Beyond the Discontinuity: From an Age of Ignorance to an Age of Newness by Alan Steinle - HTML preview
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Beyond the Discontinuity: From an Age of Ignorance to an Age of Newness. Copyright © 2009 by Alan Steinle. All rights reserved.To contact the author: email@example.com
All Bible verses labeled “NASB” are from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
All Bible verses labeled “ESV” are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
All quotations from the Bhagavad Gita are from Bhagavadgita As It Is, by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Copyright © 1968, 1972, 1983 Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. All Rights Reserved.
The Eternally Practical Way: An Interpretation of the Ideas of the Dao De Jing. Copyright © 2009 by Alan Steinle. All rights reserved.
P ART ONE: BASIC IDEAS 3
1 The Universe Does not Repeat Itself 5
2 The Trouble with Verbal Communication 7
3 Knowledge and Humility 9
4 Joy Is the Ultimate Good 11
5 To Judge Another Is to Judge Oneself 14
6 Some Search for Security in Repetition 15
7 Science and Surprise 16
8 The Fear of Death 19
P ART TWO: VIEWS 21
9 The Age of Ignorance, the Discontinuity,
and the Age of Newness 23
10 The Parasites, the Hosts, and the Indifferent 25
11 The Day of Recompense 28
12 The Two Removals 32
13 The Earth Is Laid Waste 35
14 The Awakening and Purification of Those
Who Have Faith in God 37
15 The New Covenant 40
16 A Glimpse into the Age of Newness 42
17 A Purpose for Technology 46
P ART THREE: QUESTIONS 47
18 Why Are People Lonely? 49
19 Why Do People Disappoint Each Other? 50
20 Do I Have a Basic Nature? 53
21 Can Joy Exist Without Sorrow? 55
22 What Is an Oath? 56
23 How Should We Treat Each Other? 57
24 What Should I Pray For? 59
The thoughts expressed in this book should not be taken as dogmatic conclusions, but should be seen as reference points for further thought and discussion. As implied within the book, I don’t think that a fixed verbal statement can correctly describe an ever-changing world for very long.
The first part of this book, “Basic Ideas,” deals with some fundamental philosophical ideas that I felt the need to express. I begin with the idea that “the universe does not repeat itself” and put forward some of the consequences of this idea. In the next chapter, I discuss the subject of verbal communication, and how it can often lead to misunderstandings. Next, I discuss the need to allow one’s knowledge of the world to shift as the world changes. Then, I assert that everyone is seeking to obtain feelings of well-being, but that everyone is imperfect in achieving these feelings. Next, I discuss the issues of moral judgment and the search for security. Then, I deal with science as it relates to an ever-changing world. Finally, I talk about the fear of death and its cause— ignorance.
In the second part of this book, “Views,” I outline the principal terms, people, and events surrounding the “age of ignorance,” the “discontinuity,” and the “age of newness.” First, I give a brief outline of the two ages and the time between them—the “discontinuity.” Next, I give a description of the three groups of people on the earth at the end of the age of ignorance. Then, I give a description of three things that will occur during the discontinuity: the day of judgment, the two removals of populations from the earth, and the desolation of the earth. Next, I discuss the awakening and purification of those who have faith in God. Then I briefly discuss the new covenant as described in the book of Jeremiah. Finally, I give an overview of what the age of newness will look like, and I discuss a possible purpose for technology in the present age.
In the third part of this book, “Questions,” I write down some of my own questions about life issues. This part deals with loneliness, disappointment, human nature, joy, oaths, behavior, and prayer.
PART ONE: BASIC IDEASOne who ceases to change ceases to live . . . —The Eternally Practical Way, Chapter 24 (part)
THE UNIVERSE DOES NOT REPEAT ITSELF
The universe does not repeat itself . In other words, God is not redundant. In yet other words, each experience is unique (if the universe can be divided into multiple, discrete experiences). By “universe” I mean everything that is, including but not limited to everything that a human can perceive. The universe has not had and will not have two identical states. This idea assumes that the universe is continually changing and irreversibly evolving and that no part of the universe is separate from the rest of the universe.
If at least part of the universe is changing at any given time, and if the entire universe is fundamentally connected, then what happens in one place affects everything else in every other place in the universe. If one part of the universe changes, then every other part of the universe has to adjust to this change. If one thing in the universe is changing, then everything in the universe is changing. Experiencers in and of the universe are continually changing. The experiences of the experiencers are not lost but are retained in the experiencers and in the universe. Therefore, since the experiencer evolves irreversibly, no experiencer has had or will have identical experiences. However, certain experiences may be very close to identical if the experiencer and his environment have changed little.Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. —George Santayana
Far from being condemned to repeat the past, if the idea of non-redundancy is true, one cannot repeat the past. One can try to relive the past in one’s mind, but one’s mind is continually changing and the mental experience of the past must be integrated with the new knowledge in one’s mind.
That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.—Aldous Huxley
People learn from their own vivid experiences, but they find it nearly impossible to learn from the experiences of others.
One learns by interacting with others and coming to one’s own conclusions, not by being told what to think. —The Eternally Practical Way, Chapter 27 (part)
If this idea of non-redundancy is true, then there are no reproducible experiments. Each experiment is a unique process that may be grouped with other similar processes, but it is not exactly the same as any other sequence of events that has been or will be observed.
As the idea of non-redundancy relates to man’s law, there really is no precedent, at least no precedent that can tell a judge or jury (or anyone else) what to do in the present unique circumstances. One needs inspiration if one is to know what to do in a new set of circumstances.General propositions do not decide concrete cases. —Oliver Wendell Holmes
THE TROUBLE WITH VERBALCOMMUNICATION
According to the idea of non-redundancy, each experience is unique. Therefore, no one has repeated the same experience, and no one has had the same experience as another person. Within the life of one person, if that person has had two different experiences of “love,” with each experience having different qualities, can the word “love” be used to describe each one? To use the same word to describe both experiences would be to minimize the importance of each experience and to gloss over the differences. If we divide a lifetime into a large number of discrete experiences, then how can our very limited number of words accurately describe and differentiate each experience? If, on the other hand, a person had a unique word (or paragraph) for each experience, his vocabulary would grow to an unmanageable size and each experience might seem unrelated to all the others.
When people try to use words to communicate with each other, what are they really doing? If they agree with each other by assenting to a statement, aren’t they agreeing through misunderstanding? Each person has a unique idea of what each word or words means because each person has a unique experience to associate with that word or words. If people agree to a statement, for example, “life is good,” aren’t they agreeing to their own unique perceptions of the statement? If people disagree about a statement, aren’t they disagreeing about their own subjective understanding of the statement? They might actually agree about fundamental realities while they fight over a slogan.
If a person attempts to teach another person with words, the first person must assume that the second person has the same word-experience associations as he does. However, the attempt to teach another person with words what one knows from experience leads to failure because the two people do not have identical experiences with which to associate the words. Therefore, we cannot teach each other with words; we can only provoke each other—provoke each other to agree or disagree with statements that mean different things to different people.
Those who understand life cannot teach others what they know; those who think they can teach others what they know do not understand.—The Eternally Practical Way, Chapter 56 (part) What if we defined each word before we used it?
The cause of the different opinions of men. That this difference is the effect of the uncertain signification of words, such as Good, Interests, and Virtue. That if words were precisely defined, and their definitions ranged in a dictionary, all the propositions of morality, politics, and metaphysics would become as susceptible of demonstration as the truths of geometry.—Claud-Adrian Helvetius
But the words in the definitions would have to be defined, and so on, ad infinitum. One has to eventually stop defining words in terms of other words and relate in one’s mind these undefined words to how they have been used in one’s own unique experience.KNOWLEDGE AND HUMILITY
If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.—Rene Descartes
If I don’t know everything, then shouldn’t I sacrifice all of my opinions and assumptions when the truth presents itself? Shouldn’t I let go of my need to appear right? Can I let go of everything that I have thought, said, and written if new perception reveals these ideas to be wrong, outdated, or irrelevant? Grasping onto pet theories keeps me from seeing the living truth that continuously grows and evolves.
To live is to continually adapt or adjust to a changing universe. Life is not static or stationary. In this world one should learn to live “life at the speed of biology.”. . . beings that are aware of the way [God’s will] are in sync with heaven and earth. —The Eternally Practical Way, Chapter 5 (part)
If one is not “up to speed” or “in sync” or able to adjust to the world around one in “real time,” then one begins to feel ill-at-ease. However, if one can adjust one’s body and mind to one’s environment, then one can gain a feeling of peace and well-being.
It feels good to think that one is right about everything that one believes. However, one usually has a nagging feeling that one might be wrong about something. But if one is wrong about something in one’s worldview, changing one’s belief about that particular thing will affect everything else in one’s worldview, since everything is connected.
It is useful to admit from time to time that one knows nothing. This allows one’s ideas to shift according to one’s new view of the world. The faster the world changes, the more often it is necessary to readjust one’s view of it.To improve is to change. To be perfect is to change often. —Winston Churchill
When one is not afraid of changing and does not hold onto a static view of life, one begins to live life fluidly— and perhaps even joyfully.
And such should be the outward biography of man in time, a putting off of dead circumstances day by day, as he renews his raiment day by day. But to us, in our lapsed estate, resting, not advancing, resisting, not cooperating with the divine expansion, this growth comes by shocks.—Ralph Waldo Emerson JOY IS THE ULTIMATE GOOD
Socrates equates the good with the pleasant. I would similarly equate the ultimate good with joy or purely good feeling. Joy is synonymous with the fulfilling knowledge of God (the only knowledge). Everyone wants to feel good and is directing all of his actions toward this end. Moreover, everyone wants lasting good feeling. If one is afraid that the good feeling that one has will not last, then one’s joy is not complete, but is tarnished by this bad feeling of worry. Likewise, if one feels bad, but also feels that one will eventually feel better, then one’s feelings are not entirely unpleasant.No man voluntarily pursues evil, or that which he thinks to be evil. —Socrates In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes. —Judges 17:6, NASB
Inasmuch as one is seeking one’s own good, or one’s own joy, one can be called good. But inasmuch as one does not know how to effectively achieve this joy, one can be called evil.
As one goes through various experiences, one learns from these experiences what leads to good feeling and what does not. What makes people different from each other is what experiences they have had, and what knowledge they have gained and integrated from these experiences. Telling someone how to act, or forcing him to act a certain way, will not make him a better person. Only his own experiences (be they in time or out of time) can teach him which methods are effective and which are not. He will resent being forced to act in a way that does not seem good to him. I can tell someone that willing what is best for everyone leads to lasting joy, but if he does not believe me, based upon his own experience and knowledge and memory, my advice will fall on deaf ears.
The more a person learns from experience—whether from his current life or from any other—the more he realizes that what is good for one person is good for the Whole, and what is good for the Whole is good for each individual. When one knows this truth from experience, and does not merely assent to its verbal articulation, one will act on it.
A human being is part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical illusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole [of] nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security. [Italics added.]—Albert Einstein
One should not think of oneself as absolutely more or less enlightened than another individual since each individual has a unique and indispensable role to play. In fact, it may be that one cannot truly appreciate joy unless one has lived with its absence. Every time there is a shift or increase in understanding of how the good is achieved, one repents or changes one’s mind about how to live life. This shift brings about a renewal of one’s inner life.
Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.—Luke 7:47, ESV
This woman repented of her sins, and the joy and relief that she felt caused her to love the one who forgave her. If she had not sinned, or had not been conscious of her sin, she would not have needed to be forgiven, and her love would have been less.
TO JUDGE ANOTHER IS TO JUDGE ONESELF
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.—Matthew 7:1-2, ESV
If I look at someone else’s actions and judge them as being evil, I am actually judging that I would be acting wickedly if I were to combine my knowledge with his actions. But, in fact, his actions are combined with his knowledge and not with my knowledge. He could in fact be acting in an optimum way, given his particular experiences and knowledge.No man can justly censure or condemn another, because indeed no man truly knows another. —Sir Thomas BrowneSOME SEARCH FOR SECURITY IN REPETITION
Perpetual inspiration is as necessary to the life of goodness, holiness and happiness as perpetual respiration is necessary to animal life.—William Law . . . mechanization is incompatible with inspiration. —Aldous Huxley
Mechanization implies repetition, and while nothing is exactly repeated in the universe, one can come very close to repetition. In fact, someone who has a nearly repetitious job does not exactly repeat any task because the person is continually changing, bodily and mentally. However, when one’s (mental or physical) task becomes nearly repetitive, one can become frustrated, restless, and uncomfortable. One might think that one has gained security by obtaining a stable job, but there is no real security on the physical plane, only on the spiritual plane. Therefore, one may have stunted one’s life and one’s expression of life to no real advantage and as a result of the fear of insecurity.To fall into habit is to begin to cease to be. —Miguel de Unamuno Routine is an early stage of decay. —Hans Kudszus To rest upon a formula is a slumber that prolonged, means death. —Oliver Wendell Holmes SCIENCE AND SURPRISE
The grand aim of all science is to cover the greatest number of empirical facts by logical deduction from the smallest number of hypotheses or axioms.—Albert Einstein
How about these two hypotheses: “God is” and “God wills”? Can’t these two hypotheses explain the whole universe? Or are they too simple?
It is God who is the ultimate reason of things, and the knowledge of God is no less the beginning of science than his essence and will are the beginnings of beings.—Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz
Or is science something else? Maybe science is the desire to see order in a complex universe. Maybe science is the tendency to believe in only what one can wrap one’s mind around or comprehend or control. Maybe science is a psychological survival mechanism in the face of perceived chaos.
Why do people call scientific statements about regularities laws? Why don’t they call them habits? If one phenomenon always seems to follow another phenomenon, do I have any right to formulate a law about how these two phenomena seem to interact? Should I tell my friend that because I have always seen him eat his salad before his main course that he has to eat his salad before his main course? If people are able to act freely, then why shouldn’t the rest of the universe be able to act freely also? Would that lead to too much disorder, and thus to human fear? Perhaps one of the reasons that the universe behaves in an orderly manner is so that humans will not be overwhelmed.
If it is true that the universe does not repeat itself, then one has never seen the same phenomenon twice; however, one can put two similar phenomena into the same mental box and ignore the differences. If this is science, then science has led to superficial generalizations and has prevented people from seeing changes and newness in the universe. There seems to be a tension between those who cannot or will not see new or different phenomena and those who try to see them.According to Charles Peirce, the purpose of a hypothesis is,
through subjection to the test of experiment, to lead to the avoidance of all surprise and the establishment of a habit of positive expectation that shall not be disappointed.
If one gets only what one expects to get, then one is living in a closed, sterile loop. However, if one is continually fed new experiences, then life can go on. In fact, one is continually fed new experiences, but if one does not recognize them, or files them with other similar previous experiences, then one cannot benefit from this gift of renewal.
Some say that one cannot look for what one knows, because one already knows it; and one cannot look for what one doesn’t know, because one doesn’t know what to look for. The key is to simply look—to look and to absorb as many new experiences as one can.
Mind, when not weighed down with the cares of matter, prefers adventure to security and loves the unknown more than it likes the familiar. Wayward mind scorns the given, the mechanical, the stereotyped. [Italics added.]—Michael Grosso
CHAPTER 8 THE FEAR OF DEATH
Let him then who wishes to be free not wish for anything or avoid anything that depends on others; or else he is bound to be a slave.—Epictetus What man who dreads not death can be a slave? —Euripides
The majority of people are slaves to the fear of death. People are slaves to other people who have power over their lives and health. People are slaves to jobs and possessions that they think help preserve their lives. How does one overcome this slavish fear of death and gain freedom? First, it would help to know why people fear death. To some people, death is the ultimate failure. To others, death is something that is out of their control. To others, death is the Great Unknown.
The common thread of these views of death is ignorance. If one knew that death was not a failure, but merely a transition to another mode of existence; if one knew that the universe was benevolent, even when one cannot control it; if one knew more about the nature of the afterlife; then one might not have so much fear of death. One can meditate on the meaning of death, and one may be able to gain some insights in this way. But the only way to truly gain an understanding of death is to face it in one’s life. To have freedom from the fear of death while in the body, one may need to face all of one’s fears of death experientially. While one is close to death, one can determine whether death is really something that needs to be feared.Fear of death increases in exact proportion to increase in wealth. —Ernest Hemingway
The higher one climbs in life, and the more screens one places between oneself and death, the more the fear of death can increase. If one comes to believe that one’s job or possessions are what bring one security, then one will begin to fear their loss. If, however, one goes through the loss of all that one appears to possess— including things, people, ideas, memories, and one’s physical life—then one might learn to find security in something immaterial and eternal, and experience true freedom.
PART TWO: VIEWSYet everything happened with a purpose . . . —The Secret Book of John 13:18
THE AGE OF IGNORANCE, THE DISCONTINUITY, AND THE AGE OF NEWNESS
The “discontinuity” is what I call the time between the present “age of ignorance” and the future “age of newness.” These identifying terms are not necessary, but I feel that they are useful and descriptive.
Around 700 B.C., the prophet Isaiah had a vision. In the vision, Isaiah was given a view of certain world phenomena:
Then I [Isaiah] heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?”
Then I said, “Here I am. Send me!”
He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not understand.’ Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.”
Then I said, “Lord, how long?”
And He answered, “Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, houses are without people and the land is utterly desolate, the Lord has removed men far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. Yet there will be a tenth portion in it, and it will again be subject to burning, like a terebinth or an oak whose stump remains when it is felled. The holy seed is the stump.”
—Isaiah 6:8-13, NASB
The vision describes an “age of ignorance,” in which people do not perceive or understand, they are insensitive and dull. Of course these descriptive adjectives are relative—people know enough to survive for a while. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God calls his people “stupid children,” who only know how to do evil:
For my people are foolish; they know me not; they are stupid children; they have no understanding. They are 'wise'—in doing evil! But how to do good they know not.—Jeremiah 4:22, ESV
The “discontinuity” starts when a large number of people are removed from the earth at once. The discontinuity continues for a time of extreme distress. It ends when all those who have been chosen for removal are removed from the earth and the age of newness begins.
The discontinuity is commonly known as the “great tribulation.” (Matthew 24:21) The two main features of the discontinuity are the awakening of the remaining population of the earth and the purification of the minds and bodies of the population and of the earth itself.
Until recently, the age of newness has been a very vague idea. However, there is information in the Bible and elsewhere about the nature of this age. Exact dates for when each age begins and ends are not given in the Bible. In fact, Jesus said of the beginning of the discontinuity, or tribulation, that only God knows the day and the hour. (Matthew 24:36)
THE PARASITES, THE HOSTS, AND THEINDIFFERENT
“It will come about in all the land,” declares the Lord, “that two parts in it will be cut off and perish; but the third will be left in it. And I will bring the third part through the fire, refine then as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”—Zechariah 13:8-9, NASB
Metaphorically, I call the two parts that will be cut off the hosts and the parasites. The parasites are those who believe that they must get rid of their enemies to make the world safe for themselves. But they do not realize that they are cutting off their own lives. What happens when a parasite destroys its host and there are no more hosts around?As soon as you finish destroying, you will be destroyed . . . —Isaiah 33:1 (part), NASB You think you are killing me. I think you are committing suicide. —Antonio Porchia The parasites will kill their hosts and their guilt will result in their own destruction.
Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth . . .—Matthew 23:34-35, NASB
The hosts find their purpose in life (whether they realize it or not) in helping to preserve the world and its inhabitants, while the parasites tend to destroy the world and its inhabitants (whether they realize it or not). The hosts help preserve the world by forgiving those who have hurt them, thereby dampening the cycle of revenge and conflict. However, this forgiveness often leads the parasites to think that they can get away with murder forever.
When the parasites grow to be stronger than their hosts, many of the hosts will die off suddenly, and the earth will be thrown into a great imbalance. After the hosts have been completely wiped out, the parasites will die. The Bible uses another metaphor to describe this process:
“In that day,” declares the Lord of hosts, “the peg driven in a firm place will give way; it will even break off and fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut off, for the Lord has spoken.”—Isaiah 22:25, NASB
The third part that is left in the world are those who do not support or lean on any human. They put their faith in God. They are indifferent about their physical lives—they do not care whether they live or die. This indifference is not something that one can gain easily. Actually, the relinquishment of desire for and hatred of life must be burned off as one approaches death. This is one of the purposes of the tribulation. The third part learn that they are eternally secure—no matter what happens—and that they can rest in this security. Their indifference about their lives is the narrow gate:
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life and there are few who find it.—Matthew 7:13-14, NASB The third part can be spoken of in this way: Who will adhere to him that abandons himself! —Sir Philip Sidney They do not try to save themselves or anyone else. They put their lives in God’s hands.
CHAPTER 11 THE DAY OF RECOMPENSEThe idea of the “Day of the Lord,” or the “Day of Judgment,” is a recurring theme in the Bible: For the Lord is a God of recompense, He will fully repay. —Jeremiah 51:56 (part), NASB
I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.—Jeremiah 17:10, NASB Your evil will chastise you, and your apostasy will reprove you. —Jeremiah 2:19 (part), ESV
For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations. As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head.—Obadiah 1:15, ESV
For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.—Matthew 16:27, NASB
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.—2 Corinthians 5:10, ESV
Those who have treated others as they want to be treated will be treated well in return. The “wicked” will have to face themselves and the imbalances that they have created in the world.
There are three different ways that people can face the results of their deeds. Firstly, in everyday life, one’s thoughts and actions can have immediate results. For example, if one acts selfishly, one may feel guilt or anxiety.All infractions of love and equity in our social relations are speedily punished. They are punished by fear. —Ralph Waldo Emerson
Secondly, there is the judgment that people face when they die. Some people who have had near-death experiences report that they had to go through a life review when they died. In this life review, a person is able to look at his life, see and feel the results of his actions, and thus learn from his life experiences. In this summing up of his life, a person cannot avoid himself or hide his actions, but must face what he has done.
Thirdly, there is the “day of judgment” that will occur when the whole earth goes through its own near-death experience. The inhabitants of the earth who have faith in God will become aware of how the actions of those on the earth have created an imbalance in the earth. They will learn that these imbalances are undesirable and unnecessary. They will survive the imbalances because they have lived lives that are relatively unselfish. Those who do not know God, the “wicked,” will continue to act in a fear-based and ignorant way:
Many will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand.—Daniel 12:10, NASB
The pain and sorrow that comes when one has to face one’s imperfections can be mitigated if one has lived a life based on “reciprocity,” or based on the knowledge of everyone’s interdependence:
Tsze-kung asked, saying, “is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life?” The master said, “Is not reciprocity such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”—Confucian Analects
To try to take advantage of others and produce something that is good for oneself, and not good for all, produces a temporary imbalance in the universe. This imbalance recoils on those who try to cut goodness in half. They receive justice.
Always pay; for first or last you must pay your entire debt. Persons and events may stand for a time between you and justice, but it is only a postponement. You must pay at last your own debt. If you are wise you will dread a prosperity which only loads you with more.—Ralph Waldo Emerson
To “dread a prosperity” is to realize that the good that you are trying to accumulate only for yourself will turn to rot if it is not shared with others.
The “wicked” live their lives with the illusion that they are separate from the rest of the universe and that they can hide from God.
Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from the Lord, and whose deeds are done in a dark place, and they say, “Who sees us?” or “Who knows us?” You turn things around! Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay, that what is made would say to its maker, “He did not make me”; or what is formed say to him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?—Isaiah 29:15-16, NASB
Those who do not practice love, which seeks to reconcile different modes of being, are attempting to cause separation from others and from God. Though no one is separate from God, one can live for a while with the idea that one is independent of God.
CHAPTER 12THE TWO REMOVALS
The first removal of people from the earth will be the removal of many of the “hosts” all at once. This will mark the beginning of the “discontinuity,” or tribulation:
Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left.—Matthew 24:40-41, ESV
Speak, "Thus declares the Lord: 'The dead bodies of men shall fall like dung upon the open field, like sheaves after the reaper, and none shall gather them.'"—Jeremiah 9:22, ESV In Isaiah, the “hosts” are known as the “righteous,” and are seen as being taken away from evil:
The righteous man perishes, and no one lays it to heart; devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from calamity; he enters into peace; they rest in their beds who walk in their uprightness.—Isaiah 57:1-2, ESV
In the following verses, a distinction is made between the two remaining groups of people: the “godless” and those who take refuge in God:
The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling has seized the godless: "Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?" He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, who despises the gain of oppressions, who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking on evil, he will dwell on the heights; his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks; his bread will be given him; his water will be sure.—Isaiah 33:14-16, ESV
The Lord utters his voice before his army, for his camp is exceedingly great; he who executes his word is powerful. For the day of the Lord is great and very awesome; who can endure it? "Yet even now," declares the Lord, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments." Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.—Joel 2:11-13, ESV
When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you! The wind will carry them off, a breath will take them away. But he who takes refuge in me shall possess the land and shall inherit my holy mountain.—Isaiah 57:13, ESV
The second removal of people from the earth will be the removal of the “parasites,” or the “wicked.” When this removal is complete, the “discontinuity” will have ended.For the ruthless shall come to nothing and the scoffer cease, and all who watch to do evil shall be cut off,
—Isaiah 29:20, ESV Behold, the storm of the Lord! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his heart. In the latter days you will understand it clearly.—Jeremiah 23:19-20, ESV THE EARTH IS LAID WASTE
After the first removal occurs, the earth will be thrown into confusion and imbalance. Because the earth has been mistreated, those living on the earth will reap what they have sown.
The earth shall be utterly empty and utterly plundered; for the Lord has spoken this word. The earth mourns and withers; the world languishes and withers; the highest people of the earth languish. The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched, and few men are left.—Isaiah 24:3-6, ESV
Why is the land ruined and laid waste like a wilderness, so that no one passes through? And the Lord says: "Because they have forsaken my law that I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice or walked in accord with it,”—Jeremiah 9:12-13 (part), ESV The following verses suggest that the earth will experience a pole shift:
The earth is utterly broken, the earth is split apart, the earth is violently shaken. The earth staggers like a drunken man; it sways like a hut; its transgression lies heavy upon it, and it falls, and will not rise again.
—Isaiah 24:19-20, ESV Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken out of its place, at the wrath of the Lord of hosts in the day of his fierce anger.—Isaiah 13:13, ESV Finally, we have the assurance that the earth will not be completely destroyed: For thus says the Lord, "The whole land shall be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end.” —Jeremiah 4:27, ESV THE AWAKENING AND PURIFICATION OF THOSE WHO HAVE FAITH IN GOD How long to the point of know return? —Steve Walsh, Phil Ehart, Robby Steinhardt (Kansas) The following verse refers to the awakening that will occur during the discontinuity:
And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations.—Isaiah 25:7, ESV
What will be the result of this awaking? Those who have faith in God will be appalled when their sins are revealed in the light of a new day, as described in the following quote:
As the light grows, we see ourselves to be worse than we thought. We are amazed at our former blindness as we see issuing from our heart a whole swarm of shameful feelings, like filthy reptiles crawling from a hidden cave. But we must be neither amazed nor disturbed. We are not worse than we were; on the contrary, we are better.—Fenelon
They must deal with their newfound imperfections and undergo a purification in order to release the negativity that they have built up in the world.
Speak kindly to Jerusalem; and call out to her, that her warfare has ended, that her iniquity has been removed, that she has received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.—Isaiah 40:2, NASB Men are not punished for their sins but by them. —Frank McKinney Hubbard There are no rewards or punishments—only consequences. —William Ralph Inge
One can say that God punishes us for our sins, or that we are punished by our sins, or that we reap the consequences of what we sow. When the awakening occurs during the discontinuity, those who know God will be able to see how their own actions have resulted in less than optimal results. By enduring these results, they will come to embody the knowledge of cause and effect. They will willingly endure their just punishment (or the resulting effects) of their sins in order to cancel their sins.In the Bhagavad Gita, a classic Indian book, devotees are told to
Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me [God]. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.—Bhagavad Gita 18:66
The Bhagavad Gita also describes those who have been released from attachments and purified by their love for God:
Being freed from attachment, fear and anger, being fully absorbed in Me and taking refuge in Me, many, many persons in the past became purified by knowledge of Me—and thus they all attained transcendental love for Me.—Bhagavad Gita 4:10 THE NEW COVENANT
In the book of Jeremiah, the Lord tells us how his new covenant, or his new plan, with his people will work:
“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”—Jeremiah 31:33-34, NASB
The “house of Israel” are those who have faith in God. With the new covenant, men will not have to be told what to do by other men, because each one will have a direct relationship with God and will be able to align his will with God’s will and know what God wants. Joy will be the result of this intimate knowledge of God.
In the present age of ignorance, men try to control other men with laws and punishments. However, these manmade punishments are ineffective at changing the inner nature of man.When men are pure [outer, manmade] laws are useless; when men are corrupt, laws are broken.
—Benjamin Disraeli Probably all [outer, manmade] laws are useless; for good men do not want laws at all, and bad men are made no better by them.—Demonax
A GLIMPSE INTO THE AGE OF NEWNESSThe intention of Christianity was to change everything. —Soren Kierkegaard Nothing will change until everything changes. —Erng Paasilinna
I cannot think of the present state of humanity as that in which it is destined to remain. . . . Only in so far as I can regard this state as the means toward a better, as the transition-point into a higher and more perfect state, has it any value in my eyes.—Johann Gottlieb Fichte I devoutly believe in the reign of peace and in the gradual advent of some sort of socialistic equilibrium. —William James
Beliefs are transforming truths. What, then, are the beliefs we cherish most, the hopes, the visions we are transforming into reality? . . . each of us, individually and personally, has a hand in shaping the future of life on earth.—Michael Grosso What will the future “age of newness” be like? In the Bible, we are given a brief description:
“For behold, I [the Lord] create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create . . . It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox; and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,” says the Lord. [Italics added.]—Isaiah 65:17-18, 24-25, NASB
The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. [Italics added.]—Isaiah 11:8-9, NASB
These verses reveal a world in which no evil is done because everyone knows God intimately. Knowledge of God burns away ignorant, evil actions.
After the two removals have been completed, the remaining inhabitants of the earth have been purified, and the heavens and the earth have been renewed, the earth will begin an “age of newness” characterized by joy:The whole earth is at rest and is quiet; they break forth into shouts of joy. —Isaiah 14:7, NASB
It will be said on that day, "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation."—Isaiah 25:9, ESV
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
—Isaiah 35:10, ESV When creation follows the way [God’s will], it becomes united in oneness; in this oneness, heaven becomes translucent; earth becomes stable; and beings become fully alive.—The Eternally Practical Way, Chapter 38 (part)
In 1985 Howard Storm had a near-death experience (NDE). Later he wrote an account of this experience in his book called, My Descent into Death: A Second Chance at Life. While in the spirit realm, he gained many insights, and at one point he was told that
God wants to give us the power to control matter and energy with our minds, the ability to communicate directly with our thoughts, to travel through time and space by will, to have knowledge by contemplation. The power of these gifts is beyond our wildest imagination, but they will not be ours until we mature spiritually and can use these powers wisely and lovingly.
Howard Storm was also shown what the earth would look like in two hundred years. In this world of the future, no man-made devices were evident. People wore simple clothes and exotic ornaments. There was no difference between work and play, and people spent most of their time interacting with the children—sharing their love and knowledge of the natural world. People quickly raised fruits and vegetables by communing with them. There was sickness, but nothing that was incurable. Illnesses were cured by the focused attention and care of those in the community. People did not accumulate possessions or food. The weather was controlled by the collective will of the people.
There were many different types of people and cultures all over the earth. Although there were many different languages, telepathic communication was an option. Technological devices were not necessary because people were able to manipulate matter and energy with their minds. People did not need to travel through space because they could communicate with intelligent beings in other galaxies while on the earth. People were grateful for their lives in this world because they saw them as a special gift from God. When a person felt that he did not need any more experiences on earth, he lay down, “died,” and his spirit was taken to heaven. This event was celebrated with rejoicing by the community. People “lived to love God, love one another, and love themselves. . . . Everyone was happy. There was no conflict.”Howard Storm was told,
“This is the future God wants for humanity, and it will happen. This is the world God has created for us to live in. This is the way God created human beings to live.”“How will it happen?” I [Storm] asked.
They answered, “God is changing the world now. God wants worldwide conversion. God is going to awaken every person to be the person he or she was created to be. Those who accept God’s will shall flourish, and those who deny God’s love shall perish.”
The age of newness will not exactly be a return to a “Garden of Eden,” for humans will have a wealth of experience to integrate and reflect upon. Humans will have learned from experience that nothing can “separate us from the love of God.” (Romans 8:39, NASB) Humans will exult in knowing that God has carried them through their time of ignorance and has delivered them from the power of sin.
CHAPTER 17 A PURPOSE FOR TECHNOLOGY
If we are to live without technology in the future, then why do we have so much of it now? Perhaps we can understand the role of technology by comparing technology with training wheels. Training wheels are used by someone who is starting to learn how to ride a bicycle. They help the rider to maintain balance while he is riding. However, after a person has learned how to ride a bicycle, it would be ridiculous to retain the training wheels. In fact, it would impede the speed and maneuverability of the bicycle.
In a similar way, technology may be preparing human minds for greater abilities. Telephones and TVs may be preparing humans for telepathic abilities. Other tools and machines may be preparing people for the ability to easily manipulate matter and energy with their minds. Rapid transportation technologies may be preparing people to interact with other cultures and types of people. One can see that, with the receipt of these mental powers, technology would become obsolete and unnecessary baggage. Of course there are other purposes for technology, but to prepare people for new mental powers may be one of them.
PART THREE: QUESTIONS
If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.—Francis Bacon
WHY ARE PEOPLE LONELY?The lonely form the biggest group. —Frans Hiddema Loneliness got a mind of its own The more people around, the more you feel alone —Bob Dylan
What is the cause of loneliness? Why do people feel lonely even when they are with other people? Is loneliness a feeling of disconnection? Is it a feeling that no one can understand you? Or that no one values you? Is the feeling of loneliness a reaction to the disappointment that comes when we realize that we are different from others? Can one be at peace with one’s differences from others? Is loneliness the fear of not being validated for all of one’s views? If one is able to be away from other people for a while, can one’s relationship with God compensate for the fact that other people cannot understand one? Can the acceptance of God’s love for oneself and one’s uniqueness dispel one’s loneliness? If only God knows one completely, then won’t it always lead to disappointment and loneliness if one looks for understanding from other people?
WHY DO PEOPLE DISAPPOINT EACH OTHER?Last night I knew you, tonight I don’t —Bob Dylan
Where is comfort? in division of the records of the mind?
Can I part her from herself, and love her as I knew her, kind?
I remember one that perish’d: sweetly did she speak and move:
Such a one do I remember, whom to look at was to love.
Can I think of her as dead, and love her for the love she bore?
No—she never loved me truly: love is love for evermore.
Comfort? comfort scorn’d of devils! This is truth the poet sings,
That a sorrow’s crown of sorrow is remembering happier things.
—Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Once I thought I knew
Everything I needed to know about you
Your sweet whisper, Your tender touch
But I really didn’t know that much
Joke’s on me, It’s gonna be okay
If I can just get through this lonesome day
—Bruce Springsteen Do not trust in a neighbor; do not have confidence in a friend. From her who lies in your bosom guard your lips. . . . A man’s enemies are the men of his own household.—Micah 7:5-6, NASB
Couldn’t one say, “Last night I thought I knew you, but tonight I realize that I have never really known you”? Is there anyone to blame for disappointed love? Is it more shameful to be deceived or to stop loving the one who has deceived you? Is it possible to keep loving someone who has hurt you to the core? What kind of love would it be? Is all of your love conditional, based on the other person’s making you feel good? Or do you love the other person because God also loves them?
Do you expect others to stay the same forever while you give yourself the license and freedom to change? Do you expect others to change along with you, and to understand all of your new insights?Is it possible to love someone whom you feel is wicked or whom you feel hurts you on purpose? When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving one’s self, and one always ends by deceiving others. —Oscar Wilde He who has never been deceived by a lie does not know the meaning of bliss. —Albert Einstein
Why do we deceive ourselves? Are we looking for something in other people that we have had before? Do we believe other people when they indicate that they can bring us joy? Isn’t this kind of joy greatest in anticipation?
Do people want to believe that another person can bring them lasting happiness? Does their desire to be loved and be happy cause them to believe that another human can satisfy all of their needs in just the way they need them to be satisfied? Don’t these expectations lead to eventual disillusionment?
What can we expect from each other that will not be disappointed? Are we just supposed to learn that no human can fulfill all of our needs and desires? To whom do we go when we feel that we have been let down by all of those we have trusted? Is God still faithful?
DO I HAVE A BASIC NATURE?
On my saying, "What have I to do with the sacredness of traditions, if I live wholly from within?" my friend suggested, "But these impulses may be from below, not from above." I replied, "They do not seem to me to be such; but if I am the Devil's child, I will live then from the Devil." No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution; the only wrong what is against it.—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Don’t lose any sleep tonight
I’m sure everything will end up alright
You may win or lose
But to be yourself is all that you can do
Even a man of knowledge acts according to his own nature, for everyone follows his nature. What can repression accomplish?—Bhagavad Gita 3:33
Is it possible to change one’s fundamental nature? Does one have a fundamental nature? Is it possible for a sheep to become a goat, or for a goat to become a sheep? Can weeds be converted into wheat, or wheat into weeds? If one’s nature cannot be changed in one’s physical lifetime, can it be changed in eternity? Is my self the same at all times or is it evolving? Do all living things have something in common, or is each one completely different from all others?
Does it matter what I do? Are all of my actions and thoughts determined by my nature and my environment? Is my nature my fate? If I cannot be anything but myself, then how can I improve? Can I improve my nature? If I can improve or change my nature, then how can I base my actions on an authentic and true nature that does not change?
CAN JOY EXIST WITHOUT SORROW?. . . for everything you gain, you lose something. —Ralph Waldo Emerson
As no man had ever a point of pride that was not injurious to him, so no man had ever a defect that was not somewhere made useful to him.—Ralph Waldo Emerson
The death of a dear friend, wife, brother, lover, which seemed nothing but privation, somewhat later assumes the aspect of a guide or genius; for it commonly operates revolutions in our way of life.—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Is everything equal in the end? Are all my sorrows made up for with joy? Are all of my joys tempered by sorrow? Is it possible to have joy without sorrow? Does a rising tide of joy lift all boats? Is it possible for one person to be better off than another person, when their lives are seen in their entirety? Are we not allowed to have pure joy while others around us suffer? Is it possible for everyone to be joyful?Half of the time things change for the better —Chris Barron, Aaron Comess
Is every change for the better compensated for by a change for the worse? Is it possible for things to get better all around? Or do we need contrasts in order to perceive anything? Does eternal joy completely annihilate all temporary sorrows in its infinity?
WHAT IS AN OATH?. . . I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. —Thomas Jefferson
". . . you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.' But I say to you, do not take an oath at all . . .”—Matthew 5:33-34 (part), ESV
What is an oath? Isn’t it a claim that one will always do something or always think in a particular way? How can one honestly take an oath if one doesn’t know the future and doesn’t know if one will have the power to carry out what one has sworn to do? Isn’t taking an oath a sort of tyranny over one’s own mind, in the sense that it does not allow one to change one’s mind? What if Jefferson later decides that “eternal hostility” is not the best course of action to take? Should he break his oath and change his mind, or should he try to maintain a permanent state of mind and keep his oath? Isn’t it usually very difficult, if not impossible, to maintain one’s past state of mind, especially if one has new knowledge that makes it ridiculous to keep thinking in the same way?
HOW SHOULD WE TREAT EACH OTHER?
I used her, she used me But neither one cared We were gettin' our share—Bob Seger
So act as to treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of any other, in every case as an end, never as a means only.—Immanuel Kant
How should we treat each other? Am I using you merely as a means to achieve my own happiness? Can I be happy if you are not happy? What should be the purpose of our relationships? Should we try to make others happy at our own expense? Can we really be responsible for the happiness of others? Can we really know what others are feeling, even when they appear happy? Is the best thing that we can do for others what we would do for ourselves? But doesn’t everyone have his own likes and dislikes? How can we know what is best for ourselves, let alone another? Should we do what we think is best and leave it at that?
What does it mean to treat someone as an end and not as a means? Does it mean to believe that people have infinite worth, worth that cannot be measured by how happy they make me?
If I believe that I am placing someone else’s interests above my own, don’t I merely want to feel good about my supposed selflessness? Isn’t it best to look after one’s own interests at the same time as everyone else’s, and not practice self-deceiving self-sacrifice? Isn’t it best to believe that one’s own good is compatible with everyone else’s? Isn’t this belief important when attempting to produce win-win situations?
WHAT SHOULD I PRAY FOR?
Prayer that craves a particular commodity, anything less than all good, is vicious . . . prayer as a means to effect a private end is meanness and theft. . . . As soon as the man is at one with God, he will not beg.—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Lord, I know not what to ask of you. You only know what I need. You love me better than I know how to love myself. Father, give to your child that which he himself knows not how to ask. Smite or heal, depress me or raise me up: I adore all your purposes without knowing them. I am silent; I offer myself up in a sacrifice; I yield myself to you; I would have no other desire than to accomplish your will. Teach me to pray. Pray Yourself in me.—Fenelon
What should I pray for? Should I pray for my own health and well-being? What if God has purposes that will only be accomplished if I go through a difficult experience? Does God care what I want? Or does God know what I want better than I do? What is the best way to pray? Should my prayer be a silent acceptance of the way things are? Should I tell God what I think, something that he already knows? Should my prayer be an attempt to cultivate a certain attitude or state of mind? What should this attitude be? Should I be impatient with the troubles that I see in the world, or should I patiently let everything unfold in its own time? Can I improve myself or the world with prayer, or is every apparent good compensated for by a lessening of good somewhere else? How can I know what is best?
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