Let us pray?

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Let us pray?

Post by zoofence »

I am enrolled in an interesting course (about the history of the Tanakh, the Jewish bible) at a nearby university (I registered as an audit student; I am far too old to be fussing with college exams!) that happens to be taught by a rabbi. Yesterday, at the first class, one of the students asked him why he was not wearing a yarmulke (also called kippah), the skullcap commonly worn by Jewish males. His explanation included the observation, “I wear it when I pray”, which apparently is the practice in some sects.

At that, I immediately wondered (silently, for I am there to learn, not to be heard) why classroom discussion did not qualify as prayer. To be sure, I know and I respect what the teacher meant. But as a seeker, I am convinced that it makes no sense, and it is probably not good practice, to distinguish between conversations we have with other human beings, and conversations we have with God.

At the least, God (whatever we mean by that term) is likely far more interested in how we relate to one another (and to everything else) than in how we relate to Him (or Whatever), because the former reveals far more clearly the truth of our personality and our nature. It is easy enough to come before God on our knees once a week, but if we spend the other six days disrespecting one another, I cannot imagine that our pleas to the Divine will be well received.

That’s why I suggest that seekers consider prayer a synonym for life, and live accordingly. That is, relate to everyone and to everything as if he, she, or it is not just a manifestation of God, but God Himself; as if we are actually in the very presence of the Divine. In other words, live our lives as if the Truth were True. Curiously, when we do so, we discover that it is.

And to those who murmur that in the “real” dog-eat-dog world one cannot afford to live by that rule, I suggest first that they try it before rejecting it, and secondly, I recall Krishna’s instruction in the Gita to Arjuna, when the latter, a master bowman, loses his nerve to fight on the morning of a great battle. Krishna tells him, in so many words, “You are a warrior, so get out there and do it; but do it ever aware of your true nature and of the true nature of what is taking place on the battlefield”. In other words, be who you are, but be it mindfully. Surely, that’s prayer.

[An irrelevant aside: Curious phrase is “dog eat dog”. Over the years, I have lived on several continents, in small towns, in big cities, and in the woods, and enjoyed the company of many dogs, some our own, some our friends’, and while I have witnessed them eating some pretty strange things, I have never seen or heard a report of a dog eating another dog.]

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Post by W4TVQ »

I am reminded here of an old hymn that goes like this:

Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed;
The motion of a hidden fire
that trembles in the breast.


(Hymns are the richest source of good theology available to us.)

I think that tells me that while I am blathering on with my prayers (God, do this, God help me with that, God please take note of this), He is listening to what my heart is saying, utterances of which I may be unaware. If my vocal prayer is "bless Joe" and my heart says "Joe is a dirty stinking $#@^&%!," the latter is what God hears; so that is, in effect, my prayer. Perhaps MacBeth was right: "my prayers fly up, my thoughts remain below: prayers without thoughts never to Heaven go."

If we are indeed inseparable from our Creator, then it follows that every thought, every motion, even every simple action of a single cell in our bodies, is a communication with the Creator -- i.e., a prayer -- and is, in fact, an action of the Creator.

So when I express the sentiment, "Joe is a dirty stinking $#%^$#$!," is that God saying that? I must believe for the sake of my own sanity that there is a point at which there is God and Not-God, and the curse, or the violence, or the hatred, comes from the Not-God sector. Otherwise, God is cursing or attacking Himself.

Oops, water is getting deep here. Think I'll wade back to shore. I'm afraid I am too simple-minded to deal with the implications of "God Is All and All Is God."

Your approach is workable, however: I can grasp the concept of relating to you, or my lovely wife, or my neighbor, as a manifestation of God. In that sense He is everywhere. And when He appears in the form of Enemy, I can look and seek to summon the emergence of the inner reality that is masked by the overt attitude. Provided, of course, I do not "catch the disease" and respond to enmity in kind.

Shalom
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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Let Us Pray?

Post by Ihavesayso »

It is not canines that are being referred to in the expression, “dog eat dog,” Stefan, but humans that live their lives “away" from God as “God” spelled backwards is “dog.”
If God is not your ventriloquist, you're just another "dummy!" - ihavesayso

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Dog eat dog

Post by Bhakti »

I have known of two dogs who have eaten their young within a week following their births. At those times, I became disguested and upset. Since then I wonder why these mother dogs did so, but to this day, I still don't know and I forget to ask a vet, who could probably give me the answer. But I wonder, is it that a female dog for some reason feels that her infants are in harms way? If so, then is it a blessing for a mother (dog or god) to "kill" her offspring? Does this mean that this is Godlike and divine in the mind and heart of whoever performs such a horrid action to most of us? In the Stanley Kubrick movie Full Metal Jacket, I remember this Vietnamese woman asking U.S. soldiers gathered around her to kill her. She was a sniper killing many of the soldiers one by one in this troop. Finally, the troop discovered her whereabouts and one soldier wounded her severely. As she lay dying, she asked those who gathered around her to kill her. Matthew Modine, who was a journalist following this troop of soldiers during the Vietnam War, did shoot and kill her. Noone else in the troop had the compassion to do so except the Modine character, who was totally against the war. Was she asking for mercy and was he Arjuna, mindful of what is divine even in war? Namaste, Bhakti

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Post by zoofence »

w4, good points. I particularly agree with you about hymns. For example, I cannot imagine singing “Amazing Grace” and remaining angry. It is more powerful than just words and music.

You wrote, “I must believe for the sake of my own sanity that there is a point at which there is God and Not-God, and the curse, or the violence, or the hatred, comes from the Not-God sector. Otherwise, God is cursing or attacking Himself”.

Yes, but -- infinite is infinite. In this context, what that means to me, and I know you will agree, is that your belief is just as valid and just as true and, of course, just as Divine as the contrary belief held by someone else who “for the sake of their sanity” believes there is nowhere a point where there is God and Not-God. And here's the point: Those two beliefs (and every other variant on them) can exist simultaneously and not be in real conflict precisely because God is infinite.

That’s the thing about God. He can be simultaneously tall and short, fat and skinny, happy and sad, rich and poor, he and she, and so on. Because of God's Nature, that does not confuse his sanity. It does confuse our sanity precisely because of our nature. But it's not about God or Not-God, it is about different places or sectors along the "spiritual spectrum", all of which are expressed differently but all of which are equally divine.

So, as I perceive it, “the curse, or the violence, or the hatred” does not come from the Not-God sector, there being in my perception no such sector, but rather from the “human sector”, let's call it, which is just as Divine as every other sector but differently expressed. Thus, as long as we perceive ourselves to be the body we seem to be inhabiting, then it is perfectly normal and natural (not to mention Divine) to respond with curses, violence, and hatred toward anyone who threatens or attacks us. With that perception and under those circumstances, it would be “unnatural” to respond otherwise.

Surely (hopefully?) there will come a time along all of our paths (in “this” life or some other) where each of us will no longer perceive himself or herself as “me not you”, and at that moment it will be perfectly normal and natural (not to mention Divine) not to respond with enmity toward someone who seems to attack the body. As you know, there are numerous cases of so-called martyrs in all the spiritual traditions who react benignly to attacks upon their possessions, their body, even their physical life. In my reading of them, these are not instances of bravery or foolishness or even faith or “spirituality”; it is rather evidence of who they are at that moment, the sector along the spiritual path they are inhabiting at that instant. And, again, that sector is neither better nor worse than where we are now, just a different but equally Divine place along the path.

The beauty of perceiving God in this way is (1) it exceeds the capacity of the mind truly to grasp, which strongly suggests to me that it is correct, and (2) it answers every question, which from day one on the spiritual path I have believed has to be a characteristic of Truth.

For Bhakti: what an image you paint! Ouch. I guess dogs do eat dogs. Sorry, ihavesayso, it seems we've been trumped on that issue. As for the Vietnam image, that raises a lot of very difficult questions, including euthanasia (mercy killing), doesn't it? But doesn't it too come down to the basic definitions each of us lives with according to who and what and where we think we are. As w4 suggests, to maintain our sanity (and our honesty with God), we have got to live and act and relate in a manner that is consistent with our current perspective on ourselves, life, and God, all the while aware of the fact that our perspective will change as we change ... as merrily we march along the spiritual spectrum. Yes?

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Post by W4TVQ »

"Those two beliefs (and every other variant on them) can exist simultaneously and not be in real conflict precisely because God is infinite."

Indeed. When I post opinions, it is always with the unspoken "as I see it from where I am on the road at this moment." I've gotten into trouble on occasion for not stating that overtly, and thus sounding dogmatic and aggressive -- "How could you doubt that I am right?"

And that Is where I am on the road at this moment: not really quite able to function in terms of totally monist point of view. To me, there must be the smell of ripe dualism in a concept or I become mentally paralyzed. It seems to me that the very reason we get into the chilly waters of paradox discussing these matters is that neither is right, both are right, and the Truth is something we will comprehend only at a stage much further down the road, when we are equipped to grasp it. We'll arrive there, each of us saying "This is what I believe is true," and God will say, "That's fine. Now here's what is really true," and it will be something we would never have arrived at logically or in meditation.

Perhaps that is why Jesus so carefully avoided preaching philosophies and dogmas, and spoke always in completely practical terms: love your neighbor, love God. Like the old hymn says, "We'll understand it better by and by."

Shalom
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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Post by zoofence »

w4, you wrote, “Each of us saying, ‘This is what I believe is true,’ and God will say, ‘That's fine. Now here's what is really true,’ and it will be something we would never have arrived at logically or in meditation”.

Nice image.

As regards logic, we are of one mind. But I’m not sure about meditation. I agree that we will not arrive at it in meditation, but I cannot say for sure that it will not arrive in meditation. Which is not to say that it must come in meditation. After all, consider Paul who, having just come from stoning Stephen (hardly a "meditation posture”), was struck by it on the road to Damascus. But it may come in meditation. If not all at once, a piece at a time. Not achieved, not accomplished, not a result of effort; but realized, revealed, remembered. That is, not bottom up, but top down.

Some posts ago, you wrote something to the effect that we enter Heaven two-by-two, like onto Noah’s ark. That’s a nice image, too.

Consider that the passengers on the ark were always one male and one female. Thus, while apparently two, really they were one, because unless thoroughly joined, the one male and the one female could not serve Noah’s (life’s) need. One female and one male, yin-and-yang in union, transforms the two, the hallmark of the separative sector on the spectrum, into one, the One.

1 + 1 = 1. It defies logic, of course, but that may be its most convincing characteristic.

Just so, Jesus says, “What God has joined let no man put asunder”. I think he would permit us to understand that to mean, what God has joined, no man can put asunder, precisely because it transcends human's sector on the spiritual spectrum.

I believe that the Noah’s ark story intentionally offers a legitimate practice for couples. To perceive themselves not as two individuals with separative needs, separate wants, separate desires, separate destinies, etc. but rather as a single unit, with unified needs, wants, desires. That is, "Yin-and-Yang is one word". That path recreates (again, in my view – thank you for reminding me to repeat that disclaimer) the Garden of Eden, where Adam is Adam-and-Eve.

So, Adam and Eve meet in the “real” world, come together as a couple, eventually enter upon the spiritual path, then come to see their relationship as their practice. “Adam-and-Eve is one word” becomes their mantra, and in God’s time and God’s way, the two, now one, emerges as one, Adam.

As I read it, this is the underlying message of A Course in Miracles and what makes the books truly revolutionary (that is, a thoroughly new consideration). Few talk about it that way because it is inconvenient and uncomfortable to do so (or because I am dead wrong).

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Post by W4TVQ »

"But it may come in meditation. If not all at once, a piece at a time. Not achieved, not accomplished, not a result of effort; but realized, revealed, remembered. That is, not bottom up, but top down."

Well, okay. Something certainly may come -- in fact, will -- in meditation. But whether what comes is "IT" or not I am not sure. Perhaps it is a ticket to board the bus that takes us to "IT." I tend to think "IT" is something so far beyond the limits of our human comprehension at ANY level that we will simply marvel at it and mutter, "Oh." "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." The visions of Ezekiel, of or John in Revelation, hint at something utterly other. What little we grasp of it in our present state is, as you have indicated, revealed. But the Jews had grasped something real in their teaching that to say the Name of God would result in one's being incinerated. The name contains the whole. To encounter God "face to face" in or present state would indeed incinerate us.

I am convinced that that is why Paul stressed over and over in his letters that "if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation." Precisely why Jesus said that mysterous thing about "you must be born again." To be IN Him is to in fact be subjected to a death and resurrection, the resulting new creation being equipped to survive and bloom in the context of a personal encounter with God.

I like the imagery of "1 + 1 = 1" regarding human relationships. Peg and I experience the reality of that daily. And because we do, we have little or no problem with the next step, the concept of God as Trinity: 1 + 1 + 1 = 1. And when He brings us into the equation it simply expands to 1 + 1 + 1 + (1 + 1) = 1. Which is of course part of the "eye hath not seen nor ear heard" that is awaiting us when we are past the current set of limitations.

Pardon all my rambling. I am a bit high from having been to a big praise gathering this morning at the Germain Arena north of here, where CeCeWynans sang and one of my heroes, Dan Betzer, preached, and 3,000 folks just got together and praised God -- loudly. Normally I'm a staid old Methodist, but I do get into Pentecostal worship. It's a different world: not one of philosophical searching for God, but of God reaching down to man, one of immediate in-the-now, visible, tangible, manifested and undeniable healing and restoring power at work. It's more on the level of Isaiah's call -- "Here am I, Lord, send me," -- or Moses' burning bush, than Augustinian ponderings or metaphysical speculations. Not that the latter are bad, just a different approach to the throne; I find I need both, but the former more than the latter lately.

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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Post by Ihavesayso »

Essentially, Stefan, what your brilliant dissection of Art’s “duality” concept says to me (in my not so humble opinion) is that “whatever your concept of God may be, so He is, to you!”

This view permits us to “have our cake and eat it too” as the realities we create for ourselves are “true” for us!
And so It is! Outstanding!
If God is not your ventriloquist, you're just another "dummy!" - ihavesayso

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Post by zoofence »

While I do not mean to dissect (one of my least happy memories from high school is having to dissect a frog in biology class), I am concerned that in this discussion we seem to be drawing a distinction where none exists. Although I am sure none of us means to do so, some of the references (particularly those to the concept of Self-Realization, also called Christ Consciousness, Awareness, Awakening, Enlightenment, Satori, Samadhi, etc.) are beginning to make it sound like it is some thing, some other, some special place, beyond or above, higher than or better than or different from who or what or where we are now in Truth.

The danger to doing that, as I see it, is (1) it feeds the separative ego ("I am me, and you aren't") which is always looking for ways to increase its realm and influence, and (2) it contradicts the great Teachings, and is therefore counterproductive to our efforts as seekers.

All of the spiritual traditions, all of the Teachers, that I am aware of, as well as my own personal experience, confirm that it is not so. The reality is, there is nowhere else but here. In fact, even the use of the term “seeker” (and I confess to using it all the time) is misleading because it suggests we are looking for some “thing” that is “out there”, somewhere “beyond” where I am, when in fact the spiritual process is about perception not movement. The "spiritual path" is not really a path, precisely because, again, there isn't anywhere for it to lead to! It is not that we change, it is that our perception of who and what and where we are changes. Nowhere is that particular point made more clearly for me than in the Gita passage which I think I referred to earlier in the forum, where Krishna (God) reveals himself to Arjuna (us), and what Arjuna sees is just what he has always seen, EXCEPT now it is One, not many, not separative. What he saw remained the same; the way he saw it (the way he saw himself) changed radically, fundamentally, totally. And that changes everything.

Just so, in the end, we realize that what we have been seeking all along is our very self. And the very fact of our seeking it, has been the principal obstacle to our seeing it.

It's the distinctions and the differences and the boundaries that we create (probably to prove to ourselves our own apparent separate existence) which are the root of so much, perhaps even all, of our suffering. In this context, consider particularly the distinction we all make too often between what's spiritual and what isn't, what's "religious" and what's "secular"; here, consider this Theophyle cartoon, posted some months ago.

Sri Nisargadatta, in one of the most powerful books (of his talks -- as far as I know, he wrote nothing) that I have encountered in three decades, says it over and over again as clearly and as simply as I have seen or heard it anywhere. “Any name or shape you give yourself obscures your real nature. … You are not the person you believe yourself to be. You have no parents, you were not born, nor will you die. … Your expectation of something unique and dramatic, of some wonderful explosion, is merely hindering and delaying your self-realization. There is only one mistake you are making: you take the inner for the outer and the outer for the inner. What is in you, you take to be outside you, and what is outside, you take to be in you.”

Or, in the simple, clear words of the Gospels Teacher: “Call no man father”. If we will take those four words to heart, and enthusiastically adopt them as a practice, they are enough.

On a related point: I recently came across this compelling quotation by Vince Poscente, a Canadian Olympic Skier (I think it came from a service to which I subscribe, called A Word A Day):

“In a pond, koi [a kind of fish, related to carp] can reach lengths of eighteen inches. Amazingly, when placed in a lake, koi can grow to three feet long. The metaphor is obvious. You are limited by how you see the world.”

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Post by W4TVQ »

"Just so, in the end, we realize that what we have been seeking all along is our very self. And the very fact of our seeking it, has been the principal obstacle to our seeing it."

You do have a way of making an old man think, Stefan. I agree, and I disagree. So I should be a politician?

In the sense that nothing can BE that is not in some sense IT (tat tvam asi) -- yes. Still, the experience I had was not of my seeking anything or anyone, but of having HIM seek me, inserting an awareness into my unawareness and conveying a message I was not expecting and probably would not have made up. That is precisely the point at which I perceive a difference between Christianity (not the Christian religion) and any and all other religions and spiritual disciplines. The latter are about men's search for God; Christianity is about God's search for man. The concept of the Incarnation is unique to Christianity -- not the same as the concept of an avatar, even. It is a concept that is not even understood by the Christian religion; it is in fact not an intellectual proposition at all, but an inner experience. (That was the factor, incidentally, which caused the militantly anti-Christian Malcolm Muggeridge to turn 180° and embrace Christianity at a very old age).

So in a way I must say, "you are right," that the awareness depended upon my ceasing to seek it. But it was an encounter, as I see it (insert disclaimer, as always: this is only as I see it) not with myself but with my Creator as in the biblical "it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves." That it was not a crashing big experience with chanting angels and heavenly bells makes it no less a life-rearranging experience for me, turning me, if not 180°, at least 120°.

I think it can be compared in some ways to the experience of hearing ...let us say, Mahler's 2nd Symphony ... for the first time, and at the end of it being able to respond only by saying, "Oh." Something has been conveyed which can only be said in the musical notes and harmonies of that symphony, something quite unsusceptible to verbalization.

Anyway, we still are in agreement at the inner core of it, for there at that core is IT, and we both can only respond by saying, "Oh," and then talking about what effect IT has had on us.

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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Post by Ihavesayso »

There is no answer; but there are answers!
If God is not your ventriloquist, you're just another "dummy!" - ihavesayso

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Post by NewMoonDaughter »

W4TVQ wrote:Anyway, we still are in agreement at the inner core of it, for there at that core is IT, and we both can only respond by saying, "Oh," and then talking about what effect IT has had on us.
Well no matter if you end up agreeing or not, your thoughtful discussion has been interesting, helpful, inspiring.

Thanks to you both.
And Cheers. :)

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Post by zoofence »

Okay, we’re cooking now. Yes, I agree we are essentially in agreement – even, I will dare to say, full agreement, even though it may not seem so to us.

Let me consider a few sentences individually.
In the sense that nothing can BE that is not in some sense IT (tat tvam asi) – yes.
We are definitely in full agreement there. As I have written here and elsewhere, I just don’t see how, if God is Infinite, there can be any thing (however defined) any where (however defined) that is not somehow God. (For those not familiar with the phrase, Tat Tvam Asi is a Sanksrit expression meaning "That thou art" or "the Absolute is in essence one with yourself".)
Still, the experience I had was not of my seeking anything or anyone, but of having HIM seek me, inserting an awareness into my unawareness and conveying a message I was not expecting and probably would not have made up.
I agree absolutely. In my experience along the path, the Gospels lesson “seek and you shall find” has actually come to mean for me, “Seek and you shall be found”. That is, it seems to me that what we, as seekers, can put into the equation is: earnestness, enthusiasm, commitment, surrender, humility, and gratitude. Please don’t read that list as exhaustive; those are just the first few qualities that come immediately to mind. I recognize there may be others. The important point here is that there is little (I want to say “there is nothing”, but that sounds so definitive that it makes me nervous to write it!) we can do except reach out (like Adam in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling). But nothing less than our reaching is enough. Our role then is to be open and receptive, fully and earnestly and enthusiastically and humbly and so on. Mind you, that is a lot more difficult than it sounds, particularly the “surrender” (Thy Will be done) aspect of it.

That is precisely the point at which I perceive a difference between Christianity (not the Christian religion) and any and all other religions and spiritual disciplines. The latter are about men's search for God; Christianity is about God's search for man.
I’m not sure I understand that statement. But as I am not a theologian, I don’t think I can speak to it except in a general way.

That said, here, as briefly as possible, is how I see the question of whether God is seeking man or vice versa. For me, the spiritual process is about coming to know the True Nature of Who & What I Am, not because I want to do that, but because it is God’s Design that it be done. Thus, the spiritual process is not a choice each of us makes, so much as it is a divinely-inspired evolutionary inevitability. (As I have said elsewhere on TZF, in my opinion all of the heat generated between creationists and evolutionists is just that, heat. Perceived rightly and without prejudice, creation and evolution are synonymous ... in my view.) Therefore, sooner or later, in one way or another, every one of us will undertake the path. It doesn’t matter when or how we do it; there’s no guilt or blame here. It is just that eventually it will happen.

Now, when I first set out on the path (or perhaps I should say, when I first became aware that I had set out on the path, because I don’t remember any specific moment in time when I made an identifiable decision and chose to be a seeker), it seemed to me that the spiritual process was about “me” and “God”, and that it is was me who was looking for Him.

Along the way, as I grew, it became increasingly apparent to me (by which I mean, I came to know, not that I learned or discovered, for early on I realized that the active teaching force in this process was not “me” or anything I did) that God was not an “other”, and that the “me” I take to be me does not actually exist except in my mind.

That led to and grew out of the recognition that if God is Infinite then God is all there is. Awareness of all the ramifications of that statement is still unfolding within me.

More recently, as I have written in In The Beginning, I have come to perceive that somehow what I call “me” is God-being-me (and, mind you, that applies to every “me” in the universe: God-being-w4tvq and God-being-iamsayso and God-being-newmoondaughter and God-being-Anna and so on and so on), and that the reason God is doing that is the Creation of Self-Consciousness. That is, what each of us individually calls “me” and “my life” is a manifestation of the Divine’s Creation of Self-Consciousness. We are how Self-Consciousness is created. Thus, just as Genesis tells the story of how the world was created, we are the story of how Self-Consciousness is created. And the spiritual process in its myriad variations is the way it is accomplished.

I don't know whether any of that speaks to your statement, but I hope it does, if not directly at least tangentially.
That it was not a crashing big experience with chanting angels and heavenly bells makes it no less a life-rearranging experience for me, turning me, if not 180°, at least 120°.
Although I have encountered and experienced a few very extraordinary phenomena along the way, my sense is that the “crashing big experiences” are often suspect, and the quiet experiences and encounters have been the more creditable ones. So, your statement sounds about right.

Having said all of the above, I am reminded of a few lines from the Gita (Winthrop Sargeant’s translation):

Marvelously, someone perceives this;
Marvelously, another declares this;
Marvelously, still another hears of this;
But even having heard of this, no one knows it.
Last edited by zoofence on January 26th, 2005, 4:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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prayer

Post by miko »

Someone said that our prayers are like a list for Santa Clause. In life it seams to me that we are either praying or cursing.

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