As my name suggests, I feel that I'm at a crossroads. I was raised Baptist, and grew up in a God-fearing home, praying every day and being immersed in the KJV Bible's word. I had always believed, and my faith never once faltered.
Things changed once my parents split at age 16. It was swift and unexpected, and I was thrown, virtually overnight, into a dark, scary, and lonely place. With my parents soon-to-be-involved with new lovers, I was mostly on my own. I turned to drugs, partying, and a "f*ck the world" attitude (pardon the language, just my thoughts at the time.)
All that I had been taught since my earliest days was now up for questioning and doubt. My parent's faith in God certainly did not prevent a brutal tragedy that flattened all sense of love and security, and I sure was exposed to a LOT of emotional agony. With time, I became 100% atheist.
I've grown a lot since then, becoming my "own man" and fending for myself. I've learned not to depend on others, and to believe firmly in yourself and your abilities. I now have a very positive mindset, and feel blessed with a wife, two stepchildren, and a baby on the way. With my old ways set behind me, I'm on a new path. One that has rekindled my belief in spiritual forces, and life after death.
A full Kundalini awakening sure does make you re-think all that you thought you knew about life and your place in it. It certainly lets you know that the Hindu belief of chakras is a reality, and that many wild experiences can be had through meditation.
I do believe that the universe is billions of years old. I believe that the planet Earth is also billions of years old. I'm convinced that life has evolved on this planet over approximately 4 billion years, from simple cellular organisms, to what we see today. I also believe that at one point in history, an advanced race/s of people existed here, constructing amazingly perfect megaliths used to generate energy. The evidence for all of these, in my opinion, is overwhelming.
I have re-connected with nature, and spend time within it every day, just as I had during childhood. I even "felt" nature welcome me back, telling me that I was doing the right thing by spending time alone with it once again. This has ultimately led to the "crossroads," all these years later. Since so much of my childhood has come roaring back, along with the "old me," I've been wondering if I'm also meant to reconnect with my old way of faith, as well. It's just that I have so many questions now. It's not as "simple" as before, as I've seen so much.
When I read the words of Jesus in the New Testament, it seems more than obvious to me that he was a man who had undergone a full-blown Kundalini awakening. After enduring the experience for yourself, you truly "grasp" his words for the first time. I do feel that his words offer me comfort and guidance, and that what he speaks of does give a good blueprint on how to live your life and, maybe, initiate a Kundalini awakening as well.
My question to you folks is: at what point in your lives did you KNOW, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the words of Jesus - and not the teachings of any other ancient religion - describe the true path to salvation? Did you receive a sign? Did you just "feel" it inside?
Any help is appreciated.
I left the church disillusioned at age 16. I explored many different religions and spiritual paths, Hinduism, Buddhism, Rastafarianism, Spiritualism and New Age, together with spiritual drug use as a means of connecting with God. In the end they led me to near psychosis and a confrontation with evil spirits.
When confronting real evil it was only Jesus that remained to defend me. All the other ideas and theories proved helpless. I clung to Jesus and he carried me through.
The entire Christian story and theology in all it's various aspects constantly proves itself true through experience and deep intuition.
Of course, none of us can prove it is true, but deep in the pit of my stomach I feel it is and every step along the way since then it has been reconfirmed as true. I've doubted along the way, but the doubts have always come back to faith and trust as God has allowed the doubts to strengthen my beliefs.
Good response, Jacques. Thanks.
Limbo, I don't know that proofs beyond a shadow of a doubt about Jesus' words is reasonable. What we have in the Gospels is a presentation of his life and teachings designed to invite one to a faith relationship with Jesus and to support and form one in the faith. It's the early Christian community's way of telling the story of Jesus. We also believe the Holy Spirit had a hand in the story-telling process. Surely there is an underlying historical foundation to this story, but we ought not expect that the teachings presented are necessarily transcripts of Jesus' sermons.
That said, we need not be too skeptical about the teachings, either. Many people heard Jesus teach and witnessed his deeds -- enough to give rise to a body of oral teachings about him that preceded the Gospels by several decades. It is doubtful that the written Gospels would have been accepted by the church had there been too great a variance with the oral tradition. You know how it goes when someone gets a joke or story wrong: someone pipes up and says, "that's not the way I heard it."
Jim Arraj has done a nice job sorting out some of the issues and stresses concerning the "Jesus of history vs. the Jesus of faith" controversies going around these days.
- see http://www.innerexplorations.c...mortext/original.htm
Still, at some point, we have to move beyond the scholarship issues to the question of faith. Even with video documentation of Jesus' life, we would come to the same place: do we or do we not invite him into our lives to become yoked with him on our human journey? Do we or do we not open ourselves to the guidance of his Spirit?
As for the issue of salvation in other religions -- that's a related, but different question than trusting in the reliability of the Gospels. I leave that one to God to sort out.
Hit rock bottom after a break up, led to alcohol & drugs & w/out the ex and my Love for her in my Life, the world seemed pointless.
There I was drunk w/ razor blade in hand ready to slice the wrist. Somehow, instead of slicing, I called out to God, "If your real let me know, I need you"
Next day a guy I hadnt seen for 3 years calls to say he's going to school to be a pastor, seeing how im doing and wanted to know if I want to do Bible studies. Ha!! I told I almost killed myself the night be for and really prayed for the first time, so of course this ws the answer to my prayers.
14 months of Bibles study later, re-baptized, and then a few weeks later it happened. I got indwelled from head to toe by the Holy Spirit, which slayed my ego, infused me with a trillion volts of electric ecstasy & divine Love. It was a direct experience of the Divine and I wasnt even expecting it.
I became a self imposed hermit, meditating, praying, reading, studying. Went through 3 years of the Dark Night of the Soul which further stripped me of me, and eventual got to a place where I now experience Oneness w/ the all off and on at times.
For me. its no longer Faith & Belief, but Complete Trust & Knowing that god is real and Jesus was real here teaching what he did.
Since then I also talk and debate in a very friendly & professional manner, with Atheists. Instead of bringing in Christianity to them, I merely bring the possibility of being a person who has experienced God. I tell them that direct experience of anything is always prior to thought and rationally bring them into a place where they have no choice but to acknowledge that an experience of God (that isn't a belief or thought) actually may be possible.
In the least what it does, is it takes them from hard lined atheism to agnosticism and from there stems a curiosity to study experiences of God.
Thats it in a nut shell. I have no other choice than to fully accept and be constantly tasting the spiritual world within and around me. This coming from a former Atheist.
The emphasis in your question on knowing "for a fact" that the story of Jesus is true is potentially difficult to satisfy, depending on what you really mean by knowing "beyond a shadow of a doubt." We can never know, intellectually, with 100% certainty what has happened in the past that we haven't personally experienced, and really, even what we've experienced with our senses is still open to doubt given the human tendency to interpret and reinterpret history and experience based on personal bias and preferences.
I did go through a period of time when I questioned Christian doctrine as I had learned it, questioned the accuracy of the "historical Jesus," the accuracy and truthfulness of the Bible, etc. There were some books that helped me with it; the only one I remember is "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel. Looking back, it was a necessary process for me, because I have a hard time believing in something that I can't wrap my head around or understand. But eventually, as I figured out, we have to take a hypothesis, put some amount of faith in it, try it out and see what happens. I figured at some point that the "Jesus story" was as likely to be true as anything I read in a history book, so I might as well go with it.
For me, over the next few years I went through several very stressful crises, and through every one, the only resource I had that brought me peace and carried me through was Christ. And what I mean by that, technically speaking, is that I prayed to God with the understanding that I'll never know for sure if the Gospel was historically true, but if it was, then Christ would be with me in my suffering and would deliver me. There were lots of times and individual experiences where, as you say, I could "just feel" him as a response to my prayer, or that I had experiences that I interpreted as "signs," but all of this is just as subjective as anything else. Put simply, I acted on the assumption that I could have relationship with God through Christ, and the fruit of those actions, i.e. a developing and growing relationship with God, came to bear in my life.
With relationship with God through Christ as the backdrop, I spent a number of years studying Kabbalah, which describes the spiritual and psychic mechanisms and framework through which God interacts and lives through human beings, and all of this confirmed more and more to me the truth of the Gospel. I now believe God led me on this detour because I demanded it, as I was incapable of simply trusting (probably childhood issues) Him to be there for me as a constant support. As I've grown in relationship with Christ, I've been led in a more and more traditional direction, having just this Easter completed RCIA and have come into full communion with the Catholic Church.
I empathize with your feeling that you can only trust yourself, as I experienced those same feelings. Looking back objectively, however, if I'm honest with myself, I have to admit that those feelings weren't justified, because I was never truly alone. Christ was with me the entire time, without fail; knowing this, trying to attribute my survival, as it were, to myself and my own abilities seems ludicrous.
Thank you for the quick & kind replies, my brothers. This will all give me food for thought while working today. As I'd always said all along, "If there is a god, I'm sure that he/she/it knows how to find me!"
I do seem to be warming up to the idea. However, what I do find of great interest is that many, MANY ancient legends across the globe mention a great cataclysm happening upon all of the Earth, and shortly after this a bearded white man or men appeared, working "miracles," abolishing cannibalism, offering righteous laws to live by, and providing knowledge to help re-build their culture. I wonder if the story of Jesus has something to do with these bearded white men, or if he really was a lone man, the son of god himself, who was sent to teach the word.
Then comes the possibility of alien life. I do believe, whole-heartedly, that intelligent alien life exists, and that they are likely to be thousands, millions, or even billions of years ahead of us technologically and biologically. The universe is just FAR too enormous to realistically discount the possibility. This begs the question: did Jesus really have to visit every planet hosting intelligent life? That poor guy!!
And Jacques, just as eastern practices caused difficulties with your sanity, so it was with myself. I spent a week in the mental ward a few years after my awakening. I just could not handle it anymore. Whether that was due to my lack of nutrition, or whether forces of evil from beyond this realm had gotten ahold of me, I can't be sure. I'm leaning towards forces of evil, prodding me to pollute my body so full of alcohol and drugs that death would soon follow.
As you all mentioned for yourselves, it came down to just "knowing" inside. I guess time will tell whether or not that happens with me, as well. Please keep me in your prayers, that I may receive the proper guidance that I need.
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