1

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò Calls on People of Faith to Unite in a Worldwide Anti-Globalist Alliance

Source: The John-Henry Westen Channel

“This Anti-Globalist Alliance will have to bring together the Nations that intend to escape the infernal yoke of tyranny and affirm their own sovereignty, forming agreements of mutual collaboration with Nations and peoples who share their principles and the common yearning for freedom, justice, and goodness. It will have to denounce the crimes of the elite, identify those responsible, denounce them to international tribunals, and limit their excessive power and harmful influence. It will have to prevent the action of the lobbies, above all by fighting against the corruption of state officials and those who work in the information industry, and by freezing the capital used to destabilize the social order.” ~ Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò calls on people of faith to unite in an Anti-Globalist Alliance to resist the establishment of the New World Order.

Here is a text of Archbishop Vigano’s message:





What the World Can Learn From the Buddhist Concept Loving-Kindness

Avalokiteshvara, 1656, Museum of Fine Arts, Hanoi (4). Richard Mortel via Flickr

As the world deals with the trauma caused by COVID-19, World Kindness Day, observed on Nov. 13 annually, is a good opportunity to reflect on the healing potential of both large and small acts of kindness. Indeed, it was the kind acts of essential workers that helped save many lives.

As a scholar of Buddhist studies, I have researched the ways in which Buddhist monks talk about kindness and compassion toward all beings.

The Dalai Lama has famously been quoted as saying “My true religion is kindness.” Although there is more to Buddhism than just kindness, Buddhism’s teachings and exemplary figures, I believe, have much to offer to a world experiencing intense suffering.

Loving-kindness teachings

Some of the earliest Buddhist teachings developed in India – which are recorded in the Pali canon, the collection of scriptures in the Pali language – emphasized the idea of “metta,” or loving-kindness. One teaching from this collection of scriptures is the “Karaniya Metta Sutta,” where the Buddha exhorts the good and wise to spread loving-kindness by making these wishes toward all beings:

In gladness and in safety,

May all beings be at ease.

Whatever living beings there may be;

Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,

The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,

The seen and the unseen,

Those living near and far away,

Those born and to-be-born —

May all beings be at ease!

In order to put these words into practice, several Buddhist teachers from North America teach meditation practices meant to develop one’s own metta or loving-kindness.

During meditation sessions, practitioners can visualize people and chant wishes of loving-kindness using variations of phrases based on the Karaniya Metta Sutta. A commonly used version is from a well-known Buddhist meditation teacher, Sharon Salzberg.

May all beings everywhere be safe and well.

May all beings everywhere be happy and content.

May all beings everywhere be healthy and strong.

May all beings everywhere be peaceful and at ease.

Practitioners spread this kindness toward themselves, people close to them, people they do not know – even distant people or enemies – and finally all beings throughout the world. After visualizing this attitude of loving-kindness, practitioners find it is easier to radiate kindness toward others in real life.

In addition to metta, Buddhists also practice compassion (karuna), sympathetic joy (mudita), and equanimity (upekkha) for a peaceful state of mind.

Cultivating compassion

Later forms of Buddhism in East Asia and Tibet developed the idea of compassion further through the figure of the bodhisattva.

The bodhisattva is a practitioner who has vowed to work selflessly for the enlightenment of other beings. The development of this state of mind is known as “bodhicitta.” Bodhicitta provides the motivation and commitment to this difficult path of putting others before oneself.

One practice for cultivating bodhicitta is exchanging self for others. In this practice, those on the bodhisattva path would regard the suffering of others as if it were their own and would offer help to others as if helping oneself.

As the Indian Buddhist monk Santideva writes in his classic eighth-century work on the path of the bodhisattva, “The Bodhicaryavatara,” one should meditate with this sentiment in mind: “all equally experience suffering and happiness. I should look after them as I do myself.”

Many bodhisattvas and their meanings

The Buddhist figure most focused on kindness is the bodhisattva of compassion, known originally as Avalokiteshvara, who became popular in India by the sixth century A.D. A popular way to depict Avalokiteshvara is with 11 heads and 1,000 arms, which he uses to benefit all sentient beings. Tibetan Buddhists believe that all Dalai Lamas are manifestations of this bodhisattva.

This bodhisattva is known by various names across Asia. In Nepal, the bodhisattva is known as Karunamaya, and in Tibet as Lokesvara and Chenrezig. In China, the bodhisattva is a female figure called Guanyin and portrayed as a woman with long, flowing hair in white robes, who holds a vase tilted downward so she can drop the dews of compassion upon all beings.

Throughout East and Southeast Asia, this is a popular figure. People make offerings to seek help, especially in regards to success in business and starting a family.

With practices that urge people to practice compassion toward others and with figures who can be asked to bestow it, Buddhism offers unique and diverse ways to think about and express kindness.

By Brooke Schedneck, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Rhodes College

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.




Teaching the Book of Proverbs to Youth

Discipline is perhaps the last thing your children like to talk about. Even the words might conjure up thoughts of time-outs, lectures, and stuff taken away. It possibly makes sense that bringing up “discipline” with your children will be met with some resistance.

In this post, we will talk about the other form of discipline. When it comes to the Bible, a few books are more practical, more directly helpful to teens living today, instead of the Book of Proverbs. This book of wisdom is loaded with life lessons that will help any youth handle life here on the planet.

You see, many teens cannot sit still long enough for a long dissertation on why they should or should not act a specific way. Nonetheless, the beauty of the Book of Proverbs is that they don’t need to, as the verses in the book get right to the heart of the problem—teaching a crucial lesson or delivering advice on short notice.

Teens instantly learn a Godly way to think or act or live their life. Unluckily, when we talk about children, some verses in Proverbs are easily understood than others. While there are 915 verses seen in the book, not all are directed to kids, as many are suited for adults.

That’s why we have gone through the entire book and picked what we think are the best proverbs that apply directly to youth. Rather than overloading your teens with powerful verses that some of which they might not completely understand, you can be confident that you’re teaching them the ones they’ll most identify with.

But before we give you the best proverbs to teach to your children, discover why it’s important to do so.

Why teach the youth the book of Proverbs?

With the modern world we’re currently living in, it can be challenging to tell what is right and wrong. Globalization has caused many of the world’s cultures to collide with one another. In America, it indicates that the youth are exposed to all types of “wisdom” from different faiths.

To fight continuous debate about right and wrong in the country, most have resorted to a kind of “relativism” where people say, “what is true for you may not be true for me,” and different types of “nobody can understand what is ultimately true, so let us not argue about it.”

However, the reality remains that something is true, and we must not go around picking your truths like you pick shampoos at the grocery store. In short, you should not pick a truth only because it’s expedient or because no one is loud or mistreating objects to them.

That’s where the Book of Proverbs comes to the rescue. God has noticed the denial of the Ultimate Truth, and He hasn’t left people without a compass. He has provided thousands of Bible passages to identify truth and fallacy, right and wrong, and the Proverbs is the most straightforward example.

What are the best proverbs to teach to youth?

The preteen years are considered the transitional stage. It is sometimes confusing for young individuals as they hear many conflicting messages through the internet, the TV, and their peers at school. Further, it’s challenging to identify what’s a piece of good advice and what is not. Teaching them essential lessons from the book of Proverbs will help them guide through these years.

  • Proverbs 3:5-6

For youth, this verse teaches a very vital lesson. A young individual must realize that it is okay not to know everything and that counting on the Lord’s wisdom will keep them going into the right course.

  • Proverbs 18:24

Making and keeping friends for youth is a critical concern. Who their friends are and are not makes all the difference in their world. This proverb tells youth that it’s important to pick the right friends, as their characters and futures depend on it.

The second part of the verse is often interpreted as God’s friendship, which sticks closer than a brother. Having that guarantee can help young individuals make difficult decisions when it comes to picking their friends.

  • Proverbs 6:9-11

This proverb warns against laziness. Teens must understand that hard work is essential if they want to succeed in life. That proverb is a good reminder that sitting around and just being idle won’t result in success.

  • Proverbs 4:25-27

The years ahead for teens are loaded with temptations and distractions. Youth require continuous reminders that the world they’re living in is full of dangers and that it’s smart to remain focused on God and follow the best path.

Conclusion

Are you searching for a way to teach young people the Bible? Then it will help if you start a character study through the book of Proverbs. You can consider getting them a notebook to keep their lists and write out the corresponding verses. If you’re interested in purchasing the Book of Proverbs, you can buy it here: https://www.alabasterco.com/products/book-of-proverbs




What the ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’ Have in Common with Radical Protestants of 500 Years Ago

The Reformation’s leading figures had diverse views, and some might have recognized themselves in “spiritual but not religious” people today.
Rijksmuseum

Christopher Schelin, Starr King School for the Ministry

For over a decade, one of the biggest stories in American religion has been the rise of the “Nones”, a broad term for people who do not identify with a specific faith. The religiously unaffiliated now make up just over one-quarter of the U.S. population.

While the Nones include agnostics and atheists, most people in this category retain a belief in God or some higher power. Many describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious,” or “SBNR,” as researchers refer to them.

As a professor of theology at a Unitarian Universalist and multireligious seminary, I encounter many students who fit within the SBNR mold. They are studying to become chaplains, interfaith ministers, and social activists. But they may be surprised to know how much they resemble certain Protestants who lived five centuries ago – some of the so-called radical reformers who split off from Martin Luther’s Reformation.

Spiritual but not religious

Scholars fret over the slippery definitions of “spiritual” and “religious.” What the average person tends to mean by “spiritual” is seeking or experiencing a connection with a greater reality, however they understand it. Meanwhile, “religious” often means belonging to a group with specific doctrines and rituals.

The spiritual but not religious are independent seekers, many of whom pray, meditate, do yoga and other spiritual practices outside the confines of a particular tradition.

The theologian Linda Mercadante spent several years interviewing SBNRs. In her book “Belief without Borders”, she identifies some common values. SBNRs tend to be individualistic, trusting their own experience and intuition as a guide. They reject claims that any one religion contains the ultimate, exclusive truth, but they also believe religions possess wisdom and offer “many paths to the same summit.”

Repudiating “organized religion” as a bastion of dogmatism and moral hypocrisy is common among SBNRs. They often explicitly reject what they understand to be central Christian beliefs. They don’t welcome a message that God loves them but will send them to hell for not accepting Jesus. But many continue to experiment with rituals and prayers that draw on established religions, including Christianity.

A Spiritual Reformation

In 1528, Lutheran pastor Sebastian Franck decided he’d had enough of organized religion. Deeply disturbed by the moral failures of professing Christians, he resigned his pulpit.

The Protestant Reformation had recently split the Christians of Western Europe into various factions, pitting Roman Catholics against Lutherans, Zwinglians – whose influence lives on in Reformed churches today – and Anabaptists, who practiced adult baptism. They couldn’t all be right, so Franck concluded they must all be wrong.

Franck declared that the true church was the invisible fellowship of people who were instructed, not by the pope or the Bible, but by the divine spark within. He became a leading figure in a form of radical Protestantism that scholars would later call the “Spiritualists” or “spiritual reformers”. This diverse cast of characters downplayed or rejected the outward trappings of religion, such as rituals and sacraments. What really mattered was each individual’s direct encounter with God.

Hans Denck, who is sometimes credited as the first Spiritualist, described this experience as the “inner Word” speaking from within a person’s soul. “The Word of God is already with you before you seek it,” he wrote. Unlike typical Protestants, Denck and the other Spiritualists saw the Bible as redundant. Its purpose was to confirm what the believer already knew from the heart.

Because the inner Word resided within all human beings, certain Spiritualists held that salvation was not limited to Christians.

“Consider as thy brothers,” wrote Franck, “all … who fear God and work righteousness,” even those who never heard of Christ. There was no need to send missionaries to other nations. They already had the Holy Spirit to teach and spiritually “baptize” them.

Partly because of persecution and partly because of their emphasis on the individual, the Spiritualists rarely formed structured communities. Today, they are mostly forgotten outside of church history courses. But their influence shaped the founding of Quakerism, a branch of Christianity that, to this very day, seeks the guidance of the inner light.

[Explore the intersection of faith, politics, arts and culture in an email newsletter. Sign up for This Week in Religion.]

What’s old is new again

The parallels between the Protestant Spiritualists and many contemporary SBNRs can be striking. Both are repulsed by the ethical failings and exclusivism of religious communities. Both emphasize the responsibility of the individual to follow their own spiritual quest. Both believe that an authentic experience of God or ultimate reality is available to all people, regardless of their specific beliefs. Whereas Franck and Denck used the early printing press to spread their message, today a spiritual teacher might record a podcast or YouTube video.

But it is important to emphasize that the Spiritualists were still decidedly Christian. Contrary to most SBNRs, they considered Jesus Christ the authoritative revealer of truth. Some believed he would soon return to Earth for his Second Coming and waited as expectantly as any end times-focused fundamentalist does today. They may have seen other religions as valid paths, but they didn’t turn to them as resources for spiritual practice.

Even so, the Spiritualists demonstrate that the values and attitudes of SBNRs are far from a new development. They wrestled with similar difficulties in religion and came up with similar answers. As the spiritually independent continue to seek wisdom and meaning, they can find good company in the radical reformers of a bygone age.

Starr King School for the Ministry is a member of the Association of Theological SchoolsThe Conversation

The ATS is a funding partner of The Conversation U.S.

Christopher Schelin, Assistant Professor of Practical and Political Theologies, Starr King School for the Ministry

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.




Dharma Ocean Discusses the Gateway to Direct Experience

This article is adapted from the Dharma Ocean Podcast Episode 214 – Direct Experience, by Dr. Reggie Ray, Dharma Ocean Spiritual Director. This excerpt is taken from the online course, The Somatic Practice of Pure Awareness: The Tantric Style of Embodied Meditation.  

One keynote of the esoteric and tantric traditions of meditation is that they give rise to a grounded and all-inclusive field of awareness; rather than moving away from our fully embodied, experiential human existence, they are moving toward it. The emphasis is on the human experience as the ultimate and final reference point for everything that we know and think. This goes back to the time of the Buddha. He was engaged by one of his students, who wanted him to give him intellectual and tradition-based answers to questions. The Buddha’s response was, “You can live that way if you want to. But at that point, there’s no journey, and there’s no awakening. In fact, there’s no anything.” That approach, and ultimately, trusting anybody or anything outside of your own direct experience, he said, leads to suffering, confusion, pain, and harming others.

The Buddha spoke for the primacy of experience — that which we know in the depth of our own being, unfiltered through the thinking mind. His response to this student was, “The only way that you should ever trust anything and know anything is to see for yourself if it’s the case.”  That is the role of direct intuition, known only in and through our body.  He said, “Everything else is a hypothesis and not to be believed blindly.” This theme of the sacredness of direct experience as our only resource, our only guide, our only protector, has been central to the early meditation traditions — Ch’an and Zen, and Vajrayana, or Tantric Buddhism in Tibet — the esoteric traditions.

Through meditation practice that is fully grounded in our body, what we call “somatic meditation,” we arrive at the knowledge that is not mediated by the thinking mind. It is not abstract; it is not conceptual, it is not hypothetical. At this point, through our body’s direct intuition, what we know is not what the mind thinks or assumes. What we know in our bodies is direct naked experience. And that experience is, as William Blake said, limitless. We’re touching eternity when we step out of the thinking mind. When we talk about the human experience as being the touchstone of the whole tradition, this is what we’re talking about. We’re not talking about what we “think” we experience. We’re talking about what we, in fact, truly experience, and it happens without thought. It’s self-evident. It’s the knowledge of our deeper being, what we’re calling our Soma.

In the conventional culture, we always look to the experts for everything. Even in the field of meditation, people look to the experts. In these days of profound spiritual consumerism, spiritual shopping, and spiritual materialism, people go to the internet to see which teacher gets the most “hits.” And then that teacher becomes the expert for them. They may even say, “that’s my spiritual teacher,” although never having met that person.

When we are operating in modern culture, there are many powerful and seductive forces that lead us in different directions. The internet is amongst the most powerful of addictions and also the most pernicious, and least understood. It has captured and changed all of us in various ways. From my scholarly studies and direct contact with indigenous traditions and traditional religions throughout the world, I know that it hasn’t always been like this. And because our disembodiment in this culture is so extreme, we have to find a way back to our basic being; our somatic being; our intuitive way of knowing; our physical body, and the arena where we experience things nakedly.

This capacity to know in a different way has been not only part of us since the beginning but is actually a key to our survival. In the book Black Elk Speaks, he shows us how much he relied on what his body knew, how much his bodily intuition showed him while hunting buffalo in winter, blinded by blizzards. He said, “I sensed that over the third hill, there were buffalo.” And there were.

We talk about the five senses; sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. And then we talk about the sixth sense as if it were a weird sort of outlying thing that maybe it exists, maybe it doesn’t. When we are in our body, the knowledge of the sixth sense becomes our way of knowing. It’s immediate direct knowledge. It is our direct intuition.  It doesn’t have to be filtered by anything. And the clarity of that knowledge is much higher than any other way of knowing. This veracity, the self-existing truthfulness of that somatic knowledge, is infinitely beyond what we know in any other way.

We have to develop that capacity. To be more specific, we are developing the capacity to be identified with our largest and most profound being, and to view and see the world from that standpoint and live from there.

We’re developing, we could say, a different kind of human being than the one we have been trained to be within this culture. We could also say that we are recovering a way of being human that’s much more ancient and closer to our human genetic system. In fact, it is our human genetic inheritance from the very beginning. So we have a challenge in our culture to come back to ourselves. I think that the tendencies that separate us and deny us our own humanity and reinforce our disconnection, are very strong and real, but they don’t hold a candle to the noon day sun of the awareness of our own body. 

About Dharma Ocean
Dharma Ocean is a non-profit global educational foundation that focuses on somatic meditation as the way to help students – of any secular or religious discipline, by teaching them the importance of embodiment in both meditation and their daily lives as taught in the “practicing lineage” of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. The foundation was established in 2005 by scholar, author, and teacher Dr. Reggie Ray, and is located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Southern Colorado.

Their Blazing Mountain Retreat Center in Crestone is a sacred and protected space that hosts a wide range of retreats and meditation groups.  Students can immerse themselves in the richness and depth of their most fundamental being through connection with spiritual tradition, community, and nature.  Dharma Ocean also offers online programs and specialized training for students who wish to become Vajrayana practitioners.




Understanding Why a Mezuzah Matters and What Case Should I Choose

There are multiple reasons why someone inside or outside Judaism might want to look for information about what a mezuzah is. Regardless of these reasons, in this article, we will talk about what they are, and the symbolism they carry inside the religion, as well as talk about something very specific about them: cases.

What is a Mezuzah?

First of all, a mezuzah (also commonly known as mezuza) can be described as a decorative case that contains a Klaf, which is a piece of writing that contains verses from the Torah or rituals related to Judaism.

A Klaf is often written by an experienced and trained scribe, as mentioned over here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klaf,  since it is believed that words written by hand do carry out the power of God, and the words written in the Klaf are made out with respect and admiration,  in comparison to the words that are printed by a machine.

The word mezuzah comes from doorpost in the Hebrew language, and they are commonly placed in the entrance of a house, near a door, or on it. However, they can also be placed in highly concurred areas, like a kitchen, living rooms, or bedrooms.

However, some families might place them on tables near candles, to keep them in places where they know for sure family members hang out. Because Klafs are placed inside of cases designed by highly skilled craftsmen, they are highly pleasant to the eye as well, so some families might have more than one around for the sake of decorating a room, but it all depends on each family.

Overall, its symbolism and importance make it an object that is more important than just decoration, and that is why it so important for the Jewish culture.

Its Symbolism

There’s something you need to know about a mezuzah, and that is they are usually are hanged slanted, and they are hardly hanged straight pointing towards the sky. This is because of an occurrence that happened during the 11th century, in were two famous rabbis discussed whether a mezuzah should point towards God (vertical) or hanged slanted like famed religious documents.

Generally speaking, a mezuzah represents the separation between the outside world and the safety and sanctitude of a home. It is also a representation of the covenant between Jewish people and God, and their duties towards him.

Some people might even claim a mezuzah to be one of the many representations of the Jewish identity as well, while others also believe that it is capable of protecting a home and its residents from harm, so it works as a protective charm against evil forces.

This also includes people that might want to approach a person or members of a Jewish family for bad reasons. These people are commonly referred to as evildoers, agents of the devil that want to take advantage of members of the Jewish community or cause them to harm for any possible reason.

According to Judaism, life in its totality is considered a very good thing, and although life itself was born from chaos, as God claimed in Gen. 1:10, “It is good”. However, evil does have many forms in Judaism.

Among these forms, evil can be linked to things like natural disasters, and events that could cause pain, sadness, and anguish to the life of human beings. It is also heavily linked to sin and immorality. Thus, a mezuzah is meant to keep all that is considered evil inside Judaism away from the house of those maintaining a heavy connection with God itself.

Of course, not a lot of members of the Jewish community believe in the powers of the mezuzah, but it is reassuring to do so since it brings a certain level of peace to all Jewish families.

Nowadays, the mezuzah remains one of the most popular belongings inside the Judaism religion, and for Jewish people, it represents their belief and culture.

That is why it might not be wise to use a mezuzah if you and your family are not part of the Judaism religion since it might be rude to them and the covenant they have with God itself.

Choosing a Case

An important part of the process of getting a mezuzah is choosing a case for the Klaf. The case is what protects the Klaf from harm, and allows it to remain in a good shape for as long as possible.

There are many different options out there. Some are great to be hanged outside since they can provide a higher level of protection, while others are better to be hanged inside the house because of their simplicity and pricings. It is up to you to decide which cases are best.

Considering the style of your house, and your own taste is one good way to approach the process of purchasing a mezuzah case. If you visit Aisenthal Judaica – Mezuzah Cases, you will have an idea of the options you can go for.

The creation of a case is pretty much considered a form of art inside Judaism since it requires skills and senses that are highly related to the Jewish culture. The Klaf that is protected by the case must be created by the hands of a certified scribe as well, but they often contain printed examples of what a Klaf should look like for reference.




10 Reasons Why Spirituality is Greater Than Religion

By Gary Z McGee | Self-inflicted Philosophy 

1.) Religion claims to have all the answers; spirituality questions all claims:

“People afraid of losing their truth tend to be more violent than people who are used to looking at the world from several different viewpoints. Questions you cannot answer are usually better for you than answers you cannot question.” ~Yuval Noah Harari

Religion is narrow-minded because it believes it has all the answers. Spirituality is open-minded because it dares to question all answers. The simple fact that it is considered blasphemy to question the answers that religion provides, creates a wall for the curious mind. Blocking curiosity leads to a lack of imagination. A lack of imagination leads to stagnant spirituality. And stagnant spirituality is fundamentally unhealthy for human beings.

One may have become religious with the intent to be spiritual, but stagnant spirituality will almost always be the result when one is scared to question things. The only way out of such stagnation is to regain both curiosity and imagination and to continue the spiritual search by questioning all so-called answers. One does not need religion for this task.

2.) Spirituality subsumes all religions while tossing out all dogma:

“In order to shake a hypothesis, it is sometimes not necessary to do anything more than push it as far as it will go.” ~Denis Diderot

No religion is off-limits to a truly spiritual disposition. All religions are subsumed. All dogma is rejected; it is recognized as an existential trap of the most high and most devious. “Spirituality” contained in a little box of fear (religion) is no longer spiritual and has become dogmatic and closed in.

A spiritual seeker is wise to flatten the box of religious dogma and think outside the “one-right-way” influence of certain religions in order to broaden their spiritual comfort zone and strengthen their open-mindedness, empathy, and compassion toward the spiritual capacities of the human condition.

3.) Religion is an outdated search engine; spirituality is an updated search engine:

“Time makes ancient good uncouth.” ~James Russell Lowell

Everything changes. The universe is in constant flux. The only permanence is impermanence. The only thing that doesn’t change is changing itself. Spirituality embraces these facts. Religion attempts to ignore them but does so in vain. Stuck in parochial values, religion is incapable of re-evaluating the search for truth.

Religion is an outdated search engine because it is stuck in the dead patterns of old programming. Religion has given up the search for truth with the audacious claim that it has already found it. Spirituality is a constant, never-ending search for the truth and so it is always at the forefront of the spiritual journey. It is only when a spiritual seeker has pigeonholed their spirituality, and dogmatized it, that they have given up the search and become religious.

True spirituality never closes itself off to the truth no matter how convincing the dogma.

4.) Religion is about blind faith; spirituality is about open-mindedness:

“To choose the course of honesty is to risk the sacrifice of popularity; to choose adventure is to jeopardize security.” ~Guy Claxton

Belief without question is a religious hang-up. To believe something just because a religious authority said so is not spiritual. It is indoctrination at best and brainwashing at worst. The fact that religions require one to have blind faith in such preposterous notions as Flying Spaghetti Monsters and Jewish Zombies is a detriment to spirituality itself. Especially when such claims are considered spiritual by religious zealots.

True spirituality isn’t about belief or faith; it’s about open-mindedness and oneness. It’s about existential flexibility and the ability to take things into deep consideration without the need to place all of one’s “eggs” into any single “basket.”

Religion has “faith” in a destination; spirituality allows the journey to be the thing.

5.) Spirituality is courage-based; religion is fear-based:

“That which can be destroyed by the truth should be.” ~P.C. Hodgell

Pastel’s Wager is an old hat. Fear-conditioning is anti-spiritual. Using fear tactics to bludgeon otherwise well-meaning truth seekers into compliance is the hallmark of traditional religions. True spiritual seekers are beyond such pettiness. They don’t fear God. They are God. They are love. They are one with the interconnectedness of all things (God).

True spirituality is beyond good and evil. It’s about unity with all things. It’s about healthy co-existence. It’s about compassion, openness, empathy, and love. It’s not about fear. It’s not about trepidation and threats of delusional hells and devils and demons and angry vengeful gods. Beware any religion that threatens you with eternal damnation and then has the unmitigated gall to claim it is spiritual.

6.) Spirituality is painful growth; religion is comfortable stagnation:

“I don’t want comfort. I want God. I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.” ~Aldous Huxley

Where religion is about comfort and security (placation), spirituality is about honesty and adventure (contemplation).

The adventure of self-discovery, the personal truth quest, is paramount for the spiritual seeker. Without the truth quest, the journey cannot be the thing. The journey comes to an end. Where the spiritual journey ends, religion begins.

A true spiritual seeker never allows the journey to end. There is always something more to learn. God is infinite. There is no end to spiritual growth, barring death itself, and even death puts spiritual growth into perspective.

7.) Religion is codependent; spirituality is interdependent:

“Now I am nimble, now I fly, now I see myself under myself, now a god dances within me.” ~Nietzsche

A religious person is in a codependent relationship with God; they are dependent upon a divine lawgiver for their salvation. A spiritual seeker is in an interdependent relationship with God; they understand that they are a finite aspect of an infinite interconnected whole—the Great Mystery.

As Plutarch said, “The eye with which I perceive God is the same eye with which God perceives me.”

Spirituality is a holistic connection with an interconnected cosmos where universal laws bind everyone. Religion is about holy obedience to a deity declaring divine law. The former is cosmic. The latter is dogmatic.

8.) Religion is reactive intimidation; spirituality is proactive meditation:

“Death destroys man, but the idea of death saves him.” ~E.M. Forster

Fear is not the only way that religion intimidates people; it also uses love and placation as a way to lull the unwary spiritual seeker. Where religion gives you a crutch to limp blindly through faith, spirituality takes the crutch away and forces you to be responsible with your faith. The reactive religious zealot, wallowing in his codependence, is at the mercy of his faith. The proactive spiritual seeker, liberated of dogmatic fetters, is free to question his faith without fear of blasphemy.

Where the religious zealot fears death and God, the spiritual seeker channels such existential angst into a proactive meditation. A spiritual seeker uses death to keep life in perspective through meditation. A religious zealot obsesses over death and the afterlife at the expense of life through self-inflicted intimidation. Religion is fearful while intimidating its members. Spirituality is fearless while liberating all people.

9.) Spirituality allows the Great Mystery to remain great and mysterious:

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious—the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and science.”

Where religion vainly attempts to pigeonhole infinity into a finite concept and call it “God,” spirituality allows infinity to be infinite and calls it The Great Mystery. Where the religious God claims to have all the answers, the Great Mystery trumps it with the almighty question mark. It is vital that both the concept of God and the Great Mystery remain mysterious, lest the organ of our imagination shrivel up and die.

Religion’s God attempts to convince us that we are merely a speck in the universe. The Great Mystery makes it clear: we are the entire universe in a speck. And from our precarious position, we are free to be in awe, overwhelmed, and empowered by the mystery of it all. Religion attempts to steal this mystery from us and package it up in a divine lawgiver, judgmental and void of mystery.

10.) Spirituality speaks a language older than words; religion speaks a language limited by words:

“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.” ~Rumi

When it comes down to it, we simply do not know what the Great Mystery (God) is. Anyone, or any group (religion), who claims to know should be met with the utmost credulity and circumspection. Our human language is simply inadequate for the task. The Great Mystery, the interconnectedness of all things, from quarks to quasars, from worms to wormholes, is ultimately ineffable—so profound and intense as to defy description. It speaks a language older than words, a dance older than music. It’s a unifying lifeforce flowing in and through all things, binding the cosmos in an infinitely exploding web of transformative energy. This cannot be explained. It can only be felt.

Religion vainly attempts to explain it all by boxing it up in a sacred text written by fallible men perceiving an infallible universe. Spirituality feels it, flows with it, meditates with it. Spirituality never tries to own it, never claims to know it; for the Great Mystery can neither be owned nor known. The Great Mystery is as much beyond us as it is inside of us. It may not be completely knowable or explainable, it may not even be conceivable, but it can be felt, through the mystery of time, through the mystery of impermanence, through the mystery of consciousness. And it can be interpreted through a language older than words, which isn’t even a language at all, but a unifying force connecting all things. The mistake is trying to trap it, to own it, to use it to control people. Better to simply feel it, flow with it, meditate on it.

People have been mistaking religion for spirituality for far too long. It is high time that we erase this most nefarious confusion. This article is a testament to shining such a light.

About the Author

Gary ‘Z’ McGeea former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world. Visit his website: Self-Inflicted Philosophy.

This article (10 Reasons Why Spirituality is Greater Than Religion) was originally created and published by Self-inflicted Philosophy and is printed here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Gary Z McGee and self-inflictedphilosophy.com.




Do People Become More Religious In Times of Crisis?

Organized religion has been on the decline for decades in the United States. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers found that online searches for the word “prayer” soared to their highest level ever in over 90 countries. And a 2020 Pew Research study showed that 24% of U.S. adults stated their faith had become stronger during the pandemic.

I am a theologian who studies trauma and this shift makes sense to me. I often teach that traumatic events are, at their heart, crises of meaning that cause people to question assumptions about their lives, including their spiritual beliefs. The years 2020 and 2021 certainly fit that bill: The global COVID-19 pandemic has indeed led to traumatic experiences for many people, due to the isolation, illness, fear, and death that it created.

Questioning beliefs

People who experience traumas tend to question some of the assumptions they might have had about their faith – what pastoral theologian Carrie Doehring calls “embedded beliefs.” These beliefs may include ideas about who God is, the purpose of life, or why evil events happen to good people.

So, for instance, many Christians may inherit an embedded belief from the tradition that God is all good and that evil emerges when God “rightly” punishes people for their sins. In other words, an all-good God would not punish someone without a reason.

Christians raised with that assumption might ask what made them incur God’s wrath if they contracted COVID-19. In such an event, the embedded belief in a punishing God may become something called a negative coping strategy – a coping strategy that has negative effects on a person’s life.

Here’s what this might look like practically: If a person believes they’re being punished by God, they may feel shame or despair. If they feel God is punishing them for no reason, they may feel confused or try to identify something that is problematic or sinful about their identity. As a result, their faith becomes something that is a source of stress or cognitive dissonance rather than a source of comfort. If that happens, then the belief is functioning as a negative coping strategy that the person needs to address.

Trauma and religiosity

Mental health experts like Judith Herman have known for several decades that healing from trauma involves making meaning of the traumatic event. Traumatic events are often confusing for people because they don’t make much sense. In other words, traumas differ from the expectations of everyday life, and as a result, they seem to defy meaning or purpose.

Spiritually, individuals may begin to recognize that some of their beliefs got challenged by the trauma. This is the time when spiritual meaning-making occurs because people start to discern which embedded beliefs still make sense and which need to be revised.

During this stage of recovery, theologian and trauma expert Shelly Rambo explains that traumatized individuals may draw on prayers, personal reflections, rituals, and conversations with spiritual experts such as chaplains, ministers, and spiritual directors. These have been shown to function as positive coping mechanisms that help individuals feel more grounded in the aftermath of a trauma.

Over time, these resources help individuals develop more intentional beliefs, meaning consciously chosen beliefs that take their suffering into account. These might include reasons why the suffering occurred and what its significance is for the overall meaning of the person’s life. Doehring refers to these as deliberative or consciously chosen, beliefs. Individuals have a sense of commitment to these beliefs because they make sense in light of the trauma.

So in the hypothetical case of someone who believes God is punishing them for contracting COVID-19, that feeling of shame and despair may result from a failure to understand why God would treat them that way. These negative feelings would then function as negative coping mechanisms that prevent healing, as psychologist Kenneth Pargament and his colleagues have observed about similar situations where people felt God was punishing them.

The person might then try to alleviate their distress by questioning the assumption that God punishes people with illness, thereby starting a kind of spiritual quest or reassessment of beliefs. They may even start to think differently about God being a punishing deity. The shift between what the person assumed about God and this new, consciously chosen belief, is an example of the shift between embedded and deliberative beliefs.

Trauma and atheism

Some people may argue that suffering logically ought to turn people into atheists. After all, the horror of something like the COVID-19 pandemic could easily make someone question how it would be possible for any deity to allow such horrors.

It would make far more sense to reason that creation is random, chaotic, and determined only by some combination of the forces of nature and human decisions. The agnostic philosopher Bertrand Russell crafted such a proposal when he argued that Christians should accompany him to a children’s hospital unit because they would inevitably stop believing in God once they saw such profound suffering.

The way humans experience suffering spiritually, however, may not necessarily lead to atheism or agnosticism. Indeed, research from experts who study the intersection of psychology and religion – including psychologists of religion and pastoral theologians – has found that events that could be labeled as traumatic do not necessarily destroy faith.

Indeed, they can also strengthen it because faith-based beliefs and practices can help individuals make sense of their life’s story. In other words, trauma challenges so many assumptions about who we are, what our purpose is, and how to make sense of a traumatic event. Faith-based beliefs and practices offer meaningful resources to help navigate those questions.

This is why spiritual beliefs and practices across various religions can often lead to faith-strengthening rather than weakening, following a trauma.

So even though people may have had limited access to buildings like churches or synagogues during the pandemic, they still had access to spiritual resources that can help them navigate traumatic events. This may explain data showing that some individuals are stating their faith is stronger than it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

By | The Conversation

Danielle Tumminio Hansen is an ordained Episcopal priest and works for Seminary of the Southwest, an Episcopal seminary in Austin, Texas.




Meta-Mastery: Transcending Belief

By Gary Z McGee | Self-inflicted Philosophy

“Now I am nimble, now I fly, now I see myself under myself, now a god dances within me.” ~Nietzsche

To go Meta. To transcend. To surpass, eclipse, excel. To rise above and go beyond the limits. Meta-mastery is the uncommon ability to overcome all beliefs. To allow that which does not matter truly slide. “To entertain a thought without accepting it.” To go Meta overall answers.

A meta-master is an existential ninja injecting a Buddhist nonattachment into all things. A meta-master is the personification of the bird’s-eye view, perched upon the Branch of Infinity laughing down at all things with overeyes and oversoul.

There are no limits to the things that a meta-master can transcend. But for the sake of brevity, we will limit those things to the following three categorical beliefs: space and time, politics and religion, and good and evil. Let’s break it down…

1.) Beyond space and time:

“Knowledge is a critical component to creativity. In layman’s terms, thinking about the box is as important as thinking outside it. The combination is what matters. The confluence of domain knowledge and seemingly irrelevant information creates the ideal conditions for epiphany.” ~Andrew Razeghi

Meta-mastery is foremost about going Meta over belief itself. This means all beliefs. If you “believe” that time is fixed and linear, just go meta, and realize that it is relative. Following that, if you “believe” that time is relative, go meta, and realize that it also defies relativity through the concept of infinity. Similarly, if you “believe” that space is finite, go meta, and realize that it is both finite and infinite at the same time and intermittently.

There is an infinite transgression of space in the finite construct of a Mandelbrot fractal set. There are even greater and lesser infinities to consider. There’s an infinite amount of space between atoms at the same time as our universe is finite yet expanding toward infinity. It’s mind-boggling.

And if you “believe” any of this, check yourself. Go Meta instead, and simply think. Use your imagination and the creativity of thought to transcend all beliefs, no matter how powerful they may be.

A true meta-master is not going meta. Even when they seem to have slipped, they are merely playing the finite game. Merely going through the motions, performing the song and dance. But they realize that it’s all an illusion at best, a delusion at worst. Real meta-mastery is rooted in the infinite game.

So, when a belief about time, space, the universe, or reality, tries to sink its claws into your reasoning skills, simply take it into deep consideration instead and then go meta into higher more imaginative thought.

2.) Beyond politics and religion:

“Teaching that defy reason defy reality; what defies reality defies life. Defying life is embracing death. Celebrating faith over reason is merely a way of denying what is in favor of embracing any whim that strikes your fancy.” ~Terry Goodkind

Meta-masters understand that in order to embrace reality and not defy life, one must transcend petty politics and parochial religions. They realize that humans are fallible and imperfect beings who are prone to be mistaken about a great many things. With enough time and hindsight, humans might realize how mistaken they have been, but even then, there is the powerful psychological hang-up of cognitive dissonance to consider.

Going meta is a way to stay ahead of the curve. If your religious belief celebrates faith over reason, simply go meta, and realize that such a belief defies reality and thus defies life. If your political belief is okay with a society that pollutes the air, the water, and the food as long as it remains “productive,” then go meta, and realize that such politics defies reality and thus defies life.

Going meta on religion means transcending the petty dogma that attempts to pigeonhole spirituality (and God) into fear-based comfort food. It means liberating spirituality so that it might, instead, become a courage-based practice that we can use to truly engage the Great Mystery (God).

Going meta on politics means transcending bipartisan claptrap and bad laws that don’t follow health, reason, and justice. It means putting order before the law. It means making order primary and law secondary lest attempted liberty dissolves into inadvertent tyranny. Indeed. A meta-master understands that the only thing more important than maintaining order is occasionally implementing disorder to achieve higher order. Law is an afterthought.

As Klaus Mainzer said, “Chaos and self-organization go hand in hand, and only if they are in a state of pre-established harmony do life and health exist.”

3.) Beyond Good and Evil:

“The human race has only one effective weapon, and that is laughter.” ~Mark Twain

There is no belief more limiting than the belief in good and evil. Meta-masters transcend belief foremost, lest they miss the mark on morality. Meta-mastery transforms petty good and evil into a more robust healthy and unhealthy.

The problem with good and evil is that it falls too much within the realm of human opinion, which is fallible, imperfect, and often mistaken. The beauty of going meta on good and evil is the realization that only the concept of healthy and unhealthy falls within the realm of validity and truth. Indeed, healthy is not a matter of opinion. It is dictated by reality. It’s a self-evident truth.

A meta-master understands that opinion is irrelevant if it is invalid. Validity is based upon a scale of healthy/unhealthy and not on a scale of good and evil. One must transcend belief in order to realize this. Once you have gone meta on good and evil you will have realized that right and wrong should always be based upon healthy and unhealthy so that it is more likely to be considered valid and reasonable.

Such transcendence launches you out of the tiny world of fear and petty one-upmanship and into a realm of courageous cocreation with Cosmos. Out beyond right-doing and wrongdoing. Beyond good and evil. Beyond time and space. Beyond politics and religion. Beyond belief itself. There is a sacred space where the interconnectedness of all things puts everything into perspective. Where humanity meets harmony. Where meta marries a man to the mystery.

Reimagine imagination. Think beyond thought. Go meta. Stay there.

About the Author:

Gary Z McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.

This article (Meta-mastery: Transcending Belief) was originally created and published by Self-inflicted Philosophy and is printed here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Gary Z McGee and self-inflictedphilosophy.com.




The Great Romance of Shiva and Shakti

By William T. Hathaway

Long ago in Brahma-Loka, the abode of the Gods, Lord Shiva was passionately in love with Mahashakti and determined to marry her. But one big problem prevented that: Mahashakti is the Divine Mother, the primal creative force who manifests the entire universe, including all the Gods and Goddesses. She is the active side of Brahman, the transcendental Absolute, the unified field that contains everything but is neutral, non-active, beyond it all. Mahashakti is too universal to marry anybody.

Mahashakti tried to explain this to Shiva, but he was too deep in love to be able to hear. She finally just had to firmly reject his amorous entreaties, and he stalked off, sulking and despondent. Shiva withdrew from the world and did nothing but sit in a cave and meditate. Without his active presence, the world started to fall apart. The evolutionary cycle of creation, maintenance, and destruction lost its dynamism and began to run down.

The other Gods tried to convince him to get back to work, but he sent them away. Finally, they implored Mahashakti for help, and she agreed to lure Shiva back into activity. She manifested part of her power as the Goddess Sati, an aspect of Shakti womanhood epitomizing beauty, devotion, and marital happiness.

Mahashakti arranged to have Sati born into a family of deities with a fine mind that quickly learned all the skills and graces needed to create a wonderful environment. Sati knew intuitively she would marry Shiva, and when she was 16 she went to Mt. Kailash and meditated outside his cave. Shiva felt her presence deep in his transcendence and was startled: no one had been able to contact him on this level before. He opened his third eye and beheld her beauty. He opened his mind to hers and beheld her brilliance. He invited her into his cave, and they meditated together. It didn’t take long before Shiva realized there was more to life than meditating.

They wanted to marry, but Sati’s father disapproved of Shiva, feeling he was an unruly reprobate unworthy of his daughter. After much persuading by Sati, dad reluctantly gave his consent, and the two were married in a lavish ceremony attended by all the Gods.

The happy couple made their home in Mount Kailash. Shiva fulfilled his duties to keep the cosmos running smoothly but spent most of his time blissfully together with Sati in their mountain hideaway.

Sati’s father, though, still held a grudge against Shiva. He organized a great ritual sacrifice and invited all the divine beings except Shiva and Sati. Sati was furious at this slight. Shiva tried to calm her, but she stormed back to her parents’ castle, crashed uninvited into the ritual, and confronted her father. He treated her with scorn and insulted Shiva. Enraged by this, Sati leaped into the sacrificial fire and burned to death.

Shiva was devastated by having his wife and their marital love destroyed. Unable to control his fury, he dispatched a troop of warriors who demolished the sacrifice and decapitated Sati’s father. When Shiva arrived later and saw the carnage, his anger turned to compassion. He revived the father but replaced his head with that of a goat. He lifted Sati’s body onto his shoulder and went stalking through the universe, oblivious of everything except his grief. His pain was unbearable, so he again abandoned his duties, retreated to his cave, and sought refuge in samadhi, transcendental consciousness.

This time the consequences of his withdrawal were even worse than before. Without Shiva to destroy the demons, they multiplied and began harassing the Gods and terrorizing humanity. Mahashakti decided to intervene to restore Shiva’s happiness and to prevent the universe from sinking into chaos.

She again manifested part of her power, this time as a dual Goddess of Shakti. One side, called Parvati, epitomizes the tender aspects of womanhood: love, motherhood, family life, abundance, nourishment, harmony. The other side, called Durga, epitomizes the strong aspects of womanhood: creative power, intuitive wisdom, destruction of evil, fierce protection of the weak. Born under a Gemini moon, Parvati-Durga could integrate these two sides. She knew it was her dharma (destiny and duty) to marry Shiva and restore the world to balance.

But Shiva was still in mourning. He wasn’t ready for another relationship, so when Parvati-Durga meditated outside his cave, Shiva ignored her. The cosmos continued to decline, so the Gods convinced Kama, Lord of love and romance, to stir desire in Shiva. Standing at the entrance to his cave, Kama shot a sugarcane arrow into his heart.

Startled abruptly out of meditation, Shiva saw the gorgeous Parvati-Durga and was filled with lust. Then he saw Kama and realized he had been tricked. With a beam of fire, he incinerated Kama and with harsh words sent Parvati-Durga away.

She left but didn’t give up. Through long practice, she became a master yogi and developed cosmic powers on a par with Shiva’s. She achieved the ability to meditate on the highest spiritual plane, Shiva’s realm of solitude. Here he couldn’t banish her because she was his equal. They meditated together, and slowly, slowly Shiva’s pain-hardened heart melted with love, and he knew this lady to be Sati returning to him, a second gift and blessing from Mahashakti. Shiva asked Parvati-Durga for forgiveness for his rude behavior, then asked for her hand in marriage. She smiled Yes!

They were married in a joyous fest attended by not only all the Gods but also by nature spirits and human saints. The enlightening power of their union caused the demons to slink back into the dark corners of creation and the universe to swing back into harmonious balance.

Shiva is sometimes baffled by his complex wife, but he adores both sides of her. The couple has two sons and a daughter, all devoted to different aspects of the spiritual path. Since then the family works together generating waves of positivity that pervade the cosmos and improve our lives to this day.

Shiva and Shakti are real. They care about us. They can be contacted. They will help us defeat the modern demons that threaten us.

The great love story of Shiva and Shakti is celebrated globally on Mahashivaratri, March 11, and the ceremonies are broadcast online.

If you’d like to contact Shiva and Shakti and enrich your life with their presence, this website will show you how all for free: https://meetshiva985866381.wordpress.com/.

***

William T. Hathaway is the author of eight books including the Rinehart Foundation Award-winning novel A World of Hurt. He was a Fulbright professor of creative writing at universities in Germany, where he currently writes, meditates, and hangs out with Shiva.




Write or Wrong? The Forgotten Art of Spelling

Related imageMany people are unaware that back in the day, only the nobles were allowed to read and write. So, to understand and to be able to read and write symbols was kind of a big deal. Eventually leading to spoken languages, written symbols have always been a way to represent and give meaning to something; or you could even say to bring life to it. Sounds like manifesting to me, right?

And this is where “spelling” comes into the mix. When we think of spells, we might naturally gravitate towards witchcraft and wizardry. The casting of evil omens or good fortune depending on the kind of myths, legends, and stories we’ve heard and from what sources. We might take a more lax stance on it, not thinking much about it all other than spelling is something we were taught in school as children and if we could remember how to spell long difficult words we could get blue ribbons to show for it.

Or we might take a much more serious stance on spelling if perhaps we have received our stories from ancestors of the past who have always intertwined respectfully with the forces of nature and thus know the powers of symbols, sound, and intentions when it comes to manifesting creations within the mind, psyche, heart, and physical life.

It is perhaps wise to mention that each view tends to look at the other with confusion and melancholy and one is perhaps too serious and one too foolish? But as with the basis of both science and spirituality, comes the bridge of spelling…

For mere communication willed by fleeting emotion, ignorant to the power of words, timing, and direction with spelling with direct intention to work with the forces of nature to compel a certain outcome whether it be rain to flourish crops or energy of vitality and prana called from the heart of the Earth to heal a sick village.

The only difference between the two uses of spelling is simply awareness. With one, we are unconscious of the choices of words and the ultimate effect on the outcome of the situation to the degree to which we do have control over to direct one way or another, and with the other, we are fully present and actually calling upon symbols and phrases most likely passed down from generations long ago. Why? Because they work! Each sound contains a certain frequency, a resonance and in working with the fabrics of creation and conscious will, when we tap into our true nature and power as co-creators, we can literally use spelling to draw balance into our lives.

Now, one does not have to associate oneself with specific labels or groups of any kind to be mindfully using these concepts of intentional direction with words and symbols. Of course, there are various sanctions of practice that may or may not work for you that you are free to join or not join. That is the beauty of free-will, we can learn from whatever resources are available to us, that call to our hearts, and discard the rest. If this means joining a coven, do it. If it means going to church every Sunday, do it. If it means playing with your children more often, DO IT. Let this feeling be your temple, your place of practice, and one never even leave the comforts of the mind to enter this sanctuary of the heart. We merely need to acknowledge the door between them and allow it to open.Image result for spell casting letters

So, there really is no right or wrong way to “spell”. We all do it whether or not you want to believe it. If you write letters, you spell. If you text, you spell. If you are Twittering away on a daily, you spell. And by that, I mean, with every word we put out to the world we are choosing a vibratory expression, as well as a visual extension of ourselves. We are literally spell-casters. This is why sometimes we re-read something we wrote and it just doesn’t “sound right” or when we take out some words from a very lengthy and choppy sentence, we can feel the blocks removed, and now it is a sound that flows from our lips.

This is how we begin to learn spelling mastery and as you become aware of how certain words sound and make you feel, you will also become aware of how they affect those around you. And now that we know that we are always casting spells on each other, so why not starting casting some LOVE spells? <3

Tamara posts new original articles to CLN every Saturday.

This article was originally created and published by Conscious Life News and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Tamara Rant and ConsciousLifeNews.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this Copyright/Creative Commons statement.




3 Things You Need To Know About God | Gregg Braden

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8smzktXB8w

Video Source: Inspired

According to Gregg Braden, there are 3 fundamental things you need to know about God, and all religions and ancient cultures, as well as science, agree!

Partial Transcript:

God means different things to different people. But, science tells us that there is a fundamental and unifying force in this universe. We can call it whatever we want to call it. Throughout the ages, it has been called different things. And, as science delves deeper into the fundamental nature of our world in physics, we’re finding out more about that force. And that force appears to have intelligence or consciousness underlying its very existence… It’s so big, we probably can’t even talk about it, because what we try to do is assign human attributes to experience and things we don’t understand…

It’s all about the perception of what God means to you…

This field provides three functions:

1. It is the container, the field that connects all things. It is the container for everything in our experience. Nothing exists beyond this container.

2. It is the bridge between our inner and our outer world.

3. It is the mirror in our external world for what we claim to believe in our inner world.




Why We Are Here In This World | David R Hawkins

Video Source: Willie StudyYourself

Dr. David R. Hawkins, author of the acclaimed book “Power vs Force,” answers the question: “Why are we in this world?”



Yael Eckstein, IFCJ President and CEO, on Helping the Elderly Cope with a Crisis

Yael Eckstein (Source: ifcj.org)

Yael Eckstein, IFCJ President and CEO, oversees all ministry programs and serves as the international spokesperson for the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.  The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) funds humanitarian aid to the needy in Israel and in Jewish communities around the world, promotes prayer and advocacy on behalf of the Jewish state, and provides resources that help build bridges of understanding between Christians and Jews.

Born in Evanston, Illinois, outside of Chicago, and well-educated at both American and Israeli institutions – including biblical studies at Torat Chesed Seminary in Israel, Jewish and sociology studies at Queens College in New York, and additional study at Hebrew University in Jerusalem – Yael Eckstein has also been a Hebrew teacher and Jewish Studies teacher in the United States.

Prior to rising to her current role, Yael served as Global Executive Vice President, Senior Vice President, and Director of Program Development and Ministry Outreach. Based in Israel with her husband and their four children, Yael is a published writer and a respected social services professional.

Yael Eckstein has contributed to The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, and other publications, and is the author of three books: Generation to Generation: Passing on a Legacy of Faith to Our Children, Holy Land Reflections: A Collection of Inspirational Insights from Israel, and Spiritual Cooking with Yael. In addition, her insights into life in Israel, the Jewish faith, and Jewish-Christian relations can be heard on The Fellowship’s radio program, Holy Land Moments, which air five times per week on over 1,500 radio stations around the world.

Yael Eckstein has partnered with other global organizations, appeared on national television, and visited with U.S. and world leaders on issues of shared concern. She has been a featured guest on CBN’s The 700 Club with Gordon Robertson, and she served on a Religious Liberty Panel on Capitol Hill in May 2015 in Washington, D.C., discussing religious persecution in the Middle East. Her influence as one of the young leaders in Israel has been recognized with her inclusion in The Jerusalem Post’s 50 Most Influential Jews of 2020 and The Algemeiner’s Jewish 100 of 2019, and she was featured in the cover story of Nashim (Women) magazine in May 2015.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, IFCJ created a $5 million emergency fund to respond to the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic for elderly Israelis, some of whom are Holocaust survivors.  The most vulnerable members of Israel’s population will receive packages of food, hand sanitizer, and other essential items.

IFCJ is uniquely positioned to offer immediate emergency assistance through its With Dignity and Fellowship program serving 15,000 of Israel’s elderly population with food and basic needs. With this emergency fund, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews are committing to helping an additional 15,000 elderly Israelis.

“Israel is dealing with an emergency like it has never known, and we are all committed to enlisting and assisting the medical teams that are at the forefront in this struggle. This is an urgent need, and we will go above and beyond in order to help in every way possible. We call on all our friends around the world to join us and contribute any way they can. We are indebted to our committed donors who are already answering this call, even though the coronavirus poses a direct threat to them and their communities as well,” explained Eckstein.

“Under normal circumstances, the elderly are more prone to loneliness as well as financial and physical difficulties,” said Eckstein. “Now, they cannot even leave their homes for fear of catching the virus.”

“We are grateful for the support of so many around the world who allow us to respond quickly in these terrible moments,” said Eckstein. “But we also want to call upon people of faith everywhere to pray to God for His support for all of those in harm’s way, including those in the many countries called home by our friends and supporters.”




Taoist Ascended Masters Comment on How Religions Enslaves Us Instead of Awaken Us

By Dylan Charles | Waking Times 

“Most religions do not guide people in the direction of spiritual growth. They practice enslavement instead of awakening or enlightenment.” ~The Book of Changes and the Unchanging Truth

It’s impossible to grasp the full significance of the fact that of the world’s two major religions, one is engaged in a generations-long campaign of torture and murder of non-believers, and the other is always mired in sex scandals involving child rape, pedophilia, molestation, and high-level cover-ups. If our spiritual leadership is guilty of the worst kinds of crimes, and with such outstanding impunity, what chance do human beings have of rising above our current level of destructive consciousness?

The amount of cognitive dissonance it takes to seek spiritual growth in the footsteps of such seriously corrupt organizations is overwhelming. And somehow, people still show up to churches and mosques to worship the stories, symbols, and figures of organizations that abuse their good faith.

But spirituality is a major part of being human, and we need leadership in order to cultivate the best virtues within ourselves. But something has gone wrong.

“The spiritual confusion of the human world is indeed expressed in its religions. Religions have distorted the emotion of sincerity or piety: thus followers never have the opportunity to correctly reach the exquisite reality of spiritual truth.” ~The Book of Changes and the Unchanging Truth

While this might seem like an exclusively modern problem, the religious mindset, as presented in the form of so many organized religions, has long been recognized by many as being toxic and dangerous to the world at large. Of note here is the perspective of Taoism.

Looking through a translation of the ancient Chinese text of divination, the I Ching, I found a passage telling of a legend in which ascended spiritual masters describe what they saw as the faults in the human race, many of which were related to religion and its effects on humankind.

As the legend goes, in short, a family of highly evolved spiritual beings chose to incarnate as humans on earth many times over a period of six-thousand years in order to guide humans toward spiritual clarity. At the end of this experiment, these masters meet up to discuss what they saw and what they learned by living hundreds of human lives.

Consider the following passages as quoted from their report on the decline of the human race. Note how they view religion as a source of confusion, chaos, and destruction in our world.

“I have witnessed both the growth and decline of our human friends. They have become trapped by their own creations: social systems, religions and other such weapons. Their common problem is a lack of spiritual clarity. Although they can intelligently handle small matters, they are unable to perceive the whole.” ~The Book of Changes and the Unchanging Truth

Regarding how religions use fear as their main selling point:

“Artificial religions make people behave decently out of fear of being punished by Heaven. This fear is widely preached and is the degradation of human spiritual dignity. Thus, people are losing the true knowledge of their deep inner root of universal life.

“With their spiritual focus misguided and misused, our human friends have lost their natural direction and seek the temporary relief that some religions offer. They cannot see that the most important element of a religion should not be fear of some remote and omnipotent god.” ~The Book of Changes and the Unchanging Truth

The purpose of this is noted here:

“The general purpose of established religion is to teach people to worship a single spiritual image for the purpose of authority and power rather than to guide them to achieve true spiritual growth. Individual development is curbed by dogma, which causes people to eventually stray from a liberal-minded, meditative and reflective spiritual growth.” ~The Book of Changes and the Unchanging Truth

Religions use symbols and idols to mislead people:

“External religions focus on the shell of what God looks like, what kind of robe God wears, what kind of crown is on God’s head, etc. Awe is merely an elementary passion or emotion that supports the religious establishment of an external image of authority.” ~The Book of Changes and the Unchanging Truth

And by using exaggerated public displays of piety, religions trick people into perceptual authoritarianism:

“Making a public declaration and spectacle of one’s piety does not indicate real spiritual growth. Such people have known to criticize, attack and murder those of different beliefs in order to demonstrate their piety. In reality, they are totally lost.”

“A social design that was given the term ‘religion’ by earlier leaders, cannot be good for all times and all people. Any system that imposes rigid patterns on a society must inevitably lead to suffering, pressure and tension. Any benefit, including military ‘strength,’ is ultimately nullified by the resulting deadlock of inflexible conditions. Compare this to a society that is naturally free and has less armed strength: the people stay open-minded, free, natural and harmonious.” ~The Book of Changes and the Unchanging Truth

The religious mindset is not easily questioned or deposed once one has accepted it as part of their reality:

“Recent converts, or people who are born into a particular religion, are usually not objective about their religion. They are affected by stories that temporarily correspond in some manner to their own emotions and life experiences. As strong sympathizers and firm believers, they reinforce their emotional patterns and follow the particular destiny of the religion they have chosen. The direction of their lives is not based on spiritual growth or deep individual awareness.” ~The Book of Changes and the Unchanging Truth

Human beings are incredibly diverse in ideas and culture, but the presence of dogmatic religions creates conflict, as it violates the truth of the individual’s experience.

“No one should be forced to accept only one interpretation of the truth. Religious conflicts exist because people insist that their interpretation is the only one.” ~The Book of Changes and the Unchanging Truth

Final Thoughts

This Taoist legend is ultimately about the total spiritual development of human beings and how religion leads us down the wrong path toward enslavement rather than awakening.

“With true piety, a person will never be evil or cruel. With true piety, one will always be gentle. With true piety, one will always cherish and maintain purity and clarity.” ~The Book of Changes and the Unchanging Truth

About the Author

Dylan Charles is the editor of Waking Times and host of The Battered Souls Podcast, both dedicated to ideas of personal transformation, societal awakening, and planetary renewal. His personal journey is deeply inspired by shamanic plant medicines and the arts of Kung Fu, Qi Gong, and Yoga. After seven years of living in Costa Rica, he now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where he practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and enjoys spending time with family. He has written hundreds of articles, reaching and inspiring millions of people around the world.

This article (Taoist Ascended Masters Comment on How Religions Enslave Us Instead of Awaken Us) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Dylan Charles and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.