Spiritual Growth, A Metaphor

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Proverbs 27.19 “You see your face in a mirror and your thoughts in the minds of others.”

James 1.23 “If you hear the message and don’t obey it, you are like people who stare at themselves in a mirror

1 Corinthians 13.12 “Now all we can see of God is like a cloudy picture in a mirror. Later we will see him face to face. We don’t know everything, but then we will, just as God completely understands us.”

Spiritual growth is like standing in front of a mirror with a giant spotlight directly in back of me, like one of those used at grand openings that illuminate the sky. It is shining directly at the mirror and is so bright I can not look at the light or its reflection in the mirror. In order for me to stand in front of the mirror I must get as close to it as possible with my nose touching the glass. But still light is leaking around me especially my head and I must put on sunglasses to tolerate the light. I find one pair of sunglasses will not do so I add layer upon layer of dark plastic until I can tolerate the light. My eyes will naturally adjust and once I get comfortable I am able to live there in what I think of as light but really it is still dim darkness. After a while I get used to the intensity of the light and feel comfortable enough to peel off a layer of dark plastic this causes somewhat of a discomfort but it is tolerable. This is done over and over until all the plastic is removed and I can actually remove the sunglasses. However my nose is still up against the mirror. Now as my eyes adjust to the brilliance leaking around my head I begin to see my face clearly but not my entire body. As the desire grows to see all of me I take my first step backwards toward the light. I know to turn around would blind me but my goal is to see in the light so I keep moving. As I back closer and closer to the source of light I see more and more of my reflection in the mirror but a strange thing begins to happen, the farther I get from the mirror I begin to disappear into the light. The light is surrounding me, swallowing me, enveloping me until eventually all I can see is the light and I have disappeared. And yet I know I am still me. I have disappeared and yet still here. “You are the light of the world.” Jesus, Matthew 5.14

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Thought for the day

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Is this a true statement?

“In the Scriptures God says,

“I swear by my very life

that everyone will kneel down

    and praise my name!”

Rom 14.11

Omni-Benevolence part 2

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Omni-Benevolence part 2

            An important man asked Jesus, “Good Teacher, what must I do to have eternal life?”

Jesus said, “Why do you call me good? Only God is good. You know the commandments: ‘Be faithful in marriage. Do not murder. Do not steal. Do not tell lies about others. Respect your father and mother.’” Luke 18.18-20

“Only God is good.” Then Jesus goes on to point out a good way to conduct ones life. A life of giving not taking.

God does only one thing, give.

There are things that are impossible for God to do. He cannot be other than himself. He will never violate his nature. God never kills anyone because he is life itself. God will never take anything from you because he is the giver of all things and is never depleted. God is truth itself and there is no falsehood within him. God will never disrespect any true relationship because all relationships demonstrate the Oneness of himself. The father and mother relationship is God himself demonstrated and seen in all human relationships to a greater or lesser degree according to the consciousness of the participants.

According to Emanuel Swedenborg woman is the personification of the Goodness of God. And man the Truth of God. And every marriage is the demonstration of the marriage within God of goodness and truth. Woman and Man or Goodness and Truth are the givers and sustainers of life just as the earth is the giver and sustainer of our physical life. God called his creation “Good.” He called it good because everything he does reflects who he is in every detail.

Emanuel Swedenborg also points out that Truth is the issue of, comes from, Good. In today’s world we believe truth is first and of utmost importance. But it was Jesus who was the issue of Mary who calls himself the Truth. He is the second Adam. The first Adam was the issue of the earth—his body only—but did not become human until God gave (all giving comes from the feminine the giver of life) him the breath of life and he became a living Soul. The order here is important because when truth gets separated from goodness and becomes the most important and is seen as the creator of the good, it becomes unloving, not giving, hard, dogmatic and believes it is the only way and will in the end attempt to kill the good. This is played out in the New Testament with Jesus’ relationship with the religious authorities of the day. This pattern continues to be repeated over and over again throughout religious history  and seen again in today’s conflicts. The religions who believe their doctrine is the only way to God demonstrate it by keeping their followers trapped by fears of a punitive afterlife. When truth becomes the first in importance the doctrines of men are created. This results in what Jesus calls “lip service” where our hearts are far from God and goodness and lives are destroyed in the misguided attempt to keep the faith pure. (Matt. 15)

But we must have balance. If we have only goodness without truth we end up in the other extreme of anything goes. Without truth to guide our way we can end up participating in activities that will eventually kill the good in us. Just as truth alone results in heartlessness so goodness alone can also destroy our love. Permissiveness is just as destructive as legalism.

The Goodness of God is a balanced goodness because he is both good and true in perfect balance this combination produces a perfect justice which is always active within the omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient moment.

The conflicts we see throughout history are men’s attempts to balance the extremes of permissiveness and legalism. Unknown to most people it is God in the background holding all things in balance. The truth is that evil has no power and is the servant of the good. A lie cannot be true. All falsehood disappears in the revelation of the truth. Two and two equals five will simply disappear when the correct sum is given and so to evil vanishes in the light of goodness. In its weakness, evil tries to force others into its service through fear, bullying and coercion by taking away the freewill of its servants. This blustering of the ego/sin nature will always be defeated in whatever form it appears. The seeming power of evil is like the flame of a match compared to the sun. All of the evil of the entire human race throughout all time is like a handful of sand thrown into the ocean according to Isaac of Nineveh.

As people of faith we do need to decide for ourselves how best to take a stand against evil without creating more evil in return. This we must do in our own conscience there is no hard a fast rule as some would have us believe. Strange as it may seem the goodness of God gives us the soldier and the pacifist both can “fight” and both may die in the service of defeating evil. Death is not the enemy nor is it the end as it is impossible for life to die. There is only life. The shedding of the physical—which was never alive in the first place—is the necessary step into experiencing real life, like walking out the door of your house to experience the sunshine.

“God’s love goes forth not only to good people but to evil people. So it is that God loves not only those who are in heaven, but also those who are in hell, for God is everywhere and forever the same.”
True Christian Religion 43 Emanuel Swedenborg

                “Unless truth is lighted up by good, or unless faith is lighted up by kindness, there is nothing but darkness.”
Arcana Coelestia 4844.4 Emanuel Swedenborg

God part 2, OMNI

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God part 2.

          Well it’s been fifteen minutes since I wrote the title of this blog and I find an inner peace and serenity coming over me and the realization that I have little to say.

I keep coming back to an experience I had several years ago. An experience of not knowing. Here is what happened: I was sitting in my car—in a shopping center I think—when I felt a warm glow in my heart chakra and a very soft, loving voice telling me, “you don’t know anything.” To which I readily agreed. The warmth began to spread downward and ended in my base chakra and the voice spoke again, “you have never known anything,” from which I came to understand that everything I thought I knew since I first could know, I have never known. I was filled with a deep sense of peace and bliss which lasted for several hours. I was then told not to tell anyone about this at the time. As I write this I am filled again with that same peace and bliss.

I’ll get back to ya latter.

Omni

          All is such a simple word. Everyone in every language knows what it means and how to use it, so much so we don’t really think about it. There are two uses for ALL one which refers to describing a quantity within certain parameters and the other used when speaking of the Deity. This in itself is a revelation of the nature of our relationship to deity.

Used as an adjective, pronoun or adverb all of us know what it means when we use it. A quantity of people or things that we wish to communicate about, as something’s included and therefore excluding the rest of a certain class, event or action. For example: “All the food in the refrigerator;” as opposed to all the food not in the refrigerator or; the first being a limited amount of food and the second is an enormous amount, if we don’t limit it again with another qualifier such as; all the food outside the refrigerator but in the house, as opposed to all the food outside my refrigerator which is in the rest of the world. So with the temporal things in the world all is always used as a qualifier to denote this as opposed to that a setting of boundaries to limit the things we are talking about and make ourselves clear.

          We also use the synonym of whole: The whole apple means the same thing as all of the apple and every whole number between one and ten means the same thing as all whole numbers between one and ten. We may drop the qualifier of “whole” number to say all the numbers between one and ten which then includes fractions to as many decimal points as we wish which would make a huge amount of numbers but the last one would still be ten.

When it comes to God, we must first decide, as part of our definition, what are God’s parameters, if any. Are we talking about a God with limitations or one without limitations? Our current level of theological sophistication is rather new in the history of God talk. For centuries, God was always local and limited a God of boundaries. In many cultures throughout history and even today God—in some orthodox theologies, as we will discover—God is still considered local, partial, limited and only acts within a particular range of power. This local God treats his people better than those others by providing and protecting his people as long as they meet his requirements whatever they may be usually some form of acceptable moral behavior accompanied by sacrifices, worship and penance if required, further cementing the tribes identity as favored of their God. Not only was God limited but his adherents were also limited in number. Us few against the rest of ya.

In the Old Testament, the one God written about was considered local to the Hebrew people, who considered themselves the chosen people of the One supreme God, and all other gods were to be vanquished and put away from the camp, thus separating the deities and those who followed them. Does God have boundaries? Has he limited himself or have we anthropomorphized God by claiming we are the special people whom God only loves and cares for? This is an important question to answerer. If answered in the affirmative we actually create a limited God. If we say that God is love we limit his love to us his “special” people chosen by him to go to heaven and the rest be damned. We can see very easily by this the cause of all wars, strife, conflict, hatred, prejudice, and a love which has been turned upside down. In this view of God, God actually gives us permission to hate the “other” which of course is not love at all.

The breaking of this limited nationalistic God was the first hurdle the infant church had to jump over. We see this in the stories of Peter and Paul in the book of Acts. Peter was shown a vision three times of a blanket filled with unclean animals and was told to eat them. When Peter refused because it offended the religious teachings he was raised in, God told him to not call anything unclean; “When God says that something can be used for food, don’t say it isn’t fit to eat.” Of course this was talking about the gentile centurion Peter was later to meet. Being a gentile was bad enough but a centurion as well? God was really breaking the boundaries the Jewish religion had placed around themselves.

Paul, an example of the limited nationalistic view of God, may have gotten wind of this new vision of God, a God without boundaries. He saw it as his mission to wipe out the heretical new sect who had a different view of God than the one of the his “chosen” people. His conversion and subsequent assignment to the gentiles—those “unclean animals”—was the second step in the revelation that God is a God for all people and nations. But the idea that God had a special people did not die out, it was just moved to another group. The seeds of specialness did not take long to reemerge. In I Corinthians 1: 10-13. the ego/sin nature—which loves separation—had the Corinthians quarreling about what group they belonged to. People have a natural tendency to attach themselves to strong charismatic leaders and in doing so find pride in the feeling of being in the elite. Paul asks a very important question; “Is Christ divided?”

In the Christian tradition Christ is God. Therefore we can just as well ask; “Is God divided?”

I will leave you with one last quote by a contemporary Rabbi:

Deu. 6:4. Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God; the Lord is one.

“The basic credo of Judaism is that G-d is One. Not just that there is one G-d, but that his Oneness precludes the existence of anything apart from him. This is what I mean when I proclaim the Shema, Judaism’s central declaration of faith; ‘Hear, O Israel, Hashem our G-d, Hashem is One.” One. Alone. Nothing else.”

By Rabbi Yakov Asher Sinclair from Lens Work Extended # 84 Seasons of the Moon