Archive for Bible

Questioning Can Bring You Closer To God – continued

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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

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Caribbean Dream

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(a description of my most recent epiphany while on a St. Martins vacation)

Caribbean teal lapped luxuriously over my eyelids and around my nostrils while seeping slowly between my lips. My limp limbs lolled rhythmically back and forth, back and forth … back … and forth.

Pictures splattered across my mind’s eye like subway posters on the walls outside a speeding train and I, the lone traveler, gazed out the window to gauge their meaning. The soundtrack for this inward sojourn are Jan’s insistent words, on loop,

“Why are you taking it so personally? Don’t you know? There is nothing that anybody does that is about you. Nothing is about you, it is about them. Nothing is personal to you, it’s simply each person processing their own shit. Even if they reject you, or leave you, or have an affair, or whatever … it’s not about you.”

Something clicked, and shifted … my muscles clenched for something to hold on to as I gasped in surprise.

That’s it.

It was as if the words NEEDED to be on loop, in order for me to actually get it … deep down … below the superficiality of intellectual banter and philosophical musings.

It’s not about me … nothing is about me … it’s all about them.

Relief washed over my spirit, more refreshing than even the crystalline beauty of the waters I floated in. My eyes drank in blue. My descending toes burrowed joyfully into the white sand below as a salty smile splayed widely into my reddened cheeks.

Even if my worst fears and suspicions were true … even if they thought my contributions weren’t as meaningful as theirs, or they didn’t respect me as much as the others, or thought I was not someone worth listening to … it doesn’t matter.

It’s not about me … it’s about them.

Most likely none of those fears or suspicions are true … and that doesn’t matter either. Finding or revealing “The Truth” doesn’t matter … there is no truth. There is just a world full of people each processing their own past, present and future programming.

Anyone’s actions are simply a reflection of what is inside of them … and they have nothing to do personally with me. It’s their inner workings; assumptions, presumptions, calculations, emotions and programming that are either holding them back or forwarding their future. Why worry about what anyone thinks when it is simply a reflection of their personal history … which none of us can ever know?

It might sound simple, or obvious … but as this realization truly hit home for me … the weight of the world lifted. All the fears, and paranoid scanning, all the years of worriedly wondering where the next attack would come from … and shifting, changing, adapting, melting and molding myself into whatever, whoever, could avoid the next attack.

The years I spent thinking, believing, that if anyone ever truly knew me they would reject me. If I ever opened myself enough for them to see my authenticity … the charade would be over and I would just be that bullied, violated and abused child with nowhere to hide … and no mask to hide behind.

There is no masquerade ball … it’s just been me with my many masks in a house of mirrors, and fear, and a volcanic rage to defend against anyone who happened to somehow slip past my defenses.

It was never about me at all. Every single fact I’ve been building my case with … has all been about them.

How freeing that is.

Wow.

I turned, and walked back to the beach … and the rest of my life to unfold.

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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

The Poverty of the West

MotherTeresaBanner

My words for meditation today:

“He awoke each morning with the desire to do right, to be a good and meaningful person, to be, as simple as it sounded and as impossible as it actually was, happy. And during the course of each day his heart would descend from his chest into his stomach. By early afternoon he was overcome by the feeling that nothing was right, or nothing was right for him, and by the desire to be alone. By evening he was fulfilled: alone in the magnitude of his grief, alone in his aimless guilt, alone even in his loneliness. I am not sad, he would repeat to himself over and over, I am not sad. As if he might one day convince himself. Or fool himself. Or convince others–the only thing worse than being sad is for others to know that you are sad. I am not sad. I am not sad.”

– Jonathan Safran Foer (Everything Is Illuminated)

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“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”

– Mother Theresa

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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

The Tortured Self – A Vision

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I had a vision today. These visions have happened to/for me since I was 20 … I never know when they are going to happen and I cannot make them happen at will. I can however put myself into a state where I am more open to seeing them … this often happens for me through meditation.

Today, however, I was not meditating. I was on a teleconference with a dozen or so other people, discussing topics around self awareness, personal development and duality.

– Flash back a couple of weeks ago –

I had a vision while focusing on my first chakra in a prolonged meditation session. I was exploring a cavern and I had recently discovered a new room. In coming out of this room I had the awareness that to my right was darkness … just darkness. I kept trying to look to my right, and it was as if I couldn’t even turn my head to the right to see. I continued with this intention for at least 15 minutes … waiting for the time to come where this cleared and I would be able to see into this place. It never happened, I was blind there.

– Now back to the teleconference –

One person was talking about the need to accept ones self. The leader interrupted and what she said sparked off this vision for me … while she was talking I felt energy pulsate from her through my heart chakra, which tightened and tingled all at the same time … it was as if I was experiencing the vision and listening to her at the same time:

“It is not enough to simply accept oneself.” she said, “It is much deeper than that. We are trained to view ourselves through our accomplishments … through our results.”

I am back in that underground chamber now … walking toward the place that has been blackened out from my mind’s eye.

“So if you tell anyone that they need to accept themself, they will immediately refer back to what they know … what their results are: how much money they have, what their relationships are, their power, their charm, etc. These are the things they have always used to feel accepted.”

I am rounding the corner and look to where the blackness was … and still is.

“What really needs to happen, what I had to take on for myself, is that we have to accept that we are spiritual beings in a human form. We have both a soulful essence, a spirit, and a human nature. That spirit is ALREADY whole and complete … right now! There is NOTHING that needs to be done to improve on it. YOU are already whole and complete … and you have a human nature that will always be there as well … and that human nature is flawed. You can’t focus on the human nature and exclude the true nature, the spirit … but that is what we do when we base our sense of worth on our results and our accomplishments.”

The blackness disappears and I see an emaciated man shackled to a wall … bleeding as if he had been tortured. I ran to him and broke the shackles out of the wall. I picked up his form, which felt light as a feather, and carried him into the new chamber I had just discovered a couple of weeks ago. There now was a pool glowing with light in the center of that room, and I gently lowered that poor, tortured man into the waters … his head propped on a rock and light glowing all around him, as if it was a psychadelic bathtub.

“That is the nature of Duality,” the speaker continued, “we always have the perfect soulful essence laying down right beside this flawed human nature. It is together that they are beautiful. You can’t try to make the human nature wrong for not being perfect, and you can’t remove the soulful essence from who you truly are … they’re not seperate, you are both simultaneously. That is the edge we must walk.”

As the man begins to heal … I see that he is me. I SEE that I have been torturing the human part of myself by constantly measuring my self worth by accomplishments. EVERY TIME I don’t get the results I want I was whipping him bloody. I feel a hollow feeling in my chest … horror. I go to him, and hug him, and ask him to forgive me. I try to merge with him and make him one with me … but it won’t take. I have been the torturer for far too long … it will take time for him to trust me enough … so that we can be equal, and whole, and complete, and beautiful … together.

~~~~~~~

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

pic from Pinterest.

Your Fears Are A Treasure House

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My words for meditation today:

“Nothing is ever born out of fear. Love gives birth, love is creative; fear is impotent.”

– Osho

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“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

– Jesus; the Bible – John 14:27

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“Fear is a question: What are you afraid of, and why? Just as the seed of health is in illness, because illness contains information, your fears are a treasure house of self-knowledge if you explore them.”

– Marilyn Ferguson

~~~~~~~

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

Like a crumpled leaf

My words to meditate upon today … on facing the great crises of our lives:

“Angel of gaiety, have you tasted grief?
Shame and remorse and sobs and weary spite,
And the vague terrors of the fearful night
That crush the heart up like a crumpled leaf?”

– Charles Baudelaire; from the poem “Reversibility”

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“The wise man does not expose himself needlessly to danger, since there are few things for which he cares sufficiently; but he is willing, in great crises, to give even his life — knowing that under certain conditions it is not worthwhile to live.”

– Aristotle

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“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

– The Bible; Isaiah 41:10

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pic by Paula Whidden

~~~~~~~

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

Faith is a bird that feels dawn breaking

Today I will be meditating on the subject of Faith … here are my words, from various spiritual sources, to meditate on:

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“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

– The Bible; Hebrews 11:1

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“Faith is a bird that feels dawn breaking and sings while it is still dark.”

– Rabindranath Tagore

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“Faith must be enforced by reason … when faith becomes blind it dies.”

– Mahatma Gandhi

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Picture credit: Desktop Nexus

~~~~~~~

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