Talking the Talk, Walking the Walk

jenjulian
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Postby jenjulian » August 24th, 2007, 12:51 pm

I have come to many of the same conclusions that all of you are talking about. Firstly, I agree completely with the idea that we do not have to try to discern whether something is inspired or not, we find out by the results of following it. I also apply S Weil's idea to ACIM which is that there are great works of art and writing, but those that are beyond the personality and survive to be greater than the writer (example ACIM as I have found so far is known for its content and is not about the author) are those that are of genuis. This was the first thing I noticed when ordering the book.

The ideas about Jesus have always been there with me, and even more after taking the Biblical studies classes. I could find no where that Jesus said write down what I say, start a church to lead the people, etc etc...all that has been done. I also did not understand him to say I am God and I am the Son and all must go through me in the way that the current churches interpret it. I've always thought that he was saying we all are God, deep inside, and that through him means through the same path he took. (I like the idea expressed on this thread that Jesus was showing us who we are, not who he was.)

I've been puzzled by the lack of his childhood and I also was very shocked to find that the entire beginning of Christianity was started by Paul, who was not even a disciple. How could this not bother us? This doesn't even make sense to me. I could never get past this.

I'm not adding anything here, just supporting and agreeeing. Nowhere els to share thoughts like this without being run out of the room. I would also add that we can apply the idea of what are the results? A look at what Christianity has created is a clue to maybe the message being missed from Jesus.

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W4TVQ
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Postby W4TVQ » August 24th, 2007, 2:51 pm

"I've been puzzled by the lack of his childhood and I also was very shocked to find that the entire beginning of Christianity was started by Paul, who was not even a disciple. How could this not bother us? This doesn't even make sense to me. I could never get past this."

Paul is only a problem if one takes the NT as many, if not most, evangelical Chrstians take it: as 100% inspired/dictated by God. One must hold Paul in extremely high regard, as one who proceeded absolutely fearlessly to promote and defend the one he regarded as Lord and Savior, even to the point of willingly giving up his life. Without Paul's efforts we might not today have any record of Jesus, for the twelve followed Jesus' example in restricting the Master's entourage to Jews only. But Paul's letters can make sense to us only if we understand that they are a mixture of inspiration and opinion. Paul himself says at some points, "I have no word from the Lord about this, but here is my opinion." Much of what he wrote about (for example) women is just Paul's own prejudices.

It is perhaps unfortunate that it was Paul who ended up being almost the only molder and shaper of the new-born religion that was growing up around the figure of Jesus of Nazareth. As Eric Butterworth wrote (quoted by ZF in an earlier post), Paul arrived at the stage when followers of the Teacher were saying "we must organize this Teacher, and organize his followers, and enclose him in a structure." Who better to undertake such a project than a Pharisee? And by the second century Ignatius and some others were hard at work codifying and encapsulating the "doctrine" that would keep the movement from evolving, and creating the hierarchy that would guard the capsule. Periodic "revivals" have occurred throughout history in an effort to reach back to the early beginnings, to the Teacher himself, most recently the Azusa Street revivals, the phenomenal Christian growth in China and Russia, and the amazing blossoming of eastern mysticism in the west, particularly TM and Zen. As each occurs, it gets codified. One of the beauties of ACIM is that it does not lend itelf to being compressed into creeds and rites. That is why I suspect that ACIM is genuine and must be taken seriously.

I love Paul's writings, but try to weed out stuff that is clearly just Paul pontificating. It is in the Gospels, and John in particular, that we hear from the Teacher Himself ... of whom the Voice on the Mount said, "This is my beloved Son: hear Him." Why? Because He is already at the destination towards which we travel, and thus knows the way and knows where the pitfalls are.

Pax Domini
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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Postby zoofence » August 26th, 2007, 7:33 pm

A few posts ago, W4TVQ wrote
What could be meant by "the Word of God"?


How many tears, how much blood, has been shed over that question!

W4TVQ refers to the Book of John, whose first few lines include, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” and then, a few lines later, “and the Word became flesh”. And, again as W4TVQ writes, over the centuries Christians have understood the word “flesh” there to be a reference to Jesus of Nazareth.

The word “Word” in John is an English translation of the Greek word “Logos”. Logos is a difficult and complex term, with many and various possible translations besides word, including concept, pattern, reason, speech, and revelation.

As I wrote a couple of posts earlier, I have suggested that in the beginning God the Infinite One created Creation with its separative/egoic characteristic (“I am me, and you are not me”), as an environment in which self-consciousness could unfold and lead to Self-Consciousness . Creation is God’s Way of Coming to Know Himself.

Now, because God is Infinite, the Creation is itself wholly God. That is, instead of “God created Creation”, we might better say, “God extended Himself into Creation”.

Thus, when I read that first sentence in John, what I hear in my mind is, “In the beginning was the Concept of Creation, and the Concept of Creation was with God, and the Concept of Creation was God”.

And for the second part (“and the Word became flesh”), I hear “and the Concept of Creation manifested as what we now call the world”.

In my mind, Jesus himself authorizes us to read “flesh” in John that way when, at the Last Supper, he tells his disciples, “this bread is my body, this wine is my blood”. There, as I hear him, Jesus is speaking as a Self-Realized Teacher, and as such, when he uses the first person pronouns “I”, “me”, and “my”, he does so as God the Infinite One, just as do all Self-Realized Teachers. Thus, the “flesh” to which John refers is the same “body” and “blood” to which Jesus refers: the manifested Infinite One.

In other words, this reality which each of us calls “me” and “my life” and “the world” is itself the Infinite One being that. This reality – at its every level, seen and unseen, and in its entirety and in its apparent myriad parts – is itself the incarnation, the “flesh” of the Divine.

In the words of Ibn ‘Arabi, “Thou art not thou, thou art He without thou”.

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Postby jenjulian » August 26th, 2007, 9:53 pm

While studying a few years ago, I stumbled over this, what is The Logos. I read and looked up and tried every angle to figure out what Logos means.

Your quote is very illuminating:

Thus, when I read that first sentence in John, what I hear in my mind is, “In the beginning was the Concept of Creation, and the Concept of Creation was with God, and the Concept of Creation was God”.


At one place where I was researching Logos it was connected to The Way that the Tao Te Ching points to. This ties into what you are saying too. This is very interesting.

I also was sparked by your comment that God extended himself into creation. This is a way of saying it that I can make sense of. So then, everything we see and everything we are permeates of God? I have felt this before in nature, a sense of feeling wrapped around in Goodness and Love, of the trees and everything around breathing together.

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Postby W4TVQ » August 27th, 2007, 1:33 pm

"Thus, when I read that first sentence in John, what I hear in my mind is, “In the beginning was the Concept of Creation, and the Concept of Creation was with God, and the Concept of Creation was God”.

I could hardly agree more, though I might go a bit further ... because I think the "logos" implies more than the concept or idea of Creation: it includes also the impetus towards Creation, and the effecting of Creation.

Much light is shed on this in two excellent works, Language and Myth by Ernst Cassirer and Philosophy in a New Key by Suzanne Langer. Both describe the effect of language (semantics) as seminal in the creation of myth -- i.e., we ordinarily relate not to anything extraneous to our own minds, but only and always to symbols that reside therein and are created by us to both represent and embody the external data. Only in the moment of mystical exprience are we actually relating to anything beyond that level, relating directly to reality -- at which point we discover that "reality" and "God" are synonymous. Thomas Merton says it this way: If nothing that can be seen can either be God or represent Him to us as He is, then to find God we must pass beyond everything that can be seen and enter into darkness. Since nothing that can be heard is God, to find Him we must enter into silence. ...and it is in the deepest darkness that we most fully possess God on earth, because it is then that our minds are most truly liberated from the weak, created lights that are darkness in comparison to Him; it is then that we are filled with His infinite Light which seems pure darknes to our reason.

Thomas Aquinas also stated the same truth, this way: having written the vast and complex tomes which even today form the basis of Roman Catholic theology, the ultimate masterpieces of Aristotelian exposition of Christian doctrine, he had a direct mystical exprience of God and laid down his pen, saying "I can write no more, I have seen things that make my writings seem as straw."

The idea of the Word of God is as old as the beginnings of human thought. It appears, for example, in a Polynesian creation hymn attributing creation to the thought and will of Tanananoa. All of the Polynesian religions conceive of a "field of force," an atmosphere of potency which permeates everything and manifests or "cyrystallizes" itself in form as it wills. The same can be said of Rama in the Hindu thought proceses.

In expounding on all of this I do not intend to minimize the importance of Jesus of Nazareth as the premier revelation of the Infinite Light to those of us in western civilization. How could we know without a Teacher, and Who has been more transparent to the Light than He? His name conveys Him to us, or so I have found. We gather and eat the bread and drink the wine "in rememberance of Him" and find that He fills us, that the message of the act is total dependence upon Him for life and sustenance, the same message contained in the parable of the Vine and Branches. As the gospel song says, "I can't even walk without You holding my hand." I accept Him as my Teacher, my Friend, my Way-shower, and in the medieval sense as my Liege Lord. However, I cannot think that God is so small that He could only manifest Himself in one time,and one place, through one Man. He is not a tribal deity, but the Sum total of Infinity, the Absolute Ground of all Being. How cool is that?

Good grief, Art, stop rambling.

Jai Ram
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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Postby zoofence » August 28th, 2007, 4:06 pm

Interesting post, although there are a couple of points which make me a little uncomfortable.

In expounding on all of this I do not intend to minimize the importance of Jesus of Nazareth as the premier revelation of the Infinite Light to those of us in Western civilization.
(Italics mine)

I am a little confused by that statement, particularly the italicized portion, and there particularly “Western civilization”.

Unless you are speaking as an historian, I don’t see what the Gospels Teacher has to do with “Western civilization”. To be sure, the Christian Church in Rome, and since the Protestant Reformation, the Christian Churches in the West generally, have played a significant role in the political and cultural evolution of the Western societies (and not always an admirable role). But, surely, much if not most of that has had less to do with the Sermon on the Mount than with the armies, navies, allies, and guns, not to mention business interests, of the evolving social and national entities.

On the other hand, if you are saying that the Gospels Teacher has been the most important Teacher to seekers in the West, then I can only repeat what I have said before: I believe strongly that no seeker can say with certainty who or what is the most important Teacher for any other seeker at any time or any where. In this process, which is surely the most intensely intimate area of human experience imaginable, it is difficult enough for seekers to decipher what is happening within their very own selves; it is impossible for others to do so.

More to the point, my real problem with that sentence is its suggestion that there is a degree of quality or significance or importance among Teachers, that somehow one Teacher, in this case Jesus, is “premier” while others are less so. For me, that suggestion misses the point that Teachers are, by definition, identical.

Thus, we refer to the Gospels Teacher as Jesus of Nazareth, because that is what we think we saw happen. But in fact when the seeker Jesus of Nazareth reached or evolved to or awakened into (no verb works here) Self-Realization, the person “Jesus of Nazareth” ceased to exist and was seen never to have existed at all. That is, the One, always the One, knew itself to be and to have always been the One. To be sure, it did not and does not seem to be that way to us, but that is because we are perceiving the event from the perspective of “Stefan” and “Art” and so on, just as were the Gospels disciples (with one or two possible exceptions). For them, as for us, it was about “Jesus of Nazareth” and remains so.

But Jesus of Nazareth is not the Teacher. To underscore that point, he tells us that “before Abraham was, I am”. In other words, “stop allowing yourself to be distracted by the apparent appearance of the child born to Joseph and Mary, and instead let my Words guide your sight through that appearance”! Just so, he does not tell us to call him “Jesus” (or more likely “Issa”); he tells us to call him “Teacher” because, he says, “that is Who I AM”. We don’t like to de-personalize the experience in that way, because perceiving ourselves separatively, we thrive on personalization (“me, not you” “mine, not yours”). And yet this Teacher, like all Teachers, insists: There is only one Teacher, which is God the Infinite One, and any appearances we may cherish to the contrary are illusions and counterproductive to our journey as seekers.

We gather and eat the bread and drink the wine "in rememberance of Him".


Here, too, I think that when the Gospels Teacher said “this bread is my body” and “this wine is my blood” he was speaking not as Jesus of Nazareth but as the Infinite One Who, through Self-Realization, he knew himself to be and to have always been (and all of us to be and to have always been).

In other words, at the Last Supper I do not hear the Gospels Teacher asking us to establish a “communion” practice by which, once a week, we gather together in memoriam of him. On the contrary, I believe he would ask us to forget all about “Jesus of Nazareth” and focus instead on transferring the substance of the Gospels Teachings into every aspect of our daily lives until finally we see that they are not, and never have been “our lives”. Just so, at the Last Supper, he tells us that every bit of stuff in what each of us calls “my life” is in fact the “body and blood” of the Infinite One, God, and so whatever we are doing, whenever and wherever we are doing it, even be it so common an event as sitting down to a meal and eating bread, BE AWARE OF WHO AND WHAT YOU ARE … otherwise we have not learned what he was Teaching.

So it seems to me.

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Postby W4TVQ » August 29th, 2007, 12:49 pm

"On the other hand, if you are saying that the Gospels Teacher has been the most important Teacher to seekers in the West, then I can only repeat what I have said before: I believe strongly that no seeker can say with certainty who or what is the most important Teacher for any other seeker at any time or any where. In this process, which is surely the most intensely intimate area of human experience imaginable, it is difficult enough for seekers to decipher what is happening within their very own selves; it is impossible for others to do so.

More to the point, my real problem with that sentence is its suggestion that there is a degree of quality or significance or importance among Teachers, that somehow one Teacher, in this case Jesus, is “premier” while others are less so. For me, that suggestion misses the point that Teachers are, by definition, identical
."

I agree. My point was not that Jesus himself is or was the "only" Teacher, but rather that it is he who has received the most attention in the west; more people have been intrioduced to the Light by him in the west (Europe and the Americas) than by Buddha or Zarathustra or any other Teacher. It is a matter largely of geography, and of familiarity. Had I been born in India, I would most likely have been introduced to the Light by a guru who served Krishna, or Rama, or Shiva, or Kali. Had I been born in China I would lilely have been tutored by a teacher schooled in Confucius or Lao-Tze. Had I been born in Saudi Arabia, I would no doubt be a disciple of Mohammed. But having been born in Tampa, Florida, I was in a venue in which the most likely Teacher for anyone was Jesus Christ.

I know that is changing today; one is far more likely to be introduced to eastern thought than in the 1950s when I was a kid. Students of Buddha, Krishna, Lao-Tze, abound, alongside studentsof ACIM, the Fillmores and Mrs. Eddy. In my youth it was not so, at least in southern Florida. Until the decades following the fifties, Christianity was for all intents and purposes "the" religion of western civilization ... which was not necessarily a fortuitous circumstance, admittedly. Christians have really begun to get serious about Christianity largely because it has competition today which it did not have 50 years ago. People are looking beyond the man to the Message now, whereas for a long time simply being formally attached to the religion itself was regarded as sufficient.

I am a disciple of Jesus, not because I reject or downplay the Truth as it is expressed by other Teachers, but because one can become disoriented trying to follow every Teacher on the planet at once. That is like trying to get to Boston from San Francisco by taking 400 trains. Perhaps I am too simple-minded to encompass all of the various approaches to Truth at once. Yes, I read Merton, and RAmakrishna, and ACIM, but I read them all in the light of the Master's teaching so I have a framework in which to understand them. I am still operating in the context of the physical universe that I perceive, having not progressed beyond that to what ACIM calls "sight" yet, so I still have to operate within the limitations of that universe. And in that universe, the Guide who keeps me from falling off into the void is Jesus, so I focus on him. Or rather, focus on The Christ which/who manifested as Jesus; knowing that ultimately, the Christ in me will manifest in the same way ... which is why he kept telling us that we would do the works he did, and that the kingdom is within us. Until that happens I still need to heed the Voice that spoke on the Mount of Transfiguration: "This is my beloved son, hear him." I am a work in progress, and do not therefore try to operate at a level which I have not yet reached.

At least, that is how I perceive my condition at the present moment. I am always aware of myself as the seed, finally exposed to the rain and the light, so that the potential for what I "really" am can be released. Like Paul, I find I must first learn "in whatever state I am, to be content." What is, is, and what is not, is not. When I am ready to be the Christ I will not need the Teacher, but for now, I do.

Shalom aleichem
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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Postby zoofence » September 3rd, 2007, 4:32 pm

Art, I understand your sense of discipleship. I have been there. In my case, the relationship with the Guru was different from what I understand to be the norm, but it was nonetheless real, and as such it was extremely comforting and reassuring.

But eventually it had to be undone. The why of that is simple enough: I needed to release the sense of needing an external Guru and get beyond all the various and myriad implications of that. For me, I realize now that the Guru was a little like training wheels on a bicycle. Letting go of it was therefore a little scary, and, yes, lonely, like – if I may change metaphors – going out to sea alone in a boat without a compass. Anyway, Mother – what I call the Divine when I address It personally – knew that I would not do this myself, and so, bless Her Heart, She did it for me. I have written about that here. (There is more about the relationship with the Guru here).

What all of that has enabled for me is to realize what I had known in my head, I suppose, but not fully, truly, irreversibly, indelibly, fundamentally known, which is that the myriad and variety of Teachers is just an appearance, that they are all one and the same, only seeming different to me because I seem to myself to be different from everyone and everything else. In other words, the differences I perceive are differences I project, not inherent differences. I see what I believe myself to be. At about the same time, I realized that the Gospels are simply the Gita in Greek (and Aramaic), that the Gita is simply the Qur’an in Sanksrit, that the Qur’an is simply the Tanakh in Arabic, and so on. Not only that, but every word ever spoken or ever written is identical in meaning to every other word ever spoken or written. Again, all of the differences are in my perception, and that is all about – and only about – what I think I am.

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Postby W4TVQ » September 3rd, 2007, 10:44 pm

I understand what you are telling me, Stefan, and I am not resisting it at all. My attachment to Jesus is no longer to Him as a person but to the Christ Whom He mediated to us, the same Christ who is the "ocean" in every human, animate "wave" (borrowing Butterworth's analogy). I am in the habit of listening to music as I go to sleep, and the discs I play include mostly chants, one addressed to Shiva, one to Rama, and one to Jesus, all, as I see it, to the same One Who IS All In All. If I had a recorded chant to Buddha, it would be in the playlist as well. I find increasingly that the Christ is, quite simply, omnipresent, and thus in the final analysis I need look only into the "wave" that I happen to be to see the ocean itself. ACIM keeps telling me that I am divine, that I am holy, and my discomfort with that is not so much as it was; the mesage is illuminated by what I read in Ruby Nrelson and Eric Butterworth and right here on Zoofence. I am grateful to all my gurus, because I see that their common goal is to push me out of the nest and past needing them at all. So If I make a big noise flapping my little wings, it's part of the effort to fly without external assistance.

Scary, yes, but what fun.

Jai Ram
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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Postby zoofence » September 19th, 2007, 2:12 pm

My attachment to Jesus is no longer to Him as a person but to the Christ Whom He mediated to us.


Yes.

If you read the piece at The Gazebo and at A Continuing Fiction, you will understand why, for me, a bit of the personal remains. Thus, the dependence on the Guru as a person is burnt away, but the image of him still appears in my mind from time to time. As those two pieces of writing indicate, the relationship was never really personal (I was in his physical presence only a couple dozen times, if that, and then only briefly, and we have never really had a conversation together, mostly just an exchange of greeting). But I loved him. I was reaching beyond myself into uncharted territory, and his apparent presence as I did so was very comforting. Now, of course, I realize that he – as a person – was never really there, that all the reassurance I felt was from within me, the underlying Reality of Who I AM, but still, the love for him was real, and lingers, despite the “fire” that burned him away.

Back then, I wrote that the Guru or Teacher holds our Self-Realization in Divine Trust, until we are ready to claim it for ourselves, or more likely be claimed by it. It doesn't really make any sense, but it defined the relationship, as I saw it, and it was real to me.

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Postby W4TVQ » September 26th, 2007, 12:12 pm

"Back then, I wrote that the Guru or Teacher holds our Self-Realization in Divine Trust, until we are ready to claim it for ourselves, or more likely be claimed by it."

Sounds a lot like the affirmation of ACIM that "God has kept all your creations safe for you" until such a time as you are beyond the dreams and the illusion and have reclaimed your name. I find that very comforting; and in the context of the "nightmare" we have created, I need such comfort.

Jai Jai Ram OM
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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Postby Gulliver » September 28th, 2007, 2:21 pm

Like you, I am a reader of A Course in Miracles. I am also a follower of Zen Buddhism. It may sound like an impossible combination, but not for me. Both seem to be telling me to find a quiet place, sit down, take a long, deep breath, and stop fussing.

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Postby W4TVQ » September 28th, 2007, 6:52 pm

Atualy, it seems to me that ACIM and Zen are one and the same thing, just stated in different vocabulary."ACIM" and "Zen", along with "Christianity," "Hinduism," etc., etc., are all simply externals, definable as "religion," and the challenge is to get below, around or behind them and find the Truth that is common to all. Like, if I take I-75 and my friend takes U.S. 41, we both arrive in Tampa. The roads may seem quite different, but one is not more "road" than the other, and the destination is the same.

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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Postby anna » September 29th, 2007, 4:25 am

Zen Buddhism is a wonderful discipline! It strips away so much noise and verbiage, and gets down to brass tacks. It was many years ago that I first stumbled onto Zen through Alan Watts, and shortly thereafter met a serious student of Zen who told me I was wasting my time with Watts. (She was a student of zen at a Maine Zendo nearby, of some fame, in the 70's, and seemed to know more about zen than I ever will.) Well, what did she know! :P

Watts transformed my attitude with his first book, The Way of Zen, I think it was. It simply turned my world upside down at a time when it needed to be turned upside down. I am indebted to his ability for the western mind to wrap around and interpret the zen mind. I recall when he was once interviewed, the reporter asked him what he thought he personally was, and Watts responded: "I am an entertainer!" That was a mouthful.

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Postby Gulliver » October 2nd, 2007, 12:58 pm

Here's something I like from one of my Zen Buddhist texts which sounds like this forum. A student asks, "What is Zen?" The Master replies, "It is right before your eyes." The student says, "If it is right before my eyes, why can't I see it?" The Master says, "You can't see it because you have a me." The student asks, "When I no longer have a me, will I realize Zen then?" The Master says, "When there is no me, who wants to realize Zen?"


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