Genesis Chapter 3: The Allegory of the Serpent Ego

by Joshua Tilghman on April 23, 2016

serpent on a treeDid God, as an outside agent, create man? Or is there scriptural evidence suggesting that man is an integral part of who God is? In other words, are God and man somehow eternally linked? Are they ONE?

A recent discussion with a friend inspired this upcoming series. I am going to concentrate on Genesis chapter three to provide our answer. I will also use other Old and New Testament scriptures, but I believe Genesis chapter three will be one of the best places to start because the symbolism is obvious. Talking snakes, magical fruit, naked men and women who do not realize they are naked (until they eat the magical fruit!), physical paradise, and omnipotent beings walking through gardens are all contrary to our everyday realities. Of course there is great meaning behind the symbolism and allegory, and it doesn’t take a large leap of faith to determine that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to interpretation here.

Because there is such an enormous amount of difficult symbolism to wade through, we will have to jump around verses a bit with a lot of explanation. I’ll do my best to go verse by verse, but in some places you might feel lost, but if you hang on until the end of the series, I promise to weave all the symbolism together within the natural flow of the narrative. Let’s begin, shall we?

Man Develops the Ego

The opening verse of Genesis three sets the stage for the arrival of man as a fully functioning, cognitive physical being. Before jumping into the first verse, we should remember that at this stage in the Biblical narrative Adam and Eve are still in paradise. They are naked, but have no conceptual knowledge of it. Like a two year old who is unashamed to run around the living room in front of a whole slew of adults baring it all, Adam and Eve are in a state of complacency. This is symbolically important. So important in fact that the very last verse of Genesis chapter two emphasizes this point:

“And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Gen 2:25).

And why aren’t babies ashamed? Because the ego hasn’t developed yet. Our egos are the opinions, thoughts, ideals, and the emotions that are attached to them, and very young babies and even some toddlers haven’t developed that aspect of their personalities yet. They are complacent just being at the moment. I want you to see Adam and Eve just like the baby who has yet to develop any real ego to speak of. Adam and Eve had no political or religious affiliations, no philosophical positions about life, no addictions or desires, and certainly no guilt. And how could they? They didn’t grow up and experience life from childhood to adulthood. According to the Genesis narrative, poof! They were automatically created as two adults with no prior experiences. It is the experience of life, within the framework of our environment and all that it offers, that create our egos. Adam and Eve were created blank slates without the ability or knowledge of anything, except a few simple commands from God. Can you imagine the robotic nature of these two individuals? Without any environmental and experiential programming, they’d be essentially ignorant of everything!

And then comes along the serpent:

“Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Gen. 3:1).

Now wait just a second…

Do you think an omnipotent being knew this serpent was going to approach them? And do you think for a second that this omnipotent being wouldn’t also know that Eve would have no choice but to fall for something that looked pleasant to the eyes?

Imagine a toddler being told by his parents that he can’t eat candy. Then when the parents leave, another adult approaches that toddler and whips out a mouth-watering rainbow colored lollipop and flashes it in front of the poor innocent child’s eyes. Do you think he won’t grab for it? Of course he would.

So let’s break down a few of the symbols in this opening verse of Genesis three and see what’s really going on here.

The Serpent, the Beast, and the field

In many ancient religious cultures, the meaning of the serpent is twofold: it represents the spiritual forces that are of the higher and lower natures of man. They are inner forces, and although they are in opposition to one another, they work reciprocally. They are also both of the mind. One is the desire nature (lower nature), and the other is the wisdom nature (higher nature). But in Genesis chapter 3, the serpent is only symbolic of the active lower nature in man, at least for now. Let me explain.

Remember that Genesis 3:1 states that the serpent was more subtle than any other beast of the field. The Biblical author is giving us more important clues. The Hebrew word used for “subtil” means cunning, and suggests a cognitive intelligence.

The Serpent that approached Eve represents a cognitive, intelligent spiritual force that will be in man, and will help his overall evolution as he progresses spiritually from the lower to the higher nature, which is really a divine union between the two at the end of his spiritual journey. But we shouldn’t worry about this progression so early in the Genesis narrative. We aren’t there yet. In Genesis three, we are only discussing the developing egoic nature of man.

Our other two symbolic clues in that same verse are “beast” and “field.”

Beast always represents the desire-nature, and field symbolizes the arena of life on the physical plane, where the desire-nature is first manifested through man. So the serpent is ITSELF the spiritual force that drives the lower desire-nature of man.

Ah, now it is all beginning to make sense. No wonder the serpent has traditionally been interpreted to have caused the downfall of man. It’s not really that he caused the downfall of man, he IS the downfall of man. The serpent is symbolic of that intelligent force that reincarnates with every baby and is responsible for developing the ego and personality. And this ego is what needs to be crucified with Christ to experience the symbolic resurrection at the end of our spiritual journeys.

Upon reflection, it is easy to see how this highly explanatory interpretation was replaced with a literal one that doesn’t make much sense except on a few points.

Yes, the serpent is at enmity with God and man. But only as it pertains to man’s lower nature. This same serpent force will later be responsible for the divine union of our lower and higher natures, which is what happened at Pentecost in the Book of Acts when cloven tongues of fire (serpents have a cloven tongue) rests upon the heads of the disciples. The same is true with Moses who lifts up the brazen serpent on the pole for all to look upon and be healed. It is even true for the book of Revelation, which is full of serpent symbolism and the rising of this spiritual force in the human body and breaking through the seven seals which are the chakras.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Back to Genesis three.

“And the woman said unto the serpent, we may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, least ye die.” (Gen. 3:2-3).

So back to our inexperienced toddlers who have not as yet developed any opinions, ideals, philosophical stances, or an ego. They are still naked and have no idea of it, remember? But never fear. They’re about to experience some strong opinions shortly.

Now the only command the woman has is that God said “NO.” Hmm. This is a curious concept for a baby. Their first inclination is to test this command of “no.” What does it REALLY mean? And as soon as the baby realizes it means that they are not going to get their way, there is consequence. We’ll explore this consequence as it relates to Adam and Eve in the future, but for now let’s consider something else.

When Eve relates to the serpent that God said “no” or else you will “die,” what God was really saying was this:

“You are going to die spiritually, not physically. In fact, you will receive a physical life. And when you come into the physical world as a physical human being, you will experience a split in your nature. I consider it a death because you will no longer be in unity with the Absolute one consciousness that I AM. You will experience a death through an ego in a world of duality, which will make you think that you are separate from me. You will feel alone, and you will have to work by the sweat of your brow just to keep your physical body alive. It will be a hard life, with trials and tribulations and tons and tons of responsibility and work. In many ways, it will suck!” Yep, that’s about the gist of it. Of course I am exaggerating, because physical life is also filled with momentary happy moments, especially when we are getting our way, right?! J

Let’s get back to our verse and break down a few more symbols. Fruit always symbolizes the outcome of an action, whether good or bad. And trees represent man. However this one special tree that Eve is talking about is the tree of knowledge of good and evil. So is this a literal tree with magical powers to give us new knowledge about what is good or not? Not really. The symbolism in the next verse makes this clear:

“And the serpent said unto the woman, ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:4-5).

Eyes in ancient scripture is symbolic of mental perception. And on one level, the serpent is telling Eve the truth. She will not die, but be given new life on the physical plane. And with this life comes the knowledge of good and evil. In other words, the experience of opposites, which gives us insight into pleasure and pain, and has the potential to teach us all about the moral nature which we have the choice to pursue and develop. This moral nature is first realized by the symbolic Law of Moses, which is no more than an eye for an eye realization, but it is the precursor to the greater revelation of Christ, which is the law of love written on our hearts.

It is interesting to note that the serpent states Eve will be like a god once she has this experience. Dionysius the ancient philosopher once stated:

“All divine things, insofar as they are manifested to us, are known only by participation therein.”

And in that quote is the key to understanding and interpreting this allegory, and most of the Bible. This is why the fall was necessary and not a punishment. Without participating in the arena of life on the physical plane, how could we ever come to realize divinity? How could we have chosen love at the end of our spiritual journeys without first experiencing a fall and all the work and self-denial of our egos that it takes to truly understand what Christ represents?

In the next post I will continue to talk about the symbols in verses 2-5 of Genesis chapter 3. We will have to back up and discuss more about the tree of knowledge of good and evil which is in the “midst” of the garden. There is much more revelation to come.

Blessings!

Christine Hoeflich April 24, 2016 at 1:49 am

Hi Joshua,

I believe experiencing “the Fall” is something our higher selves (souls) chose and actually designed, so that we would have the experiences that will help us grow from spiritual babies to spiritual adults, and relatively quickly, compared to how long our souls have been around in the Universe. (Could be that our planet is unique in that way–the relatively fast growth, I mean, due to the relatively harsh experiences.) We become spiritual adults when we experience challenge, “contrast,” and darkness and transform those experiences into success, fulfillment, and light. (I believe we’re well on our way, and things ARE shifting.) So your interpretation makes a lot more sense than the traditional, superficial Adam and Eve story.

Also, the Fall was necessary in order to create the challenging conditions that would be instrumental in helping us grow, realizing what we’re capable of, and developing a depth to our souls. Without this depth to our souls, no “Heaven” or “Golden Age” or “New Earth” or even true gratitude is possible.

Hope you’re doing well!

Christine

Hope

Joshua Tilghman April 24, 2016 at 2:59 pm

Hi Christine,

While I am certainly open to this possibility, my personal thoughts are that consciousness is automatic, and our process for returning is determined by our Karma. In a sense there is a choice here because what we choose to gravitate towards in this life follows us and that information translates into our next experience. However, the difference is that there is no choice in the conscious sense as we experience here that does the choosing.

There is the possibility that our higher self chooses, and this may be what you are referring to, but I have yet to work out how all that works. I know all the theories, and some of them sound good, but I believe the best one so far is that consciousness is a self-automated system that neither had a beginning or will have an ending. And it is also evolving through us.

Good to see you back and I hope you are doing well. Be sure to send me an e-mail when you are writing on the blog again.

Thanks.

anny May 5, 2016 at 10:47 am

Hi Josh and Christine,

After writing my own comment to your article a couple of days after you published it, Josh, I sort of concentrated on the comments on the tail end and never properly read those first ones!

Christine, I definitely am of the same opinion as you are in this matter. Never mind that I cannot prove what I feel but I do not need proof. An automatic process based on a Source that according to me is Unconditional Love does not go together in my feeling.

Unconditional Love is what we are coming from and returning to, this time with conscious awareness. And in order to gain that conscious awareness we, in the form of Eve, the creative and cherishing side of man, consciously chose for this descent into the illusion of the world of matter because we recognized the possibility of growth in it and its final aim, Enlightenment, ‘haskala’, which in the story is symbolized by the verb ‘lehaskil’, which was translated as ‘to make one wise.’

It is the choice between a positive explanation (the search for conscious awareness and enlightenment) or a negative explanation (a fall into sin and judgment). I always opt for the positive choice.

Love,

Anny

Robert April 27, 2016 at 12:34 pm

Christine,

I had an experience that relates somewhat to the idea of choosing or automatically returning to work out karma in a past life. I experimented once with self-hypnosis to experience a past life. The story that unfolded under hypnosis was very vivid and involved a weakness in my personality, something that I struggle with now but am doing a lot better than in the past life. The people in the past life had names that were very typical for that period and culture. I was not able to verify that those particular people actually lived or died then by looking up records accessible by internet. The whole experience was very, very spooky and I stopped doing past life regression. I concluded that my subconscious mind was incredibly creative in putting together a fictitious story that had bearing on my life now, and that it was some kind of very spooky form illumination generated by my subconscious or something else beyond my understanding.

Robert April 28, 2016 at 5:33 pm

Christine,

I’ve been reading more of your website and looking at the book you recommended to Josh and other books on the same topic. I guess I am either nosey or curious or stuck and looking for answers…can’t figure out which. From your posts I have genuinely come to appreciate the benefits of past life regression exercises and associated healing ministries like yours to people who have had major obstacles in their lives, severe trauma, or recurring issues, clearing a path to reconcile with those experiences, finding a positive purpose in living through them and moving forward. Some of the methods that were used to activate you on this path do not correspond well with the approved standard church ministries I have experienced. But from reading your posts. I am willing to somehow set aside my conditioned skepticism and acknowledge that according to my experience most local church ministries were not equipped to help people with the kind of issues you deal with. When I deliberately blur my mind to mask out my conditioning, I get a very positive affirmation that your ministry is among the many that, although I may not understand and or have been skeptical of the methods, brings about incredible growth towards the “light” (for lack of better word). When I get those affirmations they manifest as a momentary rush of pleasant vibration and gentle warmth in my upper chest and shoulders, extending up through my neck and head.

Kent April 24, 2016 at 7:57 am

This is a fantastic entry, Josh. The symbolism of the serpent is especially fascinating since it is where scripture begins and ends, and Jesus and Moses both equally employ it’s symbolism. The truth of the matter is that we humans ARE serpents, represented by our spine/nervous systems, taking in impressions from both the outer and inner worlds. I posted an entry on The Shining Stranger a few months back that I think would make an appropriate sidebar to this entry, riffing off of Valentin Tomberg’s “Meditations on the Tarot.” You can read it here:

https://shiningstranger.wordpress.com/2016/02/22/the-serpent-science-and-religion/

Enjoy!

Joshua Tilghman April 24, 2016 at 3:04 pm

Kent,

Thanks for the link. I will check it out, and always feel free to leave such in the comment section.

You are right. The serpent is a part of us. And it represents both kundalini and the Holy Spirit. The upright serpent also depicts the spinal column. I will be interested in seeing how much your article goes into this. I am planning to also talk about this at the end of the series, although I haven’t worked out yet how much detail I want to go into. It’s hard to talk about this without discussing the Book of Revelation in depth, and that’s a large subject to tackle. I have done a few articles on this site already going there, and it took a lot of time to map it all out, even just small sections of Revelation.

Blessings my friend.

Kent April 26, 2016 at 8:05 pm

Yes Josh, I completely agree. At it’s deepest level Revelation is about chakra activation. Have you ever read James Morgan Pryse’s “The Apocalypse Unsealed”? It carefully explains Revelation from this point of view:

http://www.mrshumansays.com/uploads/1/2/6/8/12688070/james_m._pryse_-_the_apocalypse_unsealed.pdf

He also wrote a commentary on Aischylos’ “Prometheus Unbound” from the same interpretive vantage point.

I highly recommend both!

Robert April 26, 2016 at 11:26 am

Kent,

I checked out your post on the Shining Stranger and enjoyed it immensely, having a background in science myself. The idea of horizontal versus vertical expansion is something I deal with on a daily basis, although I never thought of using those symbols.

Kent April 26, 2016 at 8:07 pm

Thanks for checking out my post, Robert. If you’re a scientist you may very well really enjoy the entire blog, since The Shining Stranger is really a work that claims science needs religion and religion needs science. The reader will have to verify the claim for him or herself.

Robert April 27, 2016 at 11:44 am

Sounds interesting. Thanks.

Robert April 27, 2016 at 1:12 pm

Kent,

Liked your post on the Shining Stranger about the Resonance of Life, which makes an analogy between optimization of energy flow when it is in vibrational resonance with its surroundings, and the resonance of the individual with the All.

Kent April 28, 2016 at 8:51 pm

Thanks Robert. Glad you enjoyed it!

Robert April 27, 2016 at 8:59 am

Kent and Josh,

I thought you both might be interested in this quote from an article written by Albert Einstein in the 1930 New York Times:

“…a person who is religiously enlightened appears to me to be one who has, to the best of his ability, liberated himself from the fetters of his selfish desires and is preoccupied with thoughts, feelings and aspirations to which he clings because of their super-personal value. It seems to me that what is important is the force of this superpersonal content … regardless of whether any attempt is made to unite this content with a Divine Being, for otherwise it would not be possible to count Buddha and Spinoza as religious personalities. Accordingly a religious person is devout in the sense that he has no doubt of the significance of those super-personal objects and goals which neither require nor are capable of rational foundation … In this sense religion is the age-old endeavor of mankind to become clearly and completely conscious of these values and goals and constantly to strengthen and extend their effect. If one conceives of religion and science according to these definitions then a conflict between them appears impossible. For science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be…[39]

Robert April 27, 2016 at 11:57 am

Kent, Josh, Anyone

Discussing the intersections of science and religion can be fascinating. But here is one intersection where there have been a lot of accidents so to speak, peoples minds smashing into one another …. evolution versus creation science.

The strongest mouthpiece for creation science, Ken Ham, states, “By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record.”

I don’t agree with Ken Ham. Would anyone else care to comment?

Kent April 28, 2016 at 8:50 pm

Robert,

I don’t even really know where to start with Ken Ham other than to say he is sorely misguided. He doesn’t seem to have any capacity for imagination, poetry, and understanding the function of myth, which is truth that transcends “fact.” And even what he considers to be fact has a very narrow breadth, ie scripture at the simplest and most elementary level of understanding. It’s o.k. to think, act, and speak as a child when one is actually a child, but a sad state of affairs when as an adult one cannot set aside childish things. My two cents.

Robert April 29, 2016 at 10:52 am

Kent,

My wife taught in a private Christian school for decades and I did it for a year between jobs. The high school biology curriculum called for teaching both evolution and creation science, with a slight favoring of creation science claims, and some mention of intelligent design. Many teachers and school administrators in environments like those were strong creation science advocates. All had college degrees and some had advanced degrees. I think there was a feeling that if they did not defend creation science that their children and students would be pulled in by the world into becoming atheists. Some felt that if the literacy of the bible was challenged that all of the bible would then be up for grabs. They were very caring people as a result of their faith. But I came to disagree with their approach to evolution.

I like your explanation of the function of myth, as truth which transcends fact.

anny April 29, 2016 at 7:24 am

Hi Robert,

In my opinion there does not have to be a clash between religion/spirituality and science over the idea of evolution versus the idea of creation. Controversies like this belong to duality where it is always either … or whereas within the concept of unity it can be both. But that is only possible when people are open-minded. No dogma’s on either side and scientists do have dogma’s just like religious people, even though they would never give it that name of course.

In this case the dogma of the creationists is that creation happened literally as written in Genesis. A day is a day of 24 hours. So evolution is impossible. And so on. When you stick to that it is impossible to meet up with science.

The dogma of (part of) the scientists is however that a God, or even an intelligent design, at the basis of evolution is impossible. As long as they stick to that view, they will not be able to meet with people who believe in creation.

However, when each side approaches the subject with an open mind it is possible to meet in the middle and it is my opinion that when they finally come to the same conclusion it might very well be the right conclusion because then a balance will have been reached and both sides have reached the centre again.

From what I read about some research by quantum physicists they did seem to approach some spiritual views. Unfortunately I forgot all details as it was a long time ago.

I do not know anything about Ken Ham, but obviously I do not agree with him at all.

Robert April 29, 2016 at 11:23 am

Anny,

Yes, I agree, it does not have to be an “either or” situation. There are explanations that meet in the middle sort of like compromise.

anny April 30, 2016 at 12:28 am

Yes, that could be possible too but that is not what I really meant.

A compromise is good but does not necessarily lead to The Truth, whereas that might be the case when two opponents finally reach the same conclusion independently. Not by each giving in to the other in order to reach a compromise but as a result of their own independent journey.

Then they would each use their own terms to explain it but the essence would be the same.

It would no longer be duality but unity in diversity.

And I think that should be our aim rather than a uniform compromise.

Robert May 1, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Anny,

I see what you mean by unity in diverse viewpoints because they lead to the same truth that transcends viewpoints.

anny May 3, 2016 at 1:00 am

Hi Robert,

This is in reply to your comment of May 1st. I place it here as there is no reply button there anymore.

I can only say: Exactly! This interaction between us led to a whole new level of understanding for me suddenly and I like it.

Steve April 24, 2016 at 8:40 am

I can’t help but see you get very close to the right answer on this topic. My blog might assist you in your search. I have provided all the answers to the mystery by topic. While reading, do not judge. Our Relative (Kinsman) is only known by one side to the church. The other side is blocked out by fear. As long as you see that the Relative must have two sides, you can then know who that relative is in relation to you and God in the mirror. Once you know, you cannot unknow. This is the TRUTH that sets you free. The gospel is relative to the reason (bad news). We must face the bad news in the past to see why there is good news in the future. God rested in Genesis 2. Who did he rest inside, and why do you serve the Father (Jesus words were not his own) when you serve the ‘least of these?’ Kings rule. Servants serve. Who was the Lord judging in the Old testament, proclaiming himself God with none beside? Himself. We are images of the same. He had to overcome his own Ego (Yahweh) to exchange it for the Spirit of God (Adam’s first Spirit in Genesis 1). Ruach Elohim is the Mother, Echad (ONE) with Elohim in marriage. Let US make Adam in OUR image and likeness. Adam is the Cosmos. We are images of the same (microcosm and macrocosm). Ego is Yahweh (Set aside when grown). Satan is the accuser (Conscience). Silence the Accuser when you overcome the adversary. In Physics, Neutron (Neutral) and Proton (+) are the Strong Force. In Hebrew, Father is the Aleph Bet (Strong House). A Son must be raised.

Joshua Tilghman April 24, 2016 at 3:19 pm

Steve,

I have been to your site before. If possible, I would like to have a brief discussion about your article on What is God? What is man? Symmetry and Translational Invariance. I would also like to ask you a few additional questions. Have you ever read this website:

http://primordality.com/introduction.htm

He discusses exactly what consciousness is and how it creates us with the digital matrix our souls are made from. I find it very enlightening. Most people I have referred to this website say it makes no sense to them, but I am wondering if it would to you and whether you agree or disagree with is overall premise.

As far as your website is concerned, I need more clarification on some of the points you are making before I can grasp some of things you are getting at in what I would call my language. Perhaps this is because you are way ahead of me in some things. My time will be limited this week and next weekend because my schedule is starting to fill up after my relatively free weekend where I wrote this post, but I would very much like to have this discussion with you through e-mail or on the phone when we can both be available. Let me know if you are interested.

Thanks,

Josh

Ronald April 24, 2016 at 5:14 pm

Joshua,

Really enjoy reading your articles. I love the esoteric interpretation of scripture after many years of only hearing the literal fundamentalist version.

My question is: How does one learn how to read scripture esoterically or metaphysically? When the symbols are explained to me (by you or other authors of books or articles) I understand the scriptural passage. However when I read scripture on my own I don’t understand it on that level. My mind automatically goes back to a literal interpretation.

How does one come to know what the symbols mean and therefore get the correct meaning of scripture?

Joshua Tilghman April 24, 2016 at 5:32 pm

Ronald, thanks for the comment.

When I first started out after years of literal brainwashing, I began to ask questions and after meditating on those questions, intuitively, I began to see things differently. My earlier blog posts reflect a lot of this intuitive knowledge. I am right-brained, not left, so I couldn’t arrive at these conclusions logically, but I felt that they were more correct than the traditional interpretation. Then I began searching out the esoteric giants that came before me, and I got the details that I was missing from a logical standpoint. It was awesome, because it was confirming that I was on the right track, but I couldn’t really put it all together with the details that people could logically follow. I found many tools along the way since then that have helped me do this. One great resource which I learned from David who runs THE HIDDEN LIGHTHOUSE BLOG was Gaskell’s Dictionary of Scripture and Myth. That book alone provides enough information to extrapolate any portion of scripture in an esoteric since. I use it frequently for the details, and then build my writings around it. Start with that, and then I will happy to give you more when you are ready to move on.

Christine Hoeflich April 24, 2016 at 9:33 pm

Hi Joshua,

Have you ever read “Your Soul’s Plan” by Robert Schwartz? You might want to get both of his books, and you can probably get them from the library. They are fast reading and make a lot of sense. They’re also more experiential than theoretical, and fun to read. Anyway, I’m sure you’d get several blog posts worth of material from that book!

I’ll send you that email right away…

Thanks!

Christine

Joshua Tilghman May 1, 2016 at 8:26 pm

Thanks Christine. I’ll put those on my list!

Robert April 25, 2016 at 12:02 am

Josh,

From my point of view I see a third alternative to the two opposite aspects you posit in your opening paragraph, that alternative being that there is an aspect of God that we can be linked to and reunified with by a redemptive process after the fall. This is a unity where we commune with God and become a reflection of some of those attributes revealed us, rather than a unity where we are the same as God (or equal to God). There is always a part of God that is not revealed to us, which is impossible for us to fathom. So on the surface it would seem that you are only providing two alternatives – either God is external and separate or we are God, suggesting that if you disprove one alternative then the other alternative must be true. Perhaps you did not mean to set up an “either or” logical situation like that, and were simply using two extremes to make your introduction more captivating. Or perhaps your further development in the next part of this series will show a similar kind of third alternative.

You mentioned that the tree was a symbol of immortality in Job a few articles back, and now you are saying a tree alway symbolizes man. I am willing to accept that common things like a a snake or a tree can be used to symbolize different themes in different cultures, and that even the same culture can use the same thing to symbolize more than one theme. After awhile the symbols for themes can get all mixed up. I am willing to accept and follow your explanations when you apply a symbol/theme combination for a particular interpretation, when the symbol can mean a different theme in another application. But I think you should realize that if this is done too often by someone I didn’t know, I could easily assume that they were picking symbols out of a hat to say it always means this or always means that to try to pull the wool over my eyes. Perhaps you should take the time to explain the origin of the symbol/theme a little more and mention why you are picking this combination instead of another meaning for the symbol.

Joshua Tilghman May 1, 2016 at 8:41 pm

Robert,

In the first paragraph you are actually correct, at least according to esoteric literature. We are not THE Absolute, and can never be. The Absolute is the primordial consciousness that created everything, and contains all, and is all. We have been spawned from this, but we also have an individuality. In one sense the Absolute is distant from us, but in another sense our individuality is made possible from it. This will never be understood directly from the intellect. We are an integral part of the Absolute, yet have evolved an individuality that is both limited and separate, yet higher consciousness can reconnect us to the Absolute, with our individuality intact. Remember, the Absolute is real, but in intellectual terms it is a concept that we can only grasp at with the mind.

As pertaining to your second paragraph, all the trees in the garden symbolize man, and attributes of man. According to Gaskell:

A tree is a “symbol of man, or the human being on all planes, as a replica in small, of the divine being in whose image man is made. As God is a Tree of Life, so is man.”

The Tree of Life is a symbol of the divine life that flows out to the universe and soul of man. This life / energy is responsible for every manifestation you see on the physical plane.

Hope that clears the air. Blessings.

Robert April 25, 2016 at 6:51 am

Josh,

Perhaps you can elaborate on your assertion that the serpent which represents our lower nature is eventually the promoter of higher consciousness. I thought the serpent was the bad guy who will be defeated once and for all by being put in the lake of fire along with the beast and the anti-Christ, according to Revelations; and those whose names are not written in the book of life will later join them. So symbolically there is a triumph of something or someone greater than the serpent over the serpent. God tells Adam and Eve that the serpent will bite them on the heel but they (or one or many of their descendants who come forth from them, possibly the Messiah or each man filled with the Holy Spirit as a result of the Messiah’s works, possibly those works in each spirit-filled man crucifying the ego) will crush the serpent by delivering a fatal blow to the head (the head of the snake representing selfish, greedy, cunning, deceptive elements of the lower ego). The serpent’s bite, as Anny has suggested in one of her articles, can be used as an instrument to propel us, in response to the bite, to seek the high road instead of the low road. But in the end the serpent and his bite are defeated.

Jesus called the Pharisees vipers.

I did some research on the word cloven which suggests that it means distributed, as in the tongues as of fire being distributed among the disciples, not each tongue being spilt like a serpent’s tongue:

cloven – Divided, separated – διαμεριζόμεναι diamerizomenai – from the verb διαμερίζω diamerizō, “to divide, or distribute into parts.” Matthew 27:35, “they parted his garments”; Luke 22:17, “Take this (the cup) and divide it among yourselves.” Probably the common opinion is, that these tongues or flames were, each one of them split, or forked, or cloven. But this is not the meaning of the expression. The idea is that they were separated or divided one from another; it was not one great flame, but was broken up, or cloven into many parts, and probably these parts were moving without order in the room. In the Syriac it is, “And there appeared unto them tongues which divided themselves like fire, and sat upon each of them.” The old Ethiopic version reads it, “And fire, as it were, appeared to them and sat on them.”

Perhaps I am jumping the gun again, and you will explain more in the next article.

Robert April 26, 2016 at 11:13 am

Josh,

Looks like I mixed a few things up myself. The devil is thrown in the lake of fire with the beast and the false prophet. The dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, is bound for a thousand years and then released to wreak havoc. Still the serpent, or this aspect of the serpent is a negative figure. The Christ defeats the serpent of old. So this could be taken to mean that Christ consciousness puts the lower ego in its place, retrains it, and it eventually falls away.

Joshua Tilghman May 1, 2016 at 8:50 pm

Yes, Christ defeats the serpent of the lower nature.

Robert April 26, 2016 at 7:30 pm

Josh,

It still seems too much of a jump for me to feel comfortable bring the kundalini serpent metaphor into a bible-based teaching. I see the similarity you are drawing, and it is useful. It may mean more to you because you have more first-hand experience in kundalini practice. You may have spent a long time engaged with the kundalini metaphor, believing your chakras were opening and allowing the life force at the base of your spine to rise and radiate through you and out of you. It is almost as if the kundalini theology is one of many mythological narratives that enables something good and redemptive to be activated in the believer in it. This has been successful to you (some people freak out when they do kundalini) and you have a desire to relate this to your Christian experience which you value but in the past seemed full of inconsistencies and produced people with excessive judgement of others. In a way, you may be “saving” Christianity so that this evolving form of it works for you and others your share with who are also not able to resonate with “as is” Christianity. I’m just speculating of course. “Saving Christianity” is an interesting notion, don’t you think?

Joshua Tilghman May 1, 2016 at 8:49 pm

Robert,

Anny is correct. The serpent’s bite propels us, but the serpent is also the energy that propels us itself. Think that the serpent in Genesis crawls on the ground, but Moses then lifts him on the pole up high.

Also, you description of tongues is accurate. That’s what happens when kundalini rises. Kundalini and the serpent are both fire, or great spiritual energy. Christ baptizes in fire. Christ and the serpent are linked.

Robert May 2, 2016 at 5:41 pm

Josh,

The kundalini rising experiences I have read about seem different than opinions and testimonies of Christians about being baptized in the Holy Spirit and being baptized in fire (purifying trials). I see how you might believe that they “symbolize” something similar, and they both lead to an awakening that is transformative and purifying. But the experiences are not the same. Maybe the description of the first experience by the disciples being so strongly influenced seems more like kundalini. It was a one time thing. The Holy Spirit fell on other people in the bible after that, but not so dramatically.

Robert May 3, 2016 at 7:03 pm

Josh,

I don’t think it was the intention in scripture for Moses to elevate the status of the serpent by lifting a bronze model of one up on a stick. The serpents stung the people of God because of their disobedience, causing multitudes to die and become dangerously ill. There is no indication in scripture that kundalini energy rose out of the people to cure them, or that the bronze serpent represented some higher serpent (aggressive force of the higher ego) after the lower serpent (aggressive force of the lower ego) died.

Marie April 25, 2016 at 2:34 pm

Thanks for the article. I enjoy reading your blogs…so much to learn. Being in church I felt that there was so much more to what the preachers were teaching.

Looking forward to reading more from you.

Blessings,
Marie

Joshua Tilghman May 1, 2016 at 8:51 pm

Thanks Marie.

anny April 27, 2016 at 9:04 am

Hi Josh,

Interesting that you have decided to do a post on the Garden of Eden again, as you have written quite a lot about it already and so have I. However, with every new article or comment some patterns become clearer. That is why it is also a little difficult to comment on this post which is to be the first of a series, as I do not want to interfere with your train of thought or confuse readers.
You state that Adam and Eve are not ashamed of being naked because they have not developed an ego yet. They do have one though, only it is still inactive and empty. This is told by the Hebrew word for naked, ‘arum’, which you can read as: ‘er’-6-40. ‘Er’ means awake, the six stands for the character ‘vav’, which means hook as a word and as such is also used for the word ‘and’. The number forty is the character ‘mem’, which as a word means ‘mayim’, water. Water stands for the ego with all the emotions that will develop during its descent into matter. At the beginning man is already connected to this ego but is not aware of it.

Further down you quote: “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Gen. 3:1).

This word subtle is also ‘arum’ in Hebrew. It is the exact same word as the word for naked. It is a matter of interpretation (right or wrong) to translate it with another word than naked. The only thing that is different is that about the serpent it is not said that he does not know, which implies that he does. You suggest that too further down.

You write: The Serpent that approached Eve represents a cognitive, intelligent spiritual force that will be in man, and will help his overall evolution as he progresses spiritually from the lower to the higher nature, which is really a divine union between the two at the end of his spiritual journey.

I agree and simply call it the Life Force that guides us through the whole process. Which of course goes through tough spots but that will be addressed later I presume.

You write: “Do you think an omnipotent being knew this serpent was going to approach them? And do you think for a second that this omnipotent being wouldn’t also know that Eve would have no choice but to fall for something that looked pleasant to the eyes?”.

This undoubtedly is part of it but there is also something you do not mention: In Genesis 3:6 it says: “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and A TREE TO BE DESIRED TO MAKE ONE WISE, she took of the fruit thereof ..”. This expression: a tree to be desired to make one wise means that she saw the possibility of growth and of learning in it. To make one wise is the translation of the Hebrew verb ‘lehaskil’. The corresponding noun is ‘haskala’, which means enlightenment. So there is more at stake here than just being tempted. She knows what process she is getting into and has the courage to say yes.

Finally I have a question which is related to the serpent but only in a much later stage. The serpent here in Genesis 3 is called ‘nachash’ in Hebrew. When much later God shows Moses how to change a staff into a serpent and back again, for him to use as a proof that he is a messenger from God to the Pharaoh, this serpent is also called ‘nachash’. When however Moses does this in front of Pharaoh, the staff does not turn into a ‘nachash’ but into a ‘tanin’, which is translated as serpent (or related words) in all translations I ever saw but which actually means crocodile. Of which there were a lot of course in ancient Egypt. Have you any idea why this difference is ignored by everyone? And what it could possibly mean?

Love,

Anny

Joshua Tilghman May 1, 2016 at 8:56 pm

Anny,

Thanks for you additional clarifications. By not having an ego, it would be more accurate to explain it as you have. They have it, but are not aware of it and are not operating through until the fruit is eaten.

A crocodile represents the desires and passions of man on the astral plane. Remember, Moses repeats what the sorcerers already in Egypt do. It is just a repeat of the same trick. It devours them, telling us that this is not the way to truth.

anny May 2, 2016 at 12:33 am

Hi Josh,

Thanks for this information. I did not know that and obviously neither did all these translators of the Bible by sticking to the same translation for a different word.

Christine Hoeflich April 28, 2016 at 11:15 am

Hi again Joshua,

I suggested that book because it contains 10 accounts of people who either had near death experiences or extreme challenges that they’ve gotten through, and the similar patterns and lessons they’ve learned that Robert has documented. The book contains clues to our existence here and why we would choose to experience challenges and hardships.

What’s interesting is I met Robert at a book expo in FLA several years ago; our books came out at the same time.

You and I are working on advancing the consciousness of humanity—in very different but very valid ways. You have a gift for seeing the deeper meanings in scripture. My interest is the practical application of spirituality in our everyday lives … the steps one takes to connect to one’s higher self and strengthen that relationship. Robert’s book offers insight into our souls’ plans, and why the soul would choose to experience challenges (derived from the perspective of 10 individuals who chose extreme challenges).

Just wanted to point out WHY I’m suggesting that book. There’s a lot of merit in gaining understanding through life experiences–our own and others’. Just like my blog post about Sean Stephenson–it just makes you wonder.

Love,

Christine

Claudine April 29, 2016 at 9:31 am

Hi Robert,

*I posted this message on the “Hell: The Fallen Doctrine” blog but, just in case you weren’t reading that page anymore (seeing as I took a million years to reply haha), I’m posting it here as well*

Although we only know each other via this website, please accept a big virtual hug and know that you are valued for your contributions and thank you for sharing your story with me. After a year of regularly visiting SOS, I’m recognising familiar commenters and I look forward to hearing what they have to say now. It’s like reading a book and getting to know the characters only in this case they’re real.

I could be on some ex-JW site instead of this one but, I’m simply not interested because whilst many of them are awakened in the sense that they’ve realised the truth behind the JW “TRUTH”, many of them never move on from that realisation. They either stay angry and become totally absorbed in JW-bashing or become fanatical atheists. They kind of lose their equilibrium and become too extreme (not too dissimilar from what they previously were).

I’ve been so busy and my time has been short. Sorry I haven’t replied to your comment properly yet. I will. I’ve been reading everyones comments from the new articles too. The Garden of Eden analysis stuff is really fascinating and everyone’s take on it is great.

Speak soon!
Claudine

anny April 30, 2016 at 12:54 am

Hi Claudine,

I have been reading your comments lately and I appreciate them. Thank you for your valuable contributions.

It is a great idea to post your delayed reply to Robert’s post on the most recent article as well as it takes forever to screen several articles every time in order to see whether there are any reactions to comments that you have to / want to answer to. Thanks!

Anny

Claudine May 3, 2016 at 3:32 am

Hi Anny,

I once heard someone say “a good Christian is a good Muslim, and a good Jew is a good Buddhist” (or something along those lines) and I think the point they were trying to make was that in order to be a good, well-rounded/balanced human being, we need to embrace each others differences in order to better understand one another? It made me think of you with all the different backgrounds you’ve been exposed. Certainly helps when we can see something from another person’s perspective and broaden our understanding doesn’t it.

It must be great to be able to read Hebrew. Does that mean you can read old texts? I imagine like all languages it has changed over time. I’d love to visit Israel one day. I have a spanish background and read and write it. My best friend is due to return to Australia soon after a year long work stay in Vietnam. I’m a big fan of PHO noodles too yum! Have you been to South East Asia too?

Love,
Claude

anny May 4, 2016 at 9:32 am

Hi Claudine,

“I once heard someone say “a good Christian is a good Muslim, and a good Jew is a good Buddhist” (or something along those lines) and I think the point they were trying to make was that in order to be a good, well-rounded/balanced human being, we need to embrace each others differences in order to better understand one another?”

I think you could say that but it also means that all our major religions are derived from the same source and so have much in common. Of course they developped differently, due to different times and cultures, which makes it interesting to search for what we have in common and see how each approaches those subjects. It does not only help us to understand each other better but also deepen the understanding of our own tradition. By looking at the same thing from many different sides instead of only one. It gives it more depth.

Yes, I did learn to read Hebrew but only in today’s script. I could not do anything with ancient manuscripts as the characters changed form somewhat. The language itself however did not change much over the centuries as for I do not know how long Hebrew was considered a holy language, to be used only for reading holy scriptures, whereas in everyday life another language was spoken, for instance Yiddish or Ladino. Only at the end of the nineteenth century people in Israel (then Palestine) started using Hebrew as a spoken language again so it did not change too much yet. Due to this it is possible that even children from the second grade get to read the Tora in the original language and from fifth grade onwards the whole of Tenach (Old Testament). In fact, the Tenach that I am currently using is the school book of my eldest son. I must confess however that I am not as fluent in Hebrew as I used to be, as it has been thirty years since we returned to the Netherlands.

I learned some Spanish too (a beginner’s course of a few months) before I went to visit my foster kids in an orphanage in Nicaragua in 2003. It certainly helped me in communicating with them then. However, since then I have hardly used it (correspondence with them is translated from or into Dutch) so then I quickly lost again what I picked up in a few months. However, whenever the translators write something what cannot possibly be true I can check it out with the help of a dictionary. The girls are now studying at the university of Managua, all three of them, so I am very proud of them!

Yes, I have been to Vietnam three times. Twice for a wedding (my youngest son managed to fall in love there as well the time we went for the wedding of his brother) and once for just a visit to the son and daughter in law who live in Vietnam. They did not have a child yet then but do now, a 2½ year old little boy whom I have only seen once for a month when they came to visit us last year. My other son and Vietnamese daughter in law live Holland, almost next door, so our other 2 year old grandson we babysit almost every day.

No, Vietnamese food is not my favourite food, I am afraid. Much to the regret of my daughter in law. I much prefer Dutch or Indian cooking. I love spicy food.

Love,

Anny

Claudine April 30, 2016 at 8:15 am

Hi Anny,

Why thank you kind madam! We haven’t been formally introduced so “Hello”, I’m Claudine and it’s nice to finally meet you. I’m a graphic designer, wife, mother, reformed/deprogramed Jehovah’s Witness, Sci-fi lover and music lover from down under who’s always been fascinated by God and the many religions and belief systems across the ages labeled as divine.

I’ve found kindred spirits here who enjoy discussing the possibilities and interpretations of the God concept at the heart of everything and it’s nice.

Claude 🙂

anny May 1, 2016 at 4:03 am

Hi Claudine,

Thanks for your introduction. I am married too. I have four kids and four grandkids as well. We lived in Israel for 11 years, got married there and three of our kids were born there. That is where I learned my Hebrew of course. When I still worked in a job I did secretarial work but that has been so long ago that I never even saw a computer in an office. When we came back from Israel with four kids, there were so many problems to deal with that I never got back to working outside the home again, at least not in a paid job.

I have also been interested in spirituality and different religions for as long as I can remember and of course had experience in living with them. Judaism and Islam in Israel and Buddhism in my own family. One of our sons lives in Vietnam and has a family there and we also have a Vietnamese daughter in law right around the corner. Our daughter has many Muslim friends in different countries, some of whom we have met and who visit us also when they are in the Netherlands sometimes.

I have noticed that when you are open minded you can discuss everything with people from all religions who are also open minded. I enjoy that.

This background of course made it possible for me to become open to different bible interpretations and vice versa.

Love,

Anny

Robert May 2, 2016 at 4:25 pm

Anny

(and Others)

I was thinking of refreshing your memory about Quantum physics … just a little 😊. As you have mentioned, it does not make sense to go back to the original comment where you mentioned you were knowledgeable years ago but you did not have much of it in your current instant recall. So it’s better to plunk it down right here.

THE DOUBLE SLIT.

As Josh mentioned more than a week ago, the Slit Experiment showed that when electrons are made to pass through a double slit they create a pattern on a detection plate behind it that is characteristic of waves under some conditions and particles under other conditions, and sometimes a combination of both. Matter presents itself to us through the five senses in daily life experiences in the physical plane as hard particles. We can measure and predict both the position and momentum (intensity of motion) of particles to a high degree of accuracy using standard (Newtonian) physics. This works for billiard balls and sending rockets to the moon.

ANTS AND ELEPHANTS.

But when we get down to the subatomic level, we as observers, and our methods of measurement, are like elephants in an ant colony. We might be able to look down and see the whole colony moving to an approximate location in a certain amount of time, but we cannot pinpoint the location and speed of any one ant. If we use an elephant magnifying glass, we might be able to spot the location of one ant at one instant, but the ant will have scurried off to the edge of our magnified field of view so fast that we will not be able to measure the speed and direction it is moving very accurately, which will make prediction of its future location, speed and direction somewhat uncertain.

Will the one ant end up after half a minute at a nearby rock or off to the left in the mouth of an anteater? We are not sure, but if we have an approximation of the ant’s location and speed, we might be able to say that it has a certain amount of likelihood that it will end up at the rock rather than at the anteater. But likelihoods are like odds that a horse will win a race at the track. There is still some uncertainty, and you could lose all your money betting on the best odds.

What quantum theory does mathematically is describe the ant as a wave, rather than a particle, so like fluidic waves it can exist partly in one place and partly in another place at the same time and we can assign some potential that it will be resident more in one place than another even though it is simultaneously resident in both. This sounds crazy when talking about ants, but it is exactly how an electron behaves relative to the atom it calls its home.

At this subatomic level, matter behaves to us like a wave sometimes and a particle at other times. For instance, suppose we had a microscopic device implanted in our one ant friend that measures vital signs to tell us by radio transmission if it is alive, and after 10 seconds from our measurement of its original location our radio-receiver tells us the ant is dead – no vital signs. When we plug in this new information into the mathematical description of the ant wave, the equation for the wave results in a solution for the ant having particle characteristics of mass and location, with the location at the anteater. Prior to that, the equation showed that the ant, after 10 seconds, was both dead and alive at the same time, maybe 30% alive at the rock and 70% dead at the anteater. This is how we elephants with our huge measuring instruments are able to understand the little subatomic world. There is a certain measure of uncertainty in our measurements, and as observers of events, we can interact with the event to change its outcome. Just so you know, I made up the ant and elephant thing. For our eco-friendly SOS readers, I assure you – no live creatures will ever be actually hurt in any of my discussions.

QUANTUM ENTANGLEMENT

Some people think this is how their brains get all jumbled up trying to understand quantum physics. But it is actually a precise technical term that describes a special relationship between subatomic particles. When two particles are quantum entangled it means that if one changes in some characteristic, the other one automatically undergoes the same change, even if it is millions of miles away, and the change is instant, meaning no delay, even faster than the speed of light. This totally defies logic and all the other rules we have discovered about the universe. Here we have two particles that have a relationship with each other outside of space and time.

Our brains are wired to transmit electromagnetic wave signals as part of our processes of thinking, perception through the senses, and bodily control. It is now theorized that some brain activity occurs through quantum entanglement of subatomic particle/waves within the neurons and network of neurons. Experiments have shown that when two people are in the presence of each other, and one experiences a strong emotion that causes an area of their brain associated with that emotion to light up (show activity on a screen when their brain is scanned), it causes the same area of the brain in the other person to light up in a scan. This occurs even when the other person is not obtaining sensory input from the first person (body language, etc) that would tip the other person off as to the first person’s mood. Scans of the sensory input area of the other person’s brain can verify that no sensory information (brain activity in the sensory areas) was received. The transmission of brain activity from the first person to the other is instantaneous, whereas when sensory information is the path of transmission, there is a delay while the information is processed by the senses and interpreted.

anny May 3, 2016 at 1:48 am

Hi Robert,

Thanks for your explanation but I am afraid it does not enlighten the matter much for me. Somehow I have a blind spot for scientific language, I am afraid. And ants and elephants only complicate matters. For me that is.

The matter of quantum entanglement was immediately clear to me, even though I cannot discuss it but the principle points for me at the oneness of everything. Not that I understand how it works.

The double slit experiment I remember as having to do with waves and particles being the same, and with when waves remain waves or become particles. I think that an important factor was whether they are being watched or not, and not only at the time of measuring but also afterwards. Which of course presumes the consciousness of a watcher.

That is more or less how I remember it but details of the process I will never be able to remember.

Robert May 3, 2016 at 2:40 pm

Anny,

Sounds like you’ve got the important part. I was trying to show with the elephant and ant that the observer is not independent of the event observed, at least in the quantum world. The observer can actually change the outcome of an event. Before the act of observation, the event has multiple outcomes. The method of observation used during the act of observation (or more generally, the relationship between observer and event) narrows down the event to one outcome.

When the observer shoots one electron at a target that has two slits adjacent to each other, we would expect the one electron, if it is a particle, to go through one of the two slits. But if the electron is a wave, it will flow through both slits and form a wave interference pattern. It turns out that when the observer puts an electron counter in back of each slit, the electron is counted as coming through only one slit. But when the observer puts a screen behind the slits that is capable of detecting an interference pattern from a wave flowing through both slits, then an interference pattern is detected. The outcome of the event is determined by the observer’s choice of detection method. In more general terms, we would say that the outcome is determined by the “relationship” between observer and event.

If we make another generalization, and consider that the observer is actually an event in itself (when I came bursting out of my mother’s womb, she definitely considered that an event), then we can conclude that (1) events are much more intricately interrelated with each other at the quantum level than we previously thought, and (2) observers are much more intricately interrelated with each other at the quantum level than we previously thought. So if I am one observer, and you are another observer, then we both have separate identities; this can be considered our independent particle nature. But from another perspective we are also both like two interdependent waves, and so there is this intrinsic interconnectedness going on all the time which we are not always aware of . Higher consciousness allows us to be more aware of it.

This is all based on generalizations. If we are not careful, we could generalize anything to mean something it is not We need some kind of evidence that the generalizations we come up with really apply. Psychic phenomena like ESP suggests
that unusual interconnectedness in people’s thoughts can exist. I like the scientific experiments proving that strong emotions that activate specific areas in the brain in one person causes the same specific areas of the brain in another person nearby to become immediately active without any transfer of sensory information from one person to another. This suggests a kind of entanglement between neurons in two brains, similar to quantum entanglement. Still, this kind of evidence (for quantum-like interconnectedness between people with separate identities) is at the “suggestive” stage, not solid proof, so the conclusion is based partly on suggestive evidence and partly on belief (i.e., faith that it is true).

Here is where I hit an area of struggle in my thinking. I understand that there is the possibility that we can come to know something is true through revelation, super-intuition, some other special mental process, or gnosis; instead of by physical evidence and sequential logic. And then, because we are individuals, this special process of knowing is understood and expressed by each of us in different manners, different religious ideas that don’t agree on the surface when we get down to discussing details of our individual perspectives, but on the level beyond details they point to the same truth that makes us better than we would be otherwise. I understand all this as a “possibility”, not yet a certainty, which from my perspective is a form of honesty that I should not have to apologize for even though it might seem to disappoint others. I maintain this stance because I think it protects me from jumping to conclusions to believe in something that may be false. I am willing to reduce or put aside this skepticism, but I want to be sure first. In this respect I am like the disciple Philip who missed Jesus’ first appearance that other disciples witnessed after the crucifixion. I want to put my hands in his wound as you have (so to speak), and so far that has not happened.

So I continue to ask questions and challenge assertions by others that don’t seem to me to fit at first glance. If Josh asserts that the baptism in spirit and fire described in Acts is the release of kundalini energy, I see a problem with that because Acts describes this as an action of an external aspect of God upon the followers of Jesus to imbue them with some supernatural capabilities, and Josh is asserting that what is described in Acts is a metaphor for an individual developing a release of tremendous spiritual power on his own from within himself. My response is OK, Josh’s assertion is a possibility, although it takes a lot of stretching from the scriptural context, but it could also be totally wrong. Maybe salvation does not come from the inside. Maybe it is bestowed by the ultimate superior being as the scripture’s plain reading implies, despite the fact that some people consider such a belief childish to them.

anny May 4, 2016 at 11:07 am

Hi Robert,

Thanks for your second explanation but as I mentioned before, I just do not get the details, no matter how much trouble you take to try and make it clear to me, and I am really interested only in the essence. I am glad that you think I at least got that more or less.

The way it seems to work for me is that something is triggered in me when I read information like that, which somehow makes me grasp something of the essence. If that makes any sense to you. As always it is a matter of intuition.

You need facts and deduce things from those, whereas I work with my intuition most of all.
You look for facts and I look for patterns, which for you do not seem to be enough as solid proof. Then again, I do not need solid proof.
I look for pointers and if those were to point in the wrong direction I would feel that intuitively and turn back sooner or later.
Most of all, I know that whatever we think we know at any given moment is not yet the Absolute Truth anyway because we cannot possibly understand that yet, whether you are a scientist or an intuitive person like I am. This is after all a world of illusion, or a dream (tardema).

That is why I always keep to the only guideline I have, Unconditional Love.

I respect your approach to all this because that is yours and you could not possibly feel things the way I do. But for me it does not work that way and I hope you can respect that. I do not worry so much whether I get things right or wrong as I am not trying to prove anything. Undoubtedly I will get them wrong sometimes but so does everyone. I do not think God judges people on getting things right or wrong as long as we search honestly. To me the important thing is Love, unconditional Love for God and each other. And I think that also means agreeing to disagree sometimes without claiming the truth for ourselves.

Which is why I can live quite easily with Joshua’s explanation about a possible Kundalini experience being described in Acts. Maybe it is true or maybe it is not. I might be wondering but I do not mind. Besides that I am not so sure that whatever is written in any New Testament Bible text is the original text. And then I am referring to the different (parts of) manuscripts that have very many variant readings and words that were crossed out and ‘improved’ upon. Or copied in the wrong way. Let alone mentioning the many differences in translations. You can never be sure that the text in front of you says the same as the original text did as no one knows what that original text was. That does not mean to say that there is no message or inspiration in the New Testament but we cannot keep to the letter so much in this respect.

If you have doubts about Joshua’s explanation and feel good with another one, then just stick to that one as long as you feel that way. You write: “Maybe salvation does not come from the inside. Maybe it is bestowed by the ultimate superior being as the scripture’s plain reading implies, despite the fact that some people consider such a belief childish to them.” Why does it have to be: either – or? I believe that it is almost certainly both again. I do believe it has to come from the inside but I also believe that we cannot possibly accomplish this without help.

Love,

Anny

Robert May 5, 2016 at 12:03 pm

Anny,

I understand your point of view somewhere in a less used part of my brain. Unconditional love, as you describe it. Even though I am skeptical of the application of kundalini to the bible, I am also skeptical of my own skepticism, so the last few days I have doing exercises to clear my 7 chakras just to see what would happen.

anny May 5, 2016 at 1:17 pm

Hi Robert,

I just discovered your comment of May 5th to mine of May 4th. and I use this reply button as there is none under yours anymore. I just hope it ends up more or less in the right place.

I am glad that you are willing to consider what I wrote with your less used part of your brain. I hope you succeed in doing that better than I do because I seem to get nowhere with that part.

I wish you success with your exercises. Please tell me when you succeed. Then I might also give them a try.

Christine Hoeflich April 30, 2016 at 11:31 am

Hi Claudine and Anny,

if only people could take the next step from being reactive and angry JW’s (or fanatical atheists) to being empowered individuals who believed in their own direct connection to God / Higher Power. (That’s the challenge and the opportunity available to us today–but many do not see it yet.)

Your connection with your higher self, your intuition, is the source of that empowerment / higher power. Every time we ignore our intuition, we weaken that connection, get ourselves into trouble somehow, and give up our power.

That’s why I do the work I do and write what I write on my blog, “Your Spiritual Awakening.”

Sean’s story may be a bit crazy, but it illustrates his connection to his inner guidance / intuition and it certainly makes one wonder:
http://www.christinehoeflich.com/craziest-intuition-story-ever-the-power-of-intuition-for-transforming-your-life/

Claudine May 3, 2016 at 7:33 am

Hi Christine,

Thanks for sending that link. It’s a great story. Sean’s certainly had a wild ride – quite literally. It’s almost like a Hollywood movie larger than life.

Your blog sounds interesting and I’ll stick my head in there again and read more one of these days.

Sincerely,
Claudine

Christine Hoeflich May 4, 2016 at 10:00 pm

Thanks Claudine!

my next post will be a basic one, addressing what really people are asking for when they ask about how to connect to their higher self. I have also rewritten my free Quick Start Guide, making it clearer, with a lower FK score (the guide is about how to connect to your higher self and your intuition), and I’m offering that to the readers as well as current subscribers.

Glad to meet you in the Internet!

Christine

Claudine May 3, 2016 at 2:53 am

Hi Robert,

(*Posted on “Hell: The Fallen Doctrine” page too)

Sounds like you’ve got quite a colourful cast of characters in your family. So do I. I think when we’re kids growing up it’s normal to idealise our fathers. I certainly did. My father was a hero in my naive eyes – strong, magnetic, charismatic, hard working, storyteller, influential, affectionate, kind hearted etc. However, when I grew up I saw his humanity including his weaknesses, insecurities, blind spots and the many questionable decisions he’d made. Although this realisation made me knock him off the pedestal (in disappointment) and forced me to see the real man, it was strangely liberating too. He wasn’t perfect after all and certainly not the expert or authority on everything. I realised I was free to become my own person. I still love him immensely of course and I’m always proud of him but, I’m not defined by him. I see him for what he is – an equal and a person who makes mistakes just like me. He’s an atheist these days and we get into some funny conversations lemme tell ya! “Hey dad, do you ever wonder if there could be like, this quantum mind where there’s like, this interconnectedness of all life of not only this planet but, beyond?”. “NO. And before you start, there’s no such thing as God either. Only science”. Haha it’s great and I know we both secretly enjoy our exchanges even if we don’t agree.

I hope your son in-law gets his visa granted soon. It must be frustrating waiting and not knowing. My husband and I have been to Turkey. It’s beautiful and so rich in history. We made some nice friends in Istanbul. Yes I agree that many terrorist groups have exploited the Quran to justify their criminal behaviour. I sometimes also think Islamic State has created a new strain of Islam in a way to legitimise their radical approach. They’re less radicalised Muslims but, rather more like criminals who’ve hijacked the Muslim faith to justify their barbarity. There’s been a shift in the typical profile of terrorist recruits compared to the al-Qaeda days too. Today’s recruits have the characteristics of deviant street gangs than religious extremists don’t you think? I read something lately that said security experts have noticed a trend, a pattern which is that religion as a motivational factor has nose-dived among the latest generation of Jihadists. New recruits have deep criminal roots with poor knowledge of Islam but, attracted to the violent ideology, they become eager accomplices and justify their brutality by saying they’re doing it for God. They don’t need paradise and virgins as a reward anymore because they can have it all right now.

I must admit I have not read the Quran myself so I don’t know about the flawed principles in the fine print you point out. There’s no doubt religion impacts the horrors mankind inflicts on each other. Sacred books have always been distorted and misused to justify and spread inhumanity and don’t think the bible is immune to that. I can’t help but think of the African slave trade right up until the 19th century for example, and how Christian slave traders and pastors used many scriptures in the OT and NT to justify that. Genesis 9 was used to justify inferiority of dark skinned people and was a handy convenient passage to exploit and oppress whomever they liked. There’s no shortage of mass murder examples in the OT either. There are many scriptures Christians have used to justify their violence against each other and the more fanatical, misguided ones even teach that the murder of men, women and children is the righteous reaction to all people who disbelieve in God. I use my own JW background as a perfect example of religion using bible versus to justify medical neglect of life saving blood transfusions. The bible and what it says on homosexuality justifies all the hate crimes, homophobia and violence against them. I think hatred based on religion and race is the core of the problem. I think any sacred book in the wrong hands has the potential to cause suffering where all sorts of abuses can be carried out and justified.

Sincerely.
Claude

Robert May 3, 2016 at 5:44 pm

Claudine,

I guess what I am saying is that the Quran is distinguished from other scriptures that are considered sacred texts by their followers, in that if it is followed with a full understanding and appreciation of itself, and not just a distorted interpretation by apostate exploiters, it prescribes violence like you wouldn’t believe. Not only that, it considers Muslim believers who do not carry out the prescribed violence to be unfaithful. Check out https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/quran/violence.aspx.

I love Muslims who are not violent. I love sharing with them, and learning from them, the universal message of love and unity that we uphold from our different faiths. Some of that message comes to Muslims by way of the non-violent scriptures in the Quran and the emphases of Muslim scholars and clergy in modern times, some of whom are influenced by the West.

The supreme spiritual leader of Iran is not one of those clergy. He is Israel’s worst enemy, and does not care much for the US who he refers to as the great Satan. But I cannot accuse him of being a thug who loves violence for the sake of it, or someone who is being apostate to the Quran. The scriptures that prescribe violence in the Quran give him permission and even an obligation to act the way he does, and for other Muslims to follow him. Muslims in Iran who resisted him openly were punished by authorities acting out of the same permission and obligation.

This is in contrast to Christians who did evil things because they were acting in apostasy to the true intended meaning of their sacred scriptures. So there is room for eventual correction, holding the scriptures up as a standard for correction, with no need to change the scriptures.

I am not sure how modern Muslim scholars and clerics who teach non-violence deal with the scriptures that prescribe violence. The Quran is a complicated scripture book, not as topological or chronological as other scriptures, so that parts of it can easily remain buried by teachers who choose not to emphasize it, and instead extract out of it only values that are acceptable to Western culture. This suggests to me that a non-violent interpretation of the Quran is one that is apostate to the complete intention of the Quran when it was written. I think with few exceptions, the Muslim world holds to the belief that the source of the Quran was a series of revelations from the angel Gabriel received by the Prophet Mohammad at different times while in a trancelike state. If we assume as the Muslim world generally believes, that the Quran as it exists now is a faithful dictation of those revelations to Mohammad’s scribes, and nothing has been altered since then, then it follows that the Prophet Mohammad, who the Muslim world views as the last and final authority on the will of Allah to mankind, is the revealer of the violent Quranic scriptures. Therefore, it follows that modern non-violent Muslims are being apostate to the Quran and the Prophet Mohammad, perhaps without realizing it.

The good news is that non-violent Muslims, while being unknowingly apostate to the Quran and the Prophet Mohammad, are being faithful to a more universal understanding of God and godliness because their scholars and clerics here in the West are teaching them to do this. I don’t know why or how they are doing it. Perhaps they are more educated in Western values and have learned to appreciate them. Perhaps they are teaching that violent prescriptions of the Quran were only relevant to the age when Islam required militance in order to survive and advance, but this is no longer true in the modern world. I can’t really say.

Robert May 3, 2016 at 6:46 pm

Claudine,

By the way, I do not endorse the general activity of the website I referenced. I only used it because it has a long list of Quranic scriptures justifying violence, and that part is reputable.

If as you say, today’s ISIS recruits have a predisposition toward violence, have criminal records, and are joining up to find a viable way to carry it out, that is promising, because it means that will wear out.

To my knowledge, a lot of original ISIS recruits came from the minority Sunni presence in Iraq that was once loyal to Saddam Hussein, were dismissed from their jobs and discriminated against by the new Shiite-friendly government of Iraq.

What will not wear out so easily is the politically motivated struggles between Shiite and Sunni. This is what caused the mess in Syria where Assad and his government are a sect of the Shiite minority in a country that is predominantly Sunni who have been persecuted by Assad along with its 10% Christian population and other minorities. So some of the Sunni population in Syria was recruited by ISIS. Other parts of the Sunni population and minorities were recruited by the the rebel resistance that the US has supported.

Did you say you liked Science Fiction? That is definitely my favorite form of fiction. I am waiting for the next season of Supergirl paired up with the Flash.

Claudine May 3, 2016 at 8:30 pm

Hey Robert,

HAPPY MAY 4
https://heavyeditorial.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/may-the-fourth-4th-be-with-you-memes-gifs-star-wars-day-18.gif?w=500

Yaye, we’re both sci-fi nerd dorks! It’s also international Free Comic book day this Saturday. In the recent Batman v Superman film, The Flash and Aquaman we’re on the screen for a few seconds hinting at getting their own movies too. The Wonder Woman film looks like it’s going to be awesome.

Claude

ps – I’ll read that link you sent soon

Claudine May 3, 2016 at 8:08 pm

Hi Robert,

Okay yes I see what you mean now. Thanks for expanding on that. It hadn’t occurred to me that non-violent Muslims trying to be moral and ethical could be considered apostates to the Quran and Mohammad. Whereas with the bible you’re saying there’s a difference between truth and actions which can still lead to the wrong actions if truth is ignored and manipulated by the individual? And although, holy books like the bible may not always contain facts, it contains symbols and metaphors which point the way to the truth whereas holy books like the Quran demand violence?

Maybe the world is going through another dark age. Our world is so dissociated like a neurotic person carried away by unconscious powers and we prefer to keep certain problems tucked away in separate drawers. Each side whether it’s east or west, prides itself on their good virtues, morals and intentions and yet each side fails to recognise the face of their own evil shadow grinning back at them from the other side. Life has always been a battleground hasn’t it and it will continue to be so as long as we remain convinced that “they” (our opponents) are wrong. You certainly are right that it is a very complicated situation to untangle. The sad truth is that man’s real life is made up of complex relentless opposites – day and night, birth and death, happiness and misery, good and evil etc, a battlefield. It’s precisely these conflicts within man that makes him cling to external religion and hope for a Golden Age (or Paradise).

Have you read any other holy books from other cultures? I have the Bhagavad Gita that a nice Hindu man gave me at the train station a few months ago. I’ve read a little. I grew up with the Christian concept of God and I know that’s not the way everyone sees the divine. So I want to know how other religions see God.

Claude

Claudine May 4, 2016 at 8:49 pm

Hi Anny,

I love your explanation of how your thinking process works. So eloquent and well-expressed and I can identify with what you say. You think intuitively. Our brains are so interactive and we use different disciplinary ways of seeing things. We think visually, we think in sound, we think in abstract terms, in movement etc everything is so intertwined. Learning is dynamic and creative and the task is to educate our whole being and not be afraid to be wrong because it’s all an on-going process of learning and sometimes unlearning and then relearning again from what we previously built upon.

Claude

anny May 5, 2016 at 11:40 am

Hello Claude,

Thanks for your comment. I love it that you understand what I am trying to explain as there are not so many people who do. It is very difficult to understand this way of thinking when you think in a different way. I know because there are so many things that I just do not get because I think in a different way from the people who explain them.

I love the way you phrase it too: “Our brains are so interactive and we use different disciplinary ways of seeing things. We think visually, we think in sound, we think in abstract terms, in movement etc everything is so intertwined. Learning is dynamic and creative and the task is to educate our whole being and not be afraid to be wrong because it’s all an on-going process of learning and sometimes unlearning and then relearning again from what we previously built upon.” Quantum physics in real life, I think.

I could not help but see the tail end of your question to Robert about the Bhagavad Gita. I also bought the book somewhere in the early nineties, I think, and read it once. All other religions beside Judaism and Islam were still strange to me at the time but it did speak to me somehow. Some years later I heard an extensive and very loving explanation of it from a Hindu teacher who was also very much cognizant of the contents of the Bible. He used both books to explain things side by side in order to understand things better, not in order to prove either one as superior to the other. He in his turn was taught by his mother, who remained illiterate all her life but was considered the wisest person he knew by this Hindu teacher who had several university degrees himself. I do not remember anything of what he explicitly taught us but it was grounded in Love, not war which was symbolical. It was all about conquering our own ego.

I never read the Gita again and certainly never felt the need to choose between the Gita and the Bible. But studying them together in this course only made things clearer for everyone.

Annt

Robert May 5, 2016 at 11:53 am

Anny and Claudine,

I agree. I am analytical rather intuitive. I only understood that deeply a few years ago when I started being more intuitive in very small ways. Being non-judgemental and quiet-minded helps that. I also noticed that in some situations I was at my best when I was intuitive. I also made some big mistakes trying to be too intuitive, so I learned to keep some analytical checking in the background. I still need to be more intuitive. In some ways I envy people who are able to naturally be intuitive.

It is hard for me to remember to be intuitive. And then I do this funny thing with wanting to analyze what intuition is, in what part of the brain does it occur, can I trust it, is there good intuition and bad intuition, etc., etc, etc.

I also am learning from a book I am reading called “Switch On Your Brain” by Dr. Caroline Leaf that 90% of brain activity is unconscious. We are highly influenced by this ocean of unconsciousness for better or worse. We can have negative intuitions and unconscious attitudes that secretly block us from being our best. These can become wired into our neural networks that constitute the unconscious. However, the brain has plasticity, meaning new neural networks can form. We can use our conscious minds to introduce new and better unconscious attitudes into the unconscious mind. Anyone at any age can do this. If we have unnecessary fear, avoidance, or hopelessness in response to certain situations, we can change that by consciously focusing on positive thoughts and an ideology that makes facing the situation more acceptable. By doing that we actually grow new neural networks in the unconscious mind. The growth can actually be photographed using brain scans. So this is for real, not just a theory.

anny May 5, 2016 at 1:53 pm

Hi Robert,

It look like we are following up each other’s comments all over this article today! Thanks for this one. I like the way we are getting closer to each other. We will never be the same but why should we? You are you and I am I and that is how it should be. Who needs copy-cats? And it is easier to be intuitive when you are by nature, just as it is easier to be analytical when you are by nature. Both are good and both have their pitfalls. Of course I see your pitfalls easier than mine but that does not mean that I do not have them.

It is perfectly understandable that in your case you immediately want to analyze everything again. And that I even have an aversion to that. It belongs to the type of person we are, and in our case maybe also to the fact that you are a man and I am a woman.

I do understand what you explain about the brain more or less. I know about neuroplasticity and the making and atrophying of neural pathways. I think that was explained pretty well in the film What the Bleep, years ago. With pictures if I remember correctly. Did you see it? I know that this applies very much to me but somehow it is easier said than done to constantly focus on positive thoughts. I am exercising that constantly and still manage to inadvertently slid into negative thoughts frequently and focus back on the positive of course. But before those new pathways are actually there it is hard work. Do you not recognize that?

Robert May 4, 2016 at 11:16 pm

Claudine,

Besides knowing about various forms of Judaism and Christianity (both exoteric and some of the esoteric), I’m a little familiar to varying degrees with Buddhism, Tao, Hindu, Islam, Baha’i, Sufism (esoteric Islam) , and the religion of the Druze (also esoteric Islam-based). I read parts of the JW bible and the Book of Mormon a long time ago.

I’m familiar with the Bhagavad Gita, but not anywhere as much as several other readers and writers on SOS who have lived by it at one time or another. I found it helpful when learning about it to find a simple commentary online to try and understand it better.

The literature commentaries are not very good. One that describes the spiritual significance but not too lengthy and not too buried in hindu terminology is https://www.iskconbooks.com/Chapter-wise-Summary-of-Bhagavad-Gita-As-It-Is.asp, and the section on the same site on the five basic truths. What I can relate to most about it is the dilemma that the main character finds himself in being caught between a rock and a hard place in a war between two factions over a village where he may have to kill friends and relatives to discharge his duty as a warrior. When he hesitates, his chariot driver reveals himself as Krishna, the incarnation of God, who directs him to fulfill his destiny as a warrior in the connected karmic reincarnation cycles of all people involved by putting the purposes of God first, and not attaching himself to human sentiments. Dying in battle was considered a good thing for karma by the Hindu (reminds me of Wharf from Star Trek), and death can liberate souls to advance to the next cycle to work out their karma. If he does this right thing putting God first and continues in this kind of direction, the main character can transcend the cycles of karma and become an eternally enlightened one.

So in order to align himself with his higher destiny, Krishna instructs him to practice meditation and other hindu disciplines (like renunciation of the lower self) to rise in higher understanding of the higher self. The Bhagavad Gita (Song of God) is considered by some to be the bible of the Hindu.

It is an allegory, so the meaning is not to suppress human compassion and fanatically perform what we think is God’s will. The message is about learning the skill of detachment from the lower desires and passions of material existence, and direct oneself passionately toward the greater good and purposes of the higher self.

It should be noted that the main character’s compassion for his friends and relatives brought him to the point of conflict so he could receive higher teaching, so without the compassion to begin with he would not have qualified to advance. Krishna provides the alternative of religion for people who are not ready to advance in consciousness.

The Gita is one model for higher consciousness. It involves karma, a higher self, reincarnation, and meditation. It has helped me understand more about these concepts and where they come from that appear in esoteric Christianity. It is not the only model to unite with God. And my personal spiritual path at present has me concerned about it appearing to be “shoed” into the bible to replace the direct meaning of scripture. It reminds me of Cinderella’s mother cutting off Cinderella’s sisters toe so it would fit the shoe. It looks right at first, until the prince notices blood dripping from the shoe. So I am like the prince noticing the blood and asking if there is another sister that might exactly fits the shoe.

But I don’t want to discourage you in your path. If you are drawn to explore the Gita, then this may be your destiny. I think this year I am considered the Black Sheep of SOS. But my response is that yes I may be the Black Sheep, but I am not a Lost Sheep; I know the Shepherd, I hear his voice and I follow him. True, I follow him better when I am calm and aware of ego issues. Yes, it is easier when you know yourself and can control yourself. But I separate self knowledge from initial salvation. As scripture says “Without him I could do nothing” (John 15:5).

I appreciate your sentiments about life as a battlefield, having to make difficult choices. Perhaps the battlefield strategy in the Gita will help you find peace in transcendence. Now we have to choose between loose-canon Trump and crooked Hillary. It’s easy for me. At least crooked Hillary won’t keep my Muslim step son-in-law from immigrating from Turkey.

anny May 5, 2016 at 12:50 pm

Hi Robert,

From where do you get the idea that you are considered to be the Black Sheep of SOS? You are not. And what is wrong with black sheep anyway?

You are a person with strong convictions and you are entitled to those convictions. And you have uttered those convictions time and again when you do not agree with what is being written on this blog. Again, you have every right to do so and no one has denied you that right as far as I know.

However, this blog is about esoteric bible interpretation and the people who read it and write on it are people who are interested in this way of interpretation. To which they have every right as well. So when you write a lot of comments which go against what they believe, then they reply to that in the way they see things. There is nothing wrong in that and nothing against you personally.

You are not a lost sheep either, but even if you were, what of it? You should know that the Shepherd would leave all the other sheep behind and go in search of you! You follow his voice. Well, so do I, and probably quite some others as well. I (or we) just understand his message in a different way these days.

What I do not understand is why you seem to object to other people’s wish to do some research into some other religions whereas you yourself have done so extensively as well. My aim in doing so was never a wish to convert to any of them and I am sure yours was not either. We just wanted to see for ourselves. So why should others not have the same right?

I also possess the Book of Mormon by the way, My daughter came home with a Dutch copy of the book after a visit in Utah somewhere many years ago. It was given to her as a present and she thought I might be interested .I never managed to read it to the end though.

As far as your presidential elections are concerned, I am glad I won’t have to vote in them. And cannot your step son-in-law immigrate before the elections? Just in case?

Anny

Robert May 5, 2016 at 5:48 pm

Anny,

My step son-in-law, Omir, submitted his papers through an immigration lawyer to the US immigration service about three months ago. It is a long process. Lots of people applying. Immigration staff flooded and now having to make sure they follow the new vetting procedures for people of Muslim backgrounds coming from areas in the Middle East that ISIS has penetrated. He was told he would have an answer no later than 6 months. We have heard stories that immigration applications have been declined after six months because of some minor mistakes in paperwork, and having to make corrections and reapply, then to wait another six months to see if you got it right. If Omir has a good immigration lawyer then this should not happen.

I was not aware I was objecting to anyone doing research on other religions, just sharing my experience and present perspective. I think it is valuable to be curious and open to exploring new spiritual ideas. The highly respect that the light may be leading someone to do this for that a purpose that is personal for them. I know for myself, Christianity that I was exposed to did not focus explicitly on detachment, even though there are bible verses that touch on it. And it was very weak on providing practical methods and techniques to accomplish it. People I knew in church usually did not try to detach themselves except from some very outward things. So the more subtle forms of detachment were not expected or addressed. The Hindu ideology for detachment is highly developed and refined. I find that valuable. I don’t have to accept the religious teachings on reincarnation and karma to experience that level of detachment. I can use it to enhance my Christian experience without having to syncretize it with Hindu religion. But I noticed when I first understood the Hindu religion I was excited and wanted to also embrace the religious part of it. But something kept bothering me about it. And I am beginning to see why it bothered me. No one else has to come to the same conclusions as I have. But what I have that is valuable to share is that is is healthy to keep a little distance from new experiences.

anny May 6, 2016 at 1:01 am

Hi Robert,

Sorry to hear about Omir’s experiences with the immigration authorities. It sounds only too familiar, I am afraid. We had more or less the same trouble to get our Vietnamese daugher in law Mi admitted to our country. Even without terrorist threats. Now she will start her procedure for Dutch citizenship and I do not know how long that will take. I hope Omir will be admitted to the US soon. Have they been married long already?

You are right, you were not really objecting to other people doing research on other religions. I used the wrong verb. I meant more, discouraging. And that was because of how you had experienced your quest after all. You want to save others that disappointment.

I recognize that from our days in Nes Ammim. We,as the ones who stayed there for a long time. Of course we were faced with so many problems and so many new things that we made lots of mistakes in the process in the beginning and learned from them. Then new people came in and made the same mistakes we made and we tried to keep them from doing so because we knew what they would lead to. But do you think they would listen? No. And indeed it was our mistake to even try. Everyone learns from his own mistakes, at least if he is wise enough to do that, but not from someone else’s because everyone experiences things in a different way.

Now that you explain how you felt when doing your research, I can understand that you would like to spare others that part. But I experienced that same search in a different way and so I could not understand why you seemed to be against it.

In the first place I did not believe in the one true religion anymore before I even started my quest. The Holocaust took care of that. So I started searching for truth in religion and already then only for the essence. I was not interested at all in embracing the religious part of it myself although it is interesting to be present at some festival or ceremony as a guest once in a while.

The only time I really had the feeling of taking part and being part of a Jewish service was in a Shabbat service in the synagogue of the Hebrew Union College of reform Judaism in Jerusalem where their rabbincal students from the US and the future chazzans spend the first year of their studies. There men and women sit together in the huge synagogue and travel groups are welcomed as guests, Jewish as well as Christian ones, and are invited for drinks and a guided tour through the College afterwards. The service was both in Hebrew and in English and we, the Christian group with which I also was in Safed earlier, felt completely welcome and accepted. I myself could follow the Hebrew part of the service easily and also join in singing the Hebrew songs as I knew them. That was special. Still, it never made me long to convert to Judaism but the rich Judaic tradition did enrich my Christian one. And I had a comparable experience in a Buddhist pagoda in Vietnam, where our other son and Vietnamese daughter in law had their wedding ceremony. Of course there the language and ceremony were not familiar to us but there was the same warm acceptance, without any expectation of a conversion on our part.

I cherish experiences like those and that is one of the reasons why I support doing research on other religions than your own.

In general I believe that everyone has to have his own experiences and that we should not try to keep others from having them. I think that is a difficult lesson for us as parents as well.

Anny

Robert May 6, 2016 at 12:07 pm

Anny,

I can see how you evaluate religions by how well you are treated and how well they respect others. Your intuition resonates with the warm and fuzzy ceremonial atmosphere. The manner in which you were raised and your present status of having a multi-cultural extended family would reinforce that for you. You can feel the love and the unconditional acceptance, and you want to pass it on so that others can experience it. Something to consider to put those experiences in perspective: if you were to go a little deeper below the shell of good will toward outsiders, you might not find the same unconditional love and acceptance. If you as an outsider wanted to marry an insider, there could be reservations. Or if you applied for a job to teach literature or ethics as an outsider in their private schools. If their kids under the age of 12 started going regularly with your kids to your weekly religious services, their parents could become concerned.

When Liz and I visited the orthodox Greek church in town during their annual open house celebration of food and dance performances under outdoor tents, there were no attempts at evangelism. Our Jewish relatives were not evangelized at our Messianic Jewish wedding.

I think most religious institutions have one face they show to outsiders and one to insiders and outsiders who will be more intimately involved with them on a daily basis.

Evangelical Christians believe they are duty bound to fulfill the Great Commision (Mathew 28:16-20) to all the nations, so there will usually be an invitation to receive Christ at their Sunday worship service. It could be said that they are performing their duty to God just as the main character in the Gita is encouraged by Krishna to serve God first and foremost.

If SOS were only showing the comparative aspects of religions and extracting from that a universal message of love and acceptance, then I would not have any desire or justification to challenge any issues. But many articles are actually attacking the foundations of the Christian religion, and to be fair, there should be some defense of some of those foundations if they are legitmate. So in that sense, those articles are being evangelical in there own right, engaged in a crusade to persuade people to reject those foundations, claiming they lead to missing the mark (sin) and proposing its own redemptive plan. So from my perspective, I am not the intruder. This new brand of crusaders are. And I recognize there is a lot of good in many aspects that they teach, but these crusaders seem to be trampling blindly at times without legitimate justification, damaging the innocent by their ignorance and pride. If I try to point that out to them, then I am encouraging, not discouraging, the greater good and freedom to make wiser choices. But I also recognize the wisdom in parts of their crusade that do not trample, and some of the deficiencies in my own wisdom.

So I do not think it is always appropriate to label me as “the discourager”, although it might be true occasionally as I am imperfect and human.

I think many people who follow SOS have had major bad experiences in their conventional religious backgrounds (if you consider JW or Southern Baptist conventional) and so there is an attraction to the SOS ideology that preserves some kind of spiritual meaning or new twist on it and also criticizes a lot of the traditional meaning. I would guess that there is no one who has been very happy with their religious background and now sees the ideology of SOS as the next logical progression of it. My concern is that many people were wounded and confused about their background religious experience and are signing on to new spiritual ideologies that promise something better, without really dealing with some of the issues that drove them away, and now accepting the new ideology lock, stock, and barrel because of the relief it promises to bring, without being careful enough to see some of the pitfalls in it.

Something else I have recently learned about the human brain, is that we are sometimes capable of having sudden revelatory experiences when things line up in our subconscious and conscious minds and we will jump on it and consider it to have some kind of cosmic or spiritual significance, without realizing all the implications. The “ah ha, now I see”, “samadhi” or “rhema from God” experience can “also” be induced chemically by one’s own brain due to a kind of human pattern recognition that triggers a response in our endocrine system. It is based on memories and input that seem to merge into a mystic conclusion causing a strong and pleasurable endocrine response. I say “also” because I believe it can be genuinely induced externally by a higher power, and we may not always know the difference if it is the higher power or an internal phenomenon that may not be accurate… unless we put it to the test. Do most of us pay attention to doing that..putting it to the test, or do we get a rush and base our lives on it?

anny May 7, 2016 at 1:58 am

Robert,

You write: “I can see how you evaluate religions by how well you are treated and how well they respect others. Your intuition resonates with the warm and fuzzy ceremonial atmosphere. ….. Something to consider to put those experiences in perspective: if you were to go a little deeper below the shell of good will toward outsiders, you might not find the same unconditional love and acceptance. If you as an outsider wanted to marry an insider, there could be reservations. ”

Why do you so often have to look for possible negative sides of things? Do you really think I am that naive and cannot feel when something is real or not? Don’t you know that I have had enough experiences of the negative kind in order to know what is what? My state of health right now is basically the result of all those negative experiences and more especially the fact that I still have not found the right way to deal with them. But developing a negative outlook and always having reservations definitely is not it for me. If you look for negative things, I am sure you will find them because your focus is on them and so you will create them.

Why is it so difficult to accept that people might actually mean what they say and how they act? As an intuitive person I would feel it immediately when it is just pretence. Then the atmosphere would not be warm and fuzzy, as you call it. It would feel cold and artificial to me.

You say: If you, as an outsider wanted to marry an insider, there could be reservations. What do you think we were doing there at a wedding? Our son IS the outsider who married the insider and who is not officially a Buddhist himself. There were no reservations but there was warm heartfelt advice how to behave when two cultures and religions come together. How to manage the rough spots and avoid the pitfalls. In this case my son was not an active church member anymore but in Vietnam there are many mixed religion marriages (10% of the Vietnamese are Christians) and the advice of the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh in that case is: Raise your children in both traditions. He himself studied theology at Princeton University! He calls Jesus and Buddha brothers. He is one of the most sincere people I know, who suffered a lot in his life, but did not turn sour. He is forever teaching compassion and promoting peace. Or was, until he got a stroke.

In the Hebrew Union College it was the same. It was genuinely warm and heartfelt and open. And I do not suppose that they want to train their future rabbi’s and chazzans to be people who put up a false front. They want them to go back to their roots, live in the country for a year, live in between the ordinary population, join archaeological digs, learn to speak Hebrew fluently. I really applaud that.

Of course this does not mean that everything is always on the up and up. In both examples that I mentioned I was not evaluating a religion but only relating an experience. Of course both Judaism and Buddhism all have their less pleasant aspects as well, just like every other religion, and all of them have their extremes and unpleasant members. But does that have to mean that you must distrust everyone and everything? Please do not analyse everything to death, Robert.

I do not think that either of the experiences I mentioned have anything to do with what you mention in your last paragraph. They were just good experiences with loving people.

Anny

Robert May 7, 2016 at 9:58 am

Anny,

Thanks for your comments. I’m sure you have discernment to smell a rose and smell a rat, so to speak (and everything else in between) and to use intuition and reason in combination. I was not evaluating your skills. I was addressing issues about any or all of us using intuition. It is a valuable way to experience and evaluate ourselves, others, and the world around us. So is reason. Both have limitations. Human technology now tells us something about where and how these processes of intuition and reason occur in the brain. It also tells us that they are good and useful, and also fallible. So I have a curiosity to know where “gnosis” and “rhema” type experiences fit into this. These are special experiences we attribute to being messages from the divine.

Also we now know that what we know, think, and intuit are based on memories that are formed as a result of the growth of little nodes of matter on the dendrite branches of neurons. The nodes can grow, stay the same, or shrink. These memories have a connection to our genes. We can’t change our DNA, but our thoughts and attitudes can make these genes express themselves one way or another. If we want to, we can change our gene expression by changing our thoughts.

Getting back to “gnosis” type experiences, there is evidence that the experience of “now I get it” can be mapped in our bodies as a combination of the interaction of memory and the endocrine system. Since our memories which serve us well are also fallible and changeable, this can carry over into the “now I get it” experience. This leads me to conclude that “gnosis” is either (1) just a response to our memories conditioned within us, and so it can be fallible, or (2) guided by some higher power or mystery to keep it from becoming fallible. If the first choice is true, then we are all in a heap of trouble. If the second choice is true, then it is the higher power or mystery that saves us, and we would be in a heap of trouble if we were not being saved. If that is then true, then we cannot “save ourselves”, we cannot provide an infallible blueprint on our own (but we have to follow and build upon the infallible blueprint we are given).

This is my conclusion. No one has to agree with it. I am not asking anyone to. I am showing my response in light of new information I have acquired about thoughts, intuition, and memory.

anny May 8, 2016 at 1:06 am

Hi Robert,

Thanks for your comment. We may disagree a lot but we can each learn from each other’s way of thinking.

I’d like to give my view on the following quote, just looking at it from another perspective:

“This leads me to conclude that “gnosis” is either (1) just a response to our memories conditioned within us, and so it can be fallible, or (2) guided by some higher power or mystery to keep it from becoming fallible. If the first choice is true, then we are all in a heap of trouble. If the second choice is true, then it is the higher power or mystery that saves us, and we would be in a heap of trouble if we were not being saved. If that is then true, then we cannot “save ourselves”, we cannot provide an infallible blueprint on our own (but we have to follow and build upon the infallible blueprint we are given).”

As you know I see this world we live in as not the real world but a fictional world in which we can grow in conscious awareness through all our experiences in that world, which we experience as real but in themselves are not real.

I see this world as an illusion, or a dream (tardema). It has also been called a game and indeed it can be compared to a computer game in which all possible choices are already there as potential realities. As such each person will create a different world on the basis of the choices he or she makes.

When we enter the game, we leave our real identity behind and everything we know. We put on a blindfold (physical body = ‘or’, animal skin, = ‘iver’, blind). In this condition we now have to choose which choice of the first array of choices we want to make into a reality for us and then experience the consequences of that choice. Next we will be presented with a new array of choices and so on. Until game over. After the game we re-examine the choices we made and see where it might have been better to make another choice. So we start a new game and proceed on the basis of our conclusions.

That is what the idea of karma and reincarnation is about, I think. You can interpret that in two ways as well as the game is a game of duality: 1) karma is guilt which you have incurred in your previous life or game and in the next one you are punished for it, or 2) karma = action. On the basis of what you have learned from the previous life you decide what you can improve this time. And so on. It is all a matter of choice. There is real no guilt but only an increase or decrease of conscious awareness that has been lost or gained by our choices.

Since we are only playing a game and there is no real guilt involved, there is no need for salvation. There is just a game which helps us gain conscious awareness, which IS real. And as we get stuck sometimes, as I invariably do, we need all the help we can get in order to reach the final level of the game and bring it to a successful end.

And that help is available. We only have to call the Help desk.

And when we get really stuck and cannot bring this game to an end on our own anymore, Someone is sent to us to explain the rules of the game again very clearly and to play a round of the game with us in order to show how it is done. After that we will be able to continue the game on our own again, with some help from the Help desk from time to time.

Of course it is clear that time, space and matter, and karma and reincarnation, are only tools to help us play the game as none of it exists in reality. But as long as we are still living within the reality of this game, and we cannot possibly grasp the Absolute Reality yet, these concepts are good tools to work with.

Well, that is how I see this concept anyway. No need to agree of course.

Robert May 9, 2016 at 10:30 am

Anny,

I have a great appreciation for the concepts you express about reincarnation being like a game of learning that our eternal beings play. Earlier this morning I was noticing a resemblance to reincarnation in the biblical succession of kings. Each king’s reign can be considered one life cycle in the kingship soul of Israel. The kingship keeps getting reincarnated through biological reproduction and played out in different scenarios of not so bad kings and not so good kings with a sprinkling of very good kings and very wicked kings. This all points to the end of karmic recycling in the King of Kings, Christ, the perfect model for perfecting man, who escapes repeated incarnations through being resurrected to a permanent glorified state. This is the model we follow in development of Christ consciousness as we follow the same path of reincarnations to fulfillment in resurrection. We can accelerate our progress through the cycle of reincarnations by studying the lessons such as those learned from the succession of kings, instead of having to wait to reincarnate to learn them firsthand.

anny May 10, 2016 at 1:13 am

Hi Robert,

Thanks for your reply. While following through this model, which actually I had never done before to such an extent, things became much clearer for me too.

I like your example with the kings of Israel as well. Once you see patterns, you recognize them in other places too. And each example of course adds something to the previous one. The resurrection of Christ then is the quantum leap which ends the need to reincarnate. As in the birth of the Christ Consciousness in man.

You conclude: “We can accelerate our progress through the cycle of reincarnations by studying the lessons such as those learned from the succession of kings, instead of having to wait to reincarnate to learn them firsthand.”

I agree up to a point. I have noticed that I have learned a lot from discovering all these patterns through the esoteric interpretation from Bible texts. Like the interpretation of Gethsemane and Golgotha as necessary processes. But I still have to go through the experience of these processes. I cannot escape feeling the pain they cause but understanding what it is I am going through does make it lighter if not easier.

You do not learn how to drive a car by only studying the theory. You will have to do the practical part as well if you want to be able to drive. It is the same with life, whether we like it or not. And I must admit that I am not all that enthusiastic about the practical side of things most of the time. But it has to be done, I am afraid. And the result will be more than worth it.

Robert May 10, 2016 at 1:10 pm

Anny,

You give a very interesting depiction of what most of us call “the real world” as a game or illusion. It fits in well with the concept of higher consciousness involving identification with a higher self (the Christ within) which is somewhat detached from the lower self and can observe the actions and intents of the lower self, and is somewhat immune from the negative activities and experiences of the lower self.

Before I started meditating and practicing mindfulness, I was very immersed in my real life experiences and had mostly only an intellectual idea of a super-conscience. The church would teach us to reflect on our actions and intents, looking at ourselves through God’s eyes, repenting for sins which (we were told) the Holy Spirit would bring to mind, in order to receive forgiveness so as to restore or maintain our relationship with God. This was very helpful in many respects. Meditation and mindfulness gave me an additional handle in reflecting, in being able to perceive myself and the world around me with less self-immersion. I could actually sense the relief that comes from detachment. I could have insights about how to conduct myself without going through a formal ritual of repentance. I saw issues and problems like a game of chess, and instantly being aware of the strategy to move one chess piece here and another there.

I think both the formal ritual and the detachment form of reflection are both useful and complementary.

I think the idea that “real life” is a game is also a form of detached reflection.

When having to drudge through unpleasant experiences, I think it is helpful to relax and go through the motions without tensing up and anticipating more pain than there actually is. It is a kind of acceptance of negative experiences that enables us to stop fighting and fearing it and instead find more value in it. Instead of getting sea sick when we see big waves, we can learn how to ride them and be rewarded with a sense of accomplishment.

anny May 11, 2016 at 1:18 am

Hi Robert,

Thanks for your interesting comment. The longer you think about things like this, the more valuable aspects turn up.

You write: “I think the idea that “real life” is a game is also a form of detached reflection.” I would rather say that playing with this idea is a form of detached reflection, as I believe that this idea itself is more real than the world we live in right now.

The idea that this world is a world of illusion comes from Buddhism, I believe. They call it maya. The Hindu’s call it leela, which means game. And the Bible calls it ‘tardema’, which means dream, in Genesis. So people in the ancient world were already aware of this.

Your advice in the last paragraph is so true. But good to be reminded of it in these terms. Thanks. It is resistance that causes suffering. Of course these processes I mentioned are about this as well. When you learn to see a difficult experience as good after all because you have grown in conscious awareness because of it, it also means that you have given up your resistance against it.

Robert May 11, 2016 at 3:55 pm

Anny,

Yes, we are very close on these things we discussed.

claudinedavis@gmail.com May 6, 2016 at 2:47 am

Hey Robert and Anny,

“Ewe” are not the black sheep of the SOS family! – Heehee get it, get it?? That’s my “Statler and Waldorf”-esque contribution for the day…

Seriously though, like Anny says there’s nothing wrong with black sheep anyway. You see things differently and have your own opinions, and my guess is you’re probably inclined to feel like you’re fighting a losing battle against whatever the status-quo is at times? The irony is that SOS readers are the black sheep of the religious establishment heehee. I’d probably be considered a black sheep of my ultra conservative Baptist relatives myself if I told them of my esoteric interests. I wouldn’t be very popular put it that way but, I don’t mind and understand that not everyone is going to agree with me. Despite disagreeing at times with what’s said here, you’re back each week with your razor sharp comments and we love it and look forward to your two cents worth just like everyone else’s. You certainly have a wealth of knowledge in that brain of yours and how you retain it all is amazing.

Anny, my grandfather is Nicaraguan born, raised in Costa Rica. His 100th birthday is coming up in August and the family is taking him to Nicaragua to visit his favourite childhood places. You must be so proud of your daughters that’s wonderful.

Here’s a great (but, LOOOONG) read all about history and the way we learn:

http://waitbutwhy.com/2016/01/horizontal-history.html

Claude

Claudine May 6, 2016 at 12:49 pm

Hi Robert,

Nah, personally being on SOS is not an endorphin “feel good” rush quick solution. I just think you over analyse things and may be jumping to conclusions.

I’m totally comfortable realising things at my own pace. Not at all phased.

As I’ve stated before, to think that a particular religion is more unique or ultimate than another is simply ignorance or arrogance and usually prejudice because spiritual progress is non-denominational.

When people become fixated on their religious interpretation being the right one, their version of truth + their excessive emotions = problems. It’s the cause of most wars. Religion and spirituality are not the same thing.

Sincerely,
Claude

Robert May 6, 2016 at 3:05 pm

Claudine,

Oops. I can see how you might have thought I was addressing you personally about the rush thing, but I really did not intend that. My apologies. Please do not take it that way. I was really talking more generally about evaluation of truth based on impressions and confirming agreeable sensory feelings we get from the reduction of cognitive dissonance. I used the rush thing as an exaggeration, which in retrospect may have been a bad choice. I am addressing the whole SOS audience in mentioning that we do experience physiological sensations when something gels in our thoughts that “now I get it”. Not just endorphins. Signals from the general brain are connected to a central lower area of the brain which is linked by nerve pathways to a separate neurological (thinking) center in the heart, which will cause blood pressure to decrease and a pleasant sensation of comfort. So when we say I know in my heart that such and such is true, and that you have a peace about it, there is some element of truth to that… the heart organ is not just a blood pump. There are negative physiological changes (like worry and depression) that come as a result of cognitive dissonance and positive physiological experiences (like uplifting confidence or positive expectation) that come from the opposite (or release from) cognitive dissonance. Over the course of examining an issue, we can accumulate an attitude (thought combined with feeling) toward the issue based on successive reflections that consolidate that attitude. But… there is no guarantee it is accurate. So I advocate testing consolidated attitudes with a little intentional skepticism.

This being said, I am interested in getting a handle on experiences we deem spiritual… are they derived from a supernatural power beyond, or are they internally generated from our limited impressions and inclinations for everything to make sense, regardless of whether those limited impressions are accurate or not? I think they can be one or the other at times. So how do you or I tell the difference? Is what we esoterics call “gnosis” from the higher power or something we agree to merely because it provides a benefit in relieving cognitive dissonance?

I think I have commented before that I think you express yourself well and reason with a lot of intelligence, which I admire and envy because I think you understand people better than I do unless I try real hard. The more I try, the better I get at it, sometimes inadvertently stubbing a few toes along the way. I certainly did not intend to single you and anyone out as being superficial. Perhaps what I am addressing is the potential for all of us to have some measure of superficiality in our thinking.

Maybe I am a channel for a voice crying out in the wilderness to all of us not to trample on some things that are traditionally sacred without taking a second look at the issues and at ourselves.

Robert May 6, 2016 at 3:31 pm

Claudine,

By the way, did you check the website I referenced about understanding the Gita? I thought is might be helpful to you.

anny May 8, 2016 at 1:17 am

Robert,

I did click on the link you provided but only got a notification that the website could not be found!

Anny

Robert May 7, 2016 at 12:53 pm

Claudine,

Richard Dawkins is the most well known champion of the idea that religion is the root of all evil. This article in two parts examines Richard Dawkins’ assertion that religion is the root of all evil. http://www.bethinking.org/atheism/the-root-of-all-evil-the-problem-with-richard-dawkins-faith.

Jesus told the Pharisees that the love of money was the root of all evil, that they could not serve God and Mammon. The “love of money” can be considered an individual example of a more general source of corruption that can take on many forms such as misuse of political power and exploitation of religion by corrupted institutions. This can be viewed as the actions and intentions of a self-interested ego. Revelations describes the defeat of “Babylon the Whore”, the symbolic capitol of all corruption, so that pure altruistic spirituality and union with the divine are restored, accompanied by a great reward for those who have persevered in its cause.

My understanding of Josh’s presentations on Revelations is that this victory is accomplished by dominance over the self-interested ego by the more highly developed super-ego (or higher self), this higher self symbolized by the esoteric version of the Christ that is inherently within; and this dominance can be brought about by various means, one explanation of which is the rise of kundalini energy.

I agree with most of that in some way or another, except that I question whether the Christ is inherently within when someone is not saved (rescued), in some way or another, by a power or mystery without. Kundalini to me is a symbol of potential, just like a coiled spring has potential to change its environment when released. Some may argue that kundalini is released in someone as a result of acquired knowing (knowledge, gnosis). But then I would want to ask them, “Where is it acquired from?” It seems not everyone acquires whatever it is that enables this kundalini potential in each individual to be released. So what agent makes that happen and where is it? Is it in a book about kundalini? Then what inspired someone to read the book and what inspired the author to write the book? It seems to me there must be some kind of divine destiny that influences us, is beyond our control, and keeps those of us that respond to it out of the gutter.

So religion practiced out of the self-interested ego has a lot of downsides. But it is not religion per se that is the culprit, but how we use or abuse it. No human religious institution is perfect. And people abuse religion all the time by using a distorted version of what it was meant to be in order to justify self-interest. Does that make religion the culprit? If it is the culprit, and if we would do better by following Richard Dawkins’ suggestion that we do away with all religion altogether, then why didn’t that work in 20th century communist countries which did just that.

anny May 8, 2016 at 2:07 am

Hi Robert,

This is just in response to the last paragraph of your comment. I completely agree with you here. It is nonsense to accuse religion, or politics, or science, or books or films of anything whatever.

It is not the concept of these things that can be guilty of anything but man because of what he puts into them.

The only reason that Richard Dawkins can come up with such an idea is the fact that he has made his conviction that God does not exist into a dogma. Once you do that, it is impossible to even consider anything at all that might point in another direction and it basically makes you a prisoner of your own belief.

Dogmas and beliefs are not something that belongs to religion exclusively. When we cling to any belief whatever as to a dogma we make it impossible for ourselves to grow beyond it should the time come to do that. When what we believe should be the final thing, then there is no need to make a dogma out of it because nothing could prove it wrong and we would be able to look into all other possibilities without any fear.

Anny

Robert May 9, 2016 at 10:53 am

Anny and Claudine,

I see Annie’s point, excessive dogma of any kind, even atheism, can “make you a prisoner of your own belief”. I do not agree with the JW’s approach, but I do not think they advocate violence. I think it is more like passive resistance and going door to door to spread their version of the message. There is a certain amount of arrogance that people on the other side of the door perceive as coming over. But it is not the same intense category of arrogance such as superiority of Hitler’s master race, or Muslim extremist Master faith. If my memory serves me well, The JW’s in their history have been persecuted and chosen to be martyred rather than be violent aggressors. Correct me if I am wrong.

Robert May 6, 2016 at 4:55 pm

Claudine,

FYI, the popular movie with Matt Damen and Will Smith, “The Legend of Bagger Vance” is said to be based on the Gita, Bagger Vance being a kind of Krishna figure who leads the main character to overcome a war trauma to regain his golf tournament skills and succeed in life.

Claudine May 8, 2016 at 8:33 pm

Hi Robert and Anyy,

I tried clicking on the Gita link but, as Anny noted its been removed. I’ll try typing the link instead of clicking it that might work.

Looks like I’m a few emails behind you and guys and you both get the award for most prolific writers on SOS! Just going back a few emails, the one after you called yourself the “black sheep” of SOS, Robert (which I replied to but, still hasn’t been published. On my computer it says: “your comment is awaiting moderation” probably because I included a link?).

I’m referring to your May 6 comment to Anny and SOS in general. It sounded slightly resentful. To me it came across as if you were implying that SOS readers are a combination of disenfranchised religious runaways, a motley cure trying to forge a new identity and that what Josh writes about only resonates with us because of our disollusionment. However, I think the majority of readers are simply bound together by a revolutionary spirit a new vision and we don’t follow any guru’s.

I agree with you both that religion in and of itself is not the culprit. Only when it becomes an unhealthy obsession or tyrannical does it cause problems. I’ve read “The God Delusion” and Christopher Hitchens’ “God Is Not Great” book and I found the tone particularly bullying and it turned me off. For all their intelligence they never moved me. Whereas Carl Sagan’s intellect surpassed both these guys and he really moved people and continues to inspire to this day: “The historical record makes clear that religious teaching, example, and leadership are powerfully able to influence personal conduct and commitment… Thus, there is a vital role for religion and science.” – Carl Sagan. And on the relationship between spirituality and science he said: “Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognise our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual.”

I agree with you too both that doing away with religion altogether isn’t the solution. I guess what I was trying to say which I’ve mentioned to you before Robert, was discrimination based on religion, ethnicity, nationalism etc separates people. A lot of these prejudices could be eradicated if we stopped believing in these categories, these divisions, these rankings etc and maybe if everyone could practice tolerance or even thrive on theological debate – much like we do right here, right now on SOS! 🙂

Love,
Claude

ps – here is my May 6 reply which never posted (minus the link):

Hey Robert and Anny,

“Ewe” are not the black sheep of the SOS family – Heehee get it, get it?? That’s my “Statler and Waldorf”-esque contribution for the day…

Seriously though, like Anny says there’s nothing wrong with black sheep anyway. You see things differently and have your own opinions, and my guess is you’re probably inclined to feel like you’re fighting a losing battle against whatever the status-quo is at times? The irony is that SOS readers are the black sheep of the religious establishment heehee. I’d probably be considered a black sheep of my ultra conservative Baptist relatives myself if I told them of my esoteric interests. I wouldn’t be very popular put it that way but, I don’t mind and understand that not everyone is going to agree with me. Despite disagreeing at times with what’s said here, you’re back each week with your razor sharp comments and we love it and look forward to your two cents worth just like everyone else’s. You certainly have a wealth of knowledge in that brain of yours and how you retain it all is amazing.

Anny, my grandfather is Nicaraguan born, raised in Costa Rica. His 100th birthday is coming up in August and the family is taking him to Nicaragua to visit his favourite childhood places. You must be so proud of your daughters that’s wonderful.

Claude

Robert May 9, 2016 at 11:04 am

Anny and Claudine,

I figured out the problem with the link I used for the Gita. There is an “x” missing after the “asp” at the end. Here is the correct link:

https://www.iskconbooks.com/Chapter-wise-Summary-of-Bhagavad-Gita-As-It-Is.aspx

Claudine May 8, 2016 at 9:23 pm

Hi Anny & Robert,

Oops, so many typo’s in my comment today. Sorry “Anny” not “Anyy” and “motley crew” not “cure” urgh…

And Robert, I know you’re only trying to be the voice of reason on this site and there’s nothing wrong with being cautious. You’re that friend that talks people out of getting that crazy tattoo or extreme haircut they’ll regret tomorrow. You’re that friend who’s able to resist the 3am pizza while the rest of us indulge (but, that doesn’t mean you don’t battle with it, because maaaan, do you love pizza!). You’re that friend who has a spare copy of all your friends’ keys JUST IN CASE cos, that’s just the kinda guy you are and secretly we all appreciate that kind of friend 🙂

Claude

anny May 9, 2016 at 12:25 am

Hi Claude,

Never mind your typo’s. It is the content of your comments that counts. I am a master in typo’s myself and, in spite of checking and rechecking my comments, only seeing them once they are online! Do you know that phenomenon? When checking, I see what I am supposed to see and not what is really there, sometimes.

As far as getting my name wrong, that seems to be in the air somehow, I even did it myself somewhere in this chain of comments. And I had not even noticed yours (saw what I was supposed to see) before you draw my attention to it by apologizing!

Congratulations with 100th birthday of your grandfather that is coming up. It is great to have them that long, at least when they are relatively healthy. My only close relatives are the generations coming after me!

Anny

Robert May 9, 2016 at 11:11 am

Claudine,

Thanks. And you are the encourager and peacemaker who reminds us we are family.

Jay May 11, 2016 at 10:02 pm

Sex-The Secret Gate to the Garden of Eden. The Forbidden Fruit, The Carnal Orgasm.
Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Spilling of the Seed. WHY???? Tis the Anointing Oil for the Pineal.
Transmuted through Chaste Spirit-Mind-Body. Self Contained.
RAISING OF CHRIST through the Seven Seals. Receiving of the Crowns.
That’s right!!!!! Fornicators. Just as John said: with this water I baptise.
The Living water Jesus spoke of: at the well and the water he turned to wine at the
wedding. Youtube: Sex- The Secret Gate to the Garden of Eden.
Happy Journey Brethern.

Joshua–Blessing upon you. Thank you. From the Heart. Jay

Robert May 12, 2016 at 4:05 pm

Jay,

I found your comment a little confusing at first but when I viewed parts of the You Tube it was clear that you are interested in spreading information about a method for married couples to transmute sexual energy, what I think is sometimes referred to as tantric yoga. I don’t know much about the techniques, but I think it is an interesting concept – focusing and sublimating energy to develop higher consciousness and achieving mastery of the higher consciousness over the bodily functions. I have not seen a discussion about it before framed with biblical scripture.

Jay May 12, 2016 at 10:25 pm

Robert and others
Clear. Was it? No agenda. Just a pearl. Do with it as you wish. The scriptures are
replete with discussions and discourses of the seed. Flowing milk and honey. J

Jay June 9, 2016 at 10:25 am

Joshua,

I was/am moved to send this to you.
On a worldly note: edit the Dogmatized, self-important Pharisees and
Scribes of rhetoric which have pretensions to superior sanctity.
Sanctimonious commentators.
You KNOW. Narrow is the Path.

http://gnosticteachings.org/

JD Smith, your brother In Christ.

Stacy June 15, 2016 at 4:00 pm

Hi Joshua,
Maybe a dozen or so years ago I read “The Hidden Mystery of the Bible” by Jack Ensign Addington and began to understand the spiritual allegory in the Bible (and other similar texts). I have long looked for websites or blogs that also understood spiritual allegory. Occasionally I have come across someone that understands some particular verse or passage, but never anyone that seems to have a more general grasp of what the Bible is about.
Your understanding of Genesis Chapter 3 is quite similar to mine. I look forward to reading other things you have posted. Maybe this is the website I have been looking for.

I have a minor quibble with your statement: “And trees represent man.”
Addington (in the book I mentioned) says that trees are a connecting link with their roots in the earth, yet reaching up toward heaven. I see how your interpretation seems to fit and how Addington’s idea also seems to work in some passages, but I think there is a better meaning for “trees” in Bible allegory.
In today’s way of talking we frequently speak of “branches of knowledge.” Clearly, then a tree would be defined as a larger category or many branches of knowledge, perhaps even the sum of a people’s knowledge. It appears to me that the Bible uses trees in this same sense. Note that in the garden there is a tree of life, I think that represents spiritual knowledge and understanding. There is, of course, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Good and evil, or morality, is what is right or wrong according to the earthly nation/culture that you are born and raised in.
After you inevitably partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, you should definitely try to find a way to partake of the tree of life.
Tamar means palm which is a very tall straight tree. This seems to indicate spiritual or upright knowledge. And Tamar does seem to be a spiritually upright person in the story of Judah and Tamar.
Fig trees spread their branches close to the ground and seem to represent earthly wisdom. Jesus curses a fig tree and declares that it will not give fruit again. Perhaps that represents where he reached the stage of development where henceforth all of his fruit is from the spiritual tree. Cedars of Lebanon, another tall, straight tree are used in building Solomon’s temple.
Also notice that when Moses’ spiritual knowledge is still quite small (Israel is not yet in the promised land) he becomes aware of a bush (small tree?) that is not consumed by fire.
Immediately upon crossing the Jordan and entering the promised land Israel breaks down the walls of Jericho. According to Deuteronomy 34:3, Jericho is the city of palms. Seems like crossing the Jordan into the promised land and breaking down the walls of Jericho are making the point twice, that what is being depicted, is a breakthrough into spiritual thinking or uprightness.
Do you think that “trees” might be better understood as a type of thinking, rather than as a person with that type of thinking?

Joshua Tilghman July 2, 2016 at 12:49 pm

Stacy, this is true. We must remember that many of the symbols in the bible have multiple meanings which are all linked. Your idea is correct. Man is the mind. So as you see both are true.

Wayne July 9, 2016 at 10:27 am

Always enjoy these thought provoking articles and participating comments.
It is said that a good answer satisfies and a great answer creates more questions, which is probably why this is such a great website.
I am continually puzzled by when or how one decides when and what is an allegory or when it is meant in literally, a literal sense. Is this subjective or objective reasoning that decides this interpretation?
All that is seemingly wrong with our world apparently stems from improper interpretations. That which we should esteem highly we too often trivialize while giving great importance and devoted time to that which is of lesser or little value. Love is probably the best example of our misguided ambition.
The scriptural admonition to (((subdue))) the earth has been taken literally by most, as erroneously mentally defined in squeezing an opponent into submission to our will, with disasterous results.
The likes of Einstein, Bruce Lipton, Gregg Braden, etc…. have most certainly bridged the gap and forged a perceivable alliance between science and spirit. Creation and evolution are certainly two arms from the same body.
The contrast of and from dark to light is demonstrated in the dance of balance here on planet earth with everything having it’s equal but opposite REaction. The bitter enriches the sweet and actually defines it. We can’t possibly know ourselves without the experience of being lost and bewildered of who we are. In science we become lost and in spirituality we are found. In religious spirituality we are befuddled and yet science grounds us in truth and presently understood fact. We certainly find balance in their marriage and cohabitation with each other. There are however those few ego driven elitists that have taken upon themselves (while exalting themselves) to falsify and rewrite science to further a personal agenda which has greatly confused and retarded human growth. Simultaneously religion pirates selling forgiveness have over time rewritten spiritual truth also.
It is miraculous that there is not more confusion.
Whatever can be defined as “God” is simply not God as any and every definition has a limit, an edge or an end. Whatever simply can’t be explained is so often called God, as God is certainly mysterious and whether by literal, metaphorical, or allegorical explanation and interpretation, remains mysterious by accident or necessity.
In a perceived and ultimately necessary world of duality, at what point does an allegory by necessity become literal?
Love may be explained and interpreted in a myriad of metaphorical and conceptual ways, yet only in a literal sense can it ever have any real life.
Love as an allegory has no touch or taste.
Thanks but confused.

Joshua Tilghman August 1, 2016 at 1:54 pm

Wayne,

I understand what you mean. There is a saying, there is always three sides to the truth. Your truth, the other person’s truth, and then the REAL truth. Have you considered the possibility that all ancient scripture is allegory?

John October 21, 2016 at 10:41 am

I always thought the serpent represented lies, but if you think about it like any good story, the inciting incident sets the character on their journey.

I also don’t really believe in a fall of man. Adam means mankind.

We all start out the exact same way. Void. Inner voices and outside voices shape our lives and tell us what it is and who we are, which is not our true nature, but then at some point we question that.

The Spirit of God which actually is the thoughts of peace and not destruction guides us into all truth. Light.

As for the serpent if the letters are rearranged says repents. The serpent gets us to go in another direction.

Sin is just foolish thinking. Like God is mad at us and gonna burn us forever. A lie and foolish thinking.

God uses everything to bring us from alienation in our minds to him even an allegory and parable about a man named Jesus in which everything he is described we are.

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