The kingdom of God [Heaven] is within you.
I danced in the morning when the world had begun.
And I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun.
I came down from heaven and I danced on the Earth.
At Bethlehem I had my birth.
—Sydney Carter (1915-2004) “Lord of the Dance”
(Perfomance) (Article) (Lyrics)
The Bible tells us there is a time for all things
and there is a time to preach and a time to pray,
but the time for me to preach has passed away,
and there is a time to fight, and that time has come now.
Now is the time to fight!
Call for recruits!
Sound the drums!
—Peter Muhlenberg (1746-1807)
I tend to grimace these days whenever a liberal talking-head opines on Fox News. It’s an unconscious, involuntary reaction, similar to how I automatically flip the bird at Pelosi whenever I chance upon her on TV. (Pelosi’s not the only one who gets the “one finger salute.” I’ve become quite quick at it, and even ambidextrous in using either my right or left hand).
(I should mention in passing that I find it just as teeth-grindingly difficult to listen to pseudo-conservative RINOS).
This visceral animosity toward liberalism is something new to me. I’ve only recently acquired it, and I certainly did not have it most of my adult life. Where did it come from, and why do I have it? Why now? (Link)
Like many Americans I woke up and started smelling the roses, or rather the manure, a couple of months into Obama’s Presidency (purported Presidency). It has been one heck of a wake-up call, and the “state of the union” is much worse than I suspected. (Link)
While it’s true that “we the people” have the enemy (Marxists/Fascists/Liberals) surrounded, they hold most of the “high ground.” At present they largely control our Lame Stream Media (basically leftist propaganda outlets), much of our legal system (including the judiciary), our schools (kindergarten on up through post-graduate), much of the top echelons of various government agencies and our military, and the entertainment industry. In addition, they hold leadership positions in many professions and corporations—the list goes on.
Besides the enemies within, we face enemies without—financial subversives, Global Elites, Islamic jihadists, rogue nations…. Again, the list goes on.
Like Caesar at Alesia, we face an enemy within, and without, and we must fight and win multiple battles on two fronts. May God grant that we are blessed with the same successful outcome as Caesar—and no doubt, it will take God’s help. (Link)
Speaking of God, now that Christmas is approaching, and I’ve start playing “Winter Carols” by “Blackmore’s Night,” and otherwise preparing to celebrate Jesus’ birth, I figure that this is as good a time as any to write about the supreme importance of God, and the vital role Christianity plays in our lives and culture. (Link) (Link)
I started out writing this article fully intending to limit it to why I’ve come to detest the arrogant liberal mind-set, but it turned out that the topic of God, and Christianity kept cropping up, and this turned into an article on the importance of God, faith, and spirituality—i.e. “life, the universe, and everything.” It has been a challenging article to write, and it will no doubt be a challenging article to read for many.
Now wait. Before you go off to rearrange your sock-drawer, or some other important task you just remembered, you should note that there is no topic more important than God and spirituality. The attitudes and beliefs we hold regarding these concepts/realities define our life (both present and future). Surely it is worth a few minutes of your time to explore them a bit.
When you get down to it, what more important subject can there possibly be, and what is the ongoing battle between conservatism and the Far Left, but the struggle between materialism and spirituality—label them as you will? Therefore, odd as it might sound, the more conversant we are with spiritual truth, the stronger becomes our ability to resist the the worldly machinations of the Far Left Globalists.
I have taken this opportunity to discuss a number of issues that don’t normally find a place in my more politically-oriented articles. As a consequence, this article is quite lengthy—much longer than is typical of my articles. Nonetheless, one of the tougher chores in writing this has been editing out material (generally because I felt that it went too far afield and off-message). In order to give the reader an obvious place to take a break if desired, I’ve split the article into 12 sections. There will be a short test at the end. Just kidding.
As good a place as any to begin a discussion about God, is with the denial of God—atheism. Some atheists are legitimately searching for answers, in which case their atheism may be considered a positive step in their spiritual growth. Such individuals may actually be farther along the spiritual path than someone who unquestioningly accepts religious dogma by rote, or because of fear.
Most atheists, however, are simply looking for a cop-out to justify an ego-driven life-style. Instead of seeking character building, soul-enriching endeavors, they chase the mirage of satisfying the ego’s insatiable desires in a never-ending pursuit of various ego-stroking ploys, and hedonistic games.
Many liberal and Far Left atheists (be they Communist or Fascist, Communitarian or Fabian, etc.) are increasingly militant about their atheism, and consider religions and a belief in God to be not only an impediment to human progress, but downright evil.
Far from being the logical, scientific panacea that its followers claim it is, atheism is at best, merely just another hypothesis for explaining reality, and a pretty lame one at that.
Still, the atheistic intelligentsia are darned pleased with themselves—smug smacked asses. Sam Schulman pointed out in a recent article that “the history of the left’s attraction to tyranny is a very old one. Less well appreciated is its attraction to pomposity and pretension….” True enough, but “we the people” have come to be much more aware of their arrogance, thanks to the Obama Administration and the 111th Congress. But I digress. (Link)
Eric Butterworth, when discussing the iconic images of Adam and The Creator painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, observed that “[Those images] make for great art, but lousy theology.” Meaning that such anthropomorphic depictions of God are misleading. It is often such symbolic depictions of God that atheists attack. They might be surprised to learn that many believers throughout the ages agree with them—they didn’t believe in such depictions of God either.
Let’s be crystal clear about one thing. Atheism mandates a life without purpose or meaning. In atheism’s view it could not matter less whether you, or anyone else, lived or died. Nothing you do has any ultimate meaning, and you are yourself without meaning. The stunningly bleak result of following atheism to its logical end, is ignored to a remarkable extent by its adherents. Some in the Far Left have recognized this, and through “spiritual” think tanks such as the Club of Budapest branch of the Club of Rome, try to come up with pseudo-religious philosophies to fill the void (such as Gaia worship).
When the Far Left talks about a Godless utopia, they are talking about a meaningless fantasy—and I mean meaningless. The historical evidence clearly shows that Far Left utopias invariably end in bloodshed, and ultimately must be forced upon people, because they ignore human nature. Not only are these “utopias” invariably violent, brutish, and Machiavellian, but they represent nothing but the equivalent of a bunch of insignificant ants committed to creating a future ant-hill utopia where other insignificant ants can enjoy their meaningless existence in equally shared meaninglessness, all to no ultimate purpose. So where do I sign up? Not.
Atheism posits the nihilistic, life-denying proposition that life means NOTHING. No action you take means anything; all words ever spoken or written are worthless; love and morality are valueless delusions, and hope is a cruel jest. Everything and anything throughout eternity and the universe ultimately amounts to nothing, nothing, nothing at all.
The Power Elites fight to be on top of this meaningless ant pile, so that they can lord it over other meaningless ants, while keeping themselves busy with meaningless Machiavellian intrigues, feeding various meaningless desires, and ignoring the stark senseless vacuity of it all.
A main difference between atheists and true spiritual seekers, is that the atheist settles on a concept of God to not believe in, and then stews in their ignorance—while the seeker keeps searching. It’s all about ego when you get down to it. As Milton has Lucifer say in “Paradise Lost:” “Tis better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.” Lucifer’s statement could serve as the atheist’s motto, the Far Left’s rallying cry, and the ego’s credo. (Link)
“I lived for myself, I thought for myself,
For myself, and none beside—
Just as if Jesus had never lived,
As if He had never died.”
II. I am aware of my thinking, therefore I am
Moving on: René Descartes (1596-1650) was a brilliant mathematician/philosopher, who was responsible for a couple of problems that have had a major impact on Western civilization.
The first of the problems that I’ll discuss is Descartes’ famous axiom :“Cogito, ergo sum”—“I think, therefore I am.” This statement was/is important because Descartes considered it to be the ultimate root of our identity. He asked himself questions regarding his identity, until he came to what he considered to be the core of his existence—he knew he existed because he had thoughts, ideas, concepts. If he had thoughts, then he must exist—he thought.
Close but no cigar René. In a nutshell, you cannot BE that which you are aware OF (there are indeed elevated states of consciousness where observer and observed are one, but I won’t be discussing them in this article—you can thank me later).
How could you possibly know that you even have thoughts unless you were aware of them? Awareness is a priori to thinking, and therefore it is consciousness itself that is our true identity—not our thoughts. The correct axiom would be “I am aware of my thinking, therefore I am.”
As Dr. David R. Hawkins puts it, “the belief that the intellect is the ultimate capacity of man is in itself a limitation. It is useful to realize that an almost automatic accompaniment to the mind is its innate, unstated, but ever-present naive presumptiveness. This becomes the basis for lack of insight into the mind’s limitations by mechanisms of denial and pride, i.e. ‘I think, therefore I am’ rather than its corollary, ‘I am, therefore I think.’”
Because awareness is a sort of interface between mind and spirit, by steering Western culture away from the study of consciousness, Descartes’ axiom has had us chasing a red herring for centuries.
Pure awareness should not be thought of as an empty, lifeless state of mind. In one of D.T. Suzuki’s books he quotes “the wise Sekiso [who] said, ‘Not a single idea will disturb your consciousness, when lo! all of a sudden you will come to realize the light abounding in full gladness. It is like coming across the light in thick darkness; it is like receiving treasure in poverty.’” While pure awareness cannot be accessed by thinking about it (which would sort of be like trying to experience water by studying fish), it can be experienced. To continue the metaphor, ideas (fish) are the content; whereas awareness (water) is the context. (Link)
Ludwig Wittgenstein, who knew a thing or two about words, observed that “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” In a similar vein St. Francis said, “Preach the Gospel (Good News) at all times. If necessary use words.” Words, like logic and science, have limits to their usefulness (although all three are indispensable tools within their operational parameters).
Newtonian physics, for example, works just fine for getting us to the moon and back, but falters and fails when confronted with the cosmically large, or atomically small, where quantum physics takes over.
Science itself has limits, and has never been capable of delving into the most important aspects of life—those very qualities that give life meaning and purpose: love, hope, friendship, empathy, honesty, integrity, and the like—none of which can be empirically tested through weighing and measurement.
Please don’t get the impression that I’m dumping on science, or implying that spirituality is illogical. Spirituality has infinite areas that are beyond the parameters of logic, but I would never call spirituality illogical. Nor do I have any axe to grind with science. On the contrary, I like science, heck I love science.
(FYI: According to a (very informal) scientific survey I’ve taken over the years, around 80% of people feel “heartache” in their breastbone (heart chakra) area, and about 20% feel it “in their gut”).
While I wouldn’t say that Descartes pointed Western science in the wrong direction, I wouldn’t say that he pointed it in the right direction either. By ignoring the fundamental importance of awareness, Descartes relegated the study of consciousness to the neglected backwaters of science for centuries.
Consequently, people (especially those in the West) are strongly identified with their thoughts. It’s somewhat akin to a person becoming so engrossed in a movie that they totally forget they’re in the audience. The movie (what they are aware of, i.e. thoughts) becomes more real to them than reality (who they really are, i.e. awareness).
(By the way, it’s worth noting that spirituality is not tied in with the intellect. That is, one can be very bright, and still be a spiritual idiot, On the other hand, one can be of so-so intelligence, and yet be a spiritual genius).
Despite the fact that since the early part of the 20th century quantum physics has underlined the importance of consciousness through such things as the Copenhagen interpretation, and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, consciousness has largely remained on the scientific back-burner until the last few decades.
While several good books have been written on the topic of the overlap between quantum physics (also known as quantum mechanics, and quantum theory) and Eastern spiritual teachings, it is recent efforts to make the study of consciousness scientifically respectable, that have started to give the study of awareness legitimacy in the scientific community. Especially noteworthy are the groundbreaking research of Dr. David R. Hawkins, and the efforts of Edgar Mitchell.
III. “The presence of divinity became almost palpable“
Mitchell was a NASA astronaut returning home from a trip to the moon in 1971, when he had a “God-shock” experience, which is also known as being “God-smacked” (I’m also fond of the Zen term Kwatz!, as in “His roshi shouted Kwatz! in his ear, and the student realized that the sound of one hand clapping was not something he had to think about anymore”—Hah, that’s a good one. Well, maybe you had to be there, or not be there, or…never mind). (Link)
In Mitchell’s words, “The presence of divinity became almost palpable, and I knew that life in the universe was not just an accident based on random processes…. The knowledge came to me directly.”
When Mitchell says that the knowledge came to him “directly,” he means that the knowledge was transmitted experientially via consciousness, as opposed to being grasped intellectually through thinking.
God-shock moments have been reported throughout the ages. For instance, Blaise Pascal (a contemporary of Descartes, and no slouch in the smarts department himself), had such an experience. After his death a piece of parchment was found sewn in his jacket-lining next to his heart. On the parchment were words he had written to commemorate a God-shock episode he had experienced:
“The year of grace 1654,
Monday the 23rd of November, St. Clement’s day…
From about half past ten in the evening
until about half past twelve, midnight,
…God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob
not of the philosophers and the wise,
Certainty, joy, certainty, feeling, joy, peace.”
In his classic book “The Varieties of Religious Experience” William James reports a God-shock experience involving Dr. Bucke (a close friend and student of Walt Whitman’s, Bucke coined the term “cosmic consciousness”). Bucke relates his experience: “…there came upon me a sense of exultation, of immense joyousness accompanied or immediately followed by an intellectual illumination impossible to describe. Among other things, I did not merely come to believe, but I saw that the universe is not composed of dead matter, but is, on the contrary, a living Presence; I became conscious in myself of eternal life. …The vision lasted a few seconds and was gone; but the memory of it and the sense of reality of what it taught me has remained during the quarter of a century which has since elapsed…that consciousness has never, even during periods of the deepest depression, been lost.”
(Another apropos quote from James’ book is, “…our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different”).
The medieval monk Brother Lawrence (1614-1691) lived most of his adult life in “great joy,” devoted to God. He said that “the set times of prayer were not different from other times,” because he was in constant contact with God. To “pray without ceasing” is only possible through a surrendered state of consciousness.
Brother Lawrence, who coined the expression “practicing the Presence of God,” said “There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God. Those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it.” Experience it—indeed. (Link)
Spiritual/theological author and lecturer Alan Watts wrote of one of his God-shock experiences in the 1960s: “I felt that I owned nothing, not even a self, and that nothing owned me. The whole world became as transparent and unobstructed as my own mind; the ‘problem of life’ simply ceased to exist, and for about eighteen hours I and everything around me felt like the wind blowing leaves across a field on an autumn day.”
(By the way, Watt’s gave some good advice for anyone experimenting with hallucinogens, “Once you get the message, hang up the phone.” I don’t know how well Allan followed his own advice, but it’s sage advice nonetheless. Better yet, don’t pick up the “phone” in the first place). (Link)
Somewhat similar is Bill Wilson’s (one of the two co-founders of A.A.) description of his experience: “There was a sense of victory, followed by such a peace and serenity as I had never known. There was utter confidence. I felt lifted up, as though the great clean wind of a mountain top blew through and through.”
As I said, history is full of such anecdotes of God-shock experiences. I know of no better way to learn about such states of consciousness, then through the books, CDs, DVDs, and lectures of Dr. David R. Hawkins. (Link)
IV. These times call for courage — courage in abundance
A WWII veteran, not only does Dr. Hawkins bring over fifty years as a licensed psychiatrist to the table (for many years he ran the country’s largest psychiatric clinic in NYC), he also has extensive experiential knowledge of many of the various states of consciousness. He coauthored the book “Orthomolecular Psychiatry” with Nobelist Linus Pauling, he has been knighted by Denmark’s Sovereign Order of the Hospitaliers of St. John of Jerusalem, and he has been honored in the Far East by being bestowed with the title “Teacher of the Way to Enlightenment.”
Because of his scientific background , and personal experiences, Dr. Hawkins is perhaps uniquely qualified to write and speak about spiritual matters, in terminology suited to a scientific methodology (although he generally describes things in a manner accessible to everyone). (Link)
It is no small thing to have someone with a background in psychiatry explain various spiritual states of consciousness (that he has personally experienced). For example, Dr. Hawkins can tell the difference between spiritual states and pathological states; between devotion and hyper-religiosity, between humility and low self esteem, between spiritual ecstasy and manic states (or drug highs), between God-shock and Schizophrenic disorganization, and so on. (From “Transcending the Levels of Consciousness” 2006).
If nothing else, you should check out Dr. Hawkins’ MOC (Map Of Consciousness), which is included in all of his books, and is also available in a colored, laminated edition at his website. (The link provided here leads to a truncated version of the MOC. Go to veritaspub.com for the full enchilada). (Link)
In the MOC the level of Courage separates the states of consciousness that are primarily concerned with taking and blaming others, and the levels of giving and personal responsibility. Why courage? Because it takes courage to stop blaming others for our problems, and “man up” enough to take personal responsibility for what happens to us. In the “blame game” levels below Courage, one sees oneself as a hapless victim of outside forces, and God is seen as a punitive, tyrannical dictator, if God is seen at all.
These times call for courage—courage in abundance—and thinking outside of the box. The qualities of courage, intention, attention, attitude, and belief are vital elements in intentionally accessing various states of consciousness. “Be not afraid, only believe.” (Link)
Belief, or faith, is crucial is shaping our reality, both individually, and collectively. (Our collective state of consciousness is what Dr. Carl Jung called the “collective unconscious,” Emmet Fox called the “race mind,” Father Teilhard de Chardin called the “noosphere,” and Don Miguel Ruiz calls the “mitote.” It goes by a number of names). (Link)
The Bible tells us that when Jesus visited His home town “he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.” The word “unbelief” is somewhat misleading. The folks in Jesus’ home town believed all right; they believed that He was not capable of performing miracles—a case of “familiarity breeds contempt.”
Compare that to the woman whose belief was so strong that merely touching the hem of Jesus’ robe healed her of a protracted illness. (By the way, Jesus doesn’t tell her that He, or God, healed her; He tells her, “Daughter, your faith [belief] has healed you. Go in peace”).
(The account of Jesus feeling power drain from (through) Him, and then asking his disciples “who touched me,” is somewhat humorous. One can imagine the disciples saying to themselves “There’s only about a gazillion people mobbing about, and He wants to know who touched Him?”). (Link)
Although Jesus is typically presented as being very grave, I agree with Alan Mayotte, who wrote in “The Complete Jesus” that “I would expect one of divine nature to be a happy, joyful person.” (Link)
It is usually a good idea to run, not walk, away from any spiritual teacher devoid of humor. The appearance of humor is by no means a fail-safe sign of spiritual integrity, but the lack of a sense of humor is generally a tell-tail sign of mental pathology, and stunted spiritual growth.
As Dr. Hawkins says “We should take humor seriously.” Which is not to say that one needn’t be earnest about their spiritual quest, but that there’s no need to be glum about it. The spiritual journey after all, features joy, release, and freedom. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (It is useful to recall that Paul wrote those words while imprisoned in a Roman jail cell)]. (Link)
V. Religion, Spirituality, and Spiritualism
I’d like to briefly discuss the differences between religion, spirituality, and “spiritualism,” as I see them. A useful (if not perfect) rule-of-thumb is to think of religion as dealing mainly with transmitting knowledge, and spirituality as focusing primarily on transmitting experiences—there is, of course, overlap.
I consider spirituality to be mainly concerned with seeking God, and I use the term “spiritualism” when referring to all of the various arcane phenomenon (the occult, ESP, astral travel, and the like) which tend to be just esoteric ways of playing games with the ego—like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic).
Spirituality is concerned with humility, gratitude, thanksgiving, surrender, and similar ego-reducing, soul enriching practices. “Spiritualism” is mainly concerned with novelty, power, ego stroking, and the like.
The watch-words caveat emptor—buyer beware—should always be kept in mind when shopping in the Spiritual Bazaar. Heavens Gate and Jonestown come to mind (by the way, did you know that mass murderer Jim Jones was a Far Left Marxist? The liberal press seems to have missed that somehow).
Logic, like words, operates in a linear one-thing-at-a-time manner, whereas spirituality is often the experience of an everything-all-at-once gestalt. Consequently, trying to explain spirituality to an empirical scientist (or any secular humanist/positivist), is often on a par with trying to explain a grand musical symphony to someone deaf from birth.
Emmet Fox describes how limiting the effect of being trapped in the realm of thoughts and words (i.e. the intellect) can be: “We are very much in the position of a color-blind man in a beautiful flower garden. All around him are glorious colors; but he is quite unaware of them and sees only blacks, whites, and grays. If we suppose him to be also devoid of the sense of smell, we shall see what a very small part of the glory of the garden exists for him. Yet it is all there, if he could but sense it.” (Link)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning had much the same idea in mind when she wrote “Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God; but only he who sees, takes off his shoes—the rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.”
As fascinating (or boring) as we may find the rarified atmosphere of metaphysics, most of us operate in the day-to-day mundane world of “blackberry plucking,” and it is there, in the dry, linear, Newtonian world of cause and effect, that the atheistic, materialistic, secular humanism of the Far Left would leave us stuck—forever.
I mentioned earlier that Descartes presented Western civilization with two problems. Besides leaving us marooned in our minds, he also left us with the either/or dichotomy. Descartes, sometimes referred to as “the father of science,” came up the idea that our minds are separate from our bodies (the “soul in the machine”). Without going into detail, Descartes’ mind/body dichotomy, and his philosophical writings, heavily influenced Western scientific methodology. (Link)
Descartes was largely responsible for steering science toward seeing reality through an either/or lens—i.e. either something is this, or it is that. For example, humans are either shaped by nature (biology), or by nurture (environment).
To anyone with common sense it seems obvious that human nature is influenced by BOTH biology AND environment. The operative correlation then becomes “both/and,” rather than either/or. As in, we are influenced by both nature and nurture, or we are both saints and sinners, not we are either saints or sinners.
VI. Bible and it’s translations
Because the Bible is the world’s best selling book, and said to be divinely inspired (from God’s mouth to our ears, so to speak), it’s worth spending a little time discussing its various translations. Bart D. Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus” is an excellent introduction to the subject; written in a manner understandable to those of us who are not biblical scholars.
Among the interesting facts you’ll learn in his book, is that Greek was the lingua franca among the intelligentsia of the day, and the closer to Jesus’ lifetime a Greek manuscript of the New Testament was written, the more reliable it is considered to be—since all copies of the Bible were, of course, copied by hand in those days, and small errors accumulated over the centuries before the introduction of the printing press in 1450.
For over a thousand years the only Christian Bible in Europe was St. Jerome’s (Catholic) Vulgate, written in Latin—by the 4th century, when the first edition of the Vulgate was written, Latin had replaced Greek as the lingua franca. Then in 1516 the Dutch Catholic priest Erasmus came out with a new translation of the Bible
Erasmus’ translation was meant to correct any mistakes made in Jerome’s original translation, and also to correct the inevitable errors that had crept in via the innumerable hand-written copies made over the centuries (ever play the children’s game “Telephone?”). The scribes and monks who hand-wrote copies of the Bible were no doubt scrupulous in their attention to detail, but still…. (Link)
The King James Bible is essentially the English translation of Erasmus’ version. Erasmus’ translation was followed a few years later by Martin Luther’s translation (also based on Erasmus’ Bible) into German. The Erasmus translation itself has more than a couple of problems with it, but I won’t get into that here (again, no need to thank me).
During the late19th century, and especially during the 20th, biblical translations sprang up fast and furious, until there are now more translations than you can shake a censer at.
Some folks love the King James (KJV) version of the Bible, both for its historical patina, and beauty of language (for example, no other translation matches the poetry of “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares”). Some people like the Catholic NAB (New American Bible) for its inclusion of certain books in the OT that are apocrypha in other Bibles (e.g. considered non-canonical by Protestants). Some folks prefer the NIV (New International Version) because of its wide acceptance among the various Protestant faiths. To each their own. I prefer the NKJV (New King James Version), because it retains much of the charm of the KJV, but dispenses with all the begats, begots, thees, thous, and other Old English usages.
One needs to be careful before getting their panties in a twist over various interpretations of biblical scripture. They may simply stem from a mistake passed down through the centuries when all Bibles were hand written copies susceptible to human error, or simply a bad translation of a word or phrase, (the original manuscripts have no punctuation, or sentences, or paragraphs—let alone chapters and verses. Such things were added much later by translators). There’s no sense in getting up in arms over what might turn out to be a mistake made by some scribe in a hurry to get to the latrine.
Do I consider the Bible to be a holy book, and the word of God? I do, absolutely. Do I consider it to be infallible? No. The Bible may be God’s Word, but it was written down by (i.e. filtered through) very fallible human beings. I love and deeply respect the Bible, but I always pray for inspiration and guidance before reading it, lest I be waylaid by my own gullibility and ignorance—among other things.
[Sidebar: In case it may be of interest to you, there are three books that I recommend to those I meet who are interested in learning more about Christianity. I’m not claiming that these are the best books on Christianity, merely that I have found them to be helpful. There are, of course, many other excellent books.
The books I recommend are “The Sermon On The Mount” by Emmet Fox, “Discover The Power Within You” by Eric Butterworth, and “What’s So Great About Christianity” by Denesh D’Souza. Fox’s book, which is the most spiritual, or metaphysical, of the three, was first published in the early 1930s, and is still revolutionary and relevant. Deneesh’s book is the most recent (2007), and is an excellent apologetic for Christianity, mainly stressing social, economic, and theological matters. Butterworth’s book is somewhere between the other two—though it leans more heavily towards the spiritual/metaphysical].
[Sidebar. The above refers strictly to translations of the Christian Bible. I know very little about the Hebrew translations of the Jewish holy book, the Tanakh (or TANAKH)—if the Jews are happy with it, I’m happy with it. The Tanakh, of course, is known to Christians as the Old Testament (OT)].
VII. Difference between enlightenment and salvation
Before I get into discussing Christianity, I would like to briefly address the difference between enlightenment and salvation. Although we often confuse the two, sometimes using them interchangeably, they are not the same. At the risk of over-simplifying things, you could say that Buddha emphasized Enlightenment, while Jesus emphasized Salvation. The former focuses mainly on transcending the ego, while the later focuses more on purifying the ego.
Because of its great importance to European and American history and culture, I’m limiting myself to discussing Christianity in this article, (although because we share the same Judeo-Christian heritage, I consider Judaism (including Messianic Judaism) to be a kindred, if different, faith).
I first started my spiritual seeking by delving into Zen Buddhism in the late 1960s. This was followed by a few years of Sufi studies, including a darshan with Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan in 1975 (a “darshan” is a sort of spiritual tête-à-tête). (Link)
In my search for spiritual truth, I’ve been dipped, dunked, and darshaned all around the world. I at long last settled on Jesus as my savior, and non-denominational Christianity as my path. (I have nothing against the orthodox denominations, and leave myself open to joining one in the future. It’s just that right now, for me, non-denominational seems the way to go. Also, my choosing Christianity should not be taken as a sign of disrespect toward other spiritual paths).
I chose non-denominational Christianity mainly because not all of my beliefs fit comfortably into any orthodox denomination that I’m aware of. For example, I believe in reincarnation. It’s important to note that although all of the spiritual teachers that I’ve admired took reincarnation’s reality for granted, none of them taught that it was important. Their attitude has basically been “Yes it exists, so what? You don’t have enough on your plate with this lifetime?”
(I have zero interest in actually experiencing any past lives, and treat the concept of reincarnation merely as an intellectual bridge to explain what would otherwise be to me inexplicable phenomena).
On the other hand, I can see the social benefits to be had from teaching the “flock” that they have just this one lifetime to straighten up. Such a concept certainly ratchets up the incentive to “get things right” this time around.
In a similar vein, it’s worth noting that the Bible has scripture that is related to the Eastern concept of karma. For example: “God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” and “As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.” Or in the vernacular, “What goes around, comes around.” Whatever—I consider the subject of reincarnation worth mentioning, but it is hardly something I’m adamant about, or wish to argue over.
Here, and in many other places, I try to be careful not to confuse my opinion with the truth, and my ego-driven desire to be “right,” with righteousness. Instead of being loyal to the truth, and God, I’m all too capable of treating my religious beliefs as an extension of my ego. If I don’t watch myself, I can end up valuing my religion over God, and confusing the vehicle of transportation with the destination.
VIII. Western society has a dire need for spiritual maturity
Western society has a dire need for spiritual maturity—to grow up, spiritually speaking. We have progressed in technology by leaps and bounds, but we have, at best, treaded water and stagnated spiritually as a culture—due in no small part to the Far Left’s long-time animosity toward God.
If humanity survives, people a few hundred years from now will no doubt look upon our present spiritual state of ignorance, in much the same way that we look upon the technical ignorance of the Dark Ages.
The Far Left, aided and abetted by funding sources like Soros, has done their best to demoralize, confuse, debase, and demean Western culture over the years, and then they turn around and tut-tut over the deplorable state of Western civilization—much like the way that they sabotage, abuse, and pervert capitalism, and then when it fails under the constant attacks say, “Capitalism doesn’t work—we told you so!” Putzes.
They have used the same destructive techniques on religion, and Christianity in particular. One of the more insidious religious perversions of the Far Left is their insistence on a homogeneous, cookie-cutter “collective salvation.” (Link)
Salvation is most assuredly not something to be attained in lock-step. Contrary to the Far Left’s idee fixe that the answer to personal problems always lies outside of a person, the reality is that we are each accountable for our own destiny. It’s our job, and our job alone, to use our free will to release our “imprisoned splendor.” Although help from others can be invaluable, spiritual growth and character building is an “inside job.” (Link)
Nations, as well as individuals, evolve (and devolve) spiritually. The United States, which was founded on spiritual principles, and has Judeo-Christian roots, is fading fast. America’s spiritual roots are starving for nourishment due to the ever tightening stranglehold of atheistic secularism.
The Far Left has not been content with actively opposing Christianity, or inventing pseudo-Christian teachings such as Liberation Theology. It has also been infiltrating, diluting and subverting the major Christian denominations from within—none more so than the largest denomination, the Catholic Church.
In 1942 C.S. Lewis published “The Screwtape Letters,” in which dangers to Christianity are described via advice given by one demon to another, on how to defeat Christianity, Christian ethics, morality, etc. The excerpt below shows that the current faux-Christian stance on social justice is nothing new, nor has it come about by happenstance. It’s all part of the materialist’s centuries-old drive to destroy Christianity. (Link)
“Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over into their political life, for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster. …The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice…and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice.” (Link)
In his second letter to the Thessalonians Paul wrote, “nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you…to make of ourselves an example of how you should follow us.” That hardly sounds as if he was promoting granny-state entitlements, collective salvation, or free rides.
IX. I’ve come to despise liberals
To get back to the reasons why I’ve come to despise liberals; perhaps the greatest reason for my ever-growing dislike of them is that they serve as such passionate tools/fools for the machinery of tyranny. (No doubt, I should feel antipathy toward liberalism, rather than liberals—“love the sinner, hate the sin,” and all that. I should, and in the moments when I’m basking in the sunlight of the Spirit, I do).
Even the most decent, well meaning liberals serve as fuel for the “machine”—serving as part of a pseudo-respectable front for the Far Left’s power grab. The Far Left’s Machiavellian puppet masters are the worst of the lot, but the duped liberal “useful idiots” are just as bad in their own way.
Many liberals are unaware of the fact that they’re being used as a stalking horse for power-hungry egotists, greedy sociopaths, anti-social malcontents, and their ilk, but the liberals unquestioning acquiescence to the Power Elite’s marching orders allows the Globalist agenda to move forward. The fact that by betraying the United States they are betraying the most revolutionary, successful large-scale social experiment in human history, seems to totally escape them.
Liberals are almost invariably below Dr. Hawkins’ level of Courage. That is, their levels of consciousness, their spiritual “hood,” focuses on “taking” and “blame.” Whatever the problem, difficulty, or issue is, it’s never their fault—it’s society’s fault, it’s America’s fault, it’s Bush’s fault, it’s everything and anything but their fault. They seem incapable of holding themselves accountable whenever something disturbs them.
I’ve become convinced that liberalism is a mental pathology, and a spiritual sickness. The liberal icon of mental health, Sigmund Freud, was more than a little loopy himself, in my opinion. Freud despised his parent’s Judaism, and Western civilization’s Christianity, and his book “The Future of an Illusion” is a vicious attack on religion in general, and Christianity in particular (for an excellent synopsis of the book you should read Dr. Ben Wiker’s chapter on it, in “Ten Books That Screwed Up The World: And 5 Others That Didn’t Help”). (Link)
Freud’s one time protégé, C.G. Jung, was a much better psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, psychologist, and all around good guy, than Freud ever dreamed of being. An interesting discussion about the two of them can be found in Joseph Campbell’s introduction to “The Portable Jung.” (Link) (Link)
The Far Left and their liberal cheering section have been nitpicking, magnifying, and otherwise exploiting, any little defect they can find with America, or Christianity for decades. They ignore, or downplay what is good, strong, and decent, while throwing a glaring spotlight on any perceived defect. Their incessant whining about what’s wrong with America, capitalism, and Christianity is duplicitous, unhelpful, and destructive.
I have news for them, if you look at ANYTHING through crap-colored glasses (i.e. negative attitudes), it’s going to look like s—t. I’ll put Christianity’s history up against the brutal, bloody track record of Far Left atheism any day.
I won’t bother to go into the clever idiocy of Keynesian economics, or the deplorable liberal social strategies—those subjects are well covered elsewhere. But I will mention that I’m more than a little concerned with the liberal fondness for Socialism. Liberals are entirely too comfortable with the doctrine of Fascism (of the Socialist Workers Party variety). (Link)
(Warning: sarcastic sidebar. Gee whiz, that almost sounds like liberals embrace old-time Communism/Fascism. Well, “Newsweek” told us “We’re All Socialists Now,” so I guess it must be true. I wonder if Lenin meant it when he said “The goal of socialism is communism?”). (Link)
It’s past time to take the gloves off and don the “full armor of God.” The Far Left never even wears gloves—unless it’s to hide their fingerprints.
My spiritually evolved Self knows that, as Julian of Norwich (1342-c.1416) put it, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well,” but my “blackberry plucking” self says “bulls—t, let’s kick some liberal butt” (figuratively speaking, of course). (Link)
The time may come, and it may be soon, when some of us will have to don not only the “full armor of God” and the “sword of the Spirit,” but also pick up physical armor and weapons as well. I pray for guidance in such matters, of course.
Hopefully it won’t come to that, and passive resistance (which can demand its own kind of courage), and prayer (“the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective”), coupled with strong, swift action by our state and federal legislatures, may yet save us from widespread violence. (Link)
Regardless, it is past time for what the late Joseph Campbell called “heroic Christianity” to make its appearance—what Campbell popularized as “joyful participation in the sorrows of the world.” (Link)
X. Christianity is a vibrant path that requires the application of strength, courage, integrity, discipline, honesty, and commitment
I have found through experience that far from being the vapid image that the atheistic Far Left paints, Christianity is a vibrant path that requires the application of strength, courage, integrity, discipline, honesty, and commitment, as well as several other principles and virtues. The path of Christianity is for me a never-ending series of learning experiences (lessons), and a constant effort to improve myself (the core method of improving myself being improving my relationship with God).
To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, you don’t know how bad you really are, until you have tried to be good on a long-term, consistent basis, (or simply tried not to be bad on the same terms). Many people have never tried to follow Lewis’ exercise, and consequently they are ignorant of the heavy weight of self-created negativity that they carry around each day.
It is this very lack of insight into themselves, and human nature, that allows liberals to be so dismissive of the conservative’s concern with the vagaries of human behavior. Liberals believe that human nature can be legislated, and that it is almost infinitely malleable, while conservatives, who commonly have at least tried to improve themselves spiritually, know better.
It is vital that we come to understand the importance of our states of consciousness, and how they effect our perceptions and feelings. To give just one example: how else are we ever going to end the interminable “war on drugs?” Until people learn to feel good about themselves by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, drugs will hold an allure. When you feel good about yourself, and enjoy your own company, drugs lose allure. Why change the way you feel via drugs, if you like who you are, and value your personal experience?
Again, the key word is “experience.” There is all the difference in the world between knowing about, or believing in, something, and experiencing it. As Zen apologist D.T. Suzuki noted, “When Zen wants you to taste the sweetness of sugar, it will put the required article right into your mouth and no further words are said.”
The reality of God is, of course, infinitely beyond the ability of words to describe. Even if we could describe God in words, we would still not know God, we would only know about God. In a similar way, you could teach a starving person everything there is to know about food, but they will still starve to death unless they can get the experience of food. Likewise in the spiritual realm, if all you have is knowledge, your spirit will starve. Ken Wilber has called academic religion the “killing jar of Spirit” for just this reason. (Link)
There is only one way to know that which is beyond the reach of words and logic, and that is through experience. You’ll “starve” on intellectual knowledge alone. This is a truth that evangelical Protestants have known about, and practiced, for some time, and now Catholics in the Catholic Charismatic movement practice as well.
The website “Holy Spirit Interactive” reports that the loosely organized Catholic Charismatic Renewal is currently operative in about 240 countries, and its members number around 100 million Catholics. Although it started in the United States, the movement is especially strong in South America. (Link)
I believe that the charismatic movement will play an ever increasing role in the future of Christianity, which means that “experience” will gain in importance as a Christian staple. Given what we’ve been discussing vis a vis states of consciousness I would say that this is most welcome news.
As Christianity moves energetically into new waters there are a few things to be cautious about, however. One thing that a close eye needs to be kept on, is the infiltration by the Far Left into the charismatic movement. That they will infiltrate and attempt to subvert, dilute, and misdirect the charismatic movement is a given.
Other things to keep an eye on are faux-charismatics, and the perversion of spirituality by “spiritualism.” The most important issue to be cognizant of, however, is the age-old dichotomy between spirituality and religious dogma.
Religions have forever had to weigh the need for spiritual freedom, against the need for rigid dogma. Dogma is used both to give the ecclesiastical hierarchy, and the faithful, direction—and to keep them in line. Spiritual geniuses have always presented religious orthodoxy with a conundrum.
On the one hand the experiences of the spiritually evolved give their religions an influx of spiritual “fresh blood” that reinvigorates the religion, but on the other hand, such people tend to ignore “the party line,” and rock the boat of orthodoxy simply by existing. Worst of all, such people tend to treat dogma much too cavalierly.
Dogma, of course, comes with some heavy baggage. Nonetheless, you might be surprised to hear that I am not opposed to dogma per se. I believe that it acts as a sort of important ecclesiastical glue that helps keep things together, in much the same way that a modicum of intelligent laws promotes both unity and freedom in a republic. A lack of such rules and guidelines results in anarchy and chaos.
Dogma can be as simple as Buddha’s Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, or Jesus’ Commandment “As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (which can be seen as the Commandment that incorporates, fuses, and replaces, the previous 10). Of course, the larger a religion becomes, the more dogma it produces. (Link)
Besides acting as a sort of glue, dogma also gives valued direction to the flock. Not everyone is going to be able to, or want to, experience higher states of consciousness. It is one thing to say that one is above the need to follow outside rules, after a certain level of consciousness is reached, but it is quite another to say that no one needs such rules.
These rules and laws, or dogma—such as the Ten Commandments—give much needed direction to the folks who haven’t reached the states of consciousness where rules aren’t needed—and that includes the vast majority of us.
Although it is surely a worthy enterprise, and a salutary exercise to become conversant with the higher states of consciousness, it is a giant step in the right direction for most of us, simply to concede that there is a power greater than ourselves, that it may be contacted for guidance and grace, and that morality and virtue help us to connect with this power, and purify our faulty human egos—even if that contact is dim and flickering, or the connection filled with “static.”
So I would say that although the future of Christianity holds bright promise for a much more vibrant, energized experience than was commonly available in the past, there are a number of traditional dogmas that should be respected, and honored. We don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water.
Moving on: Thomas Cahill’s entertaining and informative “How the Irish Saved Civilization,” could in truth have been titled “How Christianity Saved Civilization.” More to the point, it could have been called “How Christianity Created Civilization”—which is certainly the case in the West. Christianity’s precepts, doctrines, and values have been so beneficial, and are so interwoven into the fabric of Western civilization, that it is no wonder that the Far Left is so adamantly opposed to, not only Christianity, but Western civilization itself. (Link)
This is the main reason why the Far Left came up with the strategy behind “Hey, hey, ho ho, Western Civ has got to go.” (The sophisticated, erudite barbarians of the intelligentsia, and their Islamic cohorts, mean it—the Muslim signs saying “Down with Democracy” are not in jest). (Link) (Link)
(It may seem puzzling that the Far Left, with its fondness for “population control,” should be in bed with the undeniably fecund Muslims, but as the saying goes, “politics makes strange bedfellows.” The anti-Christian, ant-democracy, anti-Western stance of Islam has always been attractive to the Far Left—from Rousseau, to G.B. Shaw, to Hitler, to the current crop of spiritually-stunted, arrogant, materialistic intelligentsia, and their liberal fan club). (Link) (Link) (Link)
In “What’s So Great About Christianity,” Dinesh D’Souza observes that “One may say that capitalism civilizes greed in much the same way that marriage civilizes lust. Both institutions seek to domesticate wayward or fallen human impulses in socially beneficial ways. And when it came to capitalism, Christian civilization created the basic rules of economics.” (By the way, Eric Butterworth’s book “Spiritual Economics” is an excellent treatment of the subject from a Christian point of view).
The Far Left has been at work for quite some time, assiduously working at erasing the many positive contributions of Judeo/Christian culture to Western civilization. Even as far back as my own high-school years in the 1960s, we were told that the concept of law started with Hammurabi in ancient Babylon, and was later codified by the Romans—end of story. There was nary a peep about Mosaic law, Moses, Exodus, or the Ten Commandments. In the early days of the American republic they knew better. The Capitol and Supreme Court buildings both have sculptures depicting Moses and the Ten Commandments. (Link) (Link)
Let me repeat that I’d be more than happy to compare Christianity’s long and glorious-tragic history (both/and not either/or) with the relatively short, blood-soaked history of the Far Left’s atheism any time, any where.
Conservatism is not about reactionary entrenchment, or merely protecting the status quo—that’s nothing but liberal propaganda. True conservatism is about moving forward intelligently and vigorously into the future, while utilizing and respecting the hard won wisdom of the past. Unlike liberals, conservatives are concerned with “unintended consequences,” respect for the past, and individual responsibility.
Rooted in a firm foundation of time-tested values and precepts, Christians should also be receptive to new ideas, paradigms, and concepts, without being, as the saying goes, so open-minded that our brains fall out.
The way to reverse the erosion of Christianity in our culture, and God in society, does not lead backward. There’s only one constructive way to move, and that’s forward. We should grab the best concepts, traditions, and lessons from the past, and move boldly forward with optimism, intelligence, and courage—striding into the new millennium with a strong, revitalized, unapologetic Christianity that contains as much hope for the future, as respect for the past.
Christianity is indeed thriving around the world, but not in Europe. The Far Left atheists have done their work well there. Europe may still be chock-a-block with beautiful cathedrals and monasteries, but the population is largely lost to materialism, and Christianity is poised to be swept away by Islam, and Europe in truth turn into “Eurabia.” For example, the percentage of French who regularly attend church in Paris has dropped into the single digits. (Link)
D’Souza writes that “In Europe, Australia, and Canada, religion has been expunged from the cultural mainstream. It has largely been relegated to a tourist phenomenon.” (Link)
Although Christianity’s influence has been substantially eroded in America as well, Philip Jenkins observes that “The US is a great anomaly in all this, since it seems set to be the last great Western society in which Christianity retains hegemony, the default religion of most inhabitants.” So there is indeed cause for optimism about the future of Christianity in America, but it won’t survive as a major influence in and on our culture, unless we take things in hand.
I do not consider it to be unseemly, or beneath me, to protect with vigor that which is good, and decent, and true. I feel it a duty to protect that which is life-affirming and righteous, a duty to God.
We need to grow past the idea that just nominally being a Christian is sufficient—that just paying lip service to Christianity is enough. As C.S. Lewis points out in “Mere Christianity,” people in areas that have never even heard of Christianity may, in fact, be acting more Christian-like than those who claim the name. As Christians we should be Christians. That is, our be-ings, our state of consciousness, should be Christian, i.e. surrendered to God, devoted to Christ, joyous, and with an attitude toward God that includes awe, gratitude, humility, and perhaps most importantly, love.
As far as love goes, there are few words and concepts as misunderstood and misapplied. As Dr. Hawkins notes “What the world generally refers to as “love” is an intense emotional condition, combining physical attraction, possessiveness, control, addiction, eroticism, and novelty. …an addictive sentimentality is likely what’s being spoken about, rather than Love.”
Love is a omni-directional experience that is always, and in all ways, unconditional. There is no concern about “loving your enemies”—you cannot control or direct such a glorious thing as Love, and why would you want to try to limit something that feels so wonderful? (I should mention that I experience both an enlightened Love, and a “blackberry plucking” variation, which is a dim echo of “the real deal,” and usually includes “liking” as a major component, and is decidedly not omni-directional).
Love doesn’t simply mean an unconditional love for others; it should include a healthy self-love, and self-respect. That means assertively saying NO to those who would demean or enslave us—such as the Far Left Marxists/Fascists— and saying YES to God, dignity, truth, and freedom. “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes.”
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel here. We can simply pick Christianity up, brush it off, and restore it to being the dynamic, future-oriented vehicle of hope and glory that it has always been. Only the accretions of familiarity and rote acquired over the past centuries, and the avalanche of anti-Christian propaganda by materialists, prevent us from readily seeing Christianity’s ever-present bright promise, and its God that is everywhere alive and vibrant—in Tennyson’s words, “closer…than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet..” or in Paul’s words, a God in whom “we live and move and have our being.” (Link)
XII. It is high time that humanity climbed out of the spiritual sandbox
We are collectively as a nation, as well as individually (by virtue of being “joint heirs” with Jesus), a “city on a hill.” It is high time that humanity climbed out of the spiritual sandbox, and started believing in, and acting from, our divinity.
In closing out this article, I’ll leave you with some words by Trappist monk Thomas Merton (1915-1968). The following is an excerpt from his description of a “God-smack” he received in 1940. “The clear and immediate knowledge that heaven was right in front of me struck me like a thunderbolt and went through me like a flash of lightning and seemed to lift me clean up off the earth. Heaven is right here in front of me: Heaven, Heaven!” In 1946 Merton wrote the poem “The Victory” from which the following lines are taken:
Make ready for the Christ, Whose smile
sets free the song of everlasting glory
that now sleeps, in your paper flesh, like dynamite.”
In the spirit of this Christmas season, please join me in a short prayer for America: May God Almighty, the Lord of Hosts, guide, bless, and protect the United States of America, and all who love and value His shining “city on a hill.” In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. (Link)
Laus Deo. Gloria, hosanna in excelsis Deo!
Born in June of 1951 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Jim O’Neill proudly served in the U.S. Navy from 1970-1974 in both UDT-21 (Underwater Demolition Team) and SEAL Team Two. A member of MENSA, he worked as a commercial diver in the waters off Scotland, India, and the United States. In 1998 while attending the University of South Florida as a journalism student, O’Neill won “First Place” in the “Carol Burnett/University of Hawaii AEJMC Research in Journalism Ethics Award.” The annual contest was set up by Carol Burnett with the money she won from successfully suing the National Enquirer for libel.
Graphics added by Gulag Bound