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


Sunday, November 10, 2019

Conscious Breathing

A good friend of mine has a saying, something to the effect of, 'imagine if you had to consciously draw every breath!' The context of his statement, of course, being the religious man that he is, was that there is a 'God' out there somewhere, a 'Man in the Sky' ( though He most certainly would NEVER put it that way! ) Who watches over us, in this case particularly, while we're sleeping & helps us to continue to draw breath while we are in a state of unconsciousness, so to speak. While this is true, from a human standpoint, at least, that there IS a 'God' ( consciousness ) that watches over us ( while we sleep ), It is NOT some 'Person' in the heavens ( 'Heaven'? ) that does this, though it IS most certainly a Higher Intelligence than is normally attributed to humankind ( even someone like Albert Einstein or Nikola Tesla )!

The subject of meditation may, at it's most basic, be said to focus, first & foremost, on one's breathing. By calming oneself, by focusing ones attention on their breathing, one is enabled to willfully breathe; that is to say, rather than allowing ones body to clamor for attention by some some 'need to breathe' ( which I do not deny, by the way ), one allows their Higher Consciousness to control their breathing, thereby becoming calm. Some people, as mentioned previously, both above & in a post on the same subject, focus their attention on a Power outside them which enables them to breathe unconsciously: I will not say this is wrong, though it does detract from personal responsibility & tends to lead to a sense of unworthiness & even self-loathing! No, it is not wrong ( by any means ) to look outside oneself for necessary sustenance ( whether physical, emotional, or spiritual ), but once one realizes, through whatever means, that the Power is within, it becomes less & less necessary ( even harmful ) to look outside oneself.

Some may accuse me of haranguing against, in particular, Christianity! Although I'm not the only one ever harmed, spiritually or emotionally ( which can both lead to physical harm ), by ( institutional ) religion, neither am I trying to imply that ALL Christians, even some within the bounds ( 'bonds'? ) of institutional Christianity, are wrong. Some Christians rightly practice the Principles of the Christ, even though they may still be entrenched in religion! For the most part, though, those particular Christians are on the move & will not be content to stagnate, or 'wallow in the mire' with the rest of their fellows!

The Power of Prayer is another subject which has come under consideration, particularly of late. Having written on this subject previously as well, I will simply reiterate & expand on my previous statements. While prayer is most often made to some 'God' above ( I do not deny a 'God' Above ), in many places, it is voiced aloud & quite publically, to whatever effect. In some cases, this 'effect' is that some who hear the uttered request or need, if it be in their power to answer that request or fulfill that need, will do so, thus acting the part of 'God'. In other prayers, the supplicant may focus on health issues or concerns, such as a cancer of some type, that only 'God' can take care of. In such a case, however, although modern medicine, to a degree, is often, in the long run, worse than the cure; it has enjoyed some degree of success in dealing with many ailments. On the other hand, here too, as in many other cases, physical issues, including cancer, can be resolved by voicing ones concerns aloud.

Unlike prayer, which is focused on a Power outside oneself ( which also tends to alleviate or even negate personal responsibility ), meditation usually focuses on the Power within, helping one to realize that they do have have the Power, as well as the responsibility, to maintain & sustain the physical vehicle they incarnate. Without going into the science of the matter ( much information on the subject is easily accessible, thanks to the internet ). suffice it to say that it IS within the realm of possibility, even probability, for humanity to cure itself of ANY type of cancer! ( Strong statement, I know, but the Power really IS within us to heal ourselves, naturally, without the aid of artificial 'drugs' )

Modern science, to whatever extent, has discovered ( 'uncovered' might be a better word for it ) many of the wonders of this human vehicle, leading to ( for those willing to 'see' it, anyway ) the knowledge that, contrary to popular opinion, we don't need all the 'drugs' that Big Pharma is selling us to 'cure' ourselves! The Earth ( Mother ) has all the necessary resources to help us sustain & maintain this physical vehicles. This may come as a bit of a surprise to some ( Christians? ), but even the Hebrew Scriptures intimate this glorious fact!

Meditating on this glorious fact has lead many to the even more glorious realization that the Power is all around us, within our grasp, so to speak. Thanks to Big Pharma, in large part, most of these resources are not readily available ( or acceptable ), but the tide is turning as we speak: more & more people ( for the most part, those outside the bounds of 'religion' ) are realizing those natural cures, putting them to good use & bettering their own lives, as well as those of others!

Christianity ( organized religion ) has not done much, sadly, to educate the Greater Community to this glorious fact. With its focus on the Power in the heavens & its commitments to 'saving souls for the Afterlife', it has failed to enable its adherents to realize their own Power, 'God-given', no less; to 'save' themselves, to cure their own physical vehicles by making the best use of the resources this Good Earth has to offer. This, again, is NOT to say that no one within the bonds of organized religion, in particular, Christianity, can, does, or will ever realize this glorious truth, although it surely can be detrimental to this realization!

Back now, to the subject at hand; proper meditation ( on the Power Within ) calms our spirit, our true nature, if you will, enabling us to look past the trials of this life ( including 'cancer' ) to see that, indeed, we ARE More than what meets the eye! The illusion that 'what you see is what you get' being destroyed, we are enabled to more clearly see the available resources, including ourselves. It all starts, physically speaking, with consciously & purposefully taking every breath.The realization that our fate is not dependent on the whims of some 'God' out there somewhere, but rather on our own personal choices is empowering!

'Is meditation, then, the cure for everything; is that what you're saying?' My readers will have to decide for themselves; I'm not saying either way, but I will say that it is WHOLLY dependent on themselves! By the choices you make & the actions ( both directly & indirectly ) that follow; YOU determine your own fate, as well as influencing that of others, to whatever extent. Yes, this goes both ways; anyone may be influenced by the choices & actions of others, but it is OUR choice that most affects our destiny. How we react ( or not ) to someone else's actions determines our own personal course. Focusing on our own personal Power has the effect of realizing that it is what WE do, the choices WE make, that really matter in the Grand Scheme of things!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, October 28, 2019

A Personal 'God'?

'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'
Jesus - Matthew 22:37 

As always, we must keep in the forefront of our mind that when Jesus spoke these words, quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 ( among others ), He was speaking to the Jews in the first century AD. This 'Lord' ( Hebrew - YÄ•hovah; Greek - kyrios ) was THEIR 'God'! 'He' was the product of their imagination, how they perceived the Giver of Life, the Source, the Divinity! Many different cultures see this 'God' in as many different ways ( even within certain cultures ), but all, or at least most, see 'God', along with 'Satan' as a powerful Being that watches from a distance & sometimes intervenes in the affairs of humankind. Christians have worshiped this 'God', the 'God' of the Hebrews, for ages. Some, like this blogger, might question 'Why?' Why DO we worship this 'God' rather than the 'God' of a different nation or culture? Sure, the Christian 'God', the 'God' of the New Testament at least, is a kind & merciful 'God'; 'He' is full of Wisdom. 'He', according to 'His' Word, is the One True & Living God! But why should we take 'His' Word for it? Is 'He' not simply an Aspect of, or the Hebrew perception of the Divinity?

 Not to rail unduly against the Christian 'Trinity' ( for one, we've been there before & two, that's really not what this is about, though it certainly plays a part ), but its description, in essence, is 'Three Persons, One God'. Though there is some confusion about this 'Three Persons' thing ( some actually have wondered if 'Father, Son & Holy Spirit' ( or 'Ghost' ) are really three ( separate ) Gods ), this should be a glaring clue that 'They/He' are simply an invention of man, or humankind. ( I'm not arguing the fact, by the way, that these words, or concepts, ARE, in their Greek form anyway, found in the Bible, which is the English ( Western ) rendition of that piece of Ancient Near Eastern literature. ) The concept ( speaking of 'concepts' ) of 'the Trinity' does not originate with the Greek Scriptures; it was around long before they were ever conceived, in different cultures, used to explain their perception of 'God'. This is not, again, to try to discredit the 'God' of the Hebrews & Greeks ( the 'God' of the Bible ) or even to say that Christians are wrong in their perception of 'God' ( although, thinking of 'Him' as a 'Person' ( whether the 1st; 2nd or 3rd ) tends to get in the Way ); this is simply to say that, as long as you love 'your God' & 'your neighbor as yourself' ( Matthew 22:39 ); you're doing as you should!

The crux of the matter is what it looks like to love 'your God' & 'your neighbor as yourself''. Questions like, 'who IS your 'God'?' 'Who IS your neighbor?' come to mind here; what does it mean to 'love' them? Loving ones neighbor is fairly simple; once you figure out what is meant by 'neighbor', it's fairly easy, especially from a Christian standpoint, to realize that, as per the 'Ten Commandments', we shouldn't bear false witness against them, wee shouldn't steal from or murder them ( there's that 'covet' thing too ) Basically, like Jesus also said, we should treat others as we would like to be treated. That pretty much covers it. If you don't want your 'neighbor' ( whatever your perception of that is ), don't steal from them. If you don't want them to bear false witness against you, tell the truth about them. Etcetera, etcetera. Loving your 'God', on the other hand, might be a different matter entirely! Or IS it?! Who, or What, IS your 'God'?! One simple explanation you might have is that 'it's what you worship'. Well, that would certainly be a good way to put it. Since the word 'worship' basically means 'to ascribe worth to', by extension, you might say that most, if not all Christians worship the Bible! There, I said it! But seriously, this could even extend to themselves! When one perceives themselves as 'worthy', they, in that sense ( if in that sense alone ) see themselves as their 'God', personally speaking!

Not to sound too much like a broken record, but even our own Bible tells us that we are 'Gods'! This is a Universal Truth, though it was originally aimed at the Judges of the Hebrews. 'How could you say that about a mere human being?' ' Glad you asked, because that's exactly why the Jews crucified Jesus! They couldn't believe that a human being ( as Jesus was ) could also be 'God'! We are Gods in the same way that Jesus was! ( I know, more blasphemy! ) We ARE human. yes, but we are More than that. In our inmost Being, we are of the same Divine Essence. Now, most people are so wrapped up in their own humanity, that they, as well as most others, cannot see any further than that, but to paraphrase an old TV show, 'the Truth is in there' ( US )!

Others have explained it much better & in greater detail, but the Truth is, that though we ARE all 'Gods' in our own right, many or most have failed to realize this, their true nature, simply because of conditioning. We have been taught, in most cases, from 'Day One', that we are primarily human beings; we have a spirit/soul, yes, but upon our demise, that spirit simply returns to its Maker. After that, who knows; 'it's up in the air'! Some, even, thanks to religion, have speculated that we just go 'poof'! The Mind/Ego plays its part as well. It likes to try to convince us that we should identify with IT & that's where we run into trouble. We start to think, 'that Person hurt me', 'they're telling lies about me', etcetera, etcetera. All they did, in actuality, though, was to bring perceived harm to our physical vehicle. When we identify with our physical vehicle, we naturally tend to respond in kind, even though there is usually, if not always, that 'still small voice' that says we shouldn't!

'Be still, and know that I [ am ] God'! This is only the first part of Psalm 46:10 & so may be said to have been taken out of context, but this too has stood for generations as a Universal Truth, though maybe in a different manner than most are used to thinking! Since we ARE 'Gods', in a manner of speaking, when we still our Mind/Ego & travel deep within ourselves, we will find that 'God' part of us. Moving beyond all of our conditioning/training, we will realize that all is not as we were taught! It will become clear that, not only are we NOT these physical vehicles ( though one might say we're inextricably linked ), the deeds done in the flesh, so to speak are due to the fact that we identify with the Person, with its Mind/Ego. To use an example that I've employed before, from the Hebrew Scriptures; 'So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire [ is ] for you, but you should rule over it' ( Genesis 4:6 & 7 )We know, from the rest of the Story, that Cain did not 'rule over it' & thus murdered his brother because he let his Mind/Ego rule his physical vehicle!

We need to remember Who we are! Though we, personally speaking, will reap our own Karma, dependent on what we allow to transpire in our physical vehicle, but realizing that we are More than our vehicle will help us to make better decisions/choices, leading to positive Karma ( we ALL reap what we sow! )! Who we really are cannot be altered! Our Mind may change, our physical body even changes over the course of the years, but the Divine Essence that is US can never change! We, again, personally speaking, make life-altering choices every day, but these choices are not what make us US. We are Who we are, not because of the decisions we've made with our Mind/Ego, but because we are a part of the Whole, the Divine Essence; 'God'-stuff, you might say!

Namaste  & Blessed Be!
Charles Haddon Shank

Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Bridge

Christian had always known there was something More. In his day-to-day life here on earth, sometimes it was difficult to imagine, but as he continued his personal studies, as well as daily meditation & introspection, it became frightfully clear that it was not as simple as the two certainties he'd always been taught about Life; 'Death & Taxes'. 'Death & Taxes' may well be perceived as sure things in this earthly existence, but, as he was beginning to discover ( for himself ), Life was so much More than the seeming drudgery of the day-to-day; It was something to be enjoyed & lived fully, with one's feet firmly planted in both the good soil of the Earth & the etheric plane of what is longingly called 'Heaven'!

The Summer of his 18th year found Christian preparing for marriage. In this day & age, he'd heard all the whispered comments; 'they're too young', 'they've got their whole lives ahead of them'. Especially with a soon-to-be blushing bride of barely seventeen ( actually, she was still 16 at this point ), the under-the-breath comments were flying faster than the snows that were only a few months away! Even though Mary would be of legal age by the time the wedding rolled around, Christian & Mary were the recipients of many a sideways glance, quite a few raised eyebrows & even a few bits of proffered 'wisdom'. With the wedding date, as well as the first snows, looming on the horizon, the two young lovers were more prepared than most people realized to take that heralded leap!

As the Day approached, both the blushing bride & groom-to be found themselves getting more & more anxious, not because there was any hesitance on their part, but because the peer pressure had risen to almost insurmountable heights! Coming from all quarters, both of these young people were daily assaulted with the freely-given council that they should wait till they were both a bit older ( more mature?), that they should play the field, test the waters, so to speak, before they made such a weighty decision, especially one that would impact the rest of their adult lives. Against all odds, their wedding day finally came & Christian entered into wedded bliss with the love of his life!

Mary was ecstatic! Christian had proven, throughout most of their relatively short lives & even shorter engagement, to be her perfect soulmate! Having known each other since kindergarten, it hadn't taken them long to recognize a kindred spirit, then as lovers from a past life, or even many lifetimes ( if you can believe it ). 'Why', you may ask, 'did they wait so long to 'tie the knot?' Both these young lovers were born into unfortunate circumstances where society told them there was no such thing as reincarnation. Born into fairly strict ( Christian ) families, both these young lovers had been taught from a very early age that everyone had but one life to live & that after death, they would spend eternity in either 'Heaven' or 'Hell'. Both young people, old as they were, knew the Truth of the situation, but they also knew their predicament. If they were to marry before their time, not only would they risk losing their witness to society, they also ran a higher risk of losing both the families they had been born into!

The predicament that our young lovers faced was one that is probably more prevalent in society than most realize, or care to acknowledge! Here in the West, in particular, so much emphasis is placed, not only on what is 'proper', but on what is 'legal' or 'illegal' that what is right often pales in comparison, if it's even a consideration. Christian & Mary found themselves in such a situation. How could they bridge the gap between 'Heaven' & 'Earth' without alienating both the families & society they had been incarnated into? They could easily have flouted convention & decided to enter wedded bliss the way 'God' intended, simply coming together as man & wife, but in order to preserve the 'the ties that bind' ( IE, the families they had both been born into ) & to preserve the peace, both Christian & Mary exercised great patience, as well as self-control, waiting for a more 'appropriate' time to exercise in this current iteration the love they had borne for many lifetimes.

Whether or not one believes in reincarnation, the fact was, Christian & Mary recognized ( some might call it deja vu ) something in each other that was more than physical or even spiritual attraction! They knew that much of what they had been taught was misleading at best & outright lies at worst. They also knew that the Truth would be revealed when the time was right. Waiting for such a time, even bowing ( bending? ) slightly to convention would do them no harm & would likely prevent needless harm to the society that surrounded them. Thus, they waited to consummate their marriage until they were legally wed. With both their families satisfied that all the necessary conventions were met; Christian & Mary finally entered into a state of wedded bliss!

Our young couple, the hero & heroine of our story, had taken that daring first step; what would follow over the course of this present lifetime would be a Journey of Discovery, not so much theirs, but through the lens of their lives, the society that surrounded them would begin to see the Truth. The Truth was, as Christian & Mary already knew, that we, as human beings, are More, More than our humanity; thus we pass from one lifetime to another, animating different persons till we have rectified, or at least, learned not to repeat the mistakes of the past. 'Is that all there is to it?' one might well ask. Of course that's not all there is to it, there is so much More to be known, but that might need to be your own personal Journey of Discovery!

The two young lovers in our Story, like so many before them, had bridged the gap! Through their joining together, their marriage, Christian & Mary had made manifest, at least to those with eyes to see it, the reality of Heaven on Earth. While Christian had proved ( to himself ) these realities, it was not until he was duly wed to Mary that they became clear to those closest to them, who witnessed both their wedding & the following marriage. The More that both these young people had shown to those around them, those who loved them, though in their own way, was that even this earthly existence was not defined by 'Death & Taxes', 'Death & Taxes' were only a very small part of Life. Life, when lived to the fullest, is a veritable Bridge between the seeming drudgery of the day-to-day
here on Earth & the etheric Joys of 'Heaven'.

'Does one need to be married in order to experience this Joy?' Of course not, but it sure helps!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Beyond Christianity

But the Lord [ is ] the true God;
He [ is ] the living God and the everlasting King.
At His wrath the earth will tremble,
And the nations will not be able to endure His indignation.
Jeremiah 10:10 

Note to my readers; Please, please, please read this passage in context; not only the context of the Greater Story which contains it, but the historical & cultural context in which it was written! Take, for instance, the first half of the 'chapter' in which we find this singular verse; many seem to think it's decrying what is commonly known & loved as 'the Christmas Tree'. The context, as I've mentioned, clearly shows that this is not the case, but is simply, like 'chapters' & 'verses', an invention of humankind'. Now, on with the show......................

I'm sure there are many people out there, praying fervently for me to return to 'the faith of my fathers'! After all, Proverbs 22:6 says, 'Train up a child in the way he should go, [a] and when he is old he will not depart from it.' In some sense, one might say I HAVE departed from that 'faith', but really, only in the sense that I have gone beyond it, following its natural conclusions. Although I've reached some conclusions, I have by no means strayed from the Path. The Path I am on, in fact, have been on since I began this Journey some 48 years ago, may look somewhat different than 'the faith' I was reared ( 'trained' ) in, but I assure you all, I AM still on the Path; I have simply taken the next step & moved beyond my training!

Not long ago, I posted on Facebook, something to the effect of, 'Christianity, like any religion, is simply a path, NOT a destination'. To clarify; I'm trying to make the point that while 'the faith of my fathers' certainly is an aspect of the Path, it is by no means the ONLY one. The Bible, as I'm sure I've mentioned before, is our ( modern ) Western translation, or interpretation rather, of an Ancient Near Eastern text! That said, I'm NOT saying that it all got 'lost in the translation'; no, many universal truths, as I've also mentioned before, can be found in its revered pages! However, there IS some Truth that has gotten 'lost in the translation', some of which is that it IS primarily an encapsulated & metaphorical history of 'the children of Israel'. Notwithstanding the theory, proposed by some & accepted by more, that YHWH ( Elohim ), the 'God' of Israel, was simply a Canaanite 'god', 'He' IS an aspect of What is called by many names; call It 'the Source', the Universe', or simply 'Energy', 'It is what It is'. Christians call 'Him' 'God', Muslims call 'Him' 'Allah', Jews call 'Him' 'Yahweh' & many Eastern religions call It by many other names, but really, It is Us, the true 'Us', our Higher Selves!

'Well, there you go; outright blasphemy, claiming that we are 'God'! Actually, I've said it before, though maybe not in so many words. Even Jesus, who clearly made the claim that He was the Son of God, really, God Himself, agreed with the Universal Truth that David, King of Israel wrote when he sang, 'you are gods' ( Psalm 82:6 ). Now, when I say, 'It is Us', I do NOT mean to say that It is our humanity, which most of the above-mentioned religion, except for the Eastern ones, will say is 'utterly depraved'. Although our humanity can most definitely be an aspect of 'Us', or a part of Us, the biological bodies We inhabit are merely our vehicles in which we live & love in this earthly Journey. This is not to say that a person who commits what some would call 'evil' has an evil spirit, although some would no doubt call it that: for the most part, those who commit 'evil' ( ? ) are most likely not aware of Who they are & are living from their Lower Nature, which is not far different from those we call 'animals!

To clarify; by saying 'evil spirit', I'm referring to what many would call 'the soul' or 'the individual ( soul )'. It is not that this person is either 'a Child of God' or 'a child of the devil', as most Christians say, but rather, that this person is unaware they are More than their humanity. This person believes the lie that they ARE their humanity & thus they live from their Lower Nature, which is where their humanity is rooted. This is NOT to say that our humanity is 'evil' ( totally depraved ), as some have accused Us; some, not even aware of their Higher Nature or Self, have employed their human vehicle to accomplish much that has truly blessed this world We live in!

'Our humanity can most definitely be an aspect of 'Us'. 'What is THAT supposed to mean?' you might ask. Simply that our humanity does not always reflect our true Self, the 'Us' we've been discussing. 'We' are all part of the Whole, the Source, What most call 'God'. As what might be called, 'spirit beings having a physical experience', or human beings, We have what is called 'free-will', the freedom & ability to make our own ( individual ) choices. How we choose is dependent upon whether we are living from our Higher or Lower Nature. Living from the Lower Nature, humanly speaking, of course, is what makes us little different from the 'animals'. The Higher Nature is where 'God' manifests. Christians call this 'The Holy Spirit' & while I do not deny this 'Holy Spirit', neither is IT what we have been taught ( 'trained' ) to believe!

Most, if not all Christians have been taught, according to that Ancient Near Eastern text upon which our English Bible is based, that 'the Holy Spirit' is One of Three Persons within a so-called 'God-head'. This should be the first clue that this notion is the invention of a person, or several persons. Having gone there before, I will go no further except to reiterate what I've stated previously; 'the concept of what Christians call 'the Trinity', 'Father, Son & Holy Spirit' is a biblical notion, one based upon a misreading of the Greek text'! 

'Is 'Allah' simply an aspect of 'the Source?' Valid question: as Christians, of course, we were taught that 'Allah' was not the same as 'God', but was simply a 'false god' ( ? ). My readers must judge for themselves whether or not 'Allah' is an aspect of 'the Source', although, may I say, if many of 'His' followers are any indication, I would be inclined to answer in the negative. But that's just MY personal perception! ( To be honest, one might say the same of many Christians )

Most every culture has their own definition/perception of the 'Path to Perfection'! Does this mean that all paths necessarily lead to the same destination? Well, yes & no; depending on what one chooses to believe/perceives the Destination to be might determine ( for them ) if any given path leads there. Then again, many people have many different notions/perceptions of what 'the Path' looks like. Every single human being out there has a slightly different idea of what that Path looks, or should look like. My perception of the Path is that Christianity is simply one aspect of It. 'Is it one of the best ways, or THE best way to view the Path?' Again, my readers must judge for themselves, but, as far as I'm personally concerned, the fact that I've gone beyond 'the faith of my fathers' does not mean that I've strayed from 'the Path'!

Namaste & Blessed Be!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, September 20, 2019

'Do not love the world'; Universal Truth?

Do not love the world or the things in the world. 
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

I John 2:15 

As human beings, personally speaking, it is difficult ( almost impossible, actually ) not to form some kind of attachment to things! We become attached to our lovers, our own bodies, the houses we live in, the vehicles we drive, even the jobs we do. We know these things don't define us, that they are not what make us happy or complete, but still, we cling to these things as if they're what life's all about. ( ? ) The question we should ask here is, 'IS life More than our jobs, our vehicles, our houses, our bodies ( this physicality ) & our lovers?' If we didn't have all these things, even the natural & necessary accoutrements for what we normally think of as Life on this planet: would we still be 'us'? Depending on who you ask, the answer could be a resounding 'yes', or 'most definitely not'! Without the necessary accoutrements, like the breath of life, food, water, et cetera, can we truly be 'alive'?

The verse quoted above has reference more to the 'world' of Jesus' day & later, but it also can be applied universally. Much of the problem in this world, as well as in that 'world', was based on a kind of 'love' or attachment to physicality, to things. When Jesus came along & challenged the prevailing notion that the Temple ( et cetera ) was their salvation, He threatened the livelihood of the Jewish religious leaders. By speaking of thing beyond their understanding, He inspired many of the ordinary, average Jews ( who were already chafing under Rome's saddle ) to rebellion, though they misunderstood His intentions ( ? ). As it transpired, however, the Jewish leaders of Jesus' Day put Jesus to death for His troubles, but it was too late; the rebellion He had fomented, or stirred up ( encouraged? ) rather, became a full-scale revolution that wiped their homeland off the map, in a manner of speaking: their Temple was gone & with it, all the necessary accoutrements of Jewish life as they knew it!

Don't get me wrong; the Jewish religion thrives as one of the three major religions of the world, yet today! But yet, since there is no Temple, the Jews cannot truly practice their religion as laid out in their most Holy Book, what we know ( for the most part ) as the Hebrew Scriptures, mainly the Pentateuch, the so-called 'Five Books of Moses'. This was the 'world' that the apostle John referred to when he issued his warning in the next passage, that it was 'passing away' ( I John 2:17 ( I Corinthians 7:31 ). 

The first part of his warning, though, stands as a Universal Truth, because, as in Jesus' Day, we as human beings, tend to become attached to the things of our 'world', even to the point of idolatry! This is not to say that we shouldn't have anything but the most necessary things to sustain 'life', just that we shouldn't cling to them, or become so attached to them that we begin to think we are nothing without them! Everybody, myself included, loves to feel loved, loves to have a good reliable vehicle for transportation, even a nice, comfortable house to 'live' in. It is, however, when we begin to think that those things define us, that without those necessary accoutrements, we can't truly be alive, be happy, be complete, that the problems set in!

'What is the problem with being attached to things?' one might ask. Well, beside the fact that the answer to that question should already be clear from the words above, therein lies the key to the problem! When we become attached to anything but who we really are, not just as a human being, but as a spiritual, or spirit being, we begin to identify ourselves with those things, so when we begin to lose those things, which we will ( it's inevitable ), then we tend to think that we are losing ourselves, because our 'world' is falling apart!

'As above, so below'; it is well-nigh impossible to have NO attachments: neither should we have NO attachments! 'Now, wait a moment', one might well say, 'didn't you just tell us that having attachments is the problem?' Actually, no, I didn't. A careful reading of the text will show that the warning was against becoming overly attached. Realizing we are More helps us not to become overly attached. History has shown us, for the most part ( there HAVE been several documented cases ) that when a human being goes with the necessary accoutrements for too long, it is not long for this world. We MUST in that sense be attached to certain things, food & water being the most necessary to sustain biological life!

Life, though, like us, is More than biology! When our bodies go the way of the natural world, WE will still be here. Our spirit will endure. It doesn't matter whether one believes their spirit will spend an 'Eternity' in 'Heaven' ( or that OTHER 'place' ) or whether one understands that they will simply animate a different body in a different 'world', the fact is that the Spirit lives on! There are those, as well, who believe, erroneously, that the spirit itself will perish when one's biology passes away without having accepted Christianity, or Jesus as the Christ. But that is neither here nor there.................

The apostle warned his readers that, 'If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him'! That, in & of itself, should remind us that he was writing to a specific people. Although Christians today refer to their 'Heavenly Father' ( I was one ); the warning here was to the Jewish people, the religious leaders in particular, the overwhelming majority of who did NOT have the love of the 'Father'. In the way of clarification, the God of the Hebrew peoples was a male persona, that being a patriarchal society, or culture. That being said, 'He' was simply their perception of the Source of All, who ( which? ) is not a person at all, but simply Pure Energy, that which makes us who & what we are!

Being who & what we are, then, we are not dependent on the things that pertain to this world to sustain Life. For one thing, we are Life itself! This biology would not long survive without the presence of the spirit. Nothing we do in this biology transpires, however consciously or unconsciously, without the yearning of the Spirit. Now, before we venture too far down that path, clearly, though some will undoubtedly perceive an allusion ( or is that 'illusion'? ) to the 'Holy Spirit' of Christianity, I'm simply referring to the fact that everything we do in the body ( 'the flesh' ) originates in our individual spirit, again, whether consciously or unconsciously.

Loving our 'world', even the things in it, is not wrong or evil in & of itself. It is when we allow these attachments, like the Ego, to determine our actions, to define who we are, that the problem reveals itself. They have then become, in biblical terminology, an idol! To topple these idols, we MUST realize, first, that we are More than this biology, we are More than these things. secondly, we must then determine within ourselves, our innermost beings, to employ our biological machines to accomplish in actuality what we know to be true in reality!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, September 16, 2019

'Till Death Do Us Part'

Okay, so this post might easily be mistaken for a rant! While discussing the eccentricities of the relatively modern concept of legal marriage with a friend; the statement was made that, as a concept, marriage was basically instituted by the Judeo-Christian religion. When I say 'the Judeo-Christian religion', of course, I mean the man-made religion that is based on the Greek & Hebrew Scriptures, not the True Religion that the apostle James wrote about in his letter. Previously, I have written in this blog of the Biblical examples of marriage that first appear in the Hebrew Scriptures. The first, of course, is Adam & Eve, in which it should not be too difficult to discern where the practice of the Father bringing His Daughter to the man in the traditional wedding scenario, although, as far as the rest of it goes ( vows, witnesses, ceremony, etc. ), it just ain't there. The only other example from the Hebrew Scriptures in my mind is the marriage of Isaac & Rebecca, where, as we read in Genesis 24:67, 'Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent; and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her.' Nothing there about vows or a ceremony. Okay, knowing the culture in which those Scriptures were written, one might rightly note that there were very likely witnesses of this marriage. Studies might show, if I recall correctly, that in that ( ancient? ) culture, a select few, family, I would imagine, were called upon to bear witness to the consummation. ( aren't we glad we didn't live in THAT culture?! ) The point of discussion being that, even among those who make no claims on Christianity, the concept of 'the wedding' comes from man's translation/understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures.

From the Wikipedia article on 'Wedding Vows', we find this;

'In the time of the Roman Empire (17 BC – 476 AD) the lower classes had "free" marriages. The bride's father would deliver her to the groom, and the two agreed that they were wed, and would keep the vow of marriage by mutual consent. Wealthy Romans, though, would sign documents listing property rights to publicly declare that their union was legalized and not a common law marriage. This was the beginning of the official recording of marriage.[citation needed]
The oldest traditional wedding vows can be traced back to the manuals of the medieval church. In England, there were manuals of the dioceses of Salisbury (Sarum) and York. The compilers of the first Book of Common Prayer, published in 1549, based its marriage service mainly on the Sarum manual.[2][3] Upon agreement to marry, the Church of England usually offered couples a choice. The couple could promise each other to "love and cherish" or, alternatively, the groom promises to "love, cherish, and worship", and the bride to "love, cherish, and obey".[4]'

Although the above-referenced article is not comprehensive, possibly not even totally reliable, it should give its readers a basic idea of where the ceremonial aspect of marriage comes from. Please do not mistake my intention here; I am by no means saying that we should not be 'marrying and giving in marriage', or even that we should not be following the pattern that modern Christianity has given us! This is simply to point out that even the examples we have in our English Bibles do not even indicate that these 'trappings' are necessary!

The phrase in question, 'till death do us part', is based on the assumption that 'we' are 'the Person', that this is what defines 'us'! But, though 'the Person' is most definitely a part of 'us'; we are so much More than that! Biological death will indeed separate two people, but death cannot touch the spirit. This is what Jesus referred to when He said, 'whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die'. The fact that we are primarily spirit beings having a physical experience is one that has been voiced in this blog over & over before, though maybe in other words. This biology will pass away, returning to the dust from which it was made, ( yes, biologically speaking, we're made of mud, though it's not quite that simple ) but our spirit will endure, eventually, sooner or later, returning to this biology, to continue Life's Journey.

Re-incarnation is a taboo subject in some circles, particularly most Christian ones! The traditional Christian dogma of Heaven & Hell includes the notion that human beings have but one life to live on this earth. This is based on the false assumption that humanity is in view when the writer to the Hebrews penned these words; 'And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation' ( Hebrews 9: 27 & 28 ) This is not a comprehensive study of the subject & really is not even a study at all, but it only makes sense that we, as spirit beings, would be given however many chances ( lives ) we needed to 'get it right', to rectify the mistakes we made in past lives.

One of the mistakes we might have made in a past life or in past lives is not realizing that we are More! By not realizing that we are More than 'the Person', we allow our Ego to reign over us & when the Ego rules, it's never a pretty sight! The biblical Story of Cain & Abel is a prime example of what happens when the Ego reigns supreme. Murder being the ultimate end; allowing one's Ego to rule their actions can lead to anything from a mild dislike or disdain to outright hatred. As I've said before; this is not at all to say that the Ego is thus necessarily a bad thing, or evil. The Ego is actually a necessary part of our human constitution. It is only when we allow it, along with our requisite emotions, to determine our actions that it can become a problem! Like in the biblical Story, if we allow our Ego to turn our disappointment into jealousy, our jealousy into hatred & our hatred into murder, then our Ego has become an evil that must be rectified!

As individual souls, we are all connected to the Source of All! Though not all bear witness to this connection, those who have been 'enlightened' know that while we manifest thusly, inhabiting individual, biological bodies, we are in Essence One Spirit! Some may scoff at this notion, in particular most Christians, because, 'Hitler was obviously controlled by a different Spirit than say, Mother Teresa'. Well, 'true enough', one might say, though such a statement might also stem from a false understanding of the biblical texts. The dogmatic notion of 'God vs. Satan' has its foundation in the biblical texts, true enough, but it is from a misreading, a misunderstanding that certain individuals came up with this notion.

Individually speaking, then, individuals who believe they are 'the Person', nothing more, nothing less, can indeed be said to be ruled ( controlled ) by 'a different Spirit'. This is not however, the 'Satan' of biblical infamy ( though related ); it is simply the individual soul, or spirit that does not recognize or acknowledge its connection with the Divine. When one recognizes their own connection to the Source, they tend to see the Divine in others as well & so their treatment of others tends to follow suit! The biblical injunction to 'love your neighbor as yourself' becomes second-nature. Treating others as you would like to be treated becomes a matter of fact. ( it just makes sense )

Getting back to the subject at hand now; death may indeed separate, or part us, but only if we do not realize, as individuals, that we are More. Upon the death, or expiration of the biological body to which it's been assigned, the individual soul experiences, to one extent or another ( depending on its level of 'enlightenment' ), a sort of realignment with the Source, at least until the time comes to animate a new body. However, when two souls/individual spirits become intertwined, not even death can separate them! For a time, maybe, even these souls, through the exercise of the individual Ego, or the Mind, may loose track of their soulmate, but when they remember their connection to the Source, they are re-awakened to the blessed fact that once joined, two individual souls can NEVER be separated!

Wrapping up this 'rant'; let me conclude by reiterating that by all these words; I am not trying to convince anyone that they should not follow the traditions of their fathers & observe a wedding ceremony of some sort or another. I'm not trying to deter anyone from saying vows in front of a pastor, priest or JoP ( Justice of the Peace ). If people want all those trappings, I say, 'go for it'! All I'm saying is that in order to be married, a couple does not have to recite vows in front of an officiant, there don't have to be witnesses & there most surely does not have to be a ceremony of any kind! All these are legal ( not 'wrong', in & of themselves ) trappings.

Rant over. 'An ye harm none, do what ye will'. Blessed Be!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

More Than Words: The Value & Fallacy of 'Free-Love'

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be[k] joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
Genesis 2:24 & 25 

There is wisdom in the above statement from the Hebrew Scriptures!  There is also much earthly ( egoic ) wisdom in the resulting Christian dogma that says a married woman or man should have no other ( person ), especially while they're married. Of course, divorce should not be an option, for as Malachi 2:16a says; 'the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce'. Although there IS much wisdom here, for divorce is rarely a good thing, especially where children are involved, these words of wisdom should be digested in their covenantal, historical & cultural context. Again, the concepts of marriage & divorce are purely egoic ( from the Ego ). This said, however, is NOT to say that one should never marry: in this day & age, much as in that day & age ( that culture, even ) there is much wisdom in a man & woman being joined ( literally, 'clinging' ) together in the 'bonds' of holy matrimony! Or at least, so it would seem.........................

The 1960s were most famously ( or is that 'infamously'? ) known as 'the era of free-love'. This was, maybe first & foremost, a rebellion ( revolution? ) against the straight-laced 50s, particularly due to the puritanical dogmas of Christianity. On a side-note; I am a 70s child, physically speaking; having been brought up in a fairly strict Christian ( puritanical ) home, I was sheltered from much of what resulted from the 'free-love' movement, though I caught a glimpse every now & again of the turmoil it left in its wake. The problem with the free-love movement was at least two-fold; one, it was based in large part, if not in whole, in a rebellion against what was the status quo ( Christian/egoic - itself egoic ) & two, it was largely animalistic in nature  ( therefore egoic ) & so based on a somewhat skewed perception of 'love'. 'Love', from my perception of what I know of that era, was a feeling based on physical desire ( lust ) & even, yes 'wantonness'

One might well ask themselves ( egoically ), 'Is it possible to love multiple people ( men or women ) at the same time?' 'If so, how?' Well, first, we should ask ourselves, 'what IS love'? Even, 'what does it mean to be 'in love?' Love, as we've noted previously, is more than a feeling! Although it is most definitely felt, it is primarily an action, a choice that one makes in regards to another. In this regard then, it should be noted that this concept of 'love' is egoically based. Before we get too far into this subject ( love ), we should note that the Ego is not a bad thing! In the same vein, neither is it a good thing; it just IS! Being Love itself, as we've also discussed previously in this 'blog', we may choose, as the Person, to manifest this Love or not. So now we're back to the question above, 'Is it possible to love multiple people ( men or women ) at the same time?' With the understanding outlined above, the answer should be a resounding 'YES!' It IS possible, in this scenario, to love multiple persons at the same time. Is it easy, or as simple as it sounds? Yes & no. Back to the Ego, for the Ego DOES play a BIG role when dealing with the Person; if we rule over our Ego rather than letting it rule us ( IE, if we understand that WE are NOT our Ego & don't allow It to determine our actions ), we manifest the Love that we ARE, simply by Being that Love. Living through the Person, then, as we must needs do to operate in this thing we call Life, once we've moved on past the notion that we are the Ego & the differences that we have been taught to focus on, our focus will then return to the fact that, in Essence, we ARE all One, from the same Source & here to simply manifest Love!

So, what does it look like to manifest Love, to be Love? 'What IS Love?!' Well Love, personally speaking anyway, is an action, a choice we make as individual souls, in regards to our treatment of other individual souls. Looking out for another's best is what Love comes down to. If we seek the bset for a person, particularly through our actions, we can truly be said to love that person. Biblically speaking, for this is one of the many Universal Truths of the Greek & Hebrew Scriptures, when we treat our brother or sister in this manner, we are manifesting Love. If we love our neighbor as we love ourselves, again, personally speaking, we are simply proving that we ARE Love. For a good definition of Love, one might simply read this short passage from our English translation of the Greek Scriptures ( the Bible-I Corinthians 13:4-7 ); 'love suffers long [ and ] is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not [b]puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, [c]thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things'. All these things, the reader should note, are wrapped up in the individual Ego, which, again, is neither good nor bad, in & of itself, though we need to exercise great care that It does not determine our actions, or rather, reactions,but rather, as the passage above shows so well, that we allow our Higher Self, our Inmost Being ( Love ) to rule the day! A popular phrase in this regard is 'Love Wins'!

Jesus the Christ, according to John 13:34, said to His Disciples, 'A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another'. Clearly, this stands as a Universal Truth, for Jesus loved His brethren through the Spirit of Love that was in Him. In the same sense that He Himself was Love, so are we in Essence Love! Through the Christ Within, for we all have that same Spirit, if only we don't allow our Ego to rule ( over ) us, we all bear the capacity to manifest the Love that we are, though no one follow. On a bit of a side note; my personal experience shows that the majority of people, when faced with that Love, will return it in kind, although there are those who will simply treat It & thus you as a doormat. The individual Ego, again, comes into play here, not only your own, but theirs as well. Egoically, or personally speaking, though, if we treat others how we would like to be treated, with Love, most often you will find that they will treat you in the same manner. Again, though, this is sadly not always the case; sometimes the Ego seems to win, but then there is always Karma.............................

Speaking of Karma, as we must; understand that Karma, like the Ego, is neither a good thing or a bad thing, necessarily; it depends wholly on the circumstance that engenders it. If, for instance, one does treat others as he or she wants to be treated themselves, with Love, then that one will reap what they've sown: this is what is called Good, or Positive Karma. If however, one treats others purely from the Ego, allowing It to rule their actions, they will most likely be treated in kind, experiencing Bad, or Negative Karma. 

The Cost of Love then, when one understands that they are Love Itself, is negligible, even non-existent! Personally speaking though, who we choose to share that Love with & how, can be VERY costly! This, in essence, was at the heart of the issue in the 1960s. People were living largely from the Ego, allowing their Lower Selves ( animalistic lust ) to rule their actions, thus, the term 'free-love'. In the greatest sense, this 'love' was not free, for it proved VERY costly, later if not sooner. Because it was largely a reactionary movement, brought on by the puritanical & even extra-biblical dogmas of the previous generations, this 'free-love' movement only served to lend credence to the notion of quick marriage & easy divorce.  Dealing with ones own Ego is hard enough, but it is not only our own we must deal with; to make our way in this world, we must needs deal with other individual Egos as well. How we deal with those other ( individual ) Egos determines how we experience Karma!

Marriage can be defined, not as a legal proposition, though it is often defined thusly, but as a union ( or is that 're-union' ) of two individual souls. It is, as the Bible declares in yet another of its Universal Truths, where two become one! With the startling realization that we are ALL One, though, the whole concept of marriage ( as a legal institution ) is rendered null & void! The notion that one must be legally married before one is allowed to express his or her love in a certain manner is what the 'free-love' movement rebelled against, in the estimation of this blogger. The problems that surfaced in the aftermath of this movement ( which we deal with yet today ) is that the individual Egos, because most people allowed them to rule the day, clashed & were allowed to break apart what began as a beautiful thing!

Love IS a beautiful! The act of sexual intercourse is by no means the fullest expression of Love, but it is still one of the most beautiful manifestations thereof. In the proper context of course, sexual intercourse can be one of the most satisfying aspects of any marriage, physically speaking. By 'the proper context', I'm not saying that one must follow the biblical pattern, though this is not a bad idea: no, I'm simply saying that without a good spiritual foundation ( spiritual intercourse? ) the sex act is not a good idea, for when the Ego gets involved in such a situation, it's usually not pretty!

The quotation at the beginning of this post, from Genesis 2, while it portrays a Universal Truth, also shows, in context, that it has a cultural aspect to it! The fact that 'they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed' should give the reader pause to consider the deeper meaning behind such a statement. Covenant Creation aside, the glaring fact that the author saw fit to mention that 'they were both naked' is accepted by some scholars as speaking ( metaphorically ) of their immaturity. While the scenario in this passage might rightly be noted as the first marriage, the divorce referred to in the passage from Malachi 2 is not between just any man & woman, but between YHWH & His Wife, Israel.

In conclusion, there is a sort of wisdom in the relatively modern institution of marriage. Not to say anything of the legal benefits of such a contract, especially in this day & age, for a man or woman to have one spouse & one spouse only, because of the afore-mentioned clash of Egos, is not a totally merit-less concept. However, if one can keep their Ego in check, realizing they are not under Its sway; that they are More than just an Ego-driven human being, then the Love they manifest will be pure & holy!

 Charles Haddon Shank

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Black & White, Yin & Yang

Being brought up Christian as I was, I learned to believe in absolutes. What the Bible ( our English translation ( ? ) of the Hebrew &' Greek ( Aramaic? ) Scriptures ) has to say about 'God ( the Father ), Jesus ( the Son ) & the Holy Spirit ( ? )' was one such absolute; in fact, one might say it is THE Absolute; it is irrefutable, we were taught! Don't get me wrong; there ARE absolutes, but those absolutes ( or Absolutes ) aren't necessarily what we think they are. One can have all the faith in the world, 'faith to move mountains', even, but that doesn't make it so; to paraphrase the Bible, 'Even the Muslims believe..........' ( but they're wrong, right??? ) The Absolute Truth is that the One who 'hung the stars', etc cannot be confined to the description of any human being, whether he or she claims to be inspired by the Jewish/Christian God, the Muslim God, or any other personified 'God' on the horizon!

'Embrace your darkness': repeat these words to most Christians & you'll most likely meet with a brick wall! 'Darkness', you might hear, 'is ( necessarily ) a bad thing, because the Bible says that we are to avoid the darkness & walk in the light'. They might quote Isaiah the prophet ( from the Old Testament-Isaiah 50:10 ), 'Who among you fears the Lord? Who obeys the voice of His Servant?
Who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord a
nd rely upon his God.' More likely though, you'll hear any one of numerous quotes from the New Testament, like 'But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.', from the Gospel according to John ( John 11:10 ), or even the apostle Paul, in Ephesians 5:8, where he wrote, 'For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.' It should be noted here though, in fact, in all the above quotations, that though there is definitely some discernible Universal Truth herein, one must understand the context of these warnings. The 'darkness' ( Hebrew chashekah & Greek skotia  ) of which they wrote was metaphorical; not the absence of ( physical ) light, but the blindness & ignorance which enveloped the Hebrew people, later known as the Jews.

In all of life, there must be balance! For example, when one is down ( in the 'dumps' ), if that one is willing to see anyway, there is ALWAYS someone to lift them up ( out of the 'dumps' ). A plant grows best with the perfect balance of water ( nutrition ) & light ( yes, plants thrive with a necessary period of darkness as well-even plants need their rest ), Humanly speaking, one must learn to accept both sides of their nature ( EVERYONE has a 'dark side' )  before one can truly love his or her Self. Of course, if one doesn't love themselves, they have trouble loving others in balance & there is where many people get into trouble! Balance helps us to cope with many things in life; for instance, even positivity can get to be overwhelming at times. On the other hand, pure negativity tends to bring EVERYONE 'down'! Too many positive ions in the air have a negative influence on our physical bodies, but when we balance those positive ions with negative ones, we might find that it positively affects our negativity & so on & so forth!

The balance of which I write herein, though, in more of a metaphysical sense, is the balance within ourselves. All human beings bear within themselves the X & Y chromosomes. In fact, you might have heard that all fetuses, up to a certain point, are female. At what point one or the other chromosome wins out ( overcomes? ), even the best doctors cannot be sure, or even why! Call it 'Karma', call It 'the Almighty'; whatever name you give It, some babies are born female, while others are born male. Then again, there are some ( fairly rare ) that seem to be both ( androgynous? ). Also, how do we explain those, whether they remain in 'the closet' or not, who have a predilection ( seemingly 'against nature' ) for the same sex? ( I must admit here, that I was one of those who condemned such as 'perverts' & worse! ) Metaphysically speaking though, the necessary balance should be noted between that of our human nature & our spiritual nature. We are Spirit Beings, but we are also Human Beings. Unless & until we divine a way to balance our two-fold nature, we again, will find ourselves up to our ears in hot water!

In some sense, one might note, the spiritual side of our nature ( this should resonate with Christians, as well as certain other religious peoples ) is the Light side, while the human side could well be designated the Dark side. I have previously noted that this equation could be called, 'the Divine/Mundane'. Balancing the Divine with the Mundane within themselves is one of the most difficult ( yet simplest ) tasks that you can assign to a human being! Yet it is only through recognizing the Divine within the Mundane ( Heaven on Earth? ) that we can truly love ourselves & thus, our neighbor! There are many different ( religiously speaking ) ways of looking at this, but whether one perceives that they must look within or without, the end result is the rectification of the two. As human beings, we must recognize the Divinity ( our Spiritual Self ) within the Mundane ( our human (biological ) Self ) in order to share ourselves with a righteous balance. In all reality, It goes much deeper than this, deeper even than mere words can express, although some have done admirably well in the attempt.

 'To err is human, to forgive, divine': this quote from Alexander Pope conveys well the notion that it is not in our human nature to forgive others. However, through the Divinity Within us ( again whether one perceives it to be 'within' or 'without'; 'it is what it is' ) we are able to forgive those that sin ( transgress ) against us. Balancing our true nature helps us to empathize with others, again, humanly speaking, who have not been able to rectify their two-fold nature. Even though we err still, we can even forgive ourselves, being Human & Divine, recognizing that human beings, having to do with other human beings, will always clash, or make mistakes, but when we do, the Divinity Within goes beyond our humanity & forgives any perceived wrong. On a sad note, not all, indeed relatively few, truly recognize this glorious fact, but that is neither here nor there, in regards to this post!

Just as two horses, correctly balanced of course, in a yoke, pull better than a single horse, so life works better when faced with both our Divine & Mundane natures! My mother used to say, 'they're so heavenly-minded, they're of no earthly good'; the point being that some people are so intent on gaining what they perceive as 'Heaven' ( whatever that may be to them ) that they tend to lose sight of the day-to-day of life here on Earth. Balancing the two, however ( not that I believe in 'Heaven' as 'the Afterlife' ), helps us, both to live this life in a pleasant manner, as well as to make any 'Afterlife' even more glorious! 'The Afterlife', not being the focus of this blogger, however, let us not stray from the subject................

'As above, so below'; the Hebrew way of life was far different from ours, though one might note many striking similarities between our Western way of life ( culture? ) & what we can divine from our interpretation of a piece of Ancient Near Eastern literature ( AKA the Bible )! This is not to say, as many mistakenly ( gravely so, in fact ) have, that we here in the West ( British America? ) are the new Israel. This similarity should be noted only as far as the many Universal Truths of both the Hebrew & Greek Scriptures point to our human nature; on the other hand, though, these same Scriptures speak as well of our Divine nature!

The One Absolute Truth we can rely on ( absolutely ) is that we are, in our inmost Being, Divine! The Divine doesn't always manifest, in fact, in some cases it seems never to reveal itself, although, in many cases, one can see evidence of Its Presence, even in the darkest of places. I say 'Its Presence' because while most religions perceive this Divinity ( mostly 'without' ) differently, this Presence is neither male nor female, though, humanly speaking, we might perceive It as both, a Perfect Balance of the two; 'Yin & Yang', you might say!

In life, it may be noted, there ARE many gray areas, in fact, life is one BIG gray area, though, in reality, it IS truly black & white ( 'It is what It is' )! The Bible may say this or that & you may believe that it is the 'end-all' ( 'The Alpha & Omega' ), but this other person over here believes that their preferred 'Bible' reveals the Absolute; who's to say whether one is correct over the other? 'Oh, the Bible says that it is correct ( internal evidence? )!'? 'Well, how many other 'Bibles' point to the same 'truth?' How many different people believe differently about what is absolute? Are we all wrong? Are we all right? What is wrong? What is right? To simply know ( understand ) that 'it is what it is'-some might even say there IS no wrong or right ) makes life a whole lot easier.

Stress begins to disappear when we realize that life holds many shades of gray. Trying to separate the black & white, the yin & yang, in a manner of speaking is what so often gets us 'down', putting us in one ditch or the other. Let's just hold our course, avoiding both metaphorical ditches, as we travel down this road we call 'Life', knowing that 'it is what it is' & not what we, or any others believe it is!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Meaning of Life, Revisited

"A man that I was working for at the time, about 15 or so years ago; asked me, kinda out of the blue, one day, “Charlie; what IS the meaning of life?”. Without really thinking about it, because at that time, I wasn't as mature as today; I replied; “Jesus is the meaning of Life!”. Looking back at that statement today, and thinking of the profundity and brevity of it, I can't help thinking, “where did that come from?”, but it is obvious to me, that God was guiding my steps from day one!

“What is the meaning of life?” is a well-worn phrase that many people, from all walks of life, have asked themselves, and others, over the course of the years. It it a question that, in all it's deeper meaning, could have 'eternal' consequences!

The Bible, I think that most of us would agree, seems to say that in Jesus only, is 'life' to be found!

Maybe the better question would be, and this is the subject of this paper; “What is life?”! Is 'life' simply physical existence; is it blood coursing through the veins, being pumped by a beating heart? Or is 'life' a spiritual reality, which comes only through a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ?"

The above quote, written 20 odd years ago by this same blogger, comes from an article of the same title ( The Meaning of Life ). 'As above, so below'; I still consider myself a Christian ( if ANY label is necessary ), personally speaking, but, at the time of that first writing, I was still ensnared in the religiosity of Christianity. Currently; I have advanced beyond many ( most? ) of my brethren & presently consider myself to be 'Beyond Christianity'! This is not to say that I no longer follow or obey the main tenets of what is known in most circles as 'Christianity' although I now divine between what was instruction for the Ancient Near Eastern peoples of that age ( when the Hebrew & Greek scriptures were written ) & what is Universal Truth ( for all people of all ages ).

In the last few sentences of the quote above, I posed the question, 'What IS life?' The conclusion reached, of course, which MUST be 'reached' ( realized ) is that Life Is More that blood being pumped through the veins by a beating heart. It IS More than simply existing ( as a person ), Life IS a 'spiritual reality', though not necessarily in the terms I outlined those 20 odd years ago. Life, one might say, DOES come through the knowledge of 'God', the same 'God' that Jesus taught about & indeed, engendered, though the 'saving knowledge' part of that statement had reference to the 'instructions' above. In some sense, this 'saving knowledge' is a Universal Truth as well, because, when one realizes the truth of 'The Meaning of Life', a salvific effect tends to follow!

The Meaning of Life is somewhat two-pronged; on one hand, one may might understanding that by it, one is questioning the purpose, but on the other hand, the definition of 'Life': Life IS More than simple existence, with blood coursing through the veins; it IS a spiritual reality, but what is meant by a 'spiritual reality'? Is it simply that, in order to experience this spiritual reality, one must first have 'a saving knowledge of Jesus ( the ) Christ', or is it deeper than that? The apology herein is that one must have, not a saving knowledge of a historical ( or not ) Ancient Near Eastern person, but rather that they should realize, or come to know the Christ, or God Within. According to Orthodox Christianity, this kind of statement more than borders on the heretical. To most it is blasphemous & worthy of censure or even 'crucifixion'!

The Liberation brought by the knowledge of oneself, not as a mere human being, but a spirit being of the highest order, part of the 'God-head', so to speak, is glorious! Realizing that one has the Power to change their own situation, the manifestation that we know as physical existence, the knowledge that there is not 'An Angry God' up there in the sky ( 'Heaven' ) that we must appease by following 'His' Law, brings a joy to the soul that is almost unknown in most religious circles. We don't have to obey every 'jot & tittle' of some list of commandments ( just words ) written for an Ancient Near Eastern people. 'As above, so below'; this is not to say that these 'words' have no merit: on the contrary, there is much meritorious in following most of these tenets as a matter of principle! Loving ones neighbor as oneself, to say nothing of treating others like one wants to be treated are a Universal Truth which need no explanation. This, of course, is speaking on a personal ( individual ) level: when one realizes their place in the Universe, it's not too long before we realize that we are, in Essence, One; 'the Other' is merely a social ( cultural? ) construct!

'The Other', though a social construct, is a 'reality' that must be faced in what most people call 'Life'. 'Life' IS More than physical existence, but in the 'here & now', though we realize we are NOT this experience, it is in this biological construct that we MUST operate, as human beings. As More than Human, we understand that when our property, for example, whether it's our own body, the physical lives of those we love, or simply real estate is threatened, it is not us which is threatened, but merely our biological existence, something which, from all accounts, is temporary anyway. Those 'Others' who threaten our 'Way of Life' cannot harm us; they can only cause harm to this biology, which WILL bring ( negative ) 'Karma' to bear & they WILL reap what they've sown!

Individually speaking, there will always be differences which are cause for division, but must they actually cause division? Not to make light of questions like 'Why can't we all just get along', but why CAN'T we?! The reason we DON'T ( not 'CAN'T' ) get along is because of the ( personal ) Ego! Don't get me wrong, I'm not at all saying that the Ego is necessarily a bad thing; 'it is what it is', but there is always a choice of whether to reign over ones Ego, or to let It rule our actions. Here is where realizing ones true nature comes into play: once we understand that we are NOT defined by our Ego, but rather, that we define IT, it becomes second nature to treat 'others' as we ourselves would like to treated, we then realize what it REALLY means to love ones neighbor as oneself!

The original definition of 'heresy', condensed into a single word, might be 'division', It is the division of the One we are that is True Heresy! Division is not necessary, even on a personal level ( although many would probably disagree ) in order to exist side by side. 'As above, so below'; there will always be differences to deal with, choices to make, again, on a personal level, but they need not separate us; in fact of the matter, individual differences are what make this life ( physical existence ) worth living! When we allow our Ego, threatened by another's existence, to rule our actions, bloodshed WILL follow & negative Karma WILL kick in! By reigning over our Ego, we begin to understand that no harm is meant to us ( necessarily ) by what we view as another's negativity. For all we know, what we perceive as negativity might in actuality be a positive thing to them!

Life is not defined by our differences! Life is defined by our sameness, our Oneness! Our individuality, especially as human beings cannot & should not be denied, but we should not allow our differences to rule our actions when it comes to 'others' who may not live, think & talk like 'us'! For millenia now, the Ego has seemingly reigned supreme & thus we have what we have, 'wars & rumors of wars, people killing each other over a piece of dirt, or better yet, 'all the oil under the sand'!

This is not 'Life'; this is 'Death'!

Let's stop dying & start living; we need to stop spreading death & deastruction & start sharing life & prosperity! This should be an easy task, for we ARE Life itself; we ARE The Meaning of Life!

Charles Haddon Shank

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Sacred Space, Revisited

In the previous post of the same name ( a good three, almost three & a half years ago ), my readers may recall that I came to the conclusion that we ARE the Temple, 'a traveling 'Sacred Space' if you will. My conclusion remains the same as it was those few years ago, though it should be noted that my understanding has expanded! We ARE the Temple, yes, but maybe not in the sense one might get from reading the Holy Bible, which is, after all, merely the West's translation of an Ancient Near Eastern text. Having been there before, we will explore this avenue no further, except to quote a ( fictional ) wise man, who once said, 'I do not think it means what you think it means'!

The apostle Paul, according to the Greek Scriptures ( AKA, 'New Testament' ) quoted a Universal Truth when he wrote, 'your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit'. In the context of his writing, of course, he referred to the fact that, as opposed to the Judaistic notion that their Temple ( built by the hand of Man ) was the Dwelling of 'God' on Earth, they themselves were that Glorious Dwelling! 'As above, so below': Paul's statement is true enough, but not in the sense, maybe, that many Christians understand it! Our biological bodies ARE the Temple of what most Christians call 'the Holy Spirit', though not for the reasons we have been taught; we are not the Temple because we 'invited Jesus into our heart' ( ? ), not because we were adopted into the 'Family of God', but because as spirit beings, we are part & parcel with the Source of ALL Life. Call it 'Divine Energy', call It what you will, 'It is what It is', whether we, as human beings ( personally speaking ) choose to manifest that Divinity to the outside world or not, We are, at heart, in our inmost being, ALL Divine & so Temples!

'The Hebrew & Greek ( Aramaic ) Scriptures were NOT written to us!' There; I said it ( again )! I will say it till I'm blue in the face if I hafta ( though I'm pretty much over all that )! The understanding ( of said Scriptures ) that's been handed down to us is therefore clearly a false one. It is more clear to some than to others that the current understanding of the Majority is in dire need of revision, but as the case may be, even in the case of most 'fulfilled believers' ( preterists ), the fact that our whole theology ( as Christians ) is based on a misconception, argues, even screams for a new Reformation. The Hebrew Scriptures, to begin with, although they too hold some Universal Truth, were primarily, if not wholly, written to & for an Ancient Near Eastern ( peculiar-Exodus 19:6 ) people. 'As above, so below'; these Scriptures, which we as Christians call OUR 'Holy Bible', DO have the effect of transmitting to us some Universal Truth, though great care must be exercised in divining what is Universal Truth & what was meant for the Hebrew people alone!

'Any theologian worth his salt knows the difference between the Law given on Sinai & the so-called 'cleanliness laws' ( 603? ). Okay, that was said kinda 'tongue-in-cheek'! The so-called 'Ten Commandments', that many Christians are ready to 'throw down' about if their freedom of display ( courthouses, parks, etc ) is threatened, are actually part & parcel with the 'cleanliness laws' ( all part of the so-called 'Mosaic Law', or 'Law of Moses' ). The 'cleanliness laws' ( 603? ) can even be seen to hold some Universal Truth! For instance, EVERYBODY ( well, those in their right mind, anyway ) knows that 'bacon makes everything better'! Most of us know, though we try to ignore it, that just like the 'Mosaic Law' says, it's actually not all that good for us, if at all! Muslims & Jews, whether they realize this fact,  or just 'blindly' obey the 'law', ( for the most part, anyway ) follow this instruction to the letter & thus are probably somewhat healthier than many Americans! I love bacon myself & will most likely continue to consume this 'unclean' meat, not because I believe, as most Christian do, that 'What God has [f]cleansed you must not call common' ( Acts 10:15 ). I used to believe, even teach this ), but because I ( personally ) DO love it, though in limited quantities.

Getting back to the subject at hand, just as the 'Ten Commandments' ( even the so-called 'cleanliness laws' ) hold Universal Truth, so we, as modern Americans, may divine ( 'glean'? ) Universal Truth from both the Hebrew & Greek ( Aramaic ) Scriptures. Again, when the apostle Paul wrote the words quoted earlier, we should note that our ( biological ) bodies are indeed a Temple ( in fact, as much as I hate to say it, we probably SHOULD cut way back on our consumption of bacon, if not cut it out of our diets completely ). This means that much of our practices bear revision! As Christians ( in particular ), though, we NEED ( desperately ) to understand this, not because we are in some Covenant with YHWH ( the 'God' of the Hebrews ), but simply ( Divinely ) because these ARE Universal Truths & as that 'traveling 'Sacred Space', our bodies are the vehicles in which we present 'God' to the world!

It is interesting to note, in conclusion, that even in that first post ( Sacred Space ), over three years ago, it's clear that I was headed in the same direction as I am now! 'As above, so below'; in that sense, I have not abandoned my Christian faith ( although certain aspects of it have definitely 'gone by the way-side' ); I have simply followed its logical conclusions & progressed beyond Christianity! 'So, one might ask then, 'is it correct to refer to our biological bodies as Temples, since the apostle was referring to the misconception of the Jews?' To this I would respond with a resounding 'YES'! What is a temple but the place where 'Heaven' meets 'Earth', the 'Sacred Space' where ( a ) 'God' dwells?!

Charles Haddon Shank

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Junction of Heaven & Earth; the Temple

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  
For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body [g]and in your spirit, which are God’s.
I Corinthians 6:19 & 20 

Let me first make this caveat: quoting from the Judeo-Christian Scriptures ( or at least, an English interpretation of them ), as I do above ( quite often, too ) does not mean that I believe that they are  the 'end-all'! Both the Hebrew & Greek ( Aramaic ) Scriptures DO contain much of what I call 'Universal Truth' & we see an example of such in the first part of the quotation. It it when we reach the second part, however, that the line blurs. The apostle Paul's instruction here is a direct referent to the Judaistic roots of the Christian religion. While, as I believe I've said before, I will always call myself, personally speaking, a Christian; it should be noted that, again, personally speaking, I AM 'a heretic of heretics' & would likely be asked to remain silent in most Christian 'churches'!

As I understand it, first the tabernacle in the wilderness ( Exodus 26 ), then the temple of Solomon's time ( as well as Herod's ) were designed so as to represent the place where 'Heaven' ( as the dwelling of 'God ) & Earth ( as the dwelling of 'Man' ) met together. We read later, in the Christian or Greek Scriptures, such as the apostle Paul's quote above, that rather than this meeting-place being a building ( or tent, as the case was in the wilderness ), it had become ( or was it always? ) the people of 'God' or simply, 'just' people. Not only Christians, but all those who deal justly with their neighbor, love mercy & walk humbly with their 'God' ( whoever He/She/It may be ) thus fall into this category. 
( This is one area in which I have departed from 'Christianity'. )

Jesus of Nazareth, he who was born King of the Jews, is known in Christian circles, as 'the God-man'. He was/is 'True man, yet very God' according to Orthodox Christianity. The term 'God-man' ( maybe especially the concept ) does not however, belong to the Christian religion alone. As a conception, if not in such terminology, it is much older than Christianity, going all the way back to the ancient Egyptians & Mesopotamians.  Before the written record, no doubt it goes back even further than that. Greek mythology, for example, includes many stories of how the gods came down & had children ( interestingly, only sons ) with female humans. This is not to say that Jesus the Christ, the Jewish Messiah, was merely a myth; there seems to be some historical evidence that he did exist, but the point is that the Jews & Christians are not the only people that claim a 'God-Man'!

Eastern religions, as I understand, teach that it lies within all people to manifest the 'God-Man' ( or 'God-woman' )! The understanding ( knowledge ) of our true nature, that of Spirit, or Source ( Divine Energy ), rather than merely a human ( biological? ) being is the beginning of true wisdom. Even the Hebrew Scriptures iterate this truth; 'The fear of the Lord [ is ] the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One [ is ] understanding' ( Proverbs 9:10 ) Here, one must, of course, take into account the Hebrew context, first, with the ancient concept of a fear of the gods & secondly, with the double statement, whereas 'fear of the Lord' corresponds to 'knowledge of the Holy One'. 'The Holy One', of course refers, in my understanding, to our Higher Self, or more correctly, to knowledge of the Source & our intimate connection to it!

Although the term 'Christ', to my limited knowledge, was never used in any religion but Judaeo-Christianity, the concept is very nearly the same as the title 'Buddha'. The latter ( title ) means 'awakened one', while the former means 'anointed one'. The difference, it should noted, is that one connotes an inner action, while the outer refers to an outside influence. The necessity of the outer influence is based on the biblical notion that man, or human-kind, is merely a fallen creature & thus incapable of helping him or herself. This again is based on an English interpretation of Ancient Near Eastern ( Hebrew ) literature concerning the supposed 'Fall of Man'. The Hebrew story of the Fall of Adam & Eve, according to at least one modern scholar, was likely a later addition to the so-called '5 Books of Moses', written during the Babylonian Exile. What we read as Genesis chapter 3 then, would be the story, in metaphor, of how Israel disobeyed Yahweh & was sent/taken into Exile, East of Eden ( the Promised Land ).

'As above, so below'; we've already noted that it is when one realizes their true nature that the 'awakening' process begins. It cannot be by an outside influence, though that may help one in realizing certain truths; no, 'awakening' must be an inner process, followed by outward action, similar to becoming a Christian, except again, we run into the difference of the inner action as opposed to an outside influence. It is when a man or woman, realizing their true nature, their Higher Self, chooses to follow that Higher Self rather than their Lower, or animal nature, that one becomes 'awakened' & in that sense, 'the Buddha': this process has also been called 'Awakening the Christ Within'. In this sense, through their own choices, not by some outside influence, one either saves or damns themselves, becoming the 'Savior' or 'Satan' of their own lives!

As a veritable 'God-Man' ( or 'God-Woman' ), each of us-every human being-has the latent ability to choose for themselves whether they will do justly & love mercy or take dominion ( control ) over their fellow human beings, asserting their own will over that of another. It is a fairly well-known phrase, especial among those interested in health & fitness, based on the quotation at the beginning of this blogpost; 'treat your body like a temple'. In those terms, it refers to the fact that if we wish to have a pleasant experience in this life, we should be careful how we treat our biological body. In truer terms, we should note that we are in actuality the meeting-place of Heaven & Earth, or the Divine & the Mundane!

'Be the Temple!' Whether one follows the apostle's teaching above & acts as if his or her body is 'the temple of the Holy Spirit', or whether one simply realizes they are the 'God-Man', when we follow the dictates of our Higher Self ( 'Be still & know....................' ); we will naturally do justly, love mercy & walk humbly with our 'God'. We will take care of our biological bodies because they are the physical vehicles through which we exercise our love for all of Creation. We ARE the Temple where the Divine meets the Mundane, so when we allow our Divinity to flow through the Mundane, we will manifest 'Heaven' on Earth!

Charles Haddon Shank