The Pagan Path

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

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

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