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!