Spirituality vs. Religion…..

I have been spending a lot of time researching, listening, and soul-searching the spiritual journey versus the journey by way of organized religion. Most of what I have learned about the spiritual journey I agree with, some is put on a back burner for now, and some information is just interesting to ponder. The belief is we are eternal beings with unique personalities  having a human experience, and in so doing the teachers, practitioners, and novices all have a bit different interpretation of their journey to share with others. Why? Because everyone’s journey is unique to them, plain and simple. Our journeys shouldn’t all look alike. We are all at different levels of spiritual awareness. Naturally, those seeking a higher awareness and deeper relationship with the Divine have greater insight than those beginning their journey. Some of us have no awareness at all and that is okay, too. We aren’t all ready for deeper and higher levels of truth, some will never be in this lifetime.

Organized religion looks at relationship with God differently, at least that has been my experience having been a part of several different denominations, and interacting with many different people over the years, all working their way toward heaven in one way or another. But is that the point? And, it has been my experience, the collective of organized religion expect us all to look and behave very much alike leaving little room for discussion, opinion, or just plain disagreement.

Let’s get real for a moment. Relationship with God, in the Christian paradigm, is centered around acknowledging “sin”, and asking forgiveness for every perceived or actual wrong done to others. Ultimately the belief is that we are committing the act or directing unkind words or deeds toward Jesus, Himself, driving one more nail into His already beaten and broken body. Not to mention we are bereft of any good whatsoever outside of a thorough washing in the blood of Jesus.  

In truth, I have absolutely nothing against organized religion. Everyone should be allowed to journey with the Divine as a unique spirit, in the way that most resonates with them, and yet many within organized religion are quite critical of those who chose a different path of love. Church members pray and intercede on behalf of the “lost souls” who will not be welcomed into the pearly gates should they pass on without “asking Jesus into their hearts”. We need to ask ourselves, if God is love, is He so narrow-minded that His philosophy is “my way or the highway”?

Psychology and just plain observation of others tells us that those who need to vehemently defend their territory are in reality feeling threatened. Who is the defensive rhetoric directed toward? If I am comfortable with my journey and don’t feel the need to defend it I have no need to stir myself into a religious frenzy, but I have certainly seen and experienced exactly that from devout followers.

Humanity is expert at drawing the proverbial line in the sand daring any to believe differently lest the other suffer the consequences. I think we see that being played out everyday the world over. This group is opposed to that group, that race against this race, the list is endless, and in the end everyone suffers; no one wins. Organized religion, especially those in predominantly fundamental churches, practice a veiled form of “we are right, you are wrong”. Don’t believe me? Ever been handed a tract with stories of hell fire and brimstone, found a “Jesus loves you” fake dollar bill on the floor of the mall restroom, or been witness to a prayer vigil asking God to save a particular group of lost souls?

And so, here I am navigating unfamiliar, yet strangely familiar waters. I am at peace with my journey after so many years of struggling to sort out the questions, the contradictions, and make sense of the confusing messages. Not all spiritual teachers and seekers share the same mindset, yet are willing to accept what resonates with another, understanding all of our journeys look different.  Offense is not taken if one understands the Divine as God, while another the Source, and others still Universal Consciousness. There is acceptance for the nuggets of truth found along the path of love, self-discovery and deeper understanding. We are at peace. I have not found this to be true in the world of organized religion.

Many within the walls of church doctrine become agitated, some outright angry, others move on as if those who ask questions are a heavenly lost cause, all driven by perceived threat to their belief system. Salvation of the lost seems to be a joint effort between God and the devout. What if God really doesn’t need help in relationship with the created?

The spiritual journey focuses on change within. Yeshua (Jesus) taught that very principle however, many of those I have had contact with are focused on changing others. Didn’t Yeshua speak to that when He called the religious of His day whitewashed tombs; appearing clean on the outside yet rotting within? Spirit path focuses on change within self to bring about peace, which makes a lot more sense to me. If I am truly peaceful, resonating positive energy, loving others without judgment the attitude is obvious without a word being spoken. On the flip side if I am judging, listing all the things one must do and cannot do to be saved or otherwise acceptable, others will feel defeated, not empowered.

The more I study, read, listen and seek, the more I am convinced Yeshua was teaching as we are to live; from a spirit-centered base, living, breathing, and demonstrating full awareness of the power of the Creator residing in each of us. He lived the reality of a fully actualized  spirit, with a unique soul, living a human existence to show us we have access today to all He embodied. We don’t need to wait until the sweet-by-and-by….

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A Spark From the Flame…..

Who are you? Who are we? Probably one of the best descriptions given to humanity I have heard so far is we are spiritual beings having a human experience. I like that, and it sums up the purpose of our existence in one sentence; short and sweet.

Too many of us get that statement turned around and then live our lives from a human standpoint while walking a spiritual journey. If we flip it around and view ourselves as spiritual beings first, our journey becomes primary and we begin to live life from the source of our existence, seeking truth and putting truth to work in our physical lives. The authentic self steps forward and the facades we have donned to meet the standards of the world are bagged up and tossed aside like ill-fitting clothing.

Living from the authentic self is scary and exciting all at the same time; kind of like putting on a swimsuit and going to the beach when we don’t match the Barbie doll body type we imagine romping the sand and sea, and then realizing most of the people on the beach look just like us. Authentic-self living means rising above the needs of the ego; to be right, recognized, and in control. Authentic-self living also means we march to the beat of the drum of our spirit; live the truth the Creator whispers to our spirits. We won’t all have the same journey, but the lessons are similar. We all need to learn to live from a center of love and acceptance of others, learn how to love self and exercise self-compassion when we screw up, deem ourselves unworthy or unacceptable, and along the way discover our individual life purpose.

As we settle into the awakening to our true self, or spirit self, transformation occurs. We begin to see others as sojourners on their own path, and do not feel the need to fashion another’s path into one that looks like ours. Church-life for me felt out of step, I didn’t see things the way others did, didn’t feel compelled to speak the same language, or mold myself into something I was not. Believe me, I tried, but it felt fake, hollow, not true to who I was on the inside. If church life speaks to you, fills you up to overflowing and resonates to the core of your being, by all means follow that path; it is meant for you!

Authentic living has its downside, however. As we speak from the heart others may become uncomfortable because it becomes obvious pretty quickly our focus is different, our interpretation of the world is not consistent with mainstream thinking, the accepted norm. The language of love is too harsh for some, and too soft for others, and positive thinking in the midst of turmoil looks like a denial of the facts.

Allowing the authentic self to take the driver’s seat helps us to see patterns in our lives that have brought us to the place we are today instead of a collection of haphazard events. When we are open to the leading of the Universal Intelligence, to God, we are able to see patterns of behavior and thinking, both good and bad. We begin to understand what and who has influenced the totality of our lives, and the experiences of life take the shape of our calling, our life purpose. I realized that in one capacity or another I have spent my life teaching and healing, having taught in academic, medical, and church settings, and listening to the wide variety of people who have come with heavy hearts, confusion, indecision, trauma, or questions seeking answers, compassion, understanding or direction. My life has been a journey to discover my niche, where I belong, knowing that my calling is teaching and healing. Becoming a Reiki practitioner has led down an interesting road of healing and teaching I hadn’t anticipated, but now I see it as part of the calling. Writing and public speaking is another aspect of that calling unfolding before me.

We are the sparks from the Universal Light, from God, the Father of Lights. Yeshua said it another way; “I am the vine and you are the branches. Those who stay united with me, and I with them, are the ones who bear much fruit; because apart from me you can’t do a thing.” (John 15:5 The Complete Jewish Bible) From a metaphysical standpoint that is almost a “Captain Obvious” statement because sparks apart from the flame die out pretty quickly, yet His point is well taken. Yeshua was speaking a foundational spiritual truth; we are an extension of the Universal Light, and to the Universal Light we will return when our physical bodies wear out. Recognizing the source and living from it empowers us, the energy of the Creator flows through us as we create our lives through thought, word and deed.

Individual sparks can illuminate a speck of space; collectively many sparks can light a room, and many, many more a world. As a world community this is our calling. As more and more awaken and walk a journey of discovery, love, wisdom and authentic-self living, our world will become a reflection of the Father of Lights……

 

The Universal Flame…..

Who is God? How do you picture the Creator of the universe and all that is within it? I have thought a great deal about this lately. Is He a bearded guy sitting on a throne waiting for us to screw up so He can punish? Does He keep a record book of everything we say, think or do in life? When we die will He judge us and send us to heaven or hell depending upon the severity of our sins? Images like these may sound childlike, but many people hold similar images of God in their heads.  

Man has created God in his image instead of the other way around. In a way our vision of God is human-like, endowed with the characteristics of man, both good and bad. God is known by many descriptive names: Healer, Emmanuel, Jehovah Rapha, Our Provider, Father, to name a few. Christians believe these to be facets of His overall personality, if you will, but in reality we are only privy to a speck of the total picture because of our limited understanding. God has always existed, and that in itself is a very difficult concept for finite man to grasp; God is energy, love energy, as it were, and energy cannot be destroyed, lending to His eternal nature.

Creating God in our image has resulted in a false and limited view of the Divine. The ‘gods’ of mythology were created in man’s image and yet we are aware that God, the Universal Source, and the ‘gods’ of mythology are radically different; one being real and the others the stuff of lore. As humans we have to put concepts in terms we can wrap our heads around; the images we create serve us for a time, but we need to grow and move beyond the one or two dimensional characters we fashion in our heads to a greater depth of understanding. We need to think outside the box.

A careful walk through the books known collectively as The Bible will reveal the human characteristics we have given to Universal Wisdom. God told Moses His name was “I AM”, which, if you think about it, is quite descriptive. The problem is that man added his own adjectives to the name “I AM” and created a god with human characteristics. We use terms like, “vengeful”, “forgiving”, “merciful”, “angry”, “jealous” and many others. Each is an adjective that describes the many characteristics of man. The Bible does say in several places that God is love, and truthfully, that is as far as we need to go in any description of God. Within love there is mercy, understanding, compassion, tenderness, and acceptance. Man adding adjectives has assigned God human characteristics. What purpose do the adjectives serve? The purpose benefits man alone; to those who seek to control others on their spiritual journey. The focus of the additional adjectives turns the table on us: “I need to be forgiven”, I made God mad”, I need to be pleasing to God”, keeping man beholden to man in search of absolution for “sins”. We spend effort and time seeking forgiveness and mercy instead of traveling our journey to reach higher levels of spiritual awareness and understanding. The reality is that God unequivocally knows we will make mistakes, we are here to learn and the learning process requires mistakes. Karma, what goes around comes around, what we sow we will reap, will answer to “bad” things we have done requiring correction. God doesn’t punish, He has no need to punish; God is love, plain and simple and He loves His creation unconditionally.

We were created in the image of God, in the image of the Universal Energy which means we are capable of the same unconditional love. Bound by this earthly plane and our finite understanding we cannot attain the level of unconditional love that characterizes God, but we can learn the lessons along the way teaching us the way of love, the need for awakening to the higher spiritual self and viewing self and others differently through the eyes of love and compassionate understanding. I have heard us described as sparks from the Universal Energy Source; I like that, and believe it quite descriptive and accurate. A spark is an image of the original fire, is it not?

Looking outside the box of organized and traditional religion, we are able to imagine God in a different way, and for me, this has resulted in  the feeling of having arrived home. The image of God as pure energy, pure love, pure wisdom, has awakened me to a higher understanding, resonated truth throughout my entire being as never before. I see people differently, I am far less judging, far more compassionate, and find myself more at peace with life as it unfolds. The vision of God as a brilliant light radiating love and sharing the wisdom of the universe is freeing. Within the radiant love of the Father of Lights there is acceptance for who I am, flaws and all, mercy for the times I fall, compassion for the days I feel the weight of the world and experience the wounds man inflicts. I am energized to pick myself up again and walk forward and upward toward deeper understanding. I am bathed in peace, the peace that passes all understanding, the kind of peace Yeshua (Jesus) referred to.

I’m not going to lie, I battled fear for a moment; fear that I was stepping off into the demonic abyss. The indoctrinated fears of organized religion run deep, and it is no small task to overcome years of conditioned belief. At first the journey was a daily task to put aside former belief and open my mind to truth new to me, to the wisdom of the universe.

Who is God? In the end the question is personal, and no one can answer that question for us. The journey is personal. The wisdom and knowledge we accumulate along the way is meant to encourage us toward a higher level of understanding self, others, and God, the Universal Energy that flows through each of us. Collectively, the knowledge and wisdom we learn is meant to create the bigger picture; the picture of pure love…..

Fear Not…..

Rumor has it that the Bible contains 365 “Fear not” statements or references; one for each day of the week. I haven’t actually counted them to be sure, I will take the claims of others as true!

Obviously, the point being we are not to fear, we are to have faith, instead. In my adult life I have heard several sermons preached on the subject, all centered around believing God has our backs, and I do believe that; so why do we need fear-based religion? The answer is we don’t. Fear-based religion uses fear in a number of different ways to control the thinking and behavior of its adherents. For example: if I don’t confess my sins before God and man and accept Jesus as my Savior I won’t be saved, so I will go to hell when I die. Who wants that hanging over their head? What about we will be held accountable for every careless word we speak? Granted, the passage in Matthew 12 is actually addressing the religious leaders of the day, but I have heard the verse applied to all of us, so we fear we may have inadvertently told a lie we haven’t confessed, taken the Lord’s name in vain, or committed blasphemy and we end up in a worse place than hell! What about the sins that go unconfessed? Is there a blanket prayer to make sure the ones I don’t remember I did are covered? What if I’m sick or in need of something? The Bible says that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed we can move mountains, our faith can make us whole, demons will flee in our presence, or we will live abundant lives; proof that we have the right amount of faith, but if these things don’t happen does that mean I don’t even have the smallest amount of faith? All of this may sound ridiculous to those outside the walls of fundamental churches, or even some of the box churches, but they are not; people get themselves wrapped up in such nonsense and miss the point.

The elitist mindset of many Christians and fundamental churches is based in fear; fear of getting too close to those who are unbelievers, being “unequally yoked”, or just plain letting the sins of others slop over into their whitewashed lives. Consider the ongoing and often vitriol discussion centering around homosexuality, and now gender identity. People think we are becoming a more progressive and enlightened society, but many of the churches have not gotten the memo. Some of the most well known evangelists and preachers of the late 20th century participated in thinly veiled homophobic hate mongering. I remember not that many years ago a very well known evangelist-teacher organized and staged a prayer vigil, of sorts, in the San Francisco area to pray against the homosexual stronghold in the area; of course stating that we love the gays, but in their current lifestyle, sadly, won’t be admitted into heaven. What?? The bottom line is that the churches and “Christians” who participate in this mindset fear those whose lifestyles don’t fit in with their narrow-minded, supposedly Bible-based standards of behavior. I, for one, am far more offended by those who are judgmental and gossip as a guise for praying for the needs of others. I have issues with those who say they serve a God of love, that all are welcome, yet once inside the doors roll out the list of qualifiers for that love and acceptance.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think that spiritual endeavors should be centered in love, positive thinking and energy, drawing others in because others see something in us that is pleasing and peaceful. What is out there are people who have clothed themselves in a facade of love and light, yet once inside the doors a very different picture emerges. The thou-shalt-nots are rolled out in full force, the standards of perfection required for approval dropped in our laps; no tattoos, no smoking, drinking, associating with the unsaved, memorize this many verses, pray that way, tithe this much, the list is endless. Thought patterns steeped in this mindset create fear of not measuring up, our heart motivations for what we do become skewed.

In chapter 12 of Romans, Paul is talking about how we are to act, be, think, and serve in this world. All things in scripture speak to a higher truth, striving to live from the higher self instead of from the ego. Romans 12:2 (New International Version) reads, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” I have heard countless sermons on this tiny phrase from Romans 12:2, each one dissecting the meaning behind “good, pleasing, and perfect will”. Apparently, from all reports I have received we are to choose which of God’s wills we want to be in! Really? Is that what we are supposed to get out of that verse? Taken together and viewed from the metaphysical, or spiritual standpoint, Romans 12 is speaking about living from the higher self, in peace with others, don’t accept the patterns of society, live above them: almost a repackaged “golden rule”. Isn’t that the more important message?

We should always be encouraged to seek higher spiritual truth, explore to discover what resonates within each of us because the journey is unique to each of us. We are all beings of energy created in the image of the Universal Creator, endowed with spiritual wisdom that is waiting to be tapped. We do not need a person standing in a pulpit, educated in the halls of man, espousing the often misguided doctrines of man that have been handed down through the centuries, many designed to instill fear in the hearts of its followers in an effort to control.

It is my firm belief that many in our world have been disillusioned by organized religion, disheartened by man’s attempt to dampen the spiritual stirrings in the hearts of those who earnestly and honestly want to pursue an intimate relationship with the Creator without fear hanging over their heads. I believe we are in the beginning of the end of the church age when people who truly want to pursue an intimate relationship with the Creator will seek spiritual enlightenment over the dry bones of religion.

One morning after I had participated in a funeral service for a friend, a woman who had attended the funeral approached me in the parking lot. Those of us in attendance had been subject to a fiery hell and brimstone message delivered with fervor and spit from the preacher who was obviously uncomfortable with the lesbian lifestyle the decedent had chosen. The woman thanked me for what I had said and concluded with, “ and what happened in there is exactly why I left the church”. Her comment saddened me and I have thought back on that moment many times. I knew that was a transitional moment in my life; my calling, my desire is that no one be discouraged from seeking relationship with their Creator because of fear, because of not measuring up. I don’t know, but I suspect she was involved in a lifestyle contrary to church doctrine. How sad that a person created in the image of God would feel unworthy of pursuing higher eternal spiritual truth for something so temporary as an earthly choice. We are all welcomed by the Creator no matter who we are, where we have been, what we do or don’t do, no matter our lifestyle. Yeshua, the Creator clothed in humanity who came to restore relationship with the created said, “Come ALL who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest…….”

A Journey of Truth…..Leaving Fear-Based Religion Behind

I am a seeker of truth and wisdom, and have spent the better part of my adult life on a journey for higher truth. The interesting thing about journeys is that often there are bends and twists in the road, sometimes we detour as the road less traveled beckons and the journey becomes an adventure.

In my nineteenth year I attended a religious crusade and left a born-again, saved Christian. Not altogether sure what that meant, I did feel differently, refreshed, and as luck would have it, fell headlong into the Charismatic theology by virtue of marriage. Immersed in this exciting twist on the rote religion of my childhood, I soaked up knowledge like a sponge. Any number of events were likely to happen on any given Sunday; prophesy, laying on of hands, speaking in tongues, people being slain in the spirit, in other words, falling out under the power. Praise and worship was fresh, not the dusty tunes retrieved from the catacombs found in every hymnal in the country, not that I think that’s a bad thing, just boring at times. Let’s face it, the majority of the hymns aren’t the liveliest melodies known to man.

Over the years I studied, prayed, listened, and asked questions. The more questions I asked, the more questions I had, and the crazy thing is the answers didn’t always make sense to me, which usually ended with, “it will all make sense in heaven”, or some similar response. But, I didn’t want to wait for an answer, and more importantly, most of the whole didn’t resonate with me; it felt like a puzzle where the pieces didn’t quite fit together so the puzzle-builder pushed and squished the pieces together so they kinda-sorta fit together, but not really. No one else I knew seemed to have the questions I did, and they seemed pretty content swallowing doctrine that didn’t make sense to me, so I concluded I was the oddball, God’s problem child.

An abusive relationship and life got in the way, so I put aside the questions in an effort to merely survive. Once out of the relationship, and mad at God, which is another story, God and I found tolerable ground and we declared a truce, of sorts. The truce became the journey I am on, and here we are today, still journeying with God although we took a detour.

Before I go any further I need to be clear; I am not a church-hater. I think for many the safety of church life is necessary, comfortable, and easy. Lots of people sit in pews week after week and then go about their daily lives keeping the two separate. Some earnestly seek God trying to understand the deeper truths, doing their best to live lives within the boundaries of the Bible and church doctrine, some just like to belong to a group. All are welcome, or so they say. The truth is that all are not welcome; those of us who poke and prod, who are judged as not fitting in, as not having enough faith, or just plain being trouble-makers are not welcome, not really. And so, we fall away, some for good, and some looking for God elsewhere, outside the church walls, and, hold onto your hat, He does exist outside the church walls!

Being outside the church walls has been a blessing for me. The journey, much like that of the ancients who have passed before me, those without advantage of church walls, doctrine, theology-educated pastors, has brought me to the place I am today; a place of deeper and broader understanding of God, of life, of people, and of myself. Free of doctrine that was confusing, suffocating, limiting and most of all, fear-based, I am able to see myself through the eyes of God, not through the eyes of the church, or the world, a view devoid of judgments, thou shalt-nots, and shoulds. It’s not a journey that all can or want to take, but all are welcome on the journey; it is a journey of self-discovery, gratitude, forgiveness, and most of all love; learning to love self and others through the eyes of God, and not through the harsh lens of the church and the world.

The teachings and doctrines of western Christianity are fear-based. A founding tenet of fundamental, Bible-based churches is the need for salvation. Why? Because in their eyes we are born corrupt, evil, we are subject to a “fallen nature” before even one breath is drawn. The “Sinner’s Prayer is a mea culpa of sorts; it’s my fault, I’m guilty, I’m not worthy, and so we come to Jesus asking forgiveness for all of our sins, faults, flaws, we are in need of forgiveness for being human. The purpose of salvation is the avoidance of hell, we gain entrance into heaven through confession of unworthiness, some even go so far as stating that without salvation we are deserving of eternal damnation. If that isn’t fear-based I don’t know what is.

Studying church history and reading the Bible through the eyes of a loving God I have come to a radically different conclusion than what the church teaches. Man has meddled in the texts that became the sixty-six books we know as the Bible. The meddling, by and large, is a result of man’s insatiable, ego-driven, need to control, the desire for personal power, leading to the development of man-made rules and boundaries not necessarily in line with the mindset of God. The Bible declares that God is love, that He is merciful, slow to anger and quick to forgive, that all are welcome in His kingdom, all are welcome to ask and receive, and yet man has decided that none of that is quite true, making God out to be a liar, a fabricator of half truths that reel us in only to find out that there is a high ladder reaching toward heaven we must climb to be considered worthy. Am I reading it wrong? I don’t think so.

In the beginning God declared all He created “good”, and yet somehow we became fallen, tainted beings, worthy of eternal punishment for being human, for exercising our free will and making a poor, ego-centered decision, in need of being rescued from eternal damnation through a spoken prayer. All who speak the prayer will be saved, but what of those who speak it out of fear, their heart motivation being skewed by the desire to avoid the fires of hell more than establishing a relationship with Jesus?

Rapidly approaching my 60th year on planet earth, well in a few years anyway, I am done with fear-based theology. No longer do I choose to be held captive by man’s hellfire and brimstone teachings, nor do I choose to be elevated above others. That’s the other side of the coin of western fundamental Christianity; those who believe themselves to be the chosen of God, worthy of elevated status by virtue of the Sinner’s prayer, the us/them mentality that looks down on those outside the church walls, those who say they accept and love but judge nonetheless based on their set of standards that are not accepting or loving in the least. What I have chosen is to live a spiritual existence, in communion with God, the Universal Light, the Creator, the label we attach inconsequential; an existence living in communion and seeing others through the eyes of love and not judgment, an existence that acknowledges the worth and value of the whole of creation, not just a select few, on a journey to bring God to those who need to know He is a God of love and mercy, compassion and acceptance, a God who declared His creation good, and still believes in the goodness of all…..

Creation….A Last Thought……For Now!

Supposing the Bible is a collection of stories, allegorical teaching, poems, and the like, what can we learn from the story of creation?

“In the beginning God created….” All religions, and the vast majority of spiritual teachers and seekers believe there to be a Creator, a Universal Life Force, a Higher Intelligence that existed before man, and was responsible, in some way, for creation. I was never a proponent of the “Big Bang” theory, or the “we are star stuff” mindset, mainly because at its core is the thought all things were formed by so many atoms and gases swirling around and bumping into one another creating life. I don’t believe the existence of life to be that random. Created by extraterrestrials? No, I can’t swallow that either. I prefer to be more simple-minded.

Creation, according to the Bible, began with a thought leading to the spoken word; the thought and word became matter, created things, and the things were declared “good”. God created man in His image and put man in the Garden. It is my contention that Eden was a Utopia of sorts, from our perspective, a place where thought became reality, Adam and Eve “walked” with God, in other words, they were one with Him on a spiritual level. Life was abundant all around the newly created beings, and they enjoyed their lives, living, learning, and breathing higher spiritual truths.

One day that all changed; evil does not exist apart from choice and Eve chose to exercise her right to choose. Here is another area I part ways with traditional church teaching; according to the Bible God handed out punishments, as it were. As sentient beings endowed with the ability to choose, we screw up, choose unwisely, make mistakes, and part of our mission on planet earth is to learn from those mistakes, to enable us to make better choices next time. Mistakes carry with them their own consequences, do they not?

The point of the Creation story is that there is a Creator, a God, a Universal Light or Power, we are not here by accident. The Garden represents a relationship with the Creator that was present before life on planet earth, and the relationship we will fully return to after we have completed our lifetime here. Adam and Eve lost that tight relationship with the Creator; Yeshua’s (Jesus) life and death on earth restored the relationship.

Down through history there have been those who walked closely with God; Moses, Abraham, David, Solomon, the prophets, to name a few. These chosen few were enlightened, gave us glimpses of living an enlightened life, and all of them had faults, slipped up from time to time just like we do. The Creator, as well, in the form of Yeshua, came once again to walk among His creation; to give us the opportunity to learn from Him and He from us. Yeshua’s death restored the relationship Adam had lost; the relationship available to every person on the face of the earth, not just a chosen few. Enlightenment is for all of us, no longer do we need to be spectators in the game of life. The more I research church history, the more I read scripture, the more I am convinced that man adulterated what we have come to know as the Bible. Why? Power and control.

Man is comprised of an ego, and a soul, or spirit. The ego identifies with the physical body, the senses, and believes itself to be separate from others and God, is self-serving, hungry for personal power and control, and is the root of our fears, worry and anger; it also is the self-preservation part of ourselves which is needed from time to time, so it’s not always a bad thing. Judgment of others emanates from the ego self, as do stress, anxiety, our need to be right and not have our actions thoughts, and words questioned.  The soul is the higher self, connected to God, to Universal Wisdom. When we are spiritually awakened the higher self comes forward, much to the dismay of the ego. The higher self seeks wisdom and understanding from the Life Source, from God, desiring to live in peace and love, putting others before self. Adam and Eve were created and lived from the higher self in the Garden; the Garden representative of the free flow of communication with God, not necessarily a physical place. The ego came forward in the form of the serpent, as the story goes, and challenged Eve’s understanding of her oneness with God, the Creator. She faltered, as we all can and do, when ego feels threatened by the higher self, and she chose to listen to the serpent, the ego, instead of what she knew to be truth. The fall was merely the expression of man’s ego taking the lead, gaining the foreground when before they lived from the spirit, from the soul, the higher self in direct communion with God. In the Garden ego and the higher self existed in balance and we know this because evil, as it was called, or ego, does not exist without choice; choice was always there, subdued by the higher self. And that is the battle each of us faces; the battle between the ego and the higher self, said another way, if you like, the battle between good and evil. I believe the reason Adam and Eve were “kicked out” of the Garden was to protect mankind in the short and long run. The Tree of Life was immortality; God, the Universal Life Force was, is, and always will be, and only created and existed from a righteous standpoint, if you will, choosing only that which is good, but Adam and Eve had proven they could not successfully keep the ego subdued and consequently were capable of choosing self over spirit, evil over good. Immortality in that state would be chaos, at best! I realize this is a rather simplistic way to look at the overall picture, but words are limiting to adequately explain higher spiritual truth, at least for me at this moment!

I do not believe God punishes. Choice brings it’s own consequences, what some believe to be punishment. The battle between ego and spirit was now in full force within the first humans as evidenced by their awareness of being naked after choosing to follow ego instead of spirit; “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked.” (Genesis 3:7 The Complete Jewish Bible) Further, in Genesis 3:9-10  ADONAI, God, called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself.” (The Complete Jewish Bible) Separation; ego had usurped the place the soul, the spirit, had once held and fear crept in. Outside the place of spirit-centeredness Adam could no longer call forth what he needed, the Garden experience was gone, for now, and man would journey through life separate from God, separate from the Light and Life Source with whom he once walked in union. Living in abundance was outside his grasp and he would toil by the sweat of his brow. And so began man’s journey to return to the fullness of living from the spirit, living in the fullness of the image and reflection of his Creator…..  

Creation, Original Sin, And All That Good Stuff Part 2…..

Adam and Eve hanging out in the Garden, nurturing and caring for the creation and living in a state of gratitude; life was good and abundant, with Adam and Eve the benevolent leaders of all creation, no need to subdue or bring anything into submission, so far, so good. Enter the serpent; that crafty creature who twisted the words of the Creator leading the first humans into doubt. We know the rest of the story, right, at least what is recorded in the Bible; Eve ate of the fruit, offered it to Adam, he ate, and voila, sin was born. God comes along looking for the man and woman who were now aware of their nakedness and were hiding. Of course, God knew what had happened, but He wanted their version of the story. Long story short, Adam blames Eve, then God hands out the consequences. Adam had enjoyed “avad”; caring for and nurturing the creation, but now he would “atsav” – toil by the sweat of his brow. No longer would Adam speak and the creation would respond.

This is where the subject of free will and original sin come into Christian theology. Here’s my take on it; God gave free will to man when man was created, it existed in man from the moment Adam was fashioned from the elements of the earth. The problem was not that Eve chose to exercise her free will, the problem was that she and Adam had been given dominion over the entire earth and were to subdue its inhabitants, the serpent included; they were to walk among the creation as the benevolent leaders, keeping the creation in check, so to speak, not letting any in creation get the upper hand. The serpent, however, did take the upper hand by introducing doubt, telling a half-truth, skewing the words of the Creator, and instead of Eve subduing the serpent, she chose to have a conversation and allowed the serpent plant a seed of doubt.

God’s directive had been clear, so what happened with Eve? I don’t believe the act of eating the fruit was the “sin”, the disobedient act that led to what the church views as “original sin” resulting in condemnation of all mankind. Rather, I believe Eve allowed her heart motivation to be affected by her conversation with the serpent; she wanted the knowledge the tree offered, and she didn’t take into consideration that her decision would affect others. Isn’t that self-centeredness? When our heart motivations are inward centered, centered on self, instead of outward centered, centered on others, we choose wrongly.

Man, made in the image and likeness of God, operated within free will from the get-go. God is free to exercise His will freely so it stands to reason that man would enjoy that as well. God is Love, He is merciful, kind and just, and only chooses to act righteously.  Eve’s decision did not take into consideration how her one act would affect Adam. As the story goes, Adam and Eve were put out of the Garden to prevent them from eating of the Tree of Life and living forever; forever able to make self-centered choices. Wow, wouldn’t that create a lot of unnecessary havoc!

So, let’s talk about “original sin”; the concept identified by the church as the reason we all need salvation. The church contends because Adam and Eve sinned, every person from that time forward would be born a sinful being, in essence, from the moment we are conceived we are doomed without having done a thing! If free will got Adam and Eve in trouble, how is it that a fetus, so many cells destined to become a human, has already sinned by virtue of fertilization? Doesn’t make sense, at least not to me. Further, in Genesis 4, in the story of Cain and Abel (Adam and Eve’s sons), Cain kills Abel and God curses Cain. Are we to assume man from Cain on down, now has received a second helping of condemnation for his sin?

The Creation story, as is much of the Bible, is just that, a story, which is not to say that it is falsehood; only that a story is man’s interpretation of higher spiritual principles and concepts. We understand what we do not know through the eyes of what we do know. The Catholic Bible says as much in the pages explaining how the Bible came to be, along with other interesting facts and ideas, so not even the church supposedly built on Peter, the Rock, the first church, believes the Bible to be a book of absolute fact; rather the Bible is God’s inspired Word as seen through the eyes of man in story, poem, allegory, and the like.

Original sin, a foundational doctrine of the church, teaches man screwed up and thereby cursed all of mankind necessitating the need for a Savior, the One we know as Jesus. The church fails to answer questions that we have all likely had, at one time or another, and have passed off as a mystery God will reveal in the sweet by and by. Study of church history will show that original sin is a post-New Testament idea, and did not enter any teachings until after the time of Jesus. Interesting, is it not? Yeshua (Jesus) never mentioned it. To further challenge the church mindset, the original script and characters involved were Jewish, and as is often the case, a different picture emerges. In Hebraic thought, sin is merely an act of disobedience, a wrong choice, the opposite of righteousness, and speaks to our relationship with God, our nature as humans, versus a flaw in our character.

When God created man He declared him good, so how did man become flawed? Man was created in the image of God, endowed with the ability to choose; free choice, as it were. Evil, or disobedience is a choice rather than a thing, or creature, as we are often taught; the serpent in the Garden being the embodiment of evil. God did not “create” evil, it doesn’t exist without choice. Why would a loving God create evil to trip up the created He called “good”?

Church history is enlightening; it gives one a very different view of the Bible and of man. The doctrines we have come to know and believe as the inerrant Word of God is, in reality, a doctrinal soup based on the theories and interpretations of Augustine and embellished by various writers that were not established until after the advent of the New Testament church. These theories and interpretations have been used to justify man’s nature and the traditions and practices of modern religion; we accept them without questioning their source. It is my firm belief that there is a God, a Universal Life and Light, a Power greater than ourselves, and that we have been created in His image. Man, however, has done a fine job of creating God in his image…..