Tag Archives: spirituality

Another look at “Heaven is for Real”, Calvinism, and Reality

 

 

Okay so this is going to be even more ranty than usual posts…but the ideas I’m about to deal with are so abhorrent that they do not even deserve treatment as valid points that need to be refuted by logic…but they seem to be held by far too many. This is going to get a little disjointed compared my usual posts, but the work I am commenting on wasn’t particularly well ordered to begin with.

 

So if you may recall my review of Heaven is For Real. I complained that the movie wasn’t very good as a movie or as a defense of near-death experiences (NDE). Now ignoring the flaws as a movie, the problems with the film as a representation of an NDE were numerous. The first was despite there being thousands of examples of NDE this film seemed to have none of the typical trademarks.

 

Some of these trademarks include the tunnel of light. Being often, but not always met by a being of light as a guide through the tunnel. A review of your life. And being given a choice whether or not to go back. (As I said in the previous review, I did not read the book and this film and what I have seen on TV from interviews makes me doubt this story in general).

 

Further, another problem I had was how Christian Heaven appeared in this film. What was depicted with a disturbingly pale Jesus (no Jew from the first century who walked everywhere by foot in the Israeli desert would look anywhere near as pale as they showed him in this film), clouds, gates and other various tropes of a children’s Bible depiction of Heaven.

 

God

And the evidence of NDE’s back me up on this opinion.

From the wealth of NDE’s out there Heaven is more intellectual and less physical than a place of pearly gates and clouds.   Also while the occasional saint, angel and ascended master does occasionally pop up the reality is that most people are not greeted by Jesus. Oh, and most importantly, this typical story is told by Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus,
Buddhists, Taoists, Atheists, and any and all other groups you can think of. God doesn’t care about what name you call him by as much as most religions would like you to think. There are lots of books that prove this point, if want to see the evidence for yourself I would start with Evidence of the Afterlife and Life After Life.

 

But you know, the movie and the book were out to make money so skewing the story to their intended Christian audience can maybe be forgiven in the name of rational capitalism.

 

But then I see an article that makes the following brain dead statement:

 

“The book [Heaven is for Real] places the accounts of heaven in a firm Biblical context, with frequent references to scriptural passages. The film does not follow this practice. In addition to quite fanciful descriptions of heaven, there is the suggestion that everyone is going to end up there. There is no mention anywhere of hell or the last judgment.”

 

So the problems with the movie are the parts that actually match up to known facts about NDEs.

 

Any longtime reader of this blog knows I take a particular glee in pointing out what idiots Atheists are. And Atheists are idiots. They hold an article of faith to the point of absolute nihilistic insanity despite the fact that logic, experience and evidence points to a simple undeniable fact that there is a God. The problem however is that this does not seem to be a flaw limited to atheists.

 

So in the light of facts about NDEs:

That people from all religions seem to go to Heaven.

 

That there is a consistency in these stories across culture, generation, and religion (which suggests it’s not just people making up stories).

 

The fact that the people who report these stories have often been brain dead, i.e., their brain was incapable of encoding new memories during this time; ergo it couldn’t have been a hallucination.

 

That the incredibly rare stories of punishment or torment are virtually always included by points like ‘well they flat lined but they weren’t brain dead for more than a second’ or heavy use of drugs were involved in their being near death in the first place (or other things that a legitimate skeptic could use to throw the case out).

 

That no one has ever felt judged during their NDE, even people who lived terrible lives beforehand (most in this category have felt transformed by the love they felt and lived better lives since).

 

So these are facts about NDEs. And what do religious people complain about…it didn’t conform to my interpretation of the Bible!

 

You know I could at least respect the religious people taking the data head on and trying to prove that all these NDE’s are faulty, but they don’t do that, they would rather just shove up their Bible and act like the cast of Inherit the Wind* ignoring all evidence and simply saying they “do not think about things they do not think about” and defer to only the Bible for answers (conveniently missing the numerous times reason and logic are praised in both the Old and New Testaments).

 

But you know, if that the only stupid thing said in this article, “Popular ReligionHeaven For Everyone?”. I might have just ignored it…but not only does the article getworse, much worse, but while attempting to portray itself as an impartial reporting of the debate about the afterlife (strangely the only sides in this debate appear to be the ones who only want to use very limited interpretations of the Bible) but it frighteningly seemed to be a synthesis of numerous articles I’ve been seeing on issues such as heaven, sin, Calvinism and God. All in one place I found most of the incorrect beliefs about faith, God, the soul, and life I’ve been seeing pop up here and there with more and more regularity as this abomination of New Calvinism seems to gain force…to see them in one place was such a gift it had to be taken up and refuted.

 

“There is now a considerable controversy about the film in the Evangelical world. Grossman quotes another pastor, Tim Challies, who criticizes the film ‘that celebrates the heaven we want, not the Jesus we’ve really got who is worthy of worship and won’t allow ungodliness in heaven’”

 

Oh wow. Again I love how no one wants to actually turn to what real evidence there is, only to argue points of theology based on one badly translated book. I also love how they make no bones about the fact that mankind and any non-Christian beliefs are unholy (but let’s be honest here, it’s even more narrow than that, because this vision of God caring deeply about your denomination and if you’re in the wrong one, to Hell with you). But that’s right because we all have original sin. A guy a few thousand years ago broke a rule, ate an apple and we all have to suffer. If you went and shot the great-grandson of a Nazi because the sins of the father carry to the son so forth and so on, you would be called crazy and immoral…but apparently when God does it for all generations to the end of time, that’s a God “who is worthy of worship.” I fail to see why the worst and most immoral aspects of humanity coupled with tyrannical power is worthy of worship.

 

“Other critics have accused the film of failing to emphasize that there is no way to heaven except through faith in Jesus.”

 

Actually the film is quite biased towards Christianity…it’s the facts of NDEs that show that God doesn’t care what religion you follow. These are facts. I’m sorry if you are more comforted by believing you’re sinful and need to be redeemed. But the FACTS say otherwise.

 

 

“The debate over this film reflects a broader split among Evangelicals, which pits the vision of four-year old Colton over that of proto-Evangelical Jonathan Edwards[…]Most contemporary Evangelicals are very much in the middle between these two extremes”

 

This is the point that the article stops being just a bad discussion and becomes more of a trip through evil. But I would like to point out that the two “extremes” this author believes in are on the one hand you have Protestant Christianity and on the other hand you have Protestant Christianity and in the middle you have Protestant Christianity. I fully realize that the site I found this on probably only writes for that audience, and I realize it’s my own damn fault for trying to read other opinions and should just recognize that this is a preaching to the choir moment. But I’m not going to. I may believe that capitalism is the only system that works, and that the only rational argument is between mixed-economy conservatives (like current Republican leadership) and libertarians (like Rand Paul or John Stossel) with capitalists (like Hayek and Friedman) in the middle…but just because I believe these are the only rational options I’m not anywhere stupid enough to think that these are the extremes. There is socialism and communism and fascism on one side and there is monarchism and anarchy on the other. Those are extremes. And to call the extremes all set within a Protestant framework suggests such a limited way of looking at the world that it has challenged and shown to be the bullshit it is, even if no one who read that article ever reads this one. Ideas have power, and dangerous ones like the author of this one must be confronted.

 

Okay let’s get back to this article.

 

god's wrath

The Calvinist vision of God only belongs in Far Side cartoon…in reality it’s too preposterous to be taken seriously.

“But then there still are those who hold on to the old-time religion of fire and brimstone—and those, who having lost it, want to go back to it. The so-called New Calvinists are an interesting case in point; not suprisingly, they have made Jonathan Edwards one of their mentors.”

 

Some people have wondered why I have serious problems with Calvinism and new and vile incarnation…it’s statements like this. Why?

 

Well keep reading:

 

“He was a highly educated theologian and a stern Calvinist—the entire Calvinist package—“total depravity” (all of humanity sunk in sin), “double predestination” (God has decided from the beginning of time who will be saved and who damned), “selective salvation” (Jesus did not die for all men, only for the pre-determined elect). He preached against the Arminians, who modified Calvinism by, among other things, insisting that those who go to hell should have done something to deserve that fate.”

 

The fact that anyone can speak of Jonathan Edwards in even remotely positive terms defies reason…the fact that this author could later go as far to say that “Edwards was an intellectual” is simply preposterous. Unstable sociopath I can buy–intellectual, not so much. But this article is quite sympathetic to Edwards and his beliefs—as it seems he is to most of New Calvinism. Does it only bother me that the belief that all people are sunk in depravity because of someone a few thousand years ago breaking a rule that reason would put up there with “don’t walk on the grass,” that there is no free will and no ability to change our fate, making us not only depraved but mere automatons of a lunatic tyrant. Worse the article is very insulting to what it calls “Vanilla Evangelicals” who might have a problem with this image of God as a raving lunatic. (But then again this article also seems dismissive in one part of Thomas Aquinas for believing that babies who had not been baptized would not suffer in hell, quoting a theologian who makes it clear if you’re not baptized you burn for all eternity.) Of course one my favorite parts has to be the line “there can be no doubt that both Testaments proposed a day of judgment that would segregate the blessed from the damned”—which I’m sure comes as a shock to most Jewish philosophers for the last 2,000 years who take no opinion on the afterlife, let alone a day of Judgment; I guess the Jews just don’t know how to read the Old Testaments in this author’s mind.

 

The article even tries to portray the following piece of Edward’s philosophy as valid:

“Edwards proposes that the latter, looking down from heaven to the torments of hell, will not only do so with equanimity but with joy at the working of God’s justice. To leave no room for any misplaced sympathy, he insists that the righteous will not be moved even if among the sufferers in hell are individuals that once were loved—parents, children, spouses.”

 

There are no words of condemnation for this in the article and that is horrifying. The idea that in Heaven everyone has become a sadistic psychopath who revels in suffering of others (often for crimes such as not calling God by the right name despite living an otherwise moral life) is beyond any rational interpretation of God. If this is what Heaven is and how God behaves, then I will enjoy Hell because this sick, perverted God is no better than some of the more disturbing ancient Pagan deities. In fact, morally this vision of God is on par with Ba’al, the ancient Phoenician God whose worshippers sacrificed live infants to.

 

Thankfully I do not have a God that is this disturbed. God is not like this. Facts of NDEs and miracles and life show that God is not, and cannot be this evil; life is full of signs that are evident for anyone who would like to put to the test of reason (which the Bible actually praises)—and it tells that these that are shallowly called faith have no basis. But let’s return to one of the article’s original lines that complained about Heaven is for Real because it “celebrates the heaven we want, not the Jesus we’ve really got who is worthy of worship and won’t allow unholiness in heaven.” A God who punishes for no legitimate reason, and trust me original sin is not a legitimate reason, is not worthy of worship. Only a rational loving God is worthy of worship. What Calvinism, in all its forms, shows is not a God of reason and not a God of love. It is a sick butcher who revels in the suffering of others. And that thing which is passed off as an image of God is certainly not worthy of worship.

 

Now I’m sure someone could point out that this article which I have taken to task, only brings up the two sides and never actually says which side the author comes down on, thus I’m being overly critical, and unjustifiably so. But, that’s not a valid argument. The article is always positive, even if subtly so, of the Calvinist side and dismissive or insulting of every other viewpoint. This author may have wanted to appear neutral, but he is in no way neutral. You can’t discuss ideas this vile dispassionately because they are not worthy of even a prima facie treatment as valid ideas. And if you find them more comforting than a God that actually does love all his children, then you have issues.

 

One final point. The article closes with:

 

“But I had no intention of diverting attention from the fact that questions about heaven and hell raise serious issues for religious faith, especially for any version of monotheism. The presence of evil in the world created by God is intolerable unless there is an ultimate judgment against it. In the words of the Quran, there will be that day of judgment when every man will stand alone before God.”

 

Ignoring that there are answers to the problem of evil other than damnation, the fact that this Calvinist author sees no problem in finding comparisons between his beliefs and the Koran is abhorrent. If there is one book in all of existence that God had nothing to do with in its writing, it’s the Koran, a book of hate and violence, and the most perverted view of God around…and that Calvinism so easily finds a parallel between their view and the God of hate in the Koran, should give everyone pause given that it does appear to be on the rise.

Now, again, you could claim that this author and his bias is not symptomatic of a larger growing movement.  That would certainly be an argument against me getting this upset, but, at least personally I am seeing these terrible ideas of Calvinism begin to spread ever so slightly, and this is something I would rather over react to than be silent and let it progress unchallenged.

 

 

 

*It should be noticed that the play/movie Inherit the Wind which shows Scopes Trial to take place in a town of backward hicks and prosecuted by a zealot who knew nothing about anything and differs greatly from the real Scopes Trial where the town was somewhere between indifferent and supportive of Scopes, and the real prosecutor was against evolution not because he didn’t understand science but because at the time, the 1920’s, evolution and eugenics went hand in hand in all teachings…and he, strangely enough, had a real moral problem with eugenics—can’t imagine why.

 

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Why I’m A New Ager

So the other day I was asked by a friend “what does a New Ager believe?”. And I gave my usual piss-poor answer of “It’s kind of hard to explain. It’s a mix of a lot different beliefs.” And while this is true, it’s still not a great answer. Not that other religions are easy to explain, they’re not, every religion is complex and difficult to understand…however, those other religions have these useful books or pre-vetted collections of belief or maybe one or two major beliefs. “What does a Buddhist believe?” You have an answer “The teachings of Buddha and reincarnation and the releasing of karma.” “What does a Christian believe?” “The teaching of Christ as reported in the New Testament, love and forgiveness for all.” Now different denominations have variations, but those variations can be summed up in a sentence or two.

I’ve tried explaining my beliefs before to people, but have often come up to immediate challenges. There have been a lot of challenges involved with this before I even answered: If I didn’t believe in the Christian God how did I explain the problem of evil? If you believed in a more active God than eastern traditions why didn’t God just wake us up from this nightmare that is reality? If I wasn’t a Christian how come I still talk about the father, son, and Holy Spirit? How can I believe in any of the things I do since it was all contradictory? As you can see I do not always run into friendly audiences. So, I realize that as very few are going to initially agree with this interpretation, but before you raise

Who are you?  What do you believe in?

objections, read the whole thing.

So here goes trying to describe my beliefs of what it is to be a New Ager (and I fully acknowledge that other New Agers out there may have different takes on this). Now if you know me I would say the most important distinction of religion is the acts of the its followers, but since in the broad strokes almost all religions advocate for the pretty much the same external actions (with only minimal differences–and I’m excluding the act of fanatics here)–thus the ethical differences between New Age belief and more traditional beliefs is probably not the most efficient way to distinguish New Age belief. So let me go to the more useful metaphysical relationship of God to Mankind.

The first is if you were a parent and your small child was having a nightmare so powerful that they couldn’t wake up, you have two options. Either (1) you can slap your screaming crying child to wake them up or (2) you can hold them, rock them, and speak to them soothingly hoping that your voice will lead them out of their nightmare. Now most parents will probably choose option 2. Option 1 might be faster, but it certainly isn’t all that humane.

The second thing I want you to consider is that in dreams time and identity doesn’t quite work in the traditional sense. I think it’s probably safe to say we’ve all had a dream that seemed to last for days, maybe even weeks, but our perception of time was only part of the dream. A dream that lasts ten minutes in the physical world seemed to drag on in our mind for days. Also we’ve probably all had a dream were there is more than just ourselves in the dream. Our dreams often have a quite large cast, but really all of those people in our dreams are nothing but images of us taking a different form. Some of us may even have had a dream where we perceive the actions of two characters in our dreams at once.

The third idea I would like you to hold in your mind is the Christian relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If you live in the Western world you should be familiar with this relationship…and since I don’t think I have too many readers in Outer Mongolia I’m going to just assume you already know this idea.

Now with those three ideas in mind let me tell you a story. God created the Son. You know this story up to this point. But then the Son had this terrible idea…God might not love him. This is a preposterous idea because God is an infinite being contemplating and giving love. But where the Son should have laughed at such a strange idea, the Son instead fell into a deep sleep (or the equivalent on an infinite non material universal scale). Now in this nightmare that the Son slipped into a whole universe was created with the pieces of the this infinite consciousness of the Son splitting apart into billions of pieces. Just as we may perceive more than one role in our own dreams, the infinite mind of the Son was able to perceive from billions of perspectives. The problem was that this fear that God does not love us latched onto each and everyone of those pieces and formed what New Agers call the ego. The ego is an embodiment of that base fear that we are separated from God, and it is attached to each piece of the Son’s consciousness, what we call the soul. This world is nothing but a nightmare in the mind of the Son (kind of like the Hindu belief that this world is a dream of the Brahman).

Now many complain that a loving god would not allow his Son to experience such a nightmare. But remember, as I pointed out in my first idea, a loving parent doesn’t just smack their child until they wake up. They hold them and speak to them, hoping that voice will bring their child out of their nightmare. In this case that voice appears in this nightmare as what is common called the Holy Spirit. Further as I pointed out time can get awfully fuzzy in a nightmare–What appears as thousand of years here is barely a moment in the reality of true existence. From God’s perspective this nightmare lasted barely a moment in eternity.

At this point the I think most people will understand when I say each of these pieces of consciousness, i.e. humans, are trying to free themselves of their egos and fear and reach a level of Enlightenment a la Hinduism or Buddhism. Ideally, of course the ultimate goal is for everyone to shed their ego/fears and return to the level of being an awakened Son of God. This might engender a idea that we must think collectively and put our own well being second to the good of the whole and others as our goal cannot be reached until all beings reach enlightenment…but that’s actually a false line of logic, as you can’t help anyone else until you yourself reach enlightenment. As such New Age belief requires not only the follower to not give into fear (i.e. you absolutely can’t be a “God-fearing” person as other religions might ask of you) nor can you ascetically withdraw from the world and condemn all the world’s pleasures as sin because that is also giving into the ego’s false belief that sin exists. What you say, of course sin exists! Not really, if this world is only an illusion there can’t actually be anything that God condemns us for, because to God doesn’t admit this world exists, thus there is nothing to condemn and nothing for God to forgive. Yes there are terrible things that happen in this world, but it’s acts of violence against ourselves, or actually against illusions we have created, certainly not against God or God’s laws. But the ego uses your guilt to keep your soul tied to it. I could go on, but to cut this short (and give me future blogs to deal with) the New Age belief is that Enlightenment will only be achieved through the full expression of ourselves and realizing that we are the Son of God and have a infinite power and nothing to feel guilty about because God loves us and anything contrary to that though (fear, guilt, uncertainty) is what keeps us in this nightmare.

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The Importance of Religious Pluralism in the Journey of the Soul

Not sure why, but I’m seeing an upsurge in the frequency of people becoming more hostile about their religion being right and everyone else being wrong (and even for the people who aren’t making a big deal out of it, there is a certain ‘my religion is better than your religion’ arrogance in lots of groups, and it just feels like its getting worse).  And I’m not just talking about the psycho-fringe here (or I’m really underestimating the size of said “fringe”).  I always find this a puzzling concept.  Sure there are a few really insane beliefs out there–mostly the ones that dictate ‘my way or else I’ll kill you!’–but for the most part, most religions all have the same core values and differ only in forms, names, and rituals.  And quibbling over these relatively minor issues is pointless. First off most of these people who want to scream for their own religion and no others seem politically motivated (I’ve seen all sides engage in this religious idiocy) given that it only alienates people away from your political causes.  Further, reason doesn’t hold this up?   I mean, do you seriously believe that God, a being of supposed infinite love, compassion, understanding and wisdom, cares about what ritual you use to get closer to him, rather than if you actually get closer to him or not?

And it’s not just implicit in reason, recent scientific research into reincarnation and near-death experience also demonstrate this. Scientific studies have shown that reincarnation is a fact and that you change from religion to religion based on your life—if that’s the case it can’t be that God loves one religion and hates all others.  Similar studies have also shown that during near death experiences everybody goes to heaven, doesn’t matter what their religion is…it’s almost as if God doesn’t give a shit what name you call him by.

potala palace lhasa

The Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet…it seemed like a place both remote and spiritual enough to serve as the starting place for the soul.

So does this mean that all religions are worthless?  That there is just God and his children and it doesn’t matter what you believe…not exactly.   Now, with that knowledge of near death experiences and reincarnation studies, it seems to be that the majority of religions are correct, that life is a series of rebirths, a progression of lessons and stages of learning all leading to Enlightenment…but that still doesn’t invalidate the idea that you should follow the religion you feel called to. If the soul is on a journey toward Enlightenment, let’s think of it as a journey.   For the sake of metaphor let’s say all souls start out standing in the Potala Palace in Lhasa.  High in the Himalayas, disconnected from the rest of the world.  And you know you have to get somewhere (Enlightenment) you have had it roughly described to you, but you don’t quite know where you are going or exactly how to get there.

How you get there would be comparable to the mode of transportation you take.  Some ways like Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, New Age belief and modern Paganism might be equivalent to walking, taking a bike, a boat, a car or a plane*, other religions maybe more like trying a unicycle with a flat tire, spinning in a circle believing you will magically teleport, digging through the center of the earth using a rusty spoon or launching yourself into orbit using high explosives and hoping you land in the right place. ** While in the minority there are religions that are all but useless in all cases…however most religions are more dependent on where you are in your journey. In this example if one religion is equivalent to riding in a car and you’ve hit the Pacific Ocean, it may have gotten you to this point but you need a different mode of transportation (a different belief system) to advance on the next stage of your journey.

Devil’s Bridge, Sedona, Arizona

Now for the sake of argument in this travel metaphor let’s say that Enlightenment exists at the Devil’s Bridge in Northern Arizona (chosen for the fact that it is beautiful, and the irony was just too good to pass up).

Now to get from our stating place in Tibet and ending place in Arizona there is no way a single mode of transportation is going to cut it the whole way.  You are at best going to have to walk part of the way, either take a boat or plane part of the way, and probably have to travel in some other forms of transportation for part of the journey.

The Journey of the Soul Metaphor

If only the journey of the soul was this short a distance.

Let’s add to the fact that you’re not always sure where you’re headed.  Granted as long as you’re moving you may be getting closer, or at least have a better chance to learn where the right place is as opposed to the stupidity of staying still, but that still doesn’t always mean you’re moving in the right direction (as some religions that could be used to progress can be misused to put you further away from God…Westboro come to mind).

You could use this metaphor for a lot of things, and show it flawed in numerous other ways.  I just want to show that even on a journey you may use different modes of transportation, as different religions may serve different souls on their journey to Enlightenment.

And my overall point here is that reason tells you God is too perfect a being to care what name you call him by or what rituals you go through to honor him, it’s silly to think that one religion is the right one and all others are false.  Yes there are some blindingly stupid beliefs out there, and there may be beliefs that are wrong for you in your life (take a car when you’re on the ocean) but just because your religious beliefs work for you don’t assume they would work for everyone. The most you can do is ask if you find that your beliefs are leading you to God (if they are, bully for you) and if someone else’s beliefs could never in any way, shape, or form lead a person to God (a religion that calls for stoning people in the 21st century for instance) and oppose those vile beliefs will all your heart and soul.

So even if you aren’t decrying that your religion is better than all others, it might also be best to not always believe that (I know some will think I’m only critiquing Christians here, but really this my religion is better than your religion arrogance can be found in almost every religion)…your beliefs may be exactly what you personally need in your journey right now, but don’t believe that your beliefs will work for everyone at every time.

sedona rainbow

you can never have too many random pictures of Sedona

*Try not to match those up, the religions are in more or less chronological order and the modes of transportation are more or less random.

** I may or may not have had Scientology, Atheism, Keynesianism (it denies basic reality so much and requires so much be taken on faith it’s pretty much a cult) come to mind here…oh and I can’t think what religion I had in mind when I mentioned strapping high explosives to yourself…certainly not a religion of peace.  Not everyone following those beliefs is stuck at a stand still, it’s just highly, highly unlikely they’re going to be making a major push forward in that life.  And this is the balance to an acceptance of other beliefs, admitting that there are some really dumb beliefs out there.

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Filed under Arizona, Books for New Agers, Faith, Free Will, God, Individualism, Love, New Age, philosophy, Prayer, Reincarnation, Religion, Spirituality, virtue

How a New Ager Views History

 

How a New Age looks back on history…

So in the last week I’ve been asked by several conservatives why I am still fairly hopeful for the future (the long term, not the short term—short term sucks) in light of the fact that both here in America and basically everywhere overseas we’ve been guaranteed at minimum four years of going to Hell in a hand basket.

 

Now my optimism is an extension of my faith.  I see mankind as moving toward Enlightenment, not just of some, but eventually of everyone.  And while Hinduism and Buddhism have many statements about everyone eventually reaching Enlightenment, I always like to go to prose of A Course in Miracles:

“You are as certain of arriving home as is the pathway of the sun laid down

before it rises, after it has set, and in the half-lit hours in between. Indeed,

your pathway is more certain still. For it can not be possible to change the

course of those whom God has called to Him.”

I have faith that humanity is moving toward complete Enlightenment.  It is not a question of if, it is at most a question of when.* It will happen.  Every soul will reach complete Enlightenment and return to being one with God.

 

Now it’s easy to say this as a statement of faith, but even the faithful need something to justify a belief in…and more importantly need to at least see that in the long run there is nothing to contradict this viewpoint.

 

 

So let’s look at this.  As I pointed out in Republicans and Reincarnation, whether you want to use the system of chakras or a myriad of other versions in other cultures, there seem to be seven stages in the evolution of the soul back to Enlightenment. More or less each stage corresponds to the energy and issues often associated with each Chakra.

 

 

Now we could go over each stage and each chakra, and I know you love when I make these blogs like ten pages long, but the fact of the matter is that, right now, I would say only the smallest portion of humanity are above the issues of the third chakra.

 

The first chakra, the root chakra, is associated with our physical existence.  Do we have enough to survive?  Are we safe in this instant?  Do we live in fear for our existence?  Do I live?

 

The second chakra deals with safety and security.  Not just surviving in the instant as the first chakra looks to, but to long term safety and comfort.  Not just do I have what I need but do I have what I want?  Do I win?

 

The third Chakra deals with self control and self awareness.  Not just having things but doing things?  Not just comfort but achievement.  Do I strive?

 

(The first three chakras are remarkably similar to the first three levels of Maslow’s hierarchy.)

 

 

Now since at some level each soul is connected to each other even if one soul is extremely advanced they are affected by those around them.  This is why stories of ascended masters and saints often describe them having a positive effect on people just by their presence and conversely why it is best to avoid being in proximity of those who are very negative.  And since we are all connected society as a whole acts like much in the way of an average of the collective evolution of all its souls. And as all souls are reincarnated and evolve so does society.* So, the question then becomes, if I’m right, and the world is experiencing a continuous growth in spiritual evolution is there any evidence of it?

The answer is yes.

 

If the average of people were working out problems with level one then society would be about survival, it would be about power, it would be about having more and more, not quality or comfort, but more in a numerical value where the chief worry is famine or invasion.  You would see constant conquest, constant struggle, and constant fear about not having enough.  Sure there might be the occasional enlightened person or at least some not consumed by a desire for protection and safety, but they’re the exception (and groups of them are especially the exception.  To a person or a society at this level, the universe is chaotic, uncaring maybe even vengeful—there is no way to reason with others, with God, with life, there is only power and ability to survive (in practice, it’s a little Hobbesian).   This pretty much describes all history until around 1400 CE.  The rulers always had to have more, the common people never really complained so long as they were promised safety (ignore whether that promise was actually kept).  At your highest moments most people were looking for no more than bread and circuses.

 

For a society where the average level of the second level you would find people not so much concerned with just safety but now with comfort (and at its worst decadence).  You won’t see as much a desire for power but for rules and order.  You would see an outlook that saw the universe not as chaotic, but ordered…still often uncaring, but not capriciously so.  And again we see this in history.  Starting just before the turn of the common era you see society from Europe to China more concerned with rules, with what we would match the requirement of any general definition of civilization.  And from this point until around 1400 you see the battle conflict between the predominant themes of level 1 and 2 defining the time, power vs. rules. And from 1400 from the Renaissance/Scientific Revolution in the West, Ottoman control in the Middle East and the Qing Dynasty in the East.  Not that the world is suddenly a bastion of humanity and good will toward each other, but the focus seems to have made a massive switch from a universe defined by brute force to one defined by rules (often very evil rules, but rules nonetheless).

 

And with level three we see people and society move from a concern not just with things but with the individual, with personal accomplishment and personal achievement—of a search within one’s self for what they want.  And while there have been strains here and there of this dating back even to the ancient world, this strain started to appear en mass in the 1700’s. (I know I’m going over this in very general detail and often ignoring those moments where this group or that makes a major step forward or back…and if anyone wants I’ll go into more detail, I will, but for now the very broad swaths seem to make the most sense).

 

And now we are beginning to see the whole world tilt from an average of level two to level 3.  (Yes the unfortunate side effect of level 3 is a me, me, me attitude…but it’s slightly better than resigning yourself to fate.)

 

Now also with this you’ll see that when you switch from one level to another there seems to be a purge of the old ideology through what is unfortunately a very effective way for people to learn, suffering.  (Aeschylus stated in Agamemnon that “Only through suffering do we learn.” This is not the only way people learn, but sadly, so often, many people only learn when they hit rock bottom and have to confront their beliefs without any illusions.) In that transition between level one and two you have the world wide pandemic.  A great karmic blowout that cleared out the majority of the issues from the old way of thinking and ushered into the new.  And if you apply this basic line of thought you see it is true also in smaller societies as you see this growth in smaller more concentrated areas.  And I think we’re in for an economic equivalent of this purge now as we move from an average of level 2 to level 3.  Now, given the fact that there does seem to be some increase in speed between levels one and two, I hope this karmic purge doesn’t take the century it did in the 1300’s, hopefully we’re right in the middle of it with only 4 years or so left.

 

Oh sure you can probably say I’ve engaged in this fallacy or that, superimposing my beliefs and interpretations onto what are otherwise unrelated events or issues.  But like I said, this is primarily about an issue of faith. I am merely showing that my faith isn’t completely without justification and doesn’t contradict what we know to be fact (unlike, say, ignoring all the evidence that shows your creation myth might be a little off from what really happened), you may not believe it, but at least it isn’t completely baseless.
So why I am optimistic?  Because I believe, not entirely without reason, that this is the storm before the calm and what lays on the other side is well worth the inconvenience in between.

 

*Technically time itself is an illusion, so I’m not sure if it’s really a question of when either.

**Yes even I have said that reincarnation does not necessarily go in a straight line through time, but most souls at the level one and two levels are more comfortable still perceiving time as linear and thus their souls reincarnate in this linear fashion.  And yes, since some people have pointed this out, souls reincarnating out of linear order in time does do some fascinating things to the laws of causality…I will defer to a much better writer to describe it: “People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually, from a non-linear non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey… stuff.”

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Weekly Meditation: God in the silence

This week we return to holy books for inspiration in meditation.

This week I’m pulling from the Bible.  I usually don’t because unlike a lot of other holy books, which were generally written more or less at one period by one person (or at least one group) and has more or less remained consistent through the ages, the Bible was written by numerous people, rewritten by numerous others, recollected, reordered, mistranslated, rewritten again throughout numerous ages with numerous different values and beliefs…Also while you can find some questionable content in most holy books (just about anything taken out of context of the passage, the time and the culture, can be twisted), the Bible is singular in ability to come up with a passage to justify just about anything (want to hate gays, we have a passage for that; want to love gays, we have a passage for that; want to justify capitalism, we have a passage for that; want to justify socialism we have a passage for that).   But that does not mean there is not Truth in the Bible, there is, a lot of it.  You just have use reason and good judgment and not take everything, pardon the phrase, on faith.

But there passages that, to me at least, are self-evidently true.

John the Baptist…err, I mean the Prophet Elijah (who says there’s no reincarnation in the Bible) hearing those tiny whispering voices.

For instance:

“Then the LORD said, “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.” A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD–but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake–but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire–but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.” I Kings 19-11-12

The passage reflects a very accurate view that people look for God in giant powerful things, when it is in a small breeze that he can most easily be found.  Most commentaries on this passage tend to look at that last line as something along the lines of a statement of “and after the fire there was a breeze, and God was in the breeze.” And I’m not claiming to be making an incredibly new interpretation of this line, I’m not.  But I find this a very good passage because I often see so many people of many religions looking for God in miracles, huge events, lottery tickets, signs, portents, and burning bushes…when really they should be taking a minute to quiet their mind and listen to the voice of God that is always there.

So this week I want you to quiet your mind and listen…not just meditating on nothingness and keeping a blank mind, but focusing on what you hear.  Whether it’s in a corner of your house, on a grassy field, or even on a city bench (if that’s the only place you can find time alone).  No iPod, no radio, no friend talking or TV in the background, just whatever white noise is around you.  Every day for at least 10 minutes focus on the sounds around you, but don’t dwell on them, and see if you can hear that “tiny whispering voice” which is always there saying it loves you without restraint or qualification. 

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