A voicehearer’s path ~

Archive for January, 2009

Change ~

deltablueYes, change is the only constant in the Universe. That is one of the most difficult things for us to cope with, most especially as we grow older. We want the security of certain things in our lives remaining constant. That does not happen on this planet, it may not happen anywhere in the Universe. There are references that say that Hashem remains the same forever. That may be quite true, and indeed, I suspect it is, But our understanding of Hashem has changed many times through the ages, and will yet again. Part of that is that we as a race of beings are getting “older” in our understanding of ourselves.  Some say our culture is in it’s teens. Which means we are capable of depth of thought, but not of sustaining depth of being. I can believe that.

All of the pieces parts are there in the Law to show us a way of life that is compassionate and gentle. Yet, because of the various instructions to oust and decimate unlawful peoples we have a perception of Hashem that is harsh and even possibly cruel. Certainly, there is a verse in the Tanach that says Hashem is a jealous G-d. Yet, what is asked of us is a kindness at the level taught by the Buddha some years later in another area of the Globe altogether.

It is in contemplating this factor that I have come to believe that all inspiration, no matter the timing or the person, comes through our own filters, and if we are not absolutely clear, afi50000with no agenda of our own, we will hear what we want to hear. In other words, in order to change our perspective of Hashem, or Moses, or Buddha, or Y’shua, or Mohammed, we may need to change internally enough to hear with the clarity of a clean and polished bell what Spirit has to say to us as individuals.

That requires a change that can only come from within, not from others, not even from Hashem, except that it is the Eternal Spirit that puts the tools in our hands to effect those changes:

In Aramaic, the word “mitzvah” means connection. Here, then, is the next level for understanding the word’s meaning in a modern context. The business of every Jew is to testify to God’s goodness and God’s sovereignty by fashioning our lives in ways of holiness and peace. We connect ourselves to our Creator; we link ourselves to the one who liberated us from slavery, by the way we live our lives. Each deed either strengthens our connection to God, or attenuates that link. There is no neutrality in the world of action: we either weave a web of goodness, with each new action adding a new strand to the fabric of our lives, or we snip away at the weave of righteousness that Judaism establishes in the world. In this second sense, mitzvah isn’t just what you do because God said so. God isn’t a cop, and mitzvot are not simply statutes. We do mitzvot because we seek to allow holiness into our lives.

From a website called Tikkun, to big-blue-marble-transparentheal, repair, and transform the world. This is Judaism today, marvelously translating Hashem’s words to us in a manner that brings out the goodness and love of the One who asks that of us.

Y’shua is taught to have said,

John 14:21, 15:12-13 He that has my commandments and keeps them, he it is that loves me; but he that loves me shall be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself to him. This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this that one should lay down his life for his friends.

It was not Y’shua that taught us to kill one another in the name of religion, we have been doing that for a very long time, much before Moshe, much before the Sumerians. We have an attitude from our very outset that says our own perspective is right, and anyone who disagrees must die. In the days before the Law, this was understandable if only in that no matter who won, there would be a blood bath. It is in the Law that you see an attempt at an orderly means of working things out, at all levels. In fact, I find myself wondering if the laws regarding sacrifice were a concession to the already extant system of appeasing  deity, and rather than make wholesale change that folk would not think came from deity, Hashem toned down the slaughter immensely.  (The Eternal understanding that we are not good at change, eh?)

It is in that little added codicil allowing the very poorest members of society to bring somewhere between 1.5-2.5 gals of flour for a sin offering that we begin to understand that 449146a-i101Hashem may indeed have never needed blood shed to be satisfied. That leads to the conclusion that all of the shedding of blood was for our own need, not Hashem’s, so that we would feel that some greater justice had been served. And the very fact that Hashem does not seem really fond of blood letting at any level makes it even more poignantly our problem, not the Deity’s. I wonder when it will begin to dawn on the world at large that Hashem is quite a bit more civilized than the wild children on this planet?

If, then, we factor in Buddhism, which practices compassion as well as vegetarianism, and is tied to no Deity, but actually allows an individual the choice of whether to follow a deity or not, since the focus is on one’s own eternal happiness rather than service to G-d, we are left with the idea that perhaps there are still a great many changes we need to make altogether.

Blood Sacrifice ~

blood_spatter1

The practice of shedding blood for the appeasement of a god or gods is part of our communal history since long before any human is capable of remembering. We do not have records that go back that far. I watched Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, and the intensity was shocking, and has had me thinking for quite a while about the idea of Y’shua taking on my sins in such a fashion. It broke my heart. I cannot feel that it is just in any way for someone else to suffer for anything I have done. The very violence of the beating, the blood spatter, the pain. I cannot feel that I would allow that, if I must suffer, then I must suffer, but not an innocent. No!

Then I found out that Hashem would not have allowed it anyway. That it was indeed not possible for Hashem to take another’s blood for my shortcomings.

The Bible is clear, and it is consistent. One person cannot die for the sins of another. This means that the guilt from the sins committed by one person cannot be wiped out by the punishment given to another person. First, in Exodus 32:30-35, Moses asks God to punish him for the sin of the Golden Calf, committed by the people. God tells Moses that the person who committed the sin is the person who must receive the punishment. Then, in Deuteronomy 24:16, God simply states this as a basic principle, “Every man shall be put to death for his own sins.” This concept is repeated in the Prophets, in Ezekiel 18 “The soul that sinneth, it shall die… the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.”

In fact, in further investigating that sight, I was reminded that one is allowed to bring a half ephah colonial_wheat_flourof flour if one is unable to afford even a pigeon for the absolution of one’s sins. It is the act of contrition then, that satisfies Hashem, not the act of spilling the blood of one who is not guilty.I must admit to having been greatly relieved that Hashem is more appalled than I at the idea of Y’shua’s having been a sacrifice for my imperfections. Please go to the website above, and investigate further, for if you feel as I do, that no one should have to take on your burdens in such a way, you will be relieved that the just God of the Ivrit does not do this, and it is not part of even the “thinking” of that G-d. In fact you will find that, if you simply stop doing that which is bad in the sight of G-d, and start doing that which G-d considers good, you will be doing all that is required by Hashem. I am most grateful.

All My Relations ~

allmyrelationsThere is a Lakotan phrase which traslates into the words of the title. It is a concept that comes back to me time and time again as I see the news, or when in conversation with others. It doesn’t just mean other humans, either. It means all of life, most especially on this planet, as that is our “neighborhood”. The concept is that all of life is from one source, therefore, all are related, all are “family”, there are really no strangers, there are just relatives to whom you have not been introduced.

I am aware that this is not always a pleasant concept if you extrapolate it completely out to it’s farthest extreme, for it means that one is related to Mother Theresa, St. Pious the pope, a grasshopper, Hitler, Y’shua, Buddha, Mohamed, a butterfly, Jeffrey Dahmer, and all of humanity and beyond. One wouldn’t mind being related to Mother cockroachTheresa, or a butterfly, but what about Dahmer or Hitler, or a cock roach. yuck! But, we must meet the pleasant with the unpleasant.

There is another factor. If I look at Hitler as a brother gone very badly awry, I may still be inclined to stop him any way I can because such horror visited upon humanity must cease, but I quake as I do this, knowing that it is my brother I condemn to death because he has gone horribly wrong in his perceptions and ways. I no longer must be punitive in what I do. I must be kind, and hope that all ends as well as possible for all concerned, for there are no good answers when a human looses their capacity for empathy if they ever had it.

And there, in the word empathy, lies the key to all that comes about. When a human being has no empathy, no capacity to stand in the place of another and experience, even for a moment, the good and the bad of being that other person, there opens an entire array of child-abusedark things that become possible for that human to do, that simply otherwise would not even be on the horizon.

So . . . . .

Can empathy be taught? Is it drummed out of a child by neglect or abuse? How do we find ways for this incredibly necessary concept to become part of all human beings? There, I believe is the place where the teachings of the Masters comes into play. Y’shua and Buddha both taught compassion for all, on a moment by moment basis. Not to just high personages of status or means, but everyone. The beggar on the corner, the child, the stranger, the neighbor, all must be treated with kindness.

And though we cannot allow the murderer access to the tools by which he might return to murder as a way of life, even here there must be compassion, albeit firm with unbending discipline, it is only as we see the wisdom of the masters, it is only as we learn to practice the concept of the Lakota people, the Tatanka Oyate, and see all as our relations that we can begin to hope that someday, somewhere on our planet, there will be a shift in consciousness, and all will understand, Mitakuye Oyasin.

All My Relations, Aha!

Karma ~

dance-of-lifeWhat goes around comes around, i.e. if you don’t want it done to you, don’t do it to someone else, or more positively “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is another of the parallel teachings that Y’shua echoes from the Buddha. It does make a person wonder if he did travel to India or further into Tibet during the missing years. I am not sure, and there is little to support the idea except that his teachings so completely echo the truths of the Buddha who lived some 500 years earlier in the Orient.

The graphic above is my own, called, “The Dance of Life”. It is my interpretation of the Tai Chigolden-key1 Tu, the  symbol of balance that is used in Taoism, and other Eastern philosophies.  Karma, though it easily boils down into the goes around comes around platitude is a bit more complicated than that. But, of course, that’s like saying Y’shua taught only the Golden Rule, which, BTW I think of it more as a Golden Key, as it is a key behavior that leads more clearly to peace and gentleness between peoples than any other teaching. If you treat others with the respect you wish to receive from them, you will lead a peaceful life for the most part.

dharma_wheelBuddhanet.net gives a classic explanation of Karma as it is accepted through most beliefs where Karma is a doctrine. As I understand this explanation, it would seem that Karma then is comparable to Y’shua’s teachings regarding a tree and it’s fruit, a good tree grows good fruit, a bad tree grows bad fruit. So it is not something quite so simple as one would presume from simply “what goes around comes around”, though that is obviously part of it. It would also explain, to a degree, why “The Secret” is an incomplete teaching, as there are many more factors than simply putting your shopping list out to the Universe and getting what you ask for.

There is another factor that this definition speaks of negatively. I do believe in the mercies of a Creator, and I also believe in help from Spirit. So the teachings on Karma, though good teachings, are not all that appears to be out there in the Universe.

Sacrifice ~

egoThere are some occasional hints that Creator considers prayer and praise offerings as significant as any other offering. (See Leviticus 7:12 & 19:24), perhaps even more so. This is something many churches have learned to practice, singing praise songs for a good twenty minutes before anything else begins. But, I want to look at why these should or would be considered a sacrifice to Creator. Throughout the Holy Writs, from Bangkok to Cairo, there is much said about the release and renouncing of the Egoself.

It is, in fact, a difficult thing, dealing with the egoself, that part of us which is the pride of head_and_brainlife. When we believe that we have accomplished all that we have done with no help from other humans or Spirit, we become rather unbearable in our dealings with others. We become “prickly” and “proud”, making no attempt to be diplomatic when speaking or acting out our plans. This is part of human nature, part of the programming in the human brain, taking pride in accomplishment so that we can survive in a tough world. However, it is a bit of programming that needs to be placed in a subordinate roll if we are to function as creatures within a structured society.

Our Creator knows full well how we are made, and I believe this is why there is recognition in the holy writings that we must sacrifice this tendency to pat ourselves on the back and learn to praise, pray and give thanks for all that comes into our lives, and even the opportunity to learn. When we learn to do this, we begin to deal with life through our own spirit, rather than through our own ego. It can be a wonderful experience, as much of the learning that comes through our spirit is intuitive and flows more cleanly between the heart and the head, allowing us to deal in compassion with our fellow travelers.

Sacrificing the ego is not an easy thing, it is the practice of humility, of knowing when to be silent and when to speak. It means working always with an eye toward the needs of others so that they may function and contribute to the “cause” as well as possible. One other thing. Sacrificing our egoself may be more difficult than laying down our physical lives, as that is a once for all sort of move, but sacrificing the self-praise “machine” is an action that must be repeated hour by hour, day by day.

“If you want to reach a state of bliss, then go beyond your ego and the internal dialogue. Make a decision to relinquish the need to control, the need to be approved, and the need to judge. Those are the three things the ego is doing all the time. It’s very important to be aware of them every time they come up.” Deepok Chopra

As Dr. Chopra points out, be careful, you might end up truly happy if you learn to sacrifice the egoself.

Humor ~

oldchurchI spent most of my high school years in a little  church in a small town. I liked many of the other members of my youth group, and one of my mother’s best friends was an elder in that church. The Pastors that came and went were decent people whose main fault was that they took the Bible as a literal truth that must be practiced point by point. {The more I study this rich resrource, the more I find that is an impossibility. Onc can, without doubt or hesitation, most often follow the principles incited, but the literal obedience would have you stoning your  children to death for misbehavior. Perhaps a temptation, but never a possibility.}

I enjoyed that church, and the point of most of the sermons was learning to live a life that hermes1honors Creator. I had only one reservation in that church, and have heard from friends still there that it is better now. There was this hesitation regarding a sense of humor and the appropriateness of laughter because of some faulty translations in the Old Testament. I can be sure they are faulty because, though it is translated as laughter perhaps even appropriately, it is about a humor that hurts others. That is never right for those on a spiritual path.

However, there are places in the psalms that ring with joy, and one is encouraged to make that joyful noise before the Lord. It is impossible to have that kind of joy and not laugh and smile. In the reverse, no humor that makes it’s point through hurting the well-being of another, or taking power over another is part of that joy. In that joy, one cannot take delight in another’s sorrow or trouble, such a reaction to life is not possible when one resides so totally in the Spirit that one has that depth of joy.

Yeah, I kinda hammered that, sorry. But it is necessary to make that distinction. Especially for people like myself. I was reared by a man whose skill with sarcasm was razor edge sharp. I was capable of such wit that I could wound another with a few words. One day I had so wounded a dear friend with my sarcasm that I nearly ruined the friendship, and though she forgave me, it was a while before she could trust me not to hurt her again so deeply. I have only indulged in such repartee (since Spirit brought my shortcoming to my attention) when the person had so completely disregarded the well-being of others around them as to cry to be brought down. {I was more than happy to comply.} There is a time and place for all things, one must be mindful, however, that one will answer for every word that comes from one’s mouth, don’t wound the innocent or those who truly intend good, even when sorely tempted and the path laid out before you.

Just remeber, there is humor that wounds, not to be practiced by those who follow the Ruach Ha’Kodesh, and there is humor that heals, always appropriate, any time of night or day.

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