The Pagan Path

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

Monday, September 24, 2018

The More That is Beyond; What Lies Ahead

'What is your greatest hope?'

Ask any Christian from the Reformed camp, including Presbyterian, certain Lutherans ( Missouri Synod?) & quite possibly Episcopalians this question & you will likely hear some variation of the trite answer from The Heidelberg Catechism or even the Bible itself. From the Heidelberg, the answer to the question, 'what is your greatest comfort in life & death?' is '...............that I am not my own, but belong, with body & soul, to my Savior, Jesus Christ..................' There is more to it, but that will suffice. As far as the Bible is concerned, most Christians would likely point you to some passage like Colossians 1:27 or Galatians 5:5. This is not to say that these words hold nothing for Christians today, or that the Heidelberg ( et al ) bear no truth post-1st century, but this promise, this hope, was fulfilled to the intended recipients, the apostle Paul's original audience in the 1st century!

Having published numerous posts & thoughts on the subject of the 'after-life'; I will go no further here, except to point out that this 'after-life' is predicated on the notion that we not only inhabit these biological bodies ( 'flesh & blood'? ) but that we ARE this body! If indeed, we are what we eat, simply part of the Circle of Life, then, we might as well 'eat, drink & be merry, for tomorrow we die!' ( Ecclesiastes 8:15 ) However, we are more ( infinitely so ) than this biology; we are, in our innermost Being, of the same Essence as the Creator of All!

Since, then, we are MORE than just what we eat, MORE than merely part of the Circle of Life ( biologically speaking ), one might well ask what we have to look forward to! The Spirit of Life, the Essence which lies within every biological representative, being infinite, thus perseveres. The subject of reincarnation is not one that most Christians will readily examine, but, in the eyes of this blogger ( as a Christian ) it is an idea who's time has come! Among other things, the greatest proponent for the concept is the notion that, contrary to the traditional biblical 'principle' that 'it is appointed for man to die once....................' ( Hebrews 9:27 ), the individual 'spirit' or 'soul' has the chance to return to this biology, in order that it ( he/she ) might rectify previous mistakes.

The Biblical notion of 'it is appointed for man ( kind ) to die once.......................' must be taken in the context in which it is presented! Reading the rest of this seemingly stark statement, we see that ',,, then comes the judgment', which, in accordance with the eschatology of Scripture ( Israel, to be precise ) is referring to the judgment of 'the Day of the Lord'. There is also an aspect of universal truth in this statement, in that man ( kind ), personally speaking, only has one life to live before she or he returns to that in-between place, a 'staging area', so to speak, before that 'soul' is reborn into a new biological body.

As spirit beings inhabiting biological bodies, as discussed previously in numerous posts,  we are, in Essence, a 'soul', not merely a human being; although, for most intents & purposes, we function thusly on this earth, in this biology. As human beings, then, we function in this Wheel, the so-called 'Circle of Life' in which, as it happens, for one thing to live, another must die, whether plant or animal. Sometimes too, it occurs ( rarely ) that a human being must die that another ( or 'others' ) might live, or have a better life. The Biblical example of Jesus' death on the Cross, whether factual or merely metaphorical, falls into this category. Since Israel was, by their own laws, condemned to die for their sin, God Himself took their place & showed them a better Way!

In some sense, one might observe, any talk of an 'after-life' is thus a moot point! Except maybe the consideration that this 'in-between place' might almost be termed an 'after-life', it should be clear by now that this is not the traditional ( Christian ) concept. Even careless phrases like 'Life must go on' ( as traditionally understood, anyway ) are rendered somewhat moot; since Life is more than more mere biological existence, it stands to reason that Life must indeed go on, not in the aforementioned 'Circle of Life' sense ( though there IS that ), but in the sense that our spirit endures, continually being reborn into this biological existence in order that we, as human beings, might learn our lessons & not repeat the mistakes of the past!

In the Story of Israel, as recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures, we can almost see an example of this ( multiple chances )! According to the Story, Israel kept making the same mistakes ( 'sin'? ) over & over again, until finally, though there WAS a Remnant that had learned their lesson, Israel, as a geographical nation, ceased to exist. Whether one sees this for the myth that it is, or takes it as a literal history ( which it also arguably is ), it clearly presents Israel as representative of humanity as a whole. Now, having said that, let me say this as well; the cultural differences must be taken into account here. Time, though in essence maybe, a social construct, must also factor in here, biblically speaking, at any rate, since according to the Hebrew Scriptures, the New ( Covenant ) Age gave the Christian a chance to be free of the ( adverse ) eternal consequences that Israel suffered in the Scriptural account!

So, with that out of the way, so to speak; 'what DOES lie ahead?!' 'What IS this More that I speak of?' Well, one might note that it's already been spelt out! Being of One Essence with the Creator, WE, in our innermost Being, ARE that 'More'! Though we must needs function within this biology, we must understand that, to whatever extent, we are not limited to it. We impose limits on ourselves, in our minds & though we may not be able, in our humanity, to literally sprout wings & fly, man ( kind ) has figured out how to 'spread their wings' in a very real sense. This is but one example of how far we can go when we realize that we are More than what might be evident, on the surface. As human beings, one might well note, there ARE literally limits to what we can do, but as More than just human beings, though we may not realize it consciously, we CAN do the impossible ( or at least, what we thought, in our finite minds, was impossible )!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, September 14, 2018

Beautiful People

People are strange when you're a stranger
Faces look ugly when you're alone
Women seem wicked when you're unwanted
Streets are uneven when you're down
 The Doors

The phrase, 'Beauty is ( only ) skin-deep' is most likely familiar to my readers. The sad thing is, while it gets a lot of 'air-play' ( along with phrases like, 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder ( or 'beer-holder' )' ), this is a total misnomer, based on a wrong assumption of 'beauty'! Like anything else, True Beauty starts on the inside, not with the 'person', but with the True Self. Don't get me wrong, there are men & women out there who possess what many call 'beauty', but inside, they are empty of what defines True Beauty! Then again, there are those whose physical appearance is more of what we would call a 'Plain Jane' ( at best ), but inside, one finds that they are a delight to know! On the other hand, though, there are those whom we would call 'drop-dead gorgeous' or 'beautiful' ( aesthetically pleasing ) who truly shine from the inside out.

Perception is the key. In the lyrics above, penned by Jim Morrison, one should note that it is our perception that makes people seem 'strange' or 'ugly'; when it comes to 'wicked women', this too is based on our personal experience. To one person, certain men or women may seem 'wicked', people may be 'strange' or 'ugly', while to others, they may be 'beautiful'! One reason that this occurs, the main reason, actually, is that many of us allow our emotions to rule us, to rule our actions ( some call this the 'Ego' ); when a person whom we desire does not return that desire, our Ego is wounded; when this happens, the object of our frustrated desire often tends to become 'ugly' ( or rather, we to them ), 'strange', or even 'wicked'. This, of course, is based in 'the person', with its desires & fluctuating likes & dislikes; one moment, we may like another, but then, for reasons outlined above, our 'like' may turn to 'dislike'!

People are either beautiful or they are not; our perception of them matters not ( except to us )! If we really take the time to get to know them, we would find that there are more beautiful people out there than not, although there are those so wrapped up in the 'person', who define themselves by the 'Ego', that they have become, for all intents & purposes, 'ugly'. This is not to say, however, that there is no hope for such a person ( there's always hope ), but, as the saying goes, 'some people, you just can't reach' ( or 'you can't fix stupid' ); in such a case, all we can do is lead by example, gently educate & hope for the best!

As I alluded to earlier, a person may have a sort of outer 'beauty', in fact, they may be 'drop-dead gorgeous', but inside, from the heart, so to speak, they are so encapsulated by everyone else's perception ( of 'beauty' ) that they focus on their 'person' ( 'Ego' ), thus limiting & even neglecting their inner selves, which is where True Beauty lies! When a person takes the time to truly know themselves ( their True Nature ), they will soon realize that, if they don't take of themselves on the inside, anything they do on the outside, however aesthetically pleasing they try to make themselves, will have no lasting effect, at least, no good effect. Again, this is because people, when limited to the 'person', tend to change like the weather; when ruled by the emotions, one moment it's 'love', the next, it's 'hate'!

True Beauty, therefore, is NOT 'skin-deep'; in fact, it has nothing to do with 'skin' at all! Now, don't get me wrong, True Beauty on the inside ( inner self ) WILL manifest outwardly; if a person DOESN'T limit themselves to their 'Ego' ( outer person ), but develops their True Selves, they will become Truly Beautiful, no matter what they look like on the outside; in fact, one should note that, the outward appearance ( to certain people ) will be so softened, that, no matter how 'plain' they are, to the right person ( s ), they will become very attractive.

In their very Essence, one might say, EVERYONE is beautiful! Many have, however, lost sight of this glorious fact & limited themselves to their particular society's perception ( standard ) of what IS 'beauty', thus viewing themselves as 'ugly' or not 'beautiful'. Again, as before, these people tend to become, for all intents & purposes, 'ugly', whether because of being 'jaded' by their experiences or for some other reason. These, again, are not beyond hope; with the right education & love out-poured, they can be convinced of their own worth, but first, they must convince themselves! This is not an easy thing to accomplish ( kinda like 'forgiving oneself-these are strangely inter-related ), but it CAN & MUST be done!

If we cannot see Beauty in ourselves, we will not be able to see it in anyone else! In the same vein, if we do not recognize the Beauty that is us, it while be hard, though not impossible for others to see that Beauty in us. Sometimes it takes that one special person, that one beautiful soul, to help us see ( recognize ) that we are indeed beautiful, contrary, often, to what our particular society has taught us. When we do recognize that Beauty in ourselves, that Beauty manifests on the outside & we understand that rather than being 'skin-deep', 'True Beauty is as Beauty does'!

Charles Haddon Shank