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Walk on the Water — How Many Popes Have Done It?

Walk on the Water: Did this pope, John Paul II ever walk on the water?
Pope John Paul II in Brazil, 1997. Did he ever walk on the water?

Two thousand years ago, several men set out in a small boat to cross the Sea of Galilee and ran into what they thought was a bit of bad luck, for their boat was not storm-worthy. What happened next became one of the most important stories of humanity’s history.

Though in his lifetime, Peter held no such position, the Catholic Church counts him as their first pope. After all, he had been given the name “Peter,” from the Greek for “rock,” because the founder of Christianity had said that upon this rock he would build his church. Sounds like something a cult leader would say. Some cult! Close to one third the population of Earth has been counted as members of that once tiny church.

Part of the story of Christianity is the miracles. Arguably, they were every bit as important as the self-sacrifice given to us by that founder. Why? They were not meant as a PR trick to dazzle the masses, though perhaps they did have that effect at times. They were meant as an inspiration for us to change our point-of-view.

I’m not talking about cult mental programming, here. I’m talking about moving the center of consciousness from the false, mortal self to the true, immortal self. And what the heck does that mean? Glad you asked. Humans have a dual identity, sort of like Clark Kent and Superman, only better. Genesis 1:26 says that Man was created in God’s image. If the image of God is that of a non-physical, spiritual and immortal source of creation, then we are inherently non-physical, spiritual and immortal sources of creation. Yep, baby gods! And even Jesus had to remind his enemies of this. It’s not an easy concept to swallow. They were about to stone the Nazarene for blasphemy, but reminding his enemies that the Bible says, “ye are gods,” stayed their hands.

Do we each have the ability to walk on the water?

Dual identity? So, where is this other part of Man? Genesis 2:7 says that Man was created again, but this time from the dust of the ground. Dust is primitive code for physical matter or ordinary chemicals. We’re talking about Homo sapiens, but that’s not the totality of this other part. The contrast is striking—a non-physical, immortal half and a very physical, mortal half. There is another physical component, though intangible, which is every bit as important as the physical body. This is the ego, the center of the false, mortal self, mentioned earlier. When you feel rage or fear, this is ego talking. Ego likes to be right, and feels injured if made to feel wrong. Ego is subject to the same laws of the physical realm obeyed by the physical body. Ego is vulnerable.

When someone lives in the spirit, they are viewing the world from the point-of-view of their true self—the invulnerable immortal. From this point-of-view springs such things as inspiration, true and full forgiveness, and the creation of what the uninitiated would call “miracles.” This point-of-view exists in the realm of creation.

An interesting parallel can be found in the world of computer programming. A bit of code cannot break the laws of the machine. A computer program cannot control devices to which it is not attached—say the apple sitting next to your keyboard. Oh, I guess a piece of fruit is not a device, not in the computer programming sense.

You can’t break the rules of the Matrix, unless your name is Neo, of course. In the second film of the Matrix trilogy, Neo finds that his powers of control extend outside of the Matrix. He manipulates not only the code of the Matrix computer program, but also the code of physical reality. He finds that he can bring down the enemy in the real world by thought alone.

No purely physical object can break the laws of physical reality. A cog in the machine cannot redesign the machine. Our physical bodies cannot create miracles. Only something superior to the physical can do such a thing. Only a child of God—a spiritual and immortal source of creation.

Walk on the Water: Christ shows Peter and the rest that they can walk on the water.
This painting by Amédée Varint shows Christ walking on the water of the storm-tossed Sea of Galilee.

When Peter and his fellow disciples find themselves in a storm-tossed boat, they fear for their lives. Their mentor had remained behind to take care of some business, but when he shows up, they think they’re witnessing a ghost. Why? Because he is walking on water, and not just any water. It’s storm-tossed water.

The scientist who suggested that Jesus was walking on a block of ice must not believe that miracles are possible. Also, he did not read the story very carefully. It would be a miracle to push a block of ice across the sea toward the small boat, and another miracle to stay balanced on the slippery devil amidst the rocking waves. Plus, it would be an additional miracle to bring along another block of ice for Peter to step on. No, there was no ice. The miracle was walking on liquid water when the laws of physical reality say that such things are impossible.

Peter asked this ghost, “If you’re really our master, tell me to come out onto the water with you.”

Walk on the Water: Can Pope Francis walk on the water?
Can the new Pope Francis walk on the water? Photo: Casa Rosada (CC BY-SA 2.0), via Wikipedia.org.

The reply, “Come,” left Peter with a momentary lapse in reasonable judgment. And that was a good thing. But don’t get me wrong. Reason is a good thing, too, within reason. The next moment, Peter stepped out of the small boat, and walked on water with his master. For that moment, his faith was complete. He was not living in the ego—the fearful, vulnerable self. He was outside of himself and in his true self—the fearless, invulnerable self.

Living in the ego is too familiar, too well practiced. It takes time, patience and persistence to cultivate living in the true self. Like a baby learning to walk, you pick yourself up and keep going.

Later, Jesus sent his followers out to perform miracles and to get others to perform miracles. It’s sad that so many people today feel such miracles are impossible or only for that ancient time, two thousand years ago. One Christian minister, on his website, advises that Jesus did not mean it literally when he said that we could do the miracles he did and even greater ones. Obviously, that minister has never created a miracle, otherwise he wouldn’t say such a thing.

Many people have created miracles, some every bit as awe inspiring as Peter walking on water, or Moses parting the sea. I speak from personal experience.

Jesus lifting Peter after he had walked on water for a moment.
Shortly after Peter stepped out of the boat and stood on the water, before doubt set in. Painting by François Boucher (PD), via Wikipedia.org.

Creating is effortless. However, finding one’s self in the spirit is something that happens far too infrequently, for some of us. It takes practice. Abandoning reason can look like delusion, but it can also be transcendent. I’m not talking about the same thing. Delusion and being in the spirit are on opposite ends of a very broad spectrum. Despite their apparent similarities, they are worlds apart.

When Peter walked on water, he found himself in that other world—no longer viewing reality from the mortal ego, but from the immortal, true self. He created a miracle by his faith—a combination of perfect confidence and perfect humility (or subjugation of the ego). How many popes have ever achieved this? Perhaps only God knows. From all I’ve ever read, Peter was the only pope to have walked on water. Perhaps it is time that changed.

How can anyone walk on the water? How are miracles possible? Any ideas?

This article was published earlier as “How Many Popes have Shown They Can Walk on the Water?” 2013:0616 on https://www.the-love-of-god.com/blog/ and originally published as “How Many Popes have Walked on Water?” 2010:0410 on Blog.AncientSuns.com

For the Love of Israel

Love of Israel: Westernwall
Jerusalem, western wall and Dome of the Rock. Photo: Golasso (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Wikipedia.org.

There are 2 Israels—the nation and the path. One day, the two will become one.

Currently, Israel the nation is very distant from the path. The nation is acting like a spoiled and selfish little brat. The nation is doing the “logical” thing, because so many want to harm the nation, but it is not doing the loving thing. The nation is not living up to its name.

In the Bible, it said that those who are against Israel will suffer greatly. Right now, the nation is against Israel and continues to suffer greatly. How is this possible?

What does Israel mean? It means yashar+El—the path to God. And since God is love, then Israel means the path to Love.

Is Israel the nation treating Palestinians with love? Is it treating Arabs with love? Sadly, no.

Not long ago, I saw a picture of Israeli girls signing their names to bombs to drop on their Arab neighbors. This is not love. This is Israel opposing itself—opposing the very foundation of its meaning.

Love of Israel: Cartoon of War. Monger Obama wearing his Nobel Peace Prize.
Obama had no love of Israel as president. After winning the Nobel Peace Prize, this intellectual giant went on a war-mongering rampage. Drawing courtesy Carlos Latuff, used with permission.

President Obama has repeatedly made it clear that he is not a Christian and not a friend to Israel. He has mocked the notion of turning the other cheek, showing that he has zero understanding of its meaning. President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize before he did anything as president, and then extended both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars before attacking Libya, then assaulting several nations with drone attacks, and then threatening Syria and Iran. This shows that there are many things going on that are not logical. Obama is a puppet dancing to someone else’s tune. And so is the Nobel committee.

But Israel is not following God. Not yet. When it tears down Palestinian homes and gives the land to Jews to build their own homes, they are hating the path to God. They are not heeding the lessons of the past when their own arrogance against Love had led to their destruction and dispersal.

Israel, the nation, will learn the path to God. It must. That remains its destiny. How much must it suffer before it discovers this? All suffering could end if only they were to put the love of others first.

The people of Israel, the nation, must embrace the old law—that of mutual responsibility, mutual love, humility and fearless confidence, instead of the current fear that drives them to blame, to hate, to arrogance, and to fearful uncertainty. When Israel finds love, they will be leading the world by example.

 This is the discovery Israel the nation must make. This is when the 2 Israels will become one.

This article was originally published 2015:0412 on The-Love-Of-God.com.

Bridging Science and Religion — Finding a Common Ground

This article is inspired by the work of the late Sir John Templeton, and the Templeton Foundation, in bridging the gap between science and religion. Their work stands as a beacon of sanity and clarity in an increasingly divisive world.

 

The relationship between science and religion is inherently simple and profound. Both of them seek answers.

Comparing Science and Religion

Science and Religion: Science and Religion on Stars in the Heavens.
Science and Religion on Stars in the Heavens. ESA (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikipedia.org.

Religion, in its purest form, covers the realm of creation. This includes acts of creation, their sources, plus the phenomena of inspiration, forgiveness and miracles. Science studies the products of creation. Both religion and science are complementary activities. Between them, they cover the bulk of existence.

Both realms can benefit from logic and critical thinking. And both can suffer from bias and fixed ideas.

The realm of science is one of continuity, typically referred to as “nature” or “reality.” Time and space are necessarily continuous in nature. The cause-and-effect aspect of physical reality is also continuous.

The realm of religion, or spirituality, is one of discontinuity. We see this discontinuous aspect in creation, where things which once had no existence, come to possess existence. We see it also in forgiveness, where self breaks the continuity which binds one to the seeds of resentment. We see this discontinuity in miracles, where the normal laws of nature are interrupted by a source of creation.

Science can only hold the logical high ground when it remains intellectually pure. Religion can only hold the moral high ground when it remains spiritually pure.

Polluting Science and Religion

Science and Religion: Buddhist priest meditating at Watkungtaphao
Buddhist priest meditating at Watkungtaphao. Photo: Tevaprapas Makklay (CC BY 3.0), via Wikipedia.org.

So, how can this purity be jeopardized? People remain quite attached to their viewpoints. Because of this, discussion proves to be difficult for some. Before we discuss this highly-charged topic, we need to define some terms.

First of all, the heart of selfishness is described in Buddhism as “ego.” This is not the term of Western psychology. Selfishness is, by its nature, a state of separateness and frequently holds its own viewpoint as superior to those of others. That hubris creates an immediate barrier to discovery. This manifests itself as an “I know better” attitude, or even worse, the viewpoint that “I know it all.”

This attitude also manifests itself as dismissiveness of other ideas, frequently without a thorough investigation. And one person’s “thorough” may miss another person’s entire worldview.

Ego is the proverbial “full cup,” where learning anything new becomes impossible. And yet, each person may possess many cups—many full, and a few partially empty.

The Full Cup of Science and Religion Cannot Receive New Things

Scientists, like Hawking, have a preference not to consider a Creator. Their cup of creation is full on the subject of a conscious or intelligent source. “Gravity is source,” they might say, but they miss the fact that gravity does not create the force of gravity, or the space, time and energy of which gravity itself is composed.

The realm of creation has none of these in manifest form—gravity, space, time, energy or mass. Creation stands apart from these things and is not made of them. The things of creation are thus superior to these and are thus permanent.

Religious fundamentalists insist that their interpretation of holy scripture is Truth. When asked about their viewpoint, they insist that it is not interpretation, but that of the Holy Work, itself. To question their interpretation is to question the Holy Work. But with so many conflicting interpretations, there can only be one correct interpretation—one or none!

It remains quite possible that all interpretations of sacred scripture are wrong.

Progress in Science and Religion

Science and Religion: Einstein in 1921.
Einstein in 1921. Photo: Ferdinand Schmutzer (PD), via Wikipedia.org.

In science, as in religion, different beliefs or theories can exist at various levels of right or wrong on an absolute scale. Because of this, awareness of greater truths requires the “empty cup” of humility.

Newton’s laws of motion were only slightly wrong and had to wait roughly two hundred years to find their improvement in Einstein’s Relativity. The Laws of Moses were relatively “perfect” for their time, but found improvement in Christ’s sacrifice—a message to us all to give up the ego and to remain separate no more.

A Closer Look at the Barriers in Science and Religion

Some fundamentalist Christians adhere to an interpretation that the universe is very young and that Noah’s Flood occurred about 2348 BC, or some similar date given by Archbishop Ussher, Sir Isaac Newton or any of a number of other 17th century scholars. They ignore the modern findings of science. And, because science has done an exceptional job mapping out the details of reality, by ignoring science, the fundamentalists are tacitly ignoring reality. This is one way of describing “delusion.” The cure for that delusion is the humility mentioned by all of the great spiritual leaders.

Many scientists, on the other hand, adhere to the notion that the laws of physical reality are immutable, and that miracles, such as creation, are impossible. Scientists once thought that the positions of the stars were immutable, but thankfully Sir Edmond Halley had the humility to question that fixed idea.

Why “Science” Does Not Get “Religion”

There is a very basic reason why science does so miserably with the study of miracles and other things they might categorize as “paranormal.”

Science holds a major stumbling block, besides the unsupported dismissiveness many wield like a sword. That stumbling block remains invisible to scientists, because it is the paradigm they use for all investigation.

Imagine a scientist investigating the nature of combustion and flame. Now, imagine their frustration when every time they begin an experiment, they cleanse everything with a liberal dousing of water. Despite following the recommendations of the Holy Priests of “Flame,” the scientist is never able to duplicate the phenomenon. In disgust, the scientist pronounces the phenomenon to be a hoax or the immature interpretation of some other phenomenon.

Now, imagine a scientist studying some paranormal phenomenon, such as telepathy, telekinesis or precognition. They approach the topic as any good scientist knows they should, with skepticism. The problem is that skepticism is the water that douses the flame of faith. Why? Because skepticism, even in its most benign form, contains the potent bias of doubt.

Some scientists go further than simple skepticism. They add “dismissal” or even “ridicule” to their approach. No wonder they’re not successful. They’ve already decided that such an experiment will fail. Faith in failure can be every bit as powerful as faith in success.

The Meaning of Faith

Science and Religion: Jesus walking on water.
Jesus walking on water and rescuing Peter after his moment of doubt. Painting: Ivan Aivazovsky (PD), via Wikipedia.org.

There are many definitions of “faith,” but the one definition we need to use, here, does not exist in the dictionary. That definition is implied in stories of miracles—like that of Peter walking on water before his master. That miracle lasted only a moment, when he forgot reason and held perfect, 100% confidence. When doubt returned, Peter promptly sank.

Such a state of “faith” can be described as 100% or “perfect” confidence. It is like the Buddhist “paramitas”—perfections without any room for their dichotomous opposites.

A Flaw of Bias

Skepticism is the wrong method for any investigation. For a scientist fully acclimated to the use of skepticism, such a pronouncement may seem scientific heresy. But before judging the idea, let us examine it a bit more carefully.

Doubt, as that found in skepticism, is clearly a form of bias, and yet Scientific Method warns against using bias of any kind. Doubt usually has minimal effect on the study of existing physical laws, because such bias is in favor of the persistence of the status quo—existing physical law. But such bias does have an effect, especially when uncritical application of skepticism descends into its more subjective forms—like unsupported dismissiveness and self-indulgent ridicule.

Such bias is not limited to science alone. Religious believers can be just as skeptical—just as biased.

The more benign form of skepticism resembles humility and restraint. In fact, these two attitudes could be a powerful replacement for skepticism, but without the burdens of doubt, and without the danger of skepticism’s darker forms.

Moving Beyond Ego in Science and Religion

One other problem with skepticism, whether used in science or religious inquiry, is that ego too easily comes into play. Why is ego so bad? The reason is simple. Ego stands apart and declares self and its beliefs to be superior.

The danger of ego is that it blinds one to new facts. This was evident in the ridicule received by NASA scientists when they announced what looked like arsenic-friendly microbes. This was evident in the ridicule received by Pons and Fleischmann after they announced cold fusion. And further evidence of ego’s damaging effects can be found in American anthropology in defense of the “Clovis first” dogma.

Yehoshua of Nazareth stirred up the ego of the high priests and it blinded them to the gift they had before them.

Ego divides and separates. In fact, every apparent division between science and religion can be traced back to ego. Take ego out of the equation and we are left with only two complementary fields of study—one engaged with the products of creation and their various states of continuity, and the other engaged with that other side of existence—the sources of creation and their effects of a discontinuous nature.

When we give up ego, we can once again return to the child-like awe we once held about all matters of discovery, in science and religion, but also in all of life.

 What breakthroughs have you experienced with the use of humility?

This article was originally published 2013:0826 on http://The-Love-Of-God.com.

Turning the Other Cheek — What it Really Means

Turning the other cheek is an act of love, like this Sri Lankan woman and child
Sri Lankan woman and child. Turning the other cheek is an act of love. Photo: Steve Evans, CC BY 2.0, via Wikipedia.org

Turning the other cheek is not some masochistic desire to hurt yourself. And it’s not a game of one-upmanship to show that you can be the better person. No, both of these purposes are earthly, egotistical concerns.

The idea of “turning the other cheek” contains many ingredients. The first of these is love.

Turning the Other Cheek is an Act of Unconditional Love

The real meaning of turning the other cheek is a spiritual one. It is one of turning the other cheek—giving up your importance of physical things. “You want to hurt this cheek? No problem. And here’s the other one, too.” And this is not said in a flippant manner, but with complete and unconditional love.

In fact, “importances” get in the way of love. Jealousy is a perfect example. A spouse’s preconceived notion for how their partner should behave will create negative emotions, like jealousy, to the degree that those notions are perceived as “important.”

A prized possession, donated or tossed in the garbage by your significant other, can lead to a shouting match because the lost object is judged as “important.”

If you judge anything as “important,” then you make yourself vulnerable should that thing be damaged or stolen—if anything should happen to it that broke your plans or expectations for it. In fact, holding onto your plans and expectations also makes you vulnerable, for they can be taken from you, as well.

Turning the other cheek is entirely unselfish.

The opposite of this idea was portrayed in the movie, “The Usual Suspects,” when fictional character, Keyser Söze, is confronted by criminals holding his family hostage. Instead of remaining vulnerable, Keyser Söze kills his own family members and regains the advantage in the hostage situation. What makes this entirely different is Keyser Söze’s unmitigated selfishness. He gave up his family’s “importance,” but he did it for his own, physical advantage. In other words, he still held his physical self as “important”—more important than the lives of his wife and children.

And that brings us to the next ingredient.

Turning the Other Cheek is an Act of Humility

Turning the other cheek: Includes humility, like that of a child holding onto an adult.
Turning the other cheek includes humility, like that of a child holding onto an adult. Photo: singhajay, used with permission, via Morguefile.com

Some people look at humility as a condition of weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Because humility sometimes looks similar to groveling, it’s easy to get them confused, but they are worlds apart. Humility is the strongest possible position, spiritually, while groveling is a position of weakness both spiritually and physically.

Groveling is entirely selfish—attempting to protect the self by “kissing up” or attempting to pacify someone stronger than yourself. Some may do this when their lives are in jeopardy or the lives of people they love.

Turning the other cheek when your loved ones are in danger from murderers is not a callous, uncaring act. It is the most supreme act of love. In that state of spiritual bliss, you have the power to ask God for safety.

It is an Act of Fearlessness

Turning the Other Cheek: Contains a similar fearlessness.
68th Special Forces paratrooper leaps from C-130J Hercules cargo plane. Turning the other cheek contains a similar fearlessness. Photo: MSgt Quinton T. Burris, USAF, PD, via Wikipedia.org

I remember reading the story of a skydiver who suffered a double failure of his parachutes. He hit the ground at better than a hundred miles per hour. And yet, he walked away with a few scratches and bruises. On the way down, he thought to himself, “God, it looks like I’m coming to meet you.” In other words, he gave up his entire life and gave it to God. He was humble. Within those thoughts were the feelings of “reverence for life,” but not holding any importance on those feelings. He was humble to whatever God would decide, and he was entirely fearless. Then a miracle happened.

I also remember my late father telling me the story of a time when he was a teenager. He got out of his car and accidentally bumped into someone on the sidewalk. The man was nearly twice my father’s weight and quite muscular. He was also quite angry at the unintended assault. Quickly, he pulled back his fist to strike my father.

At this, my father thought to himself, “Well, it looks like I’m a goner.” Instead of flinching, my father merely relaxed and waited for the inevitable. There was no defeatist attitude and no groveling. He merely stood his ground and calmly accepted the “gift” the other man had intended for him. But the man’s fist lost its momentum and dropped to his side. One look at my father and he could no longer hold onto his anger. He simply turned and left.

The Real Meaning of Turning the Other Cheek

Turning the Other Cheek: Soldier holding another in fireman's carry. Turning the other cheek includes such generosity.
Soldier holding another in fireman’s carry. Turning the other cheek includes such generosity. Photo: Rools, used by permission, via Morguefile.com

Turning the other cheek is a spiritual act of unconditional love and humble fearlessness to any of the possible consequences of the intended assault.

With such spiritual invulnerability, you can no longer be a victim. With this, you remove any possible resentment that could turn you into a perpetrator. And with the “turning the other cheek” attitude, you become far bigger than any problem.

Like the old saying, if someone compels you to walk a mile, walk an extra mile. Give them more than they asked for. During the Roman Empire, citizens were required to help Roman soldiers carry their equipment for up to a mile. Here the suggestion is to give them two miles. Instead of thinking of the Roman soldier as an enemy, think of them as a dearly beloved brother or fellow soldier. Don’t think of the request as a burden, but as an opportunity to display even more love. Isn’t that what Christ would have us to do?”

What other ingredients do you find in “turning the other cheek?”

This article was originally published 2013:0223 on And-The-Pursuit-Of-Happiness.com.

Spiritual Answers in a Physical World — Nature vs. Spirit

Why talk of spiritual answers in a physical world? Recently, I saw a video interview with neurosurgeon and author, Eben Alexander, M.D., about his book, Proof of Heaven, A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife.

In case you’re interested, here it is:


In it, Dr. Alexander challenges his own prior worldview, discussing the fine points of an experience which is rich in details and thoroughly unbelievable to a secular scientist or naturalist. Dr. Alexander gives spiritual answers for something that baffled his understanding of how the mind and the brain work.

Dr. Alexander’s brain had shut down, according to him. During that time, he experienced a journey to a spiritual realm—to heaven itself.

Is Science Against Spiritual Answers?

The video intrigued me so much, I searched for more information on Dr. Alexander, his background and his new book. The Wikipedia article caught my eye, particularly the skepticism of the doctor’s critics.

Sam Harris, also a neuroscientist, “found his account ‘alarmingly unscientific’.”

Wikipedia goes on to say,

“Neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks agreed with Harris, saying that ‘to deny the possibility of any natural explanation for an NDE [near-death experience], as Dr. Alexander does, is more than unscientific — it is antiscientific.’”

 

What Sacks says is particularly revealing about a prevalent, but ignored bias in science. Yes, bias. Say Dr. Alexander allows for the possibility of a “natural” explanation. Would Mr. Sacks allow for the possibility of a spiritual one? Probably not, because spiritual answers wouldn’t be “scientific.” Or would they?

How could Mr. Sacks explain Moses parting the sea, or Jesus and his disciple, Peter, walking on water? Don’t believe in miracles? I’ve seen similar miracles in my own lifetime. To me, the only explanations would be spiritual answers instead of “natural” ones.

What if the truth is that Dr. Alexander’s experience was entirely spiritual and not physical. What if all attempts at achieving a “natural” answer are inherently futile? Would that mean that science is impotent in some areas?

I grew up with logic and mathematics. While others were good in sports or music, I thrived on advanced algebra and trigonometry. But logic and mathematics are not the answer to everything.

It may be logical to hold a grudge when someone murders your closest family members, but forgiveness is a superior position. Resentment is a ball-and-chain that traps you in the past. Forgiveness sets you free.

Why is it Important to Protect Spiritual Answers?

Spiritual Answers: Clouds
Clouds sometimes symbolize spirit and spiritual answers. Photo: by Jessie Eastland (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Not everyone has the right spiritual answers. In fact, it’s quite possible that all interpretations of spiritual answers are wrong. Just look at how many denominations Christianity has. Even Judaism has its sects with opposing viewpoints.

More than protecting spiritual answers from a secular world, it’s also important to protect our freedom to pursue spiritual answers from the overtly religious who might otherwise force their worldview on others.

The world is becoming increasingly polarized and divided. That’s not a good thing.

There are many concerns we each share with our fellow human beings. That should be enough to keep us together, moving toward a common goal of understanding, freedom and responsibility. But forces are at work in our society that are actively dividing us—secularists vs. the religious, fundamentalists vs. new agers, Democrats vs. Republicans, and more.

Increasingly, we find people using hateful language like, “religion is the source of all evil.” And I thought it was supposed to be “money.” In the final analysis, it seems that every endeavor of man has the potential for evil—not just religion or banking. The root of all evil is selfishness—ego. Ego is right and everyone else is wrong. Ego is entitled to government handouts, but no one else is entitled. Ego is “patriotic,” but unwilling to defend liberty itself.

Only spiritual answers can solve our problems, because the source of all our problems is the antithesis of spirit—ego.

Scientists who are also naturalists, use ego rather than logic, when they condemn spiritual answers or refuse to accept them as a possibility. Science works quite well in a created world, just as it does in a naturalist’s world. But the things of spirit are lost in the world of cogs and wheels. Miracles are impossible in an entirely deterministic realm. But I’ve seen dozens of miracles. I wouldn’t want to lose the freedom to pursue spiritual answers. I wouldn’t want to put intolerant naturalists in charge of deciding what’s wrong and what’s right. We need to protect spiritual answers as well as scientific ones. I don’t like the idea of a biblical literalist deciding what goes into our science textbooks.

I think free speech is a good thing. America used to have it, but U.S. legislation has become increasingly tyrannical—the unpatriotic “Patriot Act,” the NDAA (with its indefinite detention clauses for American citizens), HR 347 (which makes free speech a felony in some instances), and the president’s “Kill List” which includes American citizens on it. American Congress has repeatedly attempted to censor the Internet with bills like SOPA, PIPA, CISPA, TPP and others.

What are your thoughts if someone were to impose their viewpoint on you? What if the government banned your worldview and made it illegal?

This article was originally published 2013:0501 on And-The-Pursuit-Of-Happiness.com.

Miracles — God Wants Us to Be Active, Not Passive

Miracles: Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount
Jesus and the sermon on the mount. He taught us not only how to love, but also how to do miracles. Artwork: Carl Heinrich Bloch (PD), via Wikipedia.org.

Miracles are not merely something that happened long ago in the past and cannot occur in our modern world. Anyone who tries to tell you this is lying or speaking from ignorance.

Nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus told us that we can do the miracles he did and even greater. He sent out his disciples to do exactly that. Jesus never came back to tell us to stop performing miracles. We need to do as Jesus did—perform miracles to the glory of God. And he did a great many miracles: raising the dead, healing lepers, healing the blind, healing the sick, healing the crippled, healing the insane, turning water into wine, feeding thousands with very little, walking on water and even calming a storm.

I just watched a YouTube video by Sid Roth where his guest related a lifetime of miracles, healing all manner of ailments, including restoring missing limbs and her own missing upper lip.

 

I have experienced numerous miracles in my own lifetime. What I had not realized, until today, is that I was going about it all wrong. I was waiting for inspiration to strike me.

Inspiration can be good, but if we don’t take it up and do something with it, we are being lazy. God wants us to be active with His gifts, not passive. After more than 50 years of experiencing miracles, I finally figured this out! Okay, so I’m a bit slow. But I love the fact that I finally woke up.

Misconceptions About Miracles

One of the chief misconceptions about miracles is that they ceased after the founding of the Christian church. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some Christians believe that “signs and wonders have passed away.” This is a belief called “Cessationism.” Some believe that we are not worthy of miracles. Others believe that God made it a temporary blessing in order to allow the church to be built, but then withdrew that blessing. Sorry, no. This are false ideas.

Miracles have continued. They never stopped. And those who do not believe in them merely have not experienced them or have not asked for them with sufficient faith. You need to throw yourself at miracles fearlessly. Hold nothing back. Show the same enthusiasm for miracles that King David showed for the Heavenly Father. Be excited about the love and generosity you can share with others through miracles.

I remember reading on one Christian pastor’s website that he believed Jesus did not mean what he said—at least not literally. He said that the strength in numbers of Christians allow them to do, as a whole, things that would be considered a miracle for an individual to do. I find this to be a cop out. Having faith in numbers is like having faith in physical reality. That takes no faith at all. That’s laziness. That’s passive.

 My Own Experience with Miracles

Miracles: Monahans Sandhills
Sandhills near Monahans, Texas, near where I lived as a child and experienced my first miracles. Photo: Wing-Chi Poon (CC BY-SA 3.0), via Wikipedia.org.

My earliest experience with miracles didn’t look like much, even to me. I did have some doubts after they happened, but I also felt buoyed by them—uplifted. On a hot, West Texas day, I would whistle up the wind to cool me off. Sometimes it didn’t work as well as I would have liked, but it worked often enough to let me know I was on the right track.

When I was 8, while visiting a 13-year-old cousin who lived in Laredo, Texas, I asked him if he believed in God. He told me that he didn’t. I don’t know why I said what I did, but I told him the he would not be able to climb to the top of his own backyard playground equipment—a “jungle gym” set made of metal pipe. He laughed softly, certain that he could master his own equipment, but then he found he couldn’t. He kept slipping. After the third time, he looked at me somewhat spooked and I reassured him that if he believed in God, he could reach the top. He nodded dumbly, accepting his new belief and promptly climbed to the top without slipping. I later related this story to my Southern Baptist minister grandfather to his perplexed chagrin.

In 1973, I had a revelation about the nature of creation. I had been studying comparative religion—not only Christianity, but Scientology and Buddhism. At that moment, I suddenly understood the relationship between the 6 days in Genesis 1 and God’s day of rest. I understood how the “resting” was an essential part of creation. Without it, a creation would not have the dimension of time, and those who might witness it, would no longer see it when that moment slipped into the past. God’s day of rest make manifestation of His creation possible.

Miracles: Miracles can affect conversations, too.
Any conversation can be interrupted. I’ve seen dozens of instances where “vapor lock” of the brain gave way to miracles. Photo: Beatrice Murch (CC BY 2.0), via Wikipedia.org.

With this understanding, I immediately wanted to try it out. I felt all flush with confidence. The spirit bubbled up within me. We had in our home a fluorescent light bulb which sometimes did not turn on. Flick the switch and the light seemed to have a mind of its own. This time, I communicated with the entire circuit, from switch to electrical ballast. I then turned on the light switch, and then proceeded to reach for the toothpaste and my toothbrush, relishing, in my mind, the joy of cleaning my teeth. The instant I felt the thought move from my conscious awareness to my subconscious feeling (resting from the prayer), the light came on—not a fraction of a second before or after.

Such instantaneity would follow my experiences with miracles for the next several decades. Many of those miracles involved helping people remember where they had left off in a conversation. After an interruption (knock at the door, phone call or the like), I would merely get the picture of pleasant surprise on their face and then give that picture to God with full expectation that it was already done. The instant the picture left my conscious awareness, the person brightened up. This occurred dozens of times over the years.

Miracle on Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles

I’ve also experienced miracles in traffic. Naturally, a skeptic would say that one or two cars turning out of the lane ahead of you don’t amount to much of a miracle. But how about several hundred, all within a few short seconds and during the thick of rush hour? I had spent several minutes with building frustration over the slowness and danger of traffic.

Six times within two minutes, half a dozen different cars pulled into the tiny space in front of my own, threatening collision. Quick thinking and good brakes prevented any mishap, but each time added to my growing rage—except the last one.

Suddenly, I let go of the frustration. In fact, I took perfect responsibility for not only my own feelings, but also the actions of others that seemingly contributed to them. And, just as suddenly, I went from rage to bliss. That, in itself, was a miracle. Negative feelings usually don’t turn off so suddenly, but perhaps that’s only because we don’t take responsibility for them.

Traffic remained thick and sluggish, but now I didn’t care about getting to my destination any faster. It was perfectly okay. I felt humbled by all this. I also felt an abiding love for all of the drivers around me, including the 6 who had cut me off. I adored them and forgave them. Their trespass was forgotten—quite literally for 34 years.

The next moment, in a light sense of curiosity and fun, I considered “smooth sailing all the way to my destination,” and gave the mental image to God. Voilà! That’s all it took.

The next instant, the 6 cars that had cut me off were the first to move into the already crowded lanes left and right. Within 5 seconds, 2 miles of Wilshire Boulevard were cleared in the center lane, while the lanes left and right remained impossibly and doubly thick with traffic.

For 3 decades, I rarely mentioned this miracle. But then it seemed important that I take this light out from under its bushel.

Peter versus Jesus

Miracles: Jesus walking on water and rescuing Peter after his moment of doubt.
Miracle: Jesus walking on water and rescuing Peter after his moment of doubt. Painting: Ivan Aivazovsky (PD), via Wikipedia.org.

When Peter walked on water, he may only have taken a few steps, but it truly was a miracle. He had left reason and all reasonableness behind. For those few moments, he was no more an “I can’t” kind of guy. He did not let reason or experience stand in his way. But then doubt returned and he promptly sank. He was being passive. He allowed the inspiration of the moment to boost his spirit to the level of miracles.

Jesus, on the other hand, had walked the long distance from the shore to where the disciples’ boat was being assaulted by the storm’s waves. His faith did not waver. He was actively creating it from moment-to-moment.

The nature of “nature” is that it is passive. It continues to persist with its continuity, from moment-to-moment, because God rested from His creation. But we need to follow God; not the passivity of physical reality. We need to remain active. We need to be of spirit constantly; not for only a few moments of inspiration. Certainly, we can have the faith to move mountains, but we should maintain that faith while the mountain is being moved, lest we drop it on someone’s head.

Three and a half years ago, I asked the then current Pope how many popes have walked on water. By my own estimation, only one “pope,” but Peter had never considered himself by that title. Sad that no other popes have risen to the level of miracle worker.

What miracles have you experienced?

This article was originally published 2013:0928 on The-Love-Of-God.com.

Is Biblical Literalism an Abomination?

Biblical Literalism: not as humble as this Afghan beggar
Humility of an Afghan girl begging. Biblical literalism isn’t this–not even close. Photo: Evstafiev (CC BY-3.0), via Wikipedia.org.

It pains me to startle my brethren with such a strong question, but it needs to be asked.

Too many are taking the Bible literally and missing the spirit of its meaning.

Consider these two points:

  • The literal is the easy way to interpret. Easy means lazy. How much does God value laziness?
  • How many reading this know the mind of God in its entirety? None, I would dare say, but you wouldn’t know that the way “interpretation” is treated as equivalent to Truth, by many, if not all, biblical literalists. Confusing faith in God with faith in one’s own beliefs can be a source of arrogance. How much does God value arrogance?

We must each remain humble and hungry for answers, because we don’t know everything of God’s Truth.

I have discovered things hidden in the Bible that should shake the world to its foundations. Are they true and accurate? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But they answer a great many questions I’ve had for the last six decades.

Biblical Literalism: Is not working hard like these Marines digging post holes
USMC soldiers digging post holes. Biblical literalism misses the hard work of “digging with purpose.” Photo: Pfc. Mark W. Stroud, USMC (PD), via Wikipedia.org.

I had one biblical scholar cut me off and refuse to communicate with me, because he didn’t believe anything was hidden in the Bible. He believed that everything in the Bible is open and easy to interpret. He didn’t allow me to question this viewpoint of his. He didn’t allow me to point out that Christ didn’t make it easy for his listeners. Jesus used parables that frequently confounded his listeners. His stories required deep thinking and humility in order to see the true spirit of what was being said. Nothing in Christ’s parables was to be taken literally. So, why would the scholar insist that Jesus believed the Bible should be taken literally? Evidence shows otherwise.

God values humility and hard work. By work, an individual comes to appreciate the answers they find. With humility answers are possible. But scholars who think they have it all figured out, have no room for answers. Jesus had this problem with the scholars of his time.

We find in 2 Corinthians 3:6, a warning against taking things literally. The letter (literal) leads to death. Only the spirit of scripture leads to life. The literal is only the starting point—a guidepost for where to dig. Most people don’t dig for the spirit, but rely on quick and easy answers. They rely on sound bites. They crave instant gratification in this MTV, fast-food world. Yes, even in scripture.

Sailor reading his Bible before battle.
WW2 sailor, STM2/c James Lee Frazer finds time to read the Bible on the night before the opening strike of a raid on Manila Bay, January 9, 1945. Photo: US Navy (PD), via Wikipedia.org.

But this modern world has given us an incredible opportunity. So many of us now have the ability to read, unlike so many dozens of centuries before now. We have printing and the Internet to help us explore and to learn the possible meanings of things.

Too many don’t want to take the time. They’re too busy with their own lives. They want someone else to package the meaning for them and to spoon feed them with things they can understand in the context of their own experience. They don’t want to have to reshape their own belief systems. That would require work. And when the path to Truth requires that one continually reshape one’s belief system, too many find this more work than they are willing to consider. The path becomes too narrow—too difficult.

But if you love Truth, you would continue to hunger for more and more of it. You would not let any barrier stand in your way of achieving it—not even the peer pressure of others.

This article was originally published 2015:1218 on RodMartinJr.com.