The Pagan Path

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

Monday, December 30, 2019

New Year, New You?

This has became a bit of a handy-dandy catchphrase in the past decade or so. On the surface, it sounds pretty good, right? Most people would love to become 'a better version' of themselves. To become the best person they can be should be everybody's goal. However, although it is an honorable thing to want to be the best ( person ) we can be, it's definitely not as easy as it sounds! How do we become a better person? Well, that's easy; make better choices! Again, easier said than done, right?! Yes, we should make better choices, but really, where do those choices begin? In our 'choice generator' of course, our innermost being, our 'heart'. Here's where we come to the 'crux' of the matter, though & this is where perception plays the biggest key. Many or most of us have been taught from day one that somehow & to whatever extent, we are fallen creatures & that 'the heart [ is ] deceitful above all [ things ] and desperately wicked'. Therefore, in line with this reasoning, since our choices originate with the 'heart', we really cannot make good choices........................without help, that is!

To be honest, 2019 might be the hardest year on record for me & I know it wasn't any easier ( in some cases, harder ) for many who are reading this! The biggest issue that I've dealt with this year, as in the several years leading up to it, was more than a paradigm shift ( that happened years ago, as some of you are aware ); this was a Shift in Consciousness. This Shift has caused me, even almost forced me, to look at many things differently! Although I wouldn't necessarily say that I have lost any friends or loved ones over it, the relationship that I enjoyed with certain people has felt the strain. Although, to whatever extent, my relationship with certain others already suffered because of my prior shift. Speaking of perception, though, I sometimes wonder if it is simply my own perception that these relationships have suffered. 'The door swings both ways', right? I know that in times past, I have seeming allowed 'being right' over 'being friends' . There IS value in being right, please don't get me wrong, but another lesson I have learned over the past few years, especially this one that is rapidly drawing to a close, is to value relationship, not more than Truth, but more than the human need to be right. It's not that I don't want to be right, or that I no longer care about Truth. It's that, while I KNOW Truth, I will no longer use It as an excuse to play the victim, to separate me from those I love or care about!

I said all that to say this; maybe this is becoming somewhat passe' by now, but I AM, we ARE More than what we normally manifest in this human form, or vehicle. 'How do you know?', you might ask. I might simply respond, 'I just DO!' But this kind of answer, though true, probably won't satisfy most people. 'How DO I know?!' Well, off the top of my head ( so to speak ), I've become more aware, as I walk through this Journey we call Life, that I AM, first & foremost, a spirit-being. Humanly speaking, the words we speak & the things we do are simply the manifestations of the choices we make in our individual spirits. 'So far', you might be thinking, 'this is simply lending credence to the notion that the 'heart' is desperately wicked or incurably sick'. 'No, not really, though I can understand how you might reach that conclusion'. This, though, is where it gets a bit complicated; speaking of the individual spirit, this is where the Ego come into play. I've said it before & I'll say it again; the Ego is NOT a bad thing. It's part of what makes us human. It's when we allow our Ego ( individual spirit ) to overrule or overrun the part of us that is inextricably linked to those we often call 'others' that we run into trouble. As a Christian, maybe the best example I can give is from the Bible, in Genesis 4, where Cain killed Abel because he allowed his Ego to rule over him!

'So how', one might ask now, 'do we stop ourselves from allowing our Ego to make our choices for us?' ( In this case, you could almost call the Ego, 'the Devil' ) First & foremost is to realize that we are not the Ego, It does not define us! Much, if not all the problems in this world is that most people, not all, identify with the Ego ( ie., blame it on the Devil ). We need to remember who we are & why we are here, in this biology. We are here to love. We ARE Love! Although we manifest as individual spirits in individual human bodies, we are all One with What the American Indian calls the Great Spirit! Therefore, even though we are individually manifesting in these human vehicles, there are, in reality, no 'others'. It is not us versus them, with our empires & nationalistic fervor; It is US, sharing the Truth in Love!

Again, 'easier said than done', particularly in this Ego-driven world we live in, but, 'it is what is'! By continuing to strive for the best seat at the banquet, by continuing to view 'others' as somehow 'less-than', simply because of race, color or creed ( even sexual preference ), we will never be able to break this vicious cycle. It all starts with US. Not us individually, although that is where It manifests; we all need to realize that it is not all about 'Me' ( Ego ), though there is nothing wrong with individuality, that's what makes Life worth living: what matters most is the Collective 'US', the Divine Energy that drives us all ( Christians call this 'the Imagio Deo' ) When we remember & this is happening as we speak, that we are all, at 'heart', One, then wars will cease, countries will become borderless & Love will rule!

'As above, so below'; this past year has not been an easy one for ANYBODY! It has been fraught with pain, peril & Peace. Yes, 'Peace'! Through whatever means, whether because of or in spite of the suffering we have undergone, many have found anew, in our 'hearts', the Peace that passes all understanding.

Again, 'easier said than done'! The suffering will continue, though we may pray it eases up in the coming year, for while the world around us is in turmoil & confusion, we carry this Peace in our 'hearts'. As is the case in many a scenario, in many of the current events we witness, it's taken this long to get to the point that we find ourselves & the world in, that it's likely going to take at least that long to get back to where we should be, personally speaking. Can we make that change in the coming year, can we BE that necessary change?! It's really up to US!

Charles Haddon Shank

Thursday, December 26, 2019


'Am I really awake?'

Sometimes wonder stills me, doubts assail me.
It seems the harder I try, the more fear freezes.
Learning to let go & let be, is a tough lesson for me!

But 'let it be' must happen & yet it must not!
Confusion assails, a near cousin.
Trying ties the stomache in knots.
Letting go is easier than it sounds.
Without letting go, growth cannot change.

Must grow, must live, must die.
Brilliantly we shine for others to see.
But, we are not here for 'others'!

Choices to be made, things to do, or not.
Change will come, will we or won't we.
Time is just a concept, but it is.
Growth there is, just 'let it be'.
It occurs to us all, as we strive, or no.

Letting go ain't easy, but moving on.
There is no Fear, as days go by!
Its all in our heads, not our hearts!
Wander as we wonder, for there is More to Life than this.

'I AM!'

Charles Haddon Shank

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Ascension: An Ode to Joy

Joy, beautiful spark of Gods,
Daughter of Elysium,
We approach, fueled by fire,
Heavenly, your sanctuary,
Your magical powers unify
What custom harshly parts
All men are made brothers
Where your gentle wing spreads.

What is Life all about? Many in this day & age seem to think it's all about accruing as much ( wealth? ) as humanly possible before time expires, whether for ones own personal enjoyment, or for some sort of familial dynasty. Both scenarios have their own issues, but we should all know that Life is about More than mere accumulation: an ancient Greek Maxim, immortally inscribed in the pronaos of the Temple at Delphi, is, 'Know Thyself'. To truly know, or love others, one must first know themselves. Life, then, is not about building dynasties or even leaving a nest egg for our children, although both of these may contribute to our enjoyment of this thing we call 'Life'. It's not even about enjoyment, although one might say that if we can't enjoy the fruits of our labor, is Life really worth Living?! What then, IS Life all about?! Schiller understood that the loftiest goal in this Life is finding Joy, though he seems to point us upwards & outwards for the Source of this Joy. 'How', you might say, 'do we find this Joy?' I'm glad you asked!

First of all, what is Joy? One modern definition is that it is an emotion, a feeling based & dependent on the possession of ones deepest desires. This is not totally untrue, for humanly speaking, our emotions, our feelings are our greatest gauge. They can also prove our downfall, however, for when we base our Joy on our possessions, whether it be the love of another person, or a material object, our Joy can then be lost, for things & people tend to change. In fact, things in this thing we call 'Life' change like the weather in Montana; one minute we could be floating on 'Cloud Nine' & the next minute, we're so 'down in the dumps' that we're almost seriously contemplating suicide ( extreme case ). The point here is that if we base our Joy, much like our Happiness ( almost indistinguishable ), on anything or anyone outside ourselves, we risk disappointment, because ( you guessed it ), 'things change. Situations change, people change, but you know what NEVER changes?!

The importance of truly knowing yourself cannot be denied! Being brought up Christian as I was, the biblical injunction to 'love your neighbor as yourself' has some profound implications, yet it is so simple. The further biblical notion that you cannot truly love 'God' ( whom you CAN'T see ) if you can't love your brother ( neighbor-whom you CAN see ). It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out then that one must love, or know themselves before they can truly love, or know, anyone else, much less 'God', Loving God, to most Christians, means doing what 'He' commands, or at least, what the Bible says 'He' commands. There is certainly nothing wrong, in & of itself, with following the instructions in some Holy Book, especially, 'as above, so below', when they say to 'love your neighbor as yourself'. If one is simply following the command ( 'for the Bible tells me so ) to 'love' their neighbor, we might have a problem. I say 'might', because this is not necessarily always the case, but what if we don't really love, or know ourselves? What if all we know of love, we learned from a Book?! What if we only think we know ourselves from what we read in a Book ( Jeremiah 17:9, et al )

What is Love?! We've been here before, methinks, but Love is NOT a feeling or an emotion, though both these are involved in Its outward manifestation! Love is even More than an action, though this IS its outward manifestation! Love begins with our Inmost Being: in fact, one could truly say that Love IS our Inmost Being! Doing ( action ) surely follows, as it is the outward manifestation of Love, but it all starts, as it must, with our Inmost Being. Whether we consciously, as most do, or unconsciously make the choice to express Love towards another individual, outwardly speaking, it all begins with that choice. We may decide, based on our feelings or emotions that we 'love' this or that person & this is not to say that we should not trust our feelings or emotions ( they're there for a reason ), though when we just 'let it be', allowing the Love that we are to manifest on Its own, we will find that Life comes a lot easier, with no stress!

Thus, then, the importance of knowing ones Self! 'As above, so below'; if we do not know ourselves, can we truly know 'God'?! Is 'God' simply who the Bible says 'He' is, or is 'God' something More? The Bible does say truthfully that 'God is love' ( I John 4:8 ), so therefore, we go ( transversely ) back to, 'he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, he cannot love God whom he has not seen?' The Bible itself says that no one has seen God, though the apostle Paul, in what has become known as 'the  Love Chapter'  ( I Corinthians 13 ) says, 'For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.' In context, maybe, Paul's words held more import for his original audience, but, as a Universal Truth, they stand today as a reminder, not that we must wait for the so-called 'Afterlife' to see 'God', but that when we realize the Christ Within & what Love really IS, then we will see 'God'!

So, 'What IS Love?!' Put simply; 'God is Love: transversely, Love is God! Some may say that's a bit too simple, even simplistic, but there it is. Some might reason that 'Love' has too many definitions, that the 'love' in 'I love you, man', 'love is all we need', etc., is something different than what the Bible says 'Love' really is. Like 'God' though, Is 'Love' simply what the Bible says it is ( I used to 'believe' this ), or is it something More? Do we, or even some Holy Book, define what Love is? 'It is what It is'; like 'God', neither we nor some Holy Book can offer anything but our own perception of  what 'Love' truly is! As a wise man once said, 'Love is not a victory march'! Love is not a conquest, it is not something we must do in order to be; it something we are & when we realize it, sometimes even without realizing, Love comes shining through!

It is in this life, personally speaking, that we must come to this realization if we are to have any lasting impact on the wider world! A Spirit manifests its Will through this biology; that's just the way it works. We may go around the world, spreading 'the love of God in Christ', we may even unconsciously manifest this Love without knowing that we are only manifesting our true Self, but our greatest impact will be once we realize that this is us; It is not something we are doing, or something outside of ourselves that we are manifesting.We are not 'mirrors', we are not simply reflections! Even the Bible says that It is within us ( Love/God-John 11:26 ). We are not reflecting the Love that we have been shown, for Jesus Himself said that if you love ( only ) those who love you, you're no better than a tax collector. By sharing the Love of the Christ, that is, the Christ Within, we are manifesting the Love that we ARE!

Namaste' & Blessed Be,
Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Word in Flesh

 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.  He came to His [c]own, and His [d]own did not receive Him.
John 1:10 & 11

First of all, I want to make absolutely clear that the traditional Christmas Story, while it does have implications for all of humanity for all time ( though it's not what most people think ) & so, IS a Story for the Ages; the Christmas Story that we read in the Bible is primarily one about the salvation of the Jewish people. It's also about their condemnation, but that might be another Story for another Day. This is, however, not to say that the world of our day, or humanity in general, did not or does not benefit from what the historical figure known as Jesus of Nazareth did. According to the Bible ( Matthew 1:21 ), Jesus came to save HIS people from THEIR sins! He surely did that, at least to those who accepted Him as Messiah, but He also showed, to anyone who reads His Story ( down through the ages ) that a Man could also be God! 

The 'flesh' of which the Bible speaks can be applied to humanity in general, but primarily, as above, it refers more generally to the Jewish people, or, more correctly, to the Hebrew people. Theologically speaking, it refers in particular maybe, to the Law, or the Law/Temple System. Not to get too far into it, theologically speaking, for that is something I prefer not do anymore, but, as I've postulated before, the Hebrew Story IS the Story of Humanity. The tendency among many, unfortunately, is to allow the Hebrew part of the Story to fade into the background & apply the Story DIRECTLY to us & OUR situation, OUR day & age. There are many ageless truths to be found in the Bible, but when we bypass the Hebrew flavor, we tend to read into the Story what was never meant to be there. In the same vein, then, we also tend to overlook certain blessings that ARE there!

The 'Word' ( Logos ) that was 'in the beginning', actually means just that; 'word'. Just as Elohim breathed life into His Creation, so the 'word' that proceeded forth from His mouth did not return to Him void, but accomplished everything He sent it for ( ? ). In the Story of Israel ( what we know as 'The Bible' ),  it is often taken for granted that when 'Elohim' Spoke the Word, the Universe, with all its constituent elements, was formed, but closer, more careful study will reveal that this piece of Ancient Near Eastern literature is NOT about the formation of the material 'world' in which we live; it is about the formation of a covenant that this 'Elohim' made with His own Creation, the people who would be known as 'Israel'.

As we progress through our reading of the Bible ( I'm writing largely of my own Journey here ), it should become clear that this 'Word', according to the apostle John ( John 11:26 ), resides with ( in ) us. One might even say that It IS us, or at least a part of us. Since we are, in some sense, Creators ourselves, with the ability to create a blessing or a curse with our own words, or the thoughts we breathe, it should be fairly simple to take two & two here to make four. I'm not saying that we created the world ( Earth ), or that we can simply make things appear out of nowhere, just by saying the 'word'; no, we have to put forth some effort too, working to create, or manifest what we imagined with our thoughts & spoke with our mouth, but as they say, 'you gotta start somewhere'!

My readers are by now aware of the fact that I affirm we are Gods! I agree with Jesus when He 'echoed' ( ? ) the sentiment of David King of Israel, telling the religious leaders, 'you are gods'. It is not, however, in our human nature ( our 'humanness' ) that our God-hood rests, though it is often made manifest there ( ? ), but rather in the fact that we are spiritual in nature, of the same essence as the One that Christians call 'God'. Other religions perceive this Divine Source differently & thus call It by a different Name. That this Divine Source ( some simply call it 'Energy' ) formed the universe is abundantly clear! 'As above, so below'; it had to start somewhere! Or did it? Maybe It, like the 'God' that Christians claim, has always been; 'Eternal in the Heavens'!

The Truth is that, humanly speaking, no one KNOWS for certain that their perception of 'God' is the correct one! Human beings can only BELIEVE, unless they see it with their own eyes, that a thing is actually true. The Christian religion tells people that they must take it on faith; they must believe that the God of the Bible is the One True God; Islam doesn't totally disagree that He is the One True God, but He is only One ( Person? ) & His Name is 'Allah'. The Jews are kinda mid-way between the Christians & Muslims, while the rest of the world can go to 'Hell'! Just Kidding! The Eastern religions worship the Source by the Names of Shiva, Yamantaka & Amaterasu, along with a host of other deities, most of which are based, however loosely, on mere human beings.

Back to our Story now, many people miss the fact that we are glorious & powerful beings, even in our humanity, because the Bible tells us, for example, that we are all begotten in sin ( Psalm 51: 10 ) and that even our hearts are desperately wicked ( Jeremiah 17: 9 ). Read in the context, not just of the surrounding passages, but the Rest of the Story, it should be fairly clear that these words were meant for Israel. Can they be applied to us as well? Not really, but in reading those words, we can better understand our own human nature, with its tendency to want see for itself, not just believe everything it's told, just because 'I said so'. 

'Flesh', as defined by Merriam-Websters online dictionary, is 'the soft parts of the body of an animal and especially of a vertebrate'. We are, biologically speaking, little more than animals! We, however, as we've seen, are More than our biology; at the heart of the issue, we are of the same Creative Essence as the One Christians call 'God'! Because of this, we are able, of ourselves, to create, both ourselves & even our environment ( to whatever extent ); by our choices, we manifest that which WE will, 'good' or 'evil', kind or unkind. When Jesus told the Jews ( Pharisees? ) that they were gods, this is what He meant; they had the power, as Judges of Israel, to decide whether this or that was right, whether this or that was wrong. WE have that same Power; by our choices, we decide what kind of environment we're going to live in, spiritually speaking. Our choices determine whether we will be a rest in 'Heaven' or whether we will perpetually slave in 'Hell'!

Not much of a Christmas Story, eh? Well, we can't be jolly & cheerful ALL the time, now can we?! But we don't hafta be 'The Grinch', either! By exercising our God-hood in a creative, not a destructive way, we can ensure that, although it may not always be stars & tinsel, in our hearts, we will know the Peace that Passes all Understanding.  In that Way, if in that way only, we ourselves may celebrate the Christmas Story, knowing that we are an Essential part of it!

Namaste' & Blessed Be!
Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Great Expectations; 'Under Pressure'

The Pressure to Perform is without doubt the hardest part of any relationship ( pun intended ). This applies to any relationship ( not only physical/sexual ). In a Work Relationship, for instance, if one cannot perform the assigned task well, in a timely manner, that one very likely won't be employed very long, if at all. In most Personal Relationships, the case is much the same; if one person cannot well-supply the 'needs' of the other, whatever sort of arrangement the relationship exists under, it probably won't last very long either. This often is related to the Work Relationship as well; if one person cannot keep their 'job', for whatever reason, this in turn will most likely affect any Personal Relationship he or she may be in.

There is nothing wrong with having expectations! If we never expected anything, mostly of ourselves, we would probably never get anything done. On the other hand, if we jumped off a cliff expecting to sprout wings before we reached the sharp rocks at the bottom, we would be very disappointed...........for about 1/100th of a second, that is! The problem there, if indeed one perceives it thusly, is that expecting a human being to suddenly exhibit behavior we normally attribute to birds is pretty unreasonable. Expecting to be able to jump far enough out over the cliff to land in the deep water is not so unreasonable, though it's pretty risky, no matter ones physical condition. The expectations we have of ourselves, however, are somewhat different than those we have of others. When we expect things of others, we must take into account, among other things, the feelings of that person. For instance, a person may, to all appearances, be as fit as a fiddle, but if they're having an 'off' day, make one tiny mistake/miscalculation, etc., it could mean the difference between life & death!

Marriage, at least as we're most familiar with the term ( pun intended ), is such a proposition. As most popularly defined, marriage is full of expectations. The husband is expected to provide for his family; in the same vein, the wife is expected to support him in his endeavor, as well as to nurture & care for any children that result. This is not to say that this is necessarily wrong, in & of itself, for to provide for the other person, especially what he or she cannot provide for themselves, is an important, if not absolutely necessary, part of any relationship. This applies as well to both husband & wife. When these expectations are not met, for whatever reason, the relationship often hits the sharp rocks at the bottom of the cliff!

The problem with having expectations, even when they're 'reasonable', is that we'll almost always be disappointed! This is not, though, to say we should NOT have them ( ? ), for 'as above, so below'; if we don't expect anything, in particular, of ourselves, we'd never get anything done, personally speaking. The problem appears when we base our happiness on those expectations. When we're happy or satisfied with our partner only when he or she fulfills our expectations, our happiness won't last long, nor will it be true happiness.  For true happiness, one must simply BE!

Living without expectations, whether positive or negative, is truly the best way to BE!  When one doesn't expect anything, whether from their partner or themselves, they will never be disappointed! It is difficult, I will admit, to be in ANY kind of relationship without having expectations, but in order to remain in ANY relationship, we must learn to deal with disappointment, or else to live without expectation. Living without expectation is not easy, in fact, in this day & age, I daresay that most people perceive it to be well-nigh impossible. It is, however, NOT impossible! If we do not expect anything from anyone, much less ourselves, as above, we will never be disappointed. If we're never disappointed, we have nothing to be unhappy about. If we have no reason to be unhappy, we can only guessed it; HAPPY!

To be happy in ANY relationship, particularly marriage, we must learn to live without expectations! 'But', one might say, 'I expect my wife/husband to act according to to their marriage vows; that's what he/she signed up for!' Marriage is more than vows & though, according to the institution of marriage, a man or women has a 'right' to expect certain things of their partner, they also have the 'right' to be disappointed when all these things are not fulfilled! Marriage being more than just an agreement between two persons; when two souls are united, realizing their spiritual nature, the following relationship cannot be based upon any personal expectations. Such a relationship is eternal, not being based on expectations, but rather, being 'grounded' in the heavens!

One might well say that to have expectations is a purely human condition! It is in our human 'vehicle', this biological wonder that we are blessed ( ? ) to inhabit, that 'feelings', or more correctly 'emotions' originate. This, really, is not quite true either; our individual soul, one might note, is actually the origin of our 'feelings'. Our emotions, from which come expectations, are based in perception, which DOES originate with our human nature. Programming, or training, also has something to do with our perception. Whether religious or 'secular'' ( ?), we have all been taught, or trained to expect certain things of certain people. It is only by returning to the beginning that we can overcome this 'conditioning'!

To return to the beginning, we must first realize that we are not here simply to 'perform'! This is not to say, of course, that we must do nothing, or even that we SHOULD do nothing; there is plenty that we should & must do! For instance, we must do what we can to maintain this vehicle so that we can fulfill our purpose in this biology, in this incarnation; we should do our best to provide for those we have placed in our care ( wife, children, etc. ): all this is personally speaking. We, however, as we've explored to some length in this blog, are More than the Person; we are More than just Doing: we are BEing ( s )! Not just Human Beings either, though this cannot be denied, nor should it be overlooked ( ? ): we are, at heart, in our innermost BEing; of a Spiritual Nature, Pure Energy, some would say. In order to bypass the Pressure to Perform, this is what we must return to; the realization that, while we are in this incarnation, in this biology, for a Higher Purpose; we are here primarily to BE, not to DO, though again. there is that! May we, as Higher Beings with a Higher Purpose, help others to realize this Glorious Fact!

Namaste' & Blessed Be!
Charles Haddon Shank

Sunday, December 01, 2019

A Mythology for Today

The definition of 'myth', found at Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary website, is, 'a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon'. A myth, therefore, is usually a true story, though not necessarily entirely factual, though based on actual events. Any piece of literature contains some element of mythology, be it an autobiography, biography or history book. The Scriptures of most if not all of the world's religions fall under this classification as well. The Christian Scriptures, in particular,  must be read in this way or else a deep misunderstanding of much of the text will undoubtedly follow!

With that said; 'On with the Story!'

John had quite an imagination! In his world, there was no such thing as religion, therefore nothing to fight over. There was no such thing as a 'Heaven' above ( except the sky ) & no 'Hell' below. John would likely tell you that the only 'God' there was to 'fear' was the One inside each & every human being, their Higher Nature. In John's idealistic world, there was no such thing as 'mine': it was 'ours', if it 'belonged' to anyone.To be sure, John knew that if such a world were to exist, the human beings that peopled it would have to use their imaginations as well & even though most laughed at John's dreamings, he knew he wasn't the only dreamer......................

A typical 'day' in John's dream-world involved everyone, including Nature, living together in harmony! This does NOT mean, though, that everybody liked everybody; just because they all got along in the most sincere & loving manner imaginable, there were still fields to plow, animals ( what we call in this world, 'lesser beings' )  to care for & buildings to maintain. Even for those living from the Higher Nature, there were still differences to overcome ( if that's even the right word for it ); life in this human shell, as even John realized in his world of dreams, meant dealing with humanity, though it was a Higher Humanity!

Religion, Organized Religion anyway, was a sure way to unleash a world of trouble on an undeserving world; John knew this from experience, having been raised in its unhealthy fear! With all the differences between people, as it was, there was enough to deal with, without separating into groups ( denominations? ) of those who were 'right' & those that were 'wrong', 'us versus them', so to speak. As above, so below; there were still obvious differences to get past, but once the people learned to live from their Higher, instead of Lower Nature, even though there were those that resonated better with some more than others, they were able to live together, or apart, for that matter, not just in spite of, but because of their differences!

The Higher Nature, or 'Godhood' that John knew was necessary for such a world to exist is not beyond the reach of any human being. In fact, It exists within each human being; It is in fact, a very necessary constituent, believe it or not, of our humanity. Speaking of belief, not that there is anything wrong, in itself, with belief; in John's wide experience, he knew that when beliefs are exalted above what Is, trouble is sure to follow, to whatever extent. If we did not have that Spark of Divinity within us, we would exist in no way, shape or form! Organized Religion & in particular the three major world-wide ones, Christianity, Judaism & Islam, teaches its adherents that not only is there an Angry 'God' out there somewhere, ready to drop the hammer at a moments notice ( even on a whim, so it would seem ), but 'He' has a chosen mouthpiece on this earth to spread 'His' Good News, 'His' Truth.

Organized Religion has no place in John's Imaginary World! The only religion John knew, if religion it could be called, was to live ones life in peace, to love others as you loved yourself & to treat others in the way you wished to be treated. Other than that, as long as they didn't harm anyone in the process; John really didn't care what anyone else did. In this world, he knew, one couldn't count on everyone responding in kind, but John also knew that the more people started living in harmony with the Laws of Nature, loving & being loved, the more this world would begin to look like the world he imagined. The wars that have been & are being waged in this world would no longer occur, as most if not all wars ever fought have been based in religion, or blind faith. Faith has its place, as John well knew, but blind faith was a clear & present danger, not only to those who held it, but to the world around them!

John was a Prophet of Peace; he didn't claim to be the mouthpiece of some Angry God out there somewhere who watched 'His' children with a critical, all-seeing eye, ready to hurl 'His' lightning bolts of justice at any of them who dared disobey. No, John knew that any 'God' who treated 'His' children like this was egocentric at best & psychopathic at worst! If any lightning bolts were to be hurled, it would take place within oneself, being hurled by oneself. This too, is where the whole notion of separation exists; it begins within oneself & thus that is where it must end. John knew, as we all must, that the only way the world of which he dreamed would manifest is if we, the practitioners of magick, would realize that Spark of Divinity within ourselves, then within those around us in an ever widening circle & thus manifest the Gods & Goddesses that we, by Nature, are!

As Gods & Goddesses in our own right, living as John imagined, from their Higher, rather than Lower Nature, in Harmony with all of Nature, loving without borders, we can forget such things as Pride & Nationalism! We can rule over our own Ego ( nobody else's ) by loving others as we love ourselves & treating them, not as they often treat as, but as we would like to be treated. John himself was often beleaguered by his Ego, but as we must, he had learned how to master it, much like his body, not by forcefully dominating it, but simply by using it for a Higher Purpose!

The World that John imagined DOES exist! In fact, it exists right alongside of this world that we call 'real', just on a Higher Plane. However, I can't take you there; I can show you the door, but YOU  must step through it, You must make the conscious choice to learn to know yourSelf, your Higher Nature. It's not easy, not by any stretch of the imagination, but 'oh, it's worth it', as John well knew & though it's at first a lonely existence, you'll find that it's closer to 'Heaven' than you've ever imagined!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Good Intentons; the Battle for the Ego

It begins at an early age. Dad or Mom will tell a child, 'don't do this', or 'don't do that' & the response of the child, usually sooner rather than later, is to do exactly what they were told not to. A prime example ( almost a cliche' now ) is, 'don't touch that hot stove!' I'm pretty sure we ALL just experienced a painful childhood memory of a burning sensation. Coming from a Christian background ( as I do ), maybe one of the most famous ( or is that 'infamous'? ) examples from the Hebrew Scriptures, or rather, our English Bible, is that of the Fall of Adam & Eve. Elohim told them not to partake of a certain tree 'in the midst' of the Garden & what was the first thing these 'children' did? From the Rest of the Story, we know that they did eat of the fruit of this tree & so experienced the death of separation from their 'God'.  One can read this Story & garner different meaning from it, whether metaphorical or woodenly literal, but for the current purposes of this blogger, it serves as a reminder of our natural inclination to do what we're told not to, most often to our own detriment, personally speaking, of course.

'The road to hell is paved with good intentions'! This familiar phrase, though probably not as popular as it once was, rings as true today as ever. Although it should most definitely be understood metaphorically, since 'hell' is simply reaping the sour fruit of bad seed, this phrase tells us that even though we might mean something in a good way, the recipient of our actions, whether words or deeds, may not receive it as such & in many cases, the exact opposite! This, according to their own personal choice, of course, can set them on the 'highway to hell' & we, then, must be careful with OUR choices, lest we join them there.  This is all personally speaking, of course: when we allow our human nature, our Ego, to determine our course, most often, we end up on 'the highway to hell', or in other words, to use another example from the Hebrew Scriptures, filling the shoes of Cain, who murdered his brother, simply because his ( Cain's ) offering, made with 'good intentions' ( ? ), was not accepted, while his brother's was.

The Ego, as we've discussed in this blog previously, is not a 'bad, or 'evil' thing; It just IS! An integral part of our human nature, it's what enables us to make ( manifest ) choices, but when we allow our Ego to determine those choices, we often end up playing the part of Cain & metaphorically ( ? ) murdering our brother. On the other hand, the Ego is actually necessary for us to be able to choose! Being, as we've seen, an integral part of our humanity, we use the Ego ( our individuality ) to decide which is the better choice ( for us ). This again, following the rabbit trail, is not always 'good' either, for sometimes, what seems 'best' for us is not so for others. Individuality, in the same 'vein', is not 'evil' either; like the Ego, It just IS. As human beings, we HAVE an Ego; we have Individuality, but we are defined by neither! Both ( one is very nearly the same as the other ) are necessary constituents of our humanity, but when we allow either to determine our conscious ( or unconscious, for that matter ) choices, then is when we begin to tread the aforementioned 'highway'!

As long as we inhabit this biology, we daily run the risk of traveling 'the highway to hell'! No, the 'hell' of which I write is not some place that sinners go when they die, which was probably the intention behind the phrase; the 'hell' of which I write here is the 'hell' of ones own choosing. Whether through 'bad' choices, or simply our reaction to others, we tend to heap coals of fire on our own heads, allowing our Ego to convince us that somehow we have separated ourselves from what is 'good' & 'right', simply because the 'other' did not react well! This is NOT, though, to say that we should do whatever we can to avoid this risk ( drastic measures? ), simply that, knowing the risk is there, we must exercise great care in knowing ourSelf, for if we truly know ourSelf, we KNOW that we are More; More than our Ego, More than our Individuality, More than our Humanity!

Being More than our Humanity, we nevertheless, through whatever means, are consigned to living with it all, the Ego, the Individuality, the whole nine yards. This is not to say, either, that just because someone IS Ego-driven, their choices are always 'bad', though this is often, if not usually the case; sometimes, Ego-driven people make 'good' choices, not so much because of 'good intentions', though that is often the case, but because their true nature, which is Love, cannot help but shine through! That said, going back, not to the Hebrew, but the Greek Scriptures & in particular the writings of the apostle Paul, we must not needs escape this 'flesh & blood', as some ( still ) think was his intention in writing, rather we must learn to transcend this mortality, realizing that it is simply our 'vehicle' in this thing we call 'Life', though a necessary constituent of it!

'Good Intentions' will take you far in life! If ones intentions are truly 'good', anyway; a person can say 'I didn't mean to do that' or 'I didn't intend any harm' & if/when harm transpires, did they actually intend no harm or mean not to do that ( whatever 'that' is )? Speaking of childhood experiences, most of us can probably relate, in one way or another, but I can recall a saying that went the rounds in my family: when faced with the excuse, 'I didn't mean to do that', the reply, most often, was, 'well, you didn't mean NOT to, did you?' Most often in this life, whether you ascribe to something like The Wiccan Rede, which says, 'an ye harm none, do what ye will' or follow Jesus injunction to treat others like you want to be treated ( IOW ), when we live with good intention, no matter others response to them, we will find ourselves, not just going the opposite direction ( from THTH ); we will find ourSelves living in that 'place' called 'Heaven'!

In Conclusion, though it may be seen as a daily 'battle'; it need not be viewed as such. We do what is right, yes, but we need not engage with the Ego as our enemy in order to do so. As More than our Ego, we simply USE our Ego for what it was intended & make ( manifest ) our choices from our Higher Nature. rather than our Lower ( or animal ) Nature. Easier said than done, I know, but it is what it is. As above, so below; the Ego is NOT our enemy, it is a necessary constituent, part & parcel both with our Humanity & our Individuality.

Namaste' & Blessed Be!
Charles Haddon Shank

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Conscious Breathing

A good friend of mine has a saying, something to the effect of, 'imagine if you had to consciously draw every breath!' The context of his statement, of course, being the religious man that he is, was that there is a 'God' out there somewhere, a 'Man in the Sky' ( though He most certainly would NEVER put it that way! ) Who watches over us, in this case particularly, while we're sleeping & helps us to continue to draw breath while we are in a state of unconsciousness, so to speak. While this is true, from a human standpoint, at least, that there IS a 'God' ( consciousness ) that watches over us ( while we sleep ), It is NOT some 'Person' in the heavens ( 'Heaven'? ) that does this, though it IS most certainly a Higher Intelligence than is normally attributed to humankind ( even someone like Albert Einstein or Nikola Tesla )!

The subject of meditation may, at it's most basic, be said to focus, first & foremost, on one's breathing. By calming oneself, by focusing ones attention on their breathing, one is enabled to willfully breathe; that is to say, rather than allowing ones body to clamor for attention by some some 'need to breathe' ( which I do not deny, by the way ), one allows their Higher Consciousness to control their breathing, thereby becoming calm. Some people, as mentioned previously, both above & in a post on the same subject, focus their attention on a Power outside them which enables them to breathe unconsciously: I will not say this is wrong, though it does detract from personal responsibility & tends to lead to a sense of unworthiness & even self-loathing! No, it is not wrong ( by any means ) to look outside oneself for necessary sustenance ( whether physical, emotional, or spiritual ), but once one realizes, through whatever means, that the Power is within, it becomes less & less necessary ( even harmful ) to look outside oneself.

Some may accuse me of haranguing against, in particular, Christianity! Although I'm not the only one ever harmed, spiritually or emotionally ( which can both lead to physical harm ), by ( institutional ) religion, neither am I trying to imply that ALL Christians, even some within the bounds ( 'bonds'? ) of institutional Christianity, are wrong. Some Christians rightly practice the Principles of the Christ, even though they may still be entrenched in religion! For the most part, though, those particular Christians are on the move & will not be content to stagnate, or 'wallow in the mire' with the rest of their fellows!

The Power of Prayer is another subject which has come under consideration, particularly of late. Having written on this subject previously as well, I will simply reiterate & expand on my previous statements. While prayer is most often made to some 'God' above ( I do not deny a 'God' Above ), in many places, it is voiced aloud & quite publically, to whatever effect. In some cases, this 'effect' is that some who hear the uttered request or need, if it be in their power to answer that request or fulfill that need, will do so, thus acting the part of 'God'. In other prayers, the supplicant may focus on health issues or concerns, such as a cancer of some type, that only 'God' can take care of. In such a case, however, although modern medicine, to a degree, is often, in the long run, worse than the cure; it has enjoyed some degree of success in dealing with many ailments. On the other hand, here too, as in many other cases, physical issues, including cancer, can be resolved by voicing ones concerns aloud.

Unlike prayer, which is focused on a Power outside oneself ( which also tends to alleviate or even negate personal responsibility ), meditation usually focuses on the Power within, helping one to realize that they do have have the Power, as well as the responsibility, to maintain & sustain the physical vehicle they incarnate. Without going into the science of the matter ( much information on the subject is easily accessible, thanks to the internet ). suffice it to say that it IS within the realm of possibility, even probability, for humanity to cure itself of ANY type of cancer! ( Strong statement, I know, but the Power really IS within us to heal ourselves, naturally, without the aid of artificial 'drugs' )

Modern science, to whatever extent, has discovered ( 'uncovered' might be a better word for it ) many of the wonders of this human vehicle, leading to ( for those willing to 'see' it, anyway ) the knowledge that, contrary to popular opinion, we don't need all the 'drugs' that Big Pharma is selling us to 'cure' ourselves! The Earth ( Mother ) has all the necessary resources to help us sustain & maintain this physical vehicles. This may come as a bit of a surprise to some ( Christians? ), but even the Hebrew Scriptures intimate this glorious fact!

Meditating on this glorious fact has lead many to the even more glorious realization that the Power is all around us, within our grasp, so to speak. Thanks to Big Pharma, in large part, most of these resources are not readily available ( or acceptable ), but the tide is turning as we speak: more & more people ( for the most part, those outside the bounds of 'religion' ) are realizing those natural cures, putting them to good use & bettering their own lives, as well as those of others!

Christianity ( organized religion ) has not done much, sadly, to educate the Greater Community to this glorious fact. With its focus on the Power in the heavens & its commitments to 'saving souls for the Afterlife', it has failed to enable its adherents to realize their own Power, 'God-given', no less; to 'save' themselves, to cure their own physical vehicles by making the best use of the resources this Good Earth has to offer. This, again, is NOT to say that no one within the bonds of organized religion, in particular, Christianity, can, does, or will ever realize this glorious truth, although it surely can be detrimental to this realization!

Back now, to the subject at hand; proper meditation ( on the Power Within ) calms our spirit, our true nature, if you will, enabling us to look past the trials of this life ( including 'cancer' ) to see that, indeed, we ARE More than what meets the eye! The illusion that 'what you see is what you get' being destroyed, we are enabled to more clearly see the available resources, including ourselves. It all starts, physically speaking, with consciously & purposefully taking every breath.The realization that our fate is not dependent on the whims of some 'God' out there somewhere, but rather on our own personal choices is empowering!

'Is meditation, then, the cure for everything; is that what you're saying?' My readers will have to decide for themselves; I'm not saying either way, but I will say that it is WHOLLY dependent on themselves! By the choices you make & the actions ( both directly & indirectly ) that follow; YOU determine your own fate, as well as influencing that of others, to whatever extent. Yes, this goes both ways; anyone may be influenced by the choices & actions of others, but it is OUR choice that most affects our destiny. How we react ( or not ) to someone else's actions determines our own personal course. Focusing on our own personal Power has the effect of realizing that it is what WE do, the choices WE make, that really matter in the Grand Scheme of things!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, October 28, 2019

A Personal 'God'?

'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'
Jesus - Matthew 22:37 

As always, we must keep in the forefront of our mind that when Jesus spoke these words, quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 ( among others ), He was speaking to the Jews in the first century AD. This 'Lord' ( Hebrew - YÄ•hovah; Greek - kyrios ) was THEIR 'God'! 'He' was the product of their imagination, how they perceived the Giver of Life, the Source, the Divinity! Many different cultures see this 'God' in as many different ways ( even within certain cultures ), but all, or at least most, see 'God', along with 'Satan' as a powerful Being that watches from a distance & sometimes intervenes in the affairs of humankind. Christians have worshiped this 'God', the 'God' of the Hebrews, for ages. Some, like this blogger, might question 'Why?' Why DO we worship this 'God' rather than the 'God' of a different nation or culture? Sure, the Christian 'God', the 'God' of the New Testament at least, is a kind & merciful 'God'; 'He' is full of Wisdom. 'He', according to 'His' Word, is the One True & Living God! But why should we take 'His' Word for it? Is 'He' not simply an Aspect of, or the Hebrew perception of the Divinity?

 Not to rail unduly against the Christian 'Trinity' ( for one, we've been there before & two, that's really not what this is about, though it certainly plays a part ), but its description, in essence, is 'Three Persons, One God'. Though there is some confusion about this 'Three Persons' thing ( some actually have wondered if 'Father, Son & Holy Spirit' ( or 'Ghost' ) are really three ( separate ) Gods ), this should be a glaring clue that 'They/He' are simply an invention of man, or humankind. ( I'm not arguing the fact, by the way, that these words, or concepts, ARE, in their Greek form anyway, found in the Bible, which is the English ( Western ) rendition of that piece of Ancient Near Eastern literature. ) The concept ( speaking of 'concepts' ) of 'the Trinity' does not originate with the Greek Scriptures; it was around long before they were ever conceived, in different cultures, used to explain their perception of 'God'. This is not, again, to try to discredit the 'God' of the Hebrews & Greeks ( the 'God' of the Bible ) or even to say that Christians are wrong in their perception of 'God' ( although, thinking of 'Him' as a 'Person' ( whether the 1st; 2nd or 3rd ) tends to get in the Way ); this is simply to say that, as long as you love 'your God' & 'your neighbor as yourself' ( Matthew 22:39 ); you're doing as you should!

The crux of the matter is what it looks like to love 'your God' & 'your neighbor as yourself''. Questions like, 'who IS your 'God'?' 'Who IS your neighbor?' come to mind here; what does it mean to 'love' them? Loving ones neighbor is fairly simple; once you figure out what is meant by 'neighbor', it's fairly easy, especially from a Christian standpoint, to realize that, as per the 'Ten Commandments', we shouldn't bear false witness against them, we shouldn't steal from or murder them ( there's that 'covet' thing too ) Basically, like Jesus also said, we should treat others as we would like to be treated. That pretty much covers it. If you don't want your 'neighbor' ( whatever your perception of that is ), to steal from you, don't steal from them. If you don't want them to bear false witness against you, tell the truth about them. Etcetera, etcetera. Loving your 'God', on the other hand, might be a different matter entirely! Or IS it?! Who, or What, IS your 'God'?! One simple explanation you might have is that 'it's what you worship'. Well, that would certainly be a good way to put it. Since the word 'worship' basically means 'to ascribe worth to', by extension, you might say that most, if not all Christians worship the Bible! There, I said it! But seriously, this could even extend to themselves! When one perceives themselves as 'worthy', they, in that sense ( if in that sense alone ) see themselves as their 'God', personally speaking!

Not to sound too much like a broken record, but even our own Bible tells us that we are 'Gods'! This is a Universal Truth, though it was originally aimed at the Judges of the Hebrews. 'How could you say that about a mere human being?' ' Glad you asked, because that's exactly why the Jews crucified Jesus! They couldn't believe that a human being ( as Jesus was ) could also be 'God'! We are Gods in the same way that Jesus was! ( I know, more blasphemy! ) We ARE human. yes, but we are More than that. In our inmost Being, we are of the same Divine Essence. Now, most people are so wrapped up in their own humanity, that they, as well as most others, cannot see any further than that, but to paraphrase an old TV show, 'the Truth is in there' ( US )!

Others have explained it much better & in greater detail, but the Truth is, that though we ARE all 'Gods' in our own right, many or most have failed to realize this, their true nature, simply because of conditioning. We have been taught, in most cases, from 'Day One', that we are primarily human beings; we have a spirit/soul, yes, but upon our demise, that spirit simply returns to its Maker. After that, who knows; 'it's up in the air'! Some, even, thanks to religion, have speculated that we just go 'poof'! The Mind/Ego plays its part as well. It likes to try to convince us that we should identify with IT & that's where we run into trouble. We start to think, 'that Person hurt me', 'they're telling lies about me', etcetera, etcetera. All they did, in actuality, though, was to bring perceived harm to our physical vehicle. When we identify with our physical vehicle, we naturally tend to respond in kind, even though there is usually, if not always, that 'still small voice' that says we shouldn't!

'Be still, and know that I [ am ] God'! This is only the first part of Psalm 46:10 & so may be said to have been taken out of context, but this too has stood for generations as a Universal Truth, though maybe in a different manner than most are used to thinking! Since we ARE 'Gods', in a manner of speaking, when we still our Mind/Ego & travel deep within ourselves, we will find that 'God' part of us. Moving beyond all of our conditioning/training, we will realize that all is not as we were taught! It will become clear that, not only are we NOT these physical vehicles ( though one might say we're inextricably linked ), the deeds done in the flesh, so to speak are due to the fact that we identify with the Person, with its Mind/Ego. To use an example that I've employed before, from the Hebrew Scriptures; '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 )We know, from the rest of the Story, that Cain did not 'rule over it' & thus murdered his brother because he let his Mind/Ego rule his physical vehicle!

We need to remember Who we are! Though we, personally speaking, will reap our own Karma, dependent on what we allow to transpire in our physical vehicle, realizing that we are More than our vehicle will help us to make better decisions/choices, leading to positive Karma ( we ALL reap what we sow! )! Who we really are cannot be altered! Our Mind may change, our physical body even changes over the course of the years, but the Divine Essence that is US can never change! We, again, personally speaking, make life-altering choices every day, but these choices are not what make us US. We are Who we are, not because of the decisions we've made with our Mind/Ego, but because we are a part of the Whole, the Divine Essence; 'God'-stuff, you might say!

Namaste & Blessed Be!
Charles Haddon Shank

Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Bridge

Christian had always known there was something More. In his day-to-day life here on earth, sometimes it was difficult to imagine, but as he continued his personal studies, as well as daily meditation & introspection, it became frightfully clear that it was not as simple as the two certainties he'd always been taught about Life; 'Death & Taxes'. 'Death & Taxes' may well be perceived as sure things in this earthly existence, but, as he was beginning to discover ( for himself ), Life was so much More than the seeming drudgery of the day-to-day; It was something to be enjoyed & lived fully, with one's feet firmly planted in both the good soil of the Earth & the etheric plane of what is longingly called 'Heaven'!

The Summer of his 18th year found Christian preparing for marriage. In this day & age, he'd heard all the whispered comments; 'they're too young', 'they've got their whole lives ahead of them'. Especially with a soon-to-be blushing bride of barely seventeen ( actually, she was still 16 at this point ), the under-the-breath comments were flying faster than the snows that were only a few months away! Even though Mary would be of legal age by the time the wedding rolled around, Christian & Mary were the recipients of many a sideways glance, quite a few raised eyebrows & even a few bits of proffered 'wisdom'. With the wedding date, as well as the first snows, looming on the horizon, the two young lovers were more prepared than most people realized to take that heralded leap!

As the Day approached, both the blushing bride & groom-to be found themselves getting more & more anxious, not because there was any hesitance on their part, but because the peer pressure had risen to almost insurmountable heights! Coming from all quarters, both of these young people were daily assaulted with the freely-given council that they should wait till they were both a bit older ( more mature?), that they should play the field, test the waters, so to speak, before they made such a weighty decision, especially one that would impact the rest of their adult lives. Against all odds, their wedding day finally came & Christian entered into wedded bliss with the love of his life!

Mary was ecstatic! Christian had proven, throughout most of their relatively short lives & even shorter engagement, to be her perfect soulmate! Having known each other since kindergarten, it hadn't taken them long to recognize a kindred spirit, then as lovers from a past life, or even many lifetimes ( if you can believe it ). 'Why', you may ask, 'did they wait so long to 'tie the knot?' Both these young lovers were born into unfortunate circumstances where society told them there was no such thing as reincarnation. Born into fairly strict ( Christian ) families, both these young lovers had been taught from a very early age that everyone had but one life to live & that after death, they would spend eternity in either 'Heaven' or 'Hell'. Both young people, old as they were, knew the Truth of the situation, but they also knew their predicament. If they were to marry before their time, not only would they risk losing their witness to society, they also ran a higher risk of losing both the families they had been born into!

The predicament that our young lovers faced was one that is probably more prevalent in society than most realize, or care to acknowledge! Here in the West, in particular, so much emphasis is placed, not only on what is 'proper', but on what is 'legal' or 'illegal' that what is right often pales in comparison, if it's even a consideration. Christian & Mary found themselves in such a situation. How could they bridge the gap between 'Heaven' & 'Earth' without alienating both the families & society they had been incarnated into? They could easily have flouted convention & decided to enter wedded bliss the way 'God' intended, simply coming together as man & wife, but in order to preserve the 'the ties that bind' ( IE, the families they had both been born into ) & to preserve the peace, both Christian & Mary exercised great patience, as well as self-control, waiting for a more 'appropriate' time to exercise in this current iteration the love they had borne for many lifetimes.

Whether or not one believes in reincarnation, the fact was, Christian & Mary recognized ( some might call it deja vu ) something in each other that was more than physical or even spiritual attraction! They knew that much of what they had been taught was misleading at best & outright lies at worst. They also knew that the Truth would be revealed when the time was right. Waiting for such a time, even bowing ( bending? ) slightly to convention would do them no harm & would likely prevent needless harm to the society that surrounded them. Thus, they waited to consummate their marriage until they were legally wed. With both their families satisfied that all the necessary conventions were met; Christian & Mary finally entered into a state of wedded bliss!

Our young couple, the hero & heroine of our story, had taken that daring first step; what would follow over the course of this present lifetime would be a Journey of Discovery, not so much theirs, but through the lens of their lives, the society that surrounded them would begin to see the Truth. The Truth was, as Christian & Mary already knew, that we, as human beings, are More, More than our humanity; thus we pass from one lifetime to another, animating different persons till we have rectified, or at least, learned not to repeat the mistakes of the past. 'Is that all there is to it?' one might well ask. Of course that's not all there is to it, there is so much More to be known, but that might need to be your own personal Journey of Discovery!

The two young lovers in our Story, like so many before them, had bridged the gap! Through their joining together, their marriage, Christian & Mary had made manifest, at least to those with eyes to see it, the reality of Heaven on Earth. While Christian had proved ( to himself ) these realities, it was not until he was duly wed to Mary that they became clear to those closest to them, who witnessed both their wedding & the following marriage. The More that both these young people had shown to those around them, those who loved them, though in their own way, was that even this earthly existence was not defined by 'Death & Taxes', 'Death & Taxes' were only a very small part of Life. Life, when lived to the fullest, is a veritable Bridge between the seeming drudgery of the day-to-day
here on Earth & the etheric Joys of 'Heaven'.

'Does one need to be married in order to experience this Joy?' Of course not, but it sure helps!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Beyond Christianity

But the Lord [ is ] the true God;
He [ is ] the living God and the everlasting King.
At His wrath the earth will tremble,
And the nations will not be able to endure His indignation.
Jeremiah 10:10 

Note to my readers; Please, please, please read this passage in context; not only the context of the Greater Story which contains it, but the historical & cultural context in which it was written! Take, for instance, the first half of the 'chapter' in which we find this singular verse; many seem to think it's decrying what is commonly known & loved as 'the Christmas Tree'. The context, as I've mentioned, clearly shows that this is not the case, but is simply, like 'chapters' & 'verses', an invention of humankind'. Now, on with the show......................

I'm sure there are many people out there, praying fervently for me to return to 'the faith of my fathers'! After all, Proverbs 22:6 says, 'Train up a child in the way he should go, [a] and when he is old he will not depart from it.' In some sense, one might say I HAVE departed from that 'faith', but really, only in the sense that I have gone beyond it, following its natural conclusions. Although I've reached some conclusions, I have by no means strayed from the Path. The Path I am on, in fact, have been on since I began this Journey some 48 years ago, may look somewhat different than 'the faith' I was reared ( 'trained' ) in, but I assure you all, I AM still on the Path; I have simply taken the next step & moved beyond my training!

Not long ago, I posted on Facebook, something to the effect of, 'Christianity, like any religion, is simply a path, NOT a destination'. To clarify; I'm trying to make the point that while 'the faith of my fathers' certainly is an aspect of the Path, it is by no means the ONLY one. The Bible, as I'm sure I've mentioned before, is our ( modern ) Western translation, or interpretation rather, of an Ancient Near Eastern text! That said, I'm NOT saying that it all got 'lost in the translation'; no, many universal truths, as I've also mentioned before, can be found in its revered pages! However, there IS some Truth that has gotten 'lost in the translation', some of which is that it IS primarily an encapsulated & metaphorical history of 'the children of Israel'. Notwithstanding the theory, proposed by some & accepted by more, that YHWH ( Elohim ), the 'God' of Israel, was simply a Canaanite 'god', 'He' IS an aspect of What is called by many names; call It 'the Source', the Universe', or simply 'Energy', 'It is what It is'. Christians call 'Him' 'God', Muslims call 'Him' 'Allah', Jews call 'Him' 'Yahweh' & many Eastern religions call It by many other names, but really, It is Us, the true 'Us', our Higher Selves!

'Well, there you go; outright blasphemy, claiming that we are 'God'! Actually, I've said it before, though maybe not in so many words. Even Jesus, who clearly made the claim that He was the Son of God, really, God Himself, agreed with the Universal Truth that David, King of Israel wrote when he sang, 'you are gods' ( Psalm 82:6 ). Now, when I say, 'It is Us', I do NOT mean to say that It is our humanity, which most of the above-mentioned religion, except for the Eastern ones, will say is 'utterly depraved'. Although our humanity can most definitely be an aspect of 'Us', or a part of Us, the biological bodies We inhabit are merely our vehicles in which we live & love in this earthly Journey. This is not to say that a person who commits what some would call 'evil' has an evil spirit, although some would no doubt call it that: for the most part, those who commit 'evil' ( ? ) are most likely not aware of Who they are & are living from their Lower Nature, which is not far different from those we call 'animals!

To clarify; by saying 'evil spirit', I'm referring to what many would call 'the soul' or 'the individual ( soul )'. It is not that this person is either 'a Child of God' or 'a child of the devil', as most Christians say, but rather, that this person is unaware they are More than their humanity. This person believes the lie that they ARE their humanity & thus they live from their Lower Nature, which is where their humanity is rooted. This is NOT to say that our humanity is 'evil' ( totally depraved ), as some have accused Us; some, not even aware of their Higher Nature or Self, have employed their human vehicle to accomplish much that has truly blessed this world We live in!

'Our humanity can most definitely be an aspect of 'Us'. 'What is THAT supposed to mean?' you might ask. Simply that our humanity does not always reflect our true Self, the 'Us' we've been discussing. 'We' are all part of the Whole, the Source, What most call 'God'. As what might be called, 'spirit beings having a physical experience', or human beings, We have what is called 'free-will', the freedom & ability to make our own ( individual ) choices. How we choose is dependent upon whether we are living from our Higher or Lower Nature. Living from the Lower Nature, humanly speaking, of course, is what makes us little different from the 'animals'. The Higher Nature is where 'God' manifests. Christians call this 'The Holy Spirit' & while I do not deny this 'Holy Spirit', neither is IT what we have been taught ( 'trained' ) to believe!

Most, if not all Christians have been taught, according to that Ancient Near Eastern text upon which our English Bible is based, that 'the Holy Spirit' is One of Three Persons within a so-called 'God-head'. This should be the first clue that this notion is the invention of a person, or several persons. Having gone there before, I will go no further except to reiterate what I've stated previously; 'the concept of what Christians call 'the Trinity', 'Father, Son & Holy Spirit' is a biblical notion, one based upon a misreading of the Greek text'! 

'Is 'Allah' simply an aspect of 'the Source?' Valid question: as Christians, of course, we were taught that 'Allah' was not the same as 'God', but was simply a 'false god' ( ? ). My readers must judge for themselves whether or not 'Allah' is an aspect of 'the Source', although, may I say, if many of 'His' followers are any indication, I would be inclined to answer in the negative. But that's just MY personal perception! ( To be honest, one might say the same of many Christians )

Most every culture has their own definition/perception of the 'Path to Perfection'! Does this mean that all paths necessarily lead to the same destination? Well, yes & no; depending on what one chooses to believe/perceives the Destination to be might determine ( for them ) if any given path leads there. Then again, many people have many different notions/perceptions of what 'the Path' looks like. Every single human being out there has a slightly different idea of what that Path looks, or should look like. My perception of the Path is that Christianity is simply one aspect of It. 'Is it one of the best ways, or THE best way to view the Path?' Again, my readers must judge for themselves, but, as far as I'm personally concerned, the fact that I've gone beyond 'the faith of my fathers' does not mean that I've strayed from 'the Path'!

Namaste & Blessed Be!

Charles Haddon Shank

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