A Possible Gospel And New Testament

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Gospel, Chapter Two: The Anti-Creed

Intro: This is only a statement of disbeliefs that I’ve posted because commentators were wondering where I stood in relation to the subject of belief. It is meant as an overview and by no means fully substantiates its assertions. I’m not asking anyone to accept these disbeliefs on my say-so! That would make it a creed and not an anti-creed.

For me, religious life is primarily about loving others, loving God (not Og, as per below); faith; and our experience, in undertaking this way, of an identity shift away from the self alone and toward experiencing our own identity with the One in whom each of us truly lives and moves and has our being.

1. Jesus Was Not God: It is doubtful that Jesus, as a wise and deeply sane person, could have thought that he was God - that his particular human body and personality were somehow specially identified with a Supreme Deity. Identifying oneself with God in this manner, and that later variation on the theme in which people have sometimes thought they were Jesus Christ, is not a hallmark of sanity.

2. This Is No Crusade: I reject the largely externalized view of Jesus’ message that resulted from this misunderstanding on the part of the early Christian church and which to date has been embraced and promulgated by the church as an institution.

I am committed to seeing through and past these dogmatic aspects of my tradition, which the larger world will never embrace, to identify and emphasize its truth and wisdom. Here is where Christianity can connect with the wider world rather than continue with its perennial delusion of expecting to conquer it. I look to Christianity’s powerful words and symbols to engage with others and not to preach to them.

3. Faith Is Unmediated: I recognize no Christ to worship and adore as God, but see Jesus as having tried to point us toward the way he undertook: loving others and loving God (Mark 12:29-34, Mat 22: 38-39) in a direct and unmediated experience of faith (Gals 3:20); and, in our own lives and persons, moving in a direction of increasing identity with the only One who is more than ourselves alone, and yet in whom each of us truly lives, and moves, and has our being (Acts 17:28).

4. God Is Not Other: I reject the West’s externalized view of God as Other as a misapprehension of Reality. Judaism’s embrace of a single externalized God was a step toward true monotheism; yet Reality is One, not two. There is not a shred of evidence for a Creator existing apart from creation. Creation is creating. We are steeped in God, we swim in God; and this one and only living God, God as Reality-Itself, is bigger than the anthropocentric attributes with which we have tried to invest it. Let us stand in awe of actual God and not fall to our knees adoring the god we have made in our own image.

Tell me: who knows the full context of WHAT IS?

Is this the only universe? Is “a universe” the only thing, or kind of thing, that exists in all-reality? We have not begun to grasp the fullness of what we are doing here.

5. The Cross Is Not An Other's: Life is suffering. I expect to participate not only in the joy of being here, but also to take the way of a cross I shoulder willingly.

6. Words Are Not Dictated: There is no such thing as scripture. The idea of scripture is a literal-minded outcome of belief in the Other-God. Jews, Christians, and Muslims have each imagined that the words of their most revered texts are the words of the imaginary Og; and, moreover, that theirs are the words of Og in some special and direct sense that elevates them above all other writings. This has set the stage for perpetual religious conflict, which ought to be a contradiction in terms.

Everything that has been written has been written by people. All versions of divine dictation, no matter how sophisticatedly rendered, are fictions. Yet there has been and will be further inspired writing. The more inspired the writing, the more the writer speaks from out of and for the sake of More than self alone.

7. The Spirit Is Not A Parrot: The ongoing relationship of human beings with the only living God, and no text, has been and remains the primary source and wellspring of inspiration throughout the world. It is given to all persons and all peoples.

45 Comments:

At 6:08 PM, Anonymous Marissa said...

Apart from my not believing in a god per se, I agree with everything you've said here. I definitely think that Jesus was a regular guy who was just a generally good person and was charismatic enough to be memorable to others, and was a great teacher above everything else. I don't believe he was divine.

Regarding scripture, I agree as well. I think you can learn just as much from a regular, non-religious text as you can learn from, say, the Bible. The messages the Bible puts forth are by no means complicated and you could probably find at least one of those messages in every book that exists nowadays. It's all in how you look at things. I think relying solely on one text for all of your spiritual beliefs is closing yourself off to a whole other world that could show you entirely new and different ways of believing.

 
At 7:33 PM, Blogger kathy said...

Like Marissa said we can learn a lot from Jesus, and we don't need to rely solely on one text for spiritual growth. like you said Darius "Who knows the full context of what IS"?

The Native America Indians are for me a good example of what it means to be in touch with Nature, mother earth and the Great Spirit! Lame Deer shared his vision of what the future will hold for humans if we keep destroying mother earth. The Bible too says similar things. We don't need to cling to the scriptures like thats all we have!

"Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls."--Jeremiah 6:16

 
At 7:40 PM, Blogger kathy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 7:43 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Wow, this is interesting, but I find it erroneous. I will take it by the points you make.

1. You are right. Jesus was ether telling the truth, or was insane. There is really no other way of going about it. But do not mistake every gospel by itself clams that Jesus was the Son of God. Ether they are wrong, thus distorting all that they say, or they were right.

2. I don't. Remember that the early church that you are referring to is not the organized church of our time, but an underground organization. They were being persecuted from all angles.

The world, and Christianity, does try to seek truth and wisdom. If it were not so then there would be no Christians. There is not one book in the bible that condones ignorance. Also, it sounds like you are trying to identify with Gnosticism. Read Hebrews.

3. Jesus truly does desire us to love one another and God. But also allows us to get in touch with reality. The biblical Jesus was not blind, but free. Being perfect and unrestrained from sin He knew what do not know, and thus gave us a glimpse into the reality of the our world. There is pain, He came to heal. There is poverty, He came to give. There was a gap between God and us; He died to reunite us. And so He did. And since He did He, along with God, expects us to believe in Him. Do not be mistaken Jesus said, " I the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6

4. Good. Now we are more in line. You said, "Creation is creating. " Look in Genesis, God created us to.
I am also agreeing that God is way bigger than anything our mind can comprehend, but that does not mean He is completely unknowable. God has shown Himself through creation, time, and people. The bible is an inspired book from the beginning. It gives a glimpse of who we are, and why we are here. Good wants a relationship with us; not to be separated, but united. But a lot of people like to reject God.

5. Good. But why take the cross daily, and reject the person who took it for you.

6. Scripture is a word for writings of divine origin. Whether you agree they are divine does not change their name. Even the Koran is scripture; though I find it wrong.
As far as the Bible, I guess you can say that until you see the power of this book first hand. People's live have been transformed. The fact is if that the bible has not been proven wrong. Never, nowhere, or about anything. And there will come a time in every person's lives that they will discover this Truth. But by then it may be too late.

7. God has placed Himself on every person's heart. He created you to be in union with you. But you chose to ignore Him with your own ways. God has spoken, the rest is commentary right?

Questions? E-mail at question@wrestlingrules.org or check out my blog at myspace at www.myspace.com/believehim

 
At 7:47 PM, Blogger kathy said...

oops it didn't go through. trying again.

Http://www.headheritage.co.uk/uknow/
features/index.php?id=54

Great reading here..a bit long but worth it.

 
At 8:37 PM, Blogger Stacey said...

Even though you are from the Christian tradition and I am a Jew, there is so much in what you've said that I identify and agree with. Your ideas are very refreshing.

 
At 10:08 PM, Blogger Keshi said...

Interesting thoughts...

Keshi.

 
At 1:18 AM, Blogger crystal said...

Hi Darius :-)

I don't know what the "truth" is, but here's what I think (at least at the moment) ...

Jesus is God, not a crazy person. I know this doesn't work for everyone, though, and I know many christians who don't think he is God.

Aside from in the movies, I don't like Crusades either.

I disagree with the idea that Jesus is the finger pointing at the moon, rather than the moon, but yes, the message is important.

The idea that God is everything is kind of pantheism or panentheism? The trouble with a God that isn't at least partly other is that he isn't then a person and you can't have a relationship with him (my favorite part).

Life is suffering - this is sort of Gnostic. I'd rather believe the christian view that life is good and something to be cherished, instead of escaped from. But, I have to admit, I often feel the opposite.

 
At 4:45 AM, Blogger Yves said...

Wow, Darius, I like what you are doing and the way you are doing it. You are cleaning the stables. Perhaps you see it as purifying Christianity, whilst I see it as shining a light of wisdom on Christianity and seeing what, if anything, survives.

 
At 6:38 AM, Blogger Don Iannone said...

Darius,

Much to chew on in your latest treatise.

I share many of the views reflected in this post, but you already know that, so I will not waste your time or others with that.

Saw the DiVinci Code movie yesterday and was very moved by it. First, I thought it was a wonderfu movie and thought Tom Hanks did a great job.

More importantly, over the years I have done my own share of digging--in a spiritual, intellectual, and even in an archeological sense. There are many dirty secrets in all religious sects, orders, and demoninations. They existed in the fundamentalist Christian church I grew up in where childen were abused. They exist within various priestly orders with respect to children and other abuses of power.
They exist in various Eastern religions where for years women were shunned as second class citizens.

Maybe the book has been written and I don't know about it, but I would welcome a book called "Dirty Secrets of the Holy."

More later, but let's hear what others have to say.

 
At 6:39 AM, Blogger Matthew said...

Neat.

So are these presented as axioms, in the sense that if you believe them they're self-evident, and if you don't then you simply won't? Or are they meant to be observations based on facts and experience that you hope will eventually win out in the larger marketplace of ideas?

 
At 6:41 AM, Blogger Don Iannone said...

I would be interested in what folks think this poem has to say to them: http://conscious-living.blogspot.com/2006/05/when-sunlight-falters-by-don-iannone.html

What feelings does the poem emote?

Thanks

 
At 7:56 AM, Blogger Paul said...

Eyes to be open!!!

Only eyes which have knowledge are worthy to called eyes!!!

All gospels and all religions are trying to say one thing, in different ways.

If you know what he (Jeasus) mean by Me and my father is one, you will not write blunders like this!!! Had you know what it means by the term holy spirit, you may not told this as well.

Having knowledge is a grace. To utilise it for bad is a sin, for who believe in sin.

Using a holy book which had lightened many for publicity is a bad.

Hey, by the way, what is good and what is bad? Bad is for others, not for the person who is doing. Right?

By that way, will you please tell me, what bad Jesus did to you? If not, why are you crucifying him again?

 
At 8:07 AM, Blogger Darius said...

A Few Clarifications

MATTHEW, great question, I think what follows addresses it. Please post a follow-up if not.

Belief and faith are basically synonyms in western religion. I could see that some of you were wondering where I stood in relation to belief – hence this post. I should add that faith as I know it has nothing to do with belief or disbelief.

First, a couple of your comments suggest possible misunderstandings:

The post doesn’t say that I think Jesus was crazy, but the opposite: “wise and deeply sane.”

When I said, “Life is suffering,” I referred to life’s joy in the same breath. I meant that suffering is an unavoidable dimension of being alive. That’s essentially what Buddhism teaches too.

One comment infers that I "believe in a god.” I have no such belief. I’m calling God existence itself – Existence. “Self-evident” is a much abused term, but if anything’s really self-evident, that would be it.

Categories sometimes help clarify. Other times they are labels that distort. Since this is an “anti-creed” whose primary business is to clarify things I don’t believe and offers little about faith and spiritual life in positive terms, I’d have to say that I think any label is premature (Gnostic, post-modernist, pantheist, panentheist, etc.).

CHRIS, welcome, and I really appreciate the way you outlined your contrasting viewpoint without the condescension or anger that people sometimes display when they differ – and you even pointed to areas of similarity.

And thanks to you and Crystal for trying to take a look at what I said point by point. However, I wouldn’t want to try to go into each of them just now– this was just an overview of the lesser and minor aspect of my outlook (the disbeliefs), and I’ve done little to substantiate my statements. I wouldn’t ask you to accept them on my say-so or anyone else’s - which would make the anti-creed a creed! I’d just ask you to await further developments and question me as we go along.

CHRIS, there’s one important underlying difference that I would like to highlight here. Your idea of scripture is essentially that it was dictated – something I reject in #6. It isn’t the word scripture I’m trying to discuss; it’s the idea of scripture, the concept. This is one point that was addressed quite a bit in the prior posts discussing the idea of inspiration – what it is and isn’t.

Also, Chris, I completely agree with you that belief has been and remains a powerfully constructive force in many individual lives. It is equally clear that it has been and remains a powerful force of conflict and division on the world stage.

Thanks for everyone’s comments and links, just thought I should make this statement to clarify and avoid possible misunderstanding -

 
At 9:35 AM, Blogger Gangadhar said...

Your thoughts are just like the freshness in first rays of sun!!

 
At 2:41 PM, Blogger Stacey said...

I’m calling God existence itself – Existence. “Self-evident” is a much abused term, but if anything’s really self-evident, that would be it.

Perhaps you could write an entire post expounding on this most interesting concept.

...belief has been and remains a powerfully constructive force in many individual lives. It is equally clear that it has been and remains a powerful force of conflict and division on the world stage.

Absolutely. It is both a blessing and a curse.

 
At 3:40 PM, Blogger Darius said...

PAUL: There is a near total absence of historical information concerning Jesus. What we have is a collection of writings from the early Christian church that was founded in his name after he was executed; writings which were composed several decades later. We simply don’t know what Jesus thought of himself. We only know what early Christians thought he was. We only hear something of his words as filtered through layers of early church interpretation.

The writings, to me, have two primary aspects: their dimension as wisdom literature; and their theological aspect. The wisdom dimension includes, for example, the two greatest commandments; I Cors. 13 on love (as “the greatest gift”); the beatitudes; and the many verses against judging others.

Theologically, the New Testament assumes the existence of Other-God, and elaborates the basics of what’s sometimes called “Christology:” the view that Jesus was the Other-God with a body and personality who loved us so much that he came to offer Himself as a sacrifice to, well, Himself, so that He wouldn’t condemn us all because of our thoroughgoing sinfulness. And from out of His infinite love, He will return to send everyone to hell except for those who believe the theology that those first century writers authored.

I identify the wisdom dimension with the person who was Jesus; I don’t believe that “the Christ, Son of Other-God,” exists. I think this is unwisdom.

For example, you mention, “I and the Father are one.” Here is a good example of how Jesus may have been misheard. In fact, there is a non-dualistic form of religious experience (putting it very dryly…) which Christian contemplatives have always described in terms of unity with God. (“The Cloud of Unknowing,” for example.) Non-Christians describe what is clearly the same experience, but of course they don’t use Christian theological language to refer to it. The Buddha’s enlightenment experience may be the world’s best known example.

Jesus could easily have been speaking from out of a profound experience of such a perspective. But if those who heard did not have “ears to hear,” they would have externalized and literalized his message. Instead of hearing him say, “I and the Father are one, and this is the way and the life in which you are to follow,” they would have only heard, “I’m God.”

GANGADHAR: I sort of think so too, but Paul sure doesn't...

STACEY: Existence as self evident... Hmm... Don't know as that could be a post. To me it seems so - self evident. But then words, and what people mean by them, can be especially confusing in this area...

How's this: SOMETHING'S going on, right? I mean, unless one thinks "everything is a dream" - a totally subjective state. But I don't know anybody who really lives that way.

And even if all this is "Stacey's Dream," still, SOMETHING is happening, even if we all (or, I guess, just you) want to call it, "Stacey's Dream."

I'm not big on CAPS as a mode of expression. Somebody help me out here please, if you want to weigh in on whether what I'm saying makes sense or not...

 
At 4:30 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Hi. This post does help with clarification of your perspective, Darius. I like Yves' line about 'shining a light of wisdom on Christianity and seeing what, if anything, survives.' I don't know if this is your intention but the blog tends to come from that angle.

I must mention Dale's comment from the last post that 'many [Buddhist?] schools hold that we are in fact already buddhas, in our inmost nature, and our task is not to make ourselves into buddhas but to recognize that we already are buddhas.' I was touched to read that, as it happens, but... thats just me.

Possibly, and I don't know because (kind of obviously) I haven't found answers to these questions, such an idea of God is different from your expression here, Darius, of God as 'One who is more than ourselves alone'. This may be little more than a theological quibble; it may be a question that our linguistic systems, deriving from the way humanity views existence, is unable to answer. I don't know. Its interesting...

as is Stacey's question of whether you can call existence 'self-evident'. The first noble truth taught by the Buddha is 'All life is suffering'. I think other thoughts come before this? Thoughts like 'What is going on here?' Thoughts like 'What is here?'; 'What exists?'

Cheers x

 
At 6:13 PM, Blogger grumblefish said...

The whole idea of the acceptance of free will would not
even be a talking point, were it not for these holy doctrines. That
may be a part of the message, in that they represent mankinds best
efforts at codifying norms of human
civilization. Mind you, they have
warts, but if the alternative is that all codes of behaviour are
simply the product of animal rationalizations (thus freeing us from "Thou shalt not..." regulation
in favor of simple cause and effect
behaviour patterns), do we really
want to go there, as a species? For many, the answer has always been an unqualified "maybe", while
others elected to use free will,
imperfect though it is, to develop
a viable code by which to live. It seems that none of these religions scale very well, in the face of our own reconstituted reality. But,
since nobody's offering anything to supplant them, and the devout
insist that our behaviors will all lead us to very clearly defined
outcomes, we've reached an impasse.
My biggest beef is that we haven't
agreed to apply wisdom and knowledge in equal parts, and as
a result, we freely interchange the
two, when they're very separate
entities. I think that the Catholic
church has been the most visible at
wrestling with this conundrum, and
has been steadily taking heat for
trying to get its paritioners to
take both views. It doesn't surprise me that they have such an
enormous research division (pardon
the pun), but it does make them seem stiff and unyielding on many
(apparently) lay matters. To all
appearances, this same notion of
rules-based living permeates Islam
and (at least, Orthodox) Judaism.
We seek to remove restraints, but
have shown little in the way of self-restraint, and will drink
gallons of our own Kool-Aid while
brushing aside sanity checks. Okay,
so if God is merely an intellectual
impediment, we are, as rational
human beings, still left we the issues that keep us alive and together. In a sense, our reasoning
must also acknowledge the religious
underpinnings of our alternatives,
so barring something completely
unprecedented, even Atheists are
forced into the framework.

 
At 6:57 PM, Anonymous Marissa said...

Regarding God as existence- My spiritual beliefs as an athiest are based around science. And in science we learn (basically) that there is energy in everything. That is what I believe connects all of us and connects us to the earth and everything on it. So I agree with Grumblefish's last point, that even athiests are brought into the mix. I think what I refer to as energy is what many people interpret as God, and what could be called existence.

P.S. I really wish PreacherBoy were here to take part in this discussion, I'm sure he'd have some interesting views. :)

 
At 7:07 PM, Blogger Pheidippides said...

Darius,
This is a general question that isn’t intended to probe for more information pertaining to your “Gospel project.” I’m sure you’re aware that Washington and the rest of the U.S. are watching to see how liberals and/or the Democrats can ally themselves with the forces of morality and faith, especially in upcoming, well-known swing states like Ohio, for example. Do you think the parts of Christianity in the U.S. today concerned most with social justice can manage to meld with the progressive voices in U.S. politics, which is still searching to define itself? I’d be interested to hear your perspective on this. In my opinion, I see a whole lot more of the same posturing from Reps and Dems in the next election unless the very few active progressive/liberal members in Congress can sway their own majority (very unlikely) in a social movement that several faith leaders have been working towards (to be clear I’m obviously not talking about the Robertson’s, Falwell’s and the Religious Conservatives). Even if the progressive/liberal voice tries in earnest to align with this religious/spiritual social movement, I'm still very worried that this social movement will disengage many potential voters by too frequently emphasizing Bible scripture in their campaign message. Even these progressive religious/spiritual leaders I’m referring to would be going out on a limb in supporting a message that readily does not cite the Bible and scripture. A few key theological points can go a long way. Most people can really only handle a few before they begin tuning out. Can they both effectively team up as one? What do you think?

 
At 8:08 PM, Blogger Darius said...

GEESH, YOU GUYS, these sure are complex and wide-ranging comments. Guess that's what comes with posting an “overview!”

I’ll try to zone-in on my take on the essence of what each of you bring up:

BENJAMIN: I think of it less as being about, “shining a light of wisdom on Christianity and seeing what, if anything, survives,” than taking off the cover to see what's been shining in the dark all along.

GRUMBLEFISH: Are you, in essence, rhetorically asking something like, “What good is it to criticize the apparent underpinnings of faith and religious life if there isn’t some positive alternative?” If so, I agree wholeheartedly.

MARISSA: Anybody who knows more about the history of philosophy and religion could help out here with the specifics, but I think your energy idea is both old and new. That is, science talks a lot about energy/matter, but at the same time, thinking of the divine more in terms of energy than entity I believe has been around for a very long time.

Preachrboy and maybe Paul have shaken the proverbial dust from their feet and walked away, I think. Glad P-boy hung in as long as he did, because I feel I have a better understanding of the fundamentals of conservativism.

I suspect that in general it may genuinely be more difficult for conservatives to speak with people who have a different outlook. While probably anyone has some degree of feeling for how – let’s call it, "the greatest Context", whether you want to designate it as God or nature – is truly awesome and beyond words, conservatives nevertheless tend toward drawing an equivalency between their verbal formulas and the reality itself.

So to me it looks as though they feel as if any disagreement with a series of words such as “Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior,” is an attack on God himself. But I’m sure God doesn’t need anyone’s protection.

PHEIDIPPIDES: Honestly, I can’t say much more than that I’ve wondered the same thing – how people with strong social justice concerns can manage to get together in the foreseeable future to speak out and organize with a passion that is overtly moral.

I think one problem is, again, the divisiveness of belief. There are plenty of spiritually passionate and moral atheists and agnostics. Quoting the New Testament in sound bites, given its continuing primary associations with accepting the theology it contains, probably isn’t going to help unite them with progressive Christians. But you’d think there could be a truce, given what we’re up against!

 
At 5:41 AM, Blogger Don Iannone said...

I give you: http://conscious-living.blogspot.com/2006/05/davinci-code-movie-fascinating-movie.html

 
At 8:10 AM, Blogger Homo Escapeons said...

My favorite scene in the DaVinci Code was the raucous deliberations at the Council of Nicea. It would have been complete bedlam. Everybody wants to personalise their Yeshua and make him their own.
I travelled down this road from the lofty pinnacle of the pentecostal church(the apex of the modern christian world in their view)and came crashing down to ground like Icarus. Having flown too close to the Sun (SON) my wings melted and voila.

Having realised that all we know about Yeshua is 2nd, 3rd and maybe even 10th hand information is troubling. The main message of tolerance is universal and will always be special to me. I just don't think that any group has a monopoly on that information.
I am happy to be down here in the empiricst world. I am quite content with the knowledge that some questions are unanswerable and whacking hornet's nests will spoil your picnic..

Wastin' away again in agnostiville,
lookin' for that lost shaker of salt,
some people claim that there's a deity to blame,
but I know..it might not have happened at all.

 
At 9:06 AM, Blogger mistipurple said...

wow, all very deep thinkers here.
i like things simple, though i probably am not.
let me just wave a hello to everyone.

 
At 10:12 AM, Blogger Darius said...

DON, thanks for the link -

HOMOESCAPEONS, certainly many thoughtful people have responded the way you have. There are also many thoughtful people who've stayed within the church - Matthew and Crystal are a couple examples from commentators here.

MISTIPURPLE, me too - about liking to keep things simple. In positive terms, my own outlook is simple. For one thing, I don't know much! Just a few things, although those few things I know pretty well. (HOMOESCAPEONS: And it's knowledge that isn't "special" or arcane, but empirical in a real and legitimate sense.)

But trying to talk about simple things can get complicated in a hurry for a couple major reasons:

1. People usually use the word "God" to refer to a Being existing apart from the rest of nature or reality. And many people don't believe that such a Being exists.

2. People usually equate "faith" with "believing something that can't be demonstrated by reason or experience."

Or, if they're very conservative, they may equate faith with their own personal knowledge that the things they believe aren't beliefs at all, but truths concerning which they're absolutely certain. Seems like an odd view of "faith" to me. I mean, if you know, why do you need "faith"?

It would be like saying, "I have faith that my computer keyboard exists."

So yeah, this kind of thing makes discussion complicated... But in reality, as far as I can tell, things are much simpler.

 
At 10:17 AM, Blogger Dale said...

This is tangential in the extreme, but as the resident Buddhist I feel I have to make a little clearer what we mean when we say "life is suffering," since the phrase is being used in ways that would make the Buddhist position sound confusing, if not ridiculous.

"Suffering" is a technical term, in Buddhism. It gets translated by terms as widely divergent as "anguish," "discontent," and "alienation."

We mistake ourselves for permanent, free-standing *things*, and then we keep trying to hang on to whatever will support and validate this thing ("attachment"), and we keep trying to avoid or destroy whatever threatens this thing ("aversion.") This continual anxiety to extend and defend our territory is what we mean when we say "life is suffering." So it includes a whole lot of things that people ordinarily think of as pleasurable and gratifying. When someone falls in love with me and I like that because it shores up the illusion of my identity, I am, in Buddhist terms, "suffering."

It's not something inevitable, or something to be accepted; the Buddhist path is about rooting out its causes. The whole point of the story of the Buddha is that he was a human being who reached clarity about what he really was, and therefore stopped "suffering."

 
At 11:46 AM, Blogger kevin beck said...

Interesting stuff.

God is certainly not limited to written texts. God is all-in-all and unfolds every moment in all things.

Looking forward to reading more.

 
At 2:04 PM, Blogger Darius said...

DALE: Glad to have a "resident Buddhist" and if tangential, I find you're addressing something important.

Would it be a close approximation of your remarks to say: suffering comes from identifying with ourselves in the way that people generally do - primarily as discrete or free standing entities that seem to exist independently of the wider world?

A lot of us pretty much hang onto this identity at least until we get really close to the time of breathing our last breath, then slowly rotting back into the ground.

Many readers might wonder what in the world there is to identify with before you die if not your mortal self .

Meditation helps answer that question. It's not, of course, the only way. Taking long walks in the outdoors regularly might do it. Doing volunteer work with the sick and dying, or with children might do it.

To demystify meditation for readers who identify themselves (so to speak) as skeptics, atheists, empiricists etc:

Meditation is just a practice designed to get your mind to shut up. It turns out that if you do that while you're still alive, you don't lose consciousness; you gain it.

For Christians: it's "dying to self and living to Christ."

Dale and others, what do you think?

KEVIN, glad you stopped by and I'll be visiting your blog.

"God is all-in-all" - I like that.

 
At 3:29 PM, Blogger Dale said...

That's exactly it, Darius. We chatter all day long, in our minds or out loud, and we start to think that we ARE the chatter, and that if we stop chattering something awful will happen, some dreadful emptiness will haul our souls away.

But that's not what happens. It's not emptiness, it's fullness & radiance & vivid awareness that we're holding at bay with our incessant talk.

Tiel of "Knocking from Inside" wrote a poem recently, about wiping the mind's chalkboard clean so God can write something. I'm not a theist, so I don't ordinarily express it the same way, but that's exactly what I'm trying to do with meditation. I can call it God, or Buddha-nature, or awakened mind, or whatever I like -- even trying to name it, with my little chattermonkey mind, is ludicrous. It is what it is.

 
At 3:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The late Bill Coffin called it chirping optimism, ;).

 
At 4:19 PM, Blogger Ryan Lee Sharp said...

I really vibe with what your saying man. Good stuff. I think Christians have long been proned to idolatry of the Christ-ian sort...when the whole time Jesus directed them to "the Father" or "their neighbor/brother" as to where to direct their love and energy.

Good stuff.

 
At 6:44 PM, Blogger Darius said...

DALE and ANONYMOUS: And even though the terms used to discuss this kind of experience vary, especially when a theological vocabulary is employed, when you read accounts by people who've had them, it really looks very clear that they're talking about the same phenomenon.

RYAN LEE: Thanks for coming by. Even though it's admittedly speculation when we think about the historical Jesus, that's my best guess too.

 
At 7:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dale, I like the way you described the Buddha-nature.

 
At 7:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've got a good quote for you regarding "the family."

 
At 7:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

for RLS's comment

 
At 7:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof. You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them.” R.Bach, American Author & Poet.

 
At 4:52 AM, Blogger Rauf said...

All faiths are very simple in the beginning Darius, they get so complicated through the years that the orginal message is lost. People lose faith largely due to the complexity of rituals coustoms myths,pomp and glory that get added on to the faith. Very few lose faith due to deep thinking.

 
At 5:35 AM, Blogger J_G said...

"I don’t believe that “the Christ, Son of Other-God,” exists. I think this is unwisdom."

If this is what you believe do not try to pass yourself off as a Christian beacause this is not what the Christian faith is about. You may consider yourself to be a sprititual person and that may true but if do not believe that Jesus Christ is the risen Son of God then it can be said that you don't believe in the scriptures. Christians believe that the scriptures are the words of God. If you do not believe that than you do not believe in the faith of Christianity, pretty simple stuff. You have the free will to believe what you want but don't misrepresent yourself calling yourself a Christian with beliefs that are not of Christianity. Any questions or comments may directed inwards.

 
At 7:35 AM, Blogger Don Iannone said...

Think interspiritual mysticism:

http://www.bedegriffiths.com/golden/gs_10.htm

 
At 7:49 AM, Blogger Darius said...

ANONYMOUS: Re. your quote about "respect and joy" in relation to others as making them part of your family: it would be great if we could at least make a start by honoring and respecting legitimately different points of view in the area of religion and spirituality.

Nobody comes to their outlook on such matters with the purpose of bothering others!

RAUF: Good observations. It's true that ritual and ceremony obscures the message for some. For others it's very meaningful. Personally, I feel that at its best ritual honors the message, but shouldn't be confused with or mistaken for it.

i-g: I should mention that so far I've said very little about my faith in positive terms, and brought up the subject of belief because people were wondering about it.

Early on, I mentioned that in writing something gospel-like or in a gospel style, so to speak, I'll be stating things strongly. I won't be taking this as far as the real gospels do, however - no plans to tell people they're going to hell if they don't see it my way!

So when I say something like, "unwisdom" please take it with a grain of salt. It's unwisdom for me, and for many. But not for you, and millions more. So on the one hand, I see religious beliefs as a continuing source of division in the world. Nobody's system is going to win, since these are all undemonstrable beliefs. On the other, I recognize that belief continues to play a constructive role in millions of individual lives today, and I honor and respect that.

Regarding Christianity, it's true that I don't subscribe to the theology. It's also true that Christianity is the tradition I come from - was raised Catholic - and that The New Testament has had a stronger influence on me than any other book.

I'm not concerned with my category, and that's fine if you'd like to think of me as a non-Christian.

I should add that some people, including ordained ministers, do think of themselves as Christians even though they don't subscribe to the theology. You might want to google, "Open Christianity" or the author, "Jim Burklo, or take a look at
http://www.emergentvillage.com/Site/index.htm.

As far as free will goes, I'm not capable of choosing beliefs. I believe what appears to be true.

 
At 8:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your ego is playing tricks on you, Darius. At least that's what my mind says.

 
At 8:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Life is suffering. I expect to participate not only in the joy of being here, but also to take the way of a cross I shoulder willingly."

Interesting. If you buy into the bible as the inspired word of God then it bears some relevance to your statement here. The people he "bore the cross" for go to heaven, the others go to hell. Man is incapable of excusing himself from his shortcomings in Gods eyes, really the essence of forgiveness was established in Christs death. Millions of people "bear thier own cross" proudly... of course if Revelation is accurate none of those folks do well for themselves.

-Doug

 
At 10:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no creative outlet for the application of scripture as the "word" of God. Hyperboles and parables comprise the diction that hold our lives.

-Sarang

 
At 2:01 PM, Blogger Darius said...

ANONYMOUS/DOUG/SARANG: From the style and tone, my guess is that these multiple consecutive postings from a non-blogger are three persons in one.

If that’s correct, please notice that blogspot let’s you sign in under any pseudonym you choose – it helps to know for sure whether you’re speaking to one person or several.

The norm in the blogging world seems to be consolidating thoughts before posting a comment rather than posting several in a row. Most people who comment to blogs have blogs themselves, so I much appreciate your comments and understand that you may not have had an opportunity to notice this.

You write, “Your ego is playing tricks on you, Darius. At least that’s what my mind says.”

My mind tells me that all of us have tricky egos. In your words I hear someone who doesn’t know me saying, “Darius, you have a big ego.” This is because you want to belittle my perspective; that would be an example of egotistical desire.

Re. your substantive remarks, unfortunately you just missed a lengthy discussion in recent posts with Preacherboy that addresses all of them. To point you to the gist, scroll halfway down the May 14 comments to, “The Conservative Premise.” I believe that’s your premise regarding the sense in which the words of the Bible are to be regarded as inspired. My view on inspiration is in the May 3 post.

 

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