I think many people nowadays are experiencing "existential angst", as I like to call it. Organized religion--with its fear based dogma, exclusionary rhetoric, irrationality, abdication of personal responsibility and lack of workable, experiential answers--are leaving many at a loss. Who is God? Why are their so many versions of the Divine and Holy Scriptures? What is real...and eternal? How would we know if we saw it or felt it? What is the difference between truth with a small "t" and the Truth (with a big "T")? What is the purpose of life? Does life have any meaning outside of what we personally and subjectively ascribe to it?
These are questions that philosophers, theologians, psychologists, and mystics have wrestled with for aeons. Now, more than ever, everyday folks are wrestling with these questions, too. This wrestling is something unique to our information age. In the past, access to diverse spiritual ideas and texts were reserved for either the clergy or the wealthy. With the dawn of the internet and mega-bookstores, ancient mystery schools and esoteric texts--once reserved for initiates--are now at our fingertips.
We are entering a new stage of human evolution, and many of us are hung suspended. We're not yet Homo noeticus, but neither are we "just" the old energy and patterns of Homo sapiens. Homo noeticus is the next step on the evolutionary ladder which is characterized by extra-sensory perceptions (beyond the 5 senses)--including telepathy--as well as a change in psychological and physical chemistry. We are becoming multi-dimensional--or, at least, realizing our multi-dimensionality--and discoveries in Quantum physics is confirming that parallel universes and multiple realities are probable. Many are waking up to this new identity, realizing that choices beget consequences, the devil didn't make me do it, and God isn't going to save our butt--or planet-- like some deus ex machina from the sky. Is the Divine in control? Absolutely. Yet, we forget that humans are one expression of the Divine on Earth and as God/Goddesses' hands, feet, and mouth, we must work in partnership with the Divine. We are given free will, and that free will entails the ability to make choices with dire consequences--both personally and globally.
We are also awakening to the butterfly effect. That is, the actions (or inactions) of individuals are projected on the global screen. These actions arise from thoughts, which eventually cement into beliefs. These beliefs cluster together--through the Law of Attraction (or birds of a feather)--and individuals then cluster together with like minded others. In Marianne Williamson's new book The Gift of Change, she writes:
"Remember, every thought we think takes us and others around us either straight to heaven (an awareness of our oneness) or straight to hell (the ego's state of separation)...Since all minds are joined, conflict between any two of us contributes to war, and reconciliation between any two of us takes us closer to world peace. Our smallest judgment adds to war, and our smallest forgiveness adds to peace. The butterfly's wings in South America affect the wind patterns at the North Pole, and thoughts of true peace in Idaho affect plans for peace in Palestine. What an extraordinary opportunity as well as responsibility we have, to try to get it right."
The days of "the Bible tells me so" are fading away as the historicity and veracity of Scriptures are called into question. Dan Brown's novel The DaVinci Code has awakened an interest in Mary Magdalene, the Divine Feminine, and the "facts" of Jesus' life. Historians like Elaine Pagels have introduced the Gnostic Gospels to the mainstream, revealing the political and social machinations of the early church--and how the Gospels may be a lot more "human" than Divine. Show me ten different Christians, for example, and I'll show you ten different theologies--all based on the Bible. Some believe in Calvinism--"once saved, always saved"--and others believe in Arminianism--"screw up, and you'll fry in hell". Some believe there is no literal hell, and that God is (truly) benevolent and loving. Others believe in a literal devil--using him as an excuse for their life choices and personal miseries--while others believe that Satan is a metaphor for separation from the Christ Mind and the choice of fear over love.
And these disparate beliefs are just within Christianity! What of other religions?
Another reason that "because the Bible says so" isn't cutting it anymore is because the traditional, literal meaning contains contradictions. How does one reconcile cranky Jehovah with Jesus the loving Shepherd? Why are the food laws of the Old Testament thrown out the window, but those same laws are used for condemning homosexuals? If my neighbor douses his kid with gasoline and sets him on fire, he would have his carcass thrown into jail--and all who find out about this horrible deed would grieve at this cruel and sadistic act. Yet, Christians ascribe much worse behavior to God: "Yeah, he loves you, but he'll throw your sorry ass in hell, anyway". Give me a break. And you know what? I don't think most Christians really believe in hell. If they did, and they really cared about humanity, wouldn't they be evangelizing 24/7--pleading with people to accept Jesus so they won't fry? At least, to those they like or family members? I believe in the heart of hearts, individuals realize that the only hell there is is the illusion of separation from God--the metaphorical "banishment" from the Garden of Eden that results from a sin and guilt consciousness.
While many New Agers are ridiculed for their "spiritual buffet" mentality, there's sure a lot of picking and choosing which Scriptures are applicable and relevant--and those which are not (mostly based on specific Bible teachers and teachings, as wells a denominational party lines). Now, gentle reader, realize I have no beef with Jesus. He rules, as far as I'm concerned. I have a problem with organized religion keeping people from a direct relationship with God through its fear-based dogma. And the reason I'm picking on some strains of Christianity is because the Judeo-Christian mindset is pervasive through Western culture--and is no longer meeting the needs, or answering the questions, of a rational, open mind that longs for love, peace, connection, and meaning.
I believe the Bible is used (and abused) and understood on many levels. The level of the literal--the slow speed of tribal thought and the energy of the first three chakras--does not lend itself to speed. This is why Christianity, as an example, is proving irrelevant to many: it's the same dogma, but the times--and humans--are evolving. What about the "unchanging Word" of scripture, though? Well, people forget that the "unchanging Word" is Christ himself--a human expression of the Divine. The logos, or literal word, is static and unyielding. The rhema word--the breath and life of God--is fluid and dynamic. This is the crux of the Scripture "the letter kills, but the spirit gives life." The rhema word is direct, experiential revelation--something that organized religion fears. When people can hear God for themselves, this is a threat to institutional stability.
The Bible, and life itself, can also be seen metaphorically and symbolically. This is the realm of the great mystics and saints. Some would argue that this realm is murky and ephemeral--lacking substance and trivializing the truths of scripture. Yet, the literal dogma that has reigned for centuries has trivialized the profound message of the love of God and perfection of the spirit. Spiritual alchemy, the transformation of "lead" into spiritual gold, is a mystical tradition. According to Caroline Myss, "people hold onto their lead because they don't like speed." When you start to experience revelation for yourself and allow the Divine to change you directly, life speeds up. Most people abhor change, and prefer the safety of the familiar--which is why the tried-and-true linear interpretation of the Bible is so safe. Yet, the apostle Peter spoke about how everything that can be shaken, will be shaken--which is a clue to the transformative power of a direct encounter with the Divine!
A direct experience with the Divine is scary for many, precisely because of the power of direct experience. In the Old Testament, the Israelites did not want to hear God for themselves as they wandered the desert. They pleaded for Moses to hear for them. I have to wonder: if they would have chosen to hear directly--to encounter the Divine for themselves--would the Ten Commandments have even been necessary? Would the Divine have engraved the "law of God" onto their hearts--the law of love--which would have totally dispensed with the Law as most know it? Would humanity have sped through time, bypassing the dispensation of the Law and even the dispensation of Grace--making an evolutionary leap by entering into a Cosmic Christ mind directly and immediately? I can only speculate, but humans have a choice as to how fast they want to evolve and how much they allow their lives to be touched by the Divine.
And perhaps we're now realizing that choosing to stave off change and transformation through direct spiritual experience has not only cost us time, but also a high vibration of healing, health, and vitality--individually and globally.
Jesus himself said and greater works shall you do. Why aren't most humans doing them? Why aren't we miracle workers? Why aren't we raising the dead and healing the sick? I would offer that humanity has to ascend to a higher vibrational level like that of Christ--a vibration based on Light and Love that literally transmutes the "lead" of fear and guilt into spiritual "gold" that manifests itself into matter. But to do so, we have to draw close to the "fire" of God--a furnace that dwells in the realm of direct experience with the Divine...resulting in a glorious transformation that burns away the chaff of ego and the "small self" until our true nature as children and co-heirs of God shines like the brilliance of a thousand suns.
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