorical & hyperbolic as it may sound ( 'so crazy, it just might be true' ), these 'myths' & 'legends' ALWAYS have a firm foundation in the Truth!

A few years back, I posted a short series of articles on the first several chapters of Genesis. At the time of writing, my intention was not necessarily to present the mythical qualities of the Scriptures we read, but I did endeavor to show how the Gospel of Jesus the Christ was pre-figured in the early chapters of the Hebrew Scriptures. ( Understanding, of course, that the chapter divisions are not original ) These articles, however, did show how many of the details did not make sense aside from their Ancient Near Eastern ( cultural ) context. Understanding these stories as 'myth', simply tales from a different culture, not as a literal history, but as literature, we can see that while they are firmly rooted in truth, they are told in such a way as to reveal what my readers might be familiar with by now; 'a deeper spiritual truth'!

From a website containing the full text of the Babylonian Creation Epic, 'Enuma Elish'; I found this quote from scholar Stephen Bertman quite interesting:

"Both Genesis and Enuma Elish are religious texts which detail and celebrate cultural origins: Genesis describes the origin and founding of the Jewish people under the guidance of the Lord; Enuma Elish recounts the origin and founding of Babylon under the leadership of the god Marduk. Contained in each work is a story of how the cosmos and man were created. Each work begins by describing the watery chaos and primeval darkness that once filled the universe. Then light is created to replace the darkness. Afterward, the heavens are made and in them heavenly bodies are placed. Finally, man is created. These similarities notwithstanding, the two accounts are more different than alike. (312)"

'The 'Enuma Elish', while a bit longer & maybe a little more sordid in detail than the Hebrew account, shows us several things. It shows us the cultural difference & the fact that the Hebrews were not the only ones to record their beginnings. Rather than the one 'God' we read about in the Greek & Hebrew Scriptures, most, if not all the other accounts tell of a multiplicity of 'gods'. Along those lines, here is another quote, this time from scholar Jeremy Black;

"The rise of the cult of Marduk is closely connected with the political rise of Babylon from city-state to the capital of an empire. From the Kassite Period, Marduk became more and more important until it was possible for the author of the Babylonian Epic of Creation to maintain that not only was Marduk king of all the gods but that many of the latter were no more than aspects of his persona. (128)"

As myths go, then, the creation account we read in the first two chapters of Genesis is but one among many. To be clear, by speaking of creation as a myth, I'm not saying, by any means, that all this glory just happened by chance: on the contrary, it was choice, intelligent choice, by which the heavens were spread, the planets & stars hung & human-kind set to rule the earth! It should be clear by now, to any but the most casual ( ignorant? ) observer that the account we read in the beginning of our English Bibles, though different from say, the 'Enuma Elish', is really not that different in ( overall ) content!

As Stephen Bertman, above, recognized, the creation account that is recorded in the beginning of the Hebrew Scriptures is not a record of the creation of the material universe, though that may be in the background as a given; it is rather an account of cultural beginnings, the creation of covenant, as some have noted, between the Creator God & His Creation.  It is the traditional story of the genesis of the Hebrew people, handed down, by some accounts, over the generations & compiled by Moses, the great Lawyer of the Hebrews. As such, we should read this intriguing story, not simply with our wondering ( wandering? ) Western eyes, but through the lens of cultural context, seeking to understand it as its original audience would have.

Charles Haddon Shank