Sunday, January 31, 2010

Who We Are ...!

What is true of a person with Christ Consciousness is also true of everybody else--except that everybody else doesn't realize who they are. We think we need to be saved. We don't. We are already sons and daughters of God in exactly the same sense that Jesus was--except that he knew who he was and we don't know ...who we are. When one realizes the Christ consciousness and "sees" one's union with God, then one sees this truth as clearly as one hears a ringing bell. It becomes obvious. One sees that one is freed from sin or "saved" (and has always been so). One sees one was never under sin's dominion in the first place. May we all come to that wondrous realization, for that is the truth about which the scripture is speaking in saying that the truth will forever set us free.

Taken from this article, which I'm reading, and recommed, even without yet finishing it...! :)

Shalom, Dena

Friday, January 29, 2010

Solving the World's Problem ...

Have you ever had a dream that was so poignant, so clear, so riveting ... a dream in which you grasped the very KEY that would solve all the world's problems ... I mean, the clarity was tangible, the joy was transcendent, and all you had to do was to wake up and ... remember ...

Remember ... what? Huh?!? What was I dreaming? What was that thing I wanted to hang on to and tell everyone...? Oh sheesh ... it's gone. Lost. Man, that was so close!

Actually, that's happened to me many times (must remember to keep a notepad by the bed!).

Also, on so many occasions, I'll be out race walking, the endorphins coursing through my body, my brain alive and awake and aware ... and all these amazing insights are just pouring in ... almost too quick to keep up, and I find myself wishing I had pen and paper, or better yet a recorder, so I could capture these things ... and so I try to cling to them, to retain them, 'til I get home ... and by the time I get in the front door, they're all ... gone.

Sigh. Here I am, finally connecting with God, and it turns out that my brain leaks.

We live in a world wherein agreement is a rare commodity. And yet, I dare to venture a claim, that if there's anything we would likely ALL agree with, it's that we're all in a mess. Yup - our world, the only planetary option we've got (that we know of!) for living this life, is all mucked up.

Now, some would say that it's because we went and blew it ... that God had this perfect plan, and we ruined everything, and thwarted the plan, and poor God has been working with Plan B to get us back on track, only it's not going so well, and unfortunately it's going to end *very* badly for *very* many of the Earth's inhabitants ... so the best we can do is to try to get them to believe like we do (& if they refuse, then we label them as the "enemy" which is useful, because nothing binds folks together quite like a common enemy!), so that they can be rescued when Jesus comes back with His Massive Evacuation Plan, blows everything up, banishes the ones who weren't smart enough to Make The Right Decision, and then starts over with a Perfect Utopian Scenario.

I don't buy that anymore. It just no longer passes the straight-face test for me.

Some others say that this is a political problem ... if we can just get "those" guys to think like "us" and get with the program, and then we can either implement a Comprehensive Government Takeover, OR arm every citizen and have a free-for-all, and may the best human win. Oh - and we really should take over all the other countries in the world and make them operate like we do ... never mind that we don't seem to be able to make it work at home.

And still others think that this is an economic problem. Of course, the solution varies ... either we imagine that somehow the system of Have's and Have-Not's needs to continue, with the Have-Not's graduating into Have's, and then we just import (or outsource) some more Have-Not's to keep the system going, OR we force the Have's to give to the Have-Not's so that everyone is a Sorta-Have, and then we can be equally miserable.

It seems to me that we all recognize the severity of the problem on this planet, but we don't agree on what's causing it -- so we can't figure out what to do about it. So we throw things at it ... whether it be laws, or money, or weapons, or medicines, or Bibles. We keep trying to solve it at every level except the one at which it exists: The level of BELIEF.

Our beliefs are systematically killing us.

We don't have a political problem, or a military problem, or an economic problem ... we don't even have a health problem. We have a spiritual belief problem.

Here are some of the beliefs we have, which are causing untold harm:

~ The belief that our holy book (pick one, any one) gives us the authority and the right to treat each other as abysmally as we're treating each other. We read on the surface of our holy books (literally and woodenly), and we project our egoic fears and hatreds onto the scape-goats of our choosing.

~ The belief in terminal-distinctions ... Us and Them. They are anyone we disagree with. They are wrong. They are evil. They are the problem. They must be blamed, and cast out.

~ The belief that God says, "Thou shalt be right." We are willing to give up everything in order to be right.

~ The belief that we are fallen, depraved, even separated from God.

~ The belief that we are separated from all other humans ... and that some are "better" (in whatever way) than others. Oh, and we just happen to be in the "better" camp.

~ The belief that there is "not enough" of everything we need (land, food, water, resources, money, provision, love), and we must take from another, in order to get our needs met.

~ The belief that some must win, and some must lose. Some must be right, and some must be wrong. The belief that competition is good and required.

~ The belief that while everyone is fallen and depraved, there have been a few through whom God chose to speak, to reveal Himself. And all these people just happen to be dead. The belief that God is no longer speaking, no longer revealing. Now we can only read about it (so be sure to pick the *right* holy book to read!).

~ The belief that we must cling to what we already think we know. New is bad. Change is bad. Different is bad.

~ The belief that God needs something; that God can fail to get what God needs; that God has separated us from Himself since we didn't give Him what He needs; that God needs what He needs so badly that He requires us, while in our separated-state, to somehow give it to Him; and that God will destroy us if we don't meet His demands.

These beliefs are *some* of the beliefs held by mankind, that have resulted in the mess that we now live in. We are incredibly self-destructive, even as we stubbornly cling to what we think we NEED to believe, without question.

Well, it's about time we did some individual and collective questioning ...!

There are some things we can each do, and encourage others to do, if we would like to change our self-destructive tendencies ... and indeed even change the world:

~ We can choose to admit that some of our old beliefs about God just aren't working any more (if they ever did).

~ We can admit that there are things we don't understand about God, even about life ... and if we understood them, it would change everything.

~ We can become wiling to have a new understanding about God, to be led into an understanding that could produce a new way of living, for each of us, for all humanity.

~ We can become courageous enough to examine and explore this understanding ... and, IF it lines up with what we deeply know (& have experienced) to be true, then our belief system can be enlarged to include and incorporate this new understanding.

~ We can choose to live our lives in accordance with this understanding of God, demonstrating our beliefs, rather than denying them.

Why is this important? Because our current beliefs are destroying us. Because beliefs create behaviors.

More on that next ...

Shalom, Dena

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Radical/Alternative Wisdom: The Road Less-Traveled

First, may I apologize for not getting to this sooner ... been wanting to! Mark's surgery went well, and he's mending ... but it threw a kink in the daily routine here ... and I had to spend about five hours yesterday, tending to some art-biz. Waiting to see if I'm juried into a show ... but since they want to use photos of my art for their postcards, I'm thinking I must be in...!

Back to comparing types of wisdom:

In contrast to Tuesday's peek into conventional wisdom, let's look deeper into the subversive and alternative wisdom that Jesus revealed, lived, and taught...

The wisdom of Jesus directly questions and undermines conventional wisdom ... it reveals another way, another path, another option. Other wisdom teachers taught much the same in preceding generations/centuries. In the East, the most familiar teachers of alternative wisdom were Lao Tzu, Confucius, and the Buddha. Lao Tzu spoke/wrote of "The Way" (Tao, pronounced "dow") that led one out of conventional thinking, into a way of oneness. Buddha taught of an "eightfold path" that leads into enlightenment and compassion for others. Confucius was the first to put forth the Golden Rule, which Jesus quotes (putting a more positive spin on it) 500 years later. In the West, Socrates taught the Athenians to examine conventional wisdom -- for this he was killed.

Jesus taught orally -- He apparently didn't ask anyone to write down His sayings (perhaps not wanting us to fixate on such writings...?). He used aphorisms (short sayings - "one-liners") and parables (short stories). These are invitational forms of speech - they draw the listener in, to hear/see something they otherwise might not -- to see beyond the surface understanding. He invited people to experience a transformation in normal perception.

We have to realize that the writers of the gospels didn't follow Jesus around ... they were written decades after His death. At best, this was second-hand information. Also, Jesus was a traveling teacher ... He wouldn't share a story or a one-liner just once -- He likely repeated them in each town. Further, as any good speaker knows, you don't hit your audience with a plethora of pithy statements -- that lessens the impact. So, rather than the "bam-bam-bam" effect we get when reading the sermon on the mount, that is likely a conglomeration of the familiar sayings of Jesus given over time, in many places.

Jesus did not issue demands, nor commandments (unless asked). Instead, His tone is invitational ... "consider seeing it this way, instead." He doesn't speak as a law-giver, with "do this" and "don't do that" and "thus says the Lord, so you shall". The authority of His words are not imperial ... instead they incite and engage the imagination ... making it a two-way conversation.

Jesus invites His hearers to see in a radically new way. His appeal is to our imaginations, even today. He invites us to try on different images, which affect our understanding of life. He speaks often of "seeing"... those who have eyes to see, those who are blind ... how one sees makes all the difference ... "the eye is the lamp of the body." HOW we see determines the journey we take, and the way we live our lives.

Jesus was not focused primarily on information (what we should believe) or morality (how we should behave) -- His focus was about a way, or a path, of transformation. From a life rooted in the world of conventional wisdom, into a relational life centered in God Himself.

According to Jesus' teachings, the world of conventional wisdom must be deconstructed in order for us to see/experience alternative/radical wisdom. The old must be unlearned, so that the new (which is primary) can be revealed. The veil of convention must be removed, torn asunder, ripped from top to bottom ... so to speak.

Jesus often confused his conventionally-entrenched hearers with his paradoxes ... impossible combinations. Like a good Samaritan (impossible, they thought!). Or an unrighteous pharisee. Or a donkey ride for a king. Or internal purity. Or the poor being blessed. Or the first being last, and the last being first .. the humble exalted and the exalted humbled.

He also described the Kingdom of God/Heaven (same thing to Jesus) in quite-unexpected combinations: How could something so HUGE be described as something tiny (grain of mustard)? How could something glorious be likened to a mere weed? How could it be impure, like a woman (impure!) using leaven (impure!)(double-impure!). How could the Kingdom be for nobodies like children? How could it be for outcasts? They thought they had the Kingdom-notion down PAT. Instead, Jesus speaks of it as NOT "up there, somewhere, someday" but among you, within you, inside you, at hand, outside you, here, now, spread over the earth; the problem is that we just don't see it with the spiritual eyes -- we've been trained to see it with the eyes of human expectations, or (you guessed it!) conventional wisdom.

Common sense tells us that wisdom is to be found on the conventional (right, traditional, popular) path. You know - what most folks believe. Those in charge of forming religious thought (whether 2,000 years ago or now) tell us that the foolish way is the path of disregarding conventional wisdom. And yet -- Jesus actually reversed this. He came against all the core values of the religious rulers of His day: family, wealth, honor, purity and religiosity. It's no small wonder that so many who defended status quo in His day derided His message, finding it nonsense, offensive, and threatening enough that they did away with Him.

So, how did/does Jesus invite us to see God? (& it seems to me that our view of God is THE defining basis of all of life)

He invites His hearers, then and now, to see God not as the wrathful, angry, ready-to-smite, highly-offendable Judge, not as the task-master with demanding requirements, not as the enforcer of conventional wisdom, but as grace-filled and compassionate.

(Wondering now, how many of us are thinking, "that sounds just dangerously too good to be true!"..?)

Jesus tells us that God is no respecter of persons ... that He causes sunshine and rain upon both good and evil, upon both just and unjust -- with no mention of reward or punishment. He speaks of an intimate God -- one He calls "Abba" (Dada in English) ... one who knows how many hairs are on each head (He sees us each individually, not just en masse) ... and He tells us to "fear not" when He's asked about judgment. We are invited to see God as Jesus does -- as One who ensures that everyone receives what they need. When those who uphold conventional wisdom (the all-day workers in the vineyard) complain, God asks, "why do you resent my generosity?" Jesus is saying, "God is like this -- not the god of requirements & reward and punishment."

The story of the prodigal is a classic ... every step of the way it speaks against conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom would not allow for a father who lets the son take the inheritance and go (in effect saying, "I wish you dead" to the father) ... nor would it allow for a pig-sty to be a place of enlightenment (coming to his senses) ... nor would it allow for a Father to throw of all dignity and decorum and RUN to his wayward son ... nor would it allow for brushing aside the confession ... nor would it allow for celebrating and lavishing gifts on the son (who "should" be punished!). Conventional wisdom shows up best in the older son -- who resents the grace lavished on the "wrong one", after he's done "all the right things all this time". We're left wondering: will the older son's sense of "how things SHOULD be" keep him out of the celebration...?

We are invited to see our place in the story ... perhaps we are both of the sons ... the one who goes off to a far country (in our thinking - which is what the story is about), awakens, and returns Home to Father; and the one who obeys dutifully, resenting how others "get away without punishment".

Most of us can easily relate to the wanton prodigal. Perhaps we're also invited to see ourselves in the older son ... to hear his voice as our own ... and to reject it.

I believe that the Father would say to ALL of us: "My Child -- you are always with Me -- everything I have is yours." Think on that ... let it well up.

Jesus shows us the Truth about God -- that He is a God of graciousness and compassion.

It's right about now that I imagine that some may be asking, "what about all those verses about judgment?!? Surely we need to 'balance' all that love with a healthy dose of wrath!"

My views on this are not ... shall we say ... conventional. Now, don't faint, or fall off of your computer chair. First, I do not believe that Jesus' warning verses are about "what happens after we die." I believe that we've projected our views, our traditions, onto the scriptures. Sure, Jesus believes in a life after this earthly habitation -- but I don't think His message, including those judgment-verses, are about how to get there. I believe that Jesus' warning verses are about the soon-coming historical consequences that the Jews were soon to experience for their choices. In choosing to be spiritually blind, in stubbornly clinging to the "security" of their own hierarchical kingdom, in refusing to follow Jesus into the Abundant Life He demonstrated and provided, they were sealing their own doom (Jesus describes this in the "Olivet Discourse" of Mt. 24, Mk. 13 and Lk. 21 -- and it came to pass in 70AD, in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple). Because they clung to conventional wisdom, because they arrogantly scoffed at His message of radical wisdom, because they claimed to be the center for religious truth, and yet did not know "the things that make for peace", inevitable conflict lay ahead for them. Jesus warned them, over and over -- the specific warnings were for them , then, and not for us (though we can learn from them). THAT, and not the threat of "hell" (of which Jesus never spoke - as it's a word Christians inserted into the text) is the warning message.

So, what is this Abundant Life, this life of alternative wisdom, that Jesus invites them, and us, into? It's not a "new religion." It's not Christianity (which was man's idea). It's an invitation to see God in a daringly "new" way ... as gracious, intimate, even womb-like (motherly, nurturing), rather than as the Enforcer of The Requirements/Boundaries/Divisions of conventional wisdom. It's an invitation to a radical life that's wholly centered on God, led by the Living Spirit. An ever-deepening relationship of trust in the Spirit ... not a life of striving, requirements, rewards, and punishments.

What is promised, and delivered, is a new heart -- symbolic of the deepest level of the self. An inner transformation that changes everything. A whole new God-lens perspective of BEing, rather than the ego-centered perspective of earning/striving/doing.

AS we die to the notion of conventional wisdom as the center of our security/identity, we also die to the notion of the self as the center of our focus. We are set FREE from all restraints, both outward and inward. This "dying to self/ego" may include all the classic stages of physical dying: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Anyone who has experienced even one (if not several!) paradigm-shifts can attest to going through this agonizing-yet-liberating process...!

The way less traveled is the Abundant Life. Life in the Spirit. The life that Jesus lived, demonstrated, exampled, and which He invites us to share with Him. It's a transformation of perspective ... being enabled to SEE what was always there, all the time, only eclipsed by our carnal/egoic thinking... our insistence upon the self-achievements of conventional wisdom.

We are invited, and even enabled, to know God as Jesus does -- the Compassionate One, and not the God of demanding requirements, and exclusionary boundaries. We are invited to abandon second-hand religion in favor of first-hand experiential relationship with the Divine.

As beings who are Sourced by the Infinite/Divine (God), we have an undeniable appetite for the Infinite ... though we may spend our time feeding at various conventional pig-troughs in life. There comes a time when all the rewards of conventional wisdom (achievement, affluence, appearance) no longer satisfy ... and we experience the horrible too-full-yet-starving sensation of those who are stuffed with fluff and nonsense. There comes a time when we can no longer deny the hunger for the "much more" of which Jesus speaks. It is then that we allow the Spirit to lead us into all truth.

Letting go of those things that the traditions of man has declared "sacred" can be challenging, and painful. I've lost much in this process (though none of it can compare with what I've gained!). We may need to let go of what others tell us the scriptures say ... or what Christian doctrines declare. We may need to forsake "what everyone believes to be true" in favor of what the Spirit reveals to us ... there comes a time when we have to choose between the God that we are experiencing, and the god that others tell us about.

This is powerfully expressed in Job, when he says (to God):

"I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye beholds You."

That transformation, from hearing *about* God, to beholding God experientially, is what the radical/alternative wisdom of Jesus is most deeply about.

If we dare to follow Jesus on this radical path of alternative wisdom, we will move from anxiety and fear, into peace and trust. From the enslavement of self-focus, to the freedom of self-acceptance and other-service (for we will see all others as one with us).

From fear to love.

Will you answer that invitation..? Will you take the offer of this radical adventure...?

Shalom, Dena

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Conventional Wisdom: Or the Road Most Traveled

How to see Jesus...? Depending on who you ask, you're likely to get various answers. But whether a person sees themself as a Christian, a Buddhist, an agnostic, or one who eschews labels, the one thing most would likely hold in common is the view of Jesus as a teacher of wisdom.

So, what's wisdom? Loosely defined, it's "how to live." It defines the nature of reality, and how to live life within that reality. In many traditions, wisdom is likened to a path ... or the choice between two paths: the wise path and the foolish path. One way is encouraged, and the other comes with warnings of consequences.

There are two types of wisdom that have been taught: conventional wisdom and alternative (or subversive) wisdom. Conventional wisdom is "common sense" ... "what everyone knows" ... it's a culture's/religion's/society's notions of what's real, and how to live. It's what's taken for granted, even unquestioned. Another term is "enculturated consciousness" ... group-think ... the consciousness that's formed by a culture or tradition. Status quo.

(you can already tell that I'm not a fan of conventional wisdom, can't you...?)

Conventional wisdom is based upon the concept of reward and punishment. One reaps what one sows. Do this, and things will go well for you. Do that, and you'll get what you deserve. The righteous will prosper, and the sinners will suffer. In the West, this is embodied by the notion of a last judgement of either reward or damnation (according to either behavior and/or belief -- both a work). In the East this is demonstrated by the concept of karma. We also find it in the non-religious sense: work hard, and you'll be successful. Of course, there's a flipside: if you are not successful, if you are not blessed, if you are not prospering, then it's clear that YOU have followed the wrong path! Life under conventional wisdom thus becomes a matter of requirement/reward, failure/punishment. The measure-up trap.

As a result, conventional wisdom creates a world system of hierarchies and divisions, largely based on performance, though some are based on the more nebulous concept of "status." It's just understood: some folks measure up to the standards of conventional wisdom more than others.

At the heart of this measure-up system of conventional wisdom, is the Internal Judge. What has been referred to as the "Super Ego" ... that which "stands over me", telling me how I must measure up. It speaks in the language of "shoulds" and "oughts" and "musts". It's highly critical and judgmental ... It's the internal police... the Internal Judge and Jury.

Life in conventional wisdom is grim and dismal. It's heavy bondage to whatever happens to be the dominant culture. In this culture, we largely become automatons ... responding as we've been well-trained to do ... and punished when we stray outside the boundaries that have been set ... threatened even when we would dare to question "who set this up and why?" It's limited by blinders -- we're told how to see what we see, and what to pay attention to ... what's/who's "in" and what's/who's "out". It's a world of comparisons and competition, based on the belief that there is a severe shortage, a lack of what is needed ... and we must take what we need, and yet we must earn what we need -- we must prove that we deserve what we need. It's a world of have's and have-not's ... and the have's very much require a large group of have-not's, in order to have.

It's a life of anxious striving ... scraping, a roller-coaster of feeling "ok" or "not ok" depending on what we've done, and upon the perspective of others *about* what we've done ... we're always wondering, "was it good enough? am *I* good enough? how can I become good enough? Oh dear ... what if there's just something so very wrong with me that I never *can* become good enough? shall I try harder? shall I pretend? shall I become who I'm not to fool others into thinking I'm ok? Or should I just give up...?"

Life under conventional wisdom becomes very self-preoccupied. My "standing", my identity, and my security are always in flux ... in my anxiety, my agony, I become profoundly selfish.

Along with this self-perception, the world of conventional wisdom also has a specific view of God: He is seen primarily as law-giver, law-enforcer, and Judge. God is even the legitimizer of the too-high requirements. He is seen as stern, angry, wrathful ... ready to dole out consequences to the requirement-failures.

In conventional wisdom, even the concept of grace is turned into a requirement. While many have claimed to have turned from "salvation by works", and now have "justification by grace through faith," the emphasis is put on the *faith* (understood as "the right belief"). The message is: God requires that you have enough faith in the right belief, in order to escape endless punishment. Do you have enough faith? Is it real enough, sincere enough, strong enough? This is a continuation of salvation-by-works ... only the specifics of the requirement had been altered -- from "good works" to "right faith." Rather than a gift from God, salvation in conventional wisdom is based upon our accomplishment.

Conventional wisdom also sets up a world of divisions ... everyone is divided into those who have the right faith/belief, and those who do not. Clearly, it is believed, God favors the former, and punishes/destroys the latter. It leads to an unavoidable smugness, a self-congratulatory attitude that *I* have made the right choice, while *they* have not, and deserve to pay for it. Oh sure, I may feel obligated to go out and try to convince them that they should believe like I do ... (after all, this will score me more points with God, and may force Jesus to return sooner and rescue me out of this mess), but if they reject my sacrificial arguments, then I shall wash my hands of them, shouting a dire warning to them over my shoulder ... muttering about how they'll get what's coming to them...!

(& yes, I'm all too familiar with that, having done so for many years ... so that I can recognize it when I run into it ... and I *do* frequently run into it ... )

In conventional wisdom, the "gospel" sounds like a heavy list of requirements ... "you must have the right behavior, or beliefs, or both, or ELSE!" The good news for all mankind thus gets warped into the "good news for a very few, and the horrendous news for the vast majority."

Next ... I'll contrast this conventional wisdom with the radical subversive/alternative wisdom of Jesus ...!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Testimony of a Friend ...

Tomorrow, Mark (my husband) will be undergoing knee surgery, after enduring 7 months of pain ... we were finally were able to coordinate hospital, doctor and insurance (after three false starts -- and we have the "good" kind of insurance, LOL!). I'll be sitting there for hours, with his laptop, and plan to delve into the whole conventional/alternative wisdom stuff that's permeating my brain. Today, however, I must paint (jurying process on Wednesday, for which I am not yet ready!). And so, I'm "cheating" by sharing a bit of my dear friend Annie's story ... she shared this elsewhere, and I found it so resonatingly-worthy of being broadcast, that I took it upon myself to do just that (hope that "if I post it you can share it" permission is still the case, Annie..!).

I'll let her speak for herself (enjoy!):

i was raised a christian universalist, so never had to 'unlearn' hell. and yet, i embraced many other traditional/literal interpretations of scripture that
finally began to give me no small amount of angst. for years, i kept pounding that square peg in the round hole in order to stay in lockstep with the group think that i found 'safe' (why are we deceived into thinking that if thousands of us agree we must be right...?! LOL).

for example... i grew up with the teaching that God told abraham to kill his son isaac as a human sacrifice. i was told that it was because God was 'testing' him. yet, it just didn't resonate as truth within me. i squelched the doubts i had for fear of 'starting down the slippery slope' (as some repeatedly warn) toward 'heresy'. yet, would the God who said, "do not kill", who does not lie, who
(according to james) "cannot be tempted with evil, neither does he tempt any man with evil" tell abraham to sacrifice his son...? more and more, the notion seemed to besmirch the character of the God who is Love, who is Light and in whom is no darkness at all - every bit as much as the traditionally accepted dogma that God will send a good majority of his beloved children into eternal fiery torment.

then, i read a great article by john gavazonni (a respected UR [Universal Reconciliation] teacher). he explained that in his view, the translators got it
wrong. the hebrew 'elohim' is translated God or god (as in the heathen gods) at the discretion of the translators. but, it is the same hebrew word. in his view, abraham confused the voice of god (the ego inside his head, influenced by his past living in ur of the chaldees, that was accustomed to honoring their deities with human sacrifice) with the Voice of God - and the translators made the same mistake. that resonated. o/w, there are huge contradictions between what abraham claims God told him and what the later OT prophets and even Jesus proclaimed as the intent/heart/mind of God, stating that God didn't want their sacrifices. (in matthew 12.7, Jesus is quoting hosea 6.6)

later, i read a wonderful book, "the gifts of the jews" by thomas cahill, historian, pastor and universalist. he pointed out that, while abraham had come out of ur of the chaldees, not all of ur had come out of him. however well-intentioned, abraham chose to sacrifice his son to 'honor' God out of his own vain imaginations (god) rather than an actual directive FROM God. why do we elevate these OT characters to divine? scripture confirms that they were human - just like we are. i'm certain we've all thought we heard the voice of God at one time or another, only to find out later that we were mistaken. so again, why would we believe that everything
abraham (or any of the other OT characters) thought he heard was inerrant?!!! paul said that the OT stories were written as an EXAMPLE to us - not for us to build doctrine upon.

though some have made good arguments in favor of the 'virgin' of 'virgin birth', in truth being 'young woman', i continue to believe the virgin birth. though if i were in error, that wouldn't be a deal breaker for me, for in Jesus i see the fully matured/manifested Son of God and the circumstances of his birth don't change who he was or what he did - his perfect Love, his amazing sacrifice. yet, i do not condemn those who no longer believe in the virgin birth as 'heretics' - only folks who see differently than i do. we are all one in Christ. our oneness is not destroyed by a difference in those things we have chosen to give intellectual assent to, for our oneness is rooted and grounded in God himself, in his Love. Jesus said it is
our love for one another that marks us as his disciples, not the uniformity of our doctrine.

i am not quick to toss out a belief just because it is traditional. i spent several months studying and praying before i came to the conclusion that i do not agree with the traditional interpretation of this story of abraham, isaac and God. for me, it's not about 'the bible tells me so', but examining the bible in the light of the
character of the Divine Nature. this is what resonates in my spirit. and if it turns out i was wrong.... so what?!!! my faith is not in my theory-ology ABOUT God, but in the person of God himself. i can be wrong about this story of abraham and still be in no danger, "for Thou art with me". "I will never leave thee or
forsake thee". it's not about what i give mental assent to, but about the One who is able to keep us from falling and present us faultless before the throne.

Thanks, Annie...!

Shalom, Dena

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What's of Man & What's of God...?

Just had this following conversation elsewhere ... I frequently share the truth-tid-bits that I find here, there, everywhere, in my daily readings ... sending them to a few discussion lists that I frequent. Some receive them joyously, hungrily ... others object, as they don't all have an overtly "Christian" flavor.

I thought I'd share this conversation, in case it helps anyone else to understand where I'm coming from (today, right now ... can't promise what I'll see tomorrow, LOL!):

She: I guess I am not understanding you, Dena. When I read the articles you post, it is usually written by man.

Me: I'll try to help you understand me, XXXXXX. I see that while we're here on earth, in limited-human form, the ONLY way we can encounter God is through the human-filter ... whether it's what another person has written (including the Bible), or what someone speaks, or what God says in my own heart ... it's coming through a *human*.

I see that God showed us that He could communicate directly, without human intervention, when He wrote the commandments on stone tablets. BUT - for reasons of His own, He has chosen to communicate through human beings ... despite (or perhaps because?) knowing that we are fallible (for He knows how we're made, having made us). He chooses to use fallible humans to communicate -- including in the Bible. Why? I believe it's so we would see the obvious -- that the Bible is not infallible/inerrant -- that we're not to worship it, that we're not to rely upon it, but that we're to use it, and the many accounts of personal encounters folks had with God IN it, to have our *own* personal encounters with the Living God.

Reading about them, in the Bible, whets my appetite for having that very thing myself. I am not content to just read about them. I don't want a second-hand relationship with God -- I want a first-hand experience with God. I won't settle for less. I can't.

The things I share are written by folks who are experiencing God ... in unique ways. I love looking for the congruent message ... so often they share the same message, even though I doubt that any of them knows the others! It's like finding God's clues, all over the place ... for He is everywhere.

I see/hear/sense God in everything around me. He is Omnipresence. He is All in All. In Him we live and move and have our being. There is nowhere I can go where He is not. He is the very Space within and between every atom, ... He is the very Source of all that is -- the very Energy that holds all things together. He is All-Truth, He is All-Life, He is All-Wisdom. He speaks through anything and everything ... He is always speaking. The question is, are we tuning in, or limiting our reception?

I cannot any longer limit my reception/experience of Him in just the scriptures ... nor do I believe that the scriptures were intended to be our only source of His truth. His truth permeates the planet, permeates all peoples. all cultures, all religions, all sciences, all realities. I THRILL to find the same truth He's shown me in my heart, in SO many vastly unique reSources...!

Once upon a time, I was afraid to venture outside of the Bible. I wouldn't read anything but. And then Christ started showing up in all the places where I thought He wasn't "supposed" to be. He IS Truth, no matter what particular manifestation it happens to be. I do not want to limit myself to what *I* think He should speak through. I want to hear Him, all of Him, in any way He chooses to speak.

The Bible is written by men. Humans. Fallible people, like you, like me. That's the only kind of people God has available to work with. By His choice. By His design. Did He inspire the scriptures? Sure! He inspired you, too ... and me. And all of us. We're all God-breathed. God-inspired. But we're not infallible ... and neither are the scriptures ... and neither did God inspire anyone to write that the scriptures are infallible, in the scriptures.

"Infallible and inerrant" are terms that man has given to scripture ... that's meant to be obvious to us -- so that we would *use* the scriptures (for they are "useful"), and *follow* the Spirit, who alone leads us into all truth.

The Bible itself (in the book of John) tells us that Jesus said/did more things than could be recorded in all the books of the world -- which includes the Bible.

She: I guess what it comes down to is God's Word is more important to me than mans.

Me: Yes, of course! But God's word is not the Bible. God's word (logos/dabhar) is that which He speaks to you, through the Spirit. Man's word would actually include much of the scriptures -- and much (most?) of the interpretation of the scriptures.

I encourage you to follow God's word ... but perhaps we can let HIM define what His word actually is ...

Shalom, Dena

Saturday, January 23, 2010

How Compassion Trumps Purity...

"Be Holy as I am Holy."

Thus sayeth the Lord ... and thus was the focus of the old covenant perspective. It was the "imatio deis" -- the way to imitate God. Be holy, in order to be like God.

May I say, this was a tough act to follow ...!

Enter Jesus ...

Reading the story of Jesus, especially if one is able to put aside the traditional lens, the two key components of Jesus' message was Spirit and compassion. These are His focal points. He lived in the Spirit, by the Spirit, through the Spirit ... He was a most Spirit-connected man (and it is this, I believe, that He was demonstrating, when He said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life ..." No one comes to (experiences) the Father but through the Spirit ... within).

But I'd like to focus on compassion ... because I think it's all too easy to bypass just how radical a concept compassion was, in the Jewish realm of the first century.

What do I mean by compassion? It means "with passion." To feel with another. Feeling what another person feels in a visceral manner ... way deeper than a head-level - to a "gut level". In fact, the Aramaic and Hebrew words for compassion are associated with "womb." A deep-seated physical place that symbolizes the source of life. For men, who are obviously lacking in a literal womb, the term "loins" or "bowels" is often used ... though scripture does refer to men, even God Himself, having a womb. It's not just something we feel -- but something that compels us to take action in how we live our lives, in relation to others. So, compassion is both a deep feeling, and a way of being that's rooted in a passionate-connection to others.

Compassion is, I believe, an expression of love. In that sense, compassion is the central quality of God. God's love for us is described as compassion ... and our love for one another is rooted in compassion. Compassion sums up the two great commandments, of loving God with all we've got, and loving others (all others) as ourselves.

And so, Jesus, who came to show us the Father, says to us, "Be compassionate as God is compassionate. Almost as if to overshadow, even to replace, the former concept of "being holy as God is holy."

Now, this is far more than mere semantics ... them thar were fightin' words to the Jewish-leadership elite! For the Jewish leaders, and their followers, purity was political.

The predominant image of God was of His holiness -- and holiness was thought to mean "be separate from all that is unclean." And there was a LOT considered to be unclean..! If you were so unfortunate to be born in a lower status (the hierarchy went: priest/Levites, Israelites, converts, bastards, those with defective gonads, women, Gentiles), you were impure (to varying degrees). Further, your behavior or profession, or even your physical condition, affected your purity ... the worst of which were the "outcasts" like shepherds, tax collectors, sinners, untouchables (included lepers), eunuchs, maimed, crippled, "unwhole" people, and menstruating women. Further, if you were poor, you were largely suspect -- as it was believed that riches were a blessing from God ... so you must've sinned in order to be poor, right? (sarcasm alert: SO glad we've evolved from that one!)

I mean, compassion didn't even enter the picture. People were blamed and shamed for their (unavoidable) impurity.

No wonder that they chaffed at Jesus, as He entered the scene, declaring that they were to be "compassionate as God is compassionate" ... which both echoed the "be holy as God is holy" standard, and yet transcended it, transformed it, and brought them up short in how far they were from living it. Jesus was overturning their entire way of life! He was boldly declaring that compassion, and not holiness, was the dominant quality of God...! Jesus was saying that true purity is a matter of the heart, not a matter of observing external boundaries.


Let's look at how He messed with their status quo:

- He hung out with sinners, untouchables, lepers, tax-gatherers, poor folks, marginalized folks, and (gasp! and they did gasp!) women..! HE even let a despicable and filthy/unclean menstruating woman touch Him...! Egads and Gadzooks!

- He ate with them ... to first century Jews, this was a radically inclusive act -- it implied utter acceptance of the human beings one chose to eat with. In doing this, Jesus' message was loud and clear (& oh-so-offensive to them!): He was demonstrating His intention for an all-inclusive community on earth.

- He intentionally encountered "unclean" humans and locations -- as if to say "there is no more standard of purity to observe." He healed the outcasts, touching dreaded lepers, encountering those with "unclean spirits," even entering a forbidden graveyard (Gentile at that), in the midst of pigs (unclean animals)...! WHAT a message! This wasn't a message about "how to do deliverance", but of the nothingness of the purity code! He was not afraid of cooties...

- Despite being surrounded by a highly patriarchal and misogynistic society, Jesus rejected the false notion that women were "nobodies." Jesus denounced social mores and interacted with women, even non-Jewish women, even in public. He called Mary a disciple, and encouraged her "forbidden" learning. He commended the faith (and wit!) of a Gentile woman. Women followed Him (& were the most loyal followers during His crucifixion). And a woman was chosen to be the first to "tell the good news" after His resurrection. His message was clear: this was to be a movement of equals.

- Just in case they were missing the point, Jesus directly informed the Jewish leader-elites that they were like "unmarked graves" -- by doing so, He was declaring them to be a source of true impurity (hidden impurity disguised with a squeaky-clean veneer, i.e., hypocrisy). His message was that purity is a matter of the inside, not the outside.

Jesus shattered the boundaries of His day ... and a heart-understanding of His teachings, coupled with an experiential awareness of the power of love, can shatter the boundaries of our day.

Does it strike you how the current Christian focus of sin, morality, performance, behavior and holiness, is more in keeping with the Jewish purity code, than with the radical teaching of Jesus?

We can all witness how purity divides and excludes, whereas compassion unites and includes. The message of Jesus, both then and now, is that the politics of purity has been replaced by the paradigm of compassion.

The elite of Jesus' day interpreted scripture through the lens of purity. Jesus interpreted scripture through the lens of compassion. These lenses were at odds.

The same perspective/lens divide happens among those who follow (or claim to follow) Jesus today. Some focus on holiness/purity as the "Christian life", with firm lines drawn between righteous and sinners (those "in" and those "out"). The sad and tragic irony is that those folks, most of whom are sincerely seeking to be faithful to scripture, end up highlighting the very parts of scripture that Jesus challenged and opposed! If we want to be faithful to the interpretation of scripture that Jesus taught, then we need to see scripture through the lens of compassion ... which is the Abundant Life.

Jesus shows us the Father. The Father IS Compassion. May we all experience, and thus *know* this...!

And thus, may we treat all others (& ourselves) with compassion.

Shalom, Dena

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fear of Man ... Fear of God ...

Each one of us has a unique path to walk with God, through the course of this life ... so while we cannot follow the pattern of another, we can share while en route, and at times something in someone else can shed light for us.

As always, consider what I, or anyone, shares as food for thought -- swallow only that which the Spirit feeds you, and feel free to spit out the rest...! :) Pa-tooie!

The fear of man has long been an oppressive theme in my life, like persistent background music ... and perhaps even more-so, the fear of God. Now, I know all the verses about the fear of God ... and I believe that when they're taken out of context, they can be a snare. AISI, the fear of God is the *beginning* of wisdom -- but a lousy place in which to live. I believe we're meant to mature into perfect love, which casts out all fear (including, I do believe, the fear of God).

In raising my children, I notice that in the early stages, they need the dualistic/black & white concepts to help them learn to navigate life ... to stay out of danger. So, "good/bad" and "yes/no" and "bad! hot! don't touch!" serves them well. But how pitiful would it be if I had to continue such a conversation with my 22 yo son...? By then, and long before then, I would want for my kids to mature into wisdom, guided from within, rather than relying on me, or anyone else, who is without.

I believe it's the same way with God.

Yes, I learned a lot of this from books... books written by humans as inspired/God-breathed as those who wrote scriptures.

But, even the very best and most enlightening books in the world won't effect a change in us, just by reading them, and not even by believing in them ... at some point, we have to *experience* God's love for ourselves. At some point, we have to have a first-hand encounter with the Living God, rather than having a vicarious/second-hand encounter based on the encounters of others. I notice that the Bible is full of accounts of folks having those experiences with God ... I do NOT believe that God intends for me to merely read *about* those encounters, and somehow suck off of them. I firmly and completely believe that those accounts are only to inspire ME to have my OWN experiential encounters with God. And God, I notice, comes to each of us uniquely ... meeting each of us where, we are, as we are.

Now, for me, and maybe not for you or anyone else, I had to "fire" the old God. Or, should I say god. God created us in His own image, and we've been returning the favor ever since. Mankind has infamously been projecting the very worst of his own fears/anxieties/anger/wrath/judgment/vengeance ONTO God ... in effect creating his own "god" -- a "god" who very much rules his mind. As a man thinks in his own heart, so is he. We also tend to take the worst of the parenting we received, and project it onto God (I often wonder how much of the scriptures were written from this projected-skewed-god perspective ... something only the Spirit can show each one).

Once I saw that I had fabricated a god in my own mind, I had to fire the dude. And I had to ask the Real God, the Creator of All That Is, the very Source of All Life, to "start me over." I desperately wanted to know what was of man, and what was of God; what is a lie, and what is Truth ... and this very expose God has been doing for me ... not in a single, massive download, but over time ... using my very experiences, circumstances, and relationships.

For God comes to me, cleverly disguised as my life.

Once the true nature of God became more and more real to me ... thus began the process of me seeing myself as He does. Amazing! He LIKES me...! I mean, I knew He loved me (though I often thought only because He *had* to, LOL!) ... but He really, really LIKES me (sheesh, I sound like Sally Fields...!). He's delighted with me. I often feel His smile, His words to me, "That's My girl!"

With that as a foundation, no, more of a permeation, the rest of my relationships with humanity, all of humanity, fall into place. On one hand, I realize that everyone is as goofy-messed-up as me (in the egoic sense). On the other hand, I realize that everyone is just as delightedly-loved as me. In fact, I'm seeing everyone as connected to me ... each an offspring of God (with which Paul agrees!).

Sure, there is no shortage of confused, lie-enslaved, love-starved, misguided folks out there (& I have my moments! my days! my years!), but I'm seeing that every 'attack' is really a misguided cry for love. And the Spirit can, and will (if I ask) show me how to respond in love to each person ... (again, no formulas - just listening within).

I guess, for me, when I finally *saw* how loved I am, I was able to lose the fear of man. Which is giving way to compassion FOR man.

In order to love others as myself -- I have to love myself -- and to love myself, I need to see myself as God does. Sadly, most of us ARE loving each other as pitifully as we love ourselves ... because we see neither our true selves, nor the true selves of others.

I don't know if any of this resonates for anyone else -- it's entirely possible that I just needed to type this out for me, alone. 'Tis ok, either way.

May we each come to know/experience God as He IS, and may you see yourself, and all others, as He does...!

Shalom, Dena

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Spiritual Conspiracy...!

This has landed in my lap ... again (and for all I can remember, I might've blogged it before, LOL!). EVERYthing feels fresh to me lately...! The author is apparently unknown (which seems uber-appropriate to me!).

Can't resist sharing it ... makes me smile and say "Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!" at the same time...! ;)

Enjoy it! Breathe it! Roll in it! Share it!

On the surface of the world right now there is
war and violence and things seem dark.
But calmly and quietly, at the same time,
something else is happening underground ...
An inner revolution is taking place
and certain individuals are being called to a higher light.
It is a silent revolution.
From the inside out. From the ground up.
This is a Global operation.
A Spiritual Conspiracy.
There are sleeper cells in every nation on the planet.
You wont see us on the T.V.
You wont read about us in the newspaper;
You wont hear about us on the radio;
We don't seek any glory;
We don't wear any uniform.
We come in all shapes and sizes, colors and styles.
Most of us work anonymously.
We are quietly working behind the scenes
in every country and culture of the world.
Cities big and small, mountains and valleys,
in farms and villages, tribes and remote islands.
You could pass by one of us on the street and not even notice.
We go undercover ~ we remain behind the scenes.
It is of no concern to us who takes the final credit,
But simply that the work gets done.
Occasionally we spot each other in the street;
We give a quiet nod and continue on our way.
During the day many of us pretend we have normal jobs.
But behind the false storefront at night
is where the real work takes place.
Some call us the Conscious Army ...
We are slowly creating a new world,
with the power of our minds and hearts.
We follow, with passion and joy.
Our orders come from from the Central Spiritual Intelligence.
We are dropping soft, secret love bombs when no one is looking

I just adore running into the rest of you secret conspirators of love! :)

Shalom, Dena

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Personality & Individuality

I just love learning about how we work...! There are so many ways to approach the way we're created ... so many terms, models, understandings to consider. What resonates for one may sound like a bunch of malarkey to another.

I rather prefer to collect it all ... put it on the shelf to consider, and allow all the components to come together to form a "bigger picture" ... threads of a tapestry, perhaps. And I notice that the tapestry becomes more clear, more detailed, as more component-threads are added to it ... and threads which previously seemed out of place can suddenly "fit" when another thread is found.

Given all that, I'm enjoying reading about personality and individuality ... as understood and taught by Edgar Cayce. It meshes well with what Tolle teaches about the ego and the Spirit. Of course, as always, use whatever fits for you ... perhaps suspend the rest.

Cayce makes this bold claim: "Jesus the Christ is an example for us of the right relationship between personality and individuality."

Of course, to understand what he meant by that, we have to understand what these terms mean.

Personality is the outer self that we present to the rest of the world, to others. Jung would call it the "persona". It's the mask we each wear, that which we hide behind ... that which carries us through daily life. It's our familiar self-identity. It's the "story we tell ourselves" ... that which we believe about ourselves ... our familiar routine ways ... those inner voices with which we second-guess and criticize/judge ourselves.

The personality is consumed with itself, and its own sense of self-importance. It desires to have others recognize it's personal superiority (and this can be oh-so-subtle! if we see it in another, we have it in ourselves). It puts itself in the center of all things. The personality operates both consciously and unconsciously... though it tends to be unconscious most of the time, for most people. Thus, so many operate on "auto-pilot" ... with strong habit patterns influencing or even driving us.

On the other hand, individuality is our authentic being. The higher self. Not perfect, but that which has capacity for growth ... and it even inherently leans in the direction of growth (whereas the personality is quite addicted to status quo, and resists growth/change).

Individuality is that part of us that can be awakened in meditation ... it's the real self beneath the personality-chatter. It's who we find recognizes God, when we get still, and know that God Is (not conceivably, but experientially -- there is a difference).

The personality is consumed with self, whereas the individuality is concerned with the Whole. The personality sees separation, whereas the individuality is aware that it is only experientially/temporarily distinct -- that it is inherently part of the Whole -- it knows all is One. The personality says "what's in it for me?" whereas the individuality says, "what's best for all?"

Now, obviously, in this material world we're experiencing, the personality is necessary, as is the physical body. Clearly we do need to look out for ourselves, take care of ourselves, and even develop helpful habits and routines.

The problem comes when we lose touch with our individuality (true self/Spirit-connection) and believe that our personality (false self/ego) is all there is.

I found this to be helpful ... just another thread to weave into the unfolding tapestry...!

Shalom, Dena

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Clever Disguises of Fear ...

Maybe it takes one to know one, but I can sniff out a fear in a person pretty quickly. Having grown up in a realm of fear (in the guise of control and discipline), and having been in the process of being set free from fear, I suppose I'm a bit heightened to it.

And, we all deal with fear. Whether we know it or not -- whether we LET ourselves know it or not...!

Most of us sure don't like to admit when we feel fear ... or worse, that it's the background music of our lives. Perhaps it makes us too vulnerable to face it ... perhaps it seems too weak, or makes us feel victimized.

During one rather intense personal conflict, during which a friend was accusing me of having gone down the "slippery slope of heresy", I became very aware that my friend was consumed by fear ... I could see it, feel it, all but taste it, as it hung thick in the air, and contorted her face. When I mentioned that I was sensing fear, the reaction was immediate and rejecting, "This is NOT fear -- it's wisdom."

Ahhhh, I see. I didn't realize that wisdom could make a person shake, cry, and lose control ...

But clearly my observation had hit a nerve ... & my observation was seen as highly offensive.

And so, we were stuck ... resolution did not come that day, or since.

I rather like discovering that I'm manifesting fear -- I like getting it out in the open ... because that means I'm aware that I'm in need of more perfect love (& there's no lack to that Supply!) ... I'm on the verge of having a lie replaced with truth ... I'm pregnant, and about to deliver more freedom...!

Yeah, birth hurts ... won't get any arguments from me on that. But the new life that comes forth is SO worth it...!

On this very topic, comes a message from one of my favorite contemporary mystics - Richard Rohr. Likely not a stranger to most who read this blog. I just love what he shares today -- may it sink in deeply -- may it do it's expository, revelational and transformative work, in whomever can bear it ...!


Question of the Day:
Do I allow hate or mean-spiritedness to control my life?

Fear is almost always behind hate. Sometimes it looks like taking necessary control, but control freaks are usually afraid of losing something. It is almost always fear that justifies hatred, but a fear that is hardly ever recognized as such.

For fear to survive, it must look like reason, prudence, common sense, justice, or even religion. It always works. What better way to veil vengeance than to call it justice? What better way to cover greed than to call it responsible stewardship? What better way to cover arrogance than call it Biblical obedience? Only people who have moved beyond ego and controlling all outcomes, only those practiced at letting go, see fear for the impostor that it is. To be trapped inside of your small self is always to be afraid.

There is an intrinsic connection between fear, hatred and violence. Fear always needs a hiding place, and one of the best is supposed morality or truth-speaking. Then, you can hate with impunity, and even grandiosity, or validation from the Scriptures. Then you can be hateful and not feel the least guilty about it, but in fact feel morally superior.

Taken from: A Lever and a Place to Stand (CD)

Blessed are the peacemakers

Shalom, Dena

Monday, January 18, 2010

Part II...

Picking up where we left off ...

~ All Change Begins with an Ideal.
Motives, purposes and ideals are at the heart of all change. We shape our tangible life with our attitudes, thoughts, and emotions. "Mind is the builder." If we want to change anything in life, we have to start with the motivational level. Once we've identified and focused on the motivation, everything falls into place. We enable a "shift" inside us --- a shift in intentionality that enables us to see and respond to life in a new fresh way. Almost as if my "magic", former obstacles turn into opportunities. This is part of learning to see the world in terms of connectedness, rather than from a perspective of differences. "Us vs. them" turns into US. Rather than competition, our actions result in what is beneficial for everyone.

~ All Time is One Time.
Perhaps those feelings of deja vu are clues to "something more" ... perhaps science is discovering, via quantum physics, that all is not as it seems to be. That even time is an illusion. Perhaps, if we tune in to our inner lives, we'll find clues that time is more complex, less definable, less linear, than we thought. Perhaps the eternal now is more real. Eternity is about the quality of how we experience the present moment. It is the experience of the infinite that breaks through every moment in time. What if we could harness the energy we put into worrying about the future, and redirect it into experiencing eternity NOW...?

~ Success Is Not Measured by Materiality.
Soul-success is an elusive concept. How do we measure the growth of the soul? It may well be that by all outward appearances, a person's life could be described as a "failure." But there's no telling of the spiritual/inward growth that person could be experiencing. Judge not by appearances. In fact, it's often our "failures" (in the practical/material realm) that are catalysts to look more deeply into the invisible spiritual world. The Kingdom of God which is in our midst, within us.

~ Spiritual Growth Requires Courage.
We can be inspired 'til the cows come home, but at some point we have to act on that inspiration, and that takes courage. "He without an ideal is sorry indeed; he with an ideal and lacking courage to live it is sorrier still. Know that." Courage is not in the absence of fear, but action in the face of it. And then fear, a mere shadow, a no-thing, fades in the Light of Love. Courage is the choice we make to act on that which we know is more important than the fear we may feel.

~ Evil is Real and Comes in Many Forms.
We cannot deal with evil "out there" until we have dealt with evil "in here" -- within our own selves. For the evil out there is merely that which is projected from within ourselves and others. I rather like this quote: "There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it hardly behooves any of us to talk about the rest of us." The evil we see perpetuated by others, is a reflection of the evil within us (do not get distracted by the trivialities of "degrees" of the evil). Here are some of the forms evil can take:
Lack of Awareness. Evil urges us to become more and more unaware, more and more distracted.

Extremism. One form of evil involves holding to an extreme point of view, denying the validity of any counterbalancing view. We see this clearly in others -- what's hard to see is our own tendency to go to extremes.

Aggression/Invasion. We see this most clearly in warfare, but all human relationships have the potential for this evil. We attempt to subvert the free will of others through overpowering them with our own will. It's a mature thing to learn to stand up for oneself, with integrity, and yet without becoming aggressive and invasive to another.

Twisting of a Gift. For instance, we may have a talent for motivating others, but we can twist this into controlling and manipulating others "for their own good."

Willfulness. We have the daily choice (many times daily) to choose life or death, help or harm. Learning or stagnating. When we sense the thought, "Oh, forget it - I'll do what I want!" and our want is not to help another, perhaps we've wallowed into willfulness.

As tempting as it is to focus on evil on the national and international scale, we are encouraged instead to look within ... to look at how we may be manifesting any form of evil in our own lives ... to look to where our own ego is running the show ... to look at the urgency of our own log in our own eye.

~ Learn to Stand Up for Yourself; Learn to Say "No" When it's Needed.
Sometimes we have to learn to say no, before we can say yes. Any of us who have raised children can attest to this playing out in their early lives (wondering now, if we don't let them say "no", can they ever really learn to say a whole-hearted "yes"...?). It takes a high degree of mental health and maturity to be able to set boundaries, and define ourselves with our "no." We can let others know who we are, and how we want to be treated. If we don't tell them, how will they know? If we don't tell them, what are we asking for by default? And if we don't tell them with the same kindness and respect we wish to receive, what are we teaching them? We cannot experience love and intimacy with another, unless we can first define our own boundaries. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, sometimes loving another may require that we step back, say no, define ourself, and then reaching out to build a relational bridge to that person. We can learn to be self-assertive, without being egotistical. We can be angry, even angry that we have been unjustly treated, without reacting IN anger. The anger is a sign ... and we can interpret the sign (is this offending my ego, or the Spirit? am I desiring to lash out in kind, or to repair a relationship?), and respond in a life-affirming, other-honoring way.

Shalom, Dena

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mystical Philosophy - Or, Do-BE-Do-BE

One of the things I've noticed about mystics ... no matter what their background ... they seem to come out of a traditional religious viewpoint, and are somewhat reluctantly dragged into mysticism...! (Paul of Tarsus comes to mind...)

This particular mystic, born before the turn of the last century, was originally a fundamentalist Christian ... and for his entire life, beginning with childhood, he read the Bible daily, finishing it entirely each year of his life. As well, he taught Sunday School. And yet, he was led into experiences he could not explain ... most of which seriously messed with what he was taught to believe. Transforming what he believed ...

He remained a very pragmatic man ... his whole life was devoted to serving and helping others ... he put hands and feet to his beliefs. But he came to see part of the "much more" that Jesus spoke of ...

His basic philosophy is much the same as what I've come to see ... I'll share twelve points, and elaborate a bit on each. If it becomes too long (a relative term, LOL!) I'll turn this into more than one post:

~ Everything is Connected - All is One.
Oneness of all life is the foundation. And yet, this cannot be an empty platitude we toss about, mere words, and then continue living our lives founded more on surface distinctions, rather than the deeper truth of unity. Our distinctions of individuality are merely appearances. "Only in Christ do extremes meet." Only in Christ does duality dissolve. We are challenged to be practical mystics -- to bring the sense of oneness into all we do.

~ Life is Purposeful.
It is our purpose to bring the creative/spiritual world into the daily/material world -- "to make the infinite finite." We each have a mission, or a "soul-purpose." We come equipped with talents, gifts, aptitudes that enable us to have a unique way of being in this life. This way of being leads to our own spiritual awakening, and inspires others to awaken as well. We are born to be of service -- to make a difference in the world.

~ Life is an Adventure.
(I love this quote!) "Life is meant to be a playful search for the truth." We are here to research. We learn only when we test, by experimentation, our ideals. We study and apply what others share, taking only that which experientially works for us. We can't jump to knowledge without experience, any more than we can put the cart before the horse.

~ Choose Compassion over Competitiveness.
Ohhhh, but this goes against the grain of our western life...! Consider this: "Nothing takes us away quicker from the sense of oneness, and therefore away from our own soul-purpose, than the drive for competitiveness." Playing sports is one thing -- but this is a deeper thing .. a comparison of ourselves to others, and making a contest for superiority. Competition paralyzes soul-growth ... it is the opposite of compassion. Compassion is when we are present for another person, and thus experience how we are all the same. Not being responsible for another, but being responsive to another. As we do unto a brother or sister, so do we do unto our Creator.

~ Take Responsibility for Yourself.
While we certainly have help available (all the time), no one can "fix" things for us. We are ultimately responsible for the choices that we make, both consciously and unconsciously. We don't like taking this level of responsibility ... all about us we see accountability being shirked, and blame being flung outward. It's far easier to blame and scape-goat others. It takes inordinate maturity for us to see how we create our own problems. Rather than affixing blame, we can learn from the consequences of our choices. We can ask, "what am I now gong to do with the challenges, limitations and obstacles I face in my life right now?" We can find resources, both within and without, that lead to resolutions. This includes, the responsibility to take care of our health. This body is a gift. Time to treat it like one.

~ Look Forward Rather than Backward.
The only time we have is NOW - this present moment. We cannot live in the past, and we cannot project into the future. Now is all that's real. Too often we squander it by being somewhere else, in our minds. Yes, we must learn from the past. Repeating the same things over and over, expecting different results, is the very definition of insanity. But to dwell on the past, to regret the past, to live in remorse, is to forfeit today. Make choices today, knowing that they affect our, and others', future. What we do, think, and believe, today - matters.

I'll continue with the other half, in the next post ...

Shalom, Dena

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Apologist? Philosopher? Mystic?

He who knows not and knows not that he knows not is a fool.
~Leave him.~

He who knows not and knows that he knows not is a student.
~Teach him.~

He who knows and knows not that he knows is an artist.
~Watch him.~

He who knows and knows that he knows is a teacher.
~Follow him.~

Once upon a time, I would've called myself an apologist ... certainly I valued, or was taught I should value, logic, reason, proof, absolutes. The "real" stuff.

I was taught that imagination is silly at best, and dangerous at worse ... I was taught to be suspicious of emotion ... that feelings are weaknesses, things to be suppressed, controlled, ignored.

For a very long time, I lived this out, as I thought it was good and right and true. I believed I was to defend what I believed ... that to debate and argue were noble ... that someone was right, and someone was wrong, and it was a fight, and I was to win.

The world was neatly divided into shades of black and white ... grey was nonsense. Colors were frivolous. There was one right way to see a thing (*any* thing), and I must not only find it, but defend it to the hilt (amazing, it seems to me now, that I ever managed to become an artist...!).

And so did many conversations, and relationships, fall by the wayside. My victories were hollow. But I was too busy defending what I thought I needed to believe, to notice. I was too busy scoring points, and gathering trophies -- at least in my mind.

This is, I believe, one level of awareness ... but not, I imagine, the highest, deepest, truest, nor most satisfying, level of awareness.

According to the quote above, I was then a fool ... and blind to my own foolishness. I then moved into the student phase, when a shattering series of experiences rocked my world, and demonstrated, in shocking reality, that I didn't know what I thought I knew ... I merely knew how to parrot what others taught me I should believe and know. I believe I've moved into the artist's phase ... but then, since the hallmark of this phase is that I don't know that I know, how do I know...?!? ;)

Another thing I don't know, is whether I will ever move into the teacher phase. That would certainly be presumptuous...! And I don't think I can rely upon the fact that every single, stinkin' "personality test" I've ever taken tells me that I, an unschooler, am a teacher...! That's akin to telling an atheist that they'd make a great priest! (well, come to think of it ...)

What I find is, without my intentional/conscious choosing, I have morphed from apologist to mystic. Oh sure, I'm still drawn into explaining what I believe and why, and can always come up with all manner of proof (including proof-texts, LOL!), but unless and until the one I'm speaking to has their own confirming experience with the Spirit, then I'm just manufacturing one who becomes as I once was -- one who can parrot what I've been taught, but haven't birthed that experience within me.

I find that I am drawn to the mystics from all religious (or lack of religious) backgrounds. I find that I have more in common with a mystic of another religion, than I do with an apologist of Christianity. Interesting that this has happened to me, without my forethought or planning. I have come to value experience over everything else ... I believe we are here to experience life, and live the abundant life. And as I read the Bible, I find that it is filled with people having experiential encounters with the Living God ... it is a collection of books about experiences. It teaches me, above all else, to have my OWN experience with the Living God -- and never, never EVER to settle for a vicarious experience, merely read second-hand, through the accounts of others.

I've been reading about the lives and experiences of many mystics, throughout history. I'm currently reading about a 20th century mystic, who was much misunderstood (LOL ~ the VERY hallmark of mysticism!). In the next few days, I'd like to share a few insights from this mystic, that are not only profoundly impacting me, but are putting words to some of my deepest thoughts and inner-glimmers.

May we all become a mystic -- one who encounters and experiences the Living God!

Shalom, Dena

Friday, January 15, 2010

As a Child ...

My dear friend Annie shared this, elsewhere:

Mature virtue is perfected in the spirit of childhood … To be virile in the practice of virtue is always to advance along the right way and to return to the spirit of childhood. ~ Lao-Tse

(Christ, Jesus) never judges or condemns us. If we should err, he is the first to say: `Father forgive them, these thy children. They know not what they do.' …approach God with humility and trust, as a child would go to his mother. ~ Daya Mata

And Jesus called a little child to him, set him in the midst of them, and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. ~ Matthew 18.2-4

Here is my response ... which seemed to just pour out of me (& feel free to add to this, as you're inspired):

To me, "as a child" means to be honest about what I don't know ... to say, "I do not know all things, and yet I trust God anyway."

"As a child" means coming to God, and to all people, without an agenda ... wanting, as a child does, to make a friend, to hear the stories of the other, and to share our own story freely with others.

"As a child" means that I don't pretend to be what I'm not, though I may use God's gift of imagination to explore all of who I really am.

"As a child" means that I speak my truth ... I don't posture, manipulate, or seek to control others.

"As a child" means that I value experience over mere words ... experience over theories.

"As a child" means that I do not dampen my enthusiasm and passion for the sake of "propriety."

"As a child" means that I believe in the "magic" that lies beyond appearances ... that I know that there's "more than meets the eye."

"As a child" means that I am aware that I am vulnerable ... but I trust that all things work out for my good anyway.

"As a child" means that I live fully in the moment-at-hand, aware that "now" is all that is. I do not live in the regrets of the past, nor the anxiety of the fear-projected future. I fully relish the only moment in which I *can* live: NOW.

"As a child" means that I relentlessly, even stubbornly, cling to the notion of "happily ever after." For I know and trust the One who writes the Story.

"As a child" means that I will not be happy unless everyone I love (& I love everyone) makes it to the Party.

"As a child" means that I know, really know, that the things unseen are as real, and even more real, than the things seen.

"As a child" means that I am not sullied by cynicism and despair. I live in the full expectation of all that gives me hope. For I know Who has given me this living hope.

"As a child" means that I can find the good in everything. Even if it means I have to squint really hard, turn my head to the side a bit, and look very, very deeply into whatever is appearing.

"As a child" means that I fully trust my Daddy to take care of all the imagined monsters in the closet of my mind. Because He has already shown me that many of those monsters are just dust-bunnies and shadows.

"As a child" means that I have a connection to my innate sense of justice ... knowing that it's just not right for some to be helped, while others are harmed.

"As a child" means that I dare to run headlong into the lap of my Father, and snuggle in closely, not worried about what others think of my daring, for I know where I most belong.

"As a child" means that I accept myself as I am ... it means being fascinated, rather than repulsed or frightened, by things which appear to be different.

"As a child" means that when I fall down, I can laugh, get up, and be willing to try again, and even to fall again.

"As a child" means that I like what I see when I look in the mirror. It means seeing myself as my Daddy sees me, and smiling. A lot.

"As a child" means seeing life as a grand adventure ... and knowing that I am an invaluable part of the story ... knowing that I am to play the part of a hero ... and knowing that Good always wins.

Shalom, Dena

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti ... and Thoughts on Truth ...

First, I want to share what my soul-sister shared with me today ... a rather powerful prayer that I can loudly "amen!"

From the cowardice that shrinks from new truths,
From the laziness that is content with half truths,
And from the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth,
O God of truth, deliver us.

~ Rabbi Mordechai M Kaplan

I have been overwhelmed with the reports coming out of Haiti today ... scores of wounded people, those with open head wounds and compound fractures, and injured children, walking around in a dazed shock ... too many to help, hospitals all demolished ... make-shift "hospital" in an airplane hangar where folks are using rolled up magazines as splints for broken limbs ... the trapped folks are calling friends/family in the US, on their cell phones, begging for someone to help them before they die, and no one can find them ... there are too many to help...!

Overwhelming ... just overwhelming ...

And then we have those claiming that Haiti deserves this, for having made a "pact with the devil"...! Sigh ... we knew that was coming, no? My friend Kevin had a few things to say about that (& my friend Rob points out that the very same "pact with the devil" that threw the French out of Haiti, also threw the French out of the USA, giving us the Louisiana purchase ... so 1/3 of our nation is due to a "pact with the devil"... Sheesh).

Earlier today, it grieved and perplexed me that while reporters were able to get in to Haiti (for we MUST have coverage!), the relief organizations were not. But I've heard reports of relief now beginning to pour in ... may we all give what we can. Here's a resource for helping, as you're led.

On one hand it blesses me to hear of so many who are ready to give all to help these people ... on the other hand, if we were at war with this particular nation, we wouldn't be doing anything to help them. In fact, the wars we've carried out have caused this much devastation (mostly to women and children, who suffer the most in wars) in other countries ... and we justify it.

Do we not see the imbalance & utter incongruity here...? With one hand we help, and with the other hand we kill ... which of those suffering humans are less precious and deserving of compassion? When will we wake up?

Shalom, Dena

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Going to be out and about today, but I wanted to pass on this little gem -- it's an answer for someone else here today ... not just me!

If you want it [realization], it will come. There is
no qualification necessary, except wanting it.
That is the only qualification. If it is not wanted,
it will not come. It comes when it is wanted,
but wanted wholly, not a little.

- Swami Krishnananda

Shalom, Dena

Monday, January 11, 2010

Two Years Ago, While On TV ...

Two years ago, Mark and I were invited to share a bit of our "marriage healing" story on TV, on the Mike and Juliet Show (which was canceled this past summer). I previously only got to view the first portion, and then that link disappeared along with the show's website.

A friend of my sister created this video, which he is about to put on Youtube (Yay! I can both help others and horrify my own children, all in one fell swoop!).

Sharing it with y'all, as some of you didn't know me then ...

The air-brushed make-up (fabulous stuff! erased the total lack of sleep that comes with trying to ignore the sounds of trash being picked up, ALL night, in Times Square!) is nearly miraculous ... however, not *quite* how I look in real life. Willem Dafoe, who was in a segment just before us, was sitting next to me, having his make-up applied ... surreal!

We had a BLAST doing this ... our 15 minutes of fame, LOL!

Here y'go: Watch the clip.

(go to the movie on the left side, entitled, "The Marriage Bed" - click on that one)

Shalom, Dena

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Hearing Voices ...

Oooooh, I been a vewy bad bwogger this year...!

I confess that I've been in a post-Christmas-production schlump (does "schlump" have one p, or two...?). I confess that I've been doing a lot of vegging ... attempting to get caught up with my multitude of emails (got it down from 500+ to 200, and then it went up again ... sigh...!). I confess that I've been talking myself INto this schlump/schlumpp ... and I'm hereby choosing to walk myself right out of it...!

So, I want to talk about hearing voices .. not just voices, but the Voice. Remembering now, with a grin on my face, that old email about "how to have fun in Walmart" ... one of the suggestions was to go to Walmart, wait 'til you hear an announcement over the PA system, and then hold your hands over your ears, fall to your knees, and wail, "The voices, the voices, why can't they leave me alone?!?"

Yeah, I so want to do that...!

But I'm not talking about those voices (enlightening though they may be!). I'm talking about the still, small Voice.

Back in my church-going days, I kept hearing about how others were hearing God's Voice ... and I never did. I wondered, were they all pretending, or was I cosmically left out? Was something inherently wrong with me? I mean, some folks are born missing a limb, or an internal organ ... was I born missing my soul...? My conscience? My ability to connect with God...? Or, had I lost it?

Ahhh, the wretched agony of fearing that I was either spiritually defective, or had inadvertently committed the unforgivable sin...!

I tried hard to hear God ... read the Bible incessantly (though I would hear it in the voices of those who claimed that they alone could interpret it for me) ... prayed all manner of prayers, both rote and spontaneous (most sounded like, "OH God! I am a wretched woman and unworthy to hear from you! Please save me from my own depravity!" ... as a (wo)man thinks in her own heart, so IS she ... believing I could not hear from God, how surprising was it that I couldn't ...?).

I had a friend explain it like this (he, who was horrified at my theology,
nevertheless was used by God, profoundly):

"Y'know those 'too-good-to-be-true' thoughts you get ... those thoughts that
blow your mind and feel so good, and make God seem bigger and better than you
imagined... those thoughts that make you feel totally loved and accepted and
led? Do you then think, 'nah, that couldn't be God!'...? Well, I ask you: why *wouldn't* that be God?"

Stopped me in my tracks.

I became more aware, less dismissive, of what I was experiencing within ...

Did you ever have a sudden leap of recognition within you, as you heard or read something? Something that suddenly felt real, meaningful, true ... something that "resonated" (almost as if you'd forgotten something you once knew/experienced on some deeper/higher level of awareness)...?

It changed my experience ... I now realize that God is never *not* talking to me
... I just wasn't tuning in.

Shalom, Dena

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

She'll Be Goin' Down to Texas in a Month ... (sing along!)

Next month, I'll be in Baytown Texas (near Houston), participating and speaking at a conference full of folks who are as endearingly radical and fun as I am...! ;)

Some of 'em make me look tame ...!

The conference happens to be free ... so if any of y'all can find your way to the Houston area, I can guarantee that this will be well worth your while.

Here are some of the talk-titles:

Tim King - A working model to dissociate violence from God. Tim challenges the Augustinian view.A working model to dissociate violence from God. Tim challenges the Augustinian view.

Willie Cripps - Memories carry the seed of reproduction.

Kevin Beck - Transform your religious experience through forgiveness and the art of compassion

Doug King - What is sin and how was it destroyed?
& Thoughts on the Atonement of Christ and its meaning regarding sin

Yours Truly - Who was He? Who is He? Does Jesus = The Christ? How has Christianity limited Jesus and/or The Christ?

(Can't wait to hear what I'll say...!)

Here's the information put out by Sjolander Road Fellowship:

Theme: The Message and Mission of Christ

The Sjolander Road Fellowship announces the fifth annual Texas Regional Transmillennial Conference for February 5-7, 2010. The conference site will be 4464 Sjolander Road, Baytown, Texas (approximately 30 miles east of Houston, exit 795 off Interstate 10).

Many would probably assume that the message and mission of Christ are too well known and understood to be the topic of discussion in any meaningful way. In the conventional understanding Jesus was the God sent Savior who died to pay the price for all mankind's sins and thereby make it possible for those who "accept" Him as Savior to enjoy the blessings of Heaven. Under this paradigm, mankind's sin, or lawbreaking, is the problem which separates God and man, and Jesus primary mission was to end this separation by appeasing God. Supposedly, all these "facts" are biblically indisputable.

Well, are they really? This gathering proposes to challenge an array of speakers of various backgrounds to re-examine the entire issue of what Jesus came to do and how He accomplished that mission. The problem with much that passes for Bible study is that it starts off assuming much and challenging and confirming very little. It is the desire of the organizers of this year's conference, that speakers feel perfectly free to question everything, leaving no assumption of Orthodoxy untouched. Let the evidence speak. Any quest to find a more reasonable and majestic God in the Bible cannot be condemned, except by those who have a vested interest in the fearful status quo.

Individuals interested in participating in the presentations and discussions in person are encouraged to see our website,, or to contact us at or 281-383-7054 for details, including a schedule of speakers. As an alternative, anyone can hear all the presentations live on-line, making arrangements by e-mailing Kevin Beck at

Pass along the info, to those who might be interested ... and if you go, you get a big ol' hug from me...! Sloppy Agape!

Shalom, Dena

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Some Thoughts on Relying on God ...

Y'know how the same ol' words can take on a whole new meaning...?

"Relying on God" used to mean to me, "you'd better get it right, and figure out exactly what God wants you to do (and there is only one right answer) or else there will be hell to pay."

And that hell-thing felt pretty literal, no matter whether I was in a "once saved - always saved" church, or in a "you can lose your salvation so you'd better be careful" church (SO fun to go back and forth...!).

Because, really, who could be assured? Who didn't hear stories about those who *thought* that they were a "real Christian", and yet discovered later on that they'd merely had "intellectual ascent"? Who didn't secretly wonder if they'd eventually hear, "Depart from Me - I never knew you" ...?

But I mean, really, you can only go down that aisle, and say the "sinner's prayer" so many times, before everyone starts to wonder if whether you have amnesia or multiple personalities (gotta get 'em all saved...!).

So, relying on God, when I was never sure whether I *could* rely on Him, because I was never convinced that we were actually on speaking terms, made for a pretty miserable "relationship" with God.

I see this differently now ... and it makes all the difference in how I live my life.

I'd like to quote a bit from Marianne Williamson's book, "The Age of Miracles," which is about thriving in "mid-life". Whatever THAT is. I'm not there yet, since I'm going to live 'til I'm 120, but I figure I can always get prepared ...! ;)

"Relying on God doesn't mean that you're relying on something outside yourself. It means that you're relying on the Truth of All Things, a higher power whose throne is not out there somewhere but inside your heart. You're relying on the power of compassion and nonjudgment. You're relying on objective, discernible laws of the universe; faith that love produces miracles is no different from faith that gravity makes things fall."

First, you should know that by "miracles", she's not talking about those events that would be splashed on tomorrow's headlines. She's talking about the transformation of the inner man ... the renewal of the mind that comes when we die to ego, and thus the life of the Spirit of God flows through us, unbidden, unhindered ... when thus the Kingdom is real, and all else is added to us. You know, the Abundant Life. Our inheritance.

I love the shift from "God up there, somewhere" to "God who is nearer than breath, closer than hands and feet" ... God who is in me ... God who lives as me ... me-in-Him, and Him-in-me ... God in whom I live and move and have my being. God who is all in all. As if He was ever not.

I love that when this shift begins (& it continues...), when we become aware of being one with God, fear gives way to love ... and that means that judgment gives way to compassion. Life goes from ugly and drab and hopeless, to beautiful and vibrant and hope-infused. Both are contagious ... both are creative ... we experience the very world we expect ...

Here's more:

"Every problem is a challenge to become a better person. Imagine, then, what we're being challenged to become in order to turn history around at this time. What quantum leap will transition us from the level of consciousness at which we created our problems, to a level of consciousness at which we're miraculously able to solve them? Given that God has an answer to every problem the moment it occurs then there exists in His mind an absolute plan - a blueprint for our salvation - already etched in full upon our hearts... the human race will remember at last that we were conceived in love; we are here to love; and one way or another, we'll remember to love. ... Prayer changes us, and through us, the entire world."

I used to cringe at the song, "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me ..." Because I believed, for I had been taught, that there could never be peace on earth ... that instead the world had to get worse and worse ... that there had to be a cataclysmic war to end all wars, with 2/3 of the earth being destroyed ... and then Jesus would come and rescue us from the mess (which we'd made - largely due to the self-fulfillment of this very belief!), and then there would be utopia.

Now, I cringe at that fabricated belief, and I believe that peace on earth can come ... as one heart at a time is awakened, as one mind at a time is renewed ... so that we all manifest what we have -- the Mind of Christ. It's not a religious achievement ... it's our very truest identity.

And I'm just crazy enough to dare to believe that this is true:

"Love is to fear what light is to darkness; in the presence of one the other disappears. When enough of us stand in the light of true love - not a simplistic love, but the strong and extraordinary love of God - then all war will cease."

All war -- whether it plays out on the battlefield of the earth, or the battlefield of the mind, all war is ego-manifestation. Whether it's nation against nation, denomination against denomination, gang against gang, husband against wife, or belief against belief. All war is based on "there is a lack - there is not enough of what I need, and so I will take yours for myself!" The ego believes lies ... it doesn't realize that there's enough of everything ... it doesn't realize that it is One with the very Source of Everything.

Miracles are the natural consequence of living in the Presence of Love. Love is who we are. The journey from fear to love is not an esoteric, fuzz-brained, self-deluding exercise! It's not fluffy new-age-ism. It is what we are here to do, in the discovery of who we are, and it is critical for transforming both hearts and human society, and affecting our collective history.

The problem with the world is that we've been torn from our original nature. Torn from ourselves, we become addicts. Torn from others, we become abusers. Torn from the earth, we become its destroyers.

But we can wake up, we can realize who we are, we can face that "this isn't working - this is insane" ... we can realize that we are a child of the Father of All, and we can return Home.

One last quote ... and this one makes my spirit leap and shout with joyful recognition of truth:

"History moves forward one insight at a time. From the Jewish embrace of a monotheistic God to Buddha's vision of compassion; from the teaching of Jesus that God is love to Martin Luther's insistence that we can talk to Him ourselves; from the individual's creative genius spurred by the Italian Renaissance to the philosophical maturity of the European Enlightenment; from the genius of the American Experiment to the invention of quantum physics -- the march of armies is creatively small compared to the march of ideas. And that is the purpose of time, for both the individual and the species; that as life progresses, our understanding can mature.

"All of us take two steps forward and one step back at times, but there is nevertheless an evolutionary impulse - within every heart, every cell, and every aspect of life - marching ahead despite all resistance. Our task is to consciously conspire with that impulse, in full partnership with the Force of Love at the center of all things, entwined with its divine pulsation and heat, both riding and directing the wave by which humanity shall rise up at last."

BINGO and Amen...!

Shalom, Dena