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Steps of Ascent 4: How much can we bear?

Blessed is one who existed before coming into being…. You are pleased when you see your own likeness.  When you see your images that came into being before you did, immortal and invisible images, how much can you bear?  — Jesus, The Gospel of Thomas¹

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READING THROUGH the first two chapters of the Book of Genesis in the Bible, one cannot help but notice that there are two different incidences that speak of the creation of man.  The first one is in the 26th verse of the first chapter of Genesis:

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after out likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”  

     This may be taken as the creation of Spiritual Man, made in the image and likeness of the Creator.  The second incident, as recorded in the second chapter of Genesis, relates to the creation of Adam, physical man, by the LORD God:

“…and there was not a man to till the ground….  And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed . . .to dress it and to keep it.”

THE “LORD God”

     Who is this “LORD God” that appears on the scene?  In her legacy work, THE BOOK OF GRACE, biblical scholar and spiritual author Grace Van Duzen goes to some length to elucidate:

A new name is introduced here: the LORD God. The capitalization in such case conveys plurality,  a focus of beings, whereas the use (later) of Lord indicates divine presence in a single being.

Rev. Scofield, in his Authorized King James Reference Bible, says:

The primary meaning of the name LORD (Jehovah) is the self-existent One.” Literally (as in Ex. 3.14), “He that is who He is, therefore the eternal I AM.” But Havah, from which Jehovah, or Yahwe, is formed, signifies also “to become,” that is, to become known, thus pointing to a continuous and increasing self-revelation. Combining these meanings of Havah, we arrive at the meaning of the name Jehovah. He is “the self­ existent One who reveals Himself . . . .”

It is significant that the first appearance of the name Jehovah in Scripture follows the creation of man. It was God (Elohim) who said, “Let us make man in our image”. . . but when man, as in the second chapter of Genesis, is to fill the scene and become dominant over creation, it is the LORD God (Jehovah Elohim) who acts. This clearly indicates a special relation of Deity, in His Jehovah character, to man, and all Scripture empha­sizes this. 

The name Lord, or Jehovah, is introduced immediately after the completion of the six-day cycle of Creation which was crowned with the presence of Man, the means whereby God could “live and move and have his being” on this planet in conscious expression. That is the purpose of man, to reveal God through the indwelling presence in himself — not as a stereotyped, preordained blueprint but to allow, moment by moment in living, a New Heaven and a New Earth to take form. 

Herein is the secret of God’s “rest” [on the seventh day], the state of being which became possible as human beings remained in harmony with the Creator, the Law which operates the universe.  Man was not created an automaton, without free will; that would not be an image and likeness of the Creator. On the contrary, all the wonder and diversity of the cosmos was available to be given form on Earth according to the capacities of this new creation, and on the Seventh Day that provision was in place. It was, moreover, a cycle when a “proving” was necessary to complete the creation.

I think we’re still in the proving stage, and not faring too well in it.

WE REALLY DON’T HAVE A CLUE

     Now, I find all this most intriguing, as others have as well.  Quite frankly, no one really knows what occurred back then.  Some have even speculated that superior beings from outer space came to earth and seeded the human race in various and different locations as genetic experiments, each genetically different with unique physical characteristics, cultures and languages, perhaps to see if they would find a way to meld together as one global human race — a scenario to which I could easily ascribe watching travelogue programs that take you all over the globe to visit the colorful array of nationalities and life styles that exist in near isolation from one another except for media technology and air travel. 

(Watching the spectacular and inspiring 2020 Winter Olympics high-tech opening ceremony in Tokyo, and hearing John Lennon’s “Imagine” sung so passionately by everyone, including John Legend and a couple of other popular vocalists, the world is “as one” for these young athletes from different nations.  I was deeply touched. This upcoming generation just may pull it off — peace and harmony, that is.)  

REMEMBERING OUR PAST LEST WE REPEAT IT 

      There has been for some time a question concerning the two different stories in Genesis relating to the creation of Man which suggests rogue behavior on the part of one or more of the creator beings comprising the Elohim conclave.  I’ve given this considerable thought and meditation, and I resonate more with Grace Van Duzen’s view of the creation story than with the rogue scenario.  Whether critical or speculative inquiry, the fact is that if there’s been any rogue behavior on this planet, it’s been on the part of man himself — and it is precisely this rogue behavior by us that needs to cease before Eden can be restored, along with our partnership with God as co-creators of living forms on Earth . . . according to Divine Design and not human designs.

      Let us not fool ourselves by thinking our past errant ways are gone and forgotten, because this rogue behavior is still going on everywhere on the face of the earth, notably in laboratories where medical scientists tamper and experiment with the genetic code of the double helix DNA and its partner RNA which contain and deliver respectively Life’s instructions for creating and assembling the building blocks of physical matter.

WE’VE OPENED PANDORA’S BOX . . . INTENTIONALLY—FATHER FORGIVE US FOR WE KNOW NOT WHAT WE DO  

      It all sounds so ingenious and commendable . . . until an experiment gets out of hand and a man-made virus, genetically coded to be more virulent and aggressive by a method called “Gain of Function” (GOF) — for the purpose of developing an appropriate vaccine in the event of a pandemic — is reportedly released accidentally in order to create a global pandemic.  As I understand it, this dangerous research was shut down here in America only to be transferred to a lab in Wuhan by leading medical scientists in the USA, as well as funded.  (Here’s the stunning LATEST DISCLOSURE on the origin of the virus.  Scroll down to read the Story at a Glance, although the video is well worth watching.)

      How much disclosure such as this can we bear before we wake up?!  How much risk are we fool enough to take until we learn that we cannot partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil — or evolve, as is the case with the genetic code of the DNA spiral and escape the death-dealing consequence?  The DNA molecule is created by Life and belongs to Life, and we have no business tinkering with it.  We do so at our peril, as it is proving out.    

A RESTORATIVE PROCESS IS UNDERWAY

       There is a restorative process underway, and has been in progress ever since the Fall, to bring us back into alignment with the Great Spirit Creator and into the garden state.  At least two attempts have been made, the first of which was through Abraham and his immediate lineage that brought forth the nation of Israel and Moses, who led the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt and to the “Promised Land” flowing with milk and honey.  But that was as far as human beings at the time moved with that cycle. 

       The cycle of movement through the physical plane was brought to a point of completion, and failure, with King Solomon, who let his success and empirical power, along with his collection of feminine royalty, consume him.  This level is the domain of the Spirit of the New Earth, and there was great expectancy on the part of the tribes of Israel, for example, to come to a new land flowing with milk and honey, an expectancy that was realized after forty years of rebellion and consequent hardship in the wilderness.

      Throughout the Old Testament there is an expectancy of the “coming of a Messiah.” This attempt from the level of the physical plane failed to restore humanity back to God and closed with a promise of a Messiah who would come and restore the kingdom of heaven on earth. But it would not be an earthly kingdom.  It would be a heavenly kingdom that resides within each one, indicating that the garden state is first a spiritual reality based on spiritual consciousness and only secondly, and consequentially, an earthly experience of Paradise.

     A restoration in human consciousness, then, is what is underway — and it began with the incarnation of the Lord of Love 2000+ years ago in the Middle East — which today has become a hotbed of religious wars and human suffering.  The sacred fire of Love is at work through the Spirit of Purification cleansing the body of humanity of hatred, greed and fear, along with a host of other demons . . . and not just in the Middle East. 

     How much more of this cleansing can we bear?  How much of our past can we bear to remember, forgive and move on from.  More pertinent to the Master’s words above: How much of the radiance of our own Being, the “immortal and invisible” image of God revealed through us on Earth, can we bear?  How much peace and joy and happiness?  How much truth can we bear?  How much are we willing and ready to let go of our beliefs, our concepts and opinions, move beyond them, in order to come to the place of knowing and living the truth of life that is love; love of God and of one another?  Oneness with the All that Is?

     The Master told his disciples I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.”  Can we bear them today?  The Holy Spirit, the promised Comforter, is coming now upon the clouds of human consciousness and is bringing to remembrance all the things the Master Jesus said and taught his disciples when he was on earth.  Authors and spiritual teachers abound repeating almost verbatim his gospel of love, of compassion, of forgiveness and of thankfulness.    

Listen! The Comforter speaks in our hearts to our minds: “Be still and know that I AM , , , , and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  

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     I will continue with this provocative and essential consideration and meditation in my next post where I will share the powerful and pragmatic conclusion in a meditation on The Way of the Master.  I welcome your thoughts.                     

Anthony 

tpal70@gmail.com

¹The Gospel of Thomas, one of the Nag Hammadi texts later translated and annotated by Stevan Davies.

    

Kenosis, Self-Emptying Love — “The Jesus Trajectory”

“It was not love stored up but love utterly poured out that opened the gates to the Kingdom of Heaven.”  

Generosity of spirit is innate with everyone.  We are born to be givers.  This pandemic, along with hurricanes and wildfires, is bringing out the spirit of giving in us all, heralding in a new day and shaping a new world.  When I see it acted out in movies and news stories, I tear up with joy and longing for the return of generosity to our world.  A passage from my poet friend Don Hynes expresses what I feel today: 

   The old earth claws for purchase
   but the turning is profound,
   reaching from the furthest stars
   to the roots of trees,
   a new heaven poised beyond
   the horizon, beginning even now
   to shape the world anew.

This passage from Cynthia Bourgeault’s THE WISDOM JESUS touched a place in my heart of deep sadness for the state of the world mingled with profound love for this Man she honors and celebrates so exquisitely personal.  How little we know of his colorful character from the Four Gospels.  The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Mary Magdalene give us a taste of his more candid expressions, some rather blunt and thought provoking:  “Whoever is near me is near the fire. Whoever is far from me (the fire) is far from the Kingdom.”  He was no gentle lamb, nor a “sweet Jesus.”  His generosity of spirit still shines through his words and deeds recorded in the New Testament, all of which were written down four to five decades after his departure, all from oral traditions.  Yet they inspire and compel us to be better and do better than we have been and done heretofore—even to be ablaze with love as he was.  Cynthia introduces this passage with poetry by Rumi: 

Yet in the midst of suffering,
Love proceeds like a millstone,
hard-surfaced and straight forward.
Having died to self-interest,
she risks everything and asks for nothing.
Love gambles away every gift God bestows.

The Jesus Trajectory

The words above were written by the great Sufi mystic Jalallu­din Rumi.  But better than almost anything in Christian scripture, they closely describe the trajectory that Jesus himself followed in life. He certainly called us to dying to self, but his idea of dying to self was not through inner renunciation or guarding the purity of his being but through radically squandering everything he had and was. John the Baptist’s disciples were horrified because he banqueted, drank, and danced. The Pharisees were horrified because he healed on the Sabbath and kept company with women and disreputables, people known to be impure. Boundaries meant nothing to him; he walked right through them.

What seemed disconcerting to nearly everybody was the messy, freewheeling largeness of his spirit. Abundance and a generosity bordering on extravagant seemed to be the signa­tures of both his teaching and his personal style. We have already noted this in two of his parables, where the thing that sticks in people’s craws is in each case the display of a generosity beyond comprehension that it can only be perceived as unfair. But as we look further, that extravagance is everywhere. When he feeds the multitudes at the Sea of Galilee, there is not merely enough to go around; the leftovers fill twelve baskets.  When a woman anoints him with expensive ointment and the disciples grumble about the waste, he affirms, “Truly, I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her” (Matthew 26:I3). He seems not to count the cost; in fact, he specifically forbids count­ing the cost. “Do not store up treasures on earth,” he teaches; “do not strive or be afraid—for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke I2:32). All will come of its own accord in good time and with abundant fullness, so long as one does not attempt to hoard or cling.

It is a path he himself walked to the very end. In the gar­den of Gethsemane, with his betrayers and accusers massing at the gates, he struggled and anguished but remained true to his course. Do not hoard, do not cling—not even to life itself. Let it go, let it be-“Not my will but yours be done, 0 Lord.  Into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Thus he came and thus he went, giving himself fully into life and death, losing himself, squandering himself, “gambling away every gift God bestows.” It was not love stored up but love utterly poured out that opened the gates to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Over and over, Jesus lays this path before us. There is nothing to be renounced or resisted. Everything can be embraced, but the catch is to cling to nothing. You let it go. You go through life like a knife goes through a done cake, picking up nothing, clinging to nothing, sticking to nothing. And grounded in that fundamental chastity of your being, you can then throw yourself out, pour yourself out, being able to give it all back, even giving back life itself. That’s the kenotic path in a nutshell. Very, very simple. It only costs everything.

Now, I wouldn’t say that Jesus was the first or the only teach­er in the world ever to have opted for this more reckless and extravagant path, the kenotic way to full union. But it does seem that this was the first time such a teaching had ever been seen in the Near Eastern world, and along with its newness also came confusion. It was a concept so far ahead of its time that even Jesus’s closest disciples couldn’t quite stay with it. They’d catch it and they’d lose it. Paul catches it exactly in his beautiful kenotic hymn, then loses it in the long lists of rules and moral proscrip­tions that dominate his epistles. And as the church took shape as an institution, it could not exceed the wingspan of its first apos­tolic teachers; what they themselves did not fully understand, they could not hope to accurately transmit. Thus, as we will see in the next chapter, right from the start the radical simplicity of Jesus’s kenotic path tends to get roped back into the older and more familiar ascetic models, with a subtle but distinct disso­nance that we will be keeping our eyes on.

“It only costs everything.”  Cynthia’s words in this passage take me back half a century to the awakening phase of my spiritual transformation.  I was in my late twenties, just starting up my chiropractic practice in Denham Springs, Louisiana, eager to give my gift to the world and hungry for patients to serve. The going rate for an office visit back then was $15, up from $5 a decade earlier.  Even with such a low fee, however, I felt restricted and handcuffed by the tradition of a “fee for services.”  What price can one place on health? On life itself? Health is priceless and life is a gift freely given by God to all human beings. It didn’t feel honest for me to place a price tag on my services, so I dropped my fees altogether and placed my services on a “giving basis.”  This launched me into the most rewarding and enjoyable fourteen years of my entire career. (This was before the widely available use of credit cards and insurance coverage of Chiropractic care.)

This way of serving wasn’t original with me but was already being successfully modeled by Dr. William H. Bahan and his brother, Dr. Walter Bahan, up in Derry, NH, who were seeing upwards of a hundred patients a day.  I began attending his seminars and discovering that there were a number of chiropractors practicing on a giving basis. Six years into this new way of serving—called “GPC” for God Patient Chiropractor—I wrote an article for ONTOLOGICAL THOUGHT, a journal of The Ontological Society, while attending an Art of Living Class conducted by the Universal Institute of Applied Ontology (the art of being).  The article is entitled “How Do You Live, Doctor?”  I’ll share it in my next post. Until then,

Be love. Be loved. Be for-giving.

Anthony

tpal70@gmail.com

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