A voicehearer’s path ~

Archive for the ‘path’ Category

Timelessness ~

Those who know me, know that I am not a great fan of the Apostle Paul. The canonization of his letters has resulted in folks treating his words as though they were “gospel”( at least as it suits them). I see him as an Evangelist, and quite flawed human being. He was quite spiritual, so some of his teachings have value, but, just because he wrote something does not mean that is the view a person should have regarding anything within the church. He was extremely human!

That being said, I would like to look at one of his teachings that holds a beauty for me and for all who read it. He wrote; “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, teachability and self-control.” There are many teachings on the web regarding this passage, but it still seems to get ignored by those who would have you take a more aggressive perspective of your faith. Yet, it is here, in this passage, that Paul seems to have utterly been in obedience to the Holy Spirit whose work can be seen the world over.

This passage would fit well in a Buddhist monastery, in an Ashram, in a shul, anywhere one is taught to honor the Highest and Best. It is simply stated, yet encompasses all the “virtues” needed to show that the Holy Spirit is at work in your life. It is when I see this “fruit” growing in any life, no matter what faith, that I know I am interacting with one truly walking the Path set out by my teacher, Y’shua. It is true, he was not the only one to teach this path, nor was he the first, but it is through him that I learned of the path, so I honor him as my Master Teacher.

Getting back to Paul for a minute, much of what he taught was for that time only, and not of the timeless nature of Y’shua’s teachings.It is in that vein that I see Paul’s words on homosexuality, on the submission of women to men, and on the manner of dress a person should follow. You do not see these things addressed in Y’shua’s teachings, he was mindful that centuries beyond his earthly walk, there would be those seeking a path to holy living, therefore keeping his teachings succinct and to the point of addressing the work of the Holy Spirit throughout time. Paul’s words sometimes held that sense of timelessness, as with this passage, yet, he spoke also of the needs in that time of the churches he founded, very anchored in that time and space, and therefore, simply a reference to us 2,000 years hence: good to study, but not a guide for living.

It is in my studies of other faiths that I realized the difference between the timeless teachings, good for all of us on the Path, and the timely teachings, good only for the time in which they were written. It is here, rather than in any “Sunday school” or church that I began to see the extreme value of Y’shua’s teachings on Love. And to belabor a point, he was not teaching about romantic love, but about the deep, from the very depths of your being caring for the plight of others you would meet on the journey. We are to be compassionate toward all souls, not just those who happen to agree with us, or share a moment of epiphany with us. We are here to learn how to truly love.

Book Burning ~

Gads! The point of book burning, in a day of mass produced books and internet publishing, is completely lost on me. All you are doing is making a statement that you don’t like what is written in the book, and there are more effective ways of doing that. The simplest of all being to start your own blog. (There are so many blogs in existence at the moment that one person’s words get lost in the many that are published, but, hey, my neighbor has a blog, why not me?)

If you will notice, though, most of the books from the first to now that get burned are of a religious nature. (Hitler had a bent that was more wide spread, but we can always hope he was a true anomaly.) When it wasn’t religious writings that were being burned, it was often scientific journals and papers that challenged the seat of power of a religion, so, direct or not, there is a connection.

Recently, a proponent of Christianity, (not a mainline preacher, let me be clear) is said to have burnt 10 copies of the Quran. His message, apparently, that this book did more harm than good. Now, I do not practice the Muslim faith, nor intend to in this lifetime, but, even though there are practices among the Muslims that I don’t care for; the veiling of women being primary; there are many teachings in the Quran that do well to be read by any peace loving servant of the Most High. A direct quote from a translation of the Quran, And what will explain to you what the steep path is? It is the freeing of a (slave) from bondage; or the giving of food in a day of famine to an orphan relative, or to a needy in distress. Then will he be of those who believe, enjoin fortitude and encourage kindness and compassion.” Chapter 90, Verses 12-17 teaches the very thing that is the cornerstone of everything I stand for. How can I revile such a book?

All I would ask of any faith would be that compassion be one of the true cornerstones in the practice of that faith. It would seem that that particular requirement is met in the text of the Quran. So why burn it? What was the point in burning 10 copies of a book that has many thousand copies dispensed throughout the world? It cannot be in the hope that folks will not read it. In fact, the reverse is true of many of my contemporaries, put a book on the banned list, and we will read it just to find what you would burn in it. One must presume, since the man calls himself a Christian, that part of the point was to draw folks away from this particular path. Why? The mainline Islamic teachers do not espouse the flaming rhetoric of the jihadists, and furthermore, the more I explore this faith, the more I see that much of the fiery spewings are in all likelihood, misdirection from the “Great Jihad” an intensely personal battle that has nothing to do with taking up arms against one’s fellow man.

I guess the question is, since the preacher wants a reaction, how do we react? I wasn’t going to spend anything on books this month, but it seems that I will just have to go out and buy a paper copy of the Quran, my computer version won’t make quite the same statement about my thoughts on burning books.

The Eagle ~

The Golden Eagle is the messenger from Creator to the people, according to Native Practice and legend. It is a beautiful bird, being large, up to 15 pounds, and having up to a 7 and a half foot wing span. They are just gorgeous in flight, wheeling and turning with a grace that touches the heart. The Eagle as a totem is awesome, and those who have this totem have guidance from step one if they will take it.

I have had the blessings of learning from a Wichasha Wakan (holy man) whose totem was the Golden Eagle. Vernal Cross was the teacher at the Sun Dance at Salt Creek for several years, and an excellent guide to Spirit in all facets of life. The lessons I would bring home from the Sun Dance would often take the entire year to process.

Some of those lessons were as big as learning the deepest meaning of a phrase (Mitakuye Oyasin) and that it meant that we are all related, four footed, winged, creepy crawlers, stone and tree people, all are related. Some of the lessons were little in scope, learning the ways of getting along in an atmosphere where cultures meet and sometimes clash over little things. (BTW, that always seems the way of things, the little things will clog the wheels of progress much quicker than the big).

That is the medicine of Eagle, seeing the details in the Big Picture. It can be rather overwhelming to work with. It is not my medicine, I carry mouse medicine in the East, and am inclined to focus on the small rather than the large,  seeing things through the eyes of those who can see the big picture can make a mouse want to crawl back in the hole and hide. But, it was good experience, and I would not trade those lessons for anything.

If you have the chance to learn from one of the sacred teachers, I would counsel you to do all in your power to do so. Be sure that it is a Native teacher, who learned from a Native teacher. I don’t want to disparage those who have learned from new age teachers, much of the knowledge will be good. It is simply that, if you learn from someone who had as their teacher the traditional teachers of their tribe, you are at least less likely to get mixed teachings that come from all over the globe. I say this as a “for instance”; the word “shaman” is not from Native lore, it comes from Norther Europe. The beliefs and teachings are similar, but when you hear a Native Teacher use that term, you know they have not been taught by one of the Original People of Turtle Island.

That is why I would not take on teaching a student my ways. I have been taught by teachers from many walks, and would not be able to give you the truest teachings of the People. Those who have come to me for spiritual insight are shown from the beginning that my ways are a mix of different cultures and traditions, and by no means should be used as an example of The Beauty way of the Native People. Try to correct a Holy person with ,”But, Sumariel said”, and they will ask you who the heck she is. And they would be right. What I share here is from many traditions, and from my own experience, I would never want you to correct a traditional teacher with something I shared with  you.

If you have the chance to work with an Eagle Wishasha Wakan, please take that chance, with humility and grace, for they will be able to teach you much about yourself and the world around you!

 

Heartbreak ~

In looking back at my path these several years, I find myself looking with melancholy at the transformation from innocent faith; in God, in Doctrine, in other humans to have interpreted what they saw and heard correctly, and in the Church, to a perhaps wiser (no guarantees), certainly sadder, older believer in God, though not in God as presented. I am not sure, in that long look, that what I have found is just for my own benefit, or is to be shared with others. This blog is probably the extent of that sharing, though I have shared with others in my circle of friends.

I miss the old days. I miss the days when I could sing a hymn and not feel a cringe at the theology of the lyrics. I miss the simplicity of the days when it was just “Me and Jesus”, yeah, when we had our own thing going. I look with longing at the innocent faces of the children singing “Jesus Loves Me”, and ache for those days.

Do I still believe Jesus loves us? Well, that’s complicated. First, there’s the fact that his name was most likely Y’shua, or possibly even Mishe, for the name Jesus(Greek), or Y’shua(Hebrew) is symbolic and means savior, so it might have been changed to fit the story. Do I believe the teacher we know as Jesus would have loved me? Actually, yes, he was a teacher of unconditional love, so I still hold that thought dear to my heart. Do I believe that he taught that he, himself, was the “I Am”? No, I do not. I believe he taught of the “I Am” that she, yes she (check Proverbs chapter 8), was present in every moment of life? Yes, I do. Do I believe that it was his intent to form a new religion? No, not even for a moment. First, there is a prohibition against such in the Tanakh, and he taught obedience to the Law so thoroughly that we were to walk in unconditional love, thus fulfilling all the Mitzvot having to do with our fellow beings on this planet. Even to the point of saying that not one jot or tittle of the Law would pass away until all came to pass.

Do I believe Jesus was one with the Father? Yes, of course, in so far as those of us who act of one heart are at one with one another. He taught constantly of Hashem (The Name, YHWH) that that presence loves us and loved us always, now and forever. He felt that love, and acted in that love. Therefore he was at one with Hashem. Do I believe that the only way to come to the Father is through Y’shua? NO! I believe that the way to the Father is through the “I Am”, the very near, very here, presence of God Very God. If that Spirit guides you, you will live a compassionate life, caring deeply for all beings your life touches. I believe that that is the criterion heaven uses for whether we get to go home, and when we get to go home.

Yes, I have come to believe in reincarnation. *Gasp* I know, leaves me out of a lot of Christian conversation, doesn’t it? So, you see, my faith has gotten quite a bit more complicated at the same time it’s gotten simpler. I believe the only thing required is compassion, IJohn4:7-8, I believe that nothing else really matters. All the ceremonies are for the sake of man, not the sake of God. All the fancy buildings and garments are for the sake of man, not the sake of God.Please believe me when I say I like the fancy ceremonies, I often attend high Mass at Christmas, just because it is a beautiful ceremony, and puts one in the Christmas Spirit. But, it isn’t for God that I do that, God doesn’t need me to attend a ceremony to be in the mood to love me, that’s always and forever. God loves us all that way. Every moment of every day. Even when we are broken and in need of severe repair, (which is most, if not all, of the time).

I am also certain that it is not necessary to have a particular religion to obey God. A heart that wills to do good to one’s fellows, and holds no guile, is a heart that will be going home. So, yes, I miss the simple faith of my childhood, and wish I was back there at times, but my faith is actually simpler now, so, perhaps, it doesn’t matter, I can enjoy all the ceremony, knowing God loves each of us with or without all the fancies. I guess, with all that I have learned and seen, mayhap I should  simply count my blessings that I still have faith in the One.

 

 

Geeez, I can’t spell!!!!

Just say NO!

To Fundamentalism of any stripe. I spent 10 years in the Fundamentalist movement. Pentecostal to be exact, there were many things I loved about the fellowship, and many things I absolutely hated about the positions my fellow “fundies” would take regarding others and and the command to love. I read articles by “fundies” every once in a while, just to remind myself of what I walked away from. One of their most common comments is that every other stance regarding Biblical or other references is that anything that isn’t of their thinking is “watered down”. I have to laugh at that, it’s a painful laugh, but it is definitely a laugh.

I often quote First John, chapter 4, verses 7 & 8 as my favorite verse in the New Testament. {Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He who does not love does not know God.} It is the gospel of compassion that most fundamentalists consider “watered down”. Yet, it is the command to love that is the very hardest command, in any faith, that most humans find to obey. Me included. Genuine love is not for the weak minded, it requires caring about your fellow humans on a level that sees no stranger in an unknown face.

I get frustrated with the constant quoting of Paul’s comments in Romans on sin, that were meant to simply point out our frailties, but are used to hammer others more often than to take a scorching moral inventory of one’s own faults. Yet, I must remind myself that it was Paul that wrote one of the loveliest passages anywhere in sacred writings, i.e. First Corinthians, Chapter 13.

1 Corinthians 13

Love

1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

That entire passage speaks to what love requires of each of us who would practice the path of compassion. If you think it’s a watered down, “namby pamby” way to live, try it for a couple of months, it will be anything but easy. When you have lived with that as your goal for many years, it is then you can talk to me about “watered down” scripture.

I do want to point out that Paul went too far in his inventory of sin, making it easy for those who follow most of that list to disparage folks who live alternative lifestyles. He touched on things the original teacher he professes left alone. If your finger is not pointing at yourself with most of that list, you have no right to quote it to others who do not live your way. Romans Chapter 8 begins with “There is no condemnation now, for those who live in Christ Jesus, (or for other faiths, the spirit of compassion) for the law of love has set me free from the law of sin and death.” I am well aware that it is much easier to expound on the “law of sin and death” when working with others than it is to live by the “Law of Love”. Until you can live by the “Law of Love”, to profess that you know God may, indeed, be an exaggeration.

What to teach Children?

Gads, has anyone found the parent’s manual for raising kids yet? Why won’t one manual work for all children? Aye, there’s the rub, isn’t it? We are all so similar, yet each of us has a personality even from birth, so that no one set of “rules” works for all. If we believe the Bible, even the first parents fouled up, as one brother got so angry he killed the other brother, so how do we hope to “do it right”, and rear children that will prosper in their own right and be kind to others? How do we take measure of what our child will need the most as they move from one stage of growth to the next? And, how do we compensate for our own brokenness, and not pass our glitches on to our children? And how do we meet the needs of our babies if we are so broken that we cannot even see past our own glitches?

If I really had the answers to all those questions, I could make a mint, don’t you think? Unfortunately, we can only do the best we can with the tools we are given. So, where do we find the tools we need? Are they in the Bible? Are those tools in some other “Sacred Writ”?  Well, not that I have found, at least not so far. So, does modern psychiatry have the answers? Possibly, though even here, not all as the thrust of psychiatry is mending the broken people after they are injured, not preventing the injuries in the first place. But, I have yet to meet a parent that cares that doesn’t want their children to do better and be better people than they were. And that, in a nutshell, seems to be the key. How much does the parent care about the child?

In my own life, I have experienced one thing that seems to hold true for others as well. If one’s parents can convey, through their own trials and difficulties, that they love us with all they have to give, we may, with much soul searching of our own, survive their mistakes and actually prosper as people. It seems to be that, if we do not believe our parents loved us, we cannot believe we are lovable at all. Ouch! If that is the case, then the most important thing, before we do anything else, is to do our best to be sure our children know we love them. If we can do that one thing, then, perhaps, they will be able to sort out the rest as they mature.

Am I sure about this? No, but I am sure that they will find the rest of the basic rules as they go along, after all, we learn in kindergarten to share, to be fair, and not to lie, cheat or steal. And though those are things that parents should try to teach, they will be reinforced along the way by society’s institutions, so that the “rules of engagement” will be part of the child’s thought process as they move into adulthood. But, nobody else besides the parent can provide that one basic ingredient that seems to make life worth living. LOVE!

Dr. Joyce Brothers, in an article about our love map, why we love who we love, addresses the influence of parents on our ability to love and be loved. (I found this at Reader’s Digest, rd.com, the article may have been published elsewhere first, that used to be the case with the Digest, though I cannot say with this article, as there was no reference to another publication) I have always liked Dr. Brothers, but I do want you to be aware that pop psychiatry can only go so deep, you must seek out your own references to go further with the subject. Here she explains some basics that are necessary for us to do the best we can for our children in this primary area of parenting.

I wish I knew of a manual for the rest, I don’t think it exists, but, if it did or does, I hope to find it, and give you a link, as I have yet to find any easy answers from anyone anywhere on how to do it right, without making mistakes along the way. Good luck, and let me know, if you find that manual, I will refer to it here.

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The Sparrow

I have been contemplating for some time the whole thing about the “Good News”. I do not believe Jesus was telling people that his death on the cross was going to save them, so what was HE talking about when he spoke of the “Good News”? Well, actually, that doesn’t take a whole lot to think about. What was the thrust of his entire ministry? The very here, very near, very now presence of God very God in the role of loving parent. Every time he spoke that was recorded in the four extant gospels, that was the subject, or so much a part of the subject as to be completely integral with it.

OH!

Yes! God as loving parent. Not Y’shua the savior, but Y’shua the big brother, who brought us the message that God wasn’t just a stern judge hanging over us like a plague on our lives, but a gentle, caring, nurturing presence to lean on in the good times and the bad. Yeah, think about it, God very God cares about you and me, each of us, as though he were our Daddy or Mommy. Does that put a different slant on all those lessons we haven’t been learning? It should. It does for me. My Native American friends call the Holy Presence Tonkashila, Grandfather. Nothing wrong with that, those fortunate enough to have a living grandparent often find themselves more able to talk to their grandparents about the issues that mess with them than their parents. And that was Y’shua’s point exactly.

God is there for us to talk to, to listen to, and to ask advice from. What a major blessing is that perspective. When we are troubled about anything, we have an adviser we can turn to at that very instant without leaving the place we are in. Just ask.  And another part of that perspective turns out to be the whole thing about the sparrow. Such a tiny common little bird. Thousands of them exist worldwide. Yet, not one of them falls from the sky that it is not marked by the Holy Presence! How can I not love a God that cares for me like that?!

I know I have gotten a bit gushy about how much Dad loves us, and I hope you will forgive me for that gush. If it helps any, today is my 58th birthday, so I can feel a little entitlement to gush about love, eh? However, the “thing” that got me thinking about this aspect of our relationship with the Most High may be a debate I had entered yesterday afternoon with some fellow members of a forum I participate in at Smallworlds.com. We were discussing the rights and wrongs of homosexuality. A tender subject, at best, and one that can lead to a bit of bombast from the religious on that or any other forum.

I do not take a stance on whether this lifestyle is a right or wrong, I am straight, so perhaps it’s not even any of my business. And that, dear reader, is the stance I took on the forum. I believe my part in this world is to love, not to judge, and I also find that the Native American perspective regarding those who are referred to as He/She, is a far better perspective than that practiced by those of us reared in the Judeo-Christian perspective. That stance is that the homosexual has a place in the tribe that is a wonderful spot of communication between the males and the females, carrying, as it were, the ability to see both sides of any argument offered with gender bias. I like it. For me it more perfectly reflects the loving parent that is God, and allows every member of the tribe a place in that tribe’s function. No fuss, no violence, no name calling. What a concept.

There are a couple of other things I would like to mention about that. Y’shua did not comment on homosexuality as a sin to be dealt with in his ministry, though, if you read the Sermon on the Mount with any eye toward completeness, he doesn’t leave any of the other “personal” sins untouched. I cannot say what he thought of it, he did not speak of it. I can say that his omission of it is obvious enough to make us think twice about making it an issue in our relationships with those around us. Those who quote from the New Testament about homosexuality quote from Paul’s writings, (remember always that, though Paul had some valuable things to say, he was the one apostle that did NOT walk at Y’shua’s side, so may not have known the Big Brother’s stance on this tender subject.)

I guess all that I would ask of my fellow pilgrims is this: if the person you are associating with is compassionate, and brings as little harm to others or the environment as possible, why do you need to make his or her lifestyle your business? Is not the Holy One capable of making any judgment calls without your contribution? Then, out of compassion for all, let it be. Love to you and yours this blessed day!!!

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