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Bible verses about motivation for Tough Times

English: PACIFIC OCEAN (March 26, 2010) Chapla...

PACIFIC OCEAN (March 26, 2010) Chaplain Lt. Jason Gregory reads bible verses on the weather deck aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52). Bunker Hill is supporting Southern Seas 2010, a U.S. Southern Command-directed operation that provides U.S. and international forces the opportunity to operate in a multi-national environment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Barker/Released) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By jeramie

A lot of people would surely agree if we say that life is tough. It is always reassuring to read bible verse about motivation for it somehow gives us the strength to continue with whatever it is that we are doing. Anything could happen in our life regardless of how well we lived, like bankruptcy, job loss, divorce, sickness and a lot more. In times that you think the world is going against you, finding hope and inspiration on bible verses is the best thing to do.

We all have difficult times. Do not think that life is unfair for you experience a lot of difficulties. We all have a fair share on the goodness and difficult side of living. If ever faced with a lot of challenges, do not blame God. You could ask God why, but never blame. When you ask why it’s happening to you, try also to ponder on the possible message that God wants you to realize on the problems you encounter.

Despite of all the problems and difficulties you experience, you should never lose faith in God. If you are down, you simply need to read some bible verses to lift you up.  Always remember that God will never abandon you. He will definitely put you to the test, but on the right time, He will be there to save you and bring you comfort. You need to experience difficulties first before enjoying some good times. Experiencing hardships is part of life. It makes life challenging and exciting. Instead of hating the problems that come your way, be more constructive and try to see what this problem could make you realize.

There are times that the hardships we face are simply eye openers. It makes us a better person and realize how wonderful life it. These problems could also make us more creative and responsive. This way, we become a better person. Try to see other people who are deeply troubled and are into a deeper situation than you are. How come they are still able to live their life? It is simply because they have faith.

Every one of us has to realize that we are nothing without God. This is why when dealing with problems; we need to rely on bible verses about motivation. Reading these verses will not only inspire us but would remind us that we have a God who constantly watching us.

The greatest mistake of a lot of people today is they often turn to worldly comfort when faced with problems. This is the reason why these issues are never solved. When problems strike, be strong and hold on to your faith.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/christianity-articles/bible-verses-about-motivation-for-tough-times-7026651.html

About the Author

Need an Article Writer?

Send me an email message: lindsayordaneza@yahoo.com


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Spirituality Advice – Are You Making Any of These 3 Deadly Mistakes in Your Search for Truth?

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Author: John

#1 – A closed mind

A closed mind has been defined as one that is stubbornly unreceptive to new ideas and intolerant of the beliefs and opinions of others. A person may incur the handicap of a closed mind because of egoism, due to not having had a liberal education or because of low native intelligence.

In this condition, all incoming knowledge is filtered through a set of rigid beliefs and whatever does not fit is jettisoned. On the other hand, whatever fits in with the habitual belief is swallowed hook, line and sinker – no matter how irrational it may be. This makes the person prone to all kinds of superstition and fears.

It takes a lot of work for a person to become aware of, let alone take off, the blinders of a closed mind. However, reading extensively on many diverse subjects and traveling to experience different cultures and viewpoints would help remedy this mistake so that the person would be better able to apprehend spiritual truth.

#2 – Gullibility

This is very similar to the first mistake. It often occurs because of the human tendency to accept as true whatever we would prefer to be true or what we wish were true. Thus, without question, imaginative speculations are accepted as facts and claims that have no historical or other precedence are taken as valid.

A gullible person is a ready victim of personality cults, miracle claims and purported instant cures. Persons that have a confident, insistent manner of speaking or that are prestigious or who boldly repeat their claims over and over again pose a particular threat to gullible folks.

The remedy for gullibility is the cultivation of a healthy skepticism, so that every outrageous claim or postulation is taken with a pinch of salt. Surely, it is better to be called a doubting Thomas than be an easy victim.

#3 – Mistaking religion for spirituality

Due to the fact that most of us first get introduced to the idea of spirituality through the medium of one religion or another, we associate the two concepts, sometimes to the point of mistaking one for the other.

Briefly, the difference between the two is that while spirituality refers to the quality or condition of showing great refinement and concern with the higher things in life ( in contrast to material things) religion is the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.

Some of the dangers of mistaking religion for spirituality are that you never see anyone who is not an adherent of your religion as spiritual; you never agree to eclectically take advantage of beneficial practices that may originate from other religions than yours; you begin to see the doctrines of your religion as facts of spirituality rather than opinions, albeit enlightened, of the leaders of your faith.

To those who mistake religion for spirituality please consider the wisdom contained in this quote from the late eminent Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Gustav Jung:

‘A belief proves to me only the phenomenon of belief, not the content of the belief. This I must see revealed empirically in order to accept it…’

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/spirituality-articles/spirituality-advice-are-you-making-any-of-these-3-deadly-mistakes-in-your-search-for-truth-6879227.html

About the Author

What is the ultimate approach to excellence? Of what relevance is spirituality in your quest for fulfillment and bliss? John D’Silva’s effective-spirituality.com offers insights that would surprise and refresh you. John is happily devoted to helping You unleash Your Spirit of Excellence. Intelligence directs the universe, not chance…


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Into the Future

This is a wonderful segment about time travel from Stephen Hawking’s Into the Universe DVD, which I watched last night. Hawking seems to believe that time travel is possible, but only into the future.

However, I’m wondering if a subtler type of time travel could be possible. Not time travel involving the body but rather, the soul and, by implication, consciousness.

Many religious believers report the experience of feeling heavenly graces. And this feeling differs from say, a runner’s endorphin rush or the physiological responses related to falling in love or eating chocolate (apparently they’re similar).

If the soul/consciousness can feel graces from heaven, then might not it sense other souls in other places and times? I think it quite possible that the soul could sense blissful souls in heaven, tormented souls in hell, along with souls living in the past and in the future. After all, the soul resides in the body but it also differs from the body. And when we die, the soul goes on and on and on. At least, this is what most religions teach.

I loved Hawking’s video and inspiring example but he always seems to fall a bit short when discussing – or should I say ignoring – the spiritual side of life. I imagine it’s because he’s a brainy physicist, hardwired and habituated into thinking long and hard about problems in a primarily conceptual way. He’s no mystic. At least, I don’t think so. If he is, he sure doesn’t seem like one!

You can read more about Hawking’s views here: http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/551152-when-people-ask-me-if-a-god-created-the-universe

—MC


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Near-death experiences shed light on views of afterlife

Come-with-us by Gareth via Flickr

By Steve Hammons - originally posted at Joint Recon Study Group

What happens when we die? That question has been around for a long, long time. According to many religions and philosophies, we go to a beautiful place that is closer to God. That is, if we have lived a good life on Earth.

Some people who, through illness or injury, have been clinically dead or near-dead claim to have had what are now commonly called “near-death experiences” or “NDEs.” This phenomenon has been studied by people who sometimes come to different conclusions about what the experiences are.

Is it a spiritual journey to the afterlife? Or, is it biological experience involving the brain that is a sort of hallucination?

THE NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE

Usually, this experience follows a pattern: The person goes out of their body, often floating above and witnessing the situation. Often, their life flashes before them like a fast movie. Then, they enter what is often described as a “tunnel” that quickly takes them to a place of increasing light – a special and beautiful kind of light.

Upon arrival, they may be greeted by loved ones who have previously passed on. Or, they may meet someone that they did not necessarily know beforehand. The NDE experiencers may have interactions and discussions with these people. Also, typically, but not always, the person reports feelings of great happiness and profound peace.

Finally, the individual learns that this is not their time to pass on and that they are to return to life on Earth. Meanwhile, back where their physical body is located, medical personnel may be working to save them. Or, some other circumstances may be present that allows physical life to continue for this person.

What do these reports from reasonable and apparently sane people mean? Hallucination, neurological and biochemical event? Or, a real trip to the afterlife? Obviously, it is difficult if not impossible to prove either way. At least with the knowledge we have at this time.

Many psychics claim to be able to communicate with people who have “crossed over” to “the other side.” For some, this may be corroborating evidence that the NDE is real. It may be comforting to hear about these accounts because many of us have loved ones who have passed on. And, of course, one day we all will.

Do we just cease to exist? Here today gone tomorrow. Dust to dust.

ANGEL AGENTS

Or, if we do go somewhere, we might wonder about what those good people who have passed on are up to. Are they sitting around playing harps? Have they disappeared as individuals into a larger body of spiritual energy? Are they hanging out in a paradise? Are they working toward graduating to the status of angels or angels-in-training? All of the above?

What about all of our military personnel who pass on in large numbers from the wars past, and now in Iraq and Afghanistan? Do they maintain their military orientation when they pass on? Do they stick with some of their buddies as they get oriented in a new training and operational environment? Can they become part of a special operations force and covert intelligence network that functions from this unconventional operational platform in the afterlife?

Considering all the good people that have passed on over all of the generations and thousands of years, those who lived a full life and those who died young, that could be quite a large and significant force.

How do they feel about what is going on here on Earth? Are they far away, or closer than we might think, separated from us by a thin membrane or veil? Are some of them assigned as “guardian angels,” a sort of case officer for us? Do they whisper in our ear or come to us in our dreams at night? What other activities might they be involved in that affect Earth?

It is interesting for many of us to ask these kinds of questions and think about these things once in a while. It is the bigger picture. Maybe some of it is wishful thinking. Yet, we on Earth obviously could use some extra help. It is comforting to think that there might be angels and covert Heavenly special ops intelligence agents behind the scenes helping out. Angel agents.

A STORY TO CONSIDER

In my novel MISSION INTO LIGHT, one part of the story involves such an experience by the main character, Mike Green. On an operation in the Red Rock-Secret Mountain national wilderness area north of Sedona, Arizona, with the 10-person joint-service research team is working with, Mike is shot in the leg and another bullet grazes his skull. He instantly looses consciousness, falls to the ground, and starts loosing significant amounts of blood.

His friends immediately start to tend to him and another wounded member of the team. Meanwhile, Mike has a near-death experience:

Slowly, Mike’s awareness returns. He is disoriented. He looks below and sees his own body, unconscious and bleeding profusely from the leg and head. Another member of the group is bloody from his shoulder down to his hand, the arm of his shirt soaked with blood.

He sees his friends pinned-down by two snipers below him. Below him? Where is he? Has he somehow gotten to a high point along the cliffs?

Mike sees his Uncle Jack directly below him, firing bursts from his automatic weapon, and pulling more clips from his pockets. Near Jack lies Mike’s own body. Jack picks up Mike’s body, throws it over his shoulders, and tries to make his way down a hill, which Mike watches from above.

Slowly, the green forest below him fades from view. Darkness comes over him.

Then, a point of light becomes visible on the horizon. Mike is being drawn toward the point of light, first slowly, then more quickly, as if he were shooting river rapids in a canoe. The point of light draws closer, and Mike finds himself in a tunnel of beautiful golden light.

He seems to slow down now, like the inevitable calm water at the end of a river rapids. Mike drifts slowly through the tunnel and the golden light becomes brighter. Other colors seemed to sparkle through the golden light, like hundreds of tiny rainbows.

Ahead, he can see figures that seemed to be people. As he flows closer to them he can make out four beings. They seem to be waiting for him as he comes closer and closer.

Then, he finds himself surrounded by the four figures. He knows them. They are his four grandparents, and they embrace him. They passed on many years ago, though were a big part of his life when he was a kid. The five seem to float in the light. His grandparents communicate with him in unison.

They tell him, “Yes, Mike, this is the land of the Great Spirit. It is the beautiful place that many religions and philosophies have always taught.”

“There is constant rejoicing and peace in this land. But we feel sadness at the hardships faced by our people in your world. And we feel a longing to help the people there.”

“There are groups of beings who want to bring the two worlds together, to make Heaven and Earth one place. There are efforts underway to accomplish that very mission.”

“That work is proceeding. One day soon, that miracle will come to pass, and there will be a great celebration, a great happiness among all the people.”

“You, Mike, must return to the other world, and tell your family and friends about what you have seen.”

“We have one more thing to show you, something you have a need to know.”

Then, they help Mike take a fantastic journey into deep memories in his DNA, or maybe it is time travel into the ancient past of the Cherokee people in their Smokey Mountain homeland, or maybe both simultaneously. He learns some amazing things.

After this experience concludes, he finds himself with his grandparents again.

“Mike, you must now return to the other world. You still have many more seasons before you join us here in the Spirit land.”

They embrace him again, with happiness. Slowly, the golden light begins to fade and Mike is moving back through the tunnel of light. He sees his grandparents waving good-bye to him until they fade from his sight.

The light grows dimmer and dimmer until it is only a point on a distant horizon. And then darkness.

Mike’s next sensation is the sound of other people talking. He opens his eyes and sees a hospital room in Sedona, his friends gathered around his hospital bed.

He tries to tell about his experience.

“I was floating above the fight at the canyon, watching you scrambling for safety. I saw my own bloody body being carried by Uncle Jack down the rocky path away from the sniper.”

“A tunnel of golden light led to the land of Spirit . . . It wasn’t a dream.”

“I was in the golden light, and saw my grandparents.”

The others listen carefully as Mike tries to recall details of his journey and his meeting with his grandparents.

After he finishes his story, Mike looks closely into the faces of the friends around his bed. Some of their eyes are wider than usual. Some are expressionless, though a smile can be seen in their eyes.

The group’s commanding officer, combat veteran Air Force Colonel Tom O’Brien, standing near the door, gives Mike a knowing wink.

About the Author

Steve Hammons is the author of two novels about a U.S. Government and military joint-service research team investigating unusual phenomena. MISSION INTO LIGHT and the sequel LIGHT’S HAND introduce readers to the ten women and men of the “Joint Reconnaissance Study Group” and their exciting adventures exploring the unknown.


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Psychology and Theology… where do they meet?


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Review – The Trickster and the Paranormal (Hardcover Book)

tpnTitle: The Trickster and the Paranormal
Author: George P. Hansen
Media: Hardcover Book
Publisher: Xlibris (564 pp. with endnotes and index)
Date: 2001

George P. Hansen’s The Trickster and the Paranormal offers a variety of paranormal considerations around the psychological, anthropological and literary image of the trickster. Hansen’s exposition of Max Weber and Claude Lévi-Strauss is competent while reflections on Emile Durkheim are thought-provoking.1

The Trickster provides a clear account of some of the main trends in semiotics and critiques classical notions of so-called primitive and advanced religion. It also looks at contemporary cross-currents in psi and psi research. Considerable focus is given to the American psi scene but not exclusively so. References made to leading international figures, particularly European, are usually accompanied with brief but telling biographical sketches.

My main reservation with The Trickster is its reliance on the structuralist notion of binary opposition. In fairness, Hansen provides reasons for using binary opposition as the methodological backbone of The Trickster. He says a structuralist approach stimulates thought in areas that otherwise might be ignored. And he rightly notes the need for structure and limitation in any inquiry. The issue, I suppose, is the type and degree of structure that’s best for the task at hand.

It seems reasonable to accept a binary opposition of good and evil.2 But a master opposition of this sort in ethics doesn’t justify generalizing the notion of binary opposites to every modality of “our current Western worldview.”3 Hansen does say that the trickster mediates and collapses binaries, and that this process involves numinosity. But, again, he seems to firmly believe that Western culture is predicated on binaries (pp. 31, 62).

Another analytical consideration emerges when Hansen acknowledges uncertainties arising from the so-called emic/etic debate yet applies anthropological data in support of the trickster theory as if the debate were fully resolved. This is one aspect of the The Trickster that just doesn’t wash. Hansen periodically upholds the trickster as if it weren’t a device designed – or constructed as Foucault says – to stimulate thought. Instead of insisting on universal binaries and a mediating/collapsing trickster, wouldn’t it be simpler to just say that the numinous compels us to reevaluate our current assumptions and opinions?

With regard to ethics, Hansen says the Godhead contains both good and evil, and seems to advocate a type of pantheism where the dyads of creator/creation and good/evil are, respectively, taken as one and the same—perhaps something like the “warp and the woof” of the Upanisads. Not much mention is given to monotheistic theologies where an entirely benevolent creator God endows human beings with free will, thus permitting evil for a greater good. A discussion of St. Anselm’s faith-based view, “I believe in order to understand,” along with the propositional statement, “reason follows revelation,” might have been useful in rounding out The Trickster.

This leads to another unsatisfying aspect of The Trickster. Different mystics from various world traditions are presented as if they’ve experienced the same type of numinosity, when in fact we can’t be sure.4 Freud’s so-called ‘backward-looking’ theories and Rudolf Otto‘s rather basic distinctions regarding the numinous are treated in some detail, but The Trickster doesn’t probe too far beyond these standard reference points for numinosity.

To its credit, however, The Trickster questions current thinking on mysticism. Mysticism may overlap, Hansen says, with other paranormal abilities.5 Other positive aspects of the The Trickster can be found in the discussion of UFOs, frauds and hoaxes. Hansen’s treatment of lab research on psi and its practical implications is useful except, perhaps, where he notes confounding variables with retroactive PK yet proceeds to suggest research directions as if these indeterminable factors are “not too severe.”6

The Trickster’s section on literature and literary criticism offers some pointed observations on French rationalists. Thoughtful and mature reflection can be found on the oft diffuse relations among imagination, reality, paranoia, mythology, ontological boundaries, space, time, life, afterlife and the self. Still, and at the risk of sounding like an old-school theologian, I didn’t see too much on the idea of a created self, humbly existing in an “I – Thou” relationship with an omnipotent yet perfectly loving Creator.7

On the whole, The Trickster is an engaging and intelligent book. And it would be unreasonable to expect a bona fide innovator like Hansen to create a slick, seamless work in largely uncharted areas. The Trickster should help readers to better understand psi in relation to the socio-political world of the 21st-century. As cutting-edge material, there might be room for improvement. But for its considerable scope and heuristic value The Trickster and the Paranormal is certainly worthwhile.

Notes

1. For instance, Hansen argues that Durkheim has been largely misunderstood by sociologists. For Hansen, Durkheim does not reduce the idea of the numinous to non-mystical origins. This is an interesting if debatable claim. Consider, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, trans. Joseph Ward Swain (London: Allen & Unwin, 1964), pp. 218-22, 427, 439-440, 442-443, 444.

2. I would suggest that heaven and hell exist independently of whatever relativistic language games we might play with the terms ‘good’ and ‘evil.’ When viewed from the perspective of everlasting life, this is supremely practical.

3. (a) See p. 62. Among other things, Hansen notes the binary code used in computing; but are human beings computers?

4. See p. 78. Along these lines, William James, Evelyn Underhill, Joseph Campbell, C. G. Jung, Mircea Eliade, John Milton, Sri Aurobino and St. Teresa of Ávila – to name a few – each suggest that numinous experience may contain radically different qualities and textures.

5. We must ask whether paranormal abilities are in every case equivalent to divine gifts. As St. Paul puts it, those without love are meaningless (1 Corinthians 13).

6. See p. 330, 342-43. It is assumed that visible subjects (or “social groups” consisting of human beings) and not some invisible external agent largely influenced pre-recorded trials. The latter possibility would still involve a reevaluation of space and time. However, it is conceivable that if a demonic supernatural power did exist, it could dupe people into believing they’re producing a retroactive PK effect when they’re not. See my discussion on the idea of discernment in ETs, UFOs and the Psychology of Belief.

7. Granted, brief mention is given to the idea of ‘heaven’ and the ‘mystical marriage,’ and Otto runs throughout the book. But with regard to the latter, I felt that I was mostly reading Hansen’s Otto instead of Otto’s Otto.

—MC


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Angels – secret agents of the heart

fallen angel: Bùi Linh Ngân

fallen angel by Bùi Linh Ngân via Flickr

I need a sign, to let me know you’re here

Calling All Angels, Train

The idea of angels as mediators between God and mankind is widespread. Angels aren’t confined to seminary schools. They’re in the movies, pop music, self-help books, video games, and just about anything else that will sell.

But most people don’t see angels as the stuff of myth and legend. About 66-78% of North Americans believe in angels. And 10-29% believe they’ve encountered an angel or heard of someone who has.

Okay, all very interesting. But as the ancient Greek philosopher Plato once put it, a given belief isn’t necessarily a true belief. And in today’s world where religious belief can lead to insidious human rights crimes, it’s important to step back and rationally assess our convictions.1

The power of love

At one extreme, materialist thinkers try to squash spirituality by reducing angels to cultural projections. Ludwig Feuerbach and Sigmund Freud say angels are fantasy formations, and images of angels portray nothing more than subjective experiences and desires.

In 1966, two American sociologists, Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann, became academic hotshots by saying that reality is a “social construction.” Like much of sociology, Berger and Luckman put a new spin on an old idea—in this case, conceptualism. Postmoderns quickly followed suit, designating just about everything under the sun as a social construction.

Michel Foucault

Michel Foucault (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Fair use/dealing rationale.

The early postmoderns emphasized the role of power in the social construction of reality. But they had little to say about the nature of power, itself—whether, for instance, power contains moral and spiritual elements. Postmoderns also focus on language and its connection with power. Accordingly, the French postmodern thinker, Michel Foucault,talks about “discourses of power.”

But what does this have to do with angels?

Well, postmoderns make some astute observations, but they usually overlook the power of love.  Also, they also don’t really see how heavenly love might help to shape our lives and the world around us.

Normally, we associate the word power with billionaires, movie stars, politicians or maybe motorbikes and muscle cars. But as an adjective, the word powerful can also apply to love.

The word angel derives from the Greek angelos, meaning “messenger.” But angels aren’t just messengers like the friendly neighborhood letter carrier. Angels are said to mediate heavenly grace, which in essence is love. And being God’s love, this mediated grace is more powerful than anything in the known universe.

Peter Berger, himself, came to study the supernatural side of angels in his book, A Rumor of Angels (1969). This book is no dry, reductive sociological treatise. It’s a sincere, open-minded investigation into the possibility that spiritual belief doesn’t merely arise from materially oppressed or deranged minds.

Assumption of the Virgin, by Francesco Bottici...

Assumption of the Virgin, by Francesco Botticini, 1475-77 National Gallery, London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Theologically speaking

Western religions tend to see angels as pure and humble servants created by God. But theologians have debated the finer points of angels for centuries. In The Celestial Hierarchy Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite (or Pseudo Dionysius, c. 500 CE) speaks of three choirs of angels. According to his model, each choir embraces three angelic tiers. The lowest choir of Angels, Archangels, Principalities, along with the middle choir of Dominions, Virtues and Powers, are in contact with humanity. The highest choir consisting of Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones sings an eternal hymn of praise to God.

St. Thomas Aquinas‘ (c.1225-1274 CE) Summa Theologica supports Pseudo Dionysius’ idea of an angelic hierarchy. Aquinas also believes that fallen, evil angels (demons) have their own ranking system, with the lower being subservient to the higher demons. The belief in evil angels is also found in the autobiography of Saint Teresa of Ávila, who wrote, “In the end my good angel prevailed over my evil one.”

The popular American evangelist Billy Graham writes about angels. And in contemporary Catholicism, angels are described as spiritual beings without physical bodies. Catholicism teaches that angels

  • Were created by God from nothing
  • Possess freewill
  • Have a higher standing than mankind
  • “Have been present from creation and through the history of salvation.”2

On guardian angels, St. Ambrose says:

Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.3

But, again, not only theologians talk about heavenly messengers. Stars like Patsy Cline, Annie Lennox, Jane Siberry, Hank Williams Sr. and David Bowie depict beings of Divine Love whose raison d’être is to guide and protect.

angel wings by CowGummy via Flickr

Fallen angels

Hardly exemplifying humble servants of God, fallen angels are usually portrayed as nasty and narcissistic. And Satan, once God’s brightest angel, allegedly manifests as an “angel of light.”4

This could partially explain those who are mislead by astral and demonic beings posing as God or God’s angels. They’re literally “blinded by the light.” But is it a phoney light? And how would we be able to tell the difference if a beautiful angel came to us, full of warmth and promises of love.

St. Matthew, the Desert Fathers, St. Ignatius of Loyola and many other spiritual writers suggest that good angels can be discerned from their evil counterparts by observing the fruit of their works.

Evil angels, they say, try to degrade, depress, deceive, confuse, titillate and flatter. Alleged holy men and women promoting themselves as ‘perfected incarnations’ likely fall into this vanity trap. Egomania and self-aggrandizement run rampant among false prophets.

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them (Matthew: 15-20).

And in a more contemporary vein:

Luke, you don’t know the power of the Dark Side (Darth Vader)

Not a few people claim to possess spiritual powers (siddhis) and fantastic psi abilities. Some indicate that they “know it all” or, at least, “know better” than everyone else. While many of these folks may be decent and well-meaning at heart, they often blind themselves to the fact that interior perceptions can be flat wrong.

Teresa of Ávila

“In the end my good angel prevailed over my evil one.” Teresa of Ávila (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sincere seekers try to recognize, admit, and correct intuitive mistakes whenever possible. But the sham seeker won’t acknowledge (or, perhaps, just admit) mistakes and continues on a path of deception, allowing the ugly weeds of lies to choke out the beautiful flowers of the soul.

Perhaps a sure way to spot a person informed by fallen angels is to look for those callous, cowardly souls who grasp at power as a means to manipulate the psychologically weak and vulnerable.

To complicate matters, it appears that the predictions of fallen angels may contain partial truths. Demonic influences, experts say, want to disturb and oppress the gullible through a calculating mix of truth and falsehood. And their predictions are said to be ultimately geared toward exploitation and tearing down the good.

Accordingly, William Blake (1757-1827) wrote that spiritual powers devoid of sincere, humane practice are “thieves and rebels.”And both St. Augustine (354-430 CE) and St. Aquinas agree that evil angels, although fallen, possess a keen otherworldly intelligence. As agents of Lucifer, their thoughts apparently operate on a higher level.

St. Paul writes:

Our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh,
but against the rulers, against the authorities,
against the cosmic powers of this present darkness,
against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.6

And St. Aquinas echoes St. Paul’s belief that perceptive individuals can blow the cover of people who allow intelligent demonic beings into their lives.

Those who are spiritual discern all things.7

Aquinas, in fact, borrows from the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BCE) when suggesting that

The virtuous man is the rule and measure of all human acts.8

English: Bias (Greek: Βίας ο Πριηνεὺς, 6th cen...

Bias (Greek: Βίας ο Πριηνεὺς, 6th century BCE), the son of Teutamus and a citizen of Priene was a Greek philosopher. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Final word

The above focuses on Christian angelology, but the belief in heavenly and hellish agents is embedded in most world religions. From the ancient Egyptian Hermes, the Chinese shên, the Greek Iris, the Zoroastrian amesha spentas, the Hindu devas and asuras, and the Jewish elohim, the idea that mankind lives within a larger cosmic battleground of good and evil forces is nothing new.

While it might not be fashionable to talk about good and bad angels, this doesn’t stop many people from believing in them.

True, representations of spiritual beings like angels are most likely colored by personal and cultural biases, but it seems possible that angels do exist. In any kind of study it’s often hard to draw the line between subjective bias and clear perception. And the study of angels is no exception.


1. Some New Age thinkers say that anything we believe is real. But it’s doubtful that 1,000 different individuals could all be, for instance, sole reincarnations of Julius Caesar, Napoleon or Cleopatra.

2. Catechism of the Catholic Church, New York: Doubleday 1995, p. 96.

3. Ibid., p. 98.

4. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

5. (a) William Blake, cited in Clark, Stephen. “Where have all the Angels Gone?” Religious Studies 28: 221-234, p. 228 (b) Widely respected in Medieval Europe, the legal writer and scholar Jean Bodin believed that Satan and his minions could nullify the pain that so-called witches – and their demon possessed young daughters – would naturally experience from “Godly” torture. For this and many other truly horrific ideas camouflaged by perverse reasoning, see Jean Bodin, On the Demon-Mania of Witches, trans. Randy A. Scott, Toronto: Victoria University, University of Toronto, 1995 [1580].

6. Ephesians 6:12.

7. 1 Corinthians 2:15.

8. Aristotle cited in Pegis, Anton C. Basic Writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas Vol. 1, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 1016. This, of course, reflects the sexism of the time.

Angels –  secret agents of the heart  © Michael Clark. All rights reserved.


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Review – Paul Tillich’s Christianity and the Encounter of the World Religions

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Tillich Park – new harmony indiana: paparutzi / christina rutz

I just finished reading Paul Tillich’s Christianity and the Encounter of the World Religions (1963). Although Tillich seems to be somewhat confined by his own concepts and method of dialectical reasoning when speaking of the complexities of life and spirit, some of his observations are noteworthy.

Perhaps most interesting is his assertion that religion must adapt and change in order to survive. It must “negate itself” (can you hear Hegel cheering?) to continue to live and breathe the Holy Spirit.

This is a lot like Carl Jung’s argument but I wasn’t overly surprised, if a bit disappointed, to not find any reference to Jung. Until about 1990 it was common practice in the humanities and theology to dismiss Jung’s thought.

Consider this quote, near the end of the book:

We know today what a secular myth is. We know what a secular cult is. The totalitarian movements have provided us with both. Their great strength was that they transformed ordinary concepts, events, and persons into myths, and ordinary performances into rituals; therefore they had to be fought with other myths and rituals—religious and secular. You cannot escape them, however you demythologize and deritualize. They always return and you must always judge them again. In the fight of God against religion the fighter for God is in the paradoxical situation that he has to use religion in order to fight religion (pp. 93-94).

In The Undiscovered Self Jung said, several years before Tillich, “You can take away a man’s gods, but only to give him others in return” (1958, p. 63).

When speaking of the conflict of “God against religion” Tillich is talking about movements such as Communism, Fascism and those ossified, oppressive structures that apparently no longer communicate the Holy Spirit. For Tillich, these include the apparently outdated Catholic hierarchy and sacraments.

It seems Tillich is pointing to the idea that we cannot escape two main aspects of the human adventure, namely, power and belief. Whether or not the powers and beliefs we encounter are truly in line with God’s will is a question that any mature seeker will try to carefully examine.

To his credit, Tillich says it takes belief in God and God’s power to overcome elements that are not from God, a point on which I am in full agreement. However, it seems there’s much in his work that is limited by his personality structure, religious beliefs and historical position.

A similar charge, of course, could be leveled against anyone. And Tillich does point to this issue in his discussion on dialogue vs. conversion, and the related idea of non-Christian criticisms of Christianity being positively transformed into healthy Christian self-criticism (Tillich is speaking on a group level here, but the same dynamic could be applied to individuals).

Still, I found the book a bit stiff with not a few sweeping generalizations. At times it seems that Tillich is just playing an abstract philosophy game with a lot of general ideas. Then suddenly he’ll come back to being relevant and make a good point or two. Having said that, this book is far more accessible and meaningful than most of the dry bones theological works I’ve encountered.

While some readers at amazon.com see Tillich’s conclusion as a sort of syncretic cop out, I find it somewhat optimistic, if simplistic:

In the depth of every living religion there is a point at which the religion itself loses its importance, and that to which it points breaks through its particularity, elevating it to spiritual freedom and with it to a vision of the spiritual presence in other expressions of the ultimate meaning of man’s existence.

This is what Christianity must see in the present encounter of the world religions (p. 97).

I say simplistic because it seems there are many different kinds of spiritual presences, ranging from quite impure (spacey, gloomy and self-obscuring) to exceedingly pure (holy, uplifting and self-affirming), a point Jung also touches on in his discussion of numinosity, as did Rudolf Otto and others.

Tillich does talk about differences concerning the idea of individuality (and problems in defining it) earlier in the book while comparing Christianity and Buddhism. So he doesn’t overlook this point completely. But it remains unclear why his conclusion glosses over the central issue of different spiritual presences.

These shortcomings aside, Christianity and the Encounter of the World Religions is a good little book and certainly worth the dollar I paid for it at the used bookstore. But I wouldn’t want to have paid much more for it.

—MC (revised from 2010)


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Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up!

Redondo Beach Jesus Man with Van

Redondo Beach Jesus Man with Van: Marshall Astor

by Anagarika Eddie Rock

“Follow not what wise men say, follow instead in their footsteps.” (Old Zen Saying). Meaning that in order to reach the levels of elevated consciousness that these wise men achieved, you must live the life that they did, or, “Follow in their footsteps” in order to reach those lofty plateaus. Only reading and following their words doesn‘t work.

If you look, not necessarily at what Christ said but the life that he led as depicted in the Bible – He was not a family man. Nor was He a businessman, or a politician, or nationalistic. All of that Old Testament stuff; procreation, obedience, commandments is for a different audience, an audience that was not capable of understanding for themselves and had to be told what to do by an authority figure.

The New Testament, which according to the Gnostic Gospels (conveniently excluded in the few hand-picked Gospels of the Catholic Church that originated Christianity) portrays Christ as leading a simple life and trying to show us how to find peace within. And that we are all Sons of God.

But contemporary Christians do not follow in Christ’s footsteps. Instead, they take selective, self-serving quotes out of the Old Testament that supports their thirst for accumulations of material and psychological things, and open the floodgates to acquisition, ambition, wealth and accumulation.

Old Testament views proclaim the accumulation of stuff as a spiritual pursuit, where just the opposite is true. Accumulations, whether they be large screen TVs, large families, large beliefs, stock portfolios, or large egos, are a burden on the human mind. Accumulation does nothing but induce fear into a mind that is naturally fear free.

I believe that Christ knew and understood this perfectly and tried to indicate by His life how to live, which is simply. But when one conveniently uses the Old Testament (old consciousness without personal insight) to justify their desires, and only uses the New Testament (new consciousness with personal insight), to justify their belief that whatever they do is excused by their faith in Christ, then you have a situation where they are not following in the footsteps of their teacher.

The old argument is that Christ was not here to teach, but simply here to save us. Therefore, we can do pretty much as we please. That’s very convenient, and that’s fine if that is what you want to believe, but I posit that if you look at a life filled with accumulations, including the accumulation of material things, strong opinions, unyielding spiritual views and the super egos that result, you will find a deep level of stress and unhappiness cloaked in a deluded, trance-like belief that all is happiness.

This is Old Testament consciousness with no insight. This is delusion compared to the enlightening ideas of the New testament, according to the Gnostic Gospels. I think that Christ knew that desires and attachments to things that we accumulate eventually cause disappointment and unhappiness, and tried to show us another avenue by the way he lived His life.

The religious wars that have resulted from tight, unyielding views have been anything other than happiness. And the current atmosphere of hatred between Christians, Moslems and Jews, openly expounded upon in the media, will only lead to a nuclear war.

Then we all lose. And I’ll just bet that the religious chicken hawks that are now squawking behind their safe computers that this conflict is our destiny as prophesized in the Bible will be the first to pee their pants when the mushroom clouds rise above their neighborhoods! There is a concept and a reality about proclaiming the desire to join God in heaven!

For Christ’s sake! Christ was trying to teach peace! Don’t you get it? In absence of material things, of strong opinions, of unyielding spiritual views and super egos . . . is love! Yes! Love cannot happen until those other things go away! You cannot love your neighbor as long as you have strong opinions and unyielding views, because you will try to persuade the poor chap to believe your way. Only then will you love your neighbors; when they give in and you can control them.

You know, Christian monks and nuns (not priests and preachers) understand this; they live a life of poverty A Buddhist monk or nun, when they take on the robes, give away their families, careers, relationships and possessions in trade of three simple robes and a begging bowl. Why? Because they understand, at a very deep level, what it’s all about, and it’s all about letting go. This was what Christ was trying to teach us – letting go!

Letting go of everything is the true happiness. This is the basis of true generosity and loving you neighbor – which is a complete happiness that we, as human beings, can achieve because when we hold onto our material things, strong opinions, unyielding spiritual views and the super egos, we are always afraid that things will change. And in fact; everything does change. Material things come and go, our opinions will be challenged endlessly, our spiritual views will change as we mature, and our super egos will diminish as we age and experience the realities of life.

When we hold tight to these things, even such things as nationalism, politics, and religion, we become tight inside; our hearts become cramped, fearful of someone challenging us, another country, another religion, another political view or party.

And we become fearful, which leads to hatred and anger. We become uncertain because deep inside, beyond a conscious level, we really are uncertain about whether or not our opinions are true.

It’s easy for us to give away things that we have no use for anymore, old clothes or old appliances, but not as easy with things that we still treasure.

Only when we no longer treasure the values of the Old Testament which bring us conflict, and discover the real meaning of the New testament, which brings peace, can we throw away those old values without a second thought.

If we can live a simple life, just enough to get by on, we will naturally begin to see the needs of others, and we will help them. And after we have enough money to live modestly, we begin to take care of the needs of others.

And as we relinquish all the stuff that we once thought made us happy but instead made us fearful, angry and hateful, we find ourselves slowly becoming really Christ-like in our actions and lifestyle. We become loving and generous instead of confrontational, striving and ambitious.

This is true generosity, where we follow our hearts and not our heads. This is the true happiness.

Anagarika eddie is a meditation teacher at the Dhammabucha Rocksprings Meditation Retreat Sanctuary www.dhammarocksprings.org 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.

He lived at Wat Pah Nanachat under Ajahn Chah, at Wat Pah Baan Taad under Ajahn Maha Boowa, and at Wat Pah Daan Wi Weg under Ajahn Tui. He had been a postulant at Shasta Abbey, a Zen Buddhist monastery in northern California under Roshi Kennett; and a Theravada Buddhist anagarika at both Amaravati Monastery in the UK and Bodhinyanarama Monastery in New Zealand, both under Ajahn Sumedho. The author has meditated with the Korean Master Sueng Sahn Sunim; with Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society in West Virginia; and with the Tibetan Master Trungpa Rinpoche in Boulder, Colorado. He has also practiced at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the Zen Center in San Francisco.

Article Source: Amazines.com


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Krishna, Buddha and Christ: The same or different? (Part 2)

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Reclining Buddha

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Violence and the Just War

With so many different schools, holy books and interpretations of scripture within Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity, one might wonder how anything meaningful can be said about Krishna, Buddha and Christ.

No matter what we say, it seems there’s always an exception. If we claim that Jesus is about love, one could cite the Catholic Church’s teaching about the so-called Just War. If we say Krishna is all about killing as outlined in the Bhagavad Gita, one might refer to the following passage from the Mahabharata (the epic in which the Gita appears):

This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you. (Mahabharata 5, 15, 17)

One should not behave towards others in a way which is disagreeable to oneself. This is the essence of morality. All other activities are due to selfish desire. (Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva, 113.8)

Also, a popular Hindu myth tells of a peaceful Krishna sporting with milkmaids, symbolizing the playfulness and love through which God enters the soul.

Buddhist scriptures speak of peace and non-violence, and Buddhism is often hailed as a non-violent path. But Moojan Momen points out that scriptural, philosophical and folkloric justifications for violence are found in the Buddhist tradition.† Bernard Faure also maintains that Buddhist doctrine has been adapted to justify war.

While some theological overlap can be found among Krishna, Buddha and Christ and their respective religions, clear differences are also present. I don’t intend to outline a detailed and comprehensive analysis of these three religions. This would take up several volumes and, even then, would be incomplete. But a few main points can be made.

Let’s begin with Krishna as he appears in the Bhagavad Gita.

The sacred scripture of the Gita is often hailed as the Hindu Bible, located, as I’ve noted, within the larger epic of the Mahabharata. Some scholars see the Gita as a later addition to the Mahabharata, although nobody knows for sure just how or when the Gita originated.

Hindus and many non-Hindus around the world love and admire the Gita. Some enthusiasts say that, like a jewel in a crown, the Gita synthesizes and elevates all previous aspects of Hinduism within a meaningful and coherent system. By the same token, it would be a bit misleading to say that the Gita epitomizes a religion as multifaceted as Hinduism. But it certainly represents a central part of the vast array of beliefs and practices that comprise Hinduism.

Various attempts have been made to define Hinduism. Some say Hinduism has no dogma nor creeds, but this is questionable. The Himalayan academy summarizes three leading definitions of Hinduism:

In all definitions, the three pivotal beliefs for Hindus are karma, reincarnation and the belief in all-pervasive Divinity.

Again, this article looks at Krishna as depicted in the Gita and not Hinduism as a whole. Along these lines, one definition of Hinduism, a judicial one drafted by the Indian Supreme Court in 1966 and affirmed in 1995, asserts the necessity of believing in the sanctity and truth of the Vedas, not the Gita.

While aspects of the Vedas affirm the ancient caste system and animal sacrifice, they’re intrinsically non-violent when it comes to human affairs. The Gita, on the other hand, is mostly about good people being cheated by bad and the restoration of political, ethical and cosmic balance through the idea of sacred warfare.

If we interpret the Gita literally, it might appear that, in some instances, killing for God is acceptable. All peaceful attempts to resolve a disagreement have failed, and the deity Krishna urges the reluctant hero, Arjuna, to fight. And Arjuna eventually becomes a slayer, par excellence.

However, psychological interpretations of the Gita emphasize interpersonal dynamics and self-growth instead of physical violence. The non-violent Indian hero, Mahatma Gandhi, for instance, once said that the Gita could “untie any spiritual knot.” Here, the warfare depicted in the Gita is really about the struggle between light and dark, good and evil, superior and inferior. This is a healthy interpretation that doesn’t advocate violence but addresses the realities of developmental struggle.

The psychiatrist C. G. Jung upheld a similar perspective in an entirely different context with his intensive psychological study of alchemy. For Jung, the inferior parts of the self are purified through suffering, symbolized by the intense heat applied to raw materials as the alchemists searched for the so-called “philosopher’s stone,” the apparently eternal aspect of the self.

A non-violent, psychological interpretation of the Gita and Jung’s take on alchemy both point to the idea of purification through suffering. However, the Gita could also be seen as legitimizing Holy War (or in Catholic terms, The Just War), and the idea of alchemy doesn’t really fit with some kind of justification for physical violence. So the similarities between Jung’s take on alchemy and psychological interpretations of the Gita end there.

† Moojan Momen, The Phenomenon of Religion: A Thematic Approach, Oxford: Oneworld, 1999, p. 410. For more on world religions and violence, see Crosscurrents.

© Michael Clark

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