The Pagan Path

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

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Hidden Divinity ( of Man ); Identity in the Midst of Diversity

Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 
if indeed you have tasted that the Lord [ is ] gracious.
Coming to Him [ as ] to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, 
to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
I Peter 2:1-5

First of all, let me clarify that the passage just quoted is, in context, speaking of Jesus the Christ. He was rejected as the promised Messiah of Israel, not by all men, or even many men, universally speaking, but by a select group of men, the majority of whom were the religious leaders of the House of Israel in the 1st century. Whether one believes that Jesus was THE Son of God, in Essence, a unique historical figure, or whether one accepts the Truth of the Christ, or Chrism within all, it should be understood that the words above are not unique to the first century, or even to a peculiar people, but put forth a certain universal truth, one which should resonate with all human beings!

The Diversity of Humanity is so blatant that it needs no lengthy introduction. Personally speaking, every single human being on the face of this planet has different wants & needs, likes & dislikes. Most people, when it comes to relationships, from intimate to business, find some sort of compatibility, but even on more or less common ground, disagreements, from minor to major, tend to surface at any given point. Though these disagreements do not always cause problems, issues stemming from our diversity are bound to crop up.

The Divinity of Man ( kind ) is, in certain religious circles anyway, rather a taboo subject. This is rather a sad commentary, for even our own Scriptures point to this glorious fact! To be sure, there are certain Scriptures, like Psalm 51 & I John 1:9, for instance, that seem to point to man's innate sinfulness & wickedness. Jeremiah 17:9 is another such 'proof-text' that shows unequivocally that humanity is 'bad to the bone'.  Although it is hard to deny, in the case of certain people especially, that man ( kind ) is not born in sin, due to the fall of the biblical 'Adam' ( Genesis 3 ), it is hardly a foregone conclusion that humanity, in general, is destined, either for 'Heaven' or 'Hell'.

In the Eastern religions, particularly the Far Eastern ones, but even in some of the more esoteric traditions of the Ancient Near East, the Divinity of Man is not only explored, but even accepted & glorified. The possibility of every human being to manifest the Christ ( depending of course on the culture one comes from ) is taught as a universal truth. The steps necessary to achieve this exalted status do not include following any certain ( established ( institutional ) religion, but are wholly dependent upon the individual & based upon their own personal choices. 

The Divinity of Humanity is a glorious fact! Although, as we've seen, all do not manifest this divinity & so become more animalistic in their nature, there are those who do choose to manifest the Christ Within & thus show ( prove ) their Divinity. These become Masters, or Teachers & every Teachers must, of necessity, have Students. Thus, as Time marches on, we will see more & more of the Students become Masters, or Teachers themselves; so will the Circle of Life continue until, as our Scriptures say, 'the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea' ( Habakkuk 2:14 ( Isaiah 11:9 ). Both of these passages, though they hold universal truth, are again primarily referring to the fulfillment of events in the ANE ( Ancient Near East ) in the first century A.D..

It is well-known that in the East, not the West, we have what is called 'The Cradle of Civilization'! It was there that humanity first began, through religion ( which, as per usual, became corrupted ), to seek the Divinity Within. Humanity, though not through what we have known as 'The Fall' ( Genesis 3 ) has an innate tendency to prove that old saying, 'power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely'! Every man, woman & child has the free-will choice to decide, as Cain ( Genesis 4 ) did, whether to rule over our emotions ( 'ego'-you name it ) or whether to let our desires rule over us. Depending on those choices, we manifest the Christ Within, or we allow our animal nature to rule us & more often than not, end up by murdering our brother.

However we choose, according to our human nature or our divine nature, we remain, in Essence, One with the Divine ( Creator, Source ). Whether in this life or the next ( or the next ), the evolution of the soul will inevitably prove the glories of this divine fact! As humanity gradually awakens to this awareness, more & more will seek Masters to guide them in their spiritual evolution ( 'development', if you wish ), then, becoming Masters themselves, will attract more & more Students, thus completing the ever-expanding circle.

The notion that Man ( kind ) is born into sin, biblically speaking, is as false as the day is long! As above, it is hard to deny the inglorious fact that there are those, whether based on some sort of religious conditioning or not, have chosen to allow their lower, animal nature to rule them & so have squelched the Spirit Within ( I Thessalonians 5:19 ). However, the choice remains; it is not because of some inheritance ( although we do, in our evolution, develop certain tendencies ) that we are prone to miss the mark. Our conditioning helps us to decide whether we will act wrongly or rightly, according to our human ( animal ) or divine nature.

In the midst of our diversity, as human beings, we must realize our true nature, that of divinity, or in Essence, Oneness with the Source of Life. Even the worst, most animalistic human being ( so that he or she can barely be called 'human' ) bears this Spark so that, no matter the amount of Time, they  must eventually, through the evolution of the soul, come to realize this true nature & reach the culmination of the ages, to become who they were meant to be, personally speaking, according to the design of the Creator.

The Hidden Divinity of Man ( kind ) is such that one will eventually, whether in one or many lifetimes, realize their Oneness with the Divine, with the Source. Even according to our Scriptures ( Acts 17:26 ), we, as human beings, are all cut from the same cloth, so to speak. so why do we murder one another? Why do we tear one another down? It is because of our diversity, our different likes & dislikes, that we tear at one another like rabid dogs do with a piece of meat, but it is also because of, not in spite of, our diversity that we compliment each other. ( If we were all the same, humanly speaking, how compatible would we really be? ) We each, individually & personally, have a choice; we can allow our lower, animal nature ( emotions-not that emotions are a bad thing ) to rule our actions, or we can let go & divinely choose to awaken the Christ Within, the Chrism that resides within each & every one of us!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

A Country Without Borders

And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
Hebrews 11:15‭-‬16 NKJV

Imagine, if you will, a place where there are no lines drawn in the sand. A 'place' where no one fights over fences; 'this is my property, that's yours; you stay on yours or we might have a problem!' A wise man once referred to this place when he wrote, 'Imagine there's no countries, it isn't hard to do, nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too; imagine all the people living life in peace'. An equally wise man had previously written, concerning this 'place', 'Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away' ( Revelation 21:3 & 4 ). ( In context, one should note, these words were meant primarily for a certain audience, but there is a universal truth in them. ) This 'heavenly country' is not, then, a geographical location, though, geographically speaking, 'it' can be anywhere. This realm is what we call the 'spiritual realm'; it is within each one of us, every single human being, though many do not & have not duly manifested it!

On the North American continent, we live in a country called the United States, nestled almost uncomfortably between Canada & Mexico. A bit over 200 years ago, these United States of America fought the British & their mercenaries, winning their 'independence'. As a friend of mine commented the other day, they simply traded an oligarchy for the monarchy they had labored under for roughly a hundred years or less. Some might argue too, that these United States of America never really freed themselves from the British Empire or its tyranny. Be what it may, Americans traditionally celebrate the 4th of July, which again, is traditionally the day that representatives from the original 13 colonies signed the Declaration of Independence, in effect telling the British to 'FUCK OFF!' The British were not pleased, of course, with THEIR errant 'children' & officially launched the Revolutionary War, a bloody conflict, which, though deemed necessary, could really have been avoided & arguably, should have been!

Much, if not most conflicts across this world of ours have been the direct result of greed. Oh, sure, excuses have been made, excuses like 'saving the world for democracy' or  'rescuing the Holy Land from the Infidel'. The nobility of the Cause is hard to deny & especially the ( needless ) sacrifice that countless men & women have made for this country, but did they really have to die?! John Lennon, as quoted above from his song, 'Imagine', later wrote ( in the same song ), 'Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can, no need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man, imagine all the people sharing all the world'. No matter if you are a Christian or a Muslim, a Buddhist or a Jew, we all believe, in other words, that one Creator made this world ( Earth ) in/on which we all dwell & that all human beings are made of the same flesh &  blood ( there MAY be exceptions there, according to some ). That being the case, one might be made to wonder, then, is why we can't all just get along like John Lennon envisioned?!

James 4:1 & 2 reads, 'What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions[a] are at war within you?[b] You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask'. While Christians might quote this passage from the Greek Scriptures as the reason why we as human beings have a tough time getting along ( attributing it, of course, to our 'fallen nature' ), we may apply this passage from James' letter to the Hebrews as the impetus behind such evils as the wars & killings this world has been plagued with for many, many thousands of years. Much of the reason for this, unfortunately, especially for the past few centuries, comes from a misinterpretation of the same Scriptures, as well as from the Hebrew Scriptures.

As we read above, from the letter called 'Hebrews', the 'Heroes of the Faith', as they are often called, sought 'a heavenly country', that is, in Scriptural terms, one 'not of this world' ( John 18:36 ). Textually, of course, Jesus was referring to the 'world' of the first-century Jews, but, as in many cases, we can see that this is a universal truth, for His Kingdom lies within, in our innermost being. Seeking any kingdom but this sort of 'Kingdom' was what the apostle ( James ) railed against. The Kingdom of Heaven, or God is not one that is won through force of arms ( violence ) or any political means; quite the opposite, in fact. In order to enter this Kingdom & win your true independence, all one had to do was accept it. Accepting its true nature & ours as well is what rewards us with true independence; the rest is transitory ( impermanent ), merely the outworking of what we have realized in our innermost being!

The Revolutionary War & other ensuing wars, may have, on the surface, anyway, or for a time, won their independence from British tyranny, but I challenge you to prove that we are not under much the same tyranny as they suffered under! Yes, you might say, 'we are on American soil, not British; the United States of American is its own country, not a bunch of British colonies!' True enough, but we might be surprised to learn how much of a stranglehold Britain has on our 'own' economy! Although we have a President of these United States, unlike the British Isles, much of our 'own' government, in principle ( however loosely ), is based on theirs! Are we still a British Colony? Not technically, but one might be surprised at how close we are to being just that!

The Kingdom of Heaven might well be called a 'Kingdom of the Heart'. By 'heart', of course, is meant 'the innermost being'. The 'heavenly country' referred to in the beginning of this blog has no specific geographical location ( like 'the Holy Land', or some such ), except as those who manifest it in their own lives effect it in the world around them. As such, then, this Kingdom of the Heart is forever expanding, as more 'hearts' open to the realization of this Spiritual Truth. The fact that, as human beings, 'we' have certain unalienable rights, cannot be denied. The pursuit of Life, Liberty & Happiness is something we are all afforded by the Law of Nature. The ownership of property is among these rights, but when these rights become idolatrous, as often happen, they become no more than the chains that bind us, even enslave us. When we remember that we are citizens of a 'a heavenly country', not of any of a transitory nature, we have thus won our Independence & can truly enjoy its benefits!

Charles Haddon Shank