Archive for Bible

We Are All Meant To Shine

in_meditation____by_knotty82

My words to meditate today … on the topic of taking action – stepping out and DOING whatever it that we feel called or created for:

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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

– Mark Twain

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“We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

– Marianne Williamson

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“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

– Jesus

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– pic from knotty82

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Religion4All is an idea: that every human being (no matter their race, religion, sexuality, social status, lifestyle, or any other possible factor) is LOVED by God; just … as … they are.

We all are loved by God, and NO religion or person has a monopoly on it. Every single person on this planet is loved equally by God … SO many are cut off from God because they are told they don’t belong. God loves everyone … we ALL are beautiful creations … we don’t need to cringe when we hear the words “God”, or “religion”, or their judgments … God LOVES us all!

There is no requirement to change in order to be LOVED by God, or to LOVE God. God is LOVE, and LOVE is God … period. There is no one who God loves more than anyone else … there are only those who choose to LOVE more … to love God more, and consequently then to love each other more. In doing so, we grow closer to God … and know God.

By opening our hearts, and minds to God (free of boundaries like religion, or social trends); by LOVING God … we are exactly where we are meant to be. If we maintain that openness, never allowing any person or event to make us close our hearts, we will be guided by God to be who we are meant to be.

In that space of openness we can then live a life of LOVE, and be guided to where we are meant to be … forever in LOVE.

Southern California, Northern California, Mission ViejoIrvineLos AngelesSan FranciscoMarinSan JoseSan Juan CapistranoSanta AnaPalm SpringsLong Beach

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Questioning Can Bring You Closer To God – continued

mary-magdalene-in-meditation

I have been doing further research on the theme of my last posting “Questioning Can Bring You Closer To God” where I wrote about researching Emperor Constantine’s role in creating his own version of Christianity.

In general I strive to have this blog be a place where people of all faiths can find inspiration and hopefully connectivity with God. I am focusing on Christianity here not to exclude people of other faiths, but rather to point out how politics and history have influenced the religious institutions we know today.

I was inspired to do this research by a recent trip to Italy … my intention is to ask questions that will hopefully bring people to a closer, deeply personal connection to God.

Along this historical journey I looked into some of the gospels that were not selected to be included in The Bible.

I found inspiration in reading the Gospel of Mary. Mary Magdalene was well known in the early Christian church; someone who actually knew Jesus and worked to share what he had taught her. Unlike modern Christianity, where women are not allowed to preach or lead in most churches, Mary had a respected voice at the time. Her gospel had been translated into multiple languages, meaning that it was fairly widespread.

The Gospel of Mary is a non-canonical gospel, meaning it was not chosen by the Bishops at Constantine’s Council of Nicea to be a part of The Bible. There are all sorts of questions and rabbit holes one could go down around which gospels were chosen as well as many conspiracy theories around Constantine’s role in the process for what was selected.

However, in reading the Gospel of Mary one line stuck out to me like a sore thumb … and made all of these other questions and conspiracy theories simply disappear. The quote is this,

“Rather let us be ashamed and put on the perfect man and acquire him for ourselves as He commanded us, and preach the gospel, not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Saviour said.”

The most important bit that stuck out to me there was,

“… not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Saviour said.”

This is confirmed in the gospels that were chosen to be a part of the Bible. In Mathew it is written,

“… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

In Mark it is written,

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”

The difference to me is the wording, although they are saying the same thing … but in Mary it is specifically indicated that no rule or law OTHER than what Jesus said should be taught or laid down.

So, are there writings in the New Testament that establish new teachings, laws or rules beyond what Jesus said? Yes, and most notably by Paul, whose writings make up the largest bulk of the New Testament of any other author (roughly one third of the New Testament was written by Paul).

If the command of Jesus was clear, which it seems that it was, that there was not supposed to be anything taught other than what Jesus had told them … then Paul’s writings should never have even been included in The New Testament. He never knew Jesus while he was living AND he was teaching things other than what Jesus taught during his life.

Paul for instance introduced the idea that we are saved by faith, not by works … but if you simply look at the parable of the Sheep and the Goats you can see that this is not what Jesus says. Jesus very clearly details the difference between the Sheep and the Goats … and it is ALL about what they did or did not do.

There are other teachings by Paul that differ or add to what Jesus taught as well. Paul was a Pharisee before his conversion and as such was well versed in theology and philosophy. It is not so much that his writings are horrible teachings, but simply that they can cloud the picture and at times even create a different picture that what is JUST the teachings of Jesus.

An example … I have written many spiritual songs and I believe that some of those songs were inspired by God. Even if they were proven to have been inspired by God, it does not mean they should be in The New Testament or any other religious book. If every writing of every person who had been inspired by God was in The New Testament … the clarity of the message that Jesus brought would be diluted. What should have been in The New Testament was only the gospel that Jesus had given.

So how does Paul end up being the primary source for modern Christianity? That is where Constantine and the bishops of that time (more than 300 years after the death of Jesus) come in … in creating a version of Christianity to their liking and then persecuting anyone who believed differently I question whether Christianity was forever changed and remains changed by those events to this day.

So what does all this mean? What is the point of these questions? Doesn’t this just confuse people and create headaches? I would contend that confusing people has been what has been going on for almost two thousand years now, and probably has been the case as long as human brains have had self-awareness.

The most important commandments laid down by Jesus were TO LOVE … plain and simple. I think that those commandments would be fairly compatible with a lot of other religious teachings as well … perhaps bringing people together instead of driving them apart?

Let’s consider what the Church through all of these centuries might look like if ONLY the actions, life and teachings of Jesus were all that was being taught (this is of course hypothetical but seems logical to me based on what I have learned of the life and teachings of Jesus):

  • The Crusades, and every other war where Christianity was used as the reason, would never have happened. If only the teachings of Jesus were taught and followed Christianity would never have been used as a way to dominate others. Jesus was a pacifist and very clearly stated that our actions mean something in terms of our connection to God and salvation. Hundreds of thousands, even millions of lives would not have been taken. Christians would not be bringers of war, but rather peace and healing.
  • The Church would have spent their time feeding the hungry, helping the helpless, clothing the naked and generally spreading LOVE, as Jesus did and taught, instead of amassing wealth and power. Granted, we would not have some lovely cathedrals to admire and worship in … but I think helping the poor and needy would have created a better society.
  • Women would have a significant role in the leadership of the Church … women had a very large role in the early church and in Jesus’s life. This changed with the creation of Constantine’s church that embraced male figures and most likely carried on the traditions of Mithraism (Constantine’s former religion and the religion of the Roman Legion at the time) that only men could lead.

I am not claiming anything to “the truth” … I am simply asking questions. I believe in a God who is powerful enough for questions to be asked and for truth to hopefully be discovered … a God that is deeply and personally connected to us … and that our actions in life will flow from that connection if we seek after and maintain it.

  • as a disclaimer I would like to say that this is not meant to be an attack on Catholics or Christians. I consider myself to be an open-minded Christian and enjoy attending Catholic services. Yes, I believe that the Church misled many people of faith throughout history. This deception has gone on for so long now that I don’t think many of the leaders of churches even realize they are misleading their congregants … this does not mean that there are not beautiful and wonderful people of faith and full of Love within the Church. I am privileged to know many of them and am grateful to see and share Love with them.

Picture credit: Mary Magdalene In Meditation, by Le Nain brothers.

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Religion4All is an idea: that every human being (no matter their race, religion, sexuality, social status, lifestyle, or any other possible factor) is LOVED by God; just … as … they are.

We all are loved by God, and NO religion or person has a monopoly on it. Every single person on this planet is loved equally by God … SO many are cut off from God because they are told they don’t belong. God loves everyone … we ALL are beautiful creations … we don’t need to cringe when we hear the words “God”, or “religion”, or their judgments … God LOVES us all!

There is no requirement to change in order to be LOVED by God, or to LOVE God. God is LOVE, and LOVE is God … period. There is no one who God loves more than anyone else … there are only those who choose to LOVE more … to love God more, and consequently then to love each other more. In doing so, we grow closer to God … and know God.

By opening our hearts, and minds to God (free of boundaries like religion, or social trends); by LOVING God … we are exactly where we are meant to be. If we maintain that openness, never allowing any person or event to make us close our hearts, we will be guided by God to be who we are meant to be.

In that space of openness we can then live a life of LOVE, and be guided to where we are meant to be … forever in LOVE.

Southern California, Northern California, Mission ViejoIrvineLos AngelesSan FranciscoMarinSan JoseSan Juan CapistranoSanta AnaPalm SpringsLong Beach

Questioning Can Bring You Closer To God

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Recently I returned from almost a month in Italy. I performed in an opera there and then had the wonderful opportunity to travel around Tuscany, finally winding up in Rome.

As I visited cathedrals and museums I found myself drawn to asking questions of the things I saw. I was always that kid in Sunday school … the kid that drove the teachers crazy with the,

“But if it was only Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel where did everyone else come from?”  kinds of questions.

I saw some literature where the Catholic church proclaimed the Papal line went all the way back to St. Peter at Christ’s death and I thought,

“What??? I know that’s not true. The official Catholic Church didn’t even exist until Emperor Constantine!” 

In Rome I was walking through the Colosseum, The Forum and Palatine Hill and I noticed a lot of information about Mithraism. I remembered hearing in college that Mithraism was eerily similar to Christianity in different ways … but I never bothered to do any research on it.

This time the inspiration hit me and I began doing a bit of research (I am still in researching mode and so am just putting down some of what I have discovered thus far).

I had always believed that Mithraism was an “Eastern” religion, which is true. However, Mithraism ALSO became the major religion of the Roman Empire before Constantine declared Christianity the official religion of Rome.

The cult of Mithras came to Rome through military conquest … and thus was the primary religion of the military at the time. Mithraism was a religion only for men and the military was comprised of only men so, voila … perfect fit.

I had ALSO heard that Constantine had some major revelation, gotten “saved” and declared Christianity the official religion of Rome. That may be true, but what I did NOT know was that Constantine had been a card carrying member of the cult of Mithras prior to that conversion.

Constantine called for the Council of Nicea, where he hoped to work toward unifying the church under one “Catholic” (all encompassing/universal) church. What I also did not know though was that at this council they decided that “Sun Day” was to be the new official Christian day of worship … not the Sabbath listed in the Bible.

Where did this day of the Sun come about? Well, Mithras was actually a sun god and was the god worshiped by the entire Roman legion (and prior to his conversion, by Constantine). Interesting to note.

Constantine also issued the Edict Against The Heretics where he listed other versions of Christianity at the time and said that anyone not agreeing with his version of Christianity was a heretic and he authorized persecution of them.

See, I thought that Constantine had put an END to Christian persecution … but what he did was decide what version of Christianity HE wanted in order to unite his kingdom, and then authorized persecution of anyone who disagreed with him.

So THAT is the political pot being stirred during the time when the Bible was created … by Bishops (a small minority of the invited Bishops actually showed up to the Council and no wonder since persecution had been authorized of anyone who disagreed with Constantine) who voted on what should comprise the Bible (but were also in lockstep with Constantine, or else).

This answered a lot of questions I had wondered about … like why there weren’t other gospels by people who actually had known Jesus included in the New Testament. Paul never knew Jesus personally, but his writings comprise more of the New Testament than any other author. I will get into this a little bit more in my next post … oh yes, there’s more! 😉

So why am I writing all of this … am I trying to undermine Christianity? Am I persecuting people who believe in Mithraism? No, I am simply asking questions. I consider myself a Christian … although I have explored other religions as well. I personally have settled into being an open-minded Christian who has blended influences I have come across from other faiths along the way. I don’t have all the answers and try to be loving toward any and all from any religion. My participation these days is mostly daily meditative time with God. My relationship with God is the most important aspect of my life.

So how do all these questions actually bring one closer to God? Couldn’t they cause people to lose faith completely??

Possibly. I personally believe in a God that is powerful enough for the truth to be revealed … lies should not be upheld so that people should not have to question their faith.

The church provides us with structure … it tells us exactly what to do, how to think and how to worship. Without that structure what is there?

A closer, deeply personal relationship with God … that’s what!

Ask questions, pray, seek guidance, spend time in meditation communing with God … all of that is SO much better than socializing at church on Sun Day (not that there is anything horrible about socializing at church). 🙂

God IS there, waiting patiently for ALL of us (from any faith or lifestyle) to seek answers to our questions.

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Religion4All is an idea: that every human being (no matter their race, religion, sexuality, social status, lifestyle, or any other possible factor) is LOVED by God; just … as … they are.

We all are loved by God, and NO religion or person has a monopoly on it. Every single person on this planet is loved equally by God … SO many are cut off from God because they are told they don’t belong. God loves everyone … we ALL are beautiful creations … we don’t need to cringe when we hear the words “God”, or “religion”, or their judgments … God LOVES us all!

There is no requirement to change in order to be LOVED by God, or to LOVE God. God is LOVE, and LOVE is God … period. There is no one who God loves more than anyone else … there are only those who choose to LOVE more … to love God more, and consequently then to love each other more. In doing so, we grow closer to God … and know God.

By opening our hearts, and minds to God (free of boundaries like religion, or social trends); by LOVING God … we are exactly where we are meant to be. If we maintain that openness, never allowing any person or event to make us close our hearts, we will be guided by God to be who we are meant to be.

In that space of openness we can then live a life of LOVE, and be guided to where we are meant to be … forever in LOVE.

Southern California, Northern California, Mission ViejoIrvineLos AngelesSan FranciscoMarinSan JoseSan Juan CapistranoSanta AnaPalm SpringsLong Beach

From the Abundance of the Heart

My words to meditate upon today; on the topic of communicating Love from an open heart and following the timing and guidance therein:

“The artist alone sees spirits. But after he has told of their appearing to him, everybody sees them.”

– Johann van Goethe

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“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”

– The Bible; Luke 6:45

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“With a truly tragic delusion,” Carl Jung noted, “these theologians fail to see that it is not a matter of proving the existence of the light, but of blind people who do not know that their eyes could see. It is high time we realized that it is pointless to praise the light and preach it if nobody can see it. It is much more needful to teach people the art of seeing.” 

– Carl Jung

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Religion4All is an idea: that every human being (no matter their race, religion, sexuality, social status, lifestyle, or any other possible factor) is LOVED by God; just … as … they are.

We all are loved by God, and NO religion or person has a monopoly on it. Every single person on this planet is loved equally by God … SO many are cut off from God because they are told they don’t belong. God loves everyone … we ALL are beautiful creations … we don’t need to cringe when we hear the words “God”, or “religion”, or their judgments … God LOVES us all!

There is no requirement to change in order to be LOVED by God, or to LOVE God. God is LOVE, and LOVE is God … period. There is no one who God loves more than anyone else … there are only those who choose to LOVE more … to love God more, and consequently then to love each other more. In doing so, we grow closer to God … and know God.

By opening our hearts, and minds to God (free of boundaries like religion, or social trends); by LOVING God … we are exactly where we are meant to be. If we maintain that openness, never allowing any person or event to make us close our hearts, we will be guided by God to be who we are meant to be.

In that space of openness we can then live a life of LOVE, and be guided to where we are meant to be … forever in LOVE.

Southern California, Northern California, Mission ViejoIrvineLos AngelesSan FranciscoMarinSan JoseSan Juan CapistranoSanta AnaPalm SpringsLong Beach

re-blogged from From the Abundance of the Heart.

You are anxious and troubled about many things – Jesus

My words for meditation:

“To put it still more plainly: the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet.”

– Alan Watts

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“I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy. From the very core of our being, we desire contentment. In my own limited experience I have found that the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close, warmhearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the principal source of success in life. Since we are not solely material creatures, it is a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on external development alone. The key is to develop inner peace.”

– Dalai Lama XIV

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Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

– Jesus; the Bible, Luke 10: 38-42

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Religion4All is an idea: that every human being (no matter their race, religion, sexuality, social status, lifestyle, or any other possible factor) is LOVED by God; just … as … they are.

We all are loved by God, and NO religion or person has a monopoly on it. Every single person on this planet is loved equally by God … SO many are cut off from God because they are told they don’t belong. God loves everyone … we ALL are beautiful creations … we don’t need to cringe when we hear the words “God”, or “religion”, or their judgments … God LOVES us all!

There is no requirement to change in order to be LOVED by God, or to LOVE God. God is LOVE, and LOVE is God … period. There is no one who God loves more than anyone else … there are only those who choose to LOVE more … to love God more, and consequently then to love each other more. In doing so, we grow closer to God … and know God.

By opening our hearts, and minds to God (free of boundaries like religion, or social trends); by LOVING God … we are exactly where we are meant to be. If we maintain that openness, never allowing any person or event to make us close our hearts, we will be guided by God to be who we are meant to be.

In that space of openness we can then live a life of LOVE, and be guided to where we are meant to be … forever in LOVE.

Southern California, Northern California, Mission ViejoIrvineLos AngelesSan FranciscoMarin,San JoseSan Juan CapistranoSanta AnaPalm SpringsLong Beach

re-blogged from You are anxious and troubled about many things.

A Thanksgiving Retreat

Dawn at Trout Lake Abbey, at the base of Mt. Adams in Washington state.

Dawn at Trout Lake Abbey, at the base of Mt. Adams in Washington state.

I am blessed to be giving thanks at one of my favorite spiritual retreat centers, Trout Lake Abbey; a place set aside to welcome and celebrate people of any and all faiths.  Many thanks to the happiest monk I know, Kozen.

Peace and Love

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Religion4All is an idea: that every human being (no matter their race, religion, sexuality, social status, lifestyle, or any other possible factor) is LOVED by God; just … as … they are.

We all are loved by God, and NO religion or person has a monopoly on it. Every single person on this planet is loved equally by God … SO many are cut off from God because they are told they don’t belong. God loves everyone … we ALL are beautiful creations … we don’t need to cringe when we hear the words “God”, or “religion”, or their judgments … God LOVES us all!

There is no requirement to change in order to be LOVED by God, or to LOVE God. God is LOVE, and LOVE is God … period. There is no one who God loves more than anyone else … there are only those who choose to LOVE more … to love God more, and consequently then to love each other more. In doing so, we grow closer to God … and know God.

By opening our hearts, and minds to God (free of boundaries like religion, or social trends); by LOVING God … we are exactly where we are meant to be. If we maintain that openness, never allowing any person or event to make us close our hearts, we will be guided by God to be who we are meant to be.

In that space of openness we can then live a life of LOVE, and be guided to where we are meant to be … forever in LOVE.

Southern California, Northern California, Mission ViejoIrvineLos AngelesSan FranciscoMarinSan JoseSan Juan CapistranoSanta AnaPalm SpringsLong Beach

Opposed By Nature

storm

The ideas behind my time of meditation today:

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“Everything in excess Is opposed by nature.”

– Hippocrates

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“For the unified mind in accord with the Way all self-centered striving ceases. Doubts and irresolutions vanish and life in true faith is possible. With a single stroke we are freed from bondage; nothing clings to us and we hold nothing. All is empty, clear, self-illuminating, with no exertion of the mind’s power.”

– Jianzhi Sengcan

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“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

– Jesus

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Religion4All is an idea: that every human being (no matter their race, religion, sexuality, social status, lifestyle, or any other possible factor) is LOVED by God; just … as … they are.

We all are loved by God, and NO religion or person has a monopoly on it. Every single person on this planet is loved equally by God … SO many are cut off from God because they are told they don’t belong. God loves everyone … we ALL are beautiful creations … we don’t need to cringe when we hear the words “God”, or “religion”, or their judgments … God LOVES us all!

There is no requirement to change in order to be LOVED by God, or to LOVE God. God is LOVE, and LOVE is God … period. There is no one who God loves more than anyone else … there are only those who choose to LOVE more … to love God more, and consequently then to love each other more. In doing so, we grow closer to God … and know God.

By opening our hearts, and minds to God (free of boundaries like religion, or social trends); by LOVING God … we are exactly where we are meant to be. If we maintain that openness, never allowing any person or event to make us close our hearts, we will be guided by God to be who we are meant to be.

In that space of openness we can then live a life of LOVE, and be guided to where we are meant to be … forever in LOVE.

Southern California, Northern California, Mission ViejoIrvineLos AngelesSan FranciscoMarinSan JoseSan Juan CapistranoSanta AnaPalm SpringsLong Beach