Global Warming: Essays and Poems for the Spirit by Alan Steinle - HTML preview
Download the book in PDF, ePub, Kindle for a complete version.
Essays and Poems For the Spirit© 2010 by Alan Steinle. All rights reserved.Contents
Global Warming (p 4)
Declining Dualism (p 7)
Earth’s Final Exam (p 8)
Is Survival the Only Virtue? (p 12)
The Joy of Surfing and the Danger of Flatlining (p 14) The Spirit Gives Life (p 16)
Selfishness: Cause, Consequence, and Cure (p 18) Love, and Do What You Like (p 20)
Righteousness (p 22)
The Courage to Be Nothing (p 24)
Love and Light (p 25)
How to Dampen the Cycle of Negativity (p 27) What Does God Want? (p 28)
What Happens When We Die? (p 30)
What Are the Disadvantages of Money Economies? (p 31) Can We Understand the Universe? (p 33)
Your Salvation Is Not Far (p 37)
The Light Does Not Condemn You (p 39) In This Human Frame (p 41)
Relationships: Illusion and Reality (p 43) For Ralph Waldo Emerson (p 45)
Other People (p 47)
The Mirror (p 48)
To Live (p 51)
Isaiah in Verse (p 54)
In this quote, Jesus is referring to the conditions at the end of the current age of the earth. From the quote, you can see that this essay is not about the warmth of the earth’s atmosphere, but about the warmth of people’s hearts. Currently, on the earth there is an average level of wellbeing that all people fall back towards as an equilibrium state. For example, if someone feels very good, he knows that this good feeling will not last. Tomorrow, he may feel worse. A person’s feelings of wellbeing can rise and fall, but the average level of his feelings is pretty much the same as that of everyone else. The following quote summarizes my point:
Nobody does it better
Makes me feel sad for the rest —Carole Bayer Sager
This quote is taken from the song, “Nobody Does It Better.” In the song, a woman rejoices in the happiness that her lover brings her. But in the second line, the woman says, “Makes me feel sad for the rest.” It seems that she cannot feel purely happy while those around her are not in the same happy state. Isn’t that the case for all of us? If we are very happy or successful, we often feel guilt or fear or doubt or some other emotion that lessens our happiness. If we make a lot of money or gain power, we may feel the envy or resentment of others, which usually causes us to feel bad.
In his essay, “Compensation,” Ralph Waldo Emerson discusses his observation that all advantages are compensated for by disadvantages, and that all bad experiences are balanced by good experiences. The following are some quotes from his essay:
“There is always some leveling circumstance that puts down the overbearing, the strong, the rich, the fortunate, substantially on the same ground with all others.”
“If you put a chain around the neck of a slave, the other end fastens itself around your own.”
“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.” “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.”
There seems to be a global balance or equilibrium state that exists between extreme joy and extreme suffering. Is it possible to shift this balance towards the joyful end of the scale? From my reading of the Bible, I believe that it is possible and that it will happen. In the Bible, Jesus tells what will happen at the end of this age of the earth:
“For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”
—Matthew 24:21-22, NASB
“The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”
—Matthew 13:41-43, NASB
In other words, those who tend to pull down or depress the equilibrium state of the people of the earth will be removed from the earth. Those who remain on the earth will experience an elevated feeling of wellbeing that they have never known on the earth. The sorrow that will come upon the whole earth at the end of the current age will be converted into everlasting delight:
“Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. Therefore you too have grief now; but I [Jesus] will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.”
—John 16:21-22, NASB
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
This information about the end of the age is often suppressed because people do not want to deal with the thought or the experience of the extreme suffering that will occur. All lives will be disrupted at this time, and many people will leave the earth.
“But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
—Luke 21:28, NASB
Those whose feelings are depressed by the negative emotions of others will be released from this mental weight, and the equilibrium emotional state of those on the earth will be elevated. The minds and hearts of everyone on the earth will be filled with joy and love.Declining Dualism
To decline means “to refuse, especially in a formally polite way” (Webster’s New World Dictionary). Dualism is a little more difficult to define. By dualism, I basically mean the existence of conflicts. These conflicts start in the mind and can become visible in the physical world. These conflicts arise when people expect for there to be mutually exclusive ideas or aims among people. When people fail to look for and expect a solution to life that is satisfying for all, they get caught up in “me vs. him” or “us vs. them” or even “me vs. me” situations.
To decline dualism is humble oneself until the ego loses its power to create conflicting ideas and situations. To decline dualism is to refuse to believe that conflict is necessary or inevitable. To decline dualism is to believe that there is a good plan for the universe that takes everyone’s well-being into account.
I want to make a distinction between selfishness and love. Selfishness believes that one must accumulate as much good for oneself as possible because good is limited in the universe and others are competing for this good. Love realizes that what is truly good for one person also benefits everyone else. There doesn’t have to be a conflict between what one person wants and what others want him to have. Love realizes that good is not limited. Selfishness mistakenly believes that in order to achieve some respect from others, or to win acceptance from others, one must sacrifice part of one’s own good for the good of others. Love knows that if one person’s good is decreased in any way, this decrease can have a negative effect on everyone else.
Basically, we create dualism when we expect for there to be conflicts among people. I have found that there are more options in life than we usually expect. And there is always the option for all things to work together for the good of everyone. This option is more likely to become a reality if we expect it and allow it happen. However, our egos want to compare ourselves with others. Often, we don’t want good for others. We want to know that our hard work or intelligence has given us an advantage over others in obtaining good things. If we don’t accept ourselves as unique and valuable people, we get caught up in a never-ending game of comparisons. If we do accept ourselves as essentially unique and valuable people, if we believe that the good of one person is compatible with the good of others, then we can politely refuse to create conflicts, and decline dualism.Earth’s Final Exam
[Jesus says,] “Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”
—Revelation 3:10, NASB
In your life, you have probably had at least one academic test. You might have thought that your performance on this test was pretty important. However, there is another test in which your very soul is at stake. This test, which will come upon the whole earth, will determine who has faith in God and who does not. You might say, “How can I take this test when I have not learned anything about God?” I would reply that if you have ever chosen love or forgiveness, you have chosen God, for God is love (. . . everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. —1 John 4:7-8, NASB) and forgiveness is a part of love. Furthermore, God will not grade you on what you have not learned but on what you have personally experienced. (From everyone who has been given much, much will be required . . . —Luke 12:48, NASB)
If you have done well on all of your quizzes, that is, if you have continually been faithful to God and his command to love, then you might not have to take the final exam:
[Jesus says,] “Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing,”
—Revelation 3:10, NASB.
What does it mean to be kept from the “hour of testing”? It means that some people will leave the earth and not have to go through the tribulation, the time of distress and testing on the earth at the end of the current age:
[Jesus says,] “Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.”
—Matthew 24:40-41 NASB
In the book of Isaiah it is written: Not everyone who is faithful to God will be removed from the earth before the time of testing. God has chosen some faithful people to survive the time of testing and to be his people.
The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart; And devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from evil . . . —Isaiah 57:1, NASB
“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 them 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
The three parts mentioned above are these: the faithful who don’t survive the tribulation physically, the unfaithful who don’t survive the tribulation physically, and the faithful who do survive the tribulation physically. The people who survive the testing are called the elect, the chosen, or the remnant. They have been chosen by God to begin a new age on the earth. They are not perfect (they will have to be refined during the tribulation) but they will live by faith in God:
“Behold, as for the proud one,
His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.” —Habakkuk 2:4, NASB
“For behold, I 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 . . .” —Isaiah 65:17-18, NASB
What is the purpose of this “final exam”? The purpose is to separate those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6, NASB) from those who “are intent on doing evil” (Isaiah 29:20, NASB).
Those who have treated others with love, respect, and forgiveness will eventually reap the good rewards of their actions. Those who try to destroy others will be destroyed by the results of their own actions:
“For the day of the LORD draws near on all the nations. As you have done, it will be done to you. Your dealings will return on your own head.” —Obadiah 1:15, NASB
It is not for the faithful to destroy the unfaithful—in that case there would be no difference between the two groups. The unfaithful will destroy themselves by their own actions and their blood will be on their own hands. They will be overwhelmed by the results of their own guilt.
“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, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.”
—Matthew 23:34-35, NASB
The strong man will become tinder, His work also a spark.
Thus they shall both burn together And there will be none to quench them. —Isaiah 1:31, NASB
In conclusion, everyone will relinquish or give up his life by the end of this age. However, only some of those who give up their lives voluntarily will be saved.
[Jesus says,] “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
—John 15:13, NASB
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” —Matthew 16:24-26, NASB[Jesus says,] “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” —Revelation 2:10, NASBIs Survival the Only Virtue?
Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live, but he who pursues evil will die.
Proverbs 11:19, ESV
In my vain life I have seen everything. There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing.
Ecclesiastes 7:15, ESV
These two quotes are in the same Bible and may have been written by the same person. They speak of hope and despair. The first quote seems to claim that righteousness or virtue is directly related to life, specifically, life in this world. The second quote destroys this relationship: at least some who do “evil” prolong their lives. If being good does not lead to long life, of what use is it? Why should I be “good”?
Isn’t the quality of a person’s life as important as the quantity of his life? What good is it if someone lives to one hundred and does not enjoy his life? People naturally seek that which makes them feel good. If life becomes too painful, some seek to end their lives, thinking that this might bring them some relief. On the other hand, when death is seen as something painful and terrible, some will do whatever they can to push death away.
Is there a middle way, a way that does not seek or shun death? Can someone make peace with death while not actively pursuing death? As long as people do not deal with death, they cannot deal with life. As long as the fear of death haunts people, they cannot live with true, undiluted joy. People can deny or ignore death, but this keeps them from looking honestly towards the future.
It may seem counterintuitive or irrational, but some people do not resist physical death. Some people at certain times can find meaning in death. For example, people can give up their lives for the benefit of others. As Jesus said, Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13 ESV
On the other end of the spectrum are those who will not give up their lives for any reason. These people may outlive their purpose, and be left with nothing to live for. In the song “Talkin’ World War III Blues” Bob Dylan describes a dream in which he climbs out of the sewer after World War III. He tells a doctor about his dream:
Well, the doctor interrupted me just about then,
Sayin’, “Hey I've been havin' the same old dreams, But mine was a little different you see.
I dreamt that the only person left after the war was me. I didn't see you around.”
. . .
Well, now time passed and now it seems
Everybody's having them dreams.
Everybody sees themselves walkin' around with no one else.
Dylan concludes, “I'll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours,” In other words, don’t value your own life more than the life of another. Personal, physical survival is not the only virtue or the greatest virtue. Without compassion for all of life, people lose their purpose and life itself becomes dreadful.The Joy of Surfing and the Danger of Flatlining
In physical life, there are many cycles or waves of activity. Some common macroscopic cycles include the following: life, breathing, sleep, eating, sex, exercise, and relationships. These cycles have a natural rhythm to them. Below, I have labeled some features of these cycles. You might want to use other labels. The point is that there are cycles or waves of repetition. This repetition is not exact. For example, each breath differs from all previous breaths.
Life: birth – growth – maturity – exit –
Breathing: inhaling – pause – exhaling – pause –
Sleep: waking up – being awake – going to sleep – sleeping – Eating: hunger – eating – digestion – elimination –
Sex: desire – fulfillment – satisfaction – lack of desire –
Exercise: getting ready – physical activity – cooling down – resting – Relationships: desire for company – interaction with others – desire for aloneness – aloneness –
There are countless other cycles in the human body, in nature, and in the earth. Each of the cycles listed above has physical, emotional, and mental aspects. The length of each cycle varies by person and situation. I want to emphasize that each part of these cycles or waves is meant to be enjoyed. A surfer knows that a motionless ocean provides no opportunity for change and adventure.
If we become attached to just one feature of any of these cycles, we prevent the flow of life and prevent our enjoyment of not only the other parts of the cycle but also the part of the cycle we are focused on. I call the attempt to turn waves into motionlessness “flatlining.” When we become attached to one part of a cycle, we inhibit the free flow of life. We are not living life at the speed of biology. When we attempt to make some part of physical life eternal, we ignore the true eternal life that is always available, and we also destroy the temporary physical life that we have become attached to.
Those who control the technology on earth are attempting “to make alterations in times and law” (Daniel 7:25, NASB). The problem is, if you inhibit the free flow of energy for a long enough time, the energy will build up until something breaks and the energy is released in an explosion. The spring will rebound at some point and the cycles on earth will wildly fluctuate until a new balance is reached.
Can you surf this coming tsunami, this physical, emotional, and mental tidal wave? You might be able to if you are not attached to any particular physical state and if you have faith in something that is truly eternal and stable. As Mick Jagger said: “We’re going out of control.” If we surrender control of our lives, go with the flow, and give up our fear of change, then we might survive the tidal wave. However, to become completely nonattached to the changing features of our physical life, we must become nonattached to physical life itself. If we cling to any particular mode of existence, we will be broken all at once and washed out to sea.The Spirit Gives Life
Just as a reservoir is of little use when the whole country is flooded, scriptures are of little use to the illumined man or woman, who sees the Lord everywhere.
The Bhagavad Gita 2:46, translated by Eknath Easwaran
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
Habakkuk 2:14, ESV
And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me . . .
Jeremiah 31:34a, ESV
For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:6b, ESV
The Spirit gives life. All is life and all is Spirit. The letter (words, dogmas, scriptures, etc.) can stunt or inhibit this life. When people adhere to attractive words, when they do not let their minds flow with the surrounding life, they can miss out on life. When people view a statement as valid for all time, they may end up overlooking or ignoring changes and differences that arise.
People who see the Lord everywhere, and expressed in everything, are free to follow the leading of the Spirit wherever the Spirit leads. Those who have preconceptions of how things are, or should be, are not free to change along with the changing world. Of course, we don’t change passively as the “outside” world demands that we change; being part of the world, we are able to actively direct or block the flow of life to a greater or lesser extent. The more we are in sync with the flow of life, the more we can direct these energies, for good or ill.
If someone tells me to “honor my father and mother,” how should I understand this rule? Should I understand it as meaning that I should never disagree with my parents? Should I leave gifts on my parents’ graves? By interpreting this rule in their own ways, people can make their own personal, more specialized, rules. Once they have set their minds on an interpretation of the rule, people may find it difficult to view the rule any other way.
However, if people simply will what is best for all, and trust that the Spirit will inspire them and show them how to achieve this good in every moment, then people can free themselves from the adherence to worn out dogmas and words, and make themselves more available to the ever-present intelligence of the Spirit.Selfishness: Cause, Consequence, and Cure
In the world there are natural consequences of our actions. In truth, we receive what we give. When we forgive “others” we forgive ourselves. When we condemn “others” we condemn ourselves. I put “others” in quotation marks because the idea of the existence of beings completely distinct from ourselves is misleading. We are all united by God.
To use an analogy, a hair cell in a human body may see itself as distinct from a blood cell in the same body. However, the soul of the human unites the purposes and actions of the hair cell and the blood cell. If not for the presence of the soul, the body would disintegrate and break down. The body would no longer serve the purposes of the soul that once inhabited it. In the same way, all of creation can be seen as integrated cells in God’s universal body. God’s spirit animates creation and gives creation a unified purpose. If not for God, the universe would disintegrate and break down. In the same way that the soul is more than the body, God is greater than his creation. While God is immanent in (or present throughout) the universe, God also transcends (or is above) the universe.
Everyone knows when he has acted selfishly or egotistically. If a person is acting selfishly, he is acting with the beliefs that he is more important than others, that the good in the universe is limited, and that he must attempt to transfer this limited good to himself. The person who acts selfishly does not realize that all of creation is connected. He does not realize that good cannot be accumulated in one place. Any true good benefits all of creation.
From selfishness come pride, envy, anger, and fear. Pride comes when a person believes that he is independently excellent, that he is better than others. He forgets that many people have contributed to his “success” and that if he compares himself with others he will always come up short in some area. Envy comes when a person believes that goods are unjustly distributed. He does not realize that a person cannot truly enjoy any good while those around him are suffering from lack. Anger comes when a person believes that he has been unjustly cheated of some good thing. He does not realize that the universe cannot take something from itself. Fear comes from the knowledge that a person must face the consequences of all of his actions. A person must reap what he has sown. If his actions have been motivated by a dualistic, selfish mindset, he will reap separation, loneliness, and anxiety. He will be cut off from good in the way that he has tried to cut off others from good.
There is a cure for selfishness and the consequences of pride, envy, anger, and fear. The cure is to realize that there is only One and to act with this knowledge. What if we have acted selfishly in the past? Do we still have to face the consequences of our selfish actions? The good news is that God can help us deal with the results of our actions if we confess to God that we have not acted with love for all. Each time we realize that we have acted selfishly, we can repent—that is, change our minds and head in a new direction—and have a new relationship with God and his creation. The consequences of our selfishness do not have to overwhelm us if we put our faith in God’s power to forgive and save us through Jesus Christ, God’s mediator.
It is not easy to act unselfishly in a world that is run according to selfish principles. In a world in which the mindset of greed, competition, and fear is common, it is not easy to live with a different mindset. It takes continual attention to one’s attitude, and a continual effort to think and act differently. This effort is not without compensations. In this life we are rewarded by freedom from fear, and in eternity we are rewarded with joy. I cannot prove these things to you. However, you can prove them to yourself by living an unselfish life, a life of goodwill toward all.Love, and Do What You Like
. . . charity is the root and substance of morality, and where there is little charity there will be much avoidable evil. All this has been summed up in Augustine’s formula: “Love, and do what you like.”
—Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy
The love that Augustine is referring to is not limited. In fact love that is limited is not love at all, but craving or attraction or some other emotion. True love cannot be divided. We cannot reserve our love for one part of creation and deny it to the rest. We either share our love with all or with none.If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar . . . —1 John 4:20a, ESV
Selfishness is the attempt to love only oneself. The more that we realizes how everything in the universe is connected, the less we will try to limit our love to only ourselves or to only our close friends or relations.
The love that Augustine is referring to is not a blind love. True love desires to understand others and learn what will benefit them. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he said,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
—Matthew 22:37-40, ESV
When we love, our heart and soul and mind are connected. When we feel the excitement of being “in love” we can feel that we have lost our mind, but the love that maintains a relationship over time needs the contributions of the mind. The command to love God and others covers all other commands: “Love, and do what you like.” The only problem with this formula is that it is hard to love without reservation everyone that we meet. Many people challenge our ability to love. People can hurt us when we are vulnerable. Opening ourselves to love others can make us vulnerable to disappointment and hurt.Love is fragile, you hide it from the light —Mick Jagger
The reason why we try to hide love or save love for only certain people, is that there are so many people who would take advantage of us and destroy the love that we cherish. When our love has been devalued or abused over and over, we sometimes give up on love altogether:
And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.
—Matthew 24:12, ESV
Even though we may not be able to fully express our love in a difficult environment, we can maintain the “pilot light” of love until such a time when conditions are favorable.
The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers,
—Matthew 13:41, ESV
Love seeks no cause beyond itself and no fruit; it is its own fruit, its own enjoyment. I love because I love . . . When God loves, he only desires to be loved, knowing that love will render all those who love Him happy. —St. Bernard
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!
—Psalms 118:1, ESV
There is a restaurant called Outback Steak House. This restaurant has an advertising slogan that says, “No rules, just right.” I find this to be an attractive slogan, and this essay will explain why. While I am not exactly sure what the restaurant owners mean by the slogan, I want to borrow the words and fill them with my own meaning.
In the Bible someone, perhaps King Solomon, wrote the following: (1) There is an appointed time for everything.
And there is a time for every event under heaven—
(2) A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
(3) A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
(4) A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
(5) A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
(6) A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
(7) A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
(8) A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.
—Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, NASB
Is there really a time to mourn, to kill, to throw stones, to hate, to wage war? How would we know when it is time to experience these “negative” feelings and actions? Are they ever necessary? Are they necessary evils? Is evil ever necessary?
One of the men of the Old Testament part of the Bible, King David, committed adultery and murder. He was also called a man after God’s own heart. Did King David’s actions matter? Why is he still respected?
Let me offer a possible solution to these two problems or discrepancies. What matters is not the particular actions that we commit, but our orientation and motivation. Once we have the correct orientation towards God and the right motivation, then our particular actions, which are not even always under our control (“For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” —Paul, Romans 7:19, NASB), become less important. Our orientation towards God should be one of love and submission. Our motivation should be love for God and love for all of God’s creation. Our motivation is like the rudder on a ship. It controls the direction that we are headed. If we are motivated by love, then when our sins are revealed to us, we will feel sorrow and repentance. But no matter how bad we think we have acted, we should not permanently dwell in sorrow or remorse. God forgives us for our imperfections and wants us to get up off the ground and not be held back by the past. All experiences can be useful learning experiences. Even if our actions have undesirable consequences, we don’t have to despair. We can face the consequences with God’s help and forgiveness. If we choose to be motivated by love for God, then God will inspire us to make better decisions with our lives, even if we don’t always live up to our own standards of thought and behavior.
Now let me return to the slogan, “No rules, just right.” I am offering the idea that if we are motivated by love for God, then we don’t have to follow other particular rules of behavior, and everything that we do will be right. But there is a catch. Do you know anyone who acts in a loving manner at all times? Inasmuch as we are not motivated completely by love for God, our actions cannot be called pure or right, even if we do everything that society’s rules tell us to do.
You may ask, to put forward an extreme example, “Is murder okay for someone who is motivated by love for God?” I would say that murder is not an end in itself, but if someone murdered me with misguided knowledge, something good can still come from it. The murderer might, by killing me, later come to repent for his actions and his life might be transformed. I don’t think it is God’s will for people to murder each other, but while people are imperfect in knowledge of God, God allows people to murder others and still gives them a chance to repent.
I believe that God is ultimately in control and guiding things, and that all things work together for good. Even if something appears to be purely evil, we can expect God to bring something good out of it. We are never justified in despairing. God knows our weaknesses, and does not expect us to reach perfection without some adventures.The Courage to Be Nothing
Who are you? Are you a human? Are you someone with particular parents, appearance, education, and occupation?
What is your greatest fear? Are you afraid to fail? Are you afraid to disappoint other people and to be rejected by them? Are you afraid to be alone?
The two questions, “Who are you?” and “What is your greatest fear?” are related. The ultimate fear is to lose our self-identity. This fear, while often denied and suppressed, influences our lives in less than pleasant ways. This fear causes greed, anger, hate, and other unpleasant emotions. If this fear can be overcome, then individuals can become joyful and the earth can be transformed.
If we identify with the particular circumstances of our life (our job, our looks, our position, etc.), then we might be afraid of losing ourselves when these circumstances change or disappear. Physical death is the ultimate interruption in the continuity of our self-identity, and is therefore often feared.
All individual consciousnesses are united and all are capable of experiencing oneness. However, the One consciousness of the universe chooses to experience the temporary illusion of separation in order that the reunion will be all the more intense. In order to understand oneness more thoroughly, consciousness “disintegrates” and “reintegrates.” The features of disintegration are the feeling of loneliness and the experience of ignorance. The features of integration are joy and “cosmic consciousness.” However, even with the experience of disintegration, consciousness is never completely fragmented, and there are always threads of connection and feelings of hope and expectations of reunion.
The process of reintegration can be difficult. Individual consciousnesses are sometimes unwilling to give up their individual identities that they have grown accustomed to. However, the reintegrating force is unstoppable. The only choice we have is how easy or difficult we want the process to be. Each choice has its benefits, and one choice is not superior to the others. The more deeply we resist the process of reunification, the more painful the process will be. However, this choice has the benefit of revealing a greater contrast between fragmentation and unity. Another choice is to completely and willingly give up our self-identity. With this choice, we become nothing (no particular thing) and thus become everything.
What is the source of your life? What sustains you? What keeps you alive? Will you live forever? Do you want to live forever? Can you endure eternal life with yourself? Can you endure eternal life by yourself?
In order to achieve reconnection with the Soul of the universe, one must first integrate or unite one’s own being. The Soul of the universe, the One I call God, exists to enjoy experience. In order to experience the joy of reunion, God divides into a multitude of connected but apparently separate beings. Love is the mysterious power that holds all of the parts of the universe together. Love is a force that includes all good things and actions. Love is the ultimate motivator, meaning, and end of life. Love can be experienced in an infinite number of ways and from an infinite number of angles.
If love is so great and widespread in the universe, then why is it sometimes lacking? Fear is the main obstruction to the flow of love. Other factors include envy, greed, and anger. Fear is often caused by unwillingness to deal with oneself. If we have sown imbalances in the universe by recklessly hurting others and living with a mindset of duality, we become fearful. We know very well (even if we don’t admit it to ourselves) that we will reap what we have sown. The longer we refuse to face the hurts we have created, the more fearful we become. If we bravely repent, surrender our proud egos, and admit that we are not independent beings, we can be redeemed or reunited with the Soul of the universe. This repentance or renewal of the mind must happen regularly if we are to have a continuous connection with the One. Only those who willingly give up their self-centered, separate lives can be embraced and supported by the love of the One. Those who make this “leap of faith” no longer fear death because they are confident that death is not the end.
In the present state of the earth, widespread ignorance keeps us from seeing how our actions affect ourselves, others, and the Whole. When the light of knowledge increases, we can either let our lives be changed by its renewing effect, or we can cling to our ignorance and thereby hold ourselves and others back. In the same way that it is often difficult to wake up in the morning, it can be difficult to wake up to new knowledge. It can be a shock to our system. The light can hurt our eyes. We might cry out in pain or resentment, “Just let me go back to sleep!” However, if we deny the knowledge that is in front of us, we will eventually be unable to live on the earth. Those who do integrate the knowledge of cause and effect—the knowledge that the universe is perfectly just—will be able to live in harmony, while those who cling to their ignorant selfishness (me vs. him, us vs. them) will find no place of security. Those who give up their lives for the good of the Whole will be embraced and renewed by the Whole. Those who do everything in their power to preserve their physical lives will ultimately lose what is most important to them—their physical lives.
On the earth, spiritual knowledge is increasing at an ever-faster rate. There will soon be a time when this increase of knowledge reaches a critical point. At that time, those who are ready to change and who accept and integrate new knowledge will find their lives renewed. Those who are unable or unwilling to change will not be able to endure the brightness of the revelatory light and will leave the earth. Whether they will accept the light in eternity is an open question.How to Dampen the Cycle of Negativity To dampen the cycle of negativity and ill-will in the world, it helps to practice some basic and interconnected principles.
1. Forgive everyone. Forgive yourself for not being who you intended to be. Forgive yourself for falling short of your ideals. Forgive your brothers and sisters in the human race for all of the intentional and unintentional harm they may have caused you. Forgive all of creation for being or seeming to be imperfect. Forgive God if you feel that he has let you down, if you feel that he has allowed or caused your misfortune. Forgive everyone.
2. Don’t condemn anyone. Don’t condemn yourself. Don’t condemn others. If you realize that God, who knows everything about you, does not condemn you, then you will find that the condemnation of another person can find no place to rest in you. If you don’t condemn yourself, then no one else can either. Don’t condemn anyone.
3. Intend the best for everyone. Don’t consider anyone or anything to be worthless or expendable. Everyone and everything has a purpose. Don’t curse anyone or wish evil on anyone, or you will find that you have cursed yourself. Support the good purposes and potential of all of creation. Intend the best for everyone.
4. Don’t try to figure it all out. Don’t try to get everyone to follow your current idea of how life should be lived. Allow for differences. Have faith in God’s perfect plan. Let God inspire you at each moment and show you the best way to act. Don’t blindly follow rules today that you committed to follow yesterday. There might be a new inspiration today. Don’t believe that your view is the only valid or logical or rational view. Let knowledge and understanding come to you at the proper time and place. Don’t try to figure it all out.
5. Forgive everyone. Forgive yourself for not being who you intended to be. Forgive yourself for falling short of your ideals. Forgive your brothers and sisters in the human race for all of the intentional and unintentional harm they may have caused you. Forgive all of creation for being or seeming to be imperfect. Forgive God if you feel that he has let you down, if you feel that he has allowed or caused your misfortune. Forgive everyone.What Does God Want? What does God want? God wants people to know him and to do what is delightful:
Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD. —Jeremiah 9:23-24, NASBJesus explained that there are two principles or commandments that, if followed, will make us righteous in God’s eyes:
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
And He [Jesus] said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
—Matthew 22:36-40, NASB
If we love God with all of our being, and love others as we love ourselves, then we have fulfilled all of God’s law. This law, however, is easier to say than to do. If you think that what God wants is important, then you will try to understand and follow God’s will. In my attempt to understand and practice God’s law, I have come up with some ideas to explain it. Your understanding of God’s law, however, may be different, since you have had different experiences and have a different viewpoint.
In my own words, to love God with all of my being means to do what God wants, even if it does not look easy. I try to trust God to lead me to do what is right, since I cannot see all of the future consequences of my actions. I try to always act with a motivation of love, and not with a motivation of fear or guilt. I believe that “all things work together for good,” and that God knows, from his broad perspective, how best to achieve this good. I try to obey God’s word above all other demands from people or my environment. However, if God leads me to submit to a human, I will do that, as long as it does not lead to my own debasement or to the injury of others.
In my own words, to love others as I love myself means to value others’ lives as much as I value my own. It means to want the best for everyone, even if I don’t know what is best for each particular person. It means to forgive others as I want to be forgiven. It does not mean that I have to treat each person in the same way, since each relationship is unique. It does not mean that I have to like what a person does, or that I have to enjoy his personality. It means that I should not judge a person as being “good” or “bad.” If I judge someone as being “good,” I will be disappointed when I find things that I don’t like about him. If I judge someone as being “bad,” I will not see or try to bring out the best in him. It means that I should not condemn others for what I view as their faults.
If we want to do God’s will, because we believe that he knows what is best, then we should try to understand and perform his commandments. Faith in God’s wisdom and the ability to follow God’s wisdom do not usually happen overnight. Faith and love are two things that become stronger with use. If we never exercise our faith and love, we should not be surprised to find that we do not have them.What Happens When We Die?
What happens when we die? This question, when asked, might reveal something about the one who asks it. First, the question seems to suppose that the same thing happens to everyone who dies, as if everyone will have the same experience. What happens when we die? The “we” suggests that the questioner doesn’t not want to be alone when he dies. Why not ask, “What will happen when I die?” The “I” limits this question to one individual. Maybe it is better to use “we” if there are really no isolated individuals in the universe. We are all connected, but we do have different experiences.
The second thing that the question “What happens when we die?” reveals is that the one asking the question expects to die. Is there something that makes people take death for granted? Does a newborn baby think about death and anticipate it? At what point does a person come to think about his own death, and is there a point at which a person can fully accept his own death?
Death is a door that conceals many mysteries. We can read about what other people have experienced during near-death experiences, but there is no guarantee that we will have the same experience as others. Life itself is full of unexpected twists and turns. Would we want it any other way? Would we want a life that is completely planned from beginning to end with no chance for the unexpected? Wouldn’t we be bored? The unknown, in life and death, is something that can bring either fear or hope. We can fear that things will get worse, or we can hope that they will get better.
If we have not dealt with the uncertainty that death confronts us with, or if we have put all of our hope in the present life, then death becomes an enemy. However, if we believe in the benevolence of the universe, and let this benevolence express itself in our lives, then death becomes another adventure, and not something to be feared.What Are the Disadvantages of Money Economies?
I have no objection to profit. I’ve started and run several successful businesses. But I’ve come to understand that the profit motive flourishes in younger cultures—the cultures in which people see themselves as separate from each other and from the rest of existence. Profit exists only if you draw a circle between “me” and “not me,” then measure how much goes out of your circle and how much comes in. That simply doesn’t happen in the older cultures where people don’t isolate themselves but instead feel “we’re all in this together.”
—Thom Hartmann, The Prophet’s Way
In order for one person or entity to receive money, another person or entity usually must lose money. There is usually an exchange of goods and/or services when money is exchanged. Sometimes, one or both parties feels cheated when the exchange occurs. For example, if someone has to pay a fixed high price for something he thinks he really needs, and cannot get it anywhere else, he may feel powerless or resentful. It is unusual for both parties to be satisfied with an exchange.
Money economies are built upon the idea that people should accumulate as much money and/or possessions as possible. One usually does this by selling a service or a product. People go along with this economic system because they are born into it, or they feel that they benefit from it. Few people question it.
What are the pros and cons of such an economic system? The advantages of the system are that people can transfer goods and services quickly and they can easily take their money wherever they go. It can be seen that, through these advantages, money economies have greatly expanded and the selection of goods and services available has greatly increased.
However, there are some disadvantages to such an economic system based on money and the profit motive. First, most of the things that a person produces do not directly benefit the person who made them. This can make a person feel that his work is only going to benefit someone that he has never seen and will never know. A person can feel like his purpose for working has been diminished. He becomes alienated from the results of his labor. He is disconnected from the consumer and the consumer cannot usually show his appreciation to the producer.
Second, when business is conducted, both parties of the transaction may feel used or undervalued. The one who receives the money may think, “He is only giving me this money because of what I can do for him. He doesn’t really care about me as a person.” The other one may say to himself, “This man only recognizes me because of the money I give him. Otherwise, he wouldn’t give me the time of day.” The transaction can be a selfish and isolating one.
Third, money economies seem to require specialization in order to increase efficiency. Someone might spend a lot of time training for a certain position, and then later feel trapped in this same position. He might not be able to leave his position because he cannot afford more training for another position. Another person might have to work on an assembly line, and have to do the same thing day after day, just to keep himself alive. Some people find security in that kind of job, but many others find little meaning in it.
Why have money economies spread over most of the world? One of the reasons is that they cater to an insatiable greed and desire for possessions that many people have. Another reason is the very fact that they allow for impersonal transactions. When people do not have to be concerned about each other, they can make transactions with anyone anywhere, even their so-called enemies.
Money economies work well with the isolation of individuals, families, and larger groups. When people think of only themselves and their close relations, they perpetuate the isolation and alienation that money economies enable. Because people tend to hurt each other, it is often easier for people to live with isolation and alienation than to risk getting hurt. (This reminds me of the book The Great Divorce, in which C. S. Lewis describes a hell in which people continually moved farther and farther away from each other.) Can people hurt each other less, and thus lessen the need for isolation? That is a question for another article.Can We Understand the Universe?
Recently, I listened to a series of recorded lectures by Steven L. Goldman titled, Science in the Twentieth Century: A Social-Intellectual Survey. In these lectures Goldman, who has degrees in both physics and philosophy, makes some interesting observations about the development of science and math. In the present essay I will take some quotes from his lecture notes and comment on them. First of all, he makes the general statement that
“The practice of science was traditionally open and democratic, but by the late 1800s, physical science had taken on the characteristics of an esoteric cult, because of mathematics.”
—Steven L. Goldman
“The obscurity of the theories of 20th-century physical science from the perspective of the non-scientist public is overwhelmingly a consequence of the forbidding mathematics that has become the language of science.” —Steven L. Goldman
Science seeks to make sense of the world, but how can it accomplish this goal if the majority of the public cannot make sense of science? Is science, especially physics, now an “esoteric cult” that only a small minority of the population can begin to understand? (One can note here that physicists themselves often do not completely understand all of their theories.) There have been many books written about science for the general public, but these books do not perfectly represent what scientists actually do, or how they think.Goldman also mentions the uncertainty that the discovery of non-Euclidean geometries caused:
“In the mid-19th century, mathematicians discovered deductively perfect geometries that contradict Euclidean geometry, raising the question of which form of geometry is true of space and severing the uncritical connection between reasoning and reality. (Non-Euclidean geometry: Any logically valid, deductive system of geometry that uses definitions, axioms, or postulates different from the ones used by Euclid.)”
—Steven L. Goldman
How can we be sure that the mathematical theories that we have built up accurately represent reality? If Newton’s clockwork universe, which was the accepted paradigm for many years, did not accurately describe reality, then how can we be sure that our current theories are any better? Of course Newton’s theories of motion are still used to predict the motions of everyday objects. Likewise, quantum theory of the 20th century has been called one of the most productive and useful theories ever. But does this make it true?
“Luitzen Brouwer believed that mathematics is an example of the mind imposing order on experience. There is no necessary connection between mathematics and reality.”
—Steven L. Goldman
Are our mathematical ideas simply beautiful ideas that have no necessary relation to reality? What if reality can be seen from many different angles (to use a mathematical term)? What if the current mathematical perspective is only one of many perspectives? What if it is not the best? If a fish has lived all of its life in water, then how could it imagine any other way of perceiving the world than through the medium of water? Similarly, how could a human being look at the world from a non-scientific, non-mathematical perspective, if he had been saturated all of his life in the current scientific-mathematical worldview?The final quote I will take from Goldman has to do with symbols:
“Another important development in mathematics in the 19th century was the invention of symbolic logic. From this development, we learned that notation can have a significant impact on our thinking. Simply replacing words with symbols can lead to new insights.”
—Steven L. Goldman
In base 10 math, 1+1=2; in base 2 math, 1+1=10; in Roman numerals, I+I=II; in words, one plus one equals two. Of course this is a matter of notation, and changing notations does not change the fact that we are still representing the combination of two things in each case. However, if we use Roman numerals (I, V, X) instead of Arabic numerals (1, 5, 10), mathematics becomes more difficult. Can you add a large number of Roman numerals by hand without first converting them to Arabic numerals? Can you multiply Roman numerals? It is possible, but it is not as easy as calculating with Arabic numerals. Similarly, it is easier for computers to have only two physical states instead of ten, and to deal with base 2 numbers instead of base 10 numbers. Math is heavily dependent on symbols and the meaning of these symbols. Some have compared the learning of math to the learning of a foreign language (although many would argue that this is not a good comparison, and that either math or foreign language is more difficult and that each one uses a different part of the brain). The question is, can one invent or discover a new type of mathematical notation that is more intuitive, easier to understand, and more descriptive of the world?
If only those who understand (the current notations of) higher mathematics can understand the universe, then what about everyone else? Are the mathematically challenged also the reality challenged? Or do current mathematical statements represent reality at all? Are they merely ideas that approximate a certain view of reality? Are we trying to force nature, kicking and screaming, into our mental mathematical molds? Is there another, more universal way of looking at the universe?
Our minds are made out of the same stuff as the rest of the universe, so why should the universe be hard to understand? Are we missing something obvious that will make our understanding of the universe much more intuitive? Are mathematicians barking up the wrong tree? Could a new set of symbols and relationships be what we need to make the universe easier to understand? Or is the universe a foreign place to our minds? Are we strangers in a strange land? I don’t think the universe should seem strange. I think that it is normal for beings in the universe to understand their environments. However, I also think that human beings are currently covered by a veil of ignorance that is present for a particular purpose. Humans will keep banging their heads against the wall (so to speak), attempting to find a “theory of everything,” until this veil is removed.
In the book, My Descent into Death: A Second Chance at Life, Howard Storm writes about the insights that he gained in the spirit realm during his neardeath experience (NDE). 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.”
Can you imagine having knowledge by contemplation? Can you imagine productively exploring the mysteries of the universe by merely thinking about them? Can you give up your paper and pencil, your computer programs? What is the reason that we don’t have these powers, that we still have a veil of ignorance that prevents us from knowing more about how the universe works? I think, to echo what Storm has written, that we don’t have these powers yet because they would be too dangerous in our hands. Humans know how to make all kinds of technological weapons, and much destruction has resulted. Humans have the knowledge and the ability to destroy the earth. Should they be given the knowledge and the ability to destroy the universe? The key to advancing in the realm of knowledge is to also advance as an entire society in the realm of morality. The key to gaining a greater understanding of the universe is to use wisdom guided by love, and wisdom comes from the loving submission to God’s will.Your Salvation Is Not Far
Though mistaken you have often been You have never committed a mortal sin For a mortal sin would condemn you to hell With no release, as you seem to know well But all your errors can be undone
By the Holy Spirit, one by one
You must learn yourself to forgive If you would really intend to live For the guilt that you would make true Will always come back to haunt you And you cannot attack another with hate Without fearing the world will retaliate
But truly there is only one of us here
And when you deny this you live in fear Bodies are the symbols of separation
As are the lines between each nation
When you realize that you cannot be saved alone You will understand that your body is on loan
For your body only serves to teach you That through a body no one can reach you But since our minds are already united All illusions of the body will be righted And illusions are what you will keep As long as you desire to remain asleep
But if you do not fear to share what you are You will find your salvation is not far But if you try to keep for yourself a small part You will close the door and lock your heart For when you try to gain and keep a little piece You attempt the impossible and have no peace
The truth is that you have what you are And all that you have is never far For everything in the universe is yours For God gives it all to whom He adores And you are His created and beloved child On whom He has always gently smiled
And if you desire to always increase
Your feelings of love and joy and of peace You will not see yourself as limited to form For what is real you don't need to reform For real is what you will see, feel, and be When you leave your illusions and let them go free
To escape from the guilt, fear, and pain That continually attack your weary brain You must take one small step ahead And leave for an instant all your dread
While you hold on to your guilt and blame You will not your inheritance of joy reclaim To regain what is your sure right
Bring all your thoughts into the light
At first you will fear to admit The mental errors you commit You will condemn yourself for each Dark area that the light does reach
But finding the light does not condemn you You will bring your errors to what is true And the truth will quietly dispel each illusion And release you from all your dark confusion
And the judgment that you fear to face And the rejection for which you brace These are only the outward projections Of your unforgiven imperfections
But the gift of forgiveness is something That in the end is viewed as nothing For what you really are
Your errors cannot mar
Your real self is eternally whole And you will your Creator extol When you find this to be true And see yourself anew
So on the day that the light comes And this light all your darkness plumbs Release your fear of condemnation And accept with joy God's affirmation
For God created you as His perfect child Although you thought that He reviled You for each of your imperfect thoughts And all your broken shoulds and oughts
The truth is that mistakes cannot Dim God's love or place a blot Or stain upon your eternal soul Which even now does remain whole
And now your soul awaits the day When your mouth does not betray What is really in your heart and mind When all your thoughts have been refined
For communication is your given right And when creation does with joy unite All your dreams of darkness and of pain Will be forgotten and will not remainIn This Human Frame
Why am I in this human frame That is at birth given a name? Isn't this name only a handle And this body but a 'brief candle'?
If the body is my true abode Then why does it feel like a load That I have to drag around And keep above the ground?
In poor health we often feel
As if we've made a bad deal
Had we known of the pain on earth Would we have consented to our birth?
Even in good health this form Must to nature's laws conform And this world, with its confines, Many a great plan undermines
Why do we ever dream about flying When we have to think about dying? Why dream about love, joy, and peace When conflict never seems to cease?
Well, no one gets out alive From this smoke-filled dive And if there's a reason to be here I hope it will soon be made clear
Can we in the end redeem
Energy used on a vain scheme? Or do all our efforts become dust As all we build and buy turns to rust?
Surely, behind all our outward plans, Is a hidden purpose that still stands And despite our stumbling and detours There is some good work that endures
So, while in this human frame, It should be our continual aim To act in a way that is good for all And to get back up when we fall
For when we do err
We need not despair
For there will always be the One Who's more reliable than the sun
And death is not the end of our way For it only conceals a doorway That opens to welcome our soul As it unites in bliss with the WholeRelationships: Illusion and Reality
Is a relationship a way For a person to play With another's heart And then to depart?
Or can one speak a vow That is able to somehow Make a bond last forever No matter the weather?
Are we looking for too much Or are we just out of touch With the way things really are When we search for a star?
To feel special we need Someone who has agreed To feed our ego's pride And to always provide The words we want to hear Whenever we're near
Can we for one have affection While others face our rejection? Is this human exclusion
Based on love or illusion? For if we now hate one
We can truly love none
And love becomes a myth We tell the one we're with While we silently resent The past ill-intent
That has entered our lives And still cuts us like knives
For all this is love gone As we wearily go on With our work day to day? Do we throw hope away?
Or is there a solution
To all this confusion?
Yes, if we could forgive Then we would really live If we could forgive the past We would find love at last
For the illusion of sin Is the prison we're in And the guilt we project On others has the effect Of depressing our life And creating new strife
So love can't really be bound By those who think they've found Love in their special relations Between humans or nations For love knows no borders
And will not take orders
From those who try to limit it To those whom they see as fit
So we will not feel
That love is truly real
Until it spreads throughout the earth And the fading pain of rebirth Is only a distant dream
And joy is the theme
And all those around
Are with glory crowned
You were born in a young country of ideals In a country with no king and no one kneels But this country with its new constitution Was created through a bloody revolution
On the other hand, your purpose was to find A way to create a revolution of the mind Your intent was to show us how to be Self-reliant and intellectually free
Don't always quote others, you said, But truly speak your mind instead And when you feel the need to conform Know that only honesty can transform
What would you think of our life today? What words of wisdom would you say? With whom would you have a good talk, Or through the woods take a walk?
Are we any better off for your essays, Or are we still conformists in our ways? Is this the land of the living or the dead? Is there any hope for our world ahead?
You said compensation was nature's law And that every good thing here has a flaw But how long can we stay above the flow Of pain, and resist sorrow's undertow?
You didn't have all the answers, nor do we But from your vantage point we can see That every sorrow has a hidden delight And that every wrong will be made right
Faithful perseverance is your gift And, even now, it serves to lift Us from the malaise and despair That surrounds us like the air
You made God known to each one individually While others sought to know Him mutually You taught people how to leave the crowd When the din rises and becomes too loud
From the nineteenth century to the twenty-first Your words have satisfied many people's thirst You are a prophet still, and your words are germane For your ideals, as a society, we have yet to attainOther PeopleHell is other people. —Jean-Paul Sartre
Hell is other people who
No matter what you do
Always find something to judge They drag you through the sludge And see through your thin disguise As they shred you with their eyes All their faults and lack
They place upon your back
Unable to see their own transgression It becomes their only obsession To find all of your flaws
And all your broken laws
And they won’t even let you live Because they refuse to forgive
Heaven is other people who No matter what you do
Choose to see the best
In you and forget the rest
They don’t dwell on your sin Since they want all to win They don’t create divisions By their prideful derisions Of those with whom they differ For they know that the transfer Of their own guilt to another Will come back and smother Their efforts to be free
And their search for unity
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
—1 Corinthians 13:12, 3ASB
Because we are blind
The truth is hard to find
As we fumble in the black
True joy is what we lack
Ignorant of eternal laws
We fail to see the cause
Of all our pain and woe
That follow us as we go
Sorrow comes because we are free To use our powers poorly or wisely
But when we see ourselves in the glass Through the dust and grime as we pass We just point our crooked fingers At the foreign image that lingers Before our shameful faces
And we can find no traces
Of our true self there
Or here or anywhere
Who we really are
Is never really far
But as long as we fear
To lose what we hold dear We will lie, cheat, and steal Until we can no longer feel The love that we desire
Until there is no fire
In our hard, frozen heart And no spark will restart That warm feeling of delight That comes from the true light
When we find our visage distorted As in the fun house mirror contorted We must ask ourselves why
An impartial crystal would lie Why can’t I see my real face? Why is there another in its place? Perhaps we have been fooling Ourselves since our schooling Which led us to flee
Our true identity
Our feelings we must suppress In order to achieve success
Our thoughts we must hide
And bow to another’s pride
Subject becomes object
So no one dares reject
The idea that a high mark
Proves you aren’t in the dark
On the day that the veil Is lifted we will hail Our true selves and see Clearly what will be
Some will soon weep
As they realize how deep
They have hurt their fellow man By doing whatever they can To save their own skins
While ignoring their sins
Some will soon call
On the mountains to fall
They will try to hide like bugs That scurry away under rugs For them, the penetrating light Will be much too, too bright
Some will soon find They must be refined They will call on God Who wields an iron rod They will on earth remain After all others are slain
While God does choose
Those who win and lose
When we are able to stand
On our feet and command
The energies to ebb and flow And at our will come and go
We will be co-creators with the One Who gives life to everyone
When cause and effect’s chain Is revealed and made plain
There will be no reason to hide And only in close friends confide We will know and be known
For all our actions will be shown To be connected and we will reap What we have planted and keep Only what we need
Then sow more seed
Then our once defiled face and name Will no longer be covered in shame And when we see God we will not die For God is a mirror that does not lie And who can his presence face
Without his forgiving grace?
When we see this mirror on earth We will know true joy and worth For joy comes from fulfilling knowledge The kind that you can’t buy in college The kind that comes from above
Flowing from an all-embracing love
In this life of choice
How to find my voice?
In this place of alternatives Is there anyone who truly lives?
To live is to be And to truly see I have one view And so do you Our views vary As is necessary
We see differently, you and I Perceive a different earth, sea, sky Are we one in this diversity? Or divided by race, class, and city?
In our need for validation
Our egos seek inflation
Are my ideas right
While you live in night?
Or are you right to change me Into what you want me to be? Should I disregard my dreams If you have more power and means?
Can we both be right
In this search for the light? On this singular earth
Who has more worth?
Who really has the power At this troubled hour?
Do the winners write history Or is life still a mystery?
Can the one with more fear Give up what he holds dear? If we lose money, power, and life Will it all be over, with our strife? Does life have a final end
And is eternity just pretend? Or does consciousness go on Fall and rise, ebb and flow on?
What we want is the best
For ourselves and to be blest We live by what we believe in Have faith in or imagine
Is this the greatest gift to give— To live truly and to let live?
Is it a boon or does it reek
To be completely unique?
Can we for something truly stand
When others do not understand?
Can we find good common ground
Or must our arguments go ‘round and ‘round?
We have the choice
To raise our voice
Or to maintain our views
And let others do what they choose
If we decide to pay the dues
Instead of compromising our views Will there be a prize
For those who wear no guise? Those who are sincere
Can live without fear
Those with no dark places
Can show their true faces
Those who are honest know
They are at home wherever they go There are no complete strangers And no overwhelming dangers
There is truly nothing to fear
When the One Soul is seen everywhere Selfishness must be overcome Before we can live as one
To take the power from sin We must look for the win-win For we reap what we have sown As all results have shown
If you choose to hate your wife You will be cut off from life If you dare to love your enemy Your love will dissolve all enmity If you give in to all your fears You will tremble as death nears If you give your life for another You will find there is no “other”
If we abandon our ideals—defect We will lose our own self-respect If we stand for what we see as right Others will walk by our light
If we live and love without compromise Our different views will harmonize
This is the vision of Isaiah
About Jerusalem and Judah
Let heaven and earth pay attention
To what the Lord now does mention The children that I have reared
Away from Me they have veered
A beast knows its master's hand
But Israel does not understand
The nation is full of corruption
Their sins know of no interruption
They have rejected the Holy One
Strangers to Him they have become Even if you went through hell
You would continue to rebel
Sickly is the head
The heart is almost dead
The entire body is bruised and sore
The wounds are not covered anymore Your country is very nearly destroyed Foreigners with your produce are cloyed Now the daughter of Zion is a town Whose walls have been torn down
A Sodom or Gomorrah new
Except for our survivors few
Sodom and Gomorrah, give ear
The word of the Lord now hear
Your sacrifices are a sham
Offer not a bull, goat, or lamb
When you with Me consort
Why do you trample My court?
I have no commendations
For your wicked celebrations
I hate your new moons and feasts
To sustain them I must cease
I will disregard your prayerful plans Unless you wash the blood from your hands Quit your evil actions
Make honest transactions
Injustice and oppression correct
The orphans and widows protect
Though scarlet is your sin
You shall be white within
If you learn to obey My plan
You will eat the good of the land
But if you rebel against My word
You will be consumed by the sword
The faithful city has become a whore
No one practices righteousness anymore Your silver is polluted
Your wine has been diluted
Your princes consort with thieves
From their hands a bribe leaves
The orphans are not cared for
Widows knock in vain on their door
The Lord of hosts declares with grief
From My enemies I shall get relief
My hand will remove with lye your dross I will cut away your alloy at any cost
Your original counselors I will restore The faithful city will no longer be a whore With justice Zion shall be redeemed
And the repentant shall be esteemed
Together rebels and sinners shall break Along with those who the Lord forsake The oaks you desired will cause you shame And your gardens will set your face aflame You shall be like a parched oak tree
And like a garden that is water-free
And the strong man's works shall consume him Like a fire, with no one to douse them
This is the word seen by Isaiah
About Jerusalem and Judah
Now it will occur in the latter days
That the Lord's mountain will rise above the haze The house of the Lord above the hills will ascend And to this house the nations shall attend And multitudes shall come and say
Let the Lord teach us His way
From Zion the law shall go
And from Jerusalem the word shall flow He shall resolve many nations' suits
And settle the people's disputes
They shall beat their swords into plowshares And to use weapons no one dares
Nation will not go to war with nation
For to fight will be an abomination
Let the house of Jacob adore
And walk in the light of the Lord
Your people you have rejected
With ways from the east they are infected Their land is full of gold and silver treasure Of their horses and chariots there is no measure All through their idol-filled lands
They bow down to the work of their hands Men humble themselves and bow low
They are not forgiven for doing so
Hide in the caves and in the dust in anticipation Of the terror of the Lord's majestic station The proud man shall be humbled and sigh The Lord alone will be lifted on high
The Lord has set aside a day
The proud and lofty to put away
He is against the cedars of Lebanon
And the oaks of Bashan from now on
He is against the hills on high
And the mountains reaching the sky
He is against every high tower
And every wall meant for power
He is against all the ships at sea
And all the vessels of beauty
The haughty and proud man will find out anyway That the Lord alone will be exalted in that day The idols will disappear
Their worship you will not hear
People will enter the caves, terror will heighten The Lord's majesty will the whole earth frighten People will their idols throw away
To the moles and bats by the way
People will hide in the caverns and cliffs When the balance of earthly power shifts Don't lift man on high
For someday he will die
The Lord from Jerusalem and Judah is taking away All support of bread and supply of water on this day He is removing the mighty man and soldier The judge and prophet and diviner and elder He is removing the man of rank and captain The counselor and charmer and magician
Their leaders will be mere boys
Their rule a fickle child enjoys
The people will oppress each other
A man will even harass his brother
The youth will Lord it over the old man
The ignoble man will scorn whom he can
A man will take his brother and say
In his father's house on that day
“You have a cloak, you shall our leader be
You shall take charge of this pile of debris” “I have neither cloak nor bread
You shall not put me at the head”
Jerusalem and Judah have stumbled and fallen down They defy the Lord's glory by their actions all around Perfect witnesses are their faces
Their sins can be found in public places
Woe to them and their wrongdoing
This evil is of their own doing
Tell the righteous that it shall be well
With the results of their deeds they shall dwell Tell the wicked that it shall be ill
Their evil themselves shall chill
My people are oppressed by kids
They all do as a woman bids
Your leaders have mislead you
Your ways they have made untrue
The Lord arises to plead His case
He judges the people to their face
You have torn My vineyard asunder
The poor you have not ceased to plunder
Why have you, declares the Lord God
Ground the faces of the poor into the sod
Because the daughters of Zion are proud
And their foot ornaments ring aloud
And they stretch out their necks
To flaunt their jewelry and effects
The daughters of Zion will have mangy hair And their secret parts will be laid bare
The Lord will remove their headbands and anklets Their crescents, pendants, scarves and bracelets Their head dresses, armlets, sashes, and signet rings Their perfume boxes, amulets, and nose rings Their mantles, cloaks, handbags, and festal robes Their mirrors, turbans, veils, and linen clothes Instead of perfume, the smell of decay
Instead of fine locks, hair will fall away
Instead of luxurious dresses, sackcloth skirts Instead of beauty, a branding that hurts
The mighty shall fall in battle, then
The sword shall overtake young men
Her gates shall groan and cry aloud
Desolate, she shall sit on the ground
Seven women in that day
Shall take one man and say
“Our own food and clothes we will provide But give us your name, don't let them deride” The branch of the Lord in that day
Shall beauty and glory convey
Those who in Israel remain
The land's good fruit shall maintain
In Zion the holy will survive
All of those chosen to revive
The Lord will wash away the filth and burn The sins of Zion and Jerusalem, in turn
The Lord will provide over Mount Zion a delight A cloud by day and a flaming fire by night There will be protection from the heat and showers A tent for shade and shelter from the wind's powers
About my beloved's vineyard I will sing
My beloved had prepared everything
He plowed it and removed its rocks
He planted it with choice grape stocks
He built a watchtower in the center
And hewed out a wine vat for the vintner
He looked for a good yield
But wild grapes filled the field
Now those who in Judah abide
For Me and My vineyard decide
What more could I have done?
Why was the crop a wild one?
Now I will take away its hedge
And it will be subject to pillage
And I will break down its wall
And trampled down it will fall
The vineyard I will neither prune nor hoe
And briers and thorns will continue to grow And the clouds I will command
To rain no rain on the land
Now the house of Israel is the Lord's vineyard And Judah was the plant that He did regard When He looked for justice, bloodshed was all about When He looked for righteousness, He heard a shout Woe to those who houses and fields expand Until there is no more room in the land
And you have to live in solitude
In order not to intrude
Surely, in my hearing the Lord of hosts has sworn Many large and pleasant houses will be forlorn The yield of the vineyard is a small amount And the yield of the seeds one could discount Woe to those who get up at dawn's brink
To pursue their fill of strong drink
Who are inflamed by wine all night
And drink until the morning's light
They listen to the lyre and harp at their feast But they don't understand the Lord's works in the least My foolish people are exiled and displaced
Their honored men are with hunger faced
Sheol has opened wide its greedy mouth
And the revelers in Jerusalem will go south
The eyes of the proud are humbled
The ambitions of man have tumbled
The Lord in judgment is exalted
The Holy God cannot be faulted
Then lambs will graze in their meadow
And strangers will through the ruins go
Woe to those who pull sin with ropes made of lies Who haul iniquity with strong cords and ties “Let us see the work of the Holy One,” they say “Let the counsel of the Lord God be revealed today” Woe to those who put wrong for right
Woe to those who call the darkness light
Woe to those who think they are wise
And who are shrewd in their own eyes
Woe to the heroes at drinking wine
They down a strong drink and seem fine
Woe to those who clear the guilty for a bribe And those who guilt to the innocent ascribe Their root will turn a rotten gray
Their blossom will even fall away
The Lord of hosts' law they reject
His word they no longer respect
The Lord's anger against them was lighted
To strike them down He was incited
The mountains as from an earthquake explode And their corpses lie as refuse in the road
A signal for distant nations He has decreed
From the ends of the earth they come with speed None are weary, none are asleep
Each one does the hurried pace keep
Their arrows are sharp, their bows bent Wheels spin and hooves pound like flint Like lions they roar and seize their prey What they carry off none can take away They will growl over their prey
Like an angry sea on that day
The land is dark and full of distress Clouds do the light of day depress
In the year that King Uzziah died
The Lord on His throne I spied
His position was with glory instilled The temple was with his robe’s train filled Above Him the seraphim hovered
With wings their face and feet they covered One said to another as he soared
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord
The Lord of hosts’ nature has spilled And the earth with His glory is filled” At His voice the doors nearly broke And the house was filled with smoke I said, “Woe is me! How can I endure? For I and my people have lips impure” Then a seraphim to me did fly
With a coal from the altar near by
And he touched my mouth and said “Gone is the sin and guilt you dread” Then I heard the Lord ask
“Whom shall I send on this task?”
“Here I am,” I said,
“Send me on ahead”
And He sent me away
“Go to this people and say
‘Keep on hearing, but do not receive Keep on seeing, but do not perceive’” Make their hearts dull
Make their ears full
Make their eyes blind
Lest they see and find
Lest they hear and keep
Lest their hearts not sleep
And they repent and yield
And their wounds are all healed Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” “Until empty cities are deplored And people leave their houses in haste And the land is a desolate waste The Lord takes people far away And the land is in disarray
And though a tenth remain
It will be burned again
Like the stump of an oak tree
Or a terebinth it will be
The holy seed will be
The stump of that tree”
You may also like...
Our Journey in Salvation Religious by Patricia Johnson
You Can't: God's Amazing Grace In an Age of Darkness Religious by Andrew Paul Cannon
The Future Implosion of Nature (A Translation and Commentary of Revelation 6) Religious by R. Cooley
The Future Implosion of Nature (A Translation and Commentary of Revelation 6)
With the recent spate of hurricanes and earthquakes, many are wondering what’s to blame. This booklet expounds the Biblical warning of the coming cataclysms i...
Formats: PDF, Epub, Kindle
The Gospel of Thomas: A Catholic Perspective Religious by M. C. Ingraham