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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