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Transformation: The Love Habit Login/Join
 
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Freebird wrote: "To simplify the above, Jesus is saying that in order to be His disciple men and women must love Christ more than their parents, more than their mate, more than their children, more than their sisters and brothers. I could have said this earlier, but so be it now."

Well put perspective, Freebird. I found an fine study of that troublesome text:

http://www.biblicalhebrew.com/nt/lovehate.htm

Luke uses love and hate in stark contrast whereas Matthew makes it a matter of degree -- to love one more than another. Your reading, Freebird, tilts toward Matthew over Luke.

Today, in my reflection on the that teaching, where I'm still tilting toward Lukes reading, I'm impressed by the totality and exclucivity of it. First, the totality. In natural family life we often take sides. For example, I may love my father and hate my mother or love myself and hate my family of origin, or hate my wife and love my mother, or hate my ex-wife and love my current wife and so on. But Jesus has us view the self/spouse/family system as a whole and "hate" it all (Lukes literal version here).

On an aside, the saying seems directed to men. It says hate your wife but there is no mention of husband. I think you are on the right track paraphrasing it to be gender inclusive, changing wife to husband for women readers.

Anyway, back to the totality/exclucivity. The teaching excludes people outside the family. It does not say, hate your neighbor, hate all humanity. It selects out that particular slice of humanity that we are most apt to cling to for security. To hate that part of humanity is to become basically vulnerable in the world -- a situation addressed in the beatitudes. Which, by the way, is also addressed in that web page cited earlier:
http://www.biblicalhebrew.com/nt/beatitudes.htm
 
Posts: 455 | Location: Baltimore | Registered: 23 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Dear Brad,

quote:

All I know is that these are not things to run from. They are things to embrace.
---------------------------------

What a light you are to us all. Your courage, love and strength in staying within the uncomfortableness, to say the least, of pain, sorrow, and sufferings by embracing same with hope is a true blessing and gift from God. We are so gifted by your presence and your continued sharing. I thank thee with all my heart.

Jesus tells us: "Little children, you are in the world, but not of it". An autistic child is with us here on earth, but lives in an isolated world within. My deffinition is not a medical description of autism, but what I perceived in my working with Bernard. A way to describe his state of being was a child separated from others and myself by a very thick layer of ice. Here was a child unaware of being with us on planet earth since his world consisted only within his own mind and consciousness. Even though people and things surround these children, it is hard to know and understand as to how much awareness they experience of them.

These children need to be awakened to this life. It is like a new birth as promised by Christ. So in a way one could say that autistic children receive two births. Breaking through this thick layer of ice and have it flow in the recognition of love and awareness of others, is the goal of everyone working with children and adults of autism.

It takes a tremendous love and patience in working with these children, but miracles do happen and many do awaken to this life of love for others.

Working with the children and adults of autism utilizes many tools like music, dancing, drawing, painting, walking, as mentioned the use of nature, etc. The most powerful therapy is, of course, when allowable, touching, hugs, kisses and smiles.
 
Posts: 571 | Location: Oregon | Registered: 20 June 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Your courage, love and strength in staying within the uncomfortableness, to say the least, of pain, sorrow, and sufferings by embracing same with hope is a true blessing and gift from God.

Thank you, Freebird. And you�re right. Whether I�m a coward or a hero for doing so (probably a little of both) is an open question, but staying with the uncomfortableness is precisely it. You�ve hit the nail on the head.

We are so gifted by your presence and your continued sharing. I thank thee with all my heart.

Oh, I really do appreciate you saying that, Freebird. But I understand also there are those lurkers out there who may be holding their noses and wondering just how self-indulgent and full of self-pity this fellow can get. And that would be fine because first of all, that�s partially true, and second of all, I know that we humans tend to stay in our stuckness because we�re often deathly afraid of things like feelings, emotions, true frankness, admission of fault or weakness, etc. So my response would be, "Here, let me show you at least one thing I�m good at. You don�t have to be good at it, but do know that a loving (and I stress loving) self-assessment is necessary."

Jesus tells us: "Little children, you are in the world, but not of it". An autistic child is with us here on earth, but lives in an isolated world within. My deffinition is not a medical description of autism, but what I perceived in my working with Bernard. A way to describe his state of being was a child separated from others and myself by a very thick layer of ice. Here was a child unaware of being with us on planet earth since his world consisted only within his own mind and consciousness. Even though people and things surround these children, it is hard to know and understand as to how much awareness they experience of them.

Wonderfully said, and how such a thing as autism makes one wonder what it means to be a person and what it means to relate to the Ultimate. When one sees (and I don�t mean this unkindly) the sort of "half" person that exists in autism, one wonders if half is missing or if half is being held much closer by Someone else. What is it we are actually witnessing?

It takes a tremendous love and patience in working with these children, but miracles do happen and many do awaken to this life of love for others.

Well said again, Freebird. And I ripped this line out of context for a reason: Wouldn�t the above statement fit perfectly anybody and everybody, adult or child, whether whole or handicapped? I certainly think it does. Dealing with people requires a lot of work, and for whatever reason (perhaps because our natural competitive guard is down), handicapped people typically engender love. But run-of-the-mill "normal" people that we might meet out on the street? Well, as you said, it takes a tremendous love and patience to work with these people, but miracles do happen and they (and us) may awaken to this life of love for others. We�re not so easily moved to treat "normal" people (even and especially family members) as we would Adam or Bernard. But if, as I think you said or suggested, we see the handicap that is contained in all people to some extent, maybe we can do a little better job of it.
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Admissions of weakness don�t normally come easy�especially for me, and especially in real life. Online is easier, for a variety of reasons, one of them being that I�m not particularly threatened by anyone else�s words because words are my strength. But these thoughts of weakness, autism, and hidden (or obvious) handicaps seem to suggest a vital and strong link between weakness and love. And I couldn�t help thinking further about this subject:

What one needs to understand is that weakness tends to be consumed by life. That is what we often see and that is what we often experience. And if that is the end of it then that is the end of it, and it therefore makes sense for us to lash out in order to try to compensate for our weaknesses�even if this is done only mentally, by sharing our angst, dissatisfaction, and disgust with ourselves, even if it is done by proxy as we show our angst, dissatisfaction, and disgust with the outer world.

But what if there is an odd and unexpected strength in weakness? Can weakness lead us to a different kind of strength? I see this as one of the great experimental and experiential tests of Christianity.

To conquer others either by the sword or by subtle brainwashing can be done. A blunt instrument can easily enough accomplish this. But can something spread that truly relies on and trusts the power of weakness? I don�t know, but if so then I have no doubt that you will have found something truly holy.

And that�s the question, whether there�s real ontological meat to the concept of weakness and to Christianity. My thought is that the cross is where total giving meets total taking. Who wins this confrontation? Can we find analogies or evidence for how this plays out in our everyday lives?

You may think that by saying all this that I have confidence that it is true, that there is strength in weakness. But I don�t know. We might believe anything, and it might make us feel better�for a while. So that�s why I wonder if there is real ontological substance behind such beliefs. And if there is, does it depend on what we believe about something that supposedly happened 2000 years ago or should something with that kind of depth of reality show itself in everyday life, and show itself easily? Well, I think it can and does show itself, which is perhaps one reason I�m not all that enamored with the precise details of doctrine. It may be true, it may not be true, but let�s take a look around us today as see for sure what is true.

The "rotten bastards" part of the equation I understand. I think I sort of understand what makes people tick and why they do the rotten things that they do. They are weak and they are attempting to compensate for their weakness, among other things. And granted, good things can and do come about when we try to compensate for weakness. But the danger is that a lot of bad stuff comes from that too. In evil there is a hunger, and it is a hunger that often (if not always) wants to do good as it understands it. I wish our choices in life were as easy as choosing between good and evil, but it�s not. It�s understanding the difference. We�re not likely to choose evil if we truly understand that it is not good for us. People generally do not do things that they think are not good for them in some way. That may be a controversial statement, but I think it�s true. Even our self-destructive tendencies have, at heart, a desire to perhaps snuff out an imperfection (us, for instance) and thus one shows a warped, but still genuine, desire for beauty and goodness.

So the question is an important one. Can we not only find goodness in weakness but is there really goodness in weakness, in being vulnerable, in being imperfect, in sacrificing oneself for another, in admitting fault, in lacking power? Is there a strength in weakness that is above and beyond our normal conception of what strength and greatness means? God knows, you�ll be hard-pressed to find many examples in popular culture, or even in our interactions with each other. Who really respects weakness? Who really respects the meek? And who is really willing to give credence to these words, and not as a way to surreptitiously put one�s hand on a new source of power as a way (however unconsciously) to compensate for a different type of power that one feels one is lacking, but because it is good, because it is the right thing to do, come what may on heaven or earth?
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Brad wrote: "... I have know great physical pain, and in long stretches. I have known poverty in nearly everything but economic poverty and I seem even heading for that! I have known fear like few others may have experienced. I have known shame as few others would ever want to experience. And through all this, right now, I don�t sit on the precipice of death, of anger, of bitterness or hatred. I sit on the precipice of life."

Brad,

Was that paragraph a conscious allusion to II Corinthians 4:7-10? "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the higher power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies."
 
Posts: 455 | Location: Baltimore | Registered: 23 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hi All,

I don't know if this is relevant, but I've been thinking of the relationship between male homosexual orientation and Chrisitan spirituality. There is a great divide in our culture betwen gay and straight that is widely percieved. What is not widely percieved is a distinction Paul makes between spiritual and carnal ways of being in the body.

Nouwen was homosexually oriented, I'm hetero. What we have in common spiritually bridges the divide. I've made the mistake of thinking that gay men made good friends just because they are gay. Big mistake. It is the spirituality, not the sexulity, that makes for friendship. Although the sexuality is part of the picutre.
 
Posts: 455 | Location: Baltimore | Registered: 23 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I've made the mistake of thinking that gay men made good friends just because they are gay. Big mistake. It is the spirituality, not the sexulity, that makes for friendship.

I must tell you, Ryan, that I think it takes one heck of a self-aware person to say something like that. Not that this is a contest or anything, Wink but such an attitude puts you ahead of 90% of the people out there. But I think it�s completely normal, and even sometimes good, to treat with extra care those we perceive to be handicapped, to be underdogs, or to be a repressed minority. But are, for example, illegal aliens to this country really a repressed minority? How silly is it to have all these protests whose aim is to change our laws when most of these protesters can�t vote? Christian charity might come into play in regards to how illegal aliens are dealt with, but ought not Christian charity take into consideration that what these law-breakers, and other proponents of illegal aliens, are asking is that you and your neighbors, whether rich or poor, sacrifice in order to pay for their illegal conduct? Why should somebody else get his or her health care for free when, time and again, I�ve had to cut mine back (and pay big bucks for it in the process � and I�m actually on the verge of having to do without)? I�m playing by the rules and I get penalized and yet there are people who actually have the kahunas to stand up and play the victim card when the conduct of these illegal aliens is the equivalent of a robber, not a victim.

To get fully into the gay issue one needs to proceed with eyes wide open and also look at what some of the gay leaders are saying and what they stand for. Some of it is shocking, to say the least. One might be all for the equal and fair treatment of people despite their sexual orientation, but we are being na�ve when we automatically treat all gay people like puppy dogs, teddy bears, and oh-so-hugable innocent victims when some are saying things like this:

quote:
We shall sodomize your sons, emblems of your feeble masculinity, of your shallow dreams and vulgar lies. We shall seduce them in your schools, in your dormitories, in your gymnasiums, in your locker rooms, in your sports arenas, in your seminaries, in your youth groups, in your movie theater bathrooms, in your army bunkhouses, in your truck stops, in your all male clubs, in your houses of Congress, wherever men are with men together. Your sons shall become our minions and do our bidding. They will be recast in our image. They will come to crave and adore us.
Because there is a propaganda war going on (from both sides), it�s hard for the average person to know who and what to believe. Reliable facts can be scarce. Unless one has reasonably accurate facts (in think this is a good article by David Blakeslee), we�re all likely to make decisions based on fraudulent beliefs, or more likely, some belief that we simply find pleasing. I think the gay side has played extremely loose with the truth in their zealous desire to present anything and everything having to do with gayness as completely normal�so normal that � yawwwnnn -- consideration of these issues is a sign of someone�s homophobia, not a desire to discuss legitimate and important issues. This is a normal ploy in any sort of propaganda campaign. Facts matter less than getting what you want, and one of the ways to get what you want is to try to stifle debate by demonizing one�s opponents and glossing over the truth.

I have one gay friend and quite a few gay clients. I think I could make a good case for why gays shouldn�t adopt children, but I don�t think I could make much of a case for why they shouldn�t marry or be given all the same rights and benefits of anyone else. Of course, I think government ought to get out of the business of handing out rights and benefits to anyone but the truly needy and that they should do so in such a way that empowers them and doesn�t undermine them. But last time I looked, I wasn�t living in a perfect world so I don�t expect the entitlement mentality to disappear anytime soon. In the meantime, I�m going to love gay people (so to speak) while perhaps even disagree strongly with their tactics and beliefs.

And one of the questions that might be quite relevant to this thread is "What is the loving thing to do?" In this age where supposedly our sexual orientation makes no more difference than the color of our hair, it seems Ryan has progressed to the point where we should all go, which is not to be enamored with someone�s sexual orientation one way or another. If we are "friends of gays" just because they are gay, how loving is that really? Are we treating them like unique people or, like the gay movement is want to do, like nothing more than chattel for the cannons of their ideology?
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Was that paragraph a conscious allusion to II Corinthians 4:7-10?

Interesting. If so, Ryan, it was purely accidental. I see the similarity though. I think one of the fascinations of the image of Jesus on the cross is that (as us humans are wont to do) we see ourselves. Our greatest concern is normally going to be ourselves. Oh yes, we surely have selfless moments when it comes to children, spouses, friends, and even God. But we�re in our own bodies, minds, and souls and so our first orientation is going to be ourselves. And even if that orientation changes, and the experience of what it is to be ourselves radically changes, we�re still in the vessels of our minds, bodies, and souls. And so I see it as no disgrace to look at Jesus on the cross and to be fascinated by this because of our own concerns. We are concerned about ourselves because that�s the way reality works. We feel our own pain. Nobody else does. And so when one looks at the cross one might thing "That�s me as well. That�s likely where I will end up, or am now, or have been, even if in less intense ways."

One needn�t swing the pendulum too far over and perhaps make the mistake of loving pain, of loving suffering, of loving hardship in the sense of wishing more of it on us. But I think the other extreme we want to avoid is the idea that all suffering can, and should, be avoided. What I said was somewhat a statement of acceptance, but not a statement of liking it. What I said was a statement of how things are, not how I want them to be. But when one finds oneself in a hole, the best thing to do is to stop digging. Being angry, bitter, cynical, judgmental, critical or anything at all like that is to simply continue to dig and dig and dig. And everyone has their own suffering story. Mine is not unique. It�s, frankly, probably pretty average, it�s just that I�m a much better drama queen than most. Wink

But if we perhaps shouldn�t come to love suffering, we perhaps should at least cease being offended by it. That�s the big thing for me. Such offense can double and even triple our suffering. We think it is a way of shouting, even demanding, "No more!" But it has the opposite effect.
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Good and heartfelt sharing Brad and Ryan Smiler

quote by Brad:

We feel our pain. Nobody else does.
------------------------------------

Absolutely Brad. In your words are truth. We all share in the joys and sufferings of one another in the one life, one love, One God, yet we are also individuals.

How could I ever understand the pain and suffering of a mother who had a three year old child be killed by a drunk driver. Oh, I can feel her sorrow, suffering, have great compassion, but to be within her mind, heart and soul experiencing her pain is impossible. I can offer her my help in comforting her, hugging her, etc., but I cannot ease her agonies and stop her tears when she awakens during the night and remembers her grieve of losing her child.

We all have similar experiences, but not the same. Everyone has a different level wihin their, mental, emotional and physical pain. We also deal with our trials in ways which may be opposing to ours. Some during a crisis run to a bottle, some need tranquilizers, some need to talk to a friend for hours and some have their peace and faith in God to cling to.

I am grateful for your sharing Brad. I could relate to your state of being. It brought memories back to me and the trials I overcame. Furthermore, time will show that your open giving of yourself in your sharing with us will be a healing step in your spiritual growth. This is a mystery, you will just have to trust me with. Smiler

As we discussed earlier, stay within the uncomfortableness and have faith and trust for God is merciful and loves us with an everlasting love.

Psalm 61 1-2

Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
 
Posts: 571 | Location: Oregon | Registered: 20 June 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Freebird wrote: "...stay within the uncomfortableness and have faith and trust for God is merciful and loves us with an everlasting love."

I agree, and, for myself, I would add, without perscription drugs. My parents are on SSRIs and, last timewe talked, my mother wanted me to get a perscription too. I said no. You?
 
Posts: 455 | Location: Baltimore | Registered: 23 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:".....stay within the uncomfortableness and have faith and trust for God is merciful and loves us with an everlasting love".

I only see Dr. referrals in my counselling practice. These clients are on antidepressants and need monitering for side effects. These individuals are in the process of going through major life changes, and some had threatened suicide in the past. Many also have compulsive obsessive patterns of behavior. They are not familiar of my above quote, not knowing the love and power of God.

My work with these clients is a spiritual labor by my introducing to them another way out of the darkness and into the light of God. The Lord, our God has broken through for some, others remain on their medication. I love these clients and it is not for me to judge them, nor to say who is weak, nor who is strong enough to end their use of antidepressants.

I did not always live the above quote. I also was once in darkness with little hope, yet clinging to my faith and love for God. There where times when I did need, or thought I needed the help of tranquilizers in a dire overwhelming crisis. Now the Lord is my strength and my rock to hold on to. I have tremendous love and compassion for anyone who has sunk within the mire of despair and is unable to reach out to our loving Heavenly Father. I judge no one.

Ryan, I am saddened about your parents being on SSRIs, and joyful for your inner strength to do without the need of said prescriptions.

What a beautiful world it would be if we all were centered within God's strength, love and power. My prayers go out to everyone who does not know this truth.
 
Posts: 571 | Location: Oregon | Registered: 20 June 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by Freebird:
:"...My work with these clients is a spiritual labor..."

Freebird,

Your reflections from personal and perfessional experience are much appreciated. Thanks also for youir caring comments about my situation.
 
Posts: 455 | Location: Baltimore | Registered: 23 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks for the encouragement, Freebird. I guess I'll give you more "trail talk" then, as I like to call it. I just jot down things that occur to me while out walking in the woods:

I think God is the only person I can go to and legitimately and healthily ask (demand?) "Add something to me." "Complete me." "Give me." When we try to do that with other people we usually shrink in the process rather than gain anything, because others tend to shrink away from us. But with God I think we can be straightforward, pushy, and demanding. The only difference is that I think God demands a fair trade. We must give Her us and all of us.

How can I think of sharing exquisite love with a woman if I can't first share love with You who loves to love and lives to love all the time?

I never really did find much power in trying to control, in trying to own, in trying to grasp, reach, or fabricate. Lord knows, I tried. Lord knows, I tried to copy others because I could find nothing else to do. And Lord knows, other people are usually somewhat successful at it. But those ways won't work for me. I don't know why, but they won't.

So I must adopt the humble ways. And not to get what I want. No. The overall goals must change as well as the rules. I must give. I must love. I must die to myself and live with stark, sometimes empty ways. But I can't do that. I'm just me, not Superman. But I do think I know quite well how to be nothing, and nothing is a first cousin to humble. But I doubt I shall ever lose my need and desire for human love. But I do know now that I can't seize it. I can't control it. It must be given to me. And I must prepare myself to receive it.

It's amazing to me that all these thoughts flow out of nowhere. But, of course, that can't possibly be the case, right? Nowhere could not produce such a thing. But something could.
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The desire to be right can have us trying to surround ourselves with "right" things, hoping they will rub off on us by association. And we will defend these "right" things tooth and nail�that's one way we try to gain a closer association with them. But in doing so we are engaged in voodoo, in superstition, as if chanting a word and just hearing the sound of it had magical powers. It's the same thing with trying to be near something we perceive as right or to concentrate our efforts to strenuously boost a sense of rightness in ourselves.

Perhaps this is what all those warning about idolatry really mean. Let us go for true transformation of the mind, heart, and spirit but let's not view this process as something that can be achieved by the adornments we try to wear or associate ourselves with.

I know that I resist wearing the label of "Christian" because I know that for me it would only be an adornment. I really don't desire to raise myself in the eyes of others, at least regarding things religious.

How to break the cycle and break through? How to move out towards something more genuine? I don't know. If I didn't feel so ontologically weak I wouldn�t' be struggling with this in the first place. But I desire change to reach deep down and for it not to be just surface level. And surface level is so easy to stay stuck in if it is our sense of worth that drives the fixing process, consciously or unconsciously.
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Good morning and thanks Brad Smiler

-------------------------
How can I think of sharing exquisite love with a woman, if I can't first share love with You who loves to love and lives to love all the time?
----------------------------

Brad, you bring me absolute joy Smiler How free flowing are your words this morning in sharing with us your love for Mother God, who embraces you within her flowing love, as a child who fearlessly expresses his individuality of the whole. You are loved by Her so deeply, just as you are Smiler

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It's amazing to me that all these thoughts flow out of nowhere. But, of course that can't possibly be the case, right?. Nowhere, could not produce such a thing. But something could.
---------------------------------------

Keep on flowing with these thoughts. Stimulate us, inspire us, share and give us more of these gifts and treasures found within your love. Smiler
 
Posts: 571 | Location: Oregon | Registered: 20 June 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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As a follower and lover of Christ, I honor and respect everyone who belongs to an earthly Church, because it is their way of sharing love and the one mind with God in celebrating these joys of oneness together. I have never joined a Church, although throughout my lifetime I have attended services in different Churches.

In the days of Jesus, people would gather in houses to celebrate their love for Christ in small gatherings. I still for myself like this idea of joining together with others in a brotherhood and sisterhood of God. I enjoyed a meeting place with my Mormon neighbors in their home as we prayed together, read scripture and shared some of our life experiences. These meetings ended when I refused to join the Mormon Church and for a year my neighbors and I did not communicate with one another, due to their disappointment of my refusal to join their Church. We are all back together as friends now, without their recruitment of me. I hold these neighbors in a very high regard because they have demonstrated to me that even though they were disappointed in my not being part of their Church, they continue to be the most giving and loving neighbors one could wish for. We now love each other in the knowledge of the One God, and not because I have also become a Mormon. We care and help each other because this is the genuine love expressed by Christ. "Love one another as I have loved thee". Jesus does not say love one another only if you belong to this or that Church. He is saying: "Love one another.

The last time that I did attend a little Church, I became aware that what transpired during the service was untrue for me. The Pastor asked the congregation to stand and for us to move our hands to call upon the Holy Spirit. I do not need these preparations for the Holy Spirit's presence with me and others. I was also approached by the Pastor to become part of his school of being a healer. He knew that I was a healing practitioner and he felt that he could teach me things that would benefit my work. I did not join his school because God is the Healer and I am only an instrument in His service, and it is God I turn to in my healing work, and no one else.

My point in this post is to show that many need to belong to a Church, and this is right for them, but not for everyone. We all need to honor and respect each others ways in our pursuit of achieving union and peace with God. Some find it in Churches and some outside of them. Both ways are good ways.

I really do not see any stubborness in Brad's path. He is following a path that is extremely difficult, but a path that he may be chosen to follow, and that is okay, and that is his path. Because we are individuals, God works with us in His ways and love for us. Brad has a deep love and longing for Mother God, and in his searching it is Her who appears to lead and guide him. Instead of conforming Brad to our ways, we must allow him to have the freedom of the mind without any encroachments by us.

Bless everyone and the path they must follow to come nearer to the One God, and for Brad, Mother God.
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Brad's quote:.....Let us go for true transformation of the mind, heart and spirit, but let's not view this process as something that can be achieved by the adornments we try to wear or associate with.
-----------------------------
 
Posts: 571 | Location: Oregon | Registered: 20 June 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Keep on flowing with these thoughts.

Gladly, Freebird. Thanks again for the encouragement.

Maybe my shame has kept me (or will keep me) from forever chasing that sense of substantiality, which is probably a sense that we can never fulfill ourselves, of being planted, firm, secure and important. And, again, it�s not that we can�t produce grand things from such an orientation. And I�d be living in denial if I didn�t admit that running away from the abyss, from our sense of vulnerability, wasn�t a main driving force in life if not the driving force in life. But "driving forces" suggests "motion towards" so it is more than okay, I think, for us humans to skip ahead if we can using our intelligence. If the point of living is only to be driven by our inner fear and inner sense of need, then carry on! Wink So many of us are doing such a wonderful job of that so what�s the problem? Well, the problem is very often that we find ourselves involved in a lot of struggle and movement but not a lot of joy and meaning. As human beings we can exist (perhaps even prosper in one sense) as mindless reflexes or we can try to bring something more mindful and spiritual to the process.

But I woke up this morning and asked myself, "Do I really need to be heard, seen, even loved? How much egotism is enough? Is there really life underneath the radar of accumulation, egotism, and power?" It seems to me that if Christianity is true then there is not only life there but it is the life that exists there. But we can easily sort of slather on Christianity as a thin veneer over our current life or we can take the message seriously. We can take it to heart. And that, at least to me, means enduring the frightening sense of letting go of our substantiality. It�s one thing to glibly say that one must lose one�s life in order to find it. It�s quite another thing to live out an extended brush with death that this ideal entails. Every survival instinct in our bodies rebels. We want life. We want more. We want to be further anchored in existence, not to die or be diminished. And aren�t these instincts correct? Isn�t life for growing life? Do I really believe all this stuff about losing a life to find it?

-----

I�m afraid to be myself. It�s easy to hide behind rightness, excellence, truth, or whatever. But I am mostly not right, not excellent, not true and/or these things don�t really apply when it comes to saying what I am.

This is a very hard pill to swallow. I was an hour and a half late to work this morning while sort of choking it down. Wink How can I strip away this veneer and have anything left? What or who will keep the wolves at bay? How will I not be totally consumed and destroyed? Who will be driven to mercy by my nakedness instead of the desire to take advantage of an easy mark?

Alone, and without the cover of something (whether a persona, another person, a church, an organization, a mask, or an ideology), how will I stay protected?

These feelings rush in and, given the realities of the world, it is no wonder we cling to the things we cling to. Our existence is precarious. When push comes to shove, we likely believe in the law of the jungle, not God. My intense fear and sense of vulnerability show what I really believe.

And there is that law of the jungle out there. No doubt about it. But there are other laws too. And one of those laws, for lack of a better term (and it ain�t a bad term at all), is "Christlikeness". It�s the giving up of ourselves as food for others. And yet we had better not deny or too cleverly disguise that part of us that hungers, that has a deep and powerful need to consume, control, grow, and have accumulate power. I think we especially should not try to hide it under the radar of piety or sanctity, which I think is easy to do. Because the hunger would still be there, and not only that, if we don�t recognize our desire to consume, we will consume even worse than normal, and we will also wreck those parts of ourselves that could have provided nourishment for others.
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Freebird, I enjoyed your reflections on church attendance vs. non-church attendance. Should I ever be put on trial for not attending church, I want you for my defense counsel! Smiler But really, I think we share similar sentiments on all this and I appreciate your words.

But I must admit that I�m not as easily moved to love and acceptance as you are. Actually, I like Mormons. I like them a lot. I�ve known a few and have had some fun and deep discussions with them. (They�re generally conservative so we share a lot in common from the get-go.) But about a week ago I watched a couple clean-cut Mormon lads (in their late teens or early twenties) going door-to-door. And because they were talking loudly with my neighbor right next door on her porch, I had no problem hearing them where I was sitting, even without trying. And they must have chatted her up for about 25 minutes before finally coming to the point and coming to the question which I knew they would eventually reach (Can we come in and talk to you and/or make an appointment to talk to you?) To my eyes this made all their previous chatting, bantering, and friendly gestures little more than manipulation. It was very Moonie-ish.

Now don�t get me wrong. I have nothing at all against the free-market distribution of ideas. Let people reasonably try to spread their word and ideas, and that�s just fine-and-dandy with me. But let it be known that I (and others) might comment on the way they go about doing so, which is also a good thing in this overall market of free ideas. And I thought those two Mormon lads seemed a bit brainwashed to me and it seemed as if they were simply looking for someone to share their brainwashing with. It was as if they wanted to "infect" another, and by that I in no way am talking about the content (Mormonism) of that supposed infection but, rather, the technique that made it seem like they were walking and talking pod people from Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

And your experience with your neighbors sounds like the same thing. It sounds like people desperately trying to spread their word so they can feel better about themselves rather than really caring for the other. Let�s remember back to Merton�s words regarding true, unselfish love. It ain�t love if we do something just to get our "loving vibe" jollies out of it and/or don�t wisely have in mind what is best for the other person.

Hey, we�re all going to fall short more often than not, but unless we�re even aware of that Mertonian standard, we�re more likely to continue manipulative behavior like these two Mormon examples. Frankly, I don�t care what anybody is selling, but if you truly believe in your product, don�t try to fool or con me. If your product is truly good, you don�t need to do so. And in the case of Christianity, you don�t need to do so. It can sell itself. In fact, if one is truly living the life, I can�t image that the mere presence of a good Christian wouldn�t be a truly amazing marketing tool.
 
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I had a semi-meditative experience just now that I found to be interesting. Such an experience falls under the heading of spiritual knowing, I think, which perhaps means it�s a little better than a rumor but a couple steps away from a fact. Wink But anyway, I was sitting out in the sunshine totally whacked out from too much thinking. Sitting on the bare grass in a gentle breeze on a warm day, I had an immense feeling of being grounded. It was nice. And then (which sort of was consistent with my rather tired and garbled state of mind) I felt for a moment like I was experiencing chaos itself -- or had a feeling for what that state was like and the implications therein. And in this chaos the scary part was the disorder, certainly, but even worse was the feeling that this chaos was trapped. It could go nowhere no matter where it went. It could become something, but then it would just be devoured again. It could be a lot of things. Indeed, this chaos could form itself into nearly anything, but everything was but a temporary passing shadow. It could not hold its own shape. It was if things were forming themselves in order to try to be something, but with nothing to cling to, the chaos would consume itself and start again. Imagine Brownian motion combined with despair. That�s what I glimpsed.

And while in this state of fear, anxiety, and a good chunk of confusion and despair, my mind, which was already traveling at a hundred miles per hour, began searching about for something solid to perch on, as if it were hovering just above the surface of a maelstrom. It could find nothing at first. It was looking for form, meaning, patterns, tendencies � anything that could provide anchorage and prevent me from having this feeling of slowing and inevitably leaning forward and falling into an abyss, as if a hole were going to open up in the grass in front of me, perhaps like one of those portable magic holes that Bugs Bunny often used. My mind, for what seemed like longer than it really was, could rest on nothing. I had the sense of an energy drain and that unless I found an answer, I would be swallowed up in the Nothingness (much like in one of my favorite movies, The Neverending Story).

My mind could conceive of no circumstance, no set of laws, no contingency that could quell my rising sense of vertigo. There was no thread I could see, no theme my mind could grasp, that could help anything and everything from being lost in despair and pointlessness. No guiding principle seemed apparent that could ever sustain this chaos, let along form it into something. Surely that was also a quick glance at my life and all the things I�ve unsuccessfully tried to do to make it better.

And then one thing came. And this will hardly be a surprise, but there was no time for a suspenseful ending because all that I described probably took place within a minute or so. There was no time to see what now seems like the obvious ending and solution. But a solution did come to me, even though at the time I was sort of enjoying the experience of vertigo because I knew it had something to teach me. And I like those moments. So I wasn�t really trying to end it, although I was certainly trying to figure it out. Mind always spinning. And the answer that came was love. The organizing principle that any disparate situation or contingency could be made to form to, or move to, no matter how un-primed it was for this transition, was love. The thing that had the unique ability to salvage something from anything, no matter how disorganized, chaotic, non-sequitur-ish, or pointless that something was, was love. Love could float in and through the most bizarre, nonsensical, illogicality and shepherd it toward sense. And that brought me a sense of relief. And then it occurred to me how a chaotic life would naturally be drawn to this love. We might call it a number of things, and understand it in a whole lot of ways, but the One Thing remains what it is. If it didn�t, I really don�t think it would be possible to think. And in that moment I felt closer to that source. I felt I understood it a little better.
 
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Hi Brad,

That is a wonderfully intense experience of inner reality. Congratulations and thanks for sharing.

I'm curious, do you have a regular mediation practice?
 
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Echoing Ryan's appreciation for your sharing, Brad. This resonates with a number of Scriptures which speak of love as enduring beyond all else (Rom 13), and of the Spirit being so subtle as to flow through virtually anything -- even the turmoil and chaos we sense within ourselves. You might say it's the "terra firma," the surest of foundations.

Note how, in your experience, there is also an "observer" standing outside the turmoil, to some extent . . . able to report back on it: the "I" that I am going on and on about in another thread on Ego and Self. This "I" is also always "there," and you can learn to tune into it and withdraw your attention thus from the swirling energies within. The "I" is also innately alert for the presence of Spirit/love. I think your experience shared above is a good example of this.
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks, Ryan.

I'm curious, do you have a regular mediation practice?

Hi, Ryan. I�m not sure I can explain just what it is I do. No, I don't have a regular meditation practice. I really can't just sit down and meditate, although I've tried again and again to establish something regular. But that won't work for me. And perhaps it is because of this that I've come to the opinion that we shouldn't try to push our minds too far or try to achieve novel and artificial brain states. I do know that, whether through extreme yoga practice or LSD (not personally, just by way of book knowledge) that our minds can experience some truly novel and bizarre things. And surely this is interesting in that we perhaps gain some clues on how the mind works and what different kinds of perception modes are possible. But to think we can get any truth out of this is a dubious proposition at best.

I think prayer is good. I don't do that regularly either, but I do it when I want to or feel that it is necessary. Every so often (one every couple months?) the urge to pray is so powerful that I'm truly awed and surprised by this. It becomes an irresistible urge. To go without prayer at this time would be like trying to go without sleep if one was extremely tired. The first time this happened was about 10 months ago. I had never experienced anything like that before, but it wasn't fatigue. It wasn't stress. Trying to rest or relax did not abate this feeling. My mind felt like it would just stop functioning unless I got in some prayer.

So whether it comes to prayer or meditation, I recommend doing what feels natural. I think if we turn it into a "discipline" that we are apt to turn prayer (at least I am apt to) into something where we are oriented toward try to sort of pull something out of the ether, out of God, so to speak. It's more of an aggressive, needy stance rather than an orientation of letting go and opening up. I think that's why for me it does no good to try to do anything regular at set times at set lengths. Other people obviously don't have this same problem, but I think it's something worth thinking about. I really don't think that talking to the loving Creator of the universe ought to be like eating boiled spinach.

In my case I think I do achieve a kind of meditation, and it's one that always starts from silence. Silence itself is meditation of a sort. At least it's the foundation. I could just be sitting at a desk, sitting on the floor, walking in the woods, or wherever I am, doing whatever I�m doing. And I just get a sort of "thousand yard stare" but a stare with a good connotation. I�m not so sure that my life isn't right now a meditation of a sort. I just don't have as many things pulling me into tracks of habit like a spouse, children, or a huge business with a zillion employees would do. I think it is much easier for things to sort of "seep up" from below because there is not much going in my life at the moment. And frankly, that's a bit of a weird thing because I'm so repelled these days by anything that would burden or overflow my mind. I thought it was just my dysfunction speaking up, but now I'm thinking it's probably something else as well. Sensory overload hits me almost immediately, even with the simplest of things or problems. The desire to keep the deck clear of clutter, so to speak, is almost overwhelming.

So as you can see, I�m an odd case. But although in the real world a person, especially a busy and stressed person, is going to probably need to set aside a good chunk of time every now and then for prayer, mediation, and/or silence, my recommendation is to go whole-hog if you can and instead of trying to just balance a crazy and hectic life with a little quiet time (I'm really not at all sure this ever works very well), that you actually make your entire life a more meditative experience, even if that means some sacrifices.
 
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�and of the Spirit being so subtle as to flow through virtually anything -- even the turmoil and chaos we sense within ourselves.

Yes, I like that sound of that, Phil.

Note how, in your experience, there is also an "observer" standing outside the turmoil, to some extent . . . able to report back on it: the "I" that I am going on and on about in another thread on Ego and Self.

Yes, you're right. I didn't notice that.
 
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Brad, as always, how beautiful your sharing with us is. Smiler

What an intense experience for you to be so aware and to be embraced by Spirit/love. You certainly are being guided and led by the power of Mother God's love.

I clearly understood your description of the forces and energies of chaos and how same are so attracted to love ready to devour and pull love within.

During the most horrific trials I encountered ten years ago I saw what chaos really looks like being shown within a repeated dream its powers of destruction. At the time I was under the most trying mental, emotional and physical pain due to the tremendous care I gave to my late husband who died of Alzheimer's disease with physical complications. I was working with a transition counseller because everyone was so concerned for my own declining health, which was caused my my refusal to put my late husband into a nursing home.

In my dreams I found myself in an unfamiliar house and within the house was a closet. I opened the closet and saw the face of chaos. It is a maelstrom, a gigantic whirlpool whose only goal is to take one within its spinning circle, with no escaping, and pull one down through its funnel into a loveless pit that swallows the individual and, thereby, making the maelstrom bigger. We are its food that feeds it. Only God with His/Her power of Spirit/love can save a child from the forces of chaos.

It was most important to the transition counseller to repeatedly ask as to if I entered this maelstrom, the answer is no, I did not. I always closed the closet door. Without the power of Spirit/love, God, we all would be like little lambs going to slaughter by being absorbed into this mass of the maelstrom. I praise the good Lord, His power and strength in His saving graces and mercy.

We are all loved beyond all comprhension and must have faith in overcoming the forces of chaos.

I will get the neverending story from the video store today. Thanks Brad for your introduction of same Smiler
 
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You tell a very very tragic tale, Freebird. I�m sorry to hear that you and your husband had to go through such misery. Wow, talk about being sort of baptized by the realities of life. But would you say that there is a truth in the idea that that which doesn�t kill me makes me stronger? You certainly seem pretty strong.

And I think you�ll like The Neverending Story. It�s a kid�s movie but I liked it all the same.

Regarding chaos, I just want to go on record of being in defense of chaos�or at least to try to articulate the other side of things. Wink Order can be truly oppressive and life-threatening instead of enhancing. A certain amount of randomness is absolutely necessary. If we didn�t have randomness then there would be no free will. And I think it�s quite arguable that nature herself would be impossible, at least in any form that we�d recognize. The whole universe instead of being a sort of work-in-progress, would become nothing but the Newtonian wind-up clock that was set into motion about 14 billion years ago, but no one needn�t have bothered since how it turns out is not a mystery at all.

So when I look into the eyes of chaos, it is certainly disconcerting. But I also, upon reflection, now know that what really scares me the most is that I need to jump somewhat into that maelstrom � or at least dip a toe into it. I need to let go and let the currents of life take me as opposed to staying in this absolute rigid and stifling (but relatively safe) control that I have on myself due to a number of conceptions, habits, beliefs, etc.
 
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