Antoinette Tuff and the Averted School Shooting: God’s Love in Action

Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life

Last week, on Tuesday, August 20, 2013, Michael Brandon Hill, 20, walked into an elementary school armed with an AK-47 assault rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition. The elementary school was the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur, Georgia.

Hill fired only six shots.

No one died that day. No one was even injured.

Why not?

Because in the front office of the school, that troubled young man met Antoinette Tuff.

And Antoinette Tuff loved him into laying down his weapon and surrendering to the police.

But if you ask her, it was God’s doing.

Antoinette Tuff: A Vessel for God

Yes, Antionette Tuff was one of three school staff who had received training for handling potentially dangerous situations.

However, she was not even supposed to be in that place at that time. Here’s a segment of her interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN, in which…

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Omni-Benevolence part 1

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Omni-Benevolence part 1

          In my theology classes I do not remember talking about Omni-Benevolence. There was always the traditional Al powerful, All-knowing and Present everywhere God but not the specific phrase Omni-Benevolence. Of course “God is love” was mentioned all the time and emphasized as the reason behind ALL of Gods actions as seen in the Bible. I just find it curious an “ALL GOOD GOD” did not accompany the three traditional Omnis.

Omni-Benevolence is the most important of the Omnis. In fact it is the one major revelation of God that is not automatically apparent when viewing the natural world which could account for “Omni-Benevolence” not being accounted among the Omnis. Also in our need to anthropomorphize God an ALL good supreme being is a difficult concept to grasp since we rarely see in man or nature examples of this quality. Nature can be extremely cruel, unforgiving, impersonal and destructive. And that is just nature. Human nature can take on such a turn of evil upon any slight or offense real or imagined. The endless struggle for sustenance and the watching out for predators both animal and human plus random acts of unprovoked violence often leaves people so afraid they won’t leave their own homes. Life does not appear to be ‘good’ ALL the time.

If there was any quality of God that must be ‘revealed’ to us it is that God is good. An all knowing, all powerful and all present God who is also good and loving and kind ALL the time is really counterintuitive. In scripture we often find an all powerful God being the instigator of many events we consider not good at best and when looked at thru modern eyes downright evil.

The first mention of ‘goodness’ being associated with God found in the Bible is in Genesis when God finished creating the world he called it good. This linking the works of God to goodness was part of the oral traditions of the Hebrew people probably long before it was written in the middle 5th century BCE. It appears though this goodness was always provisional based upon the behavior of His chosen people. They had to be commanded to love their God and to treat others as best they could. Commanding obedience or else sets up a relationship of fear not of love. Obviously submitting obedience to a good ruler is much better than a murderous dictator however the idea we will be punished for not submitting rankles in the hearts of people who love freewill and are naturally prone to want to live as they please. Hence all the ups and downs of the Hebrews described in the Jewish scriptures as the result of the conflict between a Good God who orders subservience and people who exercise their freedom of choice.

This ‘good world’ created by God was often seen as the very instrument God would use to punish disobedience making God seem not so good at all.

Gods commands to love him first and completely and to treat our neighbors like we would want to be treated is of course for our own well being as well as our neighbors if followed as a rule of life would indeed lead to a very harmonious society.

All I’m trying to point out here is we do not have any idea what an all good being is. We are cemented in the world of duality a world of good and evil. This was the lie of the serpent that we would be like God if we came to know both good and evil. Believing that God “knows” evil would not make him an ALL good God. In my view real knowledge and being are the same thing. In God there is no knowing about like we humans know about many evil things but are not evil ourselves. We are kinda of all mixed  up about the whole good and evil conundrum, sometimes showing great acts of both goodness and evil. Many heroes in our mythologies and current dramas are the ones who battle their own evil tendencies and once conquered become the savior of the day. This is not God though. An ALL good God has no evil tendencies to conquer. God does not know evil nor does he know about evil. Evil could never enter his mind.

This knowing that I’m talking about is like we know how to walk. We are walking beings. It is our identity as humans. We rarely think about it unless something happens which interferes with this aspect of out being. Even learning how to walk would not happen if it weren’t a part of out genetic inheritance. Having two legs is part of the definition of humanness.

God is good and does not know evil. God was good before creation. Creation comes out of his goodness. God never changes and so would not change after humans decided to not follow his injunctions. God had no reason to be angry before creation and we have not made him angry after creation. It is we who are trapped in the world of duality and believing we are like God in knowing both good and evil. This is not the truth.

Here is an interesting quote from the 7th century CE saint Isaac of Nineveh; “A handful of sand, thrown into the sea, is what sinning is, when compared to God’s Providence and mercy. Just like an abundant source of water is not impeded by a handful of dust, so is the Creator’s mercy not defeated by the sins of His creations.”

More on the Omni-Benevolence of God later.

Have a blessed day everyone.

Thought for the day : The projection of the world of illusion

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Thought for the day : The projection of the world of illusion

By Dr. David R. Hawkins

          “In order to project the world of illusion, the ego-self experiences itself as separate from its own creation. The greater the feeling of separation from God, the greater the anguish. As a consequence, the self now fears annihilation, death and even worse.—perhaps endless suffering at the hands of an angry, retaliatory God who has been made angry by sin. The lower levels of perception become preoccupied with energies of negativity which are the ego’s conceptions of itself at the lowest levels. It now fears its own worst projections and struggles with the opposites of heaven and hell.

Man is therefore not the victim of an ‘out there’ to be feared, but its originator. These imaginations are not even personal but merely consequences of the interaction of fields of consciousness with their hidden inner attractor fields which determine the content of each level of consciousness. The ego’s final victory is the belief that its own illusory reality created by its own projections was ‘created by God’. Thus religious truth becomes obscured by religious superstition, misinterpretations, and false beliefs. It is important to realize that that which is of God brings peace and that which is not of God brings fear.” From The Eye of the I; from which nothing is hidden.” Pg 223-4

 

Ego-self and sin nature are the same and seeing life thru its lens produces this insane world. Sin is insanity. Is it not insane to believe we can be separate from ALL that is which is God?

Thought for the day-Some thoughts on forgiveness

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ACIM Lesson 249

Forgiveness ends all suffering and loss.

Forgiveness paints a picture of a world where suffering is over, loss becomes impossible and anger makes no sense. Attack is gone, and madness has an end. What suffering is now conceivable? What loss can be sustained? The world becomes a place of joy, abundance, charity and endless giving. It is now so like to Heaven that it quickly is transformed into the light that it reflects. And so the journey which the Son of God began has ended in the light from which he came.

Father, we would return our minds to You. We have betrayed them, held them in a vise of bitterness, and frightened them with thoughts of violence and death. Now would we rest again in You, as You created us.

Matt 6:12 Forgive us for doing wrong,
as we forgive others.

Mark 2:5 When Jesus saw how much faith they had, he said to the crippled man, “My friend, your sins are forgiven.”….10 I will show you that the Son of Man has the right to forgive sins here on earth.” So Jesus said to the man, 11 “Get up! Pick up your mat and go on home.”

“Being Mercy itself, the Lord is constantly forgiving a person’s sins; but sins cling to a person no matter how much he supposes them to have been forgiven. Nor are they removed from him except through a life in keeping with the commandments of faith.”

Arcana Coelestia 8393 Emanuel Swedenborg

Thought for the day-Sin, guilt and death are gone.

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Ephesians 2:14-15, “Christ gave his own body to destroy the Law of Moses with all its rules and regulations” (CEV)

Where there is no Law there are no lawbreakers. Where there is no Law there is no sin, no guilt, no death. All Law breaking (sin) leads to guilt which requires punishment (death) in some form. The punishment guilt requires is enacted upon either oneself or projected onto another attempting to harm the other in some fashion. These are not separate, harming the other is harming oneself and harming ourselves is harming the other. We are not separate.

A person free of guilt will not harm another or themselves. Forgiveness is the means to recognize no one has harmed you and neither have your harmed yourself. God was never harmed and so he does not need to forgive nor does he need to punish us. Why then should we punish ourselves or others. All guilt and punishment of self and others is a waste of time and a self-indulgence.

Christ has set us free from the Law of sin and death. Rom 8.2 (NIV)

“Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?

It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!” 1 Cor. 15:55-57 (The Message)

The Seven Negative Voices of the Ego You Need to Ignore.

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I read a wonderful blog the other day form Marc and Angel Hack life called “The seven negative people you need to ignore.”. As I was reading I realized that all of those “people” are in me. They have shown up over and over again in various ways to suit their own purposes resulting in self-condemnation, fear, anger, hatred etc., etc.

            A little background from my Orthodox past.

            The word ‘sin’ is loaded with negative connotations of God hating us. Because of the guilt he will throw us into hell because we have offended Him. He can do nothing else but cause us to suffer for ever in the fiery pits of doom. Today sin has been replaced by another friendlier word—as long as it is not demonized—‘ego’. Ego has become a shorthand for sin, sin nature, flesh, body of death, separation from God and everything else that defeats us in our lives, and the eventual cause of all its outward projections seen in the horrors we afflict on our world. The explanation of ego/sin is covered in great depth from every possible angle in A Course in Miracles, all of Dr. David R. Hawkins books and of course the Christian Bible.

            My first insight that ‘sin’ and the ‘ego’ are the same thing came from reading the Aramaic translation of the Bible by George M. Lamsa and following that the Roth Aramaic translation of Hebrews 12:3. In his footnote Roth uses this verse as one example of how the Greek New Testament is secondary to the Aramaic Peshitta:

“Not only has the Greek lost volumes of magnificent poetry, but here the Greek redactor dropped an entire phrase! The Greek reads: “Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.”….The Aramaic reads “Behold, therefore, how much, he suffered from sinners, for they were adversaries of their own soul, that you may not be discouraged, nor your soul become remiss.” Obviously NOT just some small remission here! [emphasis Roth’s]”

            This really awakened me to the entire idea that ‘sin’ and the modern replacement of ‘ego’ is exactly the correct interpretation. Sin/ego does not make us an adversary of God whom he needs to defeat and punish forever in the fiery pits of hell but we are our own adversaries and it is God who is helping win this battle that our soul is fighting against the ego.

            How are we to recognize the ego in our lives and what do we do with it once we see it? This is where Marc and Angel’s post becomes very helpful. I am going to re-interpret it here from the perspective that the “Seven Negative people” are found first in us then manifests in the world via the people we meet. As seen in the verse above those who are adversaries of their own soul have no problem projecting that adversarial position onto others. And because the ego/sin nature would rather kill us—i.e.,seen in all addictive behaviors—it would rather kill others first because “they are the problem.”  Seen here in Hebrews 12.3 as it references the killing of Christ Jesus. The ego wishes to kill the Christ in us because the soul is where Christ resides.

            I’m going to start with Marc and Angel’s point number 7 “The Inner Critic.”

All six prior negative ‘people’ to stay away from are disguises for the this inner bully. My own inner critic had no problem seeing God as my father and hiding it’s negativity behind the religious doctrines of original sin, the sin nature and the belief we are born in sin and there is no good thing within me. In fact it was now able to condemn me without obstruction via the belief that it’s constant nagging about my smallest short comings as the “conviction of the Holy Spirit,” the third person of the Godhead. This was HIS JOB description. The comforting part only came after rigorous self-inspection, brow beating, attempt after attempt and finally many many trips to the altar. Only to find myself once again in the clutches of this inner authority heaping loads of guilt and condemnation for the slightest infringements.

            Today, I know this is not God and never was God. I am amazed to look back and see how many preachers and teachers—I was in their number— did nothing to lessen this false idea of who God and his role in our lives. Even to the extent of equating this constant condemnation with the love of God as the reproving parent. It is no wonder I left the church

            Yes by all means ignore this voice and all the people who show up in our lives mirroring this aspect of our ego. This authoritarian voice is not God.

            Point 1.  The hopelessly hostile drama queen. The ego/sin nature loves to stir up controversy and drama for no apparent reason—it will create many justifications for which any and all infractions of it’s arbitrary positionalities will do.  Don’t buy into it’s propaganda. The ego loves drama.  Stay out of other people’s drama which the ego enjoys creating in our minds. Don’t allow the ego to spew hostile words at someone silently in your mind. Just because they aren’t said does not mean they aren’t heard.  Keep your composure and replace the stink of confrontation with the fragrance of resolution.  The louder the ego wants to yell, the more drama it wants to stir up, calmly and confidently speak to this drama charade and tell it to be quiet or just go away.  Don’t let it get to you.

            Be an example of a pure existence; ignore the egos outlandish antics and focus on kindness.  Communicate and express yourself from a place of peace, from a place of love, with the best intentions.  Change that inner voice of drama towards others by love and forgiveness towards good. Use it to inspire, to encourage, to educate, and to spread the notions of compassion and understanding. We created the Drama Queen we can uncreate it.

            When your inner drama queen manifests as an actual person you will be better able to love that person because you have learned to love the drama queen inside you. You can create a mental space of love and when the time is right you can walk away if they insist on foisting their drama on you.

            Forgive yourself and the role you have taken. Then extend that forgiveness to the ‘other.’ This will create the space you need to not take it with you when you go thus not perpetuating your own drama.

            Point 2 The person you have failed to please a hundred times before. The ego is impossible to please; you will not be able to satisfy it no matter what you do. It lives on dissatisfaction.

            The dissatisfied ego will show up in your life as people who discredit you, disrespect you and treat you poorly for no apparent reason at all.  Don’t consume yourself with trying to change them or win their approval.  And don’t make any space in your heart to hate them.  Simply walk away and let karma deal with the things they do, because any bit of time you spend on them will be wasted, and any bit of hate and aggravation in your heart will only hurt you.  (Read Emotional Vampires.)

            If this isn’t the ego showing up I don’t know what is. It will never be happy with anything EVER. Its job is to keep us running all over the world attempting to fulfill its minutest demands and then moving us on to the next, on and on and on and on. It is constantly distracting and constantly unsatisfied. It’s incessant hunger is always projected outward onto other people and things in the vain attempt to get happiness from someone or some thing out there. As the song says, “looking for love in all the wrong places”

            Marc and Angels advice to “simply walk away” is the endeavor of all aspirants of higher spiritual consciousness. Every positive faith tradition I have read are guide books for leaving the ego and it’s incessant demands and to become completely fulfilled in God alone. This ego self is the self we are to die to in order to live for Christ.

            3.  The naysayer who always dumps on your dreams.

            Stop giving credit to the ego/sin nature which always discredits your dreams. it will readily attach itself to all negative statements about you and magnify them as the only reality of your life.  If listened to the ego will squash your potential by slowly extinguishing your inner flame with its watered down vision of what you are capable of achieving. These people showed up early in my life as parents and teachers; “David doesn’t work up to his potential” is a common phrase on all my report cards. Rarely was I given credit for what I had accomplished but pointed out my short comings. This is the biggest hurdle I face in my creative endeavors. I will never be good enough no matter how many ‘A’s” I get.

            Marc and Angel point out, “If you give in and let their negativity convince you of who you are, their madness will wither you away.  You will morph into who they say you are, rather than living honestly as yourself.  In this way, these people will steal your life from you.  You will lose track of where their opinion ends and your reality begins.  Their fiction will become your life’s story. What is possible for you.  So look beyond their presumptions and mental limitations, and connect with your own best vision of what YOU are capable of and how YOUR life can be.  Life, after all, is an open-ended journey, and 99% what you achieve comes directly from what you work to achieve on a daily basis.”

            4.  The manipulator.

Your ego will and has been manipulating and bullying you. It will try to use it’s negativity to intimidate and manipulate you into believing your negative thoughts are who you really are.  If you stand back and observe it from a distance, you will realize that it is completely self-referential with no concern for others.  In other words, the ego wants you to fit into it’s plan simply based on how this false you can be used or manipulate you for it’s own survival.

            The ego routinely prioritizes its own feelings and needs over and above your true best interests.  It will demand that you submit to help it, but if, heaven forbid, you ask the ego to help you achieve true happiness it will resist at first but then morph into the ‘spiritual ego’ which becomes the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

            Bottom line: It will say and do anything, thoughtlessly, to get you to do what it wants you to do.  Do not accept this behavior as normal it is anti-normal.  When the ego/sin nature tries to bully you, stand up for your true Self and say, “Not so fast, buddy!  Your delusion of superiority is your problem, not mine.”  And if it refuses to reason with you, walk away without a fight. (Read Codependent No More.)

            5.  The stubborn one who insists you should be someone else. The ego will never be happy with who you are right now. Listening to it will always keep you dissatisfied and there will be plenty of people who show up to reinforce the point you are not alright right now. Oddly enough in choosing a life of spiritual transformation the ego/sin nature will use all the things you are learning to reinforce the point you are not good enough right now. Hey isn’t that why we choose to work on ourselves in the first place? I think the first lesson we need to learn on our spiritual journey is to not condemn ourselves for anything. God never does nor ever has for anything. Jesus told a group of thousands of people in his sermon on the mount; “You are the light of the world.” Right now before you make all those changes you think you should make “you are right now, here as you sit on the grass listening to me, the LIGHT of the world.

            Now that the ego has put on a spiritual mask it will insist you need to act in such a way in order to please others and demonstrate how “spiritual” you really are. Of course we are not perfect yet but the spiritual ego will demand we appear to be to others. Hence the rise of hypocrisey. It is really easy to be ‘spiritual’ on Sunday morning.

            You don’t have control over what others think about you, but you do have control over how you decide to internalize their opinions.  Leave them to their own judgments.  Don’t feel threatened and don’t conform just to please them.  Let people love you for who you are, and not for who they want you to be.  Or let them walk away if they choose.  They can’t harm you either way; it’s their understanding that is faulty, not yours. See Marc and Angel’s book 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.

            6.  The unforgiving friend who refuses to forgive you for your mistakes.

            The ego will always condemn you. God never will. A statement from A Course in Miracles puts it this way, “God never forgives because he has never condemned.” And from the New Testament “there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” Which is the whole human race. Unfortunately the majority don’t know this. Self condemnation of the ego will draw others into our lives to mirror its opinion of us.

            The ego wants to rub your face in your mistakes every chance it gets. It will keep bringing them up over and over again until we feel completely worhtless. The past no longer exists. If you have done what you can to fix your errors then that is all that is expected of you. Some mistakes may require societal sanctions but most of us allow the ego to imprision us in a life sentence. The egos interpretaions give that power to God and believe they are suffering for past errors via karma or God’s righteous indigantion. This is not so. The purpose of God and karma are for healing and growth in love. No one deserves eternal punishment for finite errors. God never condemns us so why should we?

            Shining the light on the shenanigans of the ego/sin nature rids it of its forcefulness in our lives. There are many different ways to deal with it once recognized; the oldest and I think least effective is putting the ego/sin nature and your true Christ Self in an adversarial position. Resistance always creates counter resistance with the result we are in a constant battle of the ‘bad’ versus the ‘good’ me. The apostle Paul say in Galatians 5.17 “The Spirit and your desires [ego] are enemies of each other. They are always fighting each other and keeping you from doing what you feel you should.”

            Jesus says:

“You have heard people say, “Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.” 44 But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. 45 Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong.” Matthew 5:43-45

            If Paul is correct that our desires/ego/sin nature is our enemy then shouldn’t we follow Jesus’ admonition to love the ‘enemy’ inside us. Once we learn to love this ‘enemy’ within we can love those who show up on the outside in the disguise of our own ego traits. Do we need to hang around with them, not necessarily, can we ignore them, perhaps. Can we leave their presence, if necessary. However our greatest teachers show up in those we are closely related to in family, work or organizations and neighbors.

            The inner critic, drama queen, the unsatisfied person, the naysayer, manipulator, the person who does not like you and the unforgiving ego, once loved inside you, turn out to be not so bothersome in person and actually become our best teachers. Humility reminds me that in some form I’m bothering others even if I don’t intend to so we are helping one another, even unwittingly towards the goal.