Month: July 2015
The Invisible Thread, shop part 4
To fully understand the idea that God is our fundamental, nurse we need a completely different mindset. For those who follow Jesus—for Christians, unhealthy we are to be like and have the mind of Christ. For Buddhists, we need the mind of Buddha, whose ideas about enlightenment are very similar to Jesus’ ideas about the intimacy of our relationship with God. Both Jesus and Buddha had a mindful awareness of the universe—of God not only within, but within all things. And more than this, Jesus understood that he and God were the very same substance—as are we all.
When Jesus mentions being one with “the Father,” he means it quite literally. He understood that there was only one ultimate substance in the universe—God, the fundamental string, which created Jesus and his ability to see beyond human turmoil and suffering, just as surely as God the fundamental created you and I—and gave us the same ability to see beyond human turmoil and suffering. It’s simply a matter of connecting to God as deeply as did Jesus. And yes, it is possible. In fact, I believe it’s why we are alive—to connect with God and through our realization of Oneness, completely change the world.
If we think about God as the Invisible Thread, as the string that creates and weaves all of us into this rich tapestry of existence, as a sort of conductor—the conductor of the current that is reality, then indeed, God is always with us, because God is within, as Jesus liked to say. This means that God is with us, everywhere we go.
And if God goes everywhere with me, and we are all woven together by God, then that means wherever we go, we all go together, because we all go with God.
We are all woven together by the Invisible String that is God.
From God, through God, to God, indeed…
God is the totality of all that is, and would be even if there was nothing except God (although there can never be nothing, in truth, because there is always the fundamental, invisible thread of God–always). We are but a small portion of God’s substance.
As there are tiny, invisible energy strings that make up everything that exists, so too are we like tiny little energy strings in the very fabric of the being of God. God is then both the fabric and the weaver of our existence, making us not only in God’s image, but out of the very nature and material of God’s being, both physical and metaphysical.
We are the physicality of God’s metaphysical nature. That is absolutely proven in the incarnation of Jesus—and the incarnation of every single one of us.
The Invisible Thread, part 3
It is highly likely that energy is the fabric of the universe—both the creative force and the force that holds it all together. Isn’t that how God is described in the Bible, and even in literature that predates the Bible? Isn’t that how we’ve traditionally thought of God? As creator and sustainer, the force that literally breathes life into us?
The difference between the way we might (and probably should) think of God as creator and sustainer today, and the way we’ve thought of God in the past—and it’s a biggie—is that God as the fundamental, invisible thread, as energy, makes God a very intimate part of us, rather than the big man in the sky, overseeing everything and pulling our strings like a cosmic puppet master. God is not a puppet master, nor is God our judge and jury. God is the substance of our souls, and our souls are as intrinsic a part of our nature as our blood cells. There is no separating us from God, except that we think so.
Even if string theory ultimately remains unproven, as a way for us to expand our notions about the very being of God, it’s incredibly helpful to think of God as the vibrating energy that creates and sustains everything. This helps us get over the idea that God is an alien from planet G, out there somewhere, who gets angry when we don’t worship him and rewards us when we do everything he says—and what God wants us to do depends upon who is interpreting God’s will. It’s a very slippery slope that’s caused all sorts of trouble in the world, and kept our image of God limited to a white man with a beard, sitting in the sky throwing lightning bolts around.
Thinking of God as the fundamental string—a vibrating sound out of which all creation is formed, allows us to get over the ancient patriarchal model of God, and imagine the very essence of God in everything that exists—male, female, human, plant, animal; in every color and gloriously diverse ethnicity, no matter what sort of name we invent to talk about God or describe the religious styles we invent to experience God (and we should be experiencing, not worshipping God, but that’s another column).
God as the fundamental string demands we have respect for every creature, not because we’re afraid of Divine retribution, but because we respect the Divine in everything we see, touch, taste, hear and smell. We experience the divine in every plant and every planet. If we think of God within and as everything, then when we abuse another human, we are abusing God. When we abuse the planet, we are abusing God. Hopefully, thinking of God as the basic building block of all and every reality helps us think in a more inclusive, loving manner.
To be continued…
The Invisible Thread, cialis part 2
For people who believe God is the creator and sustainer of the universe, buy viagra God is the fundamental building block, sickness the foundation that underlies both quantum and Newtonian physics—what scientists might call the fundamental string.
The unifying foundation scientists are working with right now is known as string theory. In a nutshell, the theory is that everything that exists is made of atoms (which we know is true) and every atom is made of smaller and smaller particles (which we also know is true) until you finally get down to what is essentially an energy vibration that looks like a string (this is where we run into theory). Hence the name string theory.
The problem is that we have yet to find any physical evidence of strings, probably because we simply don’t have tools that can see that small. Yet. There are also some mathematical dilemmas for string theorists, like the propensity for the theory to create ever more dimensions. Right now, string theory describes 11 dimensions (we live in four dimensions), but they keep adding more and more. For those who think string theory is bunk, this seemingly never-ending need to add dimensions shows the flaw in the theory. But what is wrong with describing an infinite number of dimensions?
Many modern theologians contend that the unified field Einstein looked for, and that many quantum physicists today call strings, is the energy of God, and God is ultimately energy. And is not energy infinite? Ignoring the question of consciousness for a moment, if God is pure energy, and that energy creates parallel realities, why must there be a finite number of realities? I think that eventually, the string theorists will admit there are infinite dimensions, and that each dimension is, in fact, its own universe. In fact, it is probably that every universe is full of parallel universes.
All the invisible little energy strings, in every inconceivable reality, combine to make larger things like neutrons, electrons, and atoms. Atoms combine to make trees, fish, water, humans, planets, solar systems and universes—multiple universes. All of it is the very being of God.
The implication for humans is that we are multi-dimensional beings (really, the implication is that everything is multi-dimensional). Perhaps the stories about Jesus transcending and resurrecting were our ancestors way of describing a spiritual truth they simply did not have the science to describe. We are energy beings, and because we are energy beings, we are always connected to the source of our energy: God. Furthermore, we are always connected to everything and everyone else that exists–in this and every possible dimension, whether there are 11 or 11×10infinite. Realizing how intimately we are connected to each other should change the way we treat each other, because at the most fundamental level of existence, we are one.
To be continued…
The Invisible Thread, drugstore part 1
Richard Rohr, sales the famous Franciscan author and spiritual guru, talks a lot about God as the “unified field.” This unified field is what connects everything physical and metaphysical (and here the metaphysical is not supernatural, it’s simply “meta” in its truest sense—that which underlies everything else). For Rohr and other people of faith, especially those of us with both mystical and scientific leanings, the unified field is God.
Einstein spent much of the latter half of his life looking for the scientific equivalent of this unified field—the force that connects electricity, magnetism, gravity, time and space—the meta that underlies all the natural forces.
In his day, quantum physics was a new discipline, and some of its important theories seemed astonishing to Einstein (and Heisenberg and Planck and the other geniuses who were starting to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics). You see, quantum mechanics creates a bit of a schism in the scientific world.
For centuries, physicists operated under the notion that Newton’s laws described everything in the universe. We all remember some Newtonian physics from elementary school: the way levers work, action and reaction, gravity, magnetism, electricity—these are all described by Newtonian physics.
The problem is that with the discovery of atoms and things smaller than atoms (protons, neutrons, electrons, quarks, gluons, leptons, tachyons etc.), Newtonian laws no longer worked. This is how the science of quantum physics developed.
Quantum physicists postulate, discover and state laws about the subatomic world—a world very different from the big physical world we inhabit; a world that does not obey the laws of Newtonian physics. Quantum physicists use terms like “spooky action at a distance,” which is about as un-scientific sounding as it gets, but which aptly describes the way atomic particles interact with each other even when separated by thousands of miles.
The problem is that the laws of the quantum world and the laws of the Newtonian world don’t necessarily jive. There are too many fundamentals. You don’t want to build the foundation of your house out of a combination of beach balls, bricks, toothpicks, glass bottles, etc. You want a single, solid foundation. Right now, there is no single, solid foundation that unites the quantum and Newtonian worlds. The laws of these worlds don’t necessarily contradict each other, but it’s kind of like having a house built on more than one foundation—the laws of one do not necessarily apply to the other.
So, for a long time now, physicists have been struggling with a way to find and prove what it is that ties the big, Newtonian physical world, and the small, quantum world together, because you can’t have a universe that operates under two sets of different laws.
This means that Newtonian and quantum physics are subsets of a larger law—that there is a single foundation upon which both the big laws of Newton and the smaller laws of Einstein are built.
Any idea what that single foundation might be?
To be continued..
The Centered Self
The point of religion should be to help us center ourselves in God, ambulance and therefore center us within the world as beacons of hope and help. As each one of us becomes more spiritually centered in the presence of the Infinite Unifier, the world transforms away from war and greed towards peace and prosperity for all—universally. Lynching, racism, torture, war, “accidental” deaths in prison cells or the back of a police van, hoarding and profit margin all become things of the past, as we find a religion that centers our self rather than making us self-centered. Unfortunately, religion today seems to be as much a corporate entity as Ford or Frigidaire. Is religion a wholly owned subsidiary of the global corporation, rather than a Holy owned subsidiary of God?
Perhaps the problem is the way we define religion. We think of the Catholic Church, the Baptist Church, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, etc. as religions. See the pattern here? Religion is most closely associated with institutions and the preservation of those institutions. Religion is not an institution, though. It is a set of practices that enhance beliefs that lead us to a different world-view, one that never, ever excludes anyone from God’s love.
One of the ways we can test our spiritual progress is by critically self-examining what we believe in. If there is even a molecule of hatred or exclusion in our belief system, we still have work to do—and lots of it. The more we become centered in God, the more difficult it becomes for us to hate another being, because we have begun to realize there is no other being: there is only God, in a multitude of incarnations.
Religious institutions can help us achieve this goal. Religion in general gets a bum rap today, and somewhat deservedly so. Institutions often lose sight of why they were created in the first place. As people of faith it should cause us pain and concern when our institutions run off the rails. Jesus, as a loving and faithful Jew, was concerned about the religious institution of his time, which is why he’s so often portrayed in heated debates with the religious leadership of that era.
Our religions, whether Native American, African, Judeo-Christian, Islamic, Wiccan—whatever, all have the same original intention: to raise people’s conscious awareness of something greater in their lives, a presence beyond the present, a presence we can experience that changes the very fabric of our being. Whatever we call the energy that goes by many names, humans have always had the concept there is something more—some force, a force of love, present in the universe.
We created religion and religious institutions to share these feelings and teachings with each other. We still come together to help each other center in the presence of God, which takes us beyond our self-centered nature. I know we can all turn on the TV right now and see someone preaching about all the gifts with which God will bless you if you’re “saved.” But God is never about the self, God’s about being selfless. God is never about getting what’s mine, God’s about giving to and for others. Religion should never teach pulling yourself up by your bootstraps or, “I’ve got mine, you get yours.” Rather, religion should always and forever be about making sure those most hungry are fed first, by first making sure we are centered in God, rather than our foolish selves.
Meditation: Center me in a higher love.
Source of all light, tadalafil
Creator of all being,
we stand in awe
of your gracious love.
to look for
all around us:
from the birth of a star
to the birth of a child;
from the creation of a universe
to the creation of a new idea.
we give thanks
for the knowledge
and the inspiration
Make your presence
known to us today
as we come to connect
with your Infinite Spirit.
As you are the breath
in everything that lives,
also be our sight,
so that we might see the world—
and our relationship to you,
in new and miraculous ways.
in the many names
of the ones
who constantly shows us
new ways to see the world,
and you within it.
The Perversion of Spiritual Thought, mind part 1
For the last several decades (actually, this has probably been going on forever) there has been a trend in which the mainstream pop culture takes some spiritual idea and twists it into a “new” way to achieve wealth, fame, and power. Practices meant to connect us more deeply with the naturally supernatural that is God the Universe become nothing more than wish-fulfillment mantras. From The Secret, to the absolute perversion of ancient Jewish mystical thought that is Madonna’s “Kabballah,” to the Creflo A. Dollars and Joel Osteens who insist God will give you everything you ask for if you just say the right things, do the right things, or pray for the right things, spiritual disciplines originally intended to help humans rise to a different state of consciousness—to a new way of being human, are being peddled like the stuff you buy on late night TV to repair scratches and dents on your car: The power of God can fill in the cracks in your soul if you’ll only send $19.95 to your favorite huckster.
The first lie is that there are cracks in your soul. Your soul is fine. It’s not a separate part of your being, that’s dualistic thinking. There is only one substance, and it pervades every molecule of our being—it is every molecule of our being. Mind and body are one, dancing together in ways we simply do not understand. We don’t need to fix our spiritual cracks. We are where we need to be, here and now. Paying attention to where we are here and now is what helps us ascend spiritually. It’s not that we’re in a bad place, or that we’re fallen beings. We are, like all things in the universe, works in progress. Paying attention to that fact is called mindfulness—and that’s exactly the latest spiritual practice being espoused as the great panacea to all human woes.
You know something is seriously wrong when Fortune 500 companies start talking in the mainstream media about how “mindfulness” has helped their employees achieve their goals, or when the coaches of football teams attribute their winning season to the practice of mindfulness. Now, I do not doubt for a minute that having employees and athletes practice this ancient art has helped. After all, mindfulness in its pure form is a way to center one’s self in the flow of the universe. It creates a more attentive personality. But, the point of mindfulness is not to achieve a team win or a successful product launch, or anything other than connectedness with God, or for the non-theist, detachment from the things of the world. How ironic that this practice meant to detach us from materialism is used now to enhance and even encourage… materialism.
Originally, mindfulness was used as a meditative aid. When I speak with people who are just starting to meditate, they often complain that they can’t “turn off” their thoughts. I’ve been meditating for years and I still have this problem. Only, it’s not a problem. Mindfulness techniques were developed to help us focus on our thoughts, to be in the present moment as an act of mindful meditation. During meditation, our minds are going to wander. If we gently acknowledge that fact—if we’re mindful to the thoughts, we can simply let them go. The Hindu mantra is be here now.
Eventually, mindfulness techniques teach us to focus on something like our breathing. And by shifting our focus to breathing, our mind stops wandering. By being only in the present moment, we focus and allow the energy of the universe—God for us theists, to flow through us in a very palpable and powerful way. It begins to change who we are and the way we see and react to the world around us. Mindfulness as a spiritual aid makes us aware of the gross inequalities and prejudices in our world. It makes us desire not wealth and fame, but a world in which all humans are treated with love and respect, where everyone is cared for, healthy, fed, respected as a being of God, as a molecule in the very being of God. It is oneness we are after, realization that our dualistic thinking has corrupted us to the point that we see a bunch of individual human beings on the planet, rather than a single aspect of God.
Mindfulness is an amazing technique that we can practice throughout the day by simply remembering to be here now. It will remind us that this present moment—whether reading Intersect or standing in line at the grocer, is exactly where we are meant to be, and that the people we interact with throughout the day are also where they are supposed to be, struggling with their issues as we struggle with ours. Perhaps, if we are a little more mindful of each other, some of the tensions we all experience throughout the day can dissolve into nothingness, and we can help each other achieve a lighter sense of being, focused more on the breath of each moment than the granting of tomorrows wishes.
Meditation: Be here now.
Jesus the Cynic, sildenafil part 2
We tend to think that the word “cynic” today has a very different meaning than it did in Jesus’ time. We use the word derogatorily. But in truth, treat it was the same thousands of years ago. When we call someone “cynical,” we usually mean that they are people with a distrust of others; people who think human institutions area always corrupt. A cynical person sees the glass as half-empty, for example. A very cynical person sees the glass as half full, only it’s half full of poison. I’ll admit to being a little cynical. I think Jesus was as well. And Paul, and anyone who has had a glimpse of a world conducted by God’s love rather than human greed.
The word cynical is gleaned from the activities of Cynic philosophers way back in the day. The name is derived from the Ancient Greek ??????? (kynikos), meaning “dog-like.” Cynics were likely first called “dogs” because they taught in the streets rather than the “proper” philosophical schools of the time. The term was meant as an insult for their rejection of conventional manners, and their decision to live on the streets. Diogenes, in particular, was referred to as the “Dog”, a distinction he seems to have reveled in.
Cynics, Jesus, Paul, the disciples, and Gandhi for that matter, chose to live in what looked like poverty, railing against what they saw as corrupt social values and institutions. They urged people to reject money and live in smaller, more communal groups. The early Cynics, who I think influenced the thinking of Jesus, were often ascetics—people who pursued spiritual enlightenment by abstaining from worldly pleasures.
Notably, Buddha (500 years before Jesus) grew up in an ascetic tradition, famously studying in every major ascetic school in India before proclaiming them all a load of crap (Buddha the Cynic). Yet, he still found enlightenment sitting quietly under the Bodhi tree—rejecting the ways of the world and teaching that the path to higher being is the road less traveled, the road leading away from all worldly ideas and ideals. It’s not a coincidence that Jesus often goes out into the desert, or to a distant shore, or into a garden, to be away from people and instead surrounded by the being of God found in nature.
The spiritual path is difficult, and it’s easy to be cynical, thinking the world will never get better, or worse, that it cannot get better until some sort of magical “end time” when God destroys everything except the few thousand people who have said the right magic words (how’s that for cynicism?). It’s easy to be cynical when your spiritual teacher, the person you call “anointed,” is crucified for crimes against the state. It’s easy to be cynical when your leader—a pastor, a preacher, an activist, a man of color, is murdered for demanding equal treatment for people whose skin color is not white.
It’s easy to be cynical, and it’s probably healthy to hold our social systems to a higher standard. But cynicism can also cause us to lose hope altogether, to reject the ways of the world and live alone. I don’t think this is what Diogenes had in mind, nor Socrates, nor any of the great Greek Cynics. Rather, they wanted to call attention to a corrupt world and the corrupt nature of human beings, in order for us to be more consciously aware that things need to change. In this way, they absolutely laid the groundwork for those who came after, like Buddha, Jesus, and Martin Luther King, Jr., and all of us who continue to fight for a more just, loving, less material, more ethereal society.
Meditation: Connect me to a higher love.
Jesus the Cynic, viagra sale part 1
In recent years, sickness archaeological digs in Galilee have caused scholars to rethink Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. While it is still considered a backwater, it was only four miles away from Sepphoris, an important cultural center. Also, the entire region would have been fairly Hellenized after Alexander the Greek conquered Palestine in the Fourth Century, BCE.
After Alexander died his kingdom was divided in two. The Ptolemies received Egypt and most of the southern territories, and the Seleucids received Babylonia and most of the North. Both of these kingdoms were Greek (Hellenistic). In the middle—Galilee, the Jewish people were allowed to rule themselves, but the Hasmonean dynasty was very devoted to Hellenistic culture as well.
All this is to say that Jesus grew up in a very Greco-Roman world, one that was culturally, politically and philosophically sophisticated. Nazareth is often derided as a backwater, a place where no-goodniks prospered (John 1.46). While this may have been true of Nazareth, the area of Galilee itself was home to some very important Greco-Roman cultural centers, especially Sepphoris. The dominant Jewish culture of the Galilee was infused with Greco-Roman art and entertainment. Recently, archaeologists uncovered an amphitheater in Sepphoris, so it is very likely Jesus saw plays and “historical” reenactments as a youth. He would have seen—and been influenced by—Greek philosophers. The possibility he at least understood the Greek language is high. He may not have been able to speak it, but if he did go to see entertainment and do business for his father in Sepphoris, both of which are highly probable, then he at least understood some Greek.
Why do we care? Because there was an influential Greek school of philosophy called cynicism. The Cynics believed that the purpose of life was to live in virtue, in agreement with nature. This meant that our natural state was to use our gift of reason and reject wealth, power, fame, etc. Cynics were to lead simple lives, free of all possessions. They gave away their fortunes to preach on the streets of Rome, living—like the Buddhists before them (and Jesus after them), from the generosity of passers-by. The Cynics were a counter-cultural movement that offered people happiness and freedom from suffering.
By now, this should sound very familiar. These ideas made their way into First Century CE Judaism, and are echoed in the teachings of Jesus and the Christianity that was developed by Paul. Was Jesus a Cynical philosopher? Well, like the rest of the Jewish culture of his time, he was probably heavily influenced by their ideas. The Cynics were not fans of the Roman Empire, and like Jesus, they urged people to resist the trappings of the Empire not through violence, but through peaceful non-compliance.
It’s so hard to be non-compliant though, isn’t it? While our technology has changed, our lifestyle is strikingly similar to that of ancient Rome. We are kept fat and happy by a false sense of abundance. The idea that buying more stuff (and more often) will make us happier is pounded into our heads, an idea both Jesus and the Cynics tell us is a fool’s game. We are hypnotized by entertainment and fed propaganda from all sides of the political spectrum. The truth is more relative today than it was in the First Century, and lies are more pervasive and more difficult to discern.
That’s why it’s so important to see Jesus as more than an idol, more than a supernatural being, more than simply the “son of God” (which in his era was a political, not a theological statement). In fact, in his time, calling Jesus “son of God” was the ultimate form of non-compliance. Jesus teaches us that non-compliance with the empire is possible, but unlike the cynics, it takes more than pure reason—it takes God. Where Jesus and the Cynics part company is in their interpretation of how we resist the empire. For the Cynics, it was pure reason. For Jesus, it was a combination of reason and relationship with God—and reason could (and he would likely say should) bring about relationship with God.
It’s become unfashionable to talk about God, and I understand the multitude of reasons that’s happened. But if we can start to understand God as a presence within, rather than a being somewhere “out there,” we can begin to understand what Jesus was trying to teach us, and how to change the world by embracing completely alternative economic, political, social, and agricultural systems. Like the Cynics so long ago, we too should be working to create systems based on virtue, which comes from spiritual growth, and which are sustainable because they are simply reasonable.
Meditation: Free me from the shackles of Global Empire, so I might free others from the chains that bind.
God who is
and is within
all being, pilule
help us experience
in every person,
in every animal,
in every blade of grass
and flower we see.
[silent mantra: I am one]
Open our minds
to a deeper understanding
of each other,
by helping us realize
we are all,
We are one.
[silent mantra: We are one]
by being love.
see that there
is no “us” and “them,”
our infinitely creative God,
manifest and real
in each of us.
[silent mantra: We are one]
Wake us up!
Make our tough hearts tender!
Make us instruments of your peace.
In your many names we pray.
[silent meditation time]