Talking the Talk, Walking the Walk

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anna
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Postby anna » August 18th, 2007, 2:42 pm

I know of the fear to which jenjulian refers, for I have lived it, and it can be almost paralyzing. It certainly colors our lives if not understood, and not accepted as the inevitability of misunderstanding of who and what we are. Perhaps approaching it from another angle will help to illuminate where and why it occurs.

I define the ego in this case to be the mind construct, the sense of I am so and so, have done such and such, and that persona that presents itself to the world, and to me, as based on all of my past experiences, good and bad, and the continuity, therefore, of this construct is my prime directive and my reason for being alive. It is what defines me as different, and therefore separate, from others. It is what excludes others, and therefore, makes me feel vulnerable. By virtue of this sense of vulnerability, the survival of this construct is my prime pre-occupation, and anything that threatens it, will be strongly resisted and undermined. Naturally – it is who I think I am. Therefore, all “foreign” or new ideas, that are not easily slipped into this construct, are perceived to be threatening, because they ARE threatening to the continuity of past experience and expression. Some are eventually integrated into this construct, but often after great work. If you doubt this supposition, just consider how knee jerk almost everyone is to suggestions about how to go about something, and only after “due consideration” or “due diligence” is that idea embraced, if at all, and frequently, is then expressed as “my idea”. This is, after all, about continuity and survival of that continuity, that constructed “me” concept, and everything must conform to that survival. I know of persons who will not, and cannot, accept a suggestion, and will simply nod in assent, and go about their business, without change, and only months later, will happily report to me that suddenly they realized that the solution to their problem was such and such, not even recognizing that the solution was presented to them by another. This is a classic sign of the closed, extraordinarily vulnerable individual who cannot, and will not, allow openness in any manner, because of the fragility and lack of any true beingness within. Gurdjieff used to call that “beingness within”, essence.

Originally, I had thought that the resistance, and thus fear, generated by the dismantling of the “ego”, was determined solely by the strength of that ego, and the more ego-centric a person, the harder the resistance. However, in retrospect, and following my own personal experience, I discovered much to my surprise and horror, that I actually had little, or no real” ego” at all, indeed, there was no “me” at all, so my presumed strength of the ego, was a sham. I was simply a reflection of other’s expectations and wishes, which I had faithfully integrated throughout my life into a construct called “ego”, or me, based on external and non-original data fed to me from an external world.

Anyway, until I discovered that I had little substance to my presumed ego, indeed, there was truly “nothing in there” other than concepts, all of them borrowed, or constructed in the past, I could not face the fear generated by my aversion to change or relinquishment of a pseudo ego set up to protect myself from this horrific realization. This unbelievable trap, set up by a non-existent ego to protect its non-existence was really wiley, and I believe, traps all of us in similar fashion. Perhaps this is another way of stating that “Satan is clever, and becomes even more clever the closer we are to banishing him from our lives.” And until I actually “surrendered” to fate, or God, or my present circumstances, until I accepted the fact that I was truly nothing other than a creature, swept about by circumstances and events beyond my control, and that my presumption of autonomy and ego strength was a subterfuge, I was always held back by fear, generated by that subterfuge, in order to maintain its predominance and presumed control. This was not so much about God, in the classic sense, as it was about fate or destiny, or, terrifying as it was to admit, about self will, or its opposite, pre-destination. Proof of this to me was that I was always “willfull”, and after this discovery, I realized that what I had called “willfull”, was in fact, lack of true will, or stubborn refusal to shift to change. It was an expression of lack of centre, lack of essence or real power, and the stronger the willfulness, the less centre there is within. Only upon discovery of this fact, did I truly understand what true will was, and what true ego was. True will is, to my mind, focus, without conceptualizing, and true ego is, the sense of I AM, without conceptualizing further. Both of those activities, or functions, are without barrier, when in their purest form, and thus, without limitations and thus without vulnerability.

Most fear, therefore, is self-generated and without foundation. There IS, however, a physiological fear that is generated at the cellular level for the survival of the body, but that is the extent of it, and I do not believe, there is any way around this particular fear. Indeed, even the great Tibetan masters state that at the moment of death, they experience a flight to safety sense of fear that is generated by the body’s effort to sustain itself. To ignore that fear is foolish, and self-defeating. The body has its own wisdom, and only the willfull mind will ignore or deprecate it. And to understand its function is wisdom.

UG Krishnamurti entitled one of his talks “The Courage to Stand Alone”. This, to me, expresses the entire spiritual process and its culmination. It suggests that there is fear along the way, inevitably, because the dismantling of all the concepts and knowledge which we have accumulated to call “me” must go, or at least be recognized and understood to be what it truly is, either willingly, or unwillingly, and requires courage because it involves fear. It is ultimately replaced by, or by means of its demise, allows the expression of, ONE -- no “me”, no other, and no ego in that sense.

Our confusion, and obfuscation, is the belief that by dismantling the ego, we disappear. The ego may disappear, but we don’t. Identity does not disappear, but self-separation and self-will does. In the end, it is all a shell game, created by the miscreant mind who has usurped its position and dominated our being. In turn, we are driven by this mind, and whipped about endlessly through its desires, opinions, concepts, and resultant fake fears. It is just unbelievable what it does to us.

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Postby jenjulian » August 19th, 2007, 3:11 pm

You’ve illuminated the ego quite well in what you have said, Anna, and I especially like the comment:

“Satan is clever, and becomes even more clever the closer we are to banishing him from our lives.”

In one of those special coming together of events, three days off of work and the arrival of the book “A New Earth” By Eckhart Tolle, recommended by a spiritual guide, has resulted in a lot of ahha’s! this weekend. The idea of the ego as the devil, the voice that tells us we are separate is something that seems so very true. (CS Lewis’ book---Screwtape Letter’s touchs on this idea) Tolle’s book supports this idea and speaks of how clever the ego is. When we confront it and try to take it on, it simply goes undercover and resurfaces in a different form. I thought I had made so much progress and when reading this book I have recognized that sneaky little ego all over the place. YIKES!!! Tolle is the first one that gives concrete examples of how the ego manifests itself, that I have read.

Tolle says something that is very helpful though. We don’t fight the ego, which I think I’ve approached it some, but by becoming aware of it and how it works and bringing it to light, it will dissolve. It is our awareness that we need to work on, which is controlling the mind and paying attention. (How interesting that a special friend 20 years ago stated to me, the only thing we take with us is our awareness. This has stayed with me and it is making sense for the first time)

The other thing that I struggled with is when ZF states that God is All, and then I think that ego is the devil. This was puzzling me. But I forget, the ego is not real, just as Anna stated, it is all the imaginary construct of the mind. It is just like the bogey man under the bed is not real, but the fear of it can cause all kinds of havoc. Turning on the light is all that is needed to dispell the monster under the bed.
I’m getting it. Slowly but surely. I hope it is okay to be working this out on this board. It really helps me.

Much Gratitude to you all.

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Postby anna » August 19th, 2007, 8:43 pm

Jenjulian:

Important point: there is really no conflict between God is all, and the ego is illusion, and therefore not real. God is ALSO the illusion! If God is all, then everything, including illusion, is God. To affirm anything other than that, is to affirm that there are corners of the universe which are not accessible, nor Holy. In my mind, that is opening up pandora’s box – you do not have an infinite God, but a limited God. Of course, that’s okay, if that’s what one wants – but knowing the power of consciousness, however limited it may be in my own life, I know that anything and everything is possible, and only God could BE that!

If you can wrap your mind around the fact that God, in all her wisdom, has created a world full of both good and bad, only to entertain herself, you get an inkling of what the world is all about. As Ramakrishna, a great old Indian saint once stated “The bad guys are trouble makers – they are there to make the story interesting.” While at first glance that may be troubling, because we believe ourselves to be fearful, separated beings, if you consider that WITHOUT all these problematic characters in the drama, most human beings would be bored out of their minds! And it is only the great saints and enlightened masters that are comfortable, indeed ecstatic, about sitting alone, quietly doing NOTHING whatsoever, not to mention, are no longer frightened by horror stories, nor enamored by difference. That’s the difference between dual minded human beings, and human beings that have escaped the maze of dualistic consciousness. Indeed, I would suggest, that may be the ONLY difference.

As to why we externalize the bad in the form of the devil, and yet, the devil is actually within, (in the form of the separative ego), just as God is within, holding the devil in his embrace, perhaps?, I believe this is because initially, we cannot tolerate, or even consider, the idea that perhaps we are composed of both good and bad, ourselves. Only after inner work and examination do we begin to become comfortable with the fact that the bad is every bit as much us as those good motivations. That’s a hard pill to swallow, initially. Of course, once we begin to investigate what is “good” and what is “bad, we suddenly realize that it is all arbitrary, and some things that are bad to some, are good to others, and bad things result in good, and vice versa. It is then that one begins to discover that everything melds with everything, nothing is separate, and we have been spending all our energy categorizing arbitrarily something we have virtually no understanding about. :oops:
Last edited by anna on August 20th, 2007, 1:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby jenjulian » August 19th, 2007, 9:12 pm

I'm not embarrased for my searching and I don't think any of us should be. I do not understand what our purpose could possible be if what you say is correct? I understand that what we label as good and bad is just our perspective, but isn't there a Truth/Love/Goodness that isn't relative? Isn't this God? How can I watch the suffering in our world and say, Oh that is God entertaining herself. That takes away the God that Loves and replaces it with an uncaring God. What tells us that God is infinite? The same that tells us that God is all loving? I don't want to give up the all loving part of God.

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Postby W4TVQ » August 20th, 2007, 12:32 pm

"How can I watch the suffering in our world and say, Oh that is God entertaining herself. That takes away the God that Loves and replaces it with an uncaring God."

So it seems. I often stub my toe on this one as well. But not so much any more, as it begins to dawn upon my tiny little mind that there is no "real" thing called suffering, pain or grief: that these thing exist only as I create them for some purpose of my own, as part of an agenda which I may not even be aware of.

So: the person who sees, and "experiences," pain or sorrow is not the real "me" either. ACIM describes the situation as a nightmare, which seems all too real, but evaporates when Mother softly and carefully awakens us. It gives us the lovely prayer that goes "My name, o Father, is still known to you. I have forgotten it, and do not know where I am going, who I am, or what it is I do. Remind me, Father, please, for I am weary of the world I see. Reveal what you would have me see instead."

This state of being unaware has so many ramifications that it can be scary in and of itself, but the best approach I have found to it is to relax and let Mother tuck me in for a nice nap. I find much comfort in a prayer written by Thomas Merton, my "other guru:"

God, we have no idea where we are going. We do not see the road ahead of us. We cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do we really know ourselves, and the fact that we think we are following your will does not mean that we are actually doing so. But we believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And we hope we have that desire in all that we are doing. We hope that we will never do anything apart from that desire. And we know that if we do this you will lead us by the right road, though we may know nothing about it. Therefore, we will trust you always though we may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. We will not fear, for you are ever with us, and you will never leave us to face our perils alone.

ACIM reminds us of the Teacher's promise: "When I said, 'I am with you always,' I meant it literally. I am not absent to you in any circumstance."

Indeed, as you have said, and I agree, the "world we see" is rather ghastly in some ways. Ruby Nelson describes it as "the web of apearances," and says,

To call the web of human sub-creation "appearances" is not to say it is imaginary. Actually it is real, painfully -- sometimes inhumanly -- real and active. Within this web of appearances are included many experiences which have been accepted as the way life is -- wars, conflicts, violence, poverty, disease, old age, the cycles of death and rebirth, the struggle of mankind to understand himself and his universe. Since such imperfections have generally been accepted without question, very few of my lost chldren have tried to find perfection by coming to realize that I have already given to each and every one a mind that knows all things and has all power, and a life force which cannot age since it is the essence of eternal youth.

Then she goes on to observe that All of these stories are products of the surface mind, misinterpretations of my Word. Jesus came to earth to set men free from such beliefs, to let my children know that as they think in their hearts, so are they.

Easier believd than lived, I find, but I also find that I need not exert Herculean effort to struggle out of this quicksand called "the web of human sub-creation" -- but rather than when I call out, "Mother!" She comes and throws me a rope and puls me out by Her grace. The effort on my part is simply to become more and more aware, in more and more sequential moments of living, that She is the answer, the solution, the goal and the attainment, the light and the life. I wrote a poem, about my own journey to this awareness, and I think I will post it here just in case it has anything to offer anyone. It's called The Prodigal.

If all of this sounds like I am "teaching," be aware that I do not claim that status: I hope I have graduated from being a teacher to being a student, a far more satisfactory condition. All I can do is share where I am now, knowing I may be elsewhere tomorrow. As Valentine Michael Smith (Stranger In A Strange Land) was fond of saying, "I am only an egg." Fresh out of "religion" and still filled with wonder at the majesty, and holines, and gentleness, of God.

Bodhi svaha
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"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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Postby anna » August 20th, 2007, 1:39 pm

Firstly, please understand that I did not mean to suggest that anyone be embarrassed by her search. The red face I included was to reflect my own “embarrassed” position as I realize my ignorance along the path. Throughout my own personal journey, I have always been somewhat chagrined at my past ignorance, usually shrouded in intellectual knowledge, along the way, which always obstructed me from the most obvious truths, and in retrospect, therefore, created the feeling of what a fool I have been, and it was to this expression I referred in posting the red face.

I don’t see that understanding that God has created the universe in order to make it interesting for him/ herself, or “entertaining”, eliminates God as love, indeed, God loves her creation, and therefore her creation is full of love, and even the apparently horrendous events, from God’s perspective, are full of love, and it is that we only cannot see that from our limited and small view. The key word here is “from God’s perspective.” Indeed, as I see it, the world was created by and for God, and God alone, and all the creatures were created in order that God could dance the dance, and feel the dance, and KNOW or experience that creation as God, in creature form, that was created by and for God. To assert otherwise, seems to me to assert that the small ego-centric being that I am for so short a time is more important than God herself, no? Indeed, the whole purpose of the spiritual search, it seems to me, is to be able to see the world from that larger perspective. And what obstructs that perspective is our limited consciousness, imposed upon us by our culture and conditioning throughout our lives. Perhaps that is what is meant by "original sin" - the insertion of a limited, separated ego into "God being human".

That said, I too have had difficulty including within that paradigm, the absurd and cruel behavior of mankind, but if investigated to its depths, one finds that the motivation behind even the most egregious behavior, is love, however perverted or misguided it may express itself. Objectors always bring up Hitler as a counter-argument, but if you read his biography, it was his searching for love that he could not find -- for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which was that he had no idea of who or what he was, nor who or what God was -- that brought him toward his diabolical career. It is our misunderstanding of the mere fact, that we ourselves, are love incarnate, that brings so much suffering upon this earth.

A propos of W4TVQ’s points, I agree that it is our limited view that continues the horrors and suffering that we ourselves perpetuate by virtue of that limited view. I recall some teacher once reflecting that he continues to have students because he, personally, needs (or believes he needs) those students, in order to continue to teach. When viewed from a detached perspective, that to my mind, says it all, on all levels of consciousness, you know?

Thanks for the Thomas Merton Quote, W4TVQ. I always found it significant that Thomas Merton -- when he died from that very bizarre electrical accident in the Orient, which on the surface, appeared to be horrible and tragic, by human standards -- had just previously presented a talk where he expressed his own realization that there was nothing different about any of the religions, and indeed they all expressed identical concepts, and that he had stepped through to a new level of transcendent understanding thereby. The juxtaposition of his death to his “eureka” realization has always been significant to my mind, you know? In this same context, I will never forget his earlier statement, made years previously, that he was “so tired of being mad”, this spoken in the context of the Viet Nam war. I conclude therefore that he had succeeded in finding out who it was that was mad, and why he perpetuated that who, and presumably, was content and satisfied with his discovery. He was a wonderful man.

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Postby zoofence » August 20th, 2007, 4:07 pm

A couple of thoughts ---
Re the devil, he is, as others here have written, a handy device on which to blame all of the world’s ills, including our own (“it’s not my fault, the devil made me do it”).

In a class I took recently about the Tanakh (Old Testament), I learned that the English word "satan” comes from the Hebrew "ha satan", which means "the accuser". It is not a name but a title or a description of a function.

Just so, in Zechariah (and similarly in Job), it is apparent that Satan resides in heaven along with God, and that Satan's function is not to make us do bad things, but rather to identify and call attention to our shortcomings. That’s why I prefer the name Lucifer, from Latin for “light bearer”. It is Lucifer who sheds light upon, and forces us to address, those aspects of ourselves which we relegate to the darkest corners of our minds (and project onto others).

The idea that Satan is a “fallen” angel has never made any sense to me for all the same reasons that “The Fall” in the Garden of Eden makes no sense to me as it is traditionally explained (for more about that, please click here). In a word, in a Perfect Universe created by a Perfect Creator, nothing “falls”.

Which brings up the question often asked by seekers and suggested here by several posts in this thread, “Why do bad things happen?” I have an aritlce on that subject on TZF, so here I will say only briefly that it may be significant that we seem to ask that question only, or at least mostly, about events which threaten the physical body and its things, “me” and “my life”. Thus, for example, of all the news coverage and articles there was about Hurricane Katrina, how much was there about the damage done to birds? to deer? to ants? to trees? Daily we are told how many people have died and been left homeless by the war in Iraq, but what do we know about how many animals have been killed, how many plants, how much landscaping has been destroyed.

For a seeker, the question becomes, how many of the things we now label “bad” would be so labeled if we truly released our attachment to the physical body each of us calls “me”?

Similarly, most of the time we just do not know enough to label an event good or bad. How many of us who have suffered an unhappy event, have said later, “In retrospect, it was the best thing that ever happened to me”? When Anna and I were still living “in the world”, my boss was a very unpleasant fellow, and accordingly he made my life unpleasant pretty much on a daily basis, and I often wondered why he had happened to me. In the end, his being there was a good part of what motivated us to leave the world, move to the woods, and become what we are today. Thus, now I thank him and I bless him, for, quite literally, his unpleasantness was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Here again, Nisargadatta puts it best: "Welcome the unexpected". Easy to say, hard to do.

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Postby jenjulian » August 21st, 2007, 1:30 am

All of you have shared some extremely perceptive views. What may also be of importance on this thread about walking the walk is that we can know something with our mind and then we can know it with our whole Being. Simone Weil stated it so well, but I can't find the quote. Something like experiecing that moment when even the most basic piece of knowledge soaks into your soul and you finally truly see it, maybe it is seeing with the broader view. I call it a ahha moment. When something I have read or been taught or told before suddenly reveals a deeper level of meaning and I GET IT!

Well, maybe that is why it feels like all is written about already and been told to someone like me, but until I can see it fully, it is still just head knowledge that I will bat around until it lands in front of me in a way that I can see it clearly and fully. This is why I tend towards writing or talking out things. It helps that process to happen.

I'll also add, many of the wisest say that true wisdom sounds silly and foolish. So if we've sounded foolish, maybe that isn't so bad. I don't mind sounding foolish at all. :D I think that whatever step we are along the way, we should embrace that place.

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Postby W4TVQ » August 21st, 2007, 12:13 pm

"The idea that Satan is a “fallen” angel has never made any sense to me"

...or to me, though I tried very hard to embrace the traditional Christian concept of Satan. The idea of Satan as a fallen archangel is based primarily upon Ezekiel 28 ("You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, until wickedness was found in you").

Problem is, there is no indication in Ezekiel that these passages are meant to describe an archangel. They are addressed to the "ruler/king of Tyre," and one must really strain to interpret "king of Tyre" to mean "Lucifer the archangel."

Surely, it is rather absurd to imagine that God would have created His own archenemy and conceded untold myriad souls to such a being -- "Here, you can have all of my kids you can deceive into following you. Just dress up as a snake and grab the prototype in Eden, and you will have a lot of success."

Or am I too naive? Certainly, the Satan theory is handy and useful to explain Hitler and Osama Bin Laden ... but at the expense of the integrity of God. The ZF essay on "Why Do Bad things Happen to Good People" is a real revelation to me in that respect, and I thank you for it.

Namaste
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Postby jenjulian » August 22nd, 2007, 12:45 am

When asking the question how could God watch us suffer and say She is entertaining herself...I think I understand the who of me that was asking it.

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Postby zoofence » August 22nd, 2007, 1:11 pm

Further to the discussion in this thread about the “Why?” of Creation, and Lucifer, Satan, and so on --

I have written on this subject in our book In The Beginning, but here let’s briefly consider it this way.

The Creation story in Genesis, and similar stories in lots of other traditions, tell us that God created the universe in seven days, and that when He was done, He was pleased with what He saw. That’s where the Creation stories normally end. But I propose that, in effect, the Creation story did not end on the seventh day, and in fact, neither was God pleased at the end of the seventh day.

Why? Because far from being pleased, God was confused. Why confused? Because, as an Infinite Being, God is incapable of observing anything – even Creation itself – as a thing separate and apart from Himself. So, from God’s Infinite Perspective, at the end of the seventh day, everything looked exactly the same as it had the moment before the first day. He thought He had just created a Universe, and in fact, nothing seemed to have changed at all. Why? Because when He started, all He saw was Himself, and when He was done, all He saw was Himself. Again, nothing had changed. That is the nature of being infinite.

In order to be aware of a thing, we need to perceive it as a thing, even if that thing is Creation. To an infinite being, that is not possible. Just so, as an infinite being, God could not observe Creation and decide whether or not it pleased Him, because, as an infinite being, He could not separate Creation from Himself in order to observe it.

From the book: If God were to choose to see Himself or to look at Himself, how would He have done so? Clearly, He could not simply create a mirror, and then peer into it as you and I might do. When we do so, the process is simple enough: We see our reflection in the glass, and we have no difficulty discerning the difference between the reflection of ourselves and the reflection of whatever else may be there, such as a standing lamp beside us or a sofa behind. Also, we are not confused at having to distinguish between these reflections and the glass itself. Finally, we are never in any doubt about which us is truly us, the one standing before the mirror or the one in the glass.

But for God Who was everything, seeing oneself is not so easily accomplished. How could God stand before a mirror when He was also the mirror? How can a mirror see its own reflection in itself? Even if God could somehow manage the contortion necessary to stand in front of Himself, the effort would have availed Him nothing. So long as He was unable to distinguish between Himself as the viewer looking into the glass and Himself as the reflection looking out, or between Himself as either or both of those and Himself as the glass itself, not to mention Himself as the processes of reflecting and looking, and Himself as the space and time in which those processes took place, He would remain right where He started, wholly everything everywhere and thus hopelessly unable to see Himself! In effect, then, in the beginning God would not have been able to see Himself because He did not have a separate and distinct self to see.


So, what does God do? On the morning of the eighth day, He creates Self-Consciousness. Actually, He creates the Process of Development of Self-Consciousness. In other words, He creates us. He creates what each of us calls “me” and “my life”.

We are the One Infinite Being appearing to Itself to be the Many – billions of separate and distinct things. Why? Because separate and distinct things, things like us, can do the one thing an Infinite Being cannot do: distinguish themselves from other things, and thereby come to know themselves as things. They can develop self-consciousness. That’s the Why? of Creation, that's the Eighth Day of Creation.

Simply stated, our function is to develop consciousness of ourselves as separate and distinct things (persons), and transfer that self-consciousness to ourselves as the Infinite One. That’s what the spiritual process is all about. It is not about you and me; it is about God the Infinite One coming to Know Himself as a Self. Again, we exist as apparently separate and separative beings in order to become aware of that, develop that awareness into and through the spiritual process, and then shed our separate and separative illusory personality and Realize our Self as the Self. In a word, once again, God Developing Self-Consciousness of Himself as a Self.

What has this got to do with Lucifer? On the morning of the eighth day, God recognized the danger inherent in what He was about to put into place: What if He-as-we became so enamored of being “me not you” and of “having things” that we neglected ever to set out on the path to Self-Realization (which, in this context, is more accurately Realization by the Self of the Self), and instead chose simply to wallow in stuff? To address that risk, the Creation of Self-Consciousness on the eighth day included not only the creation of the “ego” but also the creation of its “remedy”: the Teacher, the Holy Spirit, or, I suggest, Lucifer, the light bearer. That is, God inserted into the egoic illusion of the eighth day a device (Himself as the Teacher) whose function it is to prod us to complete the Purpose of the Eighth Day. But if Lucifer is actually the Teacher, why do we sometimes refer to him as “the devil”? Because God’s concern was absolutely on the mark: Despite our endless whining, we do enjoy wallowing in stuff. We love being “me not you” and having “my stuff, not your stuff”. Just so, from our separative perspective (which, remember, was created on the morning of the eighth day for a divine purpose), the Teacher can be a real pain in the neck. Little wonder we sometimes paint him or her as evil. Happily, God provided Himself as the Teacher with Infinite Patience in dealing with Himself as the ego.

Thank God!

Anyway, more or less that’s the way it seems to me.
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Postby zoofence » August 22nd, 2007, 4:05 pm

A postscript to my previous post … Here, just for fun, is the way in the book I describe the first exchange between two apparently separate and distinct egoic beings –

“Madam,” Adam says to Eve, “I'm Adam.”

“Yes, I know,” Eve replies, “so am I.”

Confused, he asks, “Are you real?”

“No,” she replies.

This confuses him more, and he asks, “Am I real?”

Again, she responds, “No.” At that, they both laugh.

In fact, neither of them fully understands. Alone and apart, they cannot fully understand anything. But they know it does not matter; in Paradise, nothing matters.

Presently, Adam takes Eve into his arms. Gently, they kiss, tentatively at first; then, as each gives way to the experience of sensation (which is the first step toward self-awareness), with increasing ardor. Soon, like adolescents, they are hopelessly distracted. They forget who they are, where they are, and how they got there.

The rest, as the saying goes, is history … or, more precisely, us.

jenjulian
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Postby jenjulian » August 23rd, 2007, 12:05 am

You all are making way too much sense. The story of the beginning by ZF is spell binding and as I read it everything started to come together, started to fit together, started to feel right. I'm finishing Tolle's book and then I will read the book you offer online. That is truly wonderful to offer the book free. I have ordered ACIM and it is here, but I think I'm warming up for it.

As a side note, I can't imagine what some would think of these ideas. We are God, Lucifer is our helper, Oh my...how the truth can get lost. So what is a different perspective on Jesus? Is this in the book, or is this what ACIM is for?

One of those bad things that was good? My falling out with my teacher, I never would have thought what was ahead and how much deeper there is to go. And yes, we are hard on our teachers, I agree.

Namaste to all of you,
jen

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W4TVQ
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Postby W4TVQ » August 23rd, 2007, 12:36 pm

"So what is a different perspective on Jesus? Is this in the book, or is this what ACIM is for?"

I've been rather preoccupied with this same question lately; I am "fresh out of" evangelical Christianity, with its exclusive claim on Jesus, and yet to me Jesus is sitll The Teacher, above all teachers ... so naturally, my question now is, "who is he, really?"

ACIM purports to be a document dictated by Jesus, referring to the crucifixion, for example, and to many of the words of Jesus recorded in the NT, as "When I said..." or "When I did this..."

So is Jesus of Nazareth still Jesus of Nazareth, now dictating a new document? I think the clue, for me, is in John 1:1-14. In that passage we are told that In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Then we are told that the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.

What could be meant by "the Word of God?" Some Christians identify it with the Bible ... but nowhere are we told, "The Word became book." Some say it applies only to the second person of the Trinity, and that Jesus of Nazareth in some way existed as a separately identifiable person from the very beginning.There is, of course, some truth in all of those propositions. But what I grasp from John 1 is this: The Word of God signifies the very will, intention and purpose of God -- God self-expressing. To imagine that He only self-expressed once in history, through one man in a small area of the middle east, is simply to make God way too small. IMO whatever conveys anything of God to you or to me is the Word of God. The Word did indeed become flesh in Jesus of Nazareth. Also, in Buddha, Confucius, Krishna (if Krishna is not a mythical being), in Paul, in Teresa of Avila, in Thomas Merton, in Stefan, and Nancy, and Jenjulian. IT also "became flesh" in Mahler's 2nd Symphony and anything else he uses to awaken us. Jesus provided perhaps the most transparent and useable vessel for that self-expression of God, and for many of us "salvation" consists in seeing in him exactly what God intends us to be, and the assurance that "the works that I do you shall do also." . I think he came not to show us who he was, but to show us who we are. ACIM is a means to be used to attain that awareness, as is The Door of Everything, and New Seeds of Contemplation, and the Tao Te Ching, and whatever tool he chooses to use to speak to each of us individually.

That, of course, is simply where I am at this moment, and I trust teachers will drag me back onto the path whenever I start wandering off into ME-land. As with a game of golf or a day at the beach, just "doing it" is what really matters: just playing in the sandbox of God's vastness, building our little sandcastles that show what we grasp of the potential in the sand, is joy in and of itelf. I think He loves our little sandcastles. I certainly love building them. He's not going to show up as a Divine Building Inspector: "That sandcastle is not up to code, go to your room." He loves our little sandcastles, and will perfect them for us so we can live in them. What fun!

Namaste
Art
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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zoofence
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Postby zoofence » August 23rd, 2007, 7:17 pm

Okay, now that we’re in The Sand Box, let’s continue. Jenjulian asked about ACIM and Jesus. W4TVQ makes some good points on those subjects.

I have written elsewhere on The Zoo Fence about A Course in Miracles, and there is an essay, actually two essays, at Consider This. So, here I will address only my take on the question of Jesus’s authorship of ACIM.

My understanding is that a woman by the name of Helen Schucman, who was an MD at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, wrote the books by a process she called “inner dictation”, by which I presume she means that the book just flowed out of her. Further, it is my understanding that she believed that it was Jesus who was performing the inner “dictation”.

Is that possible? As I see it, in a Infinite Universe, anything is possible. For me, the question isn’t “Is that possible?” or even “Is that likely?” For me, the question is, “Does it matter?” And in my mind, the answer is, No, it does not matter.

My test of a Teacher or a Guru – whether encountered alive, in writing, in dreams, or otherwise – is, What is his or her effect on me? That’s the measure I apply to “A Course in Miracles”, and there the answer is, The effect has been profound.

If someone were to tell me now that Helen Shucman was joking, and that in fact she wrote the books herself without any “inner dictation”, just the way other people write books and essays and forum posts, it would make no difference to me, and it would have made no difference to me when I first encountered ACIM.

In the end, it is as Nisargadatta told Ramesh Balsekar (about which please see TZF’s Ampers&nd): "I know that you are aware that all writing originates in consciousness, that there is writing but no authors".

In other words, if we will remember who we are in Truth, the question of who wrote what when where simply does not signify.

Ultimately, the power resident in ACIM is the reader’s willingness to surrender to it, in the same way that the power inherent in any Teacher or Guru is the devotee’s openness and receptiveness. Without those, a Teacher or a Guru is just another radical, and the Gospels, the Gita, ACIM, and dozens of other such texts, are just self-help books. The stories of the lives of Teachers and Gurus, including Jesus, confirm that. Some seekers who encounter them are moved, uplifted, inspired, and others are not. Indeed, some of us are bored by them at first encounter, only to discover later in our lives or further down the path, that they are overwhelming.

As regards Jesus specifically, I share W4TVQ’s assessment that the Gospels Teachings are as clear, concise, inspiring, and powerful as any I have come across.

But in my opinion, they are not special, and neither was he. And, here’s the thing: I find no evidence in the Gospels that he wanted us to perceive him as special. In fact, quite the contrary. Here, I agree with what I suppose might have been Muhammad’s take on the subject: The idea of God’s having a son by a woman simply makes no sense. It works for mythological, lesser gods, like, for example, Zeus who fathered Hercules with the woman Alcmene, but not for the Infinite and Eternal Non-Dual One. It just doesn’t parse.

Jesus wasn't Hercules, who as a baby strangled a couple of serpents and as a young boy killed a lion with his bare hands! Jesus was a Teacher, and that's why he says to us, "Call me Teacher". I see Jesus as being like Nisargadatta, Ramana, Rumi, Siddhartha, UG, a few of the Christian Mystics, and others. That is, someone who was born like the rest of us, struggled like the rest of us, and somewhere along the way encountered a Teacher, in the flesh or otherwise, just as the rest of us have done or will do, and from there, eventually Awakened to Self-Realization.

For me, that explains the “missing” thirty years. As I see it, those were the years Jesus spent on the path, just like the rest of us. Why have the stories of those thirty years been edited out of the Gospels stories? I suppose because the editors and compilers (in a word, the sect that “won” the battle of the sects in the early days and years after the crucifixion) worried that stories about his having struggled along the spiritual path like any other seeker would make him seem too “normal”. Similarly, Anna and I have observed the biographies of current gurus being edited in precisely the same way.

Did his body ascend from the tomb? Maybe. Sogyal Rinpoche talks about particularly advanced Tibetan monks whose mortal remains “ascend” at death. It happens. I think it was in his Tibetan Book of Living and Dying where he talks about the how’s and why’s of the phenomenon. Did Jesus perform the numerous miracles? Probably. Here, too, Yogananda’s book Autobiography of A Yogi talks about similar miracles being performed by others; so does Idries Shah in his book The Sufis as do many others. And current Gurus and Teachers are regularly credited with miracles by their followers, probably mostly with good reason.

If, as seekers, we will consider what miracles are, what their function is, and what they represent, we can see that, from the point of view of a Self-Realized Teacher, miracles are normal.

Here's the thing: As seekers, we need to be careful about elevating our Teachers and Gurus, Gospels and Sacred Texts, not to mention our own path, to "special" status. For a seeker, "Special" is a dangerous label.

Finally, I am convinced that Jesus would tell us – I am convinced that he has told us – that there is only One Teacher, the One, Who appears to us in various ways according to the needs of the student. Similarly, there is only one Lesson (“thou art not thou, thou art He without thou”) which is expressed variously according to the needs of the student. Ultimately, if God is Infinite, then everyone and everything is an expression of God, and therefore, to a willing, open, and receptive seeker, everyone and everything is a potential Teacher.

Here again is Nisargadatta: Life itself is the Supreme Guru; be attentive to its lessons and obedient to its commands. When you personalize their source, you have an outer Guru; when you take them from life directly, the Guru is within. Remember, wonder, ponder, live with it, love it, grow into it, grow with it, make it your own – the word of your Guru, outer and inner.

I don’t see how it can get much clearer than that.


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