Sunday, August 6, 2017

Are Angels Real?

The Angel Of The Annunciation by Lorenzo Lotto

In 2009 the results of a survey about what people believe in was published in an Australian Newspaper. In this survey (which of course is never representative) it says, “51 per cent of respondents say they believe in angels”. I would like to ask those 501 people what exactly they think angels are.
The Greek word angelos means messenger. We know that a messenger takes a message from one place or person to another and the purpose of a message is to inform. Therefore, we must ask several questions.

1. What is the source of the message that the angel receives?
2. In what form of communication can a message be conveyed to us?

It would be over-simplifying the situation to say that the Angel carries a message from God. In another post Who or what is God? I discussed that there are different ‘gods’ or spiritual beings who have certain responsibilities in the universe to keep everything in balance. Dionysius the Areopagite listed them, and in later posts I will explore them further.

Angels feature often in the Bible, in this quote bringing a message about the birth of Jesus.
But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; Matthew 1:20

One reason for this communication between Joseph and the Angel is the fact that Angels are the closest spiritual beings to man. They are the interface between the physical and spiritual worlds. Angels are beings who are one stage higher than human beings, as animals are beings one stage lower than humans. As we care for our animals, so Angels watch over us. Archangels like Gabriel and Michael are one stage higher than Angels, putting them two stages higher than humans.

We could say that Angels are like human beings without a body. This assists us to understand these beings but we should also know that when we no longer need a physical body we will be greater beings than the present Angels are now. This is because we are in a different evolutionary stream. The difference between Angels and human beings is that human beings have the I Am, the element which makes us unique. St Paul tells us about our relationship to Angels in Hebrews:
Thou didst make him for a little while lower than the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and honor, Hebrews 2:7
The present task of the Angels is to be intermediaries who help and guide the evolution of human consciousness. We could even say that they are interpreters of what higher spiritual beings want to convey to us; what they ‘say’ is then made intelligible through the Angels. Of course, they wouldn’t use language; they speak to us in images – the universal language. For example, the image of a tree means the same thing to every human being on earth.

Genealogy Tree by Vladimir Kush 

While some people might doubt the validity of these ideas, I could point out that animals communicate with each other, and with us, in ways we do not fully understand either. Communication is an important topic for human beings at present. We live in unsettling times where fake news is a thing. We could ask ourselves if we are willing to believe fake news without any fact checking, why can’t we also believe in Angels?

If we can remain open to ideas about the presence of Angels and other spiritual beings not visible to our physical senses, we will be surprised by the new insights we will have. We each have a Guardian Angel watching over us. The messages we can receive from the Angels can give us an inner sense or feeling that confirms something is true. Not that we should just believe anything, the ideas we receive should be continually tested. In this way, we can be lifted out of the present darkness that our mind cannot penetrate. For each of us this is a personal experience, we do not need to convince others of it; we can only hope that others come to their own experience of the angelic beings in this universe.

Friday, July 28, 2017

When should women be subordinate?

When someone knocked on my door wanting to explain the Bible to me, I told him that I was already a student of the Bible, at which point he enthusiastically suggested that he come in to compare notes. As I was thinking about how he would not enjoy that, he quoted St Paul to me. I responded saying, “St Paul didn’t like women.” He looked shocked and quietly left. I wonder if he has been studying 1 Corinthians ever since to try and work out why St Paul speaks about women the way he does.
Take this verse for example:
"the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home." 1 Cor 14:34,35
How can such a doctrine stand today when the importance of gender equality is broadly recognized? A closer look at the actual Greek words St Paul uses reveals quite a different meaning, especially if we apply them to what goes on within our consciousness. After all, it is within our consciousness that we recognize gender equality.
The Greek word translated as church is ekklesia from ekklÄ“tos meaning called, from ekkalein to call out, from kalein to call. In what circumstances do we call out? We can call out for help, we can call out to get someone’s attention, or we can make a call to challenge in some way. Behind the word ‘call’ is the activity of bringing attention or awareness to something.
What are we called to become aware of? Primarily, we are called to become aware of the activity in our soul; our feelings, thoughts, and intentions. So many thoughts, feelings and intentions are active in our consciousness in a robotic, impulsive way. It can be quite a shock to become aware of them. When we call them out (ekklesia) we gather or assemble them in a focussed way. This sounds like a church doesn’t it?

Now we must ask: what is the wife and the husband within us? In a very basic, generalized way we know that the feminine nature is the nurturer, filled with feeling. The male nature is more practical, more pragmatic, based on thinking. Our task is to encourage these two to work together so that feeling warms the coldness of our thinking and thinking guides our feeling to be practical.
With these ideas in mind, a new picture of what St Paul is saying emerges. When St Paul used the word ‘subordinate’, which in Greek is hupotasso where hupo means under, and tasso means to arrange, we can understand that he is saying we arrange our feelings under our thoughts and in this way we keep our emotions under control.
Then St Paul says,
“If there is anything they (women) desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home."
Continuing on with the idea that Paul is speaking about the activity in our consciousness; we can ask questions of our thinking in the privacy of our own home, i.e. our inner being. This should always be the case, to question our thinking, which in turn makes us aware of our thoughts. This is when we can discover how often they are negative, fuelled by our emotions. With this awareness, we can keep them silent, “not permitting them to speak.”
What does this say about knocking on people’s doors with our own ideas about what the Bible means! Unlocking the Bible is now up to each individual person. Asking the husband-thoughts within us to assist us to make sense of sacred texts, and not letting our wife-feelings run away from us, is important work for every human being.
As published on Huffington Post

Thursday, June 8, 2017

When is the Judge a Killer?

Glorification of the Eucharist by Salimbeni

After consider the topic of God in the last post, it would be good to have a look at the word judgment which is so often linked with him. The image of the man with the long beard sitting on a throne watching and judging everything we do is a bizarre concept. It suggests that God is a giant stickybeak!

Take, for example, these words from the Gospel of Matthew which records Jesus saying:
You have heard that it was said to the men of old, 'You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.' Mt 5:21
Let’s ask what is being killed and who is judging? Sure, in the next verse Matthew’s report continues about being angry with your brother but the logic of my ideas about verse 21 applies also to the subsequent verses when we identify the brother as something within us.

The Fall of Icarus by Reubens
The specific Greek word used here for ‘kill’ is phoneuo which means to murder. Murder means to kill secretly when no one is aware of what we are doing. What happens within us secretly that no one is aware of? The forming of our opinions! All day long we decide what is good and bad mostly without being fully informed. Therefore, in our consciousness, with our thoughts, feelings and intentions, we secretly take the life from people and things that displease us. What is more, we think it is our right to do this while at the same time demanding that someone who physically kills another person is punished with a jail sentence or a death sentence.
So who is the judge? The judge is actually the killer. Judgment in Greek is krisis and means separating (analyzing) and then a decision. Yet how often do we separate out all the facts? Modern life is full of quick decisions. If we want to stop being the killer, the one who takes the life out of something, we must take the time to do the separating.

This Greek word krisis is similar to the English word crisis that means a critical moment or a turning point. In daily life it is our opportunity to be aware of all the fact before we make damaging statements, or act prematurely. This means we need to be much more aware of all the issues so that we stop, separate out all the facts, and put them back together differently before making decisions - then the judge is no longer the killer.

Also published on Huffpost

Friday, April 7, 2017

Who or what is God?

The Creation by James Tissot

One of the most astounding things I heard when I began to really study the Bible was that there were many gods. Not in the sense of the ancient Greeks and Romans looking towards Olympus - although that could hold some answers as well - but in the sense that God-God, the Highest One, needs other mighty beings to implement His intentions.

Take for instance the first words in the Bible,
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

In Hebrew this text goes like this,
Bereshit bara Elohim et hashamayim ve'et ha'arets.”

The word translated into English as God is Elohim. Who is this Elohim character? For the Hebrews God was Jehovah or YHVH, but they also had other gods as described in Wikipedia:

El Elyon ("Most High God"), El Shaddai ("God Almighty"), El `Olam ("Everlasting God"), El Hai ("Living God"), El Ro'i ("God of Seeing"), El Elohe Israel ("God, the God of Israel"), El Gibbor ("God of Strength")

It will be no accident that there are seven. Then there is Moses’ famous conversation with God at the burning bush, when Moses asks God what his name is (Exodus 3:14) and the response is Ehyeh asher ehyeh, I am that I am. In the New Testament, Jesus refers to this I Am often using the Greek words ego eimi. Notably when he was challenged about where his authority came from in John 8:58
“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

Landscape with Moses and the Burning Bush by Domenichino 1600-10

Understanding the I Am can provide answers to questions we may have about God. link to I Am post.
Amidst all this confusion, it is perfectly understandable when people say, “I don’t believe in God.” They have the courage to admit that, so far, they have no information to assist them to have any plausible understanding of God. Blind faith doesn’t do it. When they come across ideas about God they do not experience any inner confirmation that the information makes sense.

When I first heard that about the Elohim-God I felt liberated. The Elohim are one level of the nine levels of spiritual beings that put the highest God’s intentions into action. These nine levels of spiritual beings were described by Dionysius the Areopagite and using his list we can find them identified throughout the Bible, specifically when the words, power, authority, might, principalities, among others, are used.

The Greek word for Elohim is Exousiai and is rightly translated as power – the power to create. Furthermore, the word Elohim is plural and feminine. I have come to understand why this is. They are the creators of form, like a pregnant woman, and we see their work in every form on this earth. This is like seeing the finished house from the architects plan.

It is clear that no one can explain God to us, we must remove the blindfold ourselves and intelligently discover not just one God but all the Gods who uphold this universe and keep it in order.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Disciples as Mind Traits 4

Road to Emmaus by Alexandra Ross
When we think of Jesus and his Disciples, we should be equally mindful of the mighty Cosmic Spirit called Christ gradually becoming infused into the body of Jesus. Only when we think of it in this way can we approach the truth of the situation. Two beings; Jesus the man and Christ the Being who had never experience life in a human body before. Imagine that! This happened for the first time in the whole universe. Think about what it is like to do something for the first time; learning to swim, learning to drive, learning to ski, taking your first roller coaster ride or first bungee jump. Magnify that thousands of times and we may get some idea.
The other side of this story is that humanity cannot move forward without Christ. That is why he went through the process of entering into the man Jesus. We cannot evolve without Christ - not that he does the work for us, no, quite the opposite, we do the work which he has made possible, and he enhances it.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Jn 14:12
For Jesus to go through the mighty transformation of taking into himself this mighty Cosmic Being required the support of the disciples, just as we need support when we learn to swim, drive or ski. Stop and think for a minute what it would be like to be infused by a being of the stature of Christ. Luke knew when he wrote about the Son of man - the Christ infused human:
"For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of man be in his day." Lk 17:24
Are we ready to be struck by lightning? For that is what it is like when Christ becomes active in our being. For that lightning to be effective, we have to make some choices. Otherwise it will burn us or kill us. To survive the strike, the 12 mind faculties represented by the disciples have to be activated in a positive way.
It is a work in progress and we should go easy on ourselves. We can be so critical of ourselves it can be crippling. It is about building pictures for ourselves and taking baby steps. The last three disciples speak strongly about choice. Having choice is so free making; always mindful that if we can make a choice in one direction then we can also make it in another.
Disciples James Alphaeus, James Zebedee and Simon the Cananaean
James Alphaeus: James the son of Alphaeus represents order, especially creating order in chaos. He is also known as James the Less, or James the Just and is a half-brother of Jesus. James is connected with the use of the word; speech is a very creative thing, primarily because it gives us choice. We can choose to speak or not to speak, and we can choose what to say or what not to say. We can also release a power in what we say, as Jesus did when he said, “Laz’arus, come out.” for instance. James is associated with the power in us to say something, perhaps something difficult. James is also the discipline in us not to say something. Our speech will be orderly according to how conscious we are.
James Zebedee: James the son of Zeb’edee represents the faculty of judgement or discrimination within us. Judgement is that higher ability not be swayed by our self-will, or the will of others; to resist being drawn back to the past and to stand in the present, in the new situation, and seek to express our higher will. Within us, our intentions are our will; without, will is visible in our actions.

Simon the Cananaean: Also known as Simon the Zealot who probably belonged to the Zelotes, an extreme Jewish sect. This sect was also known as the Cananaeans. Simon was the brother of James and Jude. After the martyrdom of James, Simon became head of the Church at Jerusalem. In hermetic tradition, the zelator is the one who is able to approach the fire. Simon the Cananaean stands for zeal, enthusiasm; this motivating energy is optimism for the future.

Published on Huffington Post September 11, 2016