Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Stephen Hawking Tries To Kill God

Here is a link to an article I wrote over at TwitX discussing the premise of the Discovery Channel special "God Universe". Hawking aims to take down Newton's intelligent design theory of creation but leaps from there to the conclusion that God does not exist. I think that's a step too far in his chain of logic.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Holy Shit, Physicists Become Gods!

"A team of 20 physicists from four institutions has literally made something from nothing, creating particles of matter from ordinary light for the first time." Link. They've recreated the sequence of the big bang wherein divine light transmuted into matter. All that is came from nothingness. One of these days they'll figure out how to change everything back into what it was before and the universe will disappear. Can't wait.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Count it As Pure Joy My Brothers

"Count it as pure joy my brothers all the trials and tribulations you encounter for they build character." James 1:2-3. At first blush, a nice little proverb such as "Slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God." James 1:19-20. But I think the first point goes much deeper.

In a prior article, I discuss Being Broken or Slaying the Dragon. In my view, this concept plays into that from James 1:2. The ultimate destination of all is return to our father's house (i.e., the return of the prodigal son). Blocking that path home is the dragon, our heinous earthly ego. No one can slay this dragon but ourselves. Luckily, life provides us assistance in this regard. No matter how puffed up we become with our own importance, life has a way of breaking us. In smashing us upon the rocks of life, the trials and tribulations we all encounter loosen the grip of the earthly ego. This is a necessary process all of us undergo. The more we resist, the more pain life inflicts.

And what of those who hunker down in the mud attempting to hide from life's inevitable woes? I think the prologue of Richard Bach's Illusions gave the best analogy. Note: prologue reproduced by permission at bottom of linked page. Those hunkering down fearful of life may avoid going backward but, also, are prevented from going forward. They are the prisoner who refuses to exit his cage after parole has been granted. One may find safety in lock down but the inevitable is thereby delayed. A mother must experience pain to give birth. So each us must bear the pain inherent in tearing back the curtain that separates us from the realization of the fullness of our being.

Brother James, in theory I hear you about joy at the advent of trials and tribulations. But please forgive me for failing to leap enraptured in ecstasy when the miseries of life appear at my doorstep (as they inevitably must). I've learned to bear my burdens in life ... but haven't advanced far enough as yet to do so with a smile.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Buddhist Concept of No Soul, Anātman

I don't really know much about Buddhism. One day I'll find the time to study it in depth. One Buddhist concept that interests me is that humans lack a soul, anātman. I saw a post on a message board stating: "A 'soul' implies that a spiritual body is in place but there is no such thing in Buddhism." Link, see 6th post. I'll just riff on that thought a bit (which may or may not have anything to do with Buddhism).

All things come from God.
Nothing exists outside of God.
All things are one.
All things are God, but God is nothing.

Only the veil of our human ignorance of the fullness and absoluteness of God allow for the concept of a soul. All things flow from God and must, inevitably, flow back into and merge with God. In fact, they never left, only the illusion of having left exists. In the end, no thing will exist, only God who is not a thing. The Godhead is nothingness.

An individual soul is only a temporary illusion that will ultimately disappear with knowledge of the oneness of God. A soul is supposed to be divine. But that which is divine cannot disappear, divine = immortal. Thus, the Christian divine soul is itself an illusion.

But what part of us travails in life again and again striving for perfection? We in the west call it the soul because it survives death. But in Buddhism, that which survives death is merely energy. I posit this energy must contain information regarding past lives that is carried forward. The karma scorecard has to reside somewhere. Under this concept, the soul is just an energy based data card doomed ultimately for erasure when the veil of ignorance is pierced and the energy reunites with the source.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Being Broken or Slaying the Dragon

In an article about mythology, I wrote: "As a child grows into a man, the soul is gripped ever tighter in the mistaken belief of separateness from all other humans and from God. This belief in individuality manifests itself in dominance of the ego. Our earthly ego is the dragon blocking the gateway from the material world back to the spirit world." Link.

Thus, the inner meaning to symbolically slaying the dragon is the destruction of our own earthly ego. This monstrous ego blocks the path back to God. Jesus doesn't talk about dragons or monsters but he does say we must become as children again to enter the kingdom of God. Newborn children are trusting, innocent beings lacking an ego.

One hears Christian sermons on the subject of being broken as was Jesus at Golgotha. See sample. In the ritual which is the Roman Catholic mass, the priest relates the words of Jesus referring to the bread as his body and instructing that the bread is to be broken then eaten in remembrance of him.

Jesus said, the stone which the builders rejected became the cornerstone. “He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but on whoever it falls it will scatter him like dust." Matthew 21:44. At first read, neither alternative offered by Jesus looks promising, i.e., being broken or being scattered. No other alternative is mentioned in the parable. But, perhaps, this is the ultimate fate of us all. "Man you are dust and to dust you shall return." Option 2 is inevitable. We all must return to dust. But option 1 involves action on the part of the individual. If we fall on "the cornerstone". "The cornerstone" of which Jesus speaks in Matthew 21 is the teaching of Jesus Christ, the "Word" if you will. Fall upon the Word and your ego shall be broken (the dragon slain) opening up the path back to the kingdom of God.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Role of Faith in Spiritual Advancement

A dispute exists between the teaching of Paul (the so-called apostle) and James The Just, the brother of Jesus, on the roll of faith. We know who won this argument within later generations of orthodox Christianity but let's examine the merits.

Paul on Faith

"In the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to the last, just as it is written; the righteous will live by faith."
Romans 1:17

"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access (by faith) to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God."
Romans 5:1-2

"We, who are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles, (yet) who know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified."
Galatians 2:5-16

James on Faith

But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it. But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind.
James 1:5-6

"What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well," but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, 'You have faith and I have works.' Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works."
James 2:14-18

The two positions are diametrically opposed. Paul says, man is "justified" through faith alone. James retorts, faith without works is dead. James recognizes that faith plays some roll in spiritual advancement but designates works (right action) with prime importance. Notice the correlation between statement of James (demonstrate faith through works) and Jesus "Ye shall know them by their fruits." Matthew 7:16.

Is there any way to reconcile these two positions? Consider this quote from Abd al-Kader, Algerian Islamic scholar and Sufi mystic (1808 - 1883):
His faith is no longer of any use to him. In fact his faith is only useful so long as he is veiled and has not obtained direct vision and evidence. . . . When that which was hidden becomes evident, when that of which he was merely informed is directly seen, the soul no longer derives any profit from that which it believes but only from that which it contemplates and sees.
The Spiritual Writings of 'Abd al-Kader (1995), Kitab al-Mawaqif. Link.

For Abd al-Kader, the beginning spiritual aspirant needs faith to take the initial steps on the path. But the mystic who has had direct knowledge (gnosis) of the divine no longer requires the crutch of faith. "Faith is no longer of any use to him." Is there any parallel teaching in the Christian traditions? I think so. See the following from the Gospel of Philip (Nag Hammadi library):
Farming in the world requires the cooperation of four essential elements. A harvest is gathered into the barn only as a result of the natural action of water, earth, wind and light. God's farming likewise has four elements - faith, hope, love, and knowledge. Faith is our earth, that in which we take root. And hope is the water through which we are nourished. Love is the wind through which we grow. Knowledge, then, is the light through which we ripen. Grace exists in four ways: it is earthborn; it is heavenly; [...] the highest heaven; [...] in [...].
Per the Gospel of Philip, "faith" is the first step in spiritual growth. Knowledge is the last step on the path. I would go one step further and say that faith is a necessary element on the path but, once it outlives it's usefulness, the doctrines of faith must be shed least they become a burden to further advancement. An infirmed person relies on crutches while in physical therapy to regain full use of one's limbs. But once the ability to walk is regained, the crutches no longer have utility for him and, in fact, become a burden were he to continue dragging them around. Once the caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, the cocoon must be shed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Garment of Light

"Jesus said, 'Wretched is the body that depends upon a body. And wretched is the soul that depends upon these two.'"
Gospel of Thomas, Logion 87

What is the second body?

"You cover yourself with light as though it were a robe. You stretch out the heavens as though they were curtains."
Psalms 104:2.

"Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his garments became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him."
Matthew 17:1-2.

"Not only shall they be unable to seize the perfected person, but they shall be unable (even) to see him. For if they see him, they will seize him. In no other manner will one be able to be begotten of Him in this grace, unless he is clothed in the Perfect Light and Perfect Light is upon him. [Thus clad], he shall go [forth from the world]."
Gospel of Philip.

Hymn of the Pearl from Nag Hammadi also contains a reference to the "Glorious Robe all-bespangled With sparkling splendor of colors". The hero of the story of the Hymn of the Pearl strips off the "filthy and unclean garments" he had worn in a foreign land and put back on his "glorious robe" upon returning to his father's house.

See also 2 Enoch 22:8--"And the Lord said to Michael, 'Go, and extract Enoch from his earthly clothing and anoint him with my delightful oil, and put him into the clothes of my glory."

garment of light = body of perfect light

Wretched is the garment of light that depends upon a physical body. And wretched is the soul that depends upon either the physical or ethereal body.

"The Dogma of the Trinity. The Trinity is the term employed to signify the central doctrine of the Christian religion -- the truth that in the unity of the Godhead there are Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, these Three Persons being truly distinct one from another."
New Advent, the Catholic Encyclopedia.

"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness ... .'"
Genesis 1:26.

"As it is above, so it is below."
Hermes Trismegistus.

Man, made in the image and likeness of God, is three in one: physical body, garment of light, and a divine element that never leaves it's heavenly home. The term "garment of light" refers to the spiritual being residing within every human being. It is one's true self and survives death of the temporal body.