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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