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Posted: June 7th, 2007, 10:56 pm
by Rad
I just finished reading What the bleep do we know and Your Immortal Reality, How to break the cycle of birth and death. I enjoyed both books but is a little confused about something. In What the bleep do we know, it states that our thoughts projects our reality and in the Your Immortal Reality, it states our reality has already been decided and our mission is to forgive since everything we see is a projection of our dream state. We created all that is happening

Sometimes I believe both are possible, but I contemplate the following issue:

(1) If our reality is already decided then where does pray or positive thinking fit in, because if something has to happen, no matter how much we pray or think positive, it won't change and yet I still do think that pray does make a difference, but how?

(2) What about free choice/will. Did this happen at a higher level and we are just going through what we already choose?

Any suggestions/explanations would be greatly appreciated


Posted: June 8th, 2007, 9:41 pm
by Gulliver
Tough questions which I can't answer. To me destiny means that God already knows everything there is to know about me & my life, and my job is to feel okay about that ... surrender. That's what I pray about. sometimes it works. :wink:

Posted: June 10th, 2007, 2:06 pm
by zoofence
You're right Gulliver, these are tough questions. Here’s my take on them.

As I see it, the problem with the argument of free will vs. predestination is that it is impossible to prove one way or the other. One of the Brother Theophyle cartoons addresses this issue by having Theophyle intentionally performing an action that, in his mind, is “spontaneous” (that is, an expression of free will), while his friend Rabbit reads from that day’s entry in a cosmic record book that “In a cartoon about predestination, Brother Theophyle will act spontaneously”. A predestined act of free will?

I have come to the position that it probably doesn’t make much difference whether I am wondering about this issue as a result of spontaneous curiosity generated by free will or if I am doing so as an inescapable act of predestination. To that, some say, if life is predestined, then I might as well just sit back and do nothing. To that, I respond, try it. Here as in science, the best way to test an hypothesis is to play it out, set it into motion and see what unfolds.

Consider it this way. Virtually all of the traditions teach (and my own experience confirms) that the inner and the outer are one and the same. The projections that I call “my life” – everything that seems to me to be “out there” (and by “everything” I mean everyone and everything everywhere, in all dimensions, levels, planes, existences, and so on) – are no more and no less than what I call “me” seen outerly. “Me” and “my life” are mirror images of one another. “Me” and “my life” are simply different perspectives of the same thing, different ways of perceiving my separative perspective of the Universe (“I am me, and you – whatever, and wherever and whenever you may seem to me to be, are not me”).

That being so, the way to change my life is to change me, to change my perspective of myself, of who and what I think I am. My life, being a mirror image of that, will follow suit, does follow suit.

Is the choice to undertake that change in perspective on the Universe (in a word, to become a seeker) a matter of free will, or is each of us predestined to take that step at some predetermined time? For me, the fact is that in some inscrutable way, the answer to that question is, “Yes, both”.

Either way, once we feel ourselves inwardly moved to make the seeker’s choice, the choice to undertake a spiritual path, or once we discover that we have made it, then we are well advised to pursue it with joy, enthusiasm, and devotion. After a bit, we should sit back and observe the results, observe “my life”, and ask ourselves whether or not questions like this one about free will and predestination (and there are a ton of others, all apparently equally pressing, all unavoidably encountered by every seeker) still seem as important to us as they did in the beginning. In the likely event (I say “likely” based on my own experience and what I have read and heard of others’) that such questions increasingly seem to lose their relevance as our embrace of the spiritual commitment grows in depth and breadth, then the thing to do is thank the questions for their part in the process, and walk on.

You also mentioned prayer. As I see it, what is important about prayer is not what I say to God but that it is to God that I say it. That is, prayer is far less a vehicle for Divine Intervention and far more a Divine Instrument to impress upon us the reality of God’s permanent, constant, spontaneous, uninvited, and inescapable (not to mention wondrous, miraculous, and graceful) Presence.

Think of it this way. If God is omniscient (and if God is not omniscient, then God isn’t God), there is nothing I can say to God that God does not already know, and nothing that I can ask for that God has not already considered. But, in one way or another (and what way depends upon the practices and preferences and traditions of the path we are following) we must ask it because in doing so we recognize and acknowledge the role and presence of the Divine in everyone and everything we perceive, including ourselves. I agree with Gulliver here, too, for in this sense, prayer is about surrender, and surrender is what seeking is ultimately all about. Thus, getting back to the question of free will, we need to ask ourselves as seekers: Is our concern about free will a genuine intellectual inquiry or does it simply reflect an effort to escape the implications of “Thy Will be done”, something which every seeker inevitably struggles with?

Finally, as regards free will vs. predestination as well as prayer (and every other issue that arises along the way) remember Ibn ‘Arabi’s observation: “Thou art not thou, thou art He without thou”. And A Course in Miracles: “Separation is only the decision not to know yourself”.

Posted: June 12th, 2007, 12:48 am
by Rad
Thank you Gulliver and Stefan for your insights. Muchly appreciated

Posted: June 14th, 2007, 2:23 pm
by zoofence
This morning, thinking a bit more about this thread, there came to mind a few lines from Witter Bynner’s translation of the Tao Te Ching that crossed my path many years ago. First published in 1944, this book is in my opinion still very much worth reading. Its title is The Way of Life According to Lao Tzu.

Here are the lines ...

Existence having born them
And fitness bred them,
While matter varied their forms
And breath empowered them,
All created things render, to the existence and fitness they depend on,
An obedience
Not commanded but of course.

(There is a slightly longer excerpt at TZF’s Quiet Room.)

In this context, the operative words are “An obedience not commanded but of course” where I understand the phrase “of course” less in its meaning “certainly” or “definitely” and more in its meaning “as a matter of course” or “in the natural order of things”.

Also at The Quiet Room is a nice story about a fellow who comes upon another immersed in a fearsome struggle with God. The first asks, “How do you expect to win against such an opponent?” Gasping for breath, the other replies, “You don’t understand. I hope to lose.”

Just so, as I see it, for a seeker the free will issue is not so much about exercising it as it is about releasing it, allowing the natural order of things to unfold naturally!

The Lao Tsu lines quoted above appear in Gia-Fu Feng & Jane English’s translation as …

All things arise from Tao.
They are nourished by Virtue.
They are formed from matter.
They are shaped by environment.
Thus the ten thousand things all respect Tao and honor Virtue.
Respect of Tao and honor of Virtue are not demanded,
But they are in the nature of things.

Posted: July 19th, 2007, 7:30 pm
by W4TVQ
Folks, I've been away from this forum for a very long time, and am not sure I really have anything to contribute ... but this thread seems to speak to whatever is going on with me at the moment. (I thought I'd try to pursue the evangelical-Christian stance, and gave it my best effort. Nor do I regret doing so; like Edison, I have learned many things that do not work, and a few that do.)

However, my tenuous hold on that particular approach to the Master has suffered seriously from reading Hawking's A Brief History of Time. I'm interested in pursuing the ideas in this thread relating to the possibility of an "I-Thou" relationship with One Who/Which could and did come up with something so incredibly and incomprehensibly intricate and vast. I cannot honestly say I recall having any prayers "answered," which raises the question of whether He/She/It is in fact "Thou" at all. I know Einstein was able to grasp the hugeness of General Relativity and still speak of God as a Person; but Einstein was smarter than I am. I resist the ideq of deism and resist even more the idea of atheism; but I could be glad for someone to throw me a life jacket before the ship steams out of sight. Maybe this has all been hashed over in another thread and you can point me to it.

I look forward to re-entering the world of Zoofence. I've missed it.


Posted: July 20th, 2007, 1:01 am
by zoofence
Art, Welcome back! We are delighted to see your name here again. We have missed you, too. And we look forward to your input wherever you are moved to write.

I fully understand your struggle with the I-Thou thing. As I have written elsewhere, I (and Nancy) have traveled both a jnana and a bhakti path (to use the Hindu terms); that is, the path of the mind or of understanding, which tends, at least in my case, to favor an impersonal Divine, and the path of love or devotion, in which, in my case at least, the Divine is Mother whom I adore and lean on and call upon … all very personal. (Since you were last here, there is a thread (somewhere in The Sand Box, I think) where this subject came up, and there too I explained that as strange as it may seem, this apparent contradiction does work for us.) Of course, I fully realize that the Divine is not a person and is not personal, and I am comfortable with that, but even so, I continue to want a personal Deity to whom, for whom, and with whom, I can relate. For me, the Divine as impersonal is the One; as personal, Mother. I know that each of those is One and the Same One, and that ultimately, my Identity is That, and that Stefan is an illusion, that "Stefan's world" is an illusion, that at some point somehow for some Reason or No Reason, Impersonal Consciousness stirred, thought "I Am", and suddenly here I am, Stefan, saying "I am", and now left trying to figure out what, if anything it all means, and how to fix it, if it even needs fixing! In a word, Art, TZF is still more or less where you left it, reaching as high as possible, as enthusiastically as possible, all the while praying for a miracle. What can I tell you?

It is late in the evening here, so I will not expand on this now, but I did want to post my welcome as soon as I saw your username. And as a long-time friend, I throw you this “life jacket before the ship steams out of sight”, as you put it: Your very struggle is clear evidence that the ship is not going to steam out of sight. In fact, you and that ship are so inherently linked that it is not possible for it to steam out of your sight.

Also since your last visit I posted at Ampers&nd a few paragraphs from Ibn ‘Arab’s book Whoso Knoweth Himself. I think you might find it interesting.

Best to you both, always! Stefan

Posted: July 20th, 2007, 12:18 pm
by W4TVQ
Stefan, it is wonderful to be back in touch with you!

When you say, "Of course, I fully realize that the Divine is not a person and is not personal, and I am comfortable with that, but even so, I continue to want a personal Deity to whom, for whom, and with whom, I can relate" you have stated precisely what is going on in my small head. A universe in which Deity is merely Ultimate Origin and no longer involved is a cold universe indeed.

Of course, the message of "General Relativity vs. Quantum Mechanics' can be resolved into the single word "paradox," and that is the point at which I see I must be able to simply relax and "let it be." I can't wrap my mind around that paradox, so how could I get hold of the paradox of "All-That-Is" vs. "My-Friend-God" ...?

This is really helpful, my freind. I think I am experiencing what Thomas Merton described so nicely: "Our minds are like crows. They pick up everything that glitters, no matter how uncomfortable our nests get with all that metal in them."

I just ran across this, from Merton also, which also helps: "there is no 'what' that can be called God. There is 'no such thing' as God because God is neither a 'what' nor a 'thing' but a pure 'Who.' He is the 'Thou' before whom our inmost 'I' springs into awareness. He is the I AM before whom with our own most personal and inalienable voice we echo 'I am.'"

Which is what I yearn to experience, that "Who," while still rather intimidated by the reality of quarks, and black holes and wormholes, and superstrings and things that exist because they do not exist but simply cause everything else to exist. Yikes.

Oops, gotta run

BTW, I love the Ibn 'Arabi passage: printed it out so I can settle down with it and try to figure out what it means.


Posted: July 22nd, 2007, 2:03 pm
by Gulliver
Art, if I may address you so, I am new to this forum, but I have read much of it, and learned a lot, including from your posts, so I also welcome you back from wherever you have been. I am a student of Course in Miracles. My brain knows that God must be impersonal to be true, but my heart longs for a personal God.

Posted: July 22nd, 2007, 3:09 pm
by W4TVQ
Hello, Gulliver! Nice to hear from another ACIM student. "Student" is the operative word: sometimes I feel my brains are dripping out of my ears in the effort to grasp what it is saying to me, but at other times it is so luminously clear...

What I am discovering, lately, is that in reading up on the latest ideas in physics, astronomy, and even anthropology, I hear in "scientific" language exactly what ACIM says in "spiritual" language ... so the distinction between the two "languages" is in fact false. As Stefan reminds us, everything is spiritual. At first, I was thinking that the vastness and intricacy of creation precludes a "personal" god ... and then began to see that there is no reason why personality should not be as much a native part of creation as quarks and mesons and black holes. So when ACIM presents me with a prayers to "Father" I can believe it is heard -- how, where, I could not say, nor does it matter. The Master said to us in ACIM, "When I said, ' I am with you always,' I meant it literally. I am not absent from you in any situation", so I think it is safe to relate to Him as a Person.


Posted: August 1st, 2007, 3:11 pm
by Gulliver
I hear in "scientific" language exactly what ACIM says in "spiritual" language.
I agree. And if
everything is spiritual
then so must be everything that is said in either language. That makes sense, doesn't it?

The seeker's task is to keep that in mind all the time. As William Shakespeare said, ay, there's the rub.