The Pagan Path

Those who wonder are not lost; they are trying to awaken! 'The Sleeper must awaken!'

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Manifestation of the Person

'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.'

In this life, on this earth, this mortal dimension, we operate through the person, there's just no escaping this glorious, though often laborious fact! How we choose to operate IN the person, though, usually determines the outcome. I say 'usually', because, without fail, there ARE those who make the choice to operate totally in the person & thus make choices that might not be favorable in the outcome, at least not immediately. Here again, however, the ball returns to our court, almost without exception, for WE still have a choice as to how we face that difficulty. When we rule over our person though, it becomes no difficulty at all, but simply another chance to prove our mettle, to refine our silver & gold, if you will!

We are not the Source, but we are One with it; therefore we are pure Love, just as the Source is Pure Love! By 'Pure Love', biblically speaking, I mean simply that the Creator God, the Source of all that IS, as our Heavenly Father, like any good father, cares for His children, His Creation. He loves them to such an extent, that though He is not willing that any should perish, He is willing to let them touch the hot stove in order that they may learn for themselves that it hurts like hell! In other words, speaking personally, we have been given the free will to act according to the nature of our humanity, or according to our true nature, which is a Son of God, simply a necessary part of the Whole, or the One.

The choices we all face in this human existence often seem to force us to do things we would not normally do. Let's say that a tree falls on our house while we are away & a neighbor, one operating totally in the person, decides that since the door is ajar, he or she should accept the open & obvious invitation, pillaging whatever is being offered. We return sometime later to find that several of our possessions are missing & the door is wide open. What do we do? We have a good idea of the person or persons responsible. Do we immediately call the cops in, or even worse, take it upon ourselves to seek vengeance?

Operating totally in the person, we might be tempted to at least call the cops, letting them respond to this dastardly act, or we could immediately blow our top, run fumingly next door, or wherever we know the perpetrator lives & by force, if necessary, extract our goods, leaving a bloody pulp that will  wish they had never touched our precious possessions! Another scenario is that we would calmly & collectively seek out this individual, whoever he or she might be & calmly negotiate the safe return of said personal goods, if we even want them back. This scenario, however, is much less likely!

Understanding that we are Love personified makes all the difference in the world! 'When life hands you lemons', it is said, 'make lemonade'. In other words, as we can all attest to, in one way or another, our choices determine our existence. Whether it's a tree falling on our house, getting mugged one night outside the movie theater, or death in the family; how we react to any & I mean ANY given situation, proves to any outside observer our inner peace or turmoil ( re. 'confusion' ). We may choose to make lemonade, letting whatever might seeks to trouble us slide away like water off a duck's back, or we may choose to let it become a seed of dissension within us, allowing it to disrupt our relatively peaceful existence.

There can be no doubt that we are in this biology, for good or evil! However, as we have seen & bear witness to on a daily basis, when we dwell in the Source, as the Source dwells in our biological bodies, the choice, if indeed there is a choice, remains clear & constant. Love is ALL! Anything else is simply Illusion. O sure, it seems real enough & surely, in some sense it is, but when we are operating  from the True Self, or from the Source, everything seems fade into the foreground & we realize that the reality is not what happens to the person, the Reality is our Self, who we truly ARE!

The Love that remains, the Love that we ARE, is hard to explain; there truly ARE no words! In this biology, we may choose to exhibit ( manifest ) that Love or not, but the fact remains, in all its glory, that we ARE Love. The Creator God, the Source of all that IS, bore us in His/Her Image; we have no choice but to be who we ARE. However, as we've seen, we  can choose to remain ignorant of our Being, or stifle it through the exercise of our Person, to the extent that the Person, rather than the Self, or Being, seems to be the Reality. Returning to the Source clears the cobwebs of confusion, though & allows the Pure, Healing Light of Love to shine in & through us!

Operating THROUGH the Person is inescapable; in fact, it is an absolute necessity! In order to shine our Light in this world, we must take full advantage of this biology; we must prove, through our choices, that we ARE who we ARE. In Reality, you might say there's no choice about it, for if we simply allow ourselves to BE, we WILL BE! To simply BE, one must, as the Scriptures say, 'Be still'. This is harder than it sounds. To simply 'let it go', as seems a popular mantra today, is really not as easy as it sounds: on the other hand, though, it IS! To simply 'let it go', one must realize, first of all, WHO they really are & secondly, that it's ALL good; whatever happens in this life, in this existence, doesn't REALLY change ANYTHING: what matters is WHO we ARE; once we have that straight, the rest will fall into line!

But don't believe me, for God's sake; just DO it & see what dreams may come!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Voice of the Serpent

You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.
Genesis 3:4 & 5

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

Especially in this Day & Age with the sometimes questionable wonders of Technology, it is difficult to prove beyond all shadow of a doubt to anybody, even oneself, that there IS no supernaturally evil spirit-being named Satan. Scripture DOES say, 'your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour' ( I Peter 5:8 ), but firstly ( lets make no bones about it ), Peter DID say, 'the devil', not 'Satan'. This may seem like small potatoes, nut I'm pretty sure if he had meant 'Satan', he would have said that. Secondly, Peter was accustomed to using metaphor & allegory to describe certain people or situations, for example, the only other place in the Greek Scriptures where we hear of someone ( or group of someones ) is when Jesus said ( to the Pharisees ), 'you devour widows’ houses' ( Matthew 23:14 ) Thirdly, while it is true that there is no doubt a certain spirit of wickedness behind all that is wrong in the world today, in fact, the same spirit of wickedness that the apostle warned against, it is by no means clear that this spirit is invested in one personification of evil, the mythical fallen angel we like to call Satan! 

Some may be led to wonder, 'if there's no 'Satan' to make us do bad things, maybe there's no 'God' to make us ( want to ) do good things'. In other words, if we can't say 'the devil made me do it', anymore, then maybe instead of looking to the heavens for assistance in doing good, we should just make the choice to do rightly, not wrongly, one thing rather than the other. This is not to say that our Heavenly Father does not hear our prayers or even that we shouldn't communicate with Him on a regular basis, just that we have the ability within us to choose one or the other, like Cain above. We can rule over our emotions, our Ego, or we can allow them to rule over us, in essence, to control our actions.

In the mythical & highly metaphorical Story of the Garden of Eden, the Fall of Adam & Eve  in particular, we read about a 'serpent', wiser than all the ( other ) animals, who tempted mankind with Divinity, or the ability to judge, or choose for themselves between right & wrong. As the Story goes, of course, A & E choose wrongly, to disobey the Creator God. The Story of Israel then follows this pattern, with good & bad decisions being made, thus revealing to us within the pages of Scripture a sort of comedy of errors.

Dante's 'Divine Comedy' is allegorical, as you can read in this Wikipedia article, of 'the soul's journey towards God', As you read  this poem, whether or not you agree with Dante's obvious Catholic leanings,  it is obvious that Dante' himself understood that it is through the choices we make that we wind up in  'Heaven' or 'Hell'. One can even understood this human existence as a sort of 'Purgatory', though rather than viewing as a preparation for 'Heaven' or 'Hell', we might rather see it as a purging experience, not in preparation for 'Heaven', but as 'Fit Vessels for the Master', or 'Heaven' itself!

Following the Story of his parent's Fall, or failure, Cain faced his own test, in which, because of his prevailing attitude, he, like his parents before him, failed miserably..His Story may be read as an allegory of the choices that we all face in life. When faced with whatever situation life may through at us, we can listen to our Ego, which says ( selfishly ), 'I'll do to him like he ( or she ) did to me', or we can listen to our Higher Self & treat others like we want to be treated, realizing that there is no other, that we are ALL the Image of God; thus by loving our neighbor as ourself, we are acknowledge that our neighbor IS ourself, that we are One!

Through the choices that we make, we show ourselves to be the masters of our own destiny, whether for good or evil, as the 'gods' ( Psalm 82:6 ( John 10:34 ) that Scripture itself says we are, or our own worst 'adversary'. By bowing to our Ego, by letting our emotions or feelings determine our actions ( reactions ), we become a 'devil' in the truest sense of the word. By seeking our Higher Self, though, not listening to The Voice of the Serpent, or the Ego & controlling our emotions rather than letting them control us, we show ourselves to be 'gods'!

In this sense, then & only in this sense, 'Satan is Alive & Well on Planet Earth'! As the spirit of adversity, the Ego sometimes seems to reign supreme, especially if you watch the news. The Story of the Day, though, with the recent disasters in Houston, the Caribbean & even the Keys of Florida, we are hearing, bad news, yes, but good news as well, of people overcoming their own personal feelings & coming to the aid of their fellow man. This lends hope to the future, as people love their neighbor simply because they need it!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Calming the Storm

For the second time this month, a major hurricane has blown through the Caribbean Sea, devastating much of what we know as the Virgin Islands. First was Irma, with wind-speeds reaching almost Category Six ( 185+ mph ), then a bit later, Maria showed up, not quite as savagely, but still fairly destructive. Of course, the Virgin Islands were not the only islands affected by these storms, including Jose, but the Virgin Islands, in particular the island of St. Thomas, are perhaps closest to my heart & the hearts of certain of my readers, for you see, I have family down there. You may have heard that at least one of the British Virgin Isles was almost totally decimated. The Island of Puerto Rico suffered major damage to its power grid, leaving its 3.5 million inhabitants without power. Whether or not my readers have family down there, it is safe to say our heart goes out to all involved!

If one remembers Hurricane Katrina, which in 2005 made landfall, most notably, in what is called by some, 'Sin City', or New Orleans, Louisiana, one might also remember that, in certain circles, it was murmured, if not blatantly broadcasted, that it was the judgment of God! Whether it was the just judgment of a jealous God or not, Christians & non-Christians alike came together to aid in the relief effort, helping both to clean up & rebuild. Much the same is happening in the Caribbean, though maybe not quite to the same scale, at least not yet. Say what you will, then, about 'natural disasters, such as these, one thing about them, they seem to make barriers fade away, at least for the time being & by showing them what's truly important, bringing people together in a mutual cause.

At times like this, it's difficult to remain calm, especially if one's in the midst of the storm, but even if you're thousands of miles away from the epicenter. Of course. as Christians especially, we know that our God & Father holds each of us in the Palm of His Hand. However, we also know this doesn't mean that our body, not to mention, material possessions, won't be battered by the storm or suffer damage, to whatever extent. The prayers of the faithful, especially in times like this, seem to erupt, with fervent pleas to keep so & so safe from harm. When so & so remains safe, having weathered the storm, the prayers turn to joyous shouts of praise to a God that answers prayer. Such is not always the case, however, for in certain other storms of life, such as cancer or some other disease, those same fervent prayers seem to go unanswered!

'Why', one may well ask, 'does a just & loving God help some & allow others to be overcome by their own personal storm?' Does the one who succumbs to whatever malady afflicts him or her not deserve to live, or did the prayer simply not have the necessary faith behind it? Maybe it WAS the Will of God for that person to suffer harm! Maybe He allowed it to happen in order to bring people together in a relief effort, people who might not ordinarily give each other the time of day. On the other hand, though, maybe it's up to us to make sure the bodies we have been given stand the test of time & weather the storms of life. The Creator God imbued us with the wisdom, again, to whatever extent, to stay out of the path of danger or weather the storms of life. Sometimes, yes, it IS unavoidable, such as finding oneself & loved ones in the eye of the storm, as it were, but even then, with the means at our disposal, we can ensure a better chance of survival than if we simply did nothing but fall on our knees, wringing our hands & hearts as if we did not possess the wherewithal to protect ourselves!

This is not to say that prayer is useless! The Creator God is our Father & when His Children beseech Him, like any father, He hears our prayers. He has, however, endowed us with a certain power of our own, not separate from His Power, one must understand, but still one which enables us to choose our own destiny! 'Will we stand or fall; will we weather this storm, or will we be engulfed by it?' While much of the storms that pass our way are, as far as we can tell, unavoidable, others land squarely within the realm of personal choice. Certain decisions we make, as opposed to others, may place us more or less in the path of danger. Even in the path of the storm, certain choices we make might determine our relative safety in the midst of that storm. When faced with such gale-force winds & rains, the difference between living or dying might be as simple as taking the precaution of 'battening down the hatches'. On the other hand, though, it might not matter how tight we 'batten' them, the storm may prevail. After all, though the storms of life may kill this body, they can do nothing against our true selves!

Though my readers may agree, to some extent, that we have a soul, or spirit, some may have a difficult time in understanding that we are not our body! Much importance has been placed upon this biology & for good reason; however, we are more than this biology. The importance of our physicality, in the grand scheme of things especially, cannot be denied; though without the indomitable spirit, it will not survive. The Strength of our Spirit may determine whether our biology weathers the storms of life or not, but one thing is sure, even if this physicality fails the test, we will persevere!

Everything happens for a reason; as the saying goes, 'when God closes a window, He opens a door'. We hate to think of our time on this planet being cut short, but, whether due to personal carelessness or  to the nature of the storm, though our physical body may not weather the storm, our Spirit, of the same Essence as the Spirit of Life, will go on. What happens after, what dreams may come, so to speak, may be up in the air. but one thing is sure, life will go on!

Having friends or family in the path of these storms, whether it be a hurricane or a fire, as is one of the dangers in Montana, where my biology currently resides, it is difficult to hear of their troubles & not share their concerns, even their worries. However, we know that, in whatever form, the storms of life will come to test our mettle & not just the mettle of this biology; the Strength of our Spirit will be tested as well, for without the Spirit, there IS no biological life!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Meaning of Life, Continued

'Life begins at conception!'

Or does it?

First, one might question, 'what is life?' The pro-life mantra quoted above seems to be predicated on the assumption that life is biological existence. If life is more than biological existence, though, which most would probably admit to, however grudgingly, does this life begin when the spirit enters the body, or does it exist before the spirit enters the body? When does the spirit come to be? On the other end of the spectrum, what happens to the spirit when biological life ceases? Does life cease, or does the spirit persevere? Many questions could doubtless be asked when it comes to the nature of life itself, but maybe the most nagging one, staring us all in the face, is, 'if we are more than this body, why do we focus so much on this physical existence; why do we cling to this biology so fervently?'

A long time ago, I was asked what the meaning of life was. Being steeped in religiosity as I was at the time, I responded simply with, 'Jesus is the meaning of life!' Looking back on that statement, some twenty or twenty-five years ago, I can still say that, though I have come to realize that there is more to it than I thought at the time! Jesus, as the Son of God, was raised to the Life of the Spirit, which we all can now share, through the realization of the Christ, or Chrism Within.

'Life goes on!' Most times, when this, or a similar statement is uttered, the speaker is most likely thinking that though it has ceased for one individual, it perseveres for another, or others. While this is true in a sense, that ones biological life, or existence in the body they inhabited up until that time is over, whether one believes in reincarnation or not, life continues on for that one, either in the Spirit, or in a new body. By 'a new body', I simply mean another ( biological ) manifestation of the Spirit Within, that Divine Spark that moves us all.

It is without question that we are more than this biology! Whether one goes to Scripture to prove this or not ( which I have previously done ), it cannot be denied that there is a Spirit that controls our every movement. This Spirit Within enables us to choose. Depending on our choice, we may observe which nature has control, if only for the moment. If we choose rightly, according to the Spirit Within, then we may know that we are acting from our True Nature, which is from Above, our Higher Self & if we choose wrongly, which we often do, we perceive that we are acting from our base, or animal nature, that which is from Below, our lower self. For instance, most often when we instinctively react to what we perceive as wrong-doing ( usually against our self ), we end up perpetuating the wrong-doing. However, when we act out of love, rather than waiting for the other to act, it is evident that we have, through whatever means & to whatever extent, realized our True Nature & are acting from it!

Our True Nature, like the True Nature of Life itself, is Spiritual! Any motion of this biological machine, however involuntary we may perceive it as being, must begin in our Spirit, or it will not happen, for it is the Spirit that gives Life.  Some may choose to disagree over the veracity of the former statement, but none, Scripturally speaking, can disagree with the latter! One must choose, whether consciously or unconsciously, with the Higher or lower mind, to do this or that, one thing or the other, before any action can be manifested by the physical body.

Put simply, Love is the meaning of Life! Our actions, when motivated by Love, come from our True Nature, which, like the Creator God's, IS Love. One may act in kind, for good or evil, but this is simply a reaction; when one acts in love, no matter the action of the other, this is truly our Higher Nature shining through! This biology is the manifestation of the Spirit Within; if we allow our lower, animal nature, to control our actions, then our biology will be subjected to many forms of dis-ease, but ( this is a hard pill to swallow ) when our Higher Nature, our True Self, dictates what we do or say, then we will find that our physical bodies will be relieved of much if not all that seems to plague them! As is said a lot in this world, 'easier said than done', but when we do act from our Higher Consciousness, we do find ourselves feeling a lot better; this wellness then manifests in our physical bodies.

Scripture tells us that when our biological body dies, it returns to the substance of which it was formed & 'the spirit will return to God who gave it' ( Ecclesiastes 12:7 ). Whether one believes this or not, it is unclear what happens after this. Does the Spirit remain in a disembodied state, in 'the Glory Cloud', so to speak, or are we given a second chance to right the wrongs we have done in the past? Is it possible that, as spirit beings having a physical experience, we are allowed ( to infinity? ) more than one chance to live in this biology, to learn to act according to the Love that we ARE, rather than reacting according to our animal nature, instinctively doing what our base human nature tells us is right?

Religion, at least the prominent Western ones ( even some Near Eastern ones ) tells us that we have but one life to live, then it's off to one or the other 'place', Heaven or Hell, for all of Eternity. Though there are many who persevere in this belief, we know that this is not so, that both Heaven & Hell, at least as classically described, are but states of existence. One chooses, whether consciously or unconsciously, to live in either state of existence, for both are here & now!

In conclusion then, to act from the Higher Mind, the Spirit Within, is simply to BE; reacting to the other ( person ) is to be controlled by our lower mind, our base ( animal ) nature. Realizing that we are of the same Essence as our neighbor, we know that, despite our differences in physiology & psychology, we are ultimately One & the Same. In this sense then, we might well be observed to act in Love towards ourselves when we cease reacting toward others! Is this not what Jesus had in mind when He said, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself' ( Matthew 19:19 ( Leviticus 19:18 )?

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, September 08, 2017

Spiritual Detox

For the longest time, the Catholic Church taught that the Earth was flat, then Galileo came along & turned the world on its edge, so to speak! Now, thanks to Science & Technology, it's widely accepted that the earth is a globe, moving in a rotation around a central Sun. It was also accepted as fact that the Earth was at the center of the universe & that everything revolved around it.

Where did these crazy ideas come from & why would the Church ( Catholic ) teach them as dogma? Strangely enough, even today, some people read the Bible & perceive these outlandish notions as well! As to why this was taught so dogmatically for centuries, my readers may judge for themselves, but one might wonder if it had to do with controlling the masses. If the Earth is flat, as was largely thought in Columbus' day, fear of falling off the edge of the Earth might keep explorers from going too far. If everything revolved around us, or the Earth, then that might, again, instill fear of outside influence, fear that we might not be as important in the grand scheme of things as we'd like to think!

The very idea that the universal destruction language of Scripture, especially from the Revelation, might not be speaking of the destruction of the universe is ridiculous to many, but to some others, it is beyond clear that those Scriptures were speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem & the Temple in AD70. The end of the reign of terror, or, 'ministry of death', as the apostle Paul called it ( II Corinthians 3:7 ), was, according to a relatively 'new' paradigm, what is in view in the Scriptures. If the Scriptures were written merely about the Beginning & End of an era, then what have we to fear? Falling into the hands of an Angry God doesn't quite have the same effect, now does it?!

The Plan of Salvation, as laid out most notably in the apostle's Letter to the Romans, is another doctrine that has been weakened by this paradigm-shift! Since 'preterism' ( the belief that all prophecy in Scripture was fulfilled in the 1st century ) has been gaining in popularity over the past few decades, many adherents have noted that this 'Plan' also referred to the redemption of that certain priesthood, not to humanity as a whole. Paradigm-shifts like this have been going on for centuries , but disturbing the well-established 'Plan of Salvation', veering off 'the Romans Road', so to to speak, may be the most severe!

The Salvation of individuals has been the most active mission of the Church ( Catholic ) for centuries. It has spurred world-wide evangelism & has been much of the impetus behind denominationalism, because, well, 'those guys just don't have it right!' The idea that people are headed for either 'Heaven' or 'Hell' has influenced many, out of fear instilled by sermons such as Jonathan Edwards' 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God', to join the Church & fill their coffers so they could go to the right 'place' when their physical bodies ceased to function.

The Gnostics, who taught that, put simply, we are spirit beings having a physical experience, were condemned as heretics & their teachings were largely down-played by the Catholic Church.One example that I noted in the Wikipedia article ( see 'Historical Jesus' ) on Gnosticism was that the Gnostic Gospels tended to focus on the Kingdom of Heaven, here & now, while the canonical Gospels focused on the end times. What better way to instill fear & assert control than by telling the ignorant masses that the world was going to end soon & they had better join the Catholic Church or end up in fiery torments for Eternity?

Much unnecessary pain & suffering has been caused over the past number of centuries, even millenia, because of dogma like this! Fear is a great instigator & through it, the huddled masses were kept under control for many years, although, as we have noted previously, in the past few decades, this chain of iron has begun to unravel, allowing its former captives to break free, further exploring the Creation & most importantly, the Relationship between Creator & Creation. Fear of what may happen has caused many to go to war over differences of doctrine, or belief. The Inquisition & the Crusades may be the most famous ( or is that 'infamous'? ) examples of what may result from the propagation of this fear.

In much of the Church today, we may note that this impetus is in full force, though, thank God, it is ever weakening! The latest exodus from the Church is an indication of this. With the fear of going to 'Hell' when you die taken out of the way, one is freed to focus on living in the Kingdom ( here & now ), rather than preparing souls for the after-life. In like manner, with no fear of falling off the edge of the world, Columbus opened the channel for us to inhabit the land where we now live. Although Galileo was persecuted for his daring explorations, it is now a matter of fact that he was right. All these advances saw their greatest manifestation in the natural world, but they began, as all paradigm shifts must, with a sort of spiritual detoxification, wherein one begins to see that all is not as was previously thought, but that much, if not all that the Catholic Church dogmatically taught, can & must be re-examined, if not completely discarded!

As we continue this spiritual detoxification process today, it is manifestly clear that, due largely to the fact that we have been so indoctrinated, much pain & suffering is to come. This pain & suffering,. though, is necessary. As it is written, 'No pain, no gain'!

Charles Haddon Shank