Source, or the vastness that encompasses all energetic and non-energetic things, is not static but always in process. IT creates an infinity of energetic forms by the redistribution and redesign of its infinite self. One of the ways IT accomplishes this is through the creation of Souls. The soul is a body–a capsule if you will–that contains a special form of energy given it by Source. It is Source energy that has been partitioned for a special purpose–to grow, expand, and provide Source with a specialized and unique way of experiencing itself. Soul energy is the very likeness of Source, except in a diluted state, that has been partitioned for a special purpose–to grow, expand, and provide Source with a specialized and unique way of experiencing itself. As a specialized body of source energy, the soul is subtle and extremely powerful. Continue reading “What is a Soul?”
Dualism is the concept that matter and consciousness are separate. As hydrogen and oxygen combine to form water, so matter and consciousness combine to form existence–or life. At some point when the body dies, the conscious portion is split away while the body decomposes to a different form of matter.
Non-dualism is the notion that consciousness and matter are essentially the same stuff. As water from lakes and streams combine to form the great seas, all matter and consciousness derive from a singular source and empty once again into it. This energetic matter (God?) is formless, eternal, unitary and the ultimate reality of all material things. What we call existence is consciousness that is aware of itself. There is only consciousness manifesting itself in infinite states and varieties of matter.
One could argue that our perceptions of consciousness and matter is trivial since our understanding of it is independent of reality. What is true exists whether or not we acknowledge or understand it correctly. At another level our understanding makes all the difference. In quantum physics, the decision to measure light as a wave or particle has been shown to influence what is measured. Thus our understanding may well bias our experiences as well. In the end, it must be acknowledged that all human understanding is based upon a limited set of tools of measurement. Our eyes and ears only perceive a limited part of the spectrum and our scientific instruments, though powerful, have limitations as well.
Even so, nature does provide clues to draw upon. In my view, all things–material and conscious alike–can be reduced to energetic material states. We perceive some of them physically, some of them with instrumentation and others remain hidden. In nature we understand that vapor, water and ice are all manifestations of hydrogen and oxygen. These elements, in turn, are little more than arrangements of atoms and other sub-atomic particles. And these, in turn, will eventually be divided until we arrive once more at the unitary state. So it is with all “so called” states of matter–including human beings.
As “human being matter,” we can only perceive a limited part of all things—such as light and sound. To human perceptions, the plants and animals appear, grow and die—but our perceptions are limited to our physical senses. We, like the vapor, water and ice, exist in a variety of states—all physical and with it our awareness. Were our sensory organs more precise, we should see the energetic matter of human beings repeatedly come into recognizable human states, materialize and disappear once again into another energetic form.
Regardless, we exist as a part of the great sentience.
I don’t want to know what you believe.
I don’t care what your politics are
Whether you believe in God
Or if you have religion or not.
Please don’t speak of
What makes one person good and another evil
Or your judgements about
Who should love whom or
What others should or should not do.
Be done with your beliefs about money, education, class and privilege,
Philosophy, culture, work and
What’s worth saving and what’s not.
Speak to me instead about things you value.
Tell me how you have dedicated your life.
What value is so important that you would make the ultimate sacrifice?
What values receive your devotion?
What are you working toward?
Tell me those things and
I will know your God,
I will know what is holy and good about you,
And we will know each other
Maybe for the first time.
Today I met a friend who said “Hey I heard that Michael took the plunge!” She was referencing a marriage I had performed the other day between Michael and Lori. They had been dating for six years and finally decided to tie the knot. Even though most of us thought it was high time they did this–it was the second marriage for both of them and they were a little skittish about the whole thing. That got me thinking about the phrase…Taking the plunge.
I like the word plunge–it’s an onomatopoeia. The very word suggests the sound one makes when jumping into deep water. PLUNGE!
So much of life is about taking the plunge–marriage, new jobs, work opportunities, all sorts of things. Everything we have that’s worthwhile is the result of someone somewhere “taking the plunge!” I work at a university where someone “took the plunge” and donated their fortunes. Even tree’s budding in the spring risk a little something as they blossom. Taking the plunge is having the courage to do something new and different–perhaps outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes it’s starting something or doing what needs to be done instead of what you want to do.
I’m glad that Michael and Lori took the plunge. The truth for them and us is that there’s no future in the past and a good life is about knowing when to take the plunge–and having the courage to do it often.
The Hubble telescope has transformed the way we humans see the universe. We knew it was large and expensive but none of us perceived the vastness and enormity of it all. We are learning that there are billions of galaxies along with billions of individual stars within these galaxies. The matter that makes up all of this is incomprehensible. Our planet is truly an imperceptible speck in the cosmos. Hubble serves as a metaphor for more than galaxies and planets. It serves as reminder that there is a cosmos in everything we see if we’ll stop and think about it.
There are trillions of snowflakes that combine to make a beautiful winter scene, trillions of grains of sand that form the beaches of the seashore, and billions of blades of grass that combine to make a verdant landscape. There are billions of people who create nations, cultures and traditions–and billions before them that created a rich history from which we all derived.
There is infinite variety in music, art, literature, philosophy, religion and science. The art that lines the walls of the Louvre in Paris is but a mere representation of the greatest art that has ever been produced. Were every single art work removed from its spaces, there are just as many that could replace them–and infinitely more that have been lost to the ravages of time.
There is infinite variety in the way we understand our relationship to the cosmos. Uncounted philosophies and religions all point to a grand and unified cosmos that can never be fully understood or imagined. We believe that all of this came from a singular source of infinite particles–though where all it came from and how it was produced is anyone’s guess.
Finally, there is an entire cosmos that exists in the loving relationship between two people–and just as much wonder and awe. We are a cosmos living among an infinity of cosmos about us.
The following story from the Stillwater News Press best illustrates what I think it means to be like Jesus in the world about us. In the end, it’s less about what you believe and more of what you do.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Thanks to Good Samaritans who aided us at grocery store
Posted: Saturday, January 17, 2015 11:36 pm
Stillwater News Press
To the editor:
On New Year’s Eve this year, I found myself standing in a very long checkout line at local big-box store with my 7-month old son, a cart full of baby food and two government issued checks to pay for the baby food. In May of 2014 my son was born and I became a single mother, and having not graduated from OSU yet, money was tight and I needed all the help I could get.
So when I finally made it to the front of the line, I handed the checks over to the cashier and attempted to leave before my son had an absolute melt down (it was his dinner time and bed time would shortly follow). But of course it’s never that easy when dealing with government assistance and corporate grocery stores. There was a problem that neither the cashier nor the manager she called over could figure out. While they argued over whether I had picked up the exact items specified on the check, my son and the several people in line behind me, had become restless.
One woman had already switched lines – something I very much wanted to do as my embarrassment mounted and I anxiously tried to soothe my baby before he lost it and I would be seen not only as a broke mother, but one who couldn’t even keep her child calm.
And then a voice behind me asked “how much is all this?” Great. Now they are going to start chastising me for not being able to afford the few dollars it takes to feed my child. But when I looked up, the woman in line behind me was talking to the store manager not to me. He tried to explain to her that the state wouldn’t reimburse them if everything wasn’t correct, to which she replied, “That wasn’t my question. I asked what the total was.” It dawned on me than while I saw the way she was blocking me from the podium with the credit card machine, and her own credit card held ready in her hand, what she intended to do.
I hurriedly mumbled how she didn’t need to pay for it, that everything was fine, when her husband, whose agitation I thought to be for me holding up the line said irritably, “you shouldn’t have to go through this. This is ridiculous, we want to help.”
At this point all words failed me as I tried to keep the tears from falling down my face by placing my shaking hands on my son’s, They paid for all of my groceries. My pride wanted to continue to argue with them, but I was so overcome by their gesture all I could manage was a watery thank you and a hug in which I tried to show the amount of gratitude I felt for them.
Still trying to keep it together, I got all the way to the door before the wife called “Ma’am you forgot something!” I looked down at the item she shoved into my hands and she said “have a happy New Year,” and without another word jogged back to pay for her own groceries. It was a $100 bill. At this point I could only manage to say “Oh my gosh, no!” But she never turned around again. She kept her back firmly to me, and being painfully stubborn myself, I knew what that meant – it’s yours, I won’t take it back. I dissolved into hysterics.
By the time I got my son in his car seat and cried for several minutes before I could even drive, I realized I hadn’t even asked their name! They had their own daughter in their basket, who I am sure like most parents they spent too much money buying Christmas presents for. And yet they still gave to a complete stranger, they still took a moment to change my life.
If you are reading this, I encourage you to tell this story to your friends, family and neighbors. To hang this up in your office, or school. Not only do I hope that family will read this and understand all the gratitude I couldn’t express that night, but also to prove that kindness and self-sacrifice are not dead or only Internet urban legends, but that they live here in Stillwater, and these little miracles happen because of the wonderful people here.
It was a wet and cold Oklahoma day. It had been raining the day before and the temperatures were in the 30s. The 40-year-old man stood holding a sign at the intersection of Memorial Road and May Avenue. He had been there for the past three hours asking for money. His clothes were damp and dirty. They did not keep out the winter chill.
He had no home, very little education, no place to stay, no job, and no prospects. Some would say he had made poor choices and they would probably be right. That added to his shame and misery. He was out of options—bottomed out—with very little money and no credit cards to his name. Without money, there would be no place to eat or rest for the night.
The cars would come off the freeway and stop at the red light. He would try to establish eye contact with as many drivers as possible hoping that someone might give him a little money—maybe he could obtain enough for a private room in some rundown motel across town. Most people turned their heads away and refused to look at him. Some would stare at him with a menacing look. But there were always a few that handed him a dollar or two.
It was just after noon. The large churches on Penn and May Avenues were adjourning and cars were beginning to back-up for several blocks now. Inside the late-model cars he saw families that were warm and out of the cold. Most looked as though they didn’t have a care in the world. He wondered, “What do all these people do?” “How can they afford those nice cars and clothes?” Where do they live?” “I wonder what it’s like to be them?”
As before, most turned their heads and drove on by. There were those that noticed him and had something to say about his plight. Though he couldn’t hear them, some said:
“Wow it’s really cold out there today! You got to feel sorry for that guy standing on the corner!” Others would remark,
“You know what, I’d love to help that guy—but he would just probably go and buy some booze and get drunk. You can’t be too careful nowadays.”
Others remarked that the man was pulling a scam,
“Think of all the cars that give him money—I’ll be he makes more than all of us!”
Still others went by and stated their amazement that an able and healthy bodied man couldn’t find work like everybody else.
“The Bible couldn’t be plainer—If a man won’t work neither let him eat!”
To most cars, he was invisible. The cars went by while the passengers talked with one another about church, where they would eat and what they would bring to the super bowl party in a few hours. They passed by the man and never saw a thing.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Matthew 25:34-40 New International Version (NIV)
Ken Sande’s book: The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict has meant so much to me. I have read it numerous times and am amazed at how practical and biblical it is. If you are a human–you need this book!
I will not dwell upon this incident any longer.
I will not bring up this incident again and use it against you.
I will not talk to others about this incident.
I will not let this incident stand between us or hinder our personal relationship.
From the book: The Peacemaker by Ken Sande
In his book, The Religious Test, Damon Linker describes what he calls The Liberal Bargain. It works like this. In America, we are given a constitutional right for Freedom of Religion. In order to have this freedom, no religion can exert control over others. The moment one religion decides to use the legal process to exert control over others, is the moment we lose freedom of religion. Continue reading “Religion and the Liberal Bargain”