Unlimited Belief…..

Belief is an acceptance of something as true; to believe is to think or have an opinion on a subject, to trust, or have confidence in something. We have a tendency to believe in something just because we think it is unequivocally true, or false, but is it? Often what we believe cannot be proven, we cannot offer concrete evidence of our belief otherwise it would be a fact, right? So is it possible beliefs can be incorrect?

The reason we defend our beliefs so adamantly is because we often feel an emotional or spiritual sense of certainty the belief is true. Beliefs affect us on multiple levels; physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally, so much so that wars are fought over opposing beliefs, globally as well as personally. People around the world since the dawn of time have given up their lives in defense of a belief. What we believe to be true, or false, is indeed very powerful.

We need to believe, beliefs are not necessarily bad things. Beliefs help our brains make sense of the information received and organize our thoughts, and in turn, make sense of the world we live in. They help us form our mindset and interpretation of the world around us. We tend to embrace our beliefs and act on them as if they are true, but what if they aren’t?  It is altogether possible we received bad information, and we are basing decisions and actions on the erroneous beliefs.

Beliefs about ourselves, or life in general that prevent us from trying new things, or stepping outside our comfort zones for fear of failure, are called ‘limiting beliefs’. Repeated thoughts or messages we hear from the outside world, whether family, friends, or others, become a part of our overall fabric. They niggle their way into our subconscious, take root, and before we know it, we have decided to embrace the message or thought. Limiting beliefs begin in childhood. Oliver Wendell Holmes said it this way, “We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible.” Many times they are a result of a negative bias.

A negative bias is a belief, often based on an experience leaving an impression of fear, in some form. They can be a result of a traumatic experience we have had, a tragedy we witnessed, or a cultural mindset, and they are far more powerful than a positive bias. Before we judge a negative bias as bad, they do serve a purpose in our lives. The fear brought about by a negative bias may be important to our survival, therefore providing a degree of protection. If, as children, we are told to look both ways before crossing a street or we may be hit by a car, all we have is a statement, but nothing to validate the statement is true. However, if we witness a small animal running across the street get hit by a car, the experience will set up a negative bias that crossing the street is indeed dangerous. The negative bias becomes a measure of protection for us. Taken a step further, if the experience was so traumatic we are afraid to cross the street ever again despite the knowledge we have crossed safely many times before, the fear becomes the limiting belief. The small animal being hit by the car validates the belief.

Some limiting thoughts may have been comments or statements voiced one time by one person, but the effect caused doubt, or fear, and stopped further growth in its tracks. When I was in the third grade I took piano lessons. Granted, I was like most every other kid; I would rather do anything else besides practice. All in all I wasn’t that bad, but one day my piano teacher told me I didn’t have any natural talent and therefore was wasting her time. Whether or not she said those exact words, that is the message I heard.  To this day I don’t play piano! Why did I let one statement from one person affect me so deeply? Perhaps if she would have said, “maybe we should set lessons aside for a year or so and come back and give it another go” the outcome would have been different? What about a child or teen who is told he/she is worthless? If the child or teen embraces that thought what will life look like going forward?

Growing up we may have heard, “the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer”, or “Enjoy being single. Once you marry the fun ends!” or “adults just work, pay bills, and never get ahead”. What is wrong with these statements? Are the negative statements built on facts? No, of course not, but nevertheless we may believe them to be true. These beliefs are known as collective beliefs; those we have grown up with, but are not specific to us. Collective beliefs, and personal beliefs we have accepted as specific to us, create our reality. We look for evidence to validate the beliefs, and ignore evidence proving the statements false.

Breaking free of limiting beliefs requires us to step outside our comfort zones, re-frame our thinking, and replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. No easy task, for sure. We have to look for evidence to prove our new beliefs, and remind ourselves of the evidence when the old thoughts try to creep back in. If our limiting thoughts have defined who we are as a person because of statements others have made, we need to spend some time figuring out who we are apart from those statements. When ‘I can’t’ comes out of our mouths we need to pause and ask ourselves if we truly cannot do something, go somewhere, or be someone, or is it simply a belief? Limiting thoughts are a product of the ego, the self-centered part of us who likes to be in control, maintain the status quo. The spirit self is the voice of the Divine; encouraging, loving, uplifting.

Yeshua (Jesus) while He walked the earth as a man, was our teacher and mentor opening the door to living by the spirit versus the ego. He chose to see the impossible as possible, create the reality He wanted for others, not allow others to define one’s reality. Yeshua demonstrated a fully awakened spirit, a goal we can reach when He said if we had faith the size of a mustard seed, the smallest of seeds, we could move mountains.  Did Yeshua literally mean mountains would move? I believe if there were a need, it could be done. Rather, the message I hear is the ability is within each of us, within the spirit self, the self in tune with the Divine. The mountains we move are the limiting beliefs we have preventing us to live fully. We choose to allow the spirit to come forth, or stand behind the ego.  

Yeshua declared the woman with the “issue of blood” healed through her own faith. She had allowed medical people around her to decide she was incurable instead of believing she could be well again. Yeshua empowered the woman to see the possibility of wellness apart from the limited beliefs of others she had embraced.

Each of us is a spark from the Divine, created in the image of God, and empowered with the ability of the Divine Spirit. Take a serious look at the ‘I can’t’ statements in your life. What is holding you back from moving the mountains in the way of being who you were created to be, or doing what you were created to do…..?

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Authenticity…..

Who are you really? Are you living life true to self? These questions can help us determine our level of self-awareness and put us face-to-face with the possibility of the need for change in our lives. Is it ever too late to change? Are you dead yet? If the answer to the last question is “no”, then the answer to the former question is “no” as well. Authentic living, or being true to self allows us the opportunity to live out our truth, the freedom to be who we are on the inside without the need for facades and labels we have donned and embraced.

Each of us consciously and subconsciously decides what will make us acceptable within the world and the microcosm of the world we live in; our family, our group of friends, the workplace and the community. The decisions we make about our acceptability often are a result of labels and the expectations others have for us. At different times throughout our lives we adopt new facades and accept labels others have attached to suit their expectations for us. The labels don’t always fit, yet we often let them define who we are. Facades are the masks we wear to fit in, to present ourselves acceptable in any group or situation, and often they change from group to group, situation to situation. But, do labels and facades represent who we really are on the inside, the spirit and soul who live in the earthly body? Most of us would probably answer a resounding “no”. In essence, we willingly exchanged who we are for who others have decided we are. Often, those whose labels and facades bear negative connotations find themselves at war with self, sadness sets in as they wish the true self was as acceptable to others as the labels and facades have become.

Various definitions exist for authentic living; it is up to each of us to decide what it means to live authentically. For me, sorting through who I am versus who others believe me to be is primary. Self-discovery, in other words. What do my values and beliefs say about me. Which are from what I have been told to value and believe and what I actually value and believe? What patterns of behavior am I repeating over and over that have not served me well? We need to find what resonates with us as individuals. Looking at the totality of our lives we often discover a theme we tend to gravitate toward, a passion where our souls and spirits find the most peace and satisfaction. Should we change careers? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps there is a way for a passion to become a career and that may take time to develop, but often if and until the passion becomes a career we can still find a way to include the passion in our lives.

When I took a look back at my life two overriding themes emerged: healer and teacher. In one capacity or another, in play as a child and in career as an adult, I found myself living out variations of healer and teacher. The career choices haven’t jibed with inward satisfaction, however. I have enjoyed being a nurse in various capacities, and it certainly encompasses both healer and teacher, yet the inward satisfaction was missing. Ignoring the nagging thought I wasn’t where I was most satisfied and peaceful, I decided it was a matter of finding my niche and then satisfaction and peace would follow. Recently, I studied energy healing and became a Reiki practitioner. In sessions with those seeking healing of the mind, body and spirit, my spirit is settled and at peace. Writing, and eventually speaking engagements, provide the same peace and satisfaction. It is to this place I am headed.

Authentic living is like coming home, and yet it has its drawbacks. It can be a lonely place until we regroup and find other like-minded people. People prefer to see us through the lens of their expectations and this is often antithetical to the true self who is taking center stage. Those we considered friends, and even family, may fall away not understanding our shift in beliefs, values or attitude. At some point however, the need to live from the spirit outweighs the need to be a part of the crowd.  Quite truthfully, I never have felt like part of the crowd.

Are you living life true to self? Do you feel like there is a more authentic self waiting to emerge? Are you beginning to see patterns in life that seem to repeat themselves over and over? These and others are the call of God to human spirit. Will you answer and live out your spirit truth…..?

 

Goddess or Doormat…..

Pablo Picasso was credited as saying that women were either goddesses or doormats. Arguably one of the great artists of our time, his character seemed bereft of morals, and yet his insatiable appetite for female attention, adoration, or sexual favor likely lent itself to his opinion of women.

He was right; women are either one or the other. Viewed another way, we either value ourselves or we do not. Certainly, men have self-esteem and self-worth issues, but women seem to have cornered the market in undervaluing themselves. We can blame our mothers, society, the church, and we wouldn’t necessarily be incorrect in that assessment, but perhaps a better way to overcome esteem and worth issues would be to confront them head-on. Society as a whole has progressed rapidly through the 20th century, yet many women are still stuck on the gerbil wheel of poor self-esteem.

Another “how to” book is not needed to help us regain our self-worth; most of us have read our share and still stand in front of a mirror and cruelly point out all of the flaws of the image looking back at us. The opening book of the Bible tells us humanity was created in the image of the Creator. Our self-image, self-esteem, and self-worth need to reflect the reality of who we are, not some airbrushed, nipped and tucked image on a magazine cover, or an ideal so unrealistic the impossibility alone leaves us shattered. Too often we waste time, energy, and resources looking for the “fix” to our imperfections instead of honoring the unique person we are. Granted, the voices and noise of the carnal world are loud, sometimes deafeningly so, and yet the small voice inside, the voice of the Creator, is speaking words of love, acceptance, and encouragement to those who will listen.

Throughout the Bible we can still find glimpses of the true voice of the Creator; not the voice of God created by man. You see, man has given human characteristics to the Divine so the image most of us have of the Divine life energy we all share, often sounds harsh, punishing, and condemning. Do we really need another voice in our head telling us we don’t measure up? No, we don’t, and the sad fact is the voice of condemnation is the one most of us listen to all day, every day. No wonder we walk around heads hung low, apologizing, as it were, for our imperfections.

There are so many voices in the world tripping over one another telling us we don’t measure up, fit in, or meet the standard, but we never stop to ask whose standard we are trying to meet. The voice of the Creator is the quiet voice of the spirit, whispering eternal love, peace, and compassion toward self and others. The voice is quiet to cause us to stop and listen, to get into that space where the voice of the world is blocked and the one we hear is the Divine. Be still and know that I am God, we say, but don’t do it; rather we work all the harder to prove we are worthy. The latest diet craze, more exercise, memorize more scriptures, pray longer, build a bigger house, buy more toys, nip this, tuck that, and the list goes on and on searching for the one thing that will make us feel acceptable, worthy, or feel that we measure up, and the reality is we are acceptable, we are worthy, we measure up today, this moment. When we are able to embrace this one simple truth, we will breath a sigh of relief and give opportunity for the true self to emerge, the one that listens only to the voice of the Divine, to the voice of Him who created us in His image, the image of light and love, peace and compassion.

Sounds easy enough, but alas, it continues to prove one of the highest hurdles to overcome. We have been conditioned to tune our ears to the voice of the world. The ego is in constant need of attention, stroking, and reassurance. Catering to the needs of the ego is exhausting work, but we are so used to the noise of the world and the needs of the ego we scarcely realize how tired we have become, how beaten down we feel. Rest is available. Renewal is within reach, my friends. Be still and know that I am God is more than a scripture, a trite statement on a bookmark, or a slogan on a coffee cup. Be still is a call to all who are burdened, all who are searching for rest, for wisdom, for knowledge, for revitalization, for awakening to a new level of understanding.

Ever find yourself in the half asleep, half awake state of being during the night when the answer to a problem suddenly drops into your head? The mind, body and spirit are totally relaxed during the twilight sleep and open to hearing the voice of Wisdom, the voice of the Divine. At that moment you have tapped into the higher self, the higher consciousness and joined spirits with the Creator. We were designed to live and breath and move in this way; easily and with grace, but we have allowed the cares, worries and fears of the world to weigh us down.

Get comfortable, put on some calm, meditative music and close your eyes, block out the noise of the mind and listen to the still voice deep within. In the beginning it will require practice to shut down the voices of the world and the ego, but the reward is worth the effort. Peace settles in, the body relaxes as the love of the Divine begins to flow over, around, and through mind, body, and spirit; wisdom permeates the higher self bringing self into deeper understanding. Allow the light and energy of the Divine to fill you to overflowing, remind you that you are created in His image, fully alive, fully beautiful, fully capable. So many scriptures in the Bible speak to these very things, yet we don’t recognize them as the voice of Divine Wisdom. We are more plugged into the voice of man, the voice of the world that tears us down, and we are willing to accept these words, but not the words of the Creator.

Women, particularly, need to listen and embrace the voice of the Divine, the voice that speaks words of love, words of acceptance and worth. When we come to an understanding of who we are in Him, that we are created in His image, an embodied spirit of intelligence, healing, compassion, mercy and tenderness, we will be able to hold our head up and take our rightful place as goddess instead of doormat.

Goddess sounds so heady, doesn’t it? Yet, to me “goddess” is a character word, a word describing the gentle nature of created woman, created from the rib of man to walk beside, not beneath. We cannot afford to cast aside our true nature; too many of us have accepted and walked the path of the doormat, and in so doing we deny the life-giving characteristics of our created nature.

Start with an affirmation that you will repeat each day as often as you think of it. At first the affirming words will sound like a lie, an untruth, but let us remember before accepting the words of the world, the lies of not measuring up, your spirit listened to the words of the Divine. The Bible says we can ask for anything in His name and He will answer; said another way, what we put out there comes back to us. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It’s time the goddess in you comes forward to take her rightful place…..

The Loretto Chapel; Intersection Between Man and the Divine

Years ago my then-husband and I visited Santa Fe, New Mexico. I fell in love with the state, the culture, the architecture, the jewelry, and the history. The city, and much of the state, is a mixture of their history and modern day nestled within the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) mountain range. During that trip, Santa Fe became my favorite place on the face of the earth. It is there that I feel most at peace, and life makes sense.

Recently, one of my twin daughters and I traveled to Santa Fe to celebrate their 25th birthday. She, too, shares my love of the southwest, particularly Santa Fe. One of our favorite places is the Loretto Chapel, a tiny mission chapel, established in 1853 by the Sisters of Our Lady of Lights positioned at the end of the Santa Fe Trail. The sisters had traveled from St. Louis to Santa Fe in answer to a call from Bishop Lamy to start a girls school and church in the southwest capitol of Santa Fe.

The Gothic chapel is ornate for its day, and given the Basilica next door, rather unassuming, except for the miracle staircase that has fascinated and confounded many since it’s construction. The Chapel was finished in 1858, however, no access to the choir loft had been constructed. Most choirs at the time were comprised of young boys who used ladders, but the Loretto school was a girls school and thus required a less dangerous way to reach the loft. Local carpenters were consulted, but given the size of the Chapel, a traditional staircase would not fit and so the sisters took to prayer to solve their dilemma.

For nine (9) days the sisters prayed the Novena to St Joseph, the earthly father of Yeshua (Jesus) and a carpenter by trade, to meet their need of a staircase to the choir loft. On the final day of the Novena, according to legend, a man came to the Chapel, tools loaded on his donkey, looking for work. The man worked diligently for months to build the spiral staircase from the main floor to the loft, his only tools being a hammer, a saw, a carpenter’s square, and tubs of hot water to bend the wood. The staircase has no center support and is said to have been constructed without nails, only wooden pegs, makes 2 complete 360 degree turns and has 33 steps; the number of years Yeshua is believed to have lived on the earth. The wood used for the staircase is not indigenous to the southwest; reports are the wood is a product of Alaska.  When the staircase was finished, the man left without pay or a word of any kind to the sisters. An ad was taken out in the paper for any information about the mysterious carpenter as the sisters wanted to offer their gratitude and payment for the staircase and answer to their prayers. The man had vanished.

Whether the builder was Yeshua, Joseph, or a divinely inspired man, it matters not; visiting the Chapel is a spiritual and reverent experience. Any way you look at it, the staircase is a mystery and it’s history only adds to the legend. Do I believe the staircase was built by the hand of God? Yes, I do. It doesn’t matter who actually built the masterpiece; what matters is that heaven met earth in answer to prayers faithfully and earnestly spoken by the Sisters of Loretto. To me, the staircase is evidence that earthly concerns are of import to the Divine, and an inspiration to us to continue our journey with God.

From the first time I entered the Chapel of Loretto, and each time since, it has been a profoundly spiritual experience. The construction is truly a masterpiece in its own right despite the questions surrounding its builder. Each stair is precisely built, obviously designed and erected by a highly skilled professional. Given the limited space, tools, and materials, it cannot be anything but a Divinely created structure.

My daughter and I visited the Chapel twice during this visit. I am a people-watcher anyway, and watching others view the miracle staircase is interesting by itself. The vast majority of people are clearly impressed, if not awestruck; a reverential awe is present within the walls of the Chapel much of the time. Most sit quietly for a moment contemplating the beauty and paradoxical simplicity and complexity of its construction; others pray and light candles at the altar as well.

We are spiritual beings having a human experience and the miracle staircase touches a part of our spirit being. People from all manner of spiritual or religious background, and perhaps some neither spiritual nor religious visit the Chapel. It would not be a reach to surmise that the majority walk away with some sense of having experienced the Divine, if only for a moment. The Divine, God, is all around us.

Throughout history God has set before man evidences of a Universal Light, or Consciousness, many of us know as God. It is my firm belief these evidences, like the miracle staircase, are an intersection between the spiritual and the earthly realms, evidence of a Higher Consciousness, a Universal Flame from Whom we all originated, and it is to this Flame we are drawn…..

Wading In Deeper…..

The deeper I wade into the world of living a spiritual existence, the more I read the Bible from a metaphysical standpoint. For years I was skeptical, scared, actually, of considering possibilities beyond interpretation of scripture through the eyes of man. I have said many times over; God watches over His Word, and I believe He has and does, but in my eyes, the Word has taken on new meaning. The essence of the spiritual knowledge we need to function from our spirit self is all there, laid out in black and white, despite man’s attempt to derail the instruction. Some come to understand the knowledge hidden within the scriptures from a totally different road, but in the end, all roads lead to the same place, which is not to say that I believe all religions lead to the same place; the place of spiritual awakening. I also believe Christianity has fought against that knowledge for centuries, choosing to shroud it in fear, control its dissemination, instead of sharing it with all of mankind.

The many contradictions in scripture had me tangled in a knot of confusion for years, believing we are not to understand, simply to trust; but trust what? We are taught to trust man’s interpretation, that certain people are given the gift of insight to discern deeper spiritual truth, and the truth is that thinking is hogwash! Spiritual truth is available to all who come seeking, who come asking, who accept and receive the truths.

During my lifetime I have studied psychology, the Bible, and now spirituality; within each there are clues to living a spirit-centered life, and the pieces fit together because within each discipline the same pieces exist. Many psychological principles have simply been repackaged from Biblical teaching and viewed through the lens of spirituality. Each of the philosophies lead to understanding man and his relationship to others, the world at large, and his spiritual center, whether we call it God, the Universe, or Universal Intelligence. Man seeks to know why he exists, his purpose, and what lessons is he to learn from his time on planet earth.

Yeshua (Jesus), while He wore the clothes of humanity, spent the majority of His time, from what we can glean in scripture, with people; He taught, He healed, He prayed. Looking at the Beatitudes, the “blessed are” speech Yeshua delivered affectionately known as the “Sermon on the Mount”, Yeshua is not blessing the different types of people mentioned; rather the word for blessing is related to the state of being the blessed are to be in, their heart condition. Reading the passage it is clear man has had his hand in the interpretation of the message, however, the message is still there. Our state of being, our heart condition is of great importance to God, to the Universe, for within the heart are man’s motivations.

It is my firm belief that the Beatitudes speak to our spirit self, to spiritual pursuit for awakening, enlightenment, or if you prefer, knowledge and wisdom. I am learning to overlook exercises in semantics; too often we trip ourselves up and focus on the wrong things because we disagree with the use of a word! Yeshua was teaching deeper spiritual truth and if we solely interpret the Sermon on the Mount’s meaning to our physical existence we miss the point entirely, but more importantly, our view is skewed and our focus becomes earthly gain. For instance: “How blessed are the poor in spirit for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” (Matthew 5:3 The Complete Jewish Bible) I have heard it preached that poverty is a virtue and the Kingdom’s riches will one day be mine, but this also is often interpreted to mean material gain. Poverty is not a virtue, and Kingdom riches have little to do with material possessions. Poor in spirit, going back to original texts, means we are humble, not full of ourselves. Kingdom riches in the Aramaic, the word Yeshua most likely used, means to expand our spiritual potential. We notice that the phrase “Kingdom of heaven” and “heaven” are used frequently in the Bible and the interpretation of spiritual enlightenment would apply.

Pressing onward, the second Beatitude says, “How blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.” On the surface we would think the interpretation relates to those who are sad, have lost a loved one, or the like. Looking at the verse from the Aramaic, the language of Yeshua, “to mourn” has nothing to do with sadness; rather the meaning is rooted in a passion toward, or being eager for transformation. Comforted, then, would mean further growth in our spirit life, soul growth being the result.

What about the third Beatitude? How blessed are the meek for they will inherit the Land!” If we are to follow the example and aspire to be like Yeshua, we have to admit Yeshua was anything but meek! He turned the known world, at that time, upside down, and challenged the religious leaders often; Yeshua was not “Baby Jesus meek and mild.” Meek in the early texts had a feeling of nonresistance, being open to truth and wisdom, and the earth refers to spiritual awakening; following through, our goal is heaven and spiritual enlightenment.

As a seeker of truth and wisdom, the Bible has opened up, my understanding expanded exponentially, each day a clearer picture of what God’s Word has for each of us. We are all on a journey and God welcomes each of us to join Him in deeper understanding. Is it time to wade in and get your feet wet…..?

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…..