Wednesday, June 1, 2011

(12) The Truth

Responding to Pilate's inquiry, before his crucifixion, in part
Jesus said that "The reason I was born, the reason why I came
into the world, is to testify to the truth. Anyone committed to
the truth hears my voice." And Pilate replied, "Truth...what
does this mean?"
[John 18: 37-38 in the New Testament.]

Comment: "Truth" still remains evasive for many of us. Like
Pilate, who came from a pragmatic Imperium, who represented
such, he no doubt held a jaundiced attitude towards persons
who declared the Truth. Like many of us in this world today,
we have perhaps seen too much of what might be true in this
world. And mostly it isn't pretty. Essentially we have been given
the freedom to make our own truth, and we surely haven't done
a very good job of it.

So what might Jesus be talking about when he refers to the
"Truth"? Some have speculated that it is a Truth that exists on
a higher level. Some think that the Truth dwells in God, thus
in Jesus. Indeed he gives this away when he especially notes
that *this* is the very reason that he came into the world--to
testify to this Truth!

Those who have faith in Jesus believe that he embodies this
special Truth. Perhaps there might be something to this, if you
will. Special voices down through the centuries perhaps have
testified to this special Truth. As for a further investigation of
this Truth, well one need harken back to what these special
voices, including Jesus, have declared.

Most of our higher cultures of human society have boasted
these special voices, whether we call them philosophers or
prophets or representatives of God. There's a profundity in
the Truth that they declare. Boiled down, this Truth is basic.
It's about respecting one another, about relationship with one
another. It's also about attending to a Higher Power.

Now most of these special voices that declared this special
Truth also seemingly led exemplary lives. Some, like Jesus,
clung to this Truth right into their death. He, and surely others.
deeply believed in this Truth.

Jesus harkened back to the great Commandments about Love.
Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind,
and love your neighbor as yourself. Put in a package, this formula
is a pattern for successful living. Maybe *this* is the Truth of
which these special voices speak.

If so, it seems a hard "truth" to attain. Our world is sorely in need
of this Truth, but it seems somehow so difficult for us to grasp.
We just aren't at this level yet, where we truly understand the
significance of this Truth. Or maybe some of us have decided
that there is no reality to this Truth. They may be right, when it
is left up to us to create this Truth. Nonetheless, I suspect this
Truth does exist, mainly because some humans have actually
managed to live out this Truth--albeit, they are few and far
between. This Truth would seem to be looming always over
us, waiting to be tapped.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

(11) Wisdom & Folly

"More weighty than wisdom or wealth is a little folly!
The wise man's understanding turns him to his right;
the fool's understanding turns him to his left."
[Ecclesiastes 10: 1-2, from the Old Testament]

Comment: Alas, folly is part and parcel of the human condition.
None of us are wise all of the time, though many of us are
oft unwise much of the time. Not finger-pointing here, rather
simply stating the fact. Why? No doubt one can come up with
a myriad of answers to the question, but I would rather focus
on one answer that involves our evolutionary development
along with education and experience.

Human development simply is not an even process when it
comes to the evolution of our minds, much less wisdom!
Of course there's the biological development of our brains.
Is it so much our brain size, or is it the snapping of those
synapses? Could be that some special human brains snap
a lot faster than others. There's those "good" genes, too!

On the other hand, maybe education comes into play when
it involves evolving brains. The more information fed into our
brain, the more snapping synapses. But the question that begs
to be addressed is about the varied levels of human education.
It's an incredibly uneven development at best.

Unfortunately much of our planet's population is ill educated,
if that. Literacy would seem at a premium in many countries,
And evolution is not a guarantee either. There are smart people
who rarely display any semblance of wisdom, whereas some
people with little or no education seem wise beyond their years.

So however in the world do we become wise, or at least
wiser? Maybe it's the school of hard knocks? Perhaps it
boils down to experience, or maybe wisdom is innate?

Anyway, I once knew a man who seemed infinitely wise.
Frankly I envied him. He always seemed to say the right
thing, never caught lapsing when it came to putting forth a
wise demeanor. But once in his life he actually made a
seriously wrong decision--and it ultimately led to his death.

So that taught me a valuable lesson about the "perfection"
of wisdom. We can only do our best, and hope for the best
when it comes to wisdom. And, yes, folly would always seem
a constant counterpart to wisdom. It's always there, waiting.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

(10) Rejecting Dichotomy

"For there can be no Religion more true or just, than to know the
things that are; and to acknowledge thanks for all things, to him
that made them..."
[Corpus Hermetica, Book One.]

Comment: The above quote from this ancient Egyptian text
certainly "speaks" to me! Somewhere along the way I began
not to dichotomize when it came to my sense of Reality. What
I mean by this is not to presume that there is a mystical world
out there, outside our own universe.

Religions--including that of the ancient Egyptians--talk of some
sort of Land of the Dead. There's Heaven and Hades. There's
Elysium of the Greco-Roman cultures, at the ends of the Earth,
and the Island of the Blessed in Arthurian legend, all represent
an other mystical World.

And until recent times this other World was usually another
place, different and separate from the world in which we live
and have our being. Also, for the most part, the priority was
given to this other World by our religions. One was expected
to display a certain behavior, not only being good but also
practicing certain forms and prescriptions. And sometimes
the privileged took precedence over the poor. Occasionally
one could "buy" their place in Eternity, via indulgences.
So it went, and still sometimes this dichotomous attitude
continues to prevail.

This attitude also sometimes resulted in a negative attitude
towards the "world" in which we live. Usually one thinks
of worldly behavior in this case, but it also involved thinking
of the Temporal versus the Eternal. Some religions conveyed
the attitude of spurning the world, or picturing it as a
continuous "veil of tears."

Maybe, actually, there might have been some reasoning
involved in all this. Until our own times just making it
through life for most of us involved tough-going. Survival
was at the top-of-the-list. Due to disaster and disease,
many people simply led short lives. Of course our human
propensity for war helped along these short survival rates.
We sentient beings became conscious of this world and
were at first scared silly, realizing that the world could
kill us.

Hence we evolved Religion, first animism, then polytheism,
monotheism, etc. Imploring gods/God to save us. Mostly
we had to be saved in an Eternal Realm, not of this world.

But today, through modern Science and Technolgy, we are
learning far more about our world, our universe, and have
come to realize that Creation is utterly vast in its wonderful
magnificence. It's full of Space, filled with Time, plentiful
in Galaxy Clusters, packed with Suns, Solar Systems,
and Planets. It is Everywhere, no doubt full of Different
Dimensions of Being. It is ALL THAT IS. And those who
might forge new religious expressions might tend to be
more panentheistically inclined--believing that the universe
exists within God, though the Creator is more than the

So with ALL THIS THAT IS, why ever should there be an
"out there" for us. As for Death and Life, we are coming
to understand they are a natural cycle of Being. And
Being would seem ever recycled. We souls would seem
to be Consciousness Points in the universe, "seeds"
that might perhaps be engaged in the evolution of the
universe via building up KNOWLEDGE and consequent
UNDERSTANDING what the universal process is about.

I suspect we are meant to be recycled, restored in
ways we yet have not yet come to understand. There's
clues in the Out-of-Body Experience (OBE) and the
Near-Death Experience (NDE). Our intuition suggests
another place, hence our religious perspective that
tended to dichotomize. But some scientists now are
considering what they call a "Psi World," which is
another dimension of Being. All part and parcel of
our universe. Even those on theological peripheries
have suspected this, calling such the Imaginal Realm.

And if it turns out there is Nothing, well we can still be
grateful that somehow the universe brought us forward
for awhile in order to help it along as it makes its way.

Monday, November 8, 2010

(9) Two Camps

"If one go down into the water and comes up without having
received anything and says, 'I am a Christian,' he has borrowed
the name at interest. But if he receives the Holy Spirit, he has '
the name of him who' has borrowed it at interest, payment is
demanded. This is the way [it happens to one] when one
experiences 'a mystery."
[THE NAG HAMMADI LIBRARY, The Gospel of Philip (H.3),
p. 139. ]

Comment: The introduction of this gospel notes that it was
probably written in Syria, in the second half of the third century
C.E. The collection of material in this gospel was named for
Philip the apostle, probably by Christian gnostics who were
eventually deemed heretics by the orthodox camp of

So for centuries the gnostics were maligned, and information
about them became steadily lost--until the discovery of an
ancient monastic collection in Egypt called the Nag Hammadi

When one sifts through these writings that go back centuries
and centuries, it seems so different from what we have become
accustomed when it comes to what we think of as a "gospel."
Gnostic writers were far more mystical, declaring much that
they pondered as "mystery." Sometimes it takes some effort to
dig down into what they might really be talking about. We
have become accustomed to straightforward talk, easy to
grasp at least on a surface level, when it comes to the more
orthodox gospels--except, perhaps the Gospel of John, which
is different and far more mystical in style and content.

But what might the above quote really mean? I cannot presume
to unlock this mystery as perhaps the ancient gnostics did,
yet this quote touches my understanding in a fairly direct way.
It's blunt in its meaning, at least for me.

In today's world, people are born into a religious fold for the
most part. They more than often don't choose their particular
faith system. Their parents usually bring them into such.
For example, they are "Cradle Christians." And along the
way, through adolescence unto adulthood, they may or may
not receive direction as to what it means for them as a member
of a particular faith.

More recently research studies are discovering what some have
already known, that "Christians" don't really know much about
their religion. Churches have been remiss, providing little depth
information about the Faith. Perhaps there's an assumption that
skin-deep suffices.

And what of the Spirit. Does it touch us? If one really believes,
well yes!

What can happen, however, is then after one is "called," there can
be a flurry of activity trying to immerse one's self quickly and
perhaps superficially into their faith system, believing that they
have "got it." Perhaps a more correct course is to look into one's
own heart, into one's own soul, meditating ever deeper into what
might be happening. Perhaps then some sort of meaning will come
forth for that person, for his/her life and the expression of such.

Trying to institutionalize "mystery" can lead down some unsteady
paths. That isn't to say that fellow travelers in a given faith system
cannot help one along the way, but it's maybe better not to be too
stern or rigid working through.

Mystics and Monastics oft represent the other end of the spectrum
of our faith systems. They run deep and wide, never superficial.
The possibilities they discover pondering the Mystery can be
astounding--and sometimes seem alien to those at other or
different levels of their faith system.

In the end one has to wonder whether there will always be these
two camps when it comes to our given faith systems, no matter
the labels we employ towards one over the other. Eventually
it might be that our minds are more prone towards one over the
other; and, thus, how we view the world and the life we live can
color how we interpret our particular faith systems.

Thinking in these terms, it's interesting pondering these differing
perspectives. Could be that this situation is "natural." Perhaps
it's all in the Design of things that we have yet to realize and
accept. If eventually we do come to such a realization, then we
might seriously happen upon some really wild discoveries!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

(8) Ideal & Impossibility

Responding to Jesus about selling one's belongings and giving
to the poor, the disciples were completely overwhelmed and
exclaimed "then who can be saved?" Jesus responded, "For man
it is impossible but not for God. With God all things are possible."
[THE NEW TESTAMENT, Mark 10: 20-27.]

Comment: This relates to Jesus' story about the camel trying to
pass through the Eye of the Needle. If my memory serves, this
referred to a small gate passing through the wall of Jerusalem.
And sometimes I tend to think more in contemporary terms,
about a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. What these
scripture verses seem to infer is about Ideal and Impossibility.

The Ideal is always set before us. In this case, casting off
one's wealth and giving it to the poor. And the Impossibility
is the steep realization about doing this! Not everyone is
filthy rich, but many are well off enough. Rather than
inherited luxury, they had worked long and hard for their
money. And more than often they have responsibilities of
family, of putting food on the table and a roof overhead.

So there's an "attitude" about giving away one's wealth to
those who sometimes are thought poor due to their own fault.
Not just in Jesus' day, but right up to our own, there has been
an uneasy reluctance towards the poor.

Yet in the midst of this, there's this dictate about giving one's
all to the poor. The disciples saw this as an impossibility, as
do most of us today. As for the question about "who can be
saved," well other than a few saints strung across the centuries,
very few of us. Yet Jesus answered that "with God all things are
possibile." He places this particular "possible" in juxtaposition
with "impossible."

Perhaps we can only carry through this Ideal--or any other
ideal--only with God's help. Making an ideal possible oft is
very difficult and usually does involve some amount of
sacrifice. But I have to ask, where would we be if we didn't
have ideals set before us? Probably not very far along.
Ideals serve as challenges not only to be good, but to grow.
They help propagate evolving maturity as well as generosity.

But these particular scripture seeds inject the condition of
poverty, of lending a helping hand, working towards rising
out-of-poverty. In today's world, we can think beyond
individuals as poor but can attest to poverty-stricken
communities, of "undeveloped nations." Internationally
poverty is omnipresent.

It would seem that until Poverty is eradicated at all levels,
our world will always live under a certain constant threat.
Poverty is something to be feared, when finally it rises in
Anger. Poverty also can propagate Disease. But above
all Poverty can be enslaved by Ignorance. These are terrible
conditions, which we witness to this very day.

So just maybe Jesus said his words about this from the
perspective of a certain *wisdom,* a kind of knowing that
until Poverty is eradicated we all suffer impoverishment
in a myriad of ways.

At this point there's no doubt we need God's help.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

(7) A New Song

"Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the
earth: Let the sea and what fills it resound, the coastlands, and
those who dwell in them. Let the steppe and its cities cry out...
the villages...and shout from the top of mountains. Let them
give glory to the Lord..."
[ Isaiah 42: 30-32, THE OLD TESTAMENT ]

Comment: The word "Glory" has various meanings, like
renown, giving honor, beauty and magnificence of a place,
that which provides pleasure. Words are stock full of
representations and actions. As for "Song," it usually means
a poem set to music. But it also can refer to those musical
phrases we detect from birds, whales, and insects.

So considering these different meanings of these two words,
perhaps I was right thinking about God's relationship with not
only our good Earth but of all of Creation when it came to
reading these particular lines from the book of Isaiah. In a
sense the "New Song" could indeed be connected with our
recent discoveries about the universe and our consequent
appreciation of such. For those who believe in God, a fairly
new approach can be found in the following new words: the
New Cosmology, Deep Ecology, and Panentheism.

Basically the New Cosmology represents our contemporary
knowledge-base about our 13.7 billion year-old universe.
It's an unfolding universe, beginning with the cosmic event of
the Big Bang. It's about the discovery of an infinity of galaxies,
of great galactic clusters, star nurseries. And just in our galaxy
alone there are surely a myriad of planets circling millions of
suns, floating in space under which is the implicate world of
Quantum Physics.

Deep Ecology is about a newly emerging worldview. "It sees
the world not as a collection of isolated objects, but as a
network of phenomena that are fundamentally interconnected
and interdependent. Deep ecology recognizes the intrinsic
value of all living beings and views humans as just one
particular strand in the web of life."

As for Panentheism, it is a belief that, yes, God is greater than
the universe, but also includes and interpentrates the universe.
If so, this means that God is constantly present to ALL of us,
who live in and share in Creation. It adds meaning to the idea
that whatever we do, or how we treat the "other", we also treat
God. God is Everywhere, in Every One, threaded Through and

So than, what might this "New Song" mean to us as we stand in
the midst of our relatively new knowledge-base about God and
the Universe in which we all live and have our being?

It's still natural for us to lift our voices in song, to think and feel
the beauty of poetics. Perhaps with more and more conscious
comprehension of who we are, of the Who in which we exist
and are a part, we can bring ever more joy into the New Song.
It's perhaps about the aspect of "pleasure" in the meaning of

Sunday, August 29, 2010

(6) Priorities

"First, God; Secondly, the World; Thirdly, Man."

Comment: This short saying stresses the priorities. What more
can really be said? Probably only the "how to," that has evolved
over time. And that fills reams and reams of tomes, rules,
instructions, and even threats.

Of course lots of these approaches, both positive and negative,
depend on not only our God concepts but also the god-imagery
that reflects such. The Imago Dei at least sometimes becomes
more sophisticated as we grow more conscious. But always we
do have to ask if our god-imagery accurately depicts the Reality
of God? It's an open-ended question, I'm afraid, that keeps us
standing not too easy. In the end I imagine we will come to
recognize that God depends on our becoming ever more mature.
It's like an equation, in that our maturity will eventually come to
comprehend God in ever more sophisticated ways. God is not
the shapeshifter, we are!

As for the World, well when the first small light of consciousness
entered our brain, no doubt we were scared silly by what we saw
of the world at that point. The world was out to get us! Kill us!
Survival was always of prime concern. Eventually we saw spirits
behind every tree, thus we placated these spirits. Hence Animism,
later Polytheism, eventually Monothesism, ultimately--maybe--to
Panentheism. Regardless our choice, we link God and the
World and ourselves together in a variety of ways.

Man once was the Center of the Universe, especially when we
were entertaining Anthropocentrism. What with recent scientific
discoveries about the universe, more specifically our solar
system, most of us have sadly come to realize that Humanity
is no longer the most important element of the universe, though
we still crave to call ourselves the Rulers of the Earth. Alas,
our Rule has become ruinous!

So here's hoping that eventually we get these old Egyptian
Hermetic priorities right. They would seem to point in the
right direction.