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Do not judge, or you too will be judged

Pope Innocent III has a dream of St. Francis o...

Pope Innocent III has a dream of St. Francis of Assisi supporting the tilting church (attributed to Giotto) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Brother Christopher

Romans 2:1 New International Version

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

To make a judgment is to draw a conclusion or make a decision about something. People typically make judgments in one of three ways – (1) according to outward appearance, (2) according to the opinion of others, or (3) according to economic status. And often the judgment we make does not have all the details of the situation (in fact is limited), includes our personal bias, and is often wrong.  Judging others may also be a symptom of, or give to rise to, smugness, arrogance, and self-righteousness. It may even be a way of deflecting attention from our own moral weaknesses and failings.

 ‘To make a quick judgment does not make one right. The wise person looks at both sides of the matter, with fairness, impartiality, watchful of the truth, wisely and without haste. Such a person is called righteous.’                                                                  -Buddhist saying.

Passing judgment…  we all do it.  But is it biblically acceptable? Romans 2:1 provide us with the answer.  In short we are told that every one of us who passes judgment on another condemns himself.  Something I heard at a martial arts seminar from a Kempo master that rings true related to this subject, he was speaking during a session that he was presenting on knife techniques and speaking in regards to the attacker, but what he basically said was (and I paraphrase), ‘I can’t pass judgment on my attacker; I don’t know why he is attacking me, or what his thoughts are… Only God can pass judgment.  I am simply reacting to his action and should respond appropriately with love and compassion.’  How often do we see a photo of someone on FaceBook and instantly pass a judgment on the individual without knowing, as Paul Harvey used to say, ‘the rest of the story’?

Think about this God is ‘all-knowing’, and in turn has the full picture of the situation as well as the right to send judgment appropriately; for only God knows what happened leading up to and after the incident, and only God knows the intent in the ‘attackers’ heart at the time of the incident. A human judge is limited when it comes to knowing or understanding the truth and ascertaining the true facts of any case; humans afre influenced by their own bias and prejudice, as well as their ego related to the situation. God is pure in thought and judgment. With God the true facts of every case are naked and open before Him; He needs no witnesses and no jury because He has personally witnessed every act and thought sin that has ever been performed. He knows all the facts (see Hebrews 4:12-13). He never misrepresents a person’s case! We can be sure that God’s judgment is always according to truth. Man on the other hand, even with the best of intentions, is far from God.

Let me paint you a picture based on a real life event.  A local cleric attended a martial arts seminar.  At the end of the formal seminar it was tradition for attendees to come to the home of the martial arts master hosting the seminar and socialize as well as continue to informal training.  The hosting family had two young girls ages 6 and 11 who fondly loved by the attendees.  These two girls were now in the presence of mostly adult male martial artists.  The girls asked each of the men if they would play with them, particularly dress up.  The men, who all adored the little girls, declined… upon seeing the hurt faces of the little girls the cleric agreed to play with them, putting his personal ego aside. In short time the girls had his toenails and fingernails painted with bright pink polish,  and the cleric joined them in a dress-up, dressing in one of their mother’s dresses as they had a little tea party.  The macho men who declined first began to poke fun at the cleric for his play participation; but soon they saw how happy the little girls were and saw that the cleric… was well, still the same person… and had only brought some joy to the little girls. Shortly after, the men put aside their own ego’s and were undergoing pedicures by the little girls making the night memorable and happy for these little princesses, as well as learning themselves a lesson in humility.  One of the men took a photo of the cleric dressed up, and without ill-thought innocently posted the photo on social media. The cleric’s immediate supervisor saw the posted photo and straightaway commented negatively on the actions, ‘What are you thinking!’.  The supervisor passed his immediate judgment for the world to see, assuming the cleric was acting less than the perception of what a member of the clergy should.  The reality was the cleric put aside his own ego to bring joy to two little girls, while teaching his peers to act with humility, to put aside personal ego and to act with love and compassion in bringing happiness to another. St Francis of Assisi in quoted to say, ‘Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary’.  In essence is this not what the cleric did?

Judging another does nothing but bring on suffering- for all involved. Judging another is a choice. I am reminded of a quote one of my teachers once shared with me, ‘We can neither love nor hate something about another unless we love or hate that very thing in ourselves.’  In reality we should practice a life of non-judgment, leavening judgment itself in the hands of the Lord.  This is not easy. I have often challenged my martial arts students to be non-judgmental.  I have shared this particular exercise with them’ Upon awakening see how long it takes for you before you pass a judgment. Your goal is to go through the entire tire day being non-judgmental.’  It has taken me 15-years to get from awakening to placing my feet on the ground from my bed before I pass my first judgment.  And I only recently got my foot to the floor. It’s not easy… it requires a practice in non-judgment. Suffering is mostly created by our own minds- in short we create our own suffering. A practice of non-judgment helps us to avoid a lot of the suffering we encounter on a daily basis.  When we practice non-judgment, we unburden ourselves from needless, self-created suffering.

‘It is well, when judging a friend, to remember that he is judging you with the same godlike and superior impartiality.’                                                                     -Arnold Bennett

So, going back to the story of the cleric; who was truly suffering?- the cleric who put aside his ego and humility to bring joy to others and lead others to do the same (By the way on a side note, later that weekend one of the attendees came to the cleric to talk about God and to come back to the faith he left behind do the fire and brimstone judgments that drove him away years ago) or to the cleric’s supervisor who passed the initial judgment based on one photo?

It is not our place to judge.  We are responsible for our own actions.  Set aside judgment and set yourself free of suffering. Allow God to judge.  See each person with love and compassion; act with love and compassion in each moment.  Think of the good for others in every thought.

‘Distinctions drawn by the mind are not necessarily equivalent to distinctions in reality.’

                                                                                                                  – Thomas Aquinas

 ‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged. Matthew 7:1

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/christianity-articles/do-not-judge-or-you-too-will-be-judged-7045757.html

About the Author

Brother Christopher Bashaw OFD, RN, M.Div. is a professed Brother in the Franciscans of Divine Mercy, an Old Catholic Tradition within the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas. He is also enrolled in the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas Seminary studying for the permanent deaconate. Brother Christopher has worked as a RN since graduating nursing school in 1984, with nursing experience including drug and alcohol recovery/detox, psychiatric nursing, physical rehabilitation, pain care, military nursing, occupational health, nursing home care, and pediatric/camp nursing. He has brought these skills into the developing his ministry the Mother Mary Society and Franciscan Pastoral Counseling. In addition to holding a M.Div., he holds certificates in Biblical Counseling, Marriage and Family Counseling, and Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery (Level 3) with a Christian approach.

 


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A Passion to Serve

Cosmos bipinnatus on a field of Cosmos sulphur...

Cosmos bipinnatus on a field of Cosmos sulphureus, Compans Caffarelli garden, Toulouse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Meena Suresh

‘Each one of us has a moral duty to help those in need’ this is a basic lesson taught in any moral science class. There is a much deeper significance and wider perspective to this lesson.

Every individual inhabiting this planet wishes to be happy at all times. The question to be asked is why do most people find happiness in life to be elusive ?

While happiness is the birthright of every individual, often man draws boundaries around himself in his search for happiness. Happiness is perceived to be attained through the fulfillment of one’s desires and possibly the health and wellbeing of one’s own family and loved ones.

What is the reason for man confining himself and his happiness to these boundaries ?

The question finds an answer when man analyses his life from birth. By his very nature man is a free soul longing to exist without boundaries in the infinite space. However, with no choice that he can perceive, he finds himself trapped in an infant body. This infant is taught by his parents and older siblings to view them as his own. As he keeps growing, he is told that this is HIS house, those are HIS friends, these are HIS relatives, this and that is HIS…likewise these and those are THEIRS (others).

These concepts act as a double edged sword. They expand his boundaries and therefore his sense of responsibility, duties and belongingness to include perceived near and dear ones i.e. makes him grow beyond his immediate selfish / self centered notions, however they also prevent him from feeling a sense of belongingness with the rest of creation.

To what extent do participants in joint activi...

To what extent do participants in joint activities experience a sense of community? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some families, societies, communities and even governments foster a feeling of oneness in each growing child, instilling in him a belongingness to a wider group, community and even country.  A man who feels his oneness with all his fellow countrymen and women develops a sense of patriotism for his country. Great heroic acts of patriotism and service to their countries are done by these men and women.

Going a step beyond identification with one’s country is the identification with the world and universe at large. True teachers are those who instill a sense of belongingness by removing all boundaries which prevent man from expanding his vision to consider all of creation as his own OR to put it differently recognizing his true nature of being a free soul with no boundaries.

Such a man, finds his very being overflowing with love and compassion for all creatures of the world as they are all his very own. He feels their pain as his own. Serving others just comes naturally to such a man. Thus arises in him the very passion to serve.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/psychology-articles/a-passion-to-serve-6933672.html


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Jesus and Buddha; brothers from another mother

Thich Nhat Hanh at Hue City, Vietnam (2007)

Thich Nhat Hanh at Hue City, Vietnam (2007) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Brother Christopher

What I am about to share with you is not endorsed by my church. Nor is it endorsed by my order.  It might even be considered heresy by many.  And up until a couple hundred years ago I may have been put to death for even mentioning what I am about to share, or at the very least excommunicated from Rome. Even today there are Christian-based church hate groups that may end up coming to my door to picket and demonstrate against me as this thought reaches their ears (and I will say now, that these groups are so far removed from the teachings of Jesus I cannot fathom how they call themselves Christian).

I learned more about true Christianity from a Buddhist monk then all my years of catechism.  Thich Nhat Hanh has written a number of books on regaining our spiritual connection; but to me his two most important books in the life of a Christian were ‘Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers’ and ‘Living Buddha, Living Christ’.  In short the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh takes the two most pivotal characters in our worlds spiritual history and draws the correlations between the two through their lives and their teachings. In essence he looks for the similarities in the two, which in the end discards the petty differences and prejudices man places on the subject and see the beautify of both.  I reminds me of the saying that, and I paraphrase, ‘we all attempt to climb the same mountain; some take the cleared and worn path, others narrow and dangerous trails. While others even bushwhack upward. At times we all slip, stumble and fall, only to get up and continue to move forward. Upon reaching the summit, no matter our path or vehicle to get there… we all experience the same glorious view of the moon.

In referring to the context of Hanh’s teachings it has been pointed out, that the he association between Jesus and Buddha can teach us to ‘practice in such a way that both Buddha and Jesus the Christ is born every moment of our daily life.’ For at the junction of compassion, mercy, benevolence, and holiness at which the two traditions meet lies the understanding of both. Regardless of our spiritual or religious tradition if we see the similarities in all things we then live like true Christians is our case, with tolerance and coexistence.

I want to stretch your mind a bit… What if the there is more to the story of Yeshua ben Yosaf (Jesus, son of Joseph)?  I agree that the bible is Divinely inspired by men (and we have to think that quite possibly women had a hand in it as well) who recorded the events of His life for the particular groups the represented and were in turn trying to teach. I also acknowledge that these chronicles were recorded several decades after the death of the Son of man. (During his earthly ministry, Jesus was referred to Himself as Son of Man. Think about this… why did He represent to himself as the Son of Man? The cause for this is evident? He lived like a man during this time; fact is he died like a man. He lived with us as a real human being. He was the Son of Man.  It is not until after his human death when he was reunited with the Father that he became the Son of God. And it will not be until his return to this earth that He will take on the role of king. It will be then that He will be called ‘Son of David’.) The aspects of the readings that were canonized and excepted by the newly emerging Christian leadership of its time (hundreds of years after the death of Jesus) in regards to the life of Jesus (as they wanted to portray that life) include little of his infancy, childhood, and even his adult life but focuses mainly on his three-year ministry and demise. So what happened leading up to those events? None of us know for sure what was left out of the story, or why it was not included. What I do what you to consider is this Buddhist tale out of Hemis Monastery, Ladakh (a region of India in the state of Jammu and Kashmir that lies between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south. The area is inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent with a culture and history very much related to that of Tibet.). To most theologians this is controversial territory to enter, but I am going to ask you put aside your prejudices and read on with an open mind before considering this a hoax and inconceivable. It has been established there were well-established trade routes that included the Roman Empire through this territory.  So it would not be impossible to conceive someone venturing from the Holy Lands coiuld have traveled to the region and back… even Jesus in his younger pre-ministry days. Now I am not stating that He did, nor that this is fact, merely an unrecorded canonized possibility. We do know there were many temples in the area of the regions indigenous spiritual traditions, one spiritual practice being Buddhism or Buddhism derived. And if Buddhism was alive and well in the region (remember Buddhism is a philosophy of love, mercy, benevolence, and compassion toward enlightenment more so than an actual religion taking on the traits of the culture it inhabits) why is it so hard to expect that travelers along these caravan routes would not come into contacts with the priestly cast of these traditions.

This particular tale tells of splinter sect of area Buddhists who speak of a manuscript about a man named Issa or Isa. Interestingly enough the name Isa is an Arabic name is commonly paralleled to the name for Jesus. Within the words of this manuscript the person Isa is revered as a Boddhisattva (a Buddhist term signifying an enlightened (bodhi) being (sattva); traditionally, a bodhisattva is anyone who is motivated by great compassion). Though the actual manuscript has never been produced the region tells of stories of this Isa, this living saint and Boddhisattva and of his compassion and miracles. Could this Isa be our Jesus? Before you answer this remember the three year ministry of Jesus was built on a love of our Father, a Divine Source of Love. Remember that throughout the ministry of Jesus he preaches about acts of love, mercy, benevolence, and compassion in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (AKA enlightenment).  I cannot say yes, nor will I say no that this is not our Jesus.  But the similarities are interesting to say the least. … I’m just saying.

The Buddhist tale of Isa ends with him leaving the region returning to his homeland sharing those teachings of love. I believe we must expand the narrow minded view that Buddhism and Christianity separate; the fact is that Buddhism and Christianity have more in common than their believers are willing to admit. The story of Isa may or may not be true. This Isa may or may not be our Jesus, and there may or may not be an ancient manuscript in some remote monastery in Ladakh that tells the truth of Isa. Regardless of your belief and your personal truth on the matter of the Buddhist Isa (be it that you feel there is truth in the story or be it that you feel it is all a hoax, we cannot deny that there are many points of similarity between the first millennium religious movements of Christianity and Buddhist India which persist to be studied and investigated.

In theory as Christians we follow the New Covenant of Jesus the Christ. Those who call themselves ‘Christian’ must have the character and actions that define the term as set by the New Covenant. That make-up includes becoming Christ-like. Living a life of charity, compassion, love. Living a life of of non-judgment toward others. Living a life of peace and honesty. Living a life deserving of entering the Kingdom of God. (Starting to sound similar to being a Buddhist doesn’t it? Amazing!).  My purpose and how I define myself as being a Christian is to love God and to love others as I love myself. Remember Buddhism is a philosophy of enlightenment (touching God, being with God,) it is not per say a religion, as it can be adopted by the culture that accepts it without changing the spiritual traditions of said culture but enhancing them.  Thich Nhat Hahn teaches us in his books the essence of the Kingdom of Heaven as defined by our own bible:

Romans 14:17 ESV

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

 

Matthew 6:10 ESV

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

 

Matthew 5:10 ESV

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

1 Corinthians 15:50 ESV

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

 

John 18:36 ESV

Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.’

So, I leave these questions with you… Is the Kingdom of Heaven a place or a state of being we achieve through our thoughts, actions, words?  Is the Kingdom for those who practice only the Abrahamic religions (A religion is defined as an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence based on the people of the culture practicing it that include but are not limited to their beliefs about the cosmos and human nature, morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle.) or can those who live the life of these teachings of love and compassion and found enlightenment, even those who have never heard of Jesus the Christ enter heaven?  Before speaking read Thicht Naht Han.  Then look within for the answers.

Be well on your spiritual journey.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/religion-articles/jesus-and-buddha-brothers-from-another-mother-7032977.html

About the Author

Brother Christopher Bashaw OFD, RN, M.Div. is a professed Brother in the Franciscans of Divine Mercy, an Old Catholic Tradition within the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas. He is also enrolled in the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas Seminary studying for the permanent deaconate. Brother Christopher has worked as a RN since graduating nursing school in 1984, with nursing experience including drug and alcohol recovery/detox, psychiatric nursing, physical rehabilitation, pain care, military nursing, occupational health, nursing home care, and pediatric/camp nursing. He has brought these skills into the developing his ministry the Mother Mary Society and Franciscan Pastoral Counseling. In addition to holding a M.Div., he holds certificates in Biblical Counseling, Marriage and Family Counseling, and Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery (Level 3) with a Christian approach.  


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Letter to God: Anagarika eddie and Michael Clark on Interfaith Unity

Sky and Earth

This interview was first published in 2006 as “Letter to God: E. Raymond Rock and Dr. Michael Clark on Interfaith Unity.”
E. Raymond Rock now goes by the moniker anagarika eddie, and I like to just be called Michael Clark or MC

Anagarika eddie: Is there any possibility of humanity going beyond its opinions and beliefs, or are we destined to fight with each other forever? If God commanded you to come up with something that would satisfy all beliefs, yet enlighten all minds, what would you suggest?

MC: That’s an interesting question. I don’t know the answer for sure. Some believe that, as the New Testament suggests, there ultimately will be a period of peace. But in my view it’s hard to know if this is just prophetic symbolism or something that will actually happen on Earth. It seems our human personalities inevitably come into conflict with one another. But as free beings we have a choice as to how to deal with that. We can see conflict as an opportunity for mutual understanding and growth. Or we can just react like an animal would. Worse, we can plot and scheme like devils. And don’t laugh. Because it’s no joke and many people do.

I don’t think we can always go beyond our opinions and beliefs. But I think during moments of grace we can. So if we continually turn to God for guidance, we might become better and better servants of the Divine. Some say that too much introspection is a bad thing. But I think that if you don’t know your true inner core then you’re going to be acting on the basis of some personality fragment or tangent; or perhaps on the basis of a socio-cultural, transpersonal or negative spiritual influence. If you don’t act from the center, then whatever bad you do will likely come back on you. If you act from the loving center, informed by Grace (or as Catholics would say, the Holy Spirit), then good will come back.

Anagarika eddie: You mention that too much introspection is bad. Could you expand on that a little – where does that attitude come from? Perhaps introspection is bad for those who don’t want their flock to see too clearly. The contemplative saints regarded contemplative prayer highly, discovering that the state of grace could be enhanced by Orison, which is similar to Eastern thinking that meditation creates fertile ground for enlightenment.

Since nothing else has worked throughout history (we are still killing ourselves in the name of God!) could it actually be that introspection; Orison, recollection, the dark night and unison, would enlighten our minds? And could it be that the second coming of Christ (Christ translated as enlightened mind) might be a universal enlightening of many people, instead of an individual Christ this time around?

Thank you for your answers. I’m trying to find a common denominator among all religions that would transcend beliefs, yet not disparage any religion. What other hope do we have? A Muslim will rarely become a Christian; or a Buddhist a Muslim. Perhaps introspection – meditation and contemplative prayer – could be an answer. Perhaps Christ was trying to teach us how to go within, but the original Church Fathers (no different from today), perhaps stressed the emotional side of Christianity, feeling that the deeper teachings should only be reserved for monks, thinking that the masses weren’t ready. Maybe it was more important to build a religion in those days than free their flock from the fear of God, and the fear of themselves, both of which are laid bare by deep prayer.

MC: Ah, but I said that “some say” too much introspection is a bad thing. That’s a little trick I learned over the years. It doesn’t necessary mean that too much introspection is bad. It’s just a useful way to bracket a statement. It means that some people believe it’s bad, those people not necessarily including myself.

However, I do believe that in my own life, anyhow, it’s good to keep some kind of working and flexible balance between contemplation and outward activity. Although I tend to be more contemplative and less visibly active than most. I think everyone has to strike their own balance here. And also, to keep renegotiating it.

My feeling on the Christian saints is that most of them reached very high levels of Godly awareness. But it came with such a price. They suffered for every grace received. And of course, their suffering wasn’t only for their own purification, but also for the redemption of other souls. St. Faustina Kowalska’s Divine Mercy Diary is an excellent book about the power and importance of (contemplative) prayer. If you haven’t read it already, I would recommend it.

As for the differences and similarities among world religions when it comes to mysticism, this is a rich and fascinating topic. It’s really hard to know for sure what another mystic experiences. Some believe they all come to the same type of “ah-ha” experience. Others, like Rudolf Otto and C. G. Jung, stress that the grades and qualities of encountered numinosities may differ. Myself, I find that the most intuitive folks in my hometown are scattered across the board. It could be a woman working in a dollar store. It could be the postman. It could be a businessperson with whom I just have a passing conversation. And it could be a priest too. While the vast majority of priests adhere to the standardized approach, I sometimes wonder if in private they have their own thoughts on certain issues. Would they be human if they did not?

I think you’re right that most people will not convert from their own path. And why should they? These religions, when they work, serve to nurture the soul while keeping an individual’s cultural underpinnings in place. I tend to see religions as flowerpots. You need a pot to hold the soil. Every pot is a little different. But each grows a plant (and hopefully a flower). And just as flowers may also differ, so the look and feel of souls in heaven may differ too. Difference isn’t a bad thing at all. How boring heaven would be if it contained ten trillion daisies, and daisies only! As one person whom I spoke with through the web once put it, “there are many different flowers in the Garden of Eden.”

And this brings me back to the idea of getting in touch with the core, the center. I believe that it’s here that the heavenly flower grows. This isn’t necessarily the Jungian self where the self is an aggregate or a totality of all observable elements. I tend to think that ultimately, after all the lesser elements are pruned away through eons of purification, we shine (and mediate grace) in heaven. But I also think this takes a very long time for most of us. Hence the importance of the idea of Purgatory.

To close, I should add that I haven’t passed yet, so all this is mostly reasoned speculation. A theory. I don’t claim to really know what happens at death. Because other issues come into play, such as the nature of space, time and eternity-both on Earth and within other realms.

Thank you for an interesting question. Feel free to follow up on any of this. I generally enjoy talking about the soul and metaphysics.

Anagarika eddie: Thank you Dr. Clark for your “enlightened” discussion, rare to find these days!

As you renegotiate your personal inward and outward balance, and venture inwardly a little more, do you find yourself less interested in worldly pleasures? And when you do revisit them, just to test their power over you, do you find that they don’t hold the same mystique that they once did? What was it that Thomas Wolfe once wrote, “You can never go home?” which to me indicates the unrelenting changing nature of things, and how we can’t really count on anything in the world? It’s confusing, isn’t it, that a new reality is developing, but you can’t grasp it as you have grasped things in the past. Definitely a bittersweet experience.

MC: Yes, it can be bittersweet because for everything valuable that we gain it seems we first must lose something. This might be a golden rule. But I find that the gains really do outstrip the losses. And as we mature in the path we, as you say, don’t really want those things we once craved. Moreover, they may reappear in subtler ways. With regard to sexuality, for instance, see my article: Celibacy, Sex and Spirituality.

I also believe that most people do revisit past pleasures and interests from time to time for various reasons. Doubtfully does it ever go in a straight line. Some say that the ego dances around the self, that is, it doesn’t always rest there nor is it always perfectly aligned with it. Still, most world religions advocate – and this might get back to your initial question about syncretism – that the ego ideally is a servant of the self. But again, the understanding as to just what constitutes the self varies dramatically, I think. So one has to choose the path that’s right for him or herself. And also consider the possibility of embracing new paths.

Anagarika eddie: I read a story once about a man entering a strange house and finding a staircase, which he was compelled to climb. The further he climbed, the more fearful he became until he decided to climb back down – but all the steps had disappeared! A Great analogy of the spiritual quest.

Enjoyed your article – very well thought out and complete. My experience with Catholicism is like yours, but backward. I spent the first 35 years as a catholic, and then the next 26 meditating!

All religions seem to have their scripture as a basis, accompanied by individual experience, or the deeper side based on that scripture. I am at a point where I’m taking a worldview of it all, beyond my personal viewpoint, and I see that something is amiss. Wars are still being fought over differences in religious beliefs.

My first experience of meditation was at Shasta Abbey, a Zen monastery. The monks there didn’t teach me Buddhist scripture, only insisted that I meditate and practice silence most of the day, and because of that simple practice, my whole life was turned upside down with no teachings whatsoever. Boy, was I surprised!

Is it possible that contemplative prayer or meditation could do the same thing for others? But how do you encourage people to pray deeply, that is listen to God instead of talking? You would think that everybody would want to personally communicate with the Ultimate, but usually, we are shy in this area. Few dare to venture into St. John of the Cross’s dark night of the soul, or experiment with enlightenment.

Is it fear of seeing through our illusions, our concept of self, our beliefs? We attach to these notions and feel comfortable in them, not wanting to lose them, which is what happens when we achieve that ineffable that can only be described as the unborn, the undying; beginning less and with no end. How would you ever introduce such a practice and concept to everyday people? I don’t know the answer to this, but I tirelessly attempt to find a way to introduce contemplative prayer and meditation into everybody’s hearts.

There is that which is underneath all the divisive beliefs, and to touch that is the key. It can be touched when all our thoughts, opinions and knowing dissolves into that mysterious realm where we lose ourselves to that which is.

MC: You know, I would keep asking God for advice. I’m not sure as a practicing Buddhist how you envision the Godhead. Words and concepts can get in the way. But I tend to regard God as the creator, somehow other but immanent.

From my experience, Buddhists tend to deemphasize individuality while Catholics feel that individuality is important. But it seems that you still have some sense of an individual self, yet one which is more fundamental than the intellectual, the conceptual, the desirous and so on. That’s the core that I feel is the important commonality among all paths. As to how to get people to meditate, to contemplate, to know the Divine… this is something that I personally don’t try to rush. I see the entire spectrum as important to the total picture. So I tend to look at individuals and try to determine where they’re at, what external factors are influencing them, and so on. I guess as a doctor and educator that’s my role. I don’t see myself as a mass preacher or contemplative exemplar. But maybe someone else is! As Saint Paul put it, one body… many different members.

—–

Original dialogue: March 11-13, 2006.

Afterword

Anagarika eddie and Michael Clark welcome your responses regarding the question: Is there any possibility of humanity going beyond their opinions and beliefs, or are we destined to fight with each other forever? If God commanded you to come up with something that would satisfy all beliefs, yet enlighten all minds, what would you suggest?

Anagarika eddie is a meditation teacher at the Dhammabucha Rocksprings Meditation Retreat Sanctuary and author of A Year to Enlightenment. His 30 years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Thervada Buddhist monk.

Michael Clark is the admin. of Earthpages.org and Earthpages.ca. He also maintains a personal blog, Michaelwclark.com.  His studies include a Ph.D. on Carl Jung’s concept of synchronicity (UOttawa), an M.A. in Comparative Religion (Visva Bharati, India), and an Honours B.A. in Psyc/Sociology (Trent U).

 


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Why Study Shamanism?

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Rock sculpture at Georgian Bay – Photo MC

Copyright © Shaman Elder Maggie Wahls. All rights reserved.

This is probably the most common question asked today. And you know why so many people ask it? Because we are brought up in a society that does not have Shamanism. Worse than that, we are brought up without community. In the old days we were raised with a strong community around us. We lived together, played together, grew up together and sometimes even died together. We had elders and doctors and teachers and medical advisors right within this strong close knit community. Part of the work for Shaman elders would be to watch the children and find what each child was strong in. Then that gift or gifts were encouraged and the child grew into whatever came naturally to him or her. It was the community, the elders, the teachers, and the parents who realized the blessings and were happy to help the child be what he or she was meant to be in life.

Today we have no such possibility for ourselves or for our children. For the most part, we are raised to fit into a box; to learn what everyone else learns and to ignore or abandon anything that does not fit into society’s box. It doesn’t have to be this way. We have a choice. It is not too late to look inside and find those special gifts we were born with by studying Shamanism.

What are these gifts?

Healing the spirit is the primary function of a Shaman.

English: Yukaghir shaman. Česky: Jukagirský ša...

English: Yukaghir shaman. Česky: Jukagirský šaman. Русский: Юкагирский шаман. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Soul-retrieval is the gift by which the Shaman retrieves pieces of the person lost soul. This is often accomplished by journeying to the spirit world and requesting assistance from the spirits, ancestors, and guides that dwell in Other Realities or Worlds. These beings assist the Shaman in discovering what is wrong with the person and often help the Shaman fight a battle with the being now possessing those parts to win them back and bring them to the patient. Some of the classic symptoms of a person in need of soul retrieval would perhaps include those suffering from a mental illness; those abused as children, or those who sense that something is missing in their lives.

Soul restoration is the literally restoring of one’s soul. This occurs when a person is near death and his/her soul seeks to move on. This “death” could be the result of a psychic attack or an accident from which the body has recovered physically, but not spiritually.

Hands-on healing is most certainly a gift of a Shaman. This technique is still widely used today by Reiki masters, massage therapists, chiropractors and Shamans. Shamanistic hands-on healing involves the energy or spirit of the Shaman working with the energy or spirit of the patient.

Divination is the gift by which a Shaman can foretell the future, describe the illnesses of people and find their cure. Divination shows the path to the Shaman; which direction the patient should walk to receive healing. The most common shamanic method is journeying to the Otherworld and requesting information from elders, guides and spirits who live there. It is been said that Genghis Khan used his Shamans this way.

chaman forêt amazonienne equatorienne juin 2006

chaman forêt amazonienne equatorienne juin 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Herbal healing gives credence to the true belief that the Shaman is a medicine man or witch doctor. Herbal healing began with the beginning of the earth. Many of the hunting and gathering tribes had the ability to heal with plants indigenous to their area. Today this knowledge is fast disappearing and Shamans everywhere try to support the preservation of indigenous plantlife and the lore surrounding them.

Dreamwork or dream interpretation is another Shamanic gift for healing. Shamans will listen to the dreamer’s dream, sometimes for several days, until they fully connect with it. Then they will dream the dream themselves and resolve the conflict to the highest good of the dreamer.

Soul leading is the process in which the Shaman will escort the newly dead to their place in the Otherworld. This is done because the Shaman who is familiar and a frequent visitor to the Otherworld will be able to find the “soul” its proper place. What a Shaman is according to Eliade is a “Master of the Ecstatic.” This is true for it is in the mastery of the ecstatic that the Shaman garners his or her power over these gifts.

Each of us has one or more of these gifts buried somewhere inside our spirits. Can you imagine how beautiful this world would be if each of us studied and mastered the gifts we were given? Who would be left sick? Or poor?

* * *

Shaman Elder Maggie Wahls is one of America’s most loved elder teachers of Shamanism for today’s modern society. Her classes are always ongoing online and she also offers free initial counseling to anyone who wishes it. Visit her site to learn more at www.shamanelder.com


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Meanings Of Some Common Dreams

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I always take dream interpretation articles with a grain of salt. The human personality is so complicated that to reduce the mystery of any dream to a few lines seems unwarranted. But I have had dreams about being late or unprepared for tests, and this piece covers that to some extent. So maybe there is something to it. Maybe there are some common dreams and a few general rules for their interpretation. I don’t know! — MC

Meanings Of Some Common Dreams

By Anne

Each of us has peculiar dreams appearing in our own sleep, and messages they convey to each of the individuals are unique. However, according to Association for the Study of Dream, there are still some common kinds of dream, which carry specific meanings. People have attempted to disclose meanings of such common dreams known as vague images we are aware when having slept for many years. Of course, not all of the interpretations are totally easy to understand. Let’s read to learn this issue of the spirituality more.

Meanings Of Dreams Related To Falling or Sinking

Most of us have ever experienced feelings of falling or sinking in our dreams because it is common. In this type of dream, we typically fall down the ground from the sky, and this frightens us. At times, sinking in water in our dreams also causes the same feelings. As for the meaning of this type of dream, it indicates that the dreamer feels insecure and lacks support in their life. If we meet problems which make us want to give up everything in the reality, this dream will occur. Let’s deal well with all of the troubles, and this type of dream will go away.

Missing Teeth

Dreams regarding missing teeth are quite common. In this sort of dream, when we open our mouths, our teeth suddenly fall out one by one. Many people think that the missing-teeth dream is premonition of illness or death. Nevertheless, another interpretation says that we can be afraid of being found unattractive or feel a fear of embarrassment or lose power in real life. Thus, don’t let this dream disturb you during the next day.

Failing A Test

 Dreams about failing a test often occurs to people who have gone out of school for a long time. In this kind of dream, they can not pass a test because of some reasons. Perhaps, they have not finished the test on time, missed equipment, or failed in finding the test room. The primary interpretation of this dream is that the dreamers have feelings of being tested in some ways or not preparing well for something to able to follow right ways to their targets in their real life.

Being Lost Or Trapped

Dreams related to being lost or trapped manifest themselves in people who have conflict between different decisions about how to tackle some problems in real life. The dreamers often try to escape from a forest, a large building, city streets or suchlike. Further, they can be also trapped, caught in a web and buried alive, but their legs are unable to move. This dream genre shows that they are meeting troubles which trapped them in the real life, and they have yet to find any possible solution.

Missing Public Transport

Perhaps, you have experienced feelings of missing some kinds of public transport such as a bus, boat, train, or plane in your dreams many times. The prospect in these dreams is often that you will try your best to catch the public transport, but miss it. The main feeling occurring to you is frustration; this signifies that you have let good opportunities slip out of your hand in real life.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/spirituality-articles/meanings-of-some-common-dreams-7016089.html

About the Author

Read more others related articles at: http://buyarticlesonline.net/bad-dreams-and-their-interpretations/


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Misconceptions about the Tarot cards

Tarot of the Forest: The Moon

Tarot of the Forest: The Moon (Photo credit: queercatkitten)

Introduction

When I was a grad student in India, I had a Rider-Waite Tarot deck and did “the cards” almost every day. Well, for a few months anyhow. I also threw the I Ching on near-daily basis.

After a while I realized I was just reading into the cards and hexagrams, hoping that what I wanted would appear in the results, or seeing what I wanted in them. I really enjoyed the archetypal patterns. But after a while when my youthful hopes and dreams didn’t really manifest, I got bored and moved on. I still own that Rider Tarot deck and my personal library contains several interpretations of the I Ching. But I rarely look at divinatory material today.

However, the Tarot and I Ching were a part of my spiritual journey and, as such, I respect them. And that’s why I’m posting this article. It might not be the best written article but I think that’s probably due to language barriers. I might not agree with everything this article says. But if you just scan thru the sometimes wooly sentences you might find a few good points that we should all keep in mind.

Remember, Earthpages is about dialogue. And I’m not really interested in ambitious pundits who babble on and backslap in a tight circle of internet talk shows. Nope. Earthpages is an alternative to all that. And that means publishing stuff by unknowns, even by folks whose English language skills are not quite up to scratch. As long as the article is understandable, and IMO has some merit, it’ll probably appear here sooner or later. After all, language should be used to communicate, not to oppress or exclude.

So, with that unsolicited introduction, here’s the article.

 —MC

Page of Swords from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck

Page of Swords from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Misconceptions about the Tarot cards

By Toyajwmt

Although many people have started to believe in the efficiency of tarot cards, but there are still some who still doubt his ability. Like a lot of misconceptions develop as a result of people still think that these cards are a form of magic. As a result, they are not even willing to touch these cards because they think the magic of these cards will affect them negatively. Moreover, symbols, colors or numbers present on these cards have nothing to do with magic, but they only convey some meaning.

These tarot cards are actually thousands of years of human experience that is embedded in these shaped cards symbols, numbers or colors. They do not make accurate predictions of future events, but they can only show us some of the probable or give us some guidance for decision making opportunities.

Two of Swords from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck

Two of Swords from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is also a misconception about the tarot cards these cards are evil as symbols present in them, are images or signs of poor people and people who are involved with these Tarot Reading have powers of darkness. Actually, this myth originated in the middle Ages, when the pagans Christians eradicated because the pagans were their main competitors at the time. Tarot at the time was associated with pagans. The anti-Christian pagans they still consider tarot cards as evil without understanding the reason and importance of tarot cards are still. Tarot cards are actually associated or related to any religion they only speak the universal language of symbols to make some predictions likely to happen.

There are also people who think that the origin of tarot cards is China, India and ancient Egypt but according to the evidence found are believed to have originated in Italy. Tarot is considered fraud business to make money for some, but in all professions there are dishonest people who without knowing it are just making their own fortunes. Tarot is actually more susceptible to these types of people cheat. They sometimes regarded as soothsayers. Has been observed that people consider these tarot readers as witches or demons. But the tarot has no connection with any religion or something. Different readers of different religions to choose different cards to suit the images present in them according to their religion deck. This is only for the tarot to a particular religion is nothing more than that.

Ten of Cups from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck

Ten of Cups from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dominant there is also a myth that reading tarot cards over and over again or reading your own tarot cards can bring bad luck to a person considered to be fully false by professionals. This may have arisen from the fact that the tarot card readers do not read their own cards. This is not because they can not do that, but yes, it is difficult to do so. The reason behind this is that reading Tarot Reader in Pune requires questioning, and it becomes quite difficult for a person even becoming reader and asks the same time. Nor is sometimes believed that psychic ability is required for read or interprets these tarot cards are trying to say, but this is not true. You just need to have a thorough knowledge of the symbols on the cards and gifts all you need is to decipher its meaning. These meanings have been developed over the years through the human experience. The person should be relaxed and calm during the tarot reading, because it is the subconscious mind which is working at that time rather than any psychic ability of a person to make a prediction. Tarot are sometimes believed to affect the lives of others which is completely opposite of the function of the tarot cards. They can not be used to do things or make things happen but they are only used to predict things or interpret situations. Finally, we must understand tarot cards are useful because it is a kind of knowledge preserved collected over the years.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/tarot-articles/misconceptions-about-the-tarot-cards-6990246.html

About the Author

Instead, with the help of these cards can guide people in difficult situations with their amazing abilities and powers.

 


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Her – Review by MC

Fair Use/Dealing rationale for image from Her http://www.herthemovie.com/ - low res image for review and educational purposes

Fair Use/Dealing rationale for image from Her http://www.herthemovie.com/ – low res image for review and educational purposes

I watched Spike Jonze’s film, Her, the other night. A few more points came to mind that weren’t covered here, mostly about different types of love (eros, agape, and so on). But this was my first shot at audio reviewing, so I was lucky to get as much in as I did. No notes or excessive thinking beforehand. Just first impressions…

I should add that I was somewhat inspired by the New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham, who takes fashion photos on the streets of New York and talks about them every week at The Times’ website. If the documentary about Cunningham is accurate, it seems that he takes a quick look at his pics on a storyboard before taping his weekly commentary. I like that spontaneity, and tried to emulate it here.

Maybe with practice I’ll be half as good at this as he is!


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Shamanic Wisdom Quotes

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By Lee Neale

The following is a best of compilation of original quotes drawn from the well of my personal experience and Shamanic practice over the last few years. I hope they bring some spiritual nourishment to your day. Much peace and love to you all!

When it comes to life’s joys develop photos. When it comes to life’s disasters, develop memory loss.

A diamond in the dark impresses no one. Only when we see the brilliance in others is it reflected within ourselves.

We are all things. We are the cage, we are the key to the cage and the freedom that lies beyond it.

It’s all about now: what we do in this moment changes everything.

Why bother to sweep the leaves? Sit quietly and let the wind do its work.

There is no such thing as boredom; only laziness of mind.

Possibility: everything that you could ever imagine, and nothing you can’t.

At best, spiritual teachers can only point out the potential for a path, but the student must discover and walk upon it themselves.

People stuck in the past are doomed to repeat it. People who fear for the future are bound to meet it. Those who live in the moment are sure to enjoy it.

The blame game can become a disempowering distraction from what is good in the world, what is working, what great strides humanity is making. Our infatuation with certain powerful others as the answer to all our problems reduces our capacity to act; right here, right now, at the point of our experience, to shape our world for the better on our own terms, with our own heart and two hands.

If no one is smiling at you, check your reflection.

As the voice of divine inspiration, you are both the singer and the song.

To say that a human is behaving like an animal, is an insult to animals.

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I’m from here or there, I am this I am that, I am one of these or one of those: pointless. If we must identify, let it be known only that we are human and we are here together in this moment, now. That is enough.

We are notes struck upon a cosmic harp.

Time, time, time and time again. How many times before you count.

Life is music and your heart is an instrument. With love it’s easy to hear your place in the universe’s symphony.

I would rather fail on my own terms, than succeed by those of another.

Be yourself, no one else is going to be yourself.

There is a strong correlation between the decline of a civilisation and it’s inability to respond creatively to and with its environment.

The universe has a way of testing us through chaos. I believe it does this because it loves us, wants us to grow, learn and live a life of fullness and well being. Don’t be afraid of crisis, it is simply mother nature’s way of saying hi.

We are born enlightened. Ignorance is learned.

We are all ordinary miracles.

Your consciousness is an expression of nature. Your nature is an expression of consciousness.

Much better it is for the mind to be full of emptiness, than to be empty of fullness.

To grasp is to lose; to lose is to grasp.

Peace on Earth, not a piece of Earth.

Kindness + time + patience = joy

In our minds we live a million lives; in our hearts but one.

About the Author

Lee Neale is the founder of Shama Gaia. He’s an Australian-born sociologist, language teacher and Shamanic healer living in Japan.


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Discovering our Connection With the Upper Force

a beautiful synagogue full of kabbalah symbolism

a beautiful synagogue full of kabbalah symbolism by Ari Moore via Flickr

Author: Bnei Baruch

“All kinds of unpleasant situations are sent to us so that we will finally understand that it is not the external things that we should fear, but the lack of contact with the Upper One, the absence of spirituality.”

Awakening to Kabbalah, Rav Michael Laitman, PhD

If we were aware of the Upper Force that’s always influencing us and arranging everything in our lives, then we would know the secret of life. We would know what life’s grand purpose is and how everything in our life is led by that purpose.

So how do we reveal this Upper Force? We have to learn from the people who’ve already revealed it. Such people are called Kabbalists, and they have written books that can help anyone discover what they have discovered. By reading their books, one gradually begins to feel and understand how the Upper Force motivates his life and why it brings about the things that happen to him in life.

The authentic wisdom of Kabbalah deals with this only: revealing the Upper Force to a person in this world. Or as Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag, author of the Sulam commentary on The Book of Zohar, puts it: “This wisdom is no more and no less, than a sequence of roots, which hang down by way of cause and consequence, in fixed, determined rules, interweaving to a single, exalted goal described as—”the revelation of His Godliness to His creatures in this world.” (The Essence of the Wisdom of Kabbalah)

Authentic Kabbalah has nothing to do with temporary distractions like lucky charms and magic spells, red strings or holy water. Rather, it is an ancient, time-tested wisdom that helps people open their eyes and discover their interrelation with the Upper Force.

This is not something you will feel in your imagination one moment and forget about it the next instant. It is a discovery of a whole new reality that you did not feel before. Kabbalah explains that there is a vast spiritual world concealed behind the picture of reality surrounding us. And this hidden reality is intended for us. Once we discover it with the help of Kabbalah books, we will feel life’s perfect and eternal flow, and experience genuine, lasting joy.

Studying Kabbalah, one suddenly realizes where everything comes from and that life has no coincidences. One tangibly feels that everything in our world comes from the Upper Force. As a result, one begins living in harmony with the Upper Force and avoids making mistakes in life.

In practical terms, learning about the Upper Force gives us real knowledge about how to live correctly. We become conscious of what is harmful to us and are able to avoid it. One gains a spiritual vision, where he sees the full scope of existence, the entire system of reality and how to use it to benefit the world. Hence, Kabbalah is a practical and essential wisdom.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/kabbalah-articles/discovering-our-connection-with-the-upper-force-284560.html

About the Author

Bnei Baruch, http://www.kabbalah.info/ is the largest group of Kabbalists in Israel, sharing the wisdom of Kabbalah with the entire world. Study materials in over 25 languages are based on authentic Kabbalah texts that were passed down from generation to generation

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