Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Devolution of God -- Our Shift from Experience to Concept

Anybody else, besides me, curious about how the Ego-Explosion took us from Spirit-faith to theism...?

It seems that when the ego-explosion happened, people became unable to perceive Spirit all around them ... the entire focus was on survival, and control. The world went from a friendly/connected realm, to a cold, dismal, and even hostile environment ... and mankind needed a new narrative to make sense of it. While feeling insecure, and facing new dangers, they desperately needed something, or some ones, to make it all seem more orderly, more in control. So too, they needed something to explain why they felt separate and incomplete ... much like how young children require "transitional objects" (like security blankets), when they perceive themselves to be separate from their mothers.

And so, man invented religion.

With the loss of awareness of Spirit-force, people saw religion as something distinct, separate from "real life" ... gods were "out there, somewhere" ... far away, remote. Gods required special houses, special days, special rituals (for appeasement) ... and connecting with the gods/God could only be done in those special ways. And, because life was suddenly so dismal and painful, they formed the concept of a life after death, as reward/compensation for all the suffering in this life.

Christianity speaks of a "God-shaped hole" within us ... which we humans try to fill with various things (money, fame, success, drugs, food, busyness) ... but that we won't be satisfied until we find God. And, for a while, religion does seem to fill the void (or, at least it keeps us so busy that we don't have time to think about how we feel ... so too, are feelings considered suspicious within religion ... so, don't think, don't feel, just keep busy ... or as one of Kevin Beck's favorite bumper sticker says, "Jesus is Coming Back - Quick! Look Busy!").

However, as science has developed in the modern era, our understanding of life has expanded, and the panaceas of religion no longer suffice. Ultimately, religion doesn't work either. It only acts as a band-aid ... it doesn't touch the cancer eating away at us. It doesn't affect our sense of separation and incompleteness - it can only offer "eventual compensation" (once we die).

But there IS another way to deal with the separation and incompleteness ... through spiritual growth/development. Religion offers a worldview, a system, and an explanation for life... but it frowns upon spiritual growth (& the questioning of what we believe) -- it instead requires conformity, to the truths it already espouses (& controls).

Spiritual development is about transformation ... to heal our psychological pain, and to transcend our current suffering. How to overcome the sense of separation, how to be free of psychic pain, by reconnecting with Spirit (or to realize that we've never been separate from Spirit). It goes to the heart of the problem, rather than just dealing with symptom-management. Once we begin the inner transformation (a shift in perspective), we discover that we no longer need religion as a form of compensation ... it becomes both unnecessary, and even a hindrance to our transformation.

As Job says, after his experiential encounter with God:
My ears had heard about you.
But now my own eyes have seen you.

When we experience God/Spirit, as God/Spirit IS, then our previous mental concepts of God fall away ...

And may it continue..!

(Next: Other Effects of the Fall...)

Shalom, Dena

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Our Concept of God ...

This may be a tough one to write ... as well, a tough one to receive. But I've come to believe that it's not dangerous to question anything, or everything ... including our concept(s) of God. Indeed, if I have a skewy concept of God, that's preventing me from truly experiencing God as God IS, then I sure 'nuff want to know that ... and that requires that I take a good, long look, at what I believe and why.

Going back a ways, as in 6,000+ years or so ... the original "religion" (i.e., view of God), was that God is a Spirit-force ... the Source of Life ... which permeated all things. All in All (sound vaguely familiar?).

Here's how DH Lawrence described the spirituality of the Native Americans of New Mexico:
It was a vast and pure religion, without idols and images, even mental ones. It is the oldest religion, a cosmic religion the same for all peoples, not broken up into specific gods or saviors or systems. It is the religion which precedes the god-concept, and is therefore greater and deeper than any god-religion."

That struck me: "beyond metal idols/images." Wondering, how have my own mental images of God prevented me from knowing/experiencing God...? And, do I thus worship a concept of my own creation (or received from others), which has become an idol, replacing the True God in my own mind, and therefore, life...?

Prior to the concept of a male God "in the sky" ... there was a more feminine aspect to the Divine ... now, to be fair, this "goddess" concept wasn't anthropomorphic ... a feminine Deity wasn't worshipped, so much as life was seen as feminine ... life was observed as coming forth *out* of females. Seeing the Spirit in terms of a Womb just made sense. Steve Taylor quotes here from "The Myth of the Goddess":
The Mother Goddess, wherever she is found, is an image that inspires and focuses a perception of the universe as an organic, alive and sacred whole ... Everything is woven together in one cosmic web, where all orders of manifest and unmanifest life are related, because all share in the sanctity of the original source."

Thus, Divine as feminine is more of a concept, than an image.

Relating this to the Fall ... in 4,000 BC, when humans became warlike, socially-distinctive, and patriarchal, the fallen humans also developed theistic religions. At first, the religions were polytheistic (many gods) ... including in ancient Sumer, in Greece, in Rome, and in Egypt (among others). The gods were a mixture of male and female images. But by 2,000 BC, all the prominent gods were male ... the females having become either subservient, or non-existent. So too, the former sense of participating with nature, had been replaced with a sense of needing to conquer/dominate nature. Rather than the sense of the Divine being in all, God became a powerful being *over* all.

Monotheism was birthed in Egypt (I found this fascinating!) ... The Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaton, in 1400 BC, proclaimed that there was only one God (Aton), the Sun God ... and that all other gods were now obsolete. Interestingly, there's evidence that Moses lived in Egypt at this time (Moses being the assumed author of the first five books of the old testament), where he was in a noble family. It's likely that Moses took this concept of one God with him.

Also interestingly, the three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) were the predominant religions among the Saharasian people ... by 1000 AD, only the Hindus of India and the Taoist/Buddhist people of the Far East, remained untouched by this "fallen" perspective of religion. The spread of both Christianity and Islam is not due to "how true it is" (as adherents of each religion declare) ... but because they were (both!) spread by political and military force (i.e., "convert or be punished/die").

Steve Taylor sums up this chapter quite provocatively:
The notion that there is only one God - an omnipotent father figure who keeps a constant watch over us, controlling everything which happens, rewarding us for doing good, and demanding complete subservience and devotion - obviously satisfied (& continues to satisfy) a deep-rotted psychological need of fallen human beings.

Wowzers...! As I wrote in the margin: "I feel another shift coming!"

(Next: Our Need for Gods)

Shalom, Dena

Friday, February 26, 2010

What Have We Done to the "Least of These"...?

Evolutionary psychology claims that class status is about survival. That power of some over others is necessary in order for the fittest to survive ... and therefore we have inequality.

But ... this doesn't explain the utter lack of class status and inequality in the unfallen peoples... why the unfallen groups (of yesterday and today) do not have authoritarian leaders, make their decisions via consensus, manage to share food, do not divide according to classes/castes, and do not permit expressions of greed and selfishness.

Due to the Fall, humans have craved power as a compensation for the lack of completeness, and the sense of separation we feel ... we yearn to feel important and special ... as if this will stop the discord within. And, in order to feel important, we need to usurp another's importance ... as if this, like water and food, was somehow scarce ... as if we could only have what we want/need by taking it from another.

To justify this, we have concluded that some are better than others. We've seen how males have done this to females ... and so too have adults done it to children.

Unfallen peoples treated children with gentleness, affection, and even respect. They were whole people to them ... not "potential people." Even today, the Eskimo tribes of northern Canada do not punish children ... instead, they spend inordinate amounts of time teaching what they should do ... training them by example, and with great patience. Violence toward a child is unthinkable -- even showing anger to a child is deemed to be unacceptable... seen as demeaning. They've concluded that scolding a child leads to rebellion, whereas compassion and understanding leads to behavior that's good for the whole community. Orders are never given to a child ... children are allowed to think for themselves, and to learn *to* think. Experience, and resulting consequences, are seen as the best life-teachers. A child is trusted to know how to play, how much to eat, and when to sleep.

Fathers in unfallen culture (whether those of the ancient world, or those of today), are strikingly different than fallen fathers. Rather than being emotionally attached, and too-busy, these fathers are very involved with childcare, right from the start. They enjoy(ed) bathing, feeding, and playing with the children, from infancy through childhood. Fathers are regarded as nurturers ... providers of love and affection ... with a tremendous amount of physical touching going on (on which the children thrive). These men carry the children for hours, bonding with them as the mothers do. These "primal" men are akin to the "new men" of today ... those who are realizing that the stereotypical "distant father" role just "is not working" for them. These men are allowing themselves to have empathy, emotional vulnerability and transparency, and do not get their identity in violence or aggression. They are unafraid of appearing to be "feminine", and are thus willing to take on the more traditionally "feminine" roles of child caring, housework, and cooking.

(Pausing to put in a plug for my own husband, Mark ... who has always done all the laundry, is a hands-on-daddy, who has changed as many diapers, and given as many baths, as I have, if not moreso ... who has relished doing everything *but* childbirth and nursing, and who, to this day, takes out each of his children on a "date night" for some one-on-one time ... whether the child is 22, or 10 or 5. I am SO happy to have a "primitive" man...!)

Let's look at what happened to children since the Fall:

There was no evidence of child-beating prior to 6,000 years ago, but it became common after that. Just like with wife-beating, it was seen as "necessary", to keep them in line, to ward off sinful and disobedient behavior.

The early Christian church told parents to regularly whip their children ... even going so far as to indoctrinate "Holy Innocents Day" -- when children were whipped to remind them of Herod's massacre of the innocent children. And if children dared to cry, they were beaten harder, as the crying was thought of as a "sign of the devil".

Swaddling was another form of child abuse ... with babies wrapped from head t toe in a tight bandage or sheet - completely preventing movement. Supposedly, this made them feel secure ... but it was done to an extreme excess ... children were left in swaddling until the age of 3 or 4, leaving the children in direct contact with urine and feces ... often hung on a hook in the house, left alone, so that parents could go to work in the fields for hours per day. This would cause the children to become passive (no kidding - eventually they would stop resisting, for it was futile!). As a result, parents didn't have to pay much attention to them ... but why get attached, if there was no guarantee that the child would survive childhood anyway? And is there any doubt whether these children would become detached adults, who would pass on this behavior...?

Children were expected to be "seen but not heard" ... they were property, "less than" beings ... required to be unquestioningly and cheerfully obedient (Ohhhhh, I cannot tell you how this mirrors the child-raising and homeschooling advice I received within the church...!). Any sign of autonomy, of independent thinking, was to be squelched and punished. "Break the will!"

Children, like women, reminded men of the lack of control they really had over them ... child likeness is impulsive, instinctive, and is lacking ego ... children are attuned to their bodies, reminding men of their bodies. And so, they "must be dominated."

The fear, in fallen cultures, is that children who are not dominated and punished, will grow up to be out of control hedonists. But is this true?

Unfallen children are actually psychically different ... they seem to be significantly less "unruly" than fallen children are. They display less selfishness and greed ... are more eager to share and cooperate ... less likely to fight and squabble. There seems to be a direct correlation between how often children are touched as infants/children, and how unruly and "badly behaved" they thus behave.

Touch-deprived children, it seems, are more likely to act out as they mature ... in cultures where children are touched often, and kindly, nurturingly, they do not seem to need to demand attention through aberrant behavior.

In societies where a child's cry is seen as a need for holding, the children turn out quite well-adjusted ... whereas in societies where we're told to "let the child cry it out," the children seem to learn to "shut down" ... and to act out later in life.

What HAVE we done to the least of these, who grow up to become ... like us?

How is this working for us, anyway?

Shalom, Dena

Next: The Origins of Our View of God...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Men & Women -- Why Are We So Different?

Differences abound between men and women. And all the people said, "Duh!"

Ken Wilbur puts it this way:
Men tend toward hyperindividuality, stressing autonomy, rights, justice, and agency, and women tend toward a more relational awareness, with emphasis on communion, care, responsibility and relationship. Men tend to stress autonomy and fear relationship; women tend to stress relationship and fear autonomy.

A broad brush, but containing much truth nonetheless...

Women's friendships focus more on mutual help and problem-sharing, and much intimacy ... wheras men develop friendships based on common interests, with less intimacy.

More differences:

- Women seem to need less power and status than men ... women's speech is more cooperative,reciprocal and collaborative, and their conversations last longer, filled with feedback, both verbally and non-verbally -- empathy prevails. Disagreement is often in the form of a question, rather than a statement. The goal for women seems to be to develop and maintain intimate, reciprocal relationships.

- Men tend to be more blunt, competitive and direct. Feelings are not as important as logical truth. Their speech is punctuated with imperatives and commands ... men are more apt to brag, threaten, to talk over each other, and to ignore what's said. For men, language can tend to be more of a tool for domination, and a display of status. The goal for men seems to be to impress others with their skill and knowledge.

(Now, I know women who are blunt and aggressive in their speech, and I know men who are sympathetic, kind and thoughtful in their speech ... this is a general tendency.)

This need for male dominance shows up early among boys ... studies at summer camps show that the moment boys get together, they begin to battle each other for status, using ridicule and even violence to establish their hierarchical pecking order. The girls instead used milder ridicule, and flattery of the more dominant girls ... while the boys maintained their hierarchy the entire time they were together, the girls quickly forgot the distinctions, and formed "bonding pairs" in groups of two or three, forming "best friends."

According to some sociologists, the most fundamental difference between male and female psyches is the differing capacities for empathy. In "The Essential Difference," Simon Baron-Cohen says that most men suffer from a mild form of emotional "autism" ... an empathy-disorder. In it's extreme form, it's a type of "mind-blindness", wherein they cannot put themselves into the "shoes of another" ... they cannot feel another's pain, can't even imagine what another is thinking/feeling, and thus cannot respond in a helpful way. These men could be said to have poor social skills ... obsessive interests, and even appear to be somewhat emotionless and overly-logical. According to Baron-Cohen, most men have this struggle to one degree or another ... (& yes, there *are* exceptions -- I'm married to one). Men are just generally not as adept at reading others' emotions, reading facial expressions, or interpreting body language, as are most women.

In studying toddler groups, it's observed that boys have a much harder time sharing than girls ... with girls permitting 20 times more turn-taking than boys. Girls tend to have more egalitarian groups, while boys tend to give orders and make demands.

Criminality is almost solely the domain of men ... with rare exceptions. Statistics across international studies show the same thing -- 80-90% of all crimes are committed by men -- and when the crimes are defined as the violent ones (robbery, murder, sexual assaults), the percentages go up to the 90's. Male on male homicide is 30-40 times more common than female on female (including in prisons).

The opinions about why we have these differences are myriad. But Steve Taylor, author of "The Fall" contends that the differences are just a consequence of the Fall ... that the Fall affected men far more than women ... resulting in a more pronounced ego in men, than in women.
The feminine characteristics - more relational, more feeling-based, less concerned with power and status, a greater sense of empathy, and so on - are exactly those we would associate with a less developed sense of ego, and a less "fallen state of being. On the other hand, the male characteristics - autonomy, obsessiveness,lack of empathy, a high degree of systematising - are exactly those we would associate with a strongly developed sense of ego... In other words, what we think of as "masculine" behaviour is largely the result of the Ego Explosion... It's probably possible to say that the "female psyche" ... is a kind of midway point between the unfallen psyche of primal peoples, and the male fallen psyche.

So, *why* did the Ego Explosion affect males more than females?

One possible reason is that the female psyche never got "walled off" as the male psyche did ... largely due to the woman needing to care for children. Being a mother is about empathy -- feeling with/for another. Having to second-guess, intuitively, what the infant/child's needs were, and responding to them ... while the man was "out there" literally in the wild, fighting each other off for enough food to survive.

Beyond that, women are cyclically "tied to the earth" and to nature ... our biology is rhythmically cyclical (conforming to the lunar calendar), whereas men are steady and "inert". Men are better able to "rise above" their biological pullings, whereas women cannot get away from our connection to nature. In general, women were less exposed to the harsh pressures and realities of the fallen life, which created the "sharpened male ego."

This sharpened male ego also began to perceive the female as a threat to his survival. Men became mind-focused, and saw the body as "less than". Women were a constant reminder of the body, with their menstruation, birthing, and nursing ... so, too, did their sexual allure pose a threat to men's survival ... as man sought to rise above his body's urges, woman became seen as a sexual temptress ... eventually leading to the concept that women were impure and sinful creatures, used by the "devil" to lead men astray from purity.

Woman was blamed for the "fall" according to the story in Genesis (or at least the male perspective's interpretation of the myth). Woman thus could not be trusted ... she was weaker, easily deceived, dangerous. This basic view was expressed by the Jewish Testament of Reuben:
Women are evil, my children ... they use wiles and try to ensnare [man] by their charms ... They lay plots in their hearts against men: by the way they adorn themselves they first lead their minds astray, and by a look they instill the poison, and then in the act itself they take them captive ... So shun fornication, my children, and command your wives and daughters not to adorn their heads and faces."

This antagonism toward women has led to all manner of atrocities ... including the European witch-killing mania from the 1400's through the 1700's (later in some areas), and has been a feature of the three monotheistic Saharasian religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam).

The more men have believed that their bodies are "less than" their minds, the more women have been punished for displaying a connection to the body. Men = purity of mind, whereas women = impurity of body.

Women came to be likened to all that is disgusting ... Marina Warner writes:
"In the feces and urine - in St. Augustine's phrase - of childbirth, the closeness of women to all that is vile, lowly, corruptible, and material was epitomised - in the 'curse' of menstruation, she lay closer to the beast; the lure of her beauty was nothing but an aspect of the death brought about by her seduction of Adam in the garden."

As men came to see that sex was sinful, and that his own sexual desires were to be despised, they thus felt extreme animosity toward women, whom they believed *produced* these desires in them... likening women's allurement to "witchcraft." Men must therefore have absolute control and domination over women, in order to dominate their own bodies, in order to be "pure" ... in order to be acceptable to God.

Even today, in the most-arid regions of the world, women are forced to cover their bodies and faces (and some, their eyes!), and to live as virtual slaves, so that they cannot arouse the powerful and uncontrollable sexual impulses that these men fear make them impure.

The past 6,000 years of man's inhumanity against women is at least in part, man's revenge on women, for this.

And so ... God's gift of sexual desire and expression has been despised by man, and has been used as a weapon against women.

May we awaken from this nightmare...!

Shalom, Dena

(& may I make this CLEAR ... I adore my husband, my men-children, and my men-friends! I do not put men down ... I desire that we all, men and women alike, be free from the ego-explosion, including the destruction of patriarchy -- which hurts men and women alike! Later, we will look at how many men are awakening, even transcending their egos ... integrating the best of the unfallen and fallen psyches, evolving into our next stage of development -- I must commend the transcendent men in my life ... many of whom are reading this blog! And you know who you are!)

Next: Inequality and Child-Oppression

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Most Unholy Trinity: War, Oppression & Patriarchy

Catchy title, no? ;)

According to some social scientists, we have problems because we have a "selfish gene" (well, find that sucker and mutate it!). They suggest, and even insist, that we are naturally and innately selfish -- nothing to be done about it.

And then there's religion ... which tells us that we developed selfishness through disobedience (though how we'd disobey withOUT selfishness being there in the first place is never addressed...!). They suggest, and even insist (under threat of eternal punishment for disagreeing) that we are hopelessly and inately selfish -- BUT, if we "do the right thing" or "make the right choice" we can overcome this selfishness. Interestingly, the adherents to such religions don't seem to have managed that selfishness-overcoming thingy very well ... perhaps they need to read more scriptures, or pray harder. Yeah, that'll work.

And then there are others who say that it's because of testosterone. That the presence of this chemical is responsible for the war and patriarchy we observe and experience (women produce 100 micrograms of the stuff, whereas men produce 5100 micrograms)... that this chemical tells men to "screw it or kill it" (oh yes, I cleaned up the author's language -- now you really want to read this book, doncha?).

But which came first? Is this chemical state the cause, or the result, of aggressive behavior..?

And here's another question: if we humans are genetically and chemically set up to be agrressive, then why was war almost utterly absent in human history until 6,000 years ago?

What if, 6,000 years ago, when vast portions of the lush and populated areas of planet became suddenly arid and inhospitable, so that water was hard to find, and food was scarce ... and humans, forced to suddenly compete with each other to survive, and had to develop a more sharply defined ego to do so ... and as a result became more self-aware, more afraid of death ... and thus sought ways to become "immortal"? What if they imagined that the taking of another's life, whether in warfare, or in a sacrificial ritual, gave them more life? (This proposal is put forth by Ken Wilbur.)

How else might the ego-explosion have led to war? We've already seen how the Fall brought about an inner disconten, and sense of incompleteness, along with a tendency to compete for life-resources. And then to accumulate status and wealth (to feel important). If you have things I want in order to feel better, I will take them. And so, I will fight you in order to take your things (haven't we all seen this in 2 year olds? And in corporate boardrooms of 40/50 year olds?).

The lack of empathy/compassion, that came with the Fall, made warfare easier. If I see you as "other", and you have what I want/need, you are dispensible. If I cannot feel another's pain, it's easier to justify inflicting pain on them. War has also been a historical means to alleviate boredom ...! War has often given a nation, and the people within it, a united purpose. "WE" are in this together. "WE" have a common enemy (interestingly, this is also what binds folks in a common religion -- having a common enemy to focus on).

Another possible source for war is sexual repression ... according to Wilhelm Reich, if humans don't have a healthy sex life with regular orgasms, then "undischarged bio-energetic tension" builds up ... creating a sense of frustration and latent agression, which seeks to have an outlet. Eurasian societies have largely been sexually repressive ... which may explain the long history of continual warfare in this region.

In addition, there have been connections made between socieities which withhhold physical affections from infants, and the penchant for war. Neurophychologist James Prescott compiled data from 400 different cultures, and found a profound connection between affectionate touch, and a low level of violence.
"Those socieities which give their infants the greatest amount of physical affection have less theft and violence among addults, thus supporting the theory that deprivation of bodily pleasure during infancy is significantly linked to a high rate of crime and violence."

Of course, it's also quite likely that the ego-explosion is what's behind the violence, the lack of affection, and the sexual repression ... and rather than focusing on the tip of the iceburg, it's better to go to the bottom of it.

Next: Patriarchy -- Why Men and Women are From Different Planets...!

Shalom, Dena

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Fall & The Leap...!

Lest we forget, in our expose of the pitfalls of the Fall, there were positive aspects to it as well ... in many ways it was an evolutionary "leap" ... I believe that it had to happen ... in some ways, we have to experience what we are not, in order to better know who we are. Remaining unaware, such as the unfallen people were, such as children are, is good for that stage of life ... but the nature of life is to grow, to evolve, to mature... to become more aware.

Some of the benefits of the Fall are: writing, mathematics, science, astronomy ... logical/syntactical thinking ... problem-solving abilities, organization skills, administration systems, the wheel, roads, drainage, sewage-disposal-systems (let us pause in deep appreciation of sewage-disposal systems!) ... philosophy, transportation, medical advancements, higher education, and the very technologies that make sending out this blog post possible...! All of this can be traced to the Fall/Leap that our ancestors made 6,000 years ago ...

Prior to the Fall, it seems that our ancestors relied almost exclusively on their right brains ... and after the Fall, the left brain not only emerged, but took over. The left brain is required to "opt out" of pain and suffering ...

What's interesting to me, is that art took a nose-dive after the Fall ... the quality of art went downhill. It went from flowing and expressive, to almost abstract and "stick-like". Ego-consciousness seems relegated to the left brain ... while intuition and the arts flow from the right brain. And, as any artistic/creative person can tell you, when the ego is chattering away in the left brain (often with a stream of negative, fearful thoughts!), it can severely block the creative ability of the right brain. Often, to break through a "block", an artist or writer has to "just do it" ... to push from left to right brain ... so that creativity can return. Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist, who suffered a stroke in her left brain, suddenly became very aware of how she was connected to everything, as she was operating almost exclusively from her right brain (if you haven't seen that amazing video, you owe it to yourself to watch this video).

So, what are some of the negative psychological effects of the Fall?

- Aloneness. As a result of the ego-explosion, each human became "trapped" inside their own head ... being an "I" separate from all others ... disconnected from nature, from the universe ... from Spirit. As well, we feel *incomplete* ... as if something critical is missing. We have a profound sense of unfilfillment, a lack of purpose. Our "original trauma" is this sense of disorientation, a sense of "homelessness". A wondering of how we fit in, where we belong ... and we spend our lives connecting and disconnecting with various groups ... as if we're looking for our "tribe" ... though our tribe is the Whole.

- Ego-Chattering. The ego-explosion enabled us to "talk inside our heads" ... even to have an ongoing inner dialogue ... and yet, it seems at times to control us. The ego seems to have a life/mind of its own ... distracting us with an endless stream of words, thoughts, images, memories, fears, anxieties ... (and this seems most pervasive in the middle of the night, when we can't sleep!). The Ego-chatter has a very negative slant ... full of past-regrets, and future-fears, and current what-ifs. Dissatisfaction and fear of failure seem to haunt us ... like we have a depressed inner-person, who gripes about any and every thing, harranging about it's troubles, ranting about its worries, agonizing over its fears.

- Perceptual Sleep. Our unfallen ancestors had a profound sense of everything around them being VERY alive and REAL. The world seemed to glow and sparkle to them ... their senses were heightened to the moment-at-hand. But to us, the ones who have the egoic filter, life seems drab and dreary ... most of it becomes "rote" and mundane ... so that we largely live on auto-pilot, desperate for diversions and distractions to stave off the stifling threat of boredom. We look at the planet and all upon it as "just things" (and things to use and abuse for our own benefit). It's almost as if we've gone from 3 to 2 dimensions ... as if we're experientially flat-lining. We have replaced awareness and perception with thinking and doing. This perceptual sleep deprives us of a sense of *meaning* ... we see life as harsh and difficult --whereas our ancestors saw the world as a meaningful and benevolent place. Thomas Yellowtail, a Native American (and therefore a more unfallen person), describes life this way:
"Wherever you went, and whatever you were doing, you were participating in sacred life, and you knew who you were and carried a sense of the sacred within you. All of the forms had meaning..."

The ego-explosion has caused us to lose the powerful sense of being "at home" in the world.

-Fear of Death. Because we became self-conscious, we fallen people became aware of our existence, and of our potential NON-existence. One of the ways we've sought to deal with this fear, is our concept of an after-life. The unfallen people saw death as just a transition, like birth ... when life returns to God/Spirit. But once our ego/individuality becomes precious to us, we cannot imagine not being as we are ... and so we envision ourselves, individually, continuing on, after death. So too have fallen people seen life-after-death as a reward to make up for all the intolerable suffering in this life (which, ironically, is made intolerable and sufferable due to the ego!). Egoic people have tended to see this life as something to merely endure, to get through, in order to get to the reward.

As a result of these psychological effects, we humans tend to be an unhappy lot. We spend an inordinate amount of time trying to GET happy, or trying to ESCAPE from being unhappy ... we accumulate things, possessions, money, accolades, applause, attention, awards ... and we escape into food, drugs, alcohol, work, business, religion, relationships, sex, shopping, gossipping, TV, computers, novels, hobbies, and the like.

What we fear most, and what we need most, is to go within. To face our fears, to ask ourself if what we fear, believe and think are true. To be still, and hear the quiet Inner Voice of the Spirit who alone can (& will!) lead us into all truth.

Our own happiness, and indeed the survival of humanity, is dependent upon us transending our egos (individually and collectively), and connecting again with Spirit ... of regaining our sense of Oneness with each other, with God, with All.

But before we go there, let's take a deeper look at how the Fall has done damage with the resulting war, social oppression and patriarchy ... and it won't be as boring as you may think...!

Shalom, Dena

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Explosion of the Ego..!

Sure sounds messy, no? And to be sure, it was, and has been ...

Can you imagine being in one of the first generations following the Fall? Hearing your parents or grandparents talking about what life was like, before it got violent? The tales would be told over and over ... looking back with nostalgia and yearning ... and, as with all orally passed-on stories, the retellings would accumulate various embellishments over time. Before long, the stories would become myths ... containers of truth, but enhanced with metaphor, hyperbole, and parable.

Every culture has their version of the story of The Fall ... and the reality of these myths speaks of the truth of something having "gone wrong" in human history. This is the creative expression of what the archaeological evidence shows -- the reality of a more ancient time, when humans lived in harmony, with each other, with the planet, with nature ... when violence, war and selfishness were unheard of. Prior to a falling away, prior to the corruption, and the suffering.

Steve Taylor speaks of two types of Fall myths:

~ The first shows a sudden dramatic event, an environmental change that forces human beings out of a previously lush environment, into a harsh one. One example is the Iranian myth of a paradise on a mountain ... complete with water of life, and a tree of life (interesting!). The first man, Yima lived there in a garden... no death, no disease (these being hyperbolic statements of a lack of suffering and violence, not meant to be taken literally). The perfect age came to an abrupt end when an evil being intervened, changing the mild climate to a harsh one.

~ The second contains the biblical story of the Garden of Eden (which was told in Sumer, 2,000 years prior to when it is said to have taken place by those who take the Bible literally. Ur is a city in Sumer ...). Like the Iranian story, there is a river of life, and a tree of life, and a garden. Most who read this blog are likely quite familiar with the story in Genesis.

Both of these Fall myths seem to be a means of explaining what happened when the Saharasian people experienced aridity, and watched the fertile land become infertile, and the climate become harsh and inhospitable. Due to the climate change, the people were indeed forced into exile ... and it's easy to imagine how they would attribute this to God's doing ... that God banished them from the paradise they'd previously known, that they were punished by having to go into migration.

The focus on the myths is more on the character/behavior changes that came to the humans.

So, what clues can be derived from the myths?

In Genesis, we see the Fall being connected to having eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil -- this suggests that the Fall was associated with gaining a new intellectual power, or awareness. Self-awareness. "Adam and Eve" became self-conscious, full of shame. They also perceived themselves to be separated from God, and from each other (even blaming one another for what had happened).

In the Chinese version of the Fall-myth, human beings fell out of the Tao (the Way), and developed a new kind of individuality and self-sufficiency .. living by their own will, rather than the will of nature.

In the African version of the Fall-myth, human beings fell into ego, and out of compassion and empathy. As ego goes up, compassion goes down ... if we were able to "feel with", we could not inflict harm, for we would recognize, intuitively, that we were also harming ourselves.

I find this one fascinating: In the Sumerian myth (the Sumerians being the earliest post-Fall civilization), the earth goddess Tiamat (represented as a serpent -- who symbolized feminine wisdom) is killed by the sky-god Marduk .. Marduk takes her place as the creator of life ... and how human beings are "outside" nature, separate ... detached from creation rather than being a part of it.

(It doesn't escape notice that in the Genesis account, the serpent takes on the role of the "villain" ... and enmity is put between her, and the serpent.)

Various philosophers and scholars have commented on The Fall ... Joseph Campbell says:
"For many in the Orient as well as the West, the sense of holiness departed from their experience both of the universe and of their own nature, and a yearning for release from what was felt to be an insufferable state of sin, exile or delusion supervened."

Imagine what it must have been like, to have an idyllic, contented, life-of-flow suddenly interrupted with hardships ... crops failed, animals died or migrated, water supplies dried up ... life became hard, supply was scarce, and sharing was no longer an option -- survival took over, which required selfishness, and eventually, force -- just in order to survive. You were no longer an extension of me -- you were now in the way of my survival! Also, due to the famine, heat, dust, pain and suffering were experienced ... if my body is suffering, I'm tempted to withdraw, to dissociate, from my body, in order to cope. Nature had been a benevolent friend -- now she was a harsh enemy ... a thing to be conquered.

Also, whereas women had been revered before, now women were in the way ... a distraction that kept a man from hunting for sustained survival ... sex, too, was a distraction ... and eventually, a dangerous evil. Children were now extra mouths to feed -- competition for food. As these people walled themselves off from connecting, the children were neglected, even abandoned. Receiving less attention and affection had a strong and damaging impact on the children ... and this would be passed on to *their* children.

It doesn't take too many generations to live in this "shrinking inward" state, before it became part of the collective psyche. According to Steve Taylor,
"There is a great deal of evidence showing that behavioral traits and personal characteristics can spread to whole groups of peoples in this way - even to whole species. As Rupert Sheldrake's theory of 'Morphic Resonance' suggests, for example, animals develop new instincts when a certain critical number of them perform a new act (or show a new characteristic or trait). At this point it has built up the required resonance to become a permanent part of the group or species 'blueprint' which every member develops in accordance with from birth."

Steve Taylor ends Part I of his book this way:
" The Ego Explosion was the most momentous event in the history of the human race. The last 6,000 years of history can only be understood in terms of it. All of the different kinds of social and psychic pathology we've looked at - war, patriarchy, social stratification, materialism, the desire for status and power, sexual repression, environmental destruction, as well as the inner discontent and disharmony which affect us -- all of these traits can be traced back to the intensified sense of ego which came into existence in the deserts of Middle East and central Asia 6,000 years ago."

Oh there is SO much more to explore here...! I'm hitting some of the highlights, but I strongly encourage you all to not only read this book, but to encourage others to do so as well...

More on the destruction, and the benefits, of this ego explosion, next.

Shalom, Dena

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The "Unfallen" People ... An Examination

Due to the invasive nature of the "fallen" people, patricism/patriarchy had spread to such an extent, that by the 3rd century BC, it completely saturated the entire Eurasian area.

Interestingly, there were pockets of "unfallen" people groups ... those who managed to hold onto their more matristic/matriarchal view (and keep in mind that matriarchy doesn't mean that the women ruled over the men ... just that they were revered, and perceived/treated as equals).

For instance, the Lapplanders of northern Scandinavia ... the tribes of Siberia and Mongolia ... tribes in the Indian forests ... all of these retained their unfallen life.

But -- outside of the Saharasian-reach, unfallenness was maintained until roughly 1600 AD...! Australia, and North and South America were not invaded by the fallen people for many centuries ... as was the case for the Pacific Islanders. And many remote areas of Africa also remained uninvaded. All of these groups remained largely free of war, inequality, hostility to sex/body, and social divisions. The exceptions to this are the people who were subjected to climate change -- wherever rapid aridity. In every case, warfare and social violence coincided with exposure to intense aridity. In addition, as European (descended from Sahariasion invaders) conquest/colonization was introduced, violence became the result.

Even today, there are pockets of "unfallen" people groups ... let's look at a few of them, to see what we can learn, about what life was like before the fall...

The Aborigines of Australia: Now, at first-glance, we may see polygamy, and think them to be patriarchal ... but let's look deeper (surface understanding causes much misunderstanding). In their culture, women are considered to be more "complete" early in life ... even at puberty ... while men are seen as needing to take more time to become "complete" ... through initiation and experiences. So, women can marry right away, but men must wait. It seems that some men die before maturing (I shall withhold comment here!), so the women marry into other marriages. Their marriages do not exhibit sexual domination ... women are not seen as "property".

Native Americans: Again, at a first-glance, I would venture a guess that many of us would think, "wait a minute -- what about all those savage, war-mongering Indians of the Plains?" However, this image comes from only one particular Indian culture -- the Plains Indians of the 18th/19th centuries, who were invaded by the Europeans, and who had their land displaced ... they acquired their violence due to being disturbed and conquered. It was brought about by cultural disruption and group migrations. Guns and horses were not part of their aboriginal societies ... they were introduced by the European invaders/colonists.

Now, we have to look at the aberrational societies of the Mayas, the Incas and the Aztecs -- as they are more closely akin to the Saharasian people ... as a result of their more egoic ways, they also developed a high level of sophisticated development, including math, astronomy, calendars, writing. They also manifested the elaborate tombs, much like the pyramids of Egypt. Like their Saharasian counterparts, they also exhibited intense warfare, incredible violence (including ritualized violence and human sacrifice), a lust for power and wealth, and strong dominance over women (even though some women could be priestesses ... yet these priestesses were slated for human sacrifice themselves).

So why these anomalies, among all the other peace-loving, egalitarian Native Americans...? One likely reason was that the areas they inhabited became quite arid, quite suddenly ... and the effect was like what happened in Europe, Asia and Africa. It's also quite likely that the Sahariasian people migrated from Asia to the Americas, via the Bering Straight ... and that their influence on the native people would have an egoic effect.

One thing I found quite fascinating is what Steve Taylor shares here:
"Whereas 'fallen religion is based around the worship of anthropomorphic gods who overlook and control the world, 'unfallen' religion is based around an awareness of a Spirit-force, which pervades the world and everything in it [Panentheism]. The religion of the Plains Indians, for example was basically 'unfallen' They believed that there was a Great Spirit, or Life Master, which pervaded all things and that natural phenomena were controlled by spirits [energy]. The religion of the Inca is typically 'fallen' in that they believed in an all powerful creator God, Virachoa ... who they prayed to and made offerings to."

Wherever God is "like a man" (anthropomorphic), violence prevails. Wherever God is perceived to be the Spirit-force in all things, peace prevails.


For the sake of conserving time and space, I'll share some highlights of life among the unfallen peoples (Native Americans, Aborigines, some sub-Saharan African tribes, some Oceanic island nations, and Papua New Guinea):

- Peaceful, democratic, consensus-led, non-patriarchal

- Low violence and warfare (conflicts often settled with contests, such as singing contests, or sports contests)

- Egalitarian relationships - low levels of possessions and status

- Focus on community, together with "individual rights" - much sharing of all things

- No ownership of items, or of the land

- No external laws -- just guiding principles -- each one a "master/authority of self" (and yet peace, rather than chaos, reigns ... hmmm...)

- No formal leaders -- "what's good for the whole" instead

- Equal status of women

- Earth is a gift -- we are all equal stewards

- Generosity is encouraged -- greed is frowned upon

- Unselfishness -- open hospitality, even to strangers

- Children considered to be "fully human", and experience a high degree of freedom

- Women do most of the food-gathering, and men do most of the child-watching (children benefit from close ties to both parents -- both are nurturing)

- Individual autonomy is respected -- no coercion, control, manipulation (all seen as violations of the Spirit in each one)

- Children are not controlled -- allowed, even encouraged, to learn through making mistakes (not seen as moral failings, but necessary for learning)

- A lack of weaponry -- only tools

- Openness toward sex ... not seen as shameful, but natural -- the body is respected, not shamed

- Nature is revered, cared for as a gift for all -- the earth and all things on it are seen as "alive" -- filled with Spirit-- all things and all people are seen as a manifestation of Spirit -- all inter-connected as One -- all Life is Divine Life

- We are stewards and custodians -- NOT owners -- Ownership implies superiority and dominance

- A state of contentedness ... no "hurry up" ... living in the present moment, rather than a past- or present-focus ... state of peace, strong sense of well-being

How does this strike you? My feeling is a longing ... almost a remembering, a homesickness, for this sort of life. As if this is how I'm *meant* to live ... and that I'm caught up in a world-wide sickness, an insanity that has taken over (images of The Matrix!). This description resonates for me ... it feels more *real* for me than what I've been mesmerized into accepting as "reality".

It seems to me that THIS is how life is meant to be lived ... and that we're meant to return to it, for our own survival, and thrival.

Next -- examining the Fall myths, to discover why the Fall occurred in the first place ...

Shalom, Dena

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Fall - What Happened...?

Around 4,000 BC, a change so dramatic, so life-altering, so cataclysmic occured, that it changed everything.

And no ... it's not all because some woman named "Eve" ate a piece of fruit.

(That would be the metaphorical rendering of one particular group of people, trying to describe what had happened.)

There had been gradual warning signs ... from an outbreak of random violence in Turkey (which was linked to drought) ... to some Semitic people invading Syria and Mesopotamia ... but it wasn't until 4,000 BC that violence became pandemic, with continuous wars, social oppression on a large scale, and prevalent male domination.

But why 4,000 BC?

Prior to this time, most of the humans lived in the regression of the great glaciers, as the last Ice Age receded. As the glaciers (sloooooowly) regressed, the land in their wake was fertile and lush ... plants and animals flourished, and food was plentiful for the humans. But a dramatic climate change occurred at the end of the ice age ... not only did the ice recede, but the land dried out, and the air became arid ... transforming previously lush lands into the deserts that are now the Sahara and the Gobi, and the Arabian and Iranian deserts in the Middle East (fossils and cave drawings attest to the plant and animal life that once flourished there -- species that could no longer survive the harsh climate).

Now, a funny thing happens when the land goes arid. The positive ions that exist in such regions actually have a negative affect on humans -- actually causing discontent, anxiety, and intense fear for survival. The peace loving humans turned on one another -- particularly now that they had to compete for food, water, life. Humans suddenly got all cranky. What had previously been plentiful was suddenly scarce. Quite suddenly, men became the ones who had to hunt the scarce animals for food (plants wouldn't survive long) ... they returned to migrating, chasing the animals ... suddenly the earth was no longer a source of provision, but a thing to be conquered (shades of the Garden of Eden -- the thorny earth, and the sweat of the brow) ... suddenly women were seen as distractions, sex was seen as dangerous (energy-sapping), and children were seen as inconvenient mouths to feed. It only takes a couple of generations of treating some as "less than" for a new consciousness to be cemented in a culture ... particularly when the children grow up feeling invalidated. It didn't take long for the cultures to switch from matrist, to patrist. This, was the Ego-Explosion... when love was replaced with fear.

As these desperate Saharasian nomads pushed into other settled lands, farther north, south and east, they brought destruction into the places they sought to conquer, in the name of survival. They saw themselves as superior (& there's evidence that the ego gave birth to a higher level of intellect, as they needed new skills in order to survive). But they had lost their reverence for nature ... as ego goes up, reverence for life goes down. The Womb-Spirit with a Female nature was replaced with the Male Sky God, who was as angry, distant and warlike as His worshippers (creating god in their own image!).

For the first time in all of history, graves began to take on different sizes ... indicating class distinctions. Some people were more valuable than others. Possessions now begin to be added in to the graves (along with still-alive wives and concubines!) ... and we find the first indications of slavery -- humans "owning" other humans. It seems to have been the practice to kill the men in the villages they conquered, but to keep the women and girls, who became concubines and slaves (reminds me of a biblical passage ... where they believed God told them to do this).

All over the planet, it was the same story ... the regions that dried out, altered the human psyche from peace to war ... and the invasions of those war-like humans wrought devastation to those who were conquered by them. Each area that was conquered by the Saharasian people, made a transition from matrism, to patrism. From Spirit-focus, to ego-focus.

Steve Taylor writes:
From this point on everything is different. There are no more female figurines, no more artistic depictions of natural phenomena, and no more communal graves ... Now war takes precedence over nature in art, and death seems to take precedence over life. Weapons are found everywhere, and settlements are always fortified and walled."

Historian P. Stern writes:
they were introducing violence to a part of the world that previously had been relatively peaceful. And along with ruthless invasions, undeclared warfare, and appropriations of women as their rightful spoils, they were developing a society in which masculinity was supreme. An insatiable desire for property and power, together with insensitivity to pain and suffering in themselves as well as in others, characterized everything they did.

(Sound familiar?)

Now, we have to also acknowledge that there were some positive aspects to this new egoic psyche that emerged with The Fall. Along with the brutality and selfishnes, we see a new kind of intellectual ability, a new level of inventiveness. In fact, the millennium prior to 3,000 BC contained likely the most explosively inventive years in all of history, prior to the 1700's AD. During this time we see the wheel, the plough, wagons, sailing ships, writing systems, number systems, and calendars come forth (but, I have to wonder, at what price?). Most of these came out of Egypt and Sumer -- the first post-Fall civilizations in history.

It seems clear that the Egyptians and Sumerians were the descendants of the migrating nomads from the deserts ... who inherited the large male-dominated egos of those invaders. Refuges of desertification. Cranky folks. Brutal people with an insatiable lust for possessions. Status-differentiation takes on new levels...!

This is inordinately portrayed in the burial monuments to the bodies of dead kings -- the pyramids. Gargantuan edifices built at enormous cost to hold the corpses of dead rulers, while the bodies of the slaves who built them were tossed into common pits.

Life has continued in much the same way ... with some of the worst atrocities of brutality continuing in the areas that have remained arid (such as the Middle East today). The story has been that of more and more violence, more and more repression, suffering untold, acute anxiety, fear of disaster ... which would then complete the cycle by creating more of a compulsion toward violence (it was the same story in Europe, but not as brutal ... it seems that the farther one got from the desertificated areas, the less intense the violence was).

What's interesting is that the three great monotheistic religions of the desert (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), arose out of this egoic/patristic mindset ... and they each dogmatized the negative attitudes toward sex, the body, women, and the natural world -- creating a sense of "separation" ... enmity ... "otherness" - between believers and unbelievers, between male and female, between faithful and infidels. All three religious groups began intense fighting with each other, and even infighting within each group. Ego despises the aspects of the Spirit ...

I found this passage of Taylor's to be horribly profound:
"With the spread of Christianity a stronger anti-female attitude took hold all over Europe. Men (particularly clergymen) began to see women as evil temptresses with a naturally sinful nature, who were easily influenced by - and often working for - Satan. This led to the catastrophic witch-craze of the Middle Ages, when, according to some estimates, during the years 1485 to 1784 at least 9 million innocent women were murdered as "witches," mostly at the behest of celibate clergymen. Bishops saw the rooting out of "dangerous" women - which often just meant women who were more intelligent, independent, wealthy or beautiful than normal - as a God-given duty, and boasted of the number they killed. The Spanish Inquisitor Torquemada, for example, boasted of having over 1000,000 people executed (nearly all of them women). The historian Gordan Rattray Taylor notes that the murder of women - together with other religious persecutions by the Spanish Inquisition - was responsible for reducing the population of Spain from 20 million to 6 million in two centuries."

As a woman, I have to say that I feel the agonizing weight of this ... as if the collective pain of all those women kicks me in the gut. It's wrenching (& this is just the report -- not the descriptions of what they went through!)... may we never live under another theocracy!

Yes, humankind has made amazing advancements in the realms of technology, medicine, science ... but when we look at what happened 6,000 years ago, and what has happened with the human psyche since, it's sickeningly clear that the most definitive event in human history was a sudden and cataclysmic *regression* -- a shift from peace to chaos, from peace to war, from life-celebration to wretchedness ... from sanity to INsanity.

Next, I'll refer to some people-groups that somehow were not affected by the Fall ... many of which are still among us today ...

Shalom, Dena

Friday, February 19, 2010

Life Before The Fall ...

Yesterday, we looked at the various ways we've been in malaise in our cultures for the past 6,000 years ... and we can easily imagine that it's always been this way.

But has it?

Let's go back waaaaaaaaay back ... for many thousands of years ('til around 8,000 BC), all humans were hunter-gatherers ... the man hunted, and the woman gathered nuts, fruits and vegetables. They were migratory ... moving to follow the food supply. The tribes were small (a few dozen each), and they would frequently meet and interact with other tribes ... with no conflict. There was plenty of food for all. It was once assumed that men must be "in charge" as the primary food-suppliers ... but recent research (& observations of hunter-gatherer groups that exist today) demonstrate that the women provided the vast majority of the food (the hunting provided only 10% of the food supply). Perhaps we should call them gatherer-hunters...?

Their lives were quite leisurely ... a few hours per day was for gathering the food, and the rest of the time was spent in story-telling, dancing, arts, music, and being with loved ones. A very low-stress lifestyle. The communities were peaceful. They were also strikingly healthy -- much to our surprise! Their skeletons were large, well-developed, and larger than those found after 6,000 years ago. Their teeth show little decay (health seemed to decline, once corn began to be planted ... malnutrition set in). And when animals were domesticated, unknown diseases were introduced -- the flu (from pigs and ducks), colds (from horses), pox (from cows), and measles (from dogs). [I did NOT know this!]

Archaeological records throughout the planet tell us that there is almost NO evidence of any warfare during the entire gatherer-hunter stage of history! Although we have a plethora of tools, pots and other artifacts, there is no evidence of weapons. The drawings on over 300 caves from this era depict no warfare, no weapons, and no warriors.

These ancient gatherer-hunters had an egalitarian view ... all were equal, regardless of gender, or age. There is no evidence of "status" ... all graves are of equal size -- further, possessions are not seen as important, as they are not found IN the graves (as with later societies). It also seems that gatherer-hunters were not territorial ... they seemed to not believe that the land belonged to them ... but that they were one with the land (much as with Native Americans). Someone else approaching, did not mean encroaching, to them.

There was a marked lack of patriarchy -- no assumption that the male was superior. Since women provided most of the food, they were considered valuable equals ... and since the observation was that life came forth from the woman, she was highly esteemed (later on, we'll find out how the oppression of women is closely linked to devaluing of the body, of the earth, and a negative view of instincts and bodily functions). Interestingly, almost all indigenous peoples were matrilineal -- meaning that property and family lines were passed on through the woman -- even though women did not rule over men ... it seems that the natural female psyche does not seek to "lord over" but to share. [Just a couple of weeks ago, I heard on NPR that the rescuers in Haiti are passing out food tickets, to reduce mobs ... if they gave tickets to men, the men would hoard the food ... if they gave tickets to women, the women would share with all.]

In these early, Pre-Fall societies, men did not have authority over women ... and in fact, the men didn't seek to rule over anyone. If anyone showed signs of desiring power or wealth, that person is usually kept from leading, as it was considered unthinkable for anyone to tell anyone else what to do (this is still the case among many of the Eskimo tribes). Boastfulness, aggression, superiority were frowned upon, and put down.

These early humans seemed to be amazingly free of all the social suffering that has been our common misery for so long. According to Steve Taylor:
The archaeological and ethnographic evidence overwhelmingly suggests that during the whole of this period human groups didn't wage war with one another, didn't dominate and abuse members of the opposite sex, and didn't oppress and exploit each other.

For those of us who stayed awake during our early history classes, and who may remember what we were taught (yeah, all 3 of you), you may be wondering, "So what happened once horticulture/agriculture set in? Did they get all angst-ridden then?"

Nope. But let's look at that time-frame.

It seems that around 8,000 BC, people left the hunger-gatherer lifestyle, and began to domesticate animals, rather than hunting them. No one's clear about why this happened ... but it's suggested that perhaps the population could no longer be sustained by the hunting. The earth was having a "global warming" experience (sheesh - our carbon output was mucking it up all the way back then!), and migratory patterns of animals altered. So, animals were gathered, and gardening began. Women still played a major role, as they did most of the gardening, while the men tended the children (as is the case among many Aboriginal tribes today).

And so, humans settled down.

And yet, the archaeological record continues to support that they continued in the same social characteristics ... no warfare, no violence, no suppression of women or each other, no class status, and evidence that they led by consensus (group agreement).

Now, once upon a time, historians believed and taught that conflict arose once humans developed towns/villages ... that living in close contact brought conflict.

Not true, says the evidence. Apparently, many large towns sprung up throughout the Middle East and Europe, without resulting in warfare or inequality. One such town was Catal Huyuk in southern Turkey (which was excavated in 1952). The population is estimated to be around 7,000, between 7000 and 5500 BC. There is no evidence of damage due to warfare, and no sign of any sort of violence. It was a multi-ethnic society, but apparently without conflict. The houses and graves are of the same size -- suggesting no inequality. There are signs of many crafts and arts -- pottery, tools, and religious icons (interestingly, all religious art indicates that they saw the Divine as female, not male -- the Womb was seen as the Source of all Life).

Taylor says, "Some Neolithic cultures reached such a high level of development that archaeologists have suggested that the traditional view that 'civilisation' began in Egypt and Sumer in the third millennium BC should be revised." Throughout "Old Europe", in this time, there were many cities/towns with several thousand people in them ... many of whom were highly skilled craftsmen and engineers ... some temples were several storeys high ... they developed roads and drainage systems. They also had a simple writing system, used for religious purposes.

And yet -- there is no sign of any conflict, much less war.

These were peace-loving, art-flourishing, highly reverential and respectful people.

And this way of life was not confined to Europe and the Middle-East ... in China, there are legends that speak of a "Golden Age" before all the warfare came. The archaeological records support these legends being based in reality. No defensive walls, no war weapons ... children took their mother's surname.

So, what were these people like?

These peaceful cultures were devoid of the concept of sin, repression and suffering. Rather, there was a prevailing atmosphere of joy, the sacredness of all life, and seeing beauty in the world. It was good -- very good. There seems to be no fear of death -- the artwork shows an enjoyment of life, and closeness to nature. They had no sense of separation from all that is ... they had an attachment to the natural world, and lived in harmony with the cycles of it. Their artwork shows "an awe and wonder at the mystery of life."

There was no sense of separation between religion and all of life -- all was sacred ... they were one with the Divine. God/Spirit was everywhere, in all things ... everything and everyone was a manifestation of the Spirit. They didn't have the concept of "gods" ... (this came later) ... but they saw all connected to the Great Spirit. They also had a natural attitude toward their bodies and sex -- with no sense of shame. All of life was seen as infused with the Spirit.

So, here's the snapshot of life up 'til 6,000 BC:

The population was likely around 100 million ... horticulture was wide-spread ... though many regions were still populated with the hunter-gatherers (both groups sharing the same peaceful nature). James DeMeo writes in his book, "Saharasia" that matrism refers to cultures that are "democratic, egalitarian, sex-positive", and has no violence.

If this sounds like paradise, it certainly explains why so many later cultures, who remembered this time, referred to the pre-Fall time as a "Golden Age", or when life was perfect (by contrast!). The Garden of Eden was the Semitic people's version of life before the Fall ...!

But everything was about to change, in 4,000 BC ... a cataclysmic shirt was about to occur...!

Next: The Fall -- What Happened.

Shalom, Dena

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Whatsa Matter With Humans?!?

Okey-dokey then ... I'm launching into this exploration of "The Fall" by Steve Young -- and yes, I do recommend the reading of this book ... I'll hit some highlights, but there's a wealth of info here, to which I just cannot do justice.

It wouldn't taken an "alien" observer very long at all to conclude that the human race (at least on Earth), is an inordinately violent species. In fact, the humans are the *most* violent species on this planet. Some say that this is just our inherent nature -- that we've always been this way (perhaps due to too much testosterone in males, or a "selfish gene"). Steve Taylor sets out to say, "this just ain't so" ('cept he doesn't say "ain't").

First, war is foreign to the rest of the animal kingdom (with the rare exception of some apes, who appear to react with war-like actions after being disrupted by humans -- interesting in and of itself).

Secondly, while we're told that war is "as old as humanity", war is actually a relatively recent development ... "recent" being relative to how long humans have been on the planet (roughly 125,000 years, by some estimates -- the problem is that someone, who shall remain nameless, went and misplaced that first photo-album, so no one knows for sure!).

What's incredibly interesting, and enlightening, is that war began only 4,000 years ago. Now, along with war, there are other main characteristics of human societies throughout the world/history (with a few exceptions that we'll look at later). War, as mentioned, and patriarchy (or male-domination), and social inequality (class status distinctions).

Which brings up another point -- to say that the human race as "always" waged war is only half true. The reality is that only half the human race has done so --the male half. And, further, males have fought against females as well. The past few thousand years have demonstrated a long rampage of brutal oppression of women by men (hang in there, this isn't going to be unabashed male-bashing!).

What's interesting, is that the artwork, the burial sites, and other evidences of life during the early Neolithic (Old Stone Age) societies show a lack of evidence for men dominating women. It seems that women played just as equal a role in those societies as did men. Some were even distinctly matriarchal (which meant women-revered, rather than women-dominating).

But something happened 6,000 years ago (~4,000 BC), that brought about a cataclysmic change -- since that time, patriarchy developed, and the status of women plummeted ... suddenly women could not own property or land ... Assyrian men punished a rapist by turning over his wife to the husband of the victim, so that he could treat her as he desired, in his rage. ritual widow murder/suicide was practiced in many societies ... and to this day, there are cultures in which women are little more than slaves. If an unmarried girl is raped in some areas of the Middle East (even if she's raped by her own relative), there's a strong chance that she'll be murdered by another relative, in order to "save honor" for the family. In Saudi Arabia, a woman can be stoned to death for committing adultery -- while a man is allowed to marry four times. In China, women were subjected to having their feet bound and mutilated, in order to meet a standard of beauty imposed on them (and to keep them unable to get around). Beating of wives has been considered a good and sound practice -- to "keep women in line," since they were considered to be overly emotional and undisciplined -- they needed to be taught self control via violence (this rational is still used by men who abuse women). Females are killed by infanticide FAR more than are males. Female "circumcision" (genital mutilation) is practiced in some countries today ... in order to prevent women from enjoying sex, and to keep them from straying (many have life-long infections, or actually "close up" as they heal ... requiring yet another mutilation prior to marriage). And then we have the Inquisition, and the witch-hunts -- the state-sanctioned, church-approved mass murder of thousands (some say over a million) of women who dared to speak out, to heal the suffering (mid-wives), or, heaven forbid, dared to be too attractive for the comfort of the men who saw them.

But it's not just women who have suffered from patriarchy -- men have dominated and oppressed each other as well. Since 4000 BC, the unfolding story has been of the brutal oppression of "many" by "some". Caste systems were created, land-owners (who lived in luxury) prevailed over the serfs (who lived in utter squalor).

All of this came about because many men didn't consider either women, or most other men, as truly human -- they were sub-human creatures who didn't deserve empathy or equality.

So, what's wrong with humans? What happened? We're so used to violence, oppression, class status, inequalities, that it's hard to imagine how odd and even *insane* all of this would appear to an "alien" (impartial) observer. Is life really meant to be this way?

Are our religious explanations correct? Did we plunge into this darkness due to a choice of rebellion against God? What's interesting is how the very people who have been so brutally oppressed, are the same people who have sought to console their suffering with a religious belief in a rewarding afterlife ...

Beyond the physical suffering, there is also the psychological suffering we humans experience. We struggle to be happy. We seem bent to suffer ... all around us we see depression, drug abuse, alcoholism, eating disorders, psychological disorders ... anxieties, worries, guilt, shame, regret, jealousy and bitterness. We ain't happy campers. Why are so few of us content or joyful?

Interestingly, it appears that our earlier ancestors, those prior to 4,000BC lived more peaceful, content, and satisfied lives than we do. We can see this in "less civilized" cultures today -- i.e., the Native Americans, the Eskimos, the Aborigines of Australia, and the Pygmies of Africa. They don't seem to suffer with as much psychological malaise, as we do in the "more civilized" cultures.

Evidence mounts that something happened ... a giant transformation amongst humans ... an "opening of Pandora's box" that spread ...

Let's look at our current state of "discontent" -- we seem wholly restless, finding it difficult, if not impossible, to *do nothing* -- we seem to need to have something external happening at all times, to distract us from the inner pain and discomfort ... we seem driven to ensure that we are never inactive, and alone with ourselves. We fear going "within." It's even likely that most of us spend so much time watching TV, because it's incredibly effective at keeping our attention focused *outside* of ourselves.

Why are we so driven to *do*, rather than to *be*...?

Why are we afraid of looking within, facing our souls?

Why do unemployed and retired people more prone to depression? Could it be that they cannot stand the lack of distraction that a job offers?

And why are we so driven to own *things*? We spend most of our time earning the means to possess stuff.

Similarly, we're driven to be ea "success" in the eyes of others. We crave status, attention, applause, accolades, respect, admiration. We seem to *need* to become "special and important people." We feel a huge lack within ourselves ... and we're driven to fill it from the outside.

And why, when we accumulate the money, and the stuff, and the respect, and the admiration, why is it that we're NOT satisfied...? Why do we live in a perpetual state of *wanting*...?

According to Steve Taylor, "there seems to be a kind of psychological discord inside us, an inner discontent that continually plagues and torments us ... paying for our talent [and achievements] with psychological imbalance and turmoil."

As the Buddha said, "An enemy cam hurt an enemy, and a man who hates can harm another man; but a man's mind, if wrongly directed, can do him far greater harm."

We have met the enemy, and he is us.

So, what went so wrong, that we're bent on destroying ourselves, each other, and our planet?

Let's hear what Steve Taylor says:
Should we assume that human beings are just naturally violent, sadistic, and discontented, so that there's nothing we can do about it, as the evolutionary psychologists (who tell us that war and patriarchy are the result of natural and sexual selection) and the physicalist scientists (who tell us that they're the result of hormones and brain chemicals) would have us believe? Or, as the myths of a "Fall" which are common to so many of the world's cultures suggest, was there an earlier time of relative harmony, a time when these problems didn't exist, and a point when for some reason a giant change occurred, and we "fell" out of harmony and into social chaos and psychic disorder?

It's my intention in this book to show that this latter scenario is the true one, and that there really was a point in history when something went wrong with human beings.

Something did happen, which brought about not only this incredible malaise, but also gave rise to the incredibly positive advancements in our creativity, our ingenuity, and our technological/scientific achievements.

All of this came about 6,000 years ago, during The Fall -- or, the Ego Explosion.

Next, I'll describe what life was like prior to The Fall -- according to some surprising sources of evidence..!

Shalom, Dena

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"The Fall" in a Nutshell...

Tomorrow, I'll begin sharing some highlights in "The Fall" by Steve Taylor. For those who aren't yet familiar with it, feel free to check it out, via the synopsis and reviews on Amazon, and you can even read the entire introduction in the "See Inside" portion (top left corner - click on the photo of the book).

In the meanwhile, I'll share here a sneak-preview of coming attractions ... a preview that is rated G for all audiences ... perchance to whet your appetite.

Once upon a time, there was a "Golden Age" upon the earth. This earth. Hard to believe, no? And yet, archaeological, geological and historical records give hard and strong evidence to this. Sociologically, every culture has a story, a myth, of this Golden Age ... and of something rather cataclysmic occurring, about 6,000 years ago, that dramatically and drastically altered that peaceful life.

The Judeo-Christian story for it is recorded in the biblical book of Genesis ... and when it's read as the metaphorical myth that it was intended to be, we learn much of the depth there ... which is hidden from view when a more western/literal/historical interpretation is forced upon it.

Yes, there was life on earth prior to Genesis ...!

And not Neanderthal cave-dwellers, either ... but a flourishing civilization ... many tribes, throughout the world, living in peaceful, egalitarian, hunter-gatherer societies ... complete with buildings (some as high as five-storey!), roads, rough sewers, and flourishing expressions of art.

These societies were largely matriarchal ... which does not imply that women *dominated* ... that's not the nature of the female psyche -- but that women were highly revered, even seen as the symbols of the source of life. All live was seen as reverential, infused with the Spirit of all, and this Spirit was seen as All in All.

The original understanding of this Spirit, of God, of the Source of All Life was of "Mother". Womb. During this time, all were equal ... a time of equality for all ... sharing of all things among all. No ego-dominance, therefore no competition. The arts flourished ... the people were healthier, physically and emotionally. Less stress. More freedom. No violence. No dominance. God was seen as in all things, sustaining all things ... all was one. Infused with the divine.

The Garden of Eden, and the other "Golden Age" stories, which all cultures have, speak of this time. It was a time before the ego-explosion of 6,000 years ago. The Genesis account of the Garden of Eden speaks of this in metaphoric terms ... of the "fall" into the ego, into duality, into thinking in terms of "good and evil" ... into the realm in which man did indeed rule over woman, and woman did indeed begin to seek her identity in man. When the fertile regions did become desert, and food became scarce ... when people began competing and fighting ... things of the earth/body/sex/female became abhorrent and devalued ... violence and suppression of women began, and has continued.

And it was IN that time when the scriptures were written, during the reign of patriarchy (which we've been in since then), wherein the concept of God as Womb/Mother was replaced with the Male "God in the Sky" -- separate and distant ... angry and war-like (just like the dominating, patriarchal men). So of course God would be seen as "Father" only. And of course Jesus would meet them where they were, and lead them into more. Our problem is that we stopped with them then ... we've limited our understanding to theirs.

The God I've been experiencing, since I cried out to know what's of man and what's of God, is not the distant, male, separate, war-like God of patriarchy. The God I experience is a God of All-Inclusiveness, all in all, pure and perfect Love, pure and perfect Wisdom, the One within who leads and guides and nurtures and reveals.

And this God is leading me to explore the feminine side of Divinity ... as I'm quite familiar with the masculine side.

The goal is transcendence and integration ... but you can't integrate that which you've not experienced.

I'm open to experiencing whatever God leads me into.

I'll share more of what I've been learning in this book, and in the one that I read after it ... "The Dance of the Dissident Daughter."

Men -- this is NOT just "for women"! Patriarchy has damaged and enslaved men, just as it's damaged and enslaved women ... perhaps in just more subtle ways. This is about the freedom of HUMANITY, not just of women. This will not be about male-bashing ... I happen to adore men (including my own husband and five sons). This is about exposing the egoic, patriarchal system that has done much harm, and which is threatening to destroy us all.

But we have the option of waking up.

Join me in this discovery ...!

Shalom, Dena

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wake Up Laughing, And Wise Up Loving

[Sharing a bit of levity, 'til I recover from another trip, and then plunge into reviewing/sharing "The Fall" ... enjoy!]

Swami Beyondananda's State of the Universe Address 2010

Wake Up Laughing, And Wise Up Loving:
The Upwising Has Begun!

By Swami Beyondananda

"We're not here to earn God's love, we're here to spend it!"
-- Swami Beyondananda

Well, another 12-month episode of that long-running comedy of situations, Universe Knows Best, is in the can, and you'll be happy to know the show has been renewed for another season. The Producer thinks it's hilarious.

However, if you're like most of us, you really had to strain to hear the laugh track in 2009. Certainly, there was plenty to not laugh about. Take our political system -- please!

A year ago, Americans believed they had chosen not just a new President, but a new precedent. Well, now that the hopium fix is wearing off, we must face the inconvenient truth that if we want a truly new deal, we the people must become the new dealer. Unfortunately, the old dealer seems to have dealt a great hand to the uncommonly wealthy at the expense of the commonwealth.

Obama Bails Out Wall Street, and Bails Out On Main Street

Riding high on the shoulders of public opinion, President Barack Obama came down to earth, showing he -- like anyone else in the employ of the American Empire -- must answer to the Board of Directors, and not the shareholders. To give credit where credit is not due, the Administration bailed out the big banks, which immediately reinvested the money in three big houses: The White House and the two houses of Congress. Yes, it's a buy-ological fact. When the banks are picking up the tab, the government becomes more usurer-friendly.

No wonder they have names like Chase and Wachovia. Sadly, a lot of little folks are feeling walked over. Last year, downsizing and lay-offs affected every industry. I recently went to one of those 50s and 60s rock music nostalgia shows, and was shocked by the line up: The Jackson Four ... The Three Tops ... Two Dog Night ... and the Everly Brother.

Even I went minus last year, and frankly it left me nonplussed. So I too have had to downsize. I'm now wearing smaller pants.

Meanwhile ... the Up-Wising Continues

Fortunately, the up-wising continues, as the body politic now recognizes the difference between change, and chump change. I predict even more awakening and a-wisening in 2010. Americans are waking up left and right, because the news is alarming and the snooze button no longer works. Anger is becoming all the rage, proving once again that old adage: the truth shall upset you free.

As even more shift hits the fan in 2010, the body politic will need all the fortification and nourishment it can get to metabolize the political toxins and neutralize the sociopathogens. And so I am offering my simple and effective two-step program because frankly we don't have time for all twelve: Wake up laughing, wise up loving.

Wake up, because it's time to wake up. Laugh, because there is definitely something funny going on -- even if you can't find the joke hidden in the picture. Yes, waking up is hard to do, so we will need plenty of "ha-ha's" to go with the "aha's." As we wise up to the inconvenient truths hidden behind convenient lies, we will need something to keep us from taking these political toxins poisonally.

That is where love comes in, because love is the one solution that will dissolve negativity. Of this, I am positive: love will positively dissolve negativity.

Step One: Wake Up Laughing

Do you realize that billions of people worldwide go to bed serious every night? And wake up the same way?


So naturally -- or in this case, unnaturally -- the world is in serious condition. Between the stresses of work, the economy, and a steady diet of bad news, is it any wonder so many people have gained weightiness?

Yes, the problem is serious. But the solution is humorous. If gravity's got you down, let levity lift you up. Do you ever wake up in the morning with a funny feeling? Great. Go with it! Feel the levitational pull uplifting the corners of your mouth into a smile. You want to uplift humankind? Uplift your face first, and everyone else will get the idea. It will be like wearing one of those buttons: I lost weightiness. Ask me how.

Step Two: Wise Up Loving

In the midst of our evolutionary up-wising, we must amp up the loving -- particularly loving that which we find most unlovable. Why? The lovable has no problem getting love, because it's so ... lovable. Meanwhile the unlovable is left unloved, and so acts unloving, and becomes even more unlovable. This is a vicious cycle that can indeed become a never-ending cycle of viciousness, unless we end it. So, as the old saying goes, when you find yourself caught up in a vicious cycle, stop peddling and get off.

Now you're going to love this: when we find some lovable part in the unlovable to love, that lovable part expands, and the unlovable shrinks. So ... if you find something unlovable, by loving what is lovable about it, you can love the unlovable to death!

At the same time, we can love the lovableness to life! We do that by focusing on the positive. That is why I have launched my "Just say no to negativity" campaign. It is especially important that we give our children an esteem bath every day. Next time you see your youngster sprawled out on the couch playing video games, speak only positive words of praise: "What's right with you, you useful good-for-something? And wipe that smile on to your face!"

I guarantee that before long, he or she will be hanging out with a savory crowd.

We Can Achieve Fulfilament!

As we wise up to the awful truth, we must then rise up to the awesome opportunity: Humanifest destiny! We are here to manifest our destiny as imaginal souls in the body of a newly emerging organism called Humanity, where each of us is totally unique -- just like everyone else! We are here for one singular purpose -- to let our light fully shine. The enlightened ones call this fulfilament.

And with more delighted lights lighting up, enlightening is going to strike more frequently. A critical mass of us will recognize that we'd be a lot happier and a lot more successful if we put our energy into fruitfully re-growing the Garden instead of fruitlessly scrapping over the scraps. As we children of God put aside childish things like war and greed and finally become adults of God, we will evolve past the Ten Commandments to the One Suggestion: Love thy neighbor, otherwise there goes the Neighborhood.

Yes, this will require conscious evolution, but I say we were created to evolve. Otherwise Jesus would have said, "Now don't do a thing till I get back."

As you probably know, I never make predictions because I don't want to jeopardize my non-prophet status. However, I do set intentions. And so, may 2010 be the year that we collectively tune out reality TV, and tune into ... reality! We are in the hero's role in the greatest adventure story in human history: Conscious evolution! A world win campaign where the whole world can win.

May we use our intelligence intelligently and our hearts lovingly. May we wake up laughing, and may we wise up loving. And may we -- each and all -- achieve fulfilament.

Swami Beyondananda is the alter ego of author and uncommontator Steve Bhaerman, and can be found online at

Monday, February 15, 2010

Our Adventure on TV - Talking Sex...!

Nearly two years ago, we were invited to be on the Mike & Juliet Show, in NYC (Fox network). Seems the notion of Christians who like sex is quite the news.

Our friends, Paul & Lori Byerly, own The Marriage Bed website (& they then lived in our guesthouse). They got a call, asking if they wanted to fly to NYC to be on the show ... and did they know of any couples who'd been impacted by the website. Did they! Only, this couple had to be not-shy, and willing to talk -- did they know of anyone like that? Did they! ;) So, 24 hours after we heard about it, we were whised off to NYC, to take the show. Mark and I were in downtown Times Square, at Midnight, taping a pre-segment ... and then ushered to a *spendy* hotel for a few hours of sleep. Only ... in NYC, trash is picked up ALL night long ... we barely caught any shut-eye, between the sounds of broken glass crashing into dumpsters, metal clanging, and trucks beep*beep*beeping their way backwards ... and we had to be at the studio at zero-dark-thirty. To add to the adventure, I had my make-up applied next to Willem Dafoe. Quite the surreal experience!

Our interview is now a Youtube video ... here's an 8 minute segment of our interview ... fitting, as I delved into this in my recent talk.

It pretty much speaks for itself (& airbrushed make-up is FABulous -- even if it does make me look vaguely Asian).

Enjoy! :)

Shalom, Dena

Sunday, February 14, 2010

What Jesus Demonstrated ... and Demonstrates

Building on the past 3 days' posts ... (don't start here! go back and begin on the 11th!).

Here's what I'm seeing Jesus demonstrated, and demonstrates, for us:

~ Jesus shows us God's nature. Which is love. "If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father." Jesus is our plumbline. Our lens. Through Him, we view the Father ... and through Him we can tell what of the Hebrew scriptures are actually God, and what is instead the ego-perspective of man, projected onto God. Everything about God comes out of His love -- even what we would egoically describe as His "wrath." God is in the healing business, not the punishment business.

~ Jesus shows us what's *not* working. For instance, the entire measure-up system of Judaism (of mankind, period!). Jesus shows us the folly of conventional wisdom, of status quo, of group think. Jesus highlights our egoic insanity. The wisdom of Jesus is subversive/alternative wisdom. Which is the very wisdom of God.

~ Jesus shows us that the gospel and salvation are not what we think they are today. We think it means "accepting that Jesus died in your place, to appease the justice-demand of God." Adjust according to your own denominational background. However, Jesus was instructing the disciples to spread the gospel before the crucifixion and resurrection. And, Jesus was declaring folks saved, before the crucifixion and resurrection (further, David was claiming salvation in the psalms). The disciples couldn't fathom Jesus dying, much less resurrecting. And they couldn't have faith in something that wouldn't occur to them.

~ Jesus shows us that all is fulfilled. According to Jesus, until *all* that was in the law and the prophets (including the prophecies of His parousia/return) was fulfilled, not the smallest portion (not a jot nor tittle) would pass from the Law. IOW, if Jesus hasn't returned (albeit quite differently than the traditions of man describe), then we are all still under the Law, and in the old covenant.

~ Jesus shows us that all are One. Beyond the prayer before the crucifixion, He claimed that whatever we do or do not do to each other, we do or do not do to Him.

~ Jesus shows us that death is not the end of life, but a transition, much like birth is. His body stopped working, but His life went on. Paul says that just as we were crucified with Him, we were resurrected with Him. All life is God's life, and all life is eternal. That's just the nature of life. Death is an illusion.

~ Jesus shows us that the Kingdom of God/Heaven (He used them interchangeably), is not "what happens to us after we die", but that it is here, now, at hand, in our midst, within us. Jesus even used two "unclean" images to define the Kingdom -- a woman spreading yeast in flour -- it permeates the flour, slowly, incrementally, ever-spreading 'til it takes over. NOT a sudden-shift. The Kingdom is that which we experience when we let go of the ego's perspective, and see with God's perspective.

~ Jesus shows us that we need eyes to see. Jesus speaks more about blindness/seeing than about any other paradox, including righteousness/unrighteousness. We need a new perspective, not a new ontology.

~ Jesus shows us that there is no duality in God's perspective. God declared everything "very good" (and never took it back). We are *still* to stay out of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (the perspective of judgment), and instead to eat of the tree of life.

~ Jesus shows us that we are connected to God. The leaders confronted Jesus, asking Him, "do you think you're one with God?" His answer? "Do your scriptures not say, 'you are all gods?'" If you read Psalm 82, which He is quoting, and check out the meaning of the words, you can see that He did not mean "judges" -- which doesn't fit the context. Jesus is telling us who we really ARE - if we have ears to hear, and eyes to see..! IF we can bear it.

I've been accused of arrogance, by "bringing Jesus down to our level." But Jesus already did that. Jesus was a human. Son of Man was how He described Himself. And yes, of course, He was also Son of God. Jesus brings us to HIS level ... to show us that our true identity is In Christ. We are all Sons/Daughters of God -- children of the Most High. God's offspring.

It's truly arrogant to insist, "I'm not part of God -- I'm separate from God!" We only think that's humble. True humility is to see as God sees. So, ask Him to show you how He sees you!

We are Spirit-beings, currently having an earthly/human experience. We came from God, and we return to God. We are God-manifested in physicality .. and all life is God's life.

It is my passion to be set free from all the lies I've ever believed ... and to be a contagious/infections catalyst that inspires others to be set free as well.

May we come to live and breathe our truest/highest/deepest identity ... may we live as we are One ... with God, and with each other.

Shalom, Dena

(The past four posts summarize what I said to the folks at the Baytown conference ... you can compare my memory with what you hear, once the links are available. Oh - and I said a lot more about sex ... but I'll be sharing the video of that aspect tomorrow ...!)