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Posts Tagged ‘Christianity – Writings on’

When you sit and meditate, given long enough, you get a lot of time for self evaluation and reflection. Some would even argue that is the whole point; where, as one of the many fringe benefits. Regardless, I had one of those moments the other day and now it’s stuck in my mind like a sliver I just can’t seem to pick or an itch that I just can’t seem to scratch.

The realization was a simple question and answer session. Why am I looking, trying so hard to find a brand of religion that I can call my own and agree with 100%? Why am I going to church again, when clearly my theology, if known to these people would set me apart from them as a heretic? Why am I looking for that perfect teacher, temple, religion, practice… so I can find a home and finally call myself a Zen Buddhist in the _____ tradition, or brand myself as a Vedantic, a Mahayana or Gnostic?

Is my motive to find “truth”, god, and enlightenment; or is it that other word previously mentioned in my jumble of thoughts: home? Home. What is my greater desire? Could it be that somewhere along the way my quest changed, or was this it from the very beginning; some primordial need that I was seeking to meet without even knowing it?

Maybe I want to “be” something because I want a religious home, a community of fellow believers to practice with and be a part of — friends, family, teachers, community support and a sense of belonging. Could it be that this natural instinct, something that goes so far back in our genes as pack animals, is so strong that I would even trade finding the truth to fulfill it?

If I found a community that accepted me in, would I not look over all kinds of flaws, short-comings, and differences to hold onto my new found family? Would I play the part of a good Christian, Buddhist or really anything to keep my friends and my newly found social structure of comfort? How long would it take before I even forgot that I didn’t fully agree with what I was being told, and fall into some self delusion?

I can even seen now how cults do so well in bringing people into the fold and how they get such a strong hold on their lives. Soon they are enveloped in it as a community; they find a new family, friends, social activities, a girlfriend, a teacher… everything they always wanted. Everything I want. Now that’s a scary thought.

It’s not easy, that feeling of never fitting in. It’s deep-seeded, and brings back painful memories from childhood that best be forgotten. And what would I give up in order to make that go away?

Now here is the painful truth. If someone were to come to me and offer me belonging; a mate, friends, a community, but their asking price was for me to give up truth… I would be tempted to take the offer.

Look deep inside yourself. Would you? Have you already? It is probably more common than we think.

Knowing this, having this realization, has actually helped me out a lot. I have to be careful in my actions and double check my actions. I had to stop and really decide, am I looking for truth or am I looking for a place to fit in?

I decide I wanted truth. I hope I find community, but I must remind myself what my decision, what the true cry, or at least the loudest cry of my heart is.

This is also a liberating realization, for without the pressure of needing to find that perfect religion I am now freer to take from and enjoy many of them as they come to me. Without having to define myself so specifically I no longer have to so limit and define god, spirit and enlightenment… who I supposed to be limitless anyway.

So what am I then? Nothing really. A seeker, a finder, a good man, and just another crazy mixed-up human being trying to figure this thing out, and trying to enjoy as much of the process as possible along the way.

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For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

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You know, I’d like to have faith in something. In fact, I have faith that there is some kind of spiritual part to this world — that it is just not all what we can see and feel, but that makes this whole thing even more frustrating. Because since I believe that there is something out there, it’s hard for me not to know what it is. I want to slap a name and a face on the thing and put it in a little box I can carry around with me! Who knows though, maybe thats the point? Maybe you just can’t really put such human restrictions on such a limitless thing?

I’m in Texas now, still searching, and I must admit that I am a bit lonely out here. I have no family here, and it’s always been hard for me to make friends. I’m not stand-offish or anything like that — just… different.

I heard online that there was some church out here that had a very large singles scene for people about my age and so I went there hoping that maybe with such a huge “dating pool” it would be easier for me to meet people. And yes, I totally went to a church to check out chicks. However, it didn’t take me long to correct that mindset and push that out of my head once I realized that was what I was doing. Once I realized it, I laughed at myself and decided to just concentrate on the sermon and figured that maybe experiencing God was much more worth anticipating than getting a wink or two out of the crowd.

Who knows though, maybe that was where I went wrong? Because the last thing an unprepared pastor would ever want, if they knew what’s good for them, is someone like me actually paying attention to what they are preaching.

I’ll be blunt. Crass even. The place was big, but as well all know it’s not the size that matters but if you know how to use it. You know, I have been celibate now for three years, but before that I did my share of sleeping around. During that time I met this really cute girl at a New Years party, no I don’t remember her name, and we hooked up. It was pretty good sex, even though she was a bit taller than my average, but when we were done she said something to me that was supposed to be a compliment but it sure rubbed me the wrong way for a while… enough that I forgot her name and never called her back.

She told me that some of the other guys she had been with before me were “bigger” than me, but that they were unable to please her, but I was able to give her not one but multiple orgasms… and then she said that whole “not the size that matters but how you use it” thing to me. Not exactly what a guy wants to hear after a moment like that.

Now, looking back I see it as a compliment… although my ego sure as hell would still rather have been told that I was both the biggest and the best. Oh well, I guess it doesn’t matter much now anyway. I don’t even have sex anymore. And no, it’s not “for life’ or anything like that. I just decided a few years ago that I was being a slut and promised myself that I would not have sex again unless I fell in love, and I just haven’t fallen in love.

Now back to the church service.

I was stopped several times by people, greeted I guess, and all of them just only talked to me about how big the church was. Asking me if I was intimidated at how big the church was, impressed at how big it was, or how awesome it was to find/have a church so big. Little did they know, that for starters… I have seen bigger. And more importantly, I have seen much, much smaller who knew how to “use it” and impressed me far greater. I’ve experienced God in a circle of three in a home prayer group. I have had visions and experiences sitting on a cold floor of a rented gym with a Buddhist Master. I have seen the poor be generous and the ugly beautiful.

No, size won’t impress me. I have nothing against size or big screen tv’s and operation budgets that would feed a third-world country… but that is not what is going to make me think that you have any bit more of your act together than I do.

Now I didn’t talk to these people enough to know what kinds of lifestyles they lived, their personal integrity, walk and what kind of a difference their church made in giving back to the poor and charity, but I did stay to listen to their preaching and that I can judge. I can judge their theology and based off that I knew pretty clear that this was just not a good place for me.

The theme of the sermon was supposed to be on Self Deception. Note the words “self deception”. But the text used was on Matthew 7. That whole “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” passage.

So let’s break it down. There was worship, your typical emotionally charged songs talking strangely about God’s love and mercy and his insatiable blood lust that must be appeased before he condemns us all to death. Then, the funny skit, announcements, and then appealing to people to give more money to various programs. Now comes the sermon — your standard “I have a theme that I want to work and I’m going to now pick through the bible to come up with a passage I can use that will kind of fit it” kind of deal. You start off with a funny, personal story, to warm the crowd up; much like my size of my penis story but much more G or PG rated.

As for the sermon itself… the scripture used was both out of content and not a theology that I can agree with. The first part is not that debatable, while the second is a topic of debate that has been in the church since it’s beginnings.

Now his point in the sermon what that self deception was bad, and that there were certain Christians in their church who were under the false impression that they were doing good as Christians, but that Jesus never really “knew them”. He even took it so far as to say that this not only applies to people who are not “saved” and think they are by being “good people” but this also applies to actual Christians who just are not close enough to Jesus that he REALLY knows them well. For both of these people the end result is the same (in his opinion) — that you get cast into a lake of fire.

Now as heartwarming as this sermon is, I must point a few things out that I think are a bit off. First, Matthew 7 is a warning to false teachers and false prophets, and Jesus is talking about condemning them. There is no “self deception” here, since he is warning the false teachers as to how if they deceive people they will be punished. The scripture used here was taken out of context and for this reason alone the message should be considered null and void.

My second disagreement is a difference in actual theology, and is open for debate. I personally can’t see where in the Christian scriptures there is enough proof to support the theory that someone who was “saved” can then become “un-saved” and go to hell. I have seen enough scripture to sway me more towards the “once saved always saved” school of thought, but please understand that what was being preached here was neither of these options. What was being preached here was some weird middle ground where a person is/was honestly “saved” but just didn’t do good enough after their salvation to get “really close” to Jesus, and so they go to hell anyway. Now where is that exactly in the Bible? I studied theology and there isn’t even a name for that particular theological stance… namely because it’s kinda outrageous.

I left that night laughing to myself about Christian theology in general. How primitive it actually is, how despite all the new sound systems and flashing lights, it still really is such a primitive practice. We gather and form a group and incite ourselves with drum beats and repetitious chants to induce some kind of a spiritual state, and hopefully call down the presence of a god. We then get to hear of a great god who is gentle, kind and loves us with all of his heart. It is a great love that is both pure and overwhelming, and nothing is greater than this love… nothing except this gods insatiable demand for vengeance, blood sacrifice, and a desire to send us all to a fiery grave. Seriously, which is greater? The love or the blood lust? Because if the love were greater then why would the blood sacrifice have to be fulfilled before the love can show? It is only because the blood is the greater of the two.

Now this god of love and blood out of his love does not want to have to kill us all, but must be appeased so he demands blood sacrifice. We tried animals, but that just wasn’t strong enough to appease his wrath, and killing people was out of the question since that was listed as one of his sins he hates us for anyway. So what are we to do?

Finally an answer comes! We must kill a god in oder to finally appease god. The trick is though, that this god already made it quite clear that there is only one god… so I guess we are screwed on that one. But wait! Now there is a second god, his “son” which was hiding in the wings all these thousands of years that he just forgot to mention. He will come down to earth and we can sacrifice him, eat his flesh and drink his blood and all will be well. Phew! What a relief.

If in today’s day-and-age we found a bunch of aboriginal people dancing around in grass skirts and worshiping this kind of a religious system we laugh at their supposed ignorance and unsophisticated beliefs. Who knows, maybe one day some more intelligent people will come to see us all and make some kind of a documentary on our primitive beliefs and practices we just can’t seem to shake the hold off of?

Or is it the opposite? Is all religion following some basic theme or pattern that we just seem to choose to ignore? We dress it up and put a new face on it every century tow, but all-in-all… here we are, still covering in front of some great Spirit, trying to call it down, appease it, gain its favor, and come to some kind of peace of mind in this crazy world.

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For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

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So I just moved into a new neighborhood, its pretty nice; although I think life has a funny sense of humor because now, after writing that article about not killing cockroaches, it seems that I have found an apartment with them in it. But I am just keeping the place very clean, giving them little reason to be here, and I installed some of those electronic devices in my wall outlets that say they release high pitch sounds that make the little things look for a new home to dwell in. So far it is working very well, and I haven’t seen one in days.

Last night I had an interesting meeting with my next door neighbor — it was the first time we have met. It wasn’t a bad meeting or anything like that, in fact we got along quite well, but there was just something odd enough about the interaction that I thought I should document it.

I was coming home from a dinner meeting, and she was coming home from work. She introduced herself as my neighbor and we got to your basic, token, first meeting question and answer session. When she discovered I was not a total weirdo, about her age, and single… she invited me into her house so we could sit down and talk more.

In an shockingly short amount of time I was told that she was single, sexually active, and asked if I was into casual sex. I was a bit taken aback by this, but never lost my composure of anything like that. I just politely acted like I was dull to the fact that this was some kind of an advance and mentioned that as a “Spiritual” person I don’t let myself fall into irresponsible sexual behavior.

“What? You mean you are not saved? You are not Christian?” she said.

I then got a talking to about how I needed to get saved and be Christian like she is. When I mentioned that I was quite happy with my current religious situation, and obviously quite moral as well, she mentioned how maybe I was “too moral” and that her church is great because they don’t care at all about if the people going there are having sex, living together, drinking a lot, or anything like that. “You should try it,” she said.

I asked her if they were so open minded about that kind of stuff how the church treated gay people that wished to attend there… “Oh no,” she said “gay people can’t go there. That’s a sin.”

Now that’s interesting. I think the irony of that one escaped her.

I politely said “no”, to her offer(s), said that it was nice to meet her and excused myself since it was getting late and I still had a few things to do before bed. I don’t think that the conversation ended awkwardly or anything like that.

When I got home I started thinking about something that a pastor I know was telling me about his church a few months ago. It’s one of the fastest-growing in America, but some things about it were frustrating him; he was telling me about how just about every unmarried couple that he knows that goes to his church are having sex, and how most couples he is giving marriage counseling to are already living together and sleeping together.

He said it with a bit of surprise in his voice, and I asked him if he has considered WHY that is the way that the current situation is. His automatic response was simply that these people must be too caught up in the world, not close enough to Jesus, and they are the product of their MTV, Sex in the City, iphone environment.

Obviously, he hadn’t ever really thought about if maybe it was something that he or his church were doing wrong.

Now, I can’t speak for him or his church but should we not at the very least consider for a second if maybe it is something that “we” are doing wrong? Some point that “we” are missing?

These people… they are in your church, some of them have been for years. Are they not also a product of the environment of the church they are going to? Have you had so little impact on their lives that you can’t even consider church or your leadership a factor of influence on your churchgoers? Interesting.

And look at the statistics… you are saying that just about ALL, the overwhelming majority, of the people you are bringing up in your church are doing this, and you have not even stopped to consider for a second that MAYBE this has something to do with your church leadership or direction?

Or have you considered that maybe the same thing that is making your church so appealing that it is growing so fast is the same thing that is lessening its redeemable qualities? Sure you are growing, and you are popular, but at what cost?

The Dhammapada tells us that if the people in your care are screwing up, stop concentrating on their faults and start looking at your own faults, because as leaders after your correct your own, the other’s will naturally fall into line.

If there is disorder it normally flows from the top-down, and not the bottom-up.

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For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

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3rdjesusBook Review on Deepak Chopra’s The Third Jesus: The Christ We Cannot Ignore

I have seen many reviews of this book online, so I guess the question is: “Why one more?” However, if you look at them carefully you will probably notice that they are either by institutions trying to sell you the book, fans of Deepak Chopra; or, in the opposite vein, person’s of a fundamentalist Christian background who automatically already knew they would disagree with this writing. So in all fairness, none of these commentaries would be fair.

However; I actually read the book (most reviewers only skim). I neither like nor dislike the author or his views. I am a Bible Scholar, Buddhist scholar, and practice daily meditation. Finally, I am currently working on my Masters on the very subject of comparative religion (Eastern and Western).

Let’s start off with what the book is and isn’t. Deepak presents us with his thesis that the Christ of the bible, and of Christian lore, could have possibly been instead another enlightened or awaken being, akin with Gautama Buddha and various other noteworthy religious figures. So what it “is” is a thesis, then followed up with some practical, although sadly not unique, instruction as to how one could meditate and have a very “Eastern” faith experience while still holding onto their familiar Jesus figure, prayers, and bible passages.

What the book “isn’t” is apologetics. The author offers little historical, biblical, or intellectual argument to support his thesis. He simply puts it out there, and moves along swiftly into application. His arguments for why he believes his thesis to be true is that it makes sense to him, he likes it, Jesus had similar teachings and experiences to the Buddha, and his main argument is that not only would Jesus’ teachings be impossible for a person to live out without awakening, but they make little sense unless reinterpreted that way. He does a very good job going through various teachings or sayings of Jesus and then showing how it could very well be him referring to an awakening experience that was later misinterpreted; or more likely, deliberately.

The major claim that may ruffle some people’s feathers is that he believes that the Christ did exist, but that through many years of religion, and the passing along of information, and in the hopes to establish a dominant religion, this original Christ has been altered, added to and deleted about so that his real message has become muddled; although still hidden in the text if we look at it through a new perspective. There is more than enough viable, undeniable, and confirmed information out there by noteworthy scholars to back up a claim that certain text in the bible has been purposefully changed by the church, especially during its formative years and it’s rise to power as the State lead religion of the Roman Empire; however, the author takes little-to-no time to delve into the facts, and even if he did it would still not back up his theory that Jesus was a “Buddha”; its reference only serves to cast a shadow of doubt.

This then breaks down then into their three different Christs. The first being the actual, historical person who walked the earth; but, whom we can not say with any clarity that we actually know since all we know of him is from religious, non-historical, text. The second Christ is the Jesus of myth and religion. The one who comes to our minds when we hear the word Jesus; based off the influence of the bible, our society, televisions and homes–the one that was “invented” to fit into a certain religion, culture, and philosophy. Then, Chopra presents us with the third option: Chopra’s own made up, non-historical and mythical Christ — one that fits well into his own philosophy and suites his own philosophy. The hard part to swallow about this train of thought though is that after the author establishes his pretense that nobody can actually say that they really know who the historical Christ was, and that the Christ of the Bible is myth, then how in the world can one offer up a third option with any certainty or conviction? It is not based of the historical, for it was stated that nothing is known of the historical, and it is not based off the mythical; so what source is really left over for this deduction?

From a bible scholar’s perspective the defense of his thesis does not stand up well, and if you are looking for an intellectual argument you will not find one here. From a Buddhist perspective, if you are looking for a book to teach you about Buddhism, meditation or any such thing… then I suggest that there are much better books out there to instruct or inspire you. This books closes out with average instruction to begin a quest for awakening, that is really sub-par, although it may seem appealing to those from a Christian background since he revamped it to use Christian prayers and bible verses.

Was the book worth the read? Yes. Yes it was. But I see it more as a primer education piece for someone who wants to hold onto their title of Christian but is slowly finding themselves to be swayed into and enticed by New Age or Buddhist philosophies. So, if that is you and you want to read something that tells you something that you already know you want to hear… great. If you are looking for something “deep” about the practice of Buddhism… then not so great. Finally, if you are looking for a real thesis that digs into factual information to confront your current perception of Christ… this is not going to cut it. You would be better off reading Pagan Christ or The Jesus Mysteries. I personally was just fascinated to see what Chopra’s own personal “take” on Jesus would be, and I was not disappointed by it.

In closing, it was a good read and I am going to keep the book on my shelf instead of trading it in at the used book store, but it was nothing too surprising, new, and it was full of information that I had already heard before but that was presented to be better the first time.

Personal Note:

In the East many are against how the States had taken meditation and stripped it down into some kind of relaxation or self-help guided therapy. In India most yogis are dismayed at how we are teaching yoga as some fitness package for middle-age ladies and did away with all spiritual aspects and benefits of the practice. So I find it of little surprise that Westerners would prefer that their Jesus be left alone. I don’t want to go to a Christian church to meditate, no more than I want to show up to a Buddhist temple to hear about Christ. Some may call that closed-minded, but as someone who studies and loves religion I disagree. It is because I love it that I think it’s integrity should remain untouched.

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e1242913021“Christian” is a social phenomena that has permeated every aspect of our Western culture, and I hold little doubt that as adamant as we Westerners tend to be about keeping the term tied to our identities, as best we can, there are similar modes of thought going on in other cultures clinging to their common, comfortable, and socially accepted titles of Buddhist, Islamic, or Jewish; while, in all truth they are walking in clearly different religious, social, or philosophical path.

I have even seen the opposite to be true, intellectuals who have been born and bred in the homes or classrooms of professors and great minds to be atheist, humanist, or at the very least practical agnostics; who, despite their social peer pressure to keep this intellectual title deep-down are very spiritual and have a secret faith in God, gods, or some kind of Universal Mind or consciousness.

I know a professor of computer science who is an adamant atheist, and practices a humanist Zen Buddhism that focuses on ethics, discipline and being at peace mentally in this life, but with no promise of nirvana nor enlightenment. That doesn’t surprise me that much and that holds no great contradiction.  However, what surprised me with him occurred one day while we were talking about our differing practices over some tea after meditation. I casually stated that I wasn’t Christian and I watched as his jaw dropped and an look of shock fell over his face. “What do you mean you are not Christian? I’m a Christian” he said.

Confused I got him to break down certain aspects of his belief system. He is atheist, Buddhist, does not believe in any kind of an afterlife, nor God the Father, and he believes that there was a Jesus but that he was just a man, not the Son of God, and that when he (Jesus) died he simply decayed and decomposed like the rest of us. And where exactly does the title “Christian” come into play?

His defense was that he agreed with the basic principles, ideals, morality, social constructs, and felt akin to the myths and inspirational stories that appeal to the better nature of us all that come from the Bible. And that as a Westerner he identifies with the label of Christian since this is a Christian nation and culture.

As a Bible scholar, though an non-believing one, I tried to explain the biblical criteria for calling yourself Christian, but that didn’t get me too far. Eventually I just dropped the subject, and went on to enjoying his great company and our friendship. I filed the conversation in the back of my brain to ponder upon a later date and went on with life. It wasn’t until the other week, where I was having a conversation with a sociology professor about gay rights that this past conversation was triggered back into play with some kind of clarity.

While discussing the gay rights movement we happened along the tangent of how difficult it is to “come out of the closet” as they say. The professor asserted that it is so counter culture to do so that one risks alienating themselves from everything they consider comforting. They risk losing identity as a straight “normal” person. They risk losing family, friends, their church, their social status… all kinds of things that we, as pack animals, tend to hold dear. It was then that the whole Christian thing made sense to me.

We hold onto the label for the same reasons. We do not want to risk the alienation or the discomfort or being different from the norm and the acceptable. Even mentally we can not escape the guilt and the oppression of feeling bad about ourselves for rejecting a Christ that we do not even really believe in. So instead we practice our New Age, Buddhism, Atheism, or other philosophy or religion and tag onto it the hyphenated “Christian” to form some kind of ease in our minds about the whole ordeal.

Please understand that this is not an attack against Christianity. To the contrary, it is out of a great respect and understanding of the religion that I defend its integrity in stating that I, and many who still cling to the term, are not Christian. Let those who are pure in their faith be free to practice without us others confusing people as to what the religion truly is, and let those who in their hearts want nothing to do with their God be free from the social shackles of thinking that they have to keep identifying with the religion.

Through my own personal studies I came to a very logical conclusion that there was never at any time a historical Christ figure that lived and died and rose again. However, even if you believe there was some kind of a man who was a great leader, sage, reincarnation of the Buddha, or prophet, but was not the Son of God, you still can’t fit your square peg into the clearly defined round hole of the Christian faith. Once I depersonalized my concept of “God” from the old, grey haired king sitting on his throne in heaven surrounded by his worshipping angles; into a broader, more universal concept of “energy” or an interconnectedness of all things… I left the fold. As soon as I opened up to the idea of their being many paths to experiencing and communing with this life force I immediately validated all religions and alienated myself from all of them at the same time – since just about all of them hold true the statement that they are the only path.

So I am nothing and I am everything, and I have to learn to be comfortable with and accept the fact that I just do not fit in quite well with my current society. It is unfamiliar, it is unsettling, disturbing at first… but it is also liberating!

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For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

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cockroach-3I had an interesting day today, and in it, I got to practice some loving-kindness… although it was towards something I never tried it on before – cockroaches.

I guess I had better explain this some; you see, I volunteered today to do some charity work for the United Way, and they asked me and a group of others (that I did not know) to show up to this house and paint the inside of it. It seems that the place is home to a nice group of 3 older ladies, one of whom is bed-ridden, and it was in a bit of disrepair. Although, it seems the place was also home to many more beings than we were told.

The walls of the house were not really in need of painting, they were just caked with layer upon layer of roach droppings, and they were everywhere. I am talking broad daylight, and hundreds upon hundreds of the little buggers just hanging out I plain sight like they owned the place. It was very interesting to observe.

I noticed a few things though, and here are some of my observations…

Firstly, I had taken a vow to cause no harm to any sentient being, and for me that also includes insects. When I was younger a sight light what I saw today would have given me the willies, but today there was no apprehension or disgust to be found in me. I just saw all these roaches and knew that I was looking at another living thing, and it did not bother me at all. Not anymore. And, unlike the rest of the people in the room working with me, I had compassion on them. Yes, I felt sorry for the ladies living there, that they were in such a circumstance, but I also had compassion for the insects there.

Secondly, instead of swatting at and smashing and scurrying about the roaches so I could paint, I simply talked to them (yes I talked to them) or at other times just waited and thought kind words towards them, and asked them to move so I could paint… and they moved out of the way.

Thirdly, these ladies were not messy and their home was quite orderly and neat… other than the roaches and their droppings, and so I inquired into the matter a bit with them. You see, although they themselves are very clean and tidy people, the neighborhood that they live in has gone down-hill, turning from a once lovely little place and into the ghetto, and their neighbors do not share their particular views on hygiene and upkeep. So, if all the homes around them are inviting roaches… they get them too.

Finally, I could not help but wonder the whole time what good we were actually doing there. These ladies approached the charity looking for help and the solution they were given was that we would paint over all the roach droppings… but the roaches are still there. Nothing was done to actually solve the problem at hand. I immediately thought of tons of little proverbs and ways that this could be used as a life lesson, or a sermon about taking care of the real problem and not just ‘white washing the tombs” if you will. I considered many of my own areas in life that I need to deal where a lesson or analogy could also apply… and I found a few.

One of the volunteers was a pastor of a local church and asked the ladies when we were done if he could pray for them and they said yes. As he prayed for them and their health, in my head I offered up my own thoughts of loving kindness towards the roaches and wished them and the ladies happiness and that the roaches would leave and find a new home in which there was not this conflict between them and others; so that they may all be happy, healthy and at ease.

Nobody should have to live like that though, I know that these ladies deserve a clean, healthy environment and I wish them well. I am also grateful that I myself and in a safe and warm home today that I can enjoy.

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tree of knowledge

It took me a while to understand the whole “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” bit in the bible. I mean, what the heck is so wrong about “knowledge” anyway? Not being able to wrap my head around it, I simply just consigned myself to thinking that it was not the tree that caused all this disorder in life, but that it was the act of disobedience. That it could have really been anything up there; a banana, bicycle, country music, or walking on the cracks of a sidewalk. Later, when I got into studying theology, I opted for the view that there was no “tree” at all, but the whole the whole story was figurative — that Adam and Eve just represented mankind, and that them eating the fruit was just a metaphor for them “falling” in general. In fact, most bible scholars that I know now all tend to take the story this way these-days; that there was no literal garden, no talking snake, no literal tree of knowledge, and that it all just symbolizes mankind being tempted to go against God.

But even if that is the case… then why a Tree of Knowledge? What is the importance of such a thing? Is there any?

I would like to propose that there IS an importance to this tree. That is is not just something to be taken as a stand-in for any-old act. That there is a reason that it is something that gave to mankind the knowledge of good and evil. Why? Because this is the birth of contrasts and opposites. This is the birth of distinguishing or perceiving something as good and another as evil; one thing as pleasant and another as unpleasant; right and wrong, this verses that, man and woman, me and you, us and them… to cut-it-short: this was the beginning of objectification — this was the birth of self-awareness.

If you take most regions or heritages “Beginnings” stories back far enough they have some kind of a similar account or notion to them. I know that in Taoism they paint the picture of a time where mankind lived in a peaceful “Eden-like” state with all of creation, and that they fell from this when they started to distinguish themselves as other-than and greater-than the rest of the animals and nature. In Kabbalah it describes more of a vast organism of Spirit in which some of the working parts became self-aware and forgot their roles in the organism — thus creating a vacuum. Picture it like a bunch of cells that make up a larger organism that somehow become aware of themselves and consider themselves to be apart from each-other, and the organism that they make up… then spreading like a cancer.

Once we set one thing apart as good, we create evil. Once we set one thing apart as beautiful, we create the ugly.

If you believe in the message of the bible, then I would hope that you can at least agree that the goal is to one-day return to this state of peace that comes from no objectification; that comes from a dying to “self” or better put: self-awareness. Maybe you think that one day Jesus or God will come down to the earth and set-up a new one that returns us all to the state of blissful Eden. Although there is an increasing thought in even Christian circles that maybe they have missed the point here; that maybe the “kingdom” IS actually here now (as Jesus said quite blankly) and it is just up to us to become aware of it.

Take  most of these religions and strip them of all their metaphor which somehow along the way became taken as sacred, true, or actual, and they all become very close to the same. They all start to sound a whole lot like Zen — atleast in goal, if not practice.

And how do we accomplish this loss of awareness — this return to Singularity?

Well, some pray for something else to give it to them, others fast, some punish their bodies or go through extreme acts of asceticism, some try drugs or other intoxicants; Christ (and also later the Apostle Paul) describe it as allowing our thoughts, our minds, our awareness… to be changed by “truth” and light that comes from hearing the gospel and especially that which comes to us (is revealed to us) by the Spirit which will enlighten us when we take enough time to stop and listen.

In Zen it is all about stopping and listening. We sit-down, shut up, and listen for it. Although in our case there is no Spirit outside of us penetrating us with something, or giving us anything — it was just us and in us all along.

Come to think about it though… as a Christian isn’t the Spirt (or God) in you (so, a part of you), and you are in it (so, a part of it) as well?

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