How The First Amendment impedes Our Understanding of The Middle East

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Intolerance breeds injustice. Injustice invariably leads to rebellion and retaliation, and these will lead to escalation on the part of both making reconciliation almost impossible. It would appear that during times of stress, despair and frustration, people become increasingly irrational, and they do things which they never think they are capable of. And so we see hideous brutality perpetrated by the most gentle people.

Once started religious strife has a tendency to go on and on, to become permanent feuds. Today we see such intractable inter-religious wars in Northern Ireland, between Jews and Muslims and Christians in Palestine, Hindus and Muslims in South Asia and in many other places. Attempts to bring about peace have failed again and again. Always the extremist elements invoking past injustices, imagined or real, will succeed in torpedoing the peace efforts and bringing about another bout of hostility.” Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia, addressing the World Evangelical Fellowship on 2001-MAY-4. 4(excerpts)

We live in a country that was founded on the desire for religious freedom. We have carried through, for this reason, the separation of church and state. The Pilgrims who landed on Plymouth Rock came here from the same type of environment that exists in Africa and the Middle East today.

“The separation of church and state is a legal and political principle derived from the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .” The phrase “separation of church and state”, which does not appear in the Constitution itself, is generally traced to an 1802 letter by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists, where Jefferson spoke of the combined effect of the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. It has since been quoted in several opinions handed down by the United States Supreme Court.”…

“Early immigrants to the American colonies were there motivated largely by the desire to worship freely in their own fashion, particularly after the English Civil War, but also religious wars and disputes in France and Germany.[2] They included a large number of nonconformists such as the Puritans and the Pilgrims, as well as Catholics (in Baltimore). Despite a common background, the groups’ views on broader religious toleration were mixed. While some notable examples such as Roger Williams of Rhode Island and William Penn ensured the protection of religious minorities within their colonies, others such as the Plymouth Colony and Massachusetts Bay Colony had established churches. The Dutch colony of New Netherland had also established the Dutch Reformed Church and outlawed all other worship, although enforcement by the Dutch West India Company in the last years of the colony was sparse. Part of the reason for establishment was financial: the established Church was responsible for poor relief, and dissenting churches would therefore have a significant advantage.” – Wikipedia

Without an understanding of history and what this means, we cannot understand what is happening in Iraq. In actuality, we went to Iraq to defeat Saddam Hussein, operation Iraqi freedom was supposed to free the Iraqis from the oppressive rulership of Saddam. We won that war in 2003. The problem is that we did not, and do not understand the region and what happens to a region when Church equals State. Winning the war was easy what we are unable to win is the peace. Why is it that we cannot with the peace for the Iraqi people?  Why are the conflicts in the Middle East so hard for us to enter into with success?

Imagine that instead of Democrats, Republicans and Independents, as political parties, we had Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Imagine too, that the Christians, are further divided between Roman Catholics and the various groups of Protestants. In this scenario our government is run by the Roman Catholic group of Christians. They declare Catholicism as the ruling religion of the country, banning the practice of any other religions. Now, Texas is predominately Baptist. Texas is an important region because of its oil fields. New York City, which is largely Jewish, is also important because of its financial institutions. The country is under oppressive Catholic rule, many who rebel against being forced to worship in Catholic Churches are being massacred. Now a third party, let’s imagine it is China with an economic stake in the stability of our country, and with no religious leanings, enters our country to free us from the oppressive Catholic rule and manages to defeat the strong-hold of the Catholic government. With the mighty Catholic military disbanded, the other Christian groups, begin to fight for power amongst themselves. At the same time, the Jews and Muslims begin to gather strength in their own states to gain religious control over our country for the sake of their own religions and our country becomes divided into religious territories.

In the midst of all this turmoil created by the dismantling of the strong Catholic Military, China decides to back a Muslim government. Backed by the Chinese military, the Muslim government begins to enter each state and take control. Jews, Baptist, and even Catholics rise up to prevent this from happening – China calls these religious groups, “insurgents” that must be put down. The only way is to cleanse the regions of each group, city by city. Feeling that if our country is taken over by the Chinese backed Muslims it will be the greatest offense against God, Jews, Christians, and Catholics come from all over the world to join in the fight against the Muslim government, seen by many as a puppet regime of the Chinese trying to control the worship of God in the US. The biggest battles are being waged in Texas, where the Baptist, many of them devout Christian Fundamentalists, refuse to allow the rich resources of their state to go to the benefit of the Chinese backed Muslim government. However, violent fighting among all of the religions ensues nationwide as each religion attempts to build a stronghold in a particular state. Money, guns, and ammunition are being smuggled into the country by Protestants, Jews and even Catholics from around the world to support the fight of their particular religion. All of the religious groups are united in their animosity towards China because each group sees that the only peace that China can bring to our country, will cost each religion their faith in God. This scenario is imaginary – only because of the First Amendment to The Constitution.

We have had four hundred years of desire and practice in the separation of church and state. We have had four hundred years of living side by side with so many religions that we forget the world before. We think of ourselves as a nation and its people, not of a religious faith and the affront to God of any other faith existing in the same territory.

The “ethnic cleansing” in Bosnia was the Orthodox Christian Serbians “cleansing” the country of Muslims. The conflicts in Israel are not Arab vs. Israeli, they stem from the fact that Israel was established as and needs to remain a Jewish State. If the Palestinians, mostly Muslim and Christian were granted the same rights under the law as Jews, which would of course include full voting rights, Israel would soon cease to be a Jewish State, in effect, it would cease to be Israel. In India, the religious and political battle over rulership of the country was between the Hindus and the Muslims, it was only resolved by the formation of the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan”.

Religion has no borders. Shiite Muslims will fight from all over the world with and for the Shiite Muslims in Iraq, Sunni’s will fight from all over the world with and for the Sunni Muslims in Iraq. The people of the United States are here because they have chosen to live or remain after birth in a country where one is first an American Citizen and then a Catholic, Baptist, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian or Jew. Because of the separation of church and state that we enjoy, loyalty to the country does not require loyalty to a particular form of worship. This is our Democracy. It is the Democracy, envisioned by our Constitution, which can only survive in a nation where there is an explicit separation of Church and State. Today there are 56 religious based “conflicts” including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Thailand, Uganda, Chechnya, the Philippines, Kurdistan, Nigeria, Sudan, the Middle East and Kosovo. The Problem with our intervention in any religious conflict, the problem with any outside intervention in any religious conflict is that whatever group we back, we are backing a religion. In removing one religion from power and replacing it with the only alternative, another religion, we simply buy a temporary cease fire. Soon enough the worshipers of the defeated faith, feeling repressed, afraid, and more determined than ever to fight in the name of God, will gather support from the unlimited well of followers devoted to their faith, and God and rise up, and continue the battle. It is not a battle that is won or lost on earth but in Heaven. It is not a battle for a place on earth but for a place in Heaven. If they lose their place on land by fighting and sacrificing their lives in the name of God, they guarantee their place in Heaven.

We have won the war in Iraq that we set out to win. We cannot win the peace, because we are fighting a battle over borders, and they are fighting a battle over love, honor and devotion to God. Where Church, Temple, Mosque, or Ashram, equals State, we can only make things worse.

If there is any lesson that we should learn from this, it is that what prevents us from becoming them, what prevents the United States from becoming Iraq, Serbia, or any of the other nations embroiled in religious wars, is the First Amendment. Those who would like to see it abolished, or even relaxed should pay close attention to what is happening in Africa, Asia and the middle east because the First Amendment is all that separates us from them.

The Bible Story of Joseph and the journey of the Soul


The story of Joseph is a story of the journey of the soul. It seems that this is a soul that has gained wisdom through other lifetimes, and is able to maintain its connection with God throughout its trials on earth. Therefore, it is safe to say that this is the story of an old soul and its journey through the senses and desires of the physical body and the earth plane. In the Bible story of Joseph we see the story of the soul. Joseph has a dream:

5. And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it to his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. 6. And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: 7. for, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves came round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. 8. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? Or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. 9. And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it to his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed yet a dream: and, behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars made obeisance to me. 10. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren; and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? And his brethren envied him; but his father kept the saying in mind.

Here, we see Joseph, as a soul, envisioning the time when he will become the master over his sense represented by the sheaths of corn, and finally over his fate, as described by the Sun, Mon and eleven Stars. Jacob – here representing the higher self, the connection with God, hears the goal of the soul and keeps note of it, knowing that it is seeking to return – to rise above the body. Most likely, this story represents a soul which has had many lives already and facing the return home.

The brothers, here representing the senses and the desire nature of the body betray Joseph take his coat and throw him into a pit in the wilderness, the pit representing the body where at first , the soul cannot see its way to God through the Maya. The fact that there is no water probably tells us that there is no way for wisdom to flow to the soul at this point:

22. And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood; cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but lay no hand upon him: that he might deliver him out of their hand, to restore him to his father. 23. And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stripped Joseph of his coat, the coat of many colors that was on him; 24. and they took him, and cast him into the pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.

Later, the brothers sold Joseph to a passing caravan – he is sold into slavery. So here we see Joseph given by the senses over to one of the desires of the body – greed.

What profit is it if we slay our brother and conceal his blood? 27. Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother, our flesh. And his brethren hearkened unto him. And there passed by Midianites, merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver.

Yet, despite the desire of the senses to break Joseph, God is within him, he is aware of his goal – he is a light within, one that glows without. And because of the light that is steadily growing, the soul continues to maintain his direction. Then, as happens to all souls – Joseph is tempted by the wife of his master. As the soul is always tempted by the desires of the body. Although Joseph does not fall to the temptation – he is then tested further by being punished anyway. He is thrown into jail. Here we see that this soul, cannot be tempted by glitter, nor can he be tempted by adversity. Because of his unwillingness to succumb to the tests of the physical – the greatest of desires and temptations do not stand in his way.

Ultimately, Joseph interprets a dream for Pharaoh. He tells Pharaoh that his dreams state that there will be seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. Because of this interpretation of the dreams, Pharaoh makes Joseph the final authority in all that happens in the kingdom. Here, Joseph is expressing the wisdom of an advanced soul. He expresses the fact that there are cycles of abundance and cycles of loss in life on earth. If one is not greedy during cycles of abundance one will have enough during cycles of loss. This is very much a statement of the middle way. Pharaoh, representing the higher self, sees that the soul cannot again be affected by what happens in the environment. The soul is prepared for the end of the journey, with its connection to God intact. It has been declared that the senses and the destiny will be under the rule of the soul, and the battle for the soul – has been won by the higher self.

When his brothers come to him in need of food for their families and for their father, he was generous to them. Here the soul ruled person, being ruled by the principal of love is generous and benevolent to all, regardless of what others might have done to him. The soul, is advanced enough to understand that nothing happens that is not determined by God, and so all is good.
Genesis 50:15-21
15. And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, It may be that Joseph will hate us, and will fully requite us all the evil which we did unto him. 16. And they sent a message unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,
17. So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the transgression of thy brethren, and their sin, for that they did unto thee evil. And now, we pray thee, forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. 18. And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we are thy servants. 19. And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? 20. And as for you, ye meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.

The soul goes from the pit, to slavery, to temptation, to adversity, to clear perception, and finally to mastery and home. This is only one of the many stories in the bible, which give us such light as to the meaning of life from the perspective of the soul’s journey. When we are ready to understand the scriptures, all scriptures as guides to life at all stages, we will truly see how they are all great master teachers. We see this repeated again when Jesus having received the Christ enters into the wilderness (the descent of the soul into flesh) and faces the temptations of Satan. This is the path of all souls that come into incarnation. It is the facing of the tests, the tests of temptation, and the tests of adversity, to ultimately overcome them all and free the true self that lies within.

The Suffering of Mother Teresa Was Religious not Spiritual

“It is not enough for us to say: ‘I love God,’ but I also have to love my neighbor. St. John says that you are a liar if you say you love God and you don’t love your neighbor. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live? And so it is very important for us to realize that love, to be true, has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is not true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.” – Mother Teresa

I am familiar with love and with pain; and when I have felt pain, while loving, the pain was never caused by the act of loving, it was caused by the actions of the ones I loved. To me, it is like a hose – the faucet is turned on, the hose fills up and the water pours out. And so the process is like this, one’s being is filled with love – so filled that it must be released out towards another being, towards God, or even towards nature itself. Still, it is a filling up of the heart and soul with love and so long as that love is being released, the vessel is being constantly filled. Being filled with love leaves no room for pain. I recall a story that Wayne Dyer told about a woman with a disabled daughter, totally bedridden for many years, and for all of those years the mother lovingly stayed by her side, changing her diaper, feeding her, loving her. She did this without it hurting, other than perhaps the empathy that she felt for her daughter. After being moved by the enormous suffering of Mother Teresa I went back over the things that she had said, and I cannot imagine an instance where love hurts.

The act of giving does not hurt either. Again, giving is a gesture from the heart. What does hurt is when we do not give from our hearts but we give because we feel we must. In doing this, we are not giving in essence we are taking from ourselves. Another quote from Mother Teresa which stood out to me was this:

“I try to give to the poor people for love what the rich could get for money. No, I wouldn’t touch a leper for a thousand pounds; yet I willingly cure him for the love of God.”

 

I was never much on placing importance on the death of Jesus, but I was deeply inspired by his life. I don’t believe that the value of a life should be overshadowed by the manner of death. After all, no matter how you cut it, living takes a lot more work than dying, and living an exemplary life, at any time, trumps an exemplary death. I read a bumper sticker the other day that really brought the point home, it said, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you are car.” In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus’ followers asked him, basically, how to get to Heaven, a question he never seemed to answer to the satisfaction of the questioner.

[6]. His disciples asked and said to him: “Do you want us to fast? How shall we pray, how shall we give alms, what rules concerning eating shall we follow?” Jesus says: “Tell no lie, and whatever you hate, do not do: for all these things are manifest to the face of heaven; nothing hidden will fail to be revealed and nothing disguised will fail before long to be made public!”

When I was young, I was given the impression that I was not really capable of amounting to anything in the world. So, when I became successful in my own business I bought many very expensive things, jewelry, art – things that said I had made it. These were my trophies that I told myself I would never let go of, they proved my ability to succeed. But as my life would have it, my health caused me to leave my business and it reached a point in my life that to keep a roof over the heads of my children, I would have to sell my trophies. They were the only proof that I had left. While I was struggling with this I read a book on the Kabala and it said that we should gather everything that we believe that we can live without in order to give it away, but then, after we have gathered everything that we feel we can manage without we should then double it and give it away. The essence of it was that only the ego attaches to things, only the ego benefits from things, and not the soul. This allowed me to ‘give’ those things for the good of my family without pain, because I knew that in doing so I was purging my ego. My husband, feeling badly for the sacrifice that I had made promised to replace all that I had given, but I did not want them back, giving it opened my heart and freed my ego, I felt gratitude and joy.

Using the parable of the seeds as an example, the things that we do so that God will know our love for Him, are the seeds that fall by the wayside. They are a lie, the heart is not in the action itself. For Mother Teresa to see a leper and feel to herself that she wouldn’t touch him for a thousand pounds, says that in the depth of her heart she does not see Jesus in that leper. The act of curing that leper is an act of doing what you should do, like fasting or going to church, but it is not heartfelt and so the heart derives no joy from the act, in fact, it causes pain because of the feeling of uselessness of the sacrifice. To sacrifice is to make sacred, but only the heart can make sacred.

In Mother Teresa’s youth she was filled with an ecstatic love for Jesus and for the work that he did in his life. She was filled with the spirit of Christianity, but the church robbed her of that. The church robbed her of the loving Jesus, the joyous Jesus, the Jesus free of ego attachments and laws, filled only with the desire to Love, teach and heal his brothers. The church forced her to believe that only through suffering could she find the love of Jesus, only through suffering would she feel the love of Jesus, and worst of all, that only through teaching the value of suffering to others could she save their souls for Jesus. The teachings of the church were in direct contradiction to the yearnings of her heart, and because she believed the church to be the appointed messenger of God, she deafened her heart to its cries, and dedicated herself to the work, but without the spirit in the work, without the love in the work, she was empty and alone, not seeing God and not feeling his Love. She loved Jesus, but she could not feel his love because she was indoctrinated only towards his suffering. There are many Saints who are marked by their “Dark Night Of The Soul”, but each one emerged with a greater sense of mysticism and spirituality and a far lesser sense of righteousness of religious doctrine.

She gave her life to the God that she loved, but she was denied the fullness of His love in her heart, not by God but by the church that taught not the beauty and joy of love, but only the vows of suffering. I feel that it is a crime for her suffering to be used by atheists as proof that there is no God, but I believe equally that it is a crime for the church to use her suffering as an example of the natural path of a true Christian.

The Value of Man

“And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the multitude were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. And calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.’” (Mark 12:41-44)

In the transitory material world, the value of a man or woman is based upon how much he has amassed. Yet, in the Spiritual World, the value of a man is based upon how much of what he has amassed, he has given to those in need. We are all here to contribute what we have, and who we are. What is expected of us is dependent upon the level of evolution of our souls. A young soul is here to contribute to building of material structure. Young souls translate the spiritual concepts into material form. They immerse themselves in the material world, without them, and all of their apparent superficiality there would be no material world from which the spiritual may emerge. All life is symbolic. A caterpillar represents the soul. The cocoon symbolically represents the material world and the ego. The young soul dissolves into ‘both’ while here on the earth. Remember the cocoon is hard, and it is dark. The caterpillar is lost to itself inside of the cocoon, however, for a time in the beginning it is also safe.

Without knowing why, the young soul is drawn to the material world so opposite from its spiritual origin. Just as the caterpillar is compelled to leave the world of the familiar to create and enter the cocoon. They build the ego structure. The young soul learns to depend upon the material world and all that it has to offer. It learns to be greedy, lustful, and all of those non-spiritual drives that form the walls of the ego structure. Once the young soul has mastered the material world, the ego has no more to learn and so it has no more to give to the soul. The cocoon is complete. Now the soul, once enclosed by the ego must consume the knowledge of the ego and transform the material back into the spiritual and the ego back into the soul. At which point, it becomes a butterfly free of the world. As the young soul begins to find it is no longer nourished by the world as it had once been, it seeks that which is higher than the world. On this part of the journey the soul seeks spiritual nourishment, and still guided by the ego, it seeks this in the world that it knows, the world outside of the self. Thus, it sees God outside of itself. It only does what it knows to do. It recreates spirit in form. It worships God in the image of man, a superman – but still with the feelings and emotions of man, of a father creator. It has not yet seen the world for what it is, but it knows that it needs something more than it sees, or at least above the world that it sees. In order, to reach the God that is above the world it creates religion as a stairway up to that God.

As the process continues, the soul becomes immersed in emotional situations desperately seeking fulfillment of the need to merge, to fully feel at one with something that it does not yet understand. Severed from the ability to identify and merge with the things of the world, it now hungers to identify as one with another. Through the pain and suffering of this part of the journey the soul matures. It begins to find that nothing and no one can satisfy its ‘hunger’ or its ‘emptiness’. Nothing outside of itself can reach into the emptiness within itself and fill the growing void. Again the soul seeks God, but now it can no longer be a God that ‘communicates’ from without nor ‘dictates rules’ from without nor ‘has a home’ without. It must find God within – hear the voice from within and become filled from within. Now the soul finds itself betrayed by the world, betrayed by its things unable to find another soul who can fulfill its expectations and nonetheless, forsaken by its religion. Then, certain of God, certain that what it needs can be found, the mature soul begins to change the direction of its quest from without to within.

Finding less and less value in what it posses, it begins to give. The more that it gives, the better it feels. Without knowing it, the soul has begun the process of turning form into spirit – material into spiritual – and as it does this it finds itself nourished and ‘made full’ in a way that it could never have imagined. The mature soul begins to see beauty, miracles and perfection in the spirit of the world and the spirit of each living spirit on it. And so it releases its attachment to having, and to holding and finds its only joy in giving and sharing. Miraculously, the love, respect, self-worth and value that the soul has spent lifetimes seeking in the world are found in an ever-flowing Source – the God Self within. Diamonds are hidden within coal. The greatest joy in the world is hidden within our fear. Why do we not give more? It is because we fear not having enough.

Once I had a job where I worked very hard. I did my job and my manager’s job. When it came time for the end of the year review, the person in charge of giving out the raises gave me a $2000.00 a year raise and gave him a $5000.00 a year raise. When I complained, he told me that although looking at the amounts it seemed that his raise was greater than mine, if I looked at the percentage increase in his income compared to the percentage increase in my income I would see that my work had been given much greater value. At first, I thought it was a really good line. However later I realized that it was true in everything. In the marketplace, money is money, and one hundred dollars does not buy as much as one-thousand. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. However, when it comes to giving, the value lies not in the face value of the gift, but in how much of what you have to give, you want to give to a person – or to the world.

We live with God within us: we are of God. When we give, to whomever we give, we are expressing how much we care – how much of ourselves have merged with our Spirit and how much of ourselves are yet with the world. That amount has no figure on it, there is no great sum that shows how giving and loving a person is, there is only a great percentage of what we have. If a person has only a penny and selflessly gives that penny, it becomes a mustard seed and grows not only in the works it performs but in the heart and soul of the person who gave it. If a person has a million dollars and gives one thousand to others, the gift will supply its market value and little more. It has little spiritual energy, and it will end up taking more from the giver than it gives. When you give all that you can to those in need, you will be given more than you can contain in love and self-worth.

Contrary to all of your fears, what you give is returned to you ten-fold because you gave beyond what your ‘worldly self’ could release, and you placed your God before the world. No one ever needs to know what you did, nor does anyone need to praise what you did, because the praise flows from within and the gift grows nurtured by Spirit as do you. Here is a true story:
A sobbing little girl stood near a small church from which she had been turned away because it was “too crowded.”

“I can’t go to Sunday School,” she sobbed to the pastor as he walked by.

Seeing her shabby, unkempt appearance, the pastor guessed the reason and, taking her by the hand, took her inside and found a place for her in the Sunday school class.

The child was so happy that they found room for her, and she went to bed that night thinking of the children who have no place to worship Jesus.

Some two years later, this child lay dead in one of the poor tenement buildings. Her parents called for the kindhearted pastor who had befriended their daughter to handle the final arrangements.

As her poor little body was being moved, a worn and crumpled red purse was found which seemed to have been rummaged from some trash dump.

Inside was found 57 cents and a note, scribbled in childish handwriting, which read: “This is to help build the little church bigger so more children can go to Sunday School.” For two years she had saved for this offering of love.

When the pastor tearfully read that note, he knew instantly what he would do. Carrying this note and the cracked, red pocketbook to the pulpit, he told the story of her unselfish love and devotion.

He challenged his deacons to get busy and raise enough money for the larger building.

But the story does not end there…

A newspaper learned of the story and published. It was read by a wealthy realtor who offered them a parcel of land worth many thousands.

When told that the church could not pay so much, he offered to sell it to the little church for 57 cents.

Church members made large donations. Checks came from far and wide. Within five years the little girl’s gift had increased to $250,000.00-a huge sum for that time (near the turn of the century). Her unselfish love had paid large dividends.

When you are in the city of Philadelphia, look up Temple Baptist Church, with a seating capacity of 3,300.

And be sure to visit Temple University, where thousands of students are educated.

Have a look, too, at the Good Samaritan Hospital and at a Sunday School building which houses hundreds of beautiful children, built so that no child in the area will ever need to be left outside during Sunday school time.

In one of the rooms of this building may be seen the picture of the sweet face of the little girl whose 57 cents, so sacrificially saved, made such remarkable history. Alongside of it is a portrait of her kind pastor, Dr. Russel H. Conwell, author of the book, “Acres of Diamonds”.

As a soul matures, it finds that all that it clings to and becomes addicted to, in the world, only makes it emptier and hungrier. The emptiness and hunger is only satisfied by letting go, and giving. This turns matter into spirit. It turns what is transitory into what is permanent. The soul learns that only by emptying can it become filled, only by giving can it receive. Then happiness is replaced by joy and the journey to find self-esteem and self-worth finally ends.

Changing our Concept of Good and Evil

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We have evolved in many ways since the days when the major religions were founded. We live in a world that is now explainable in ways that our ancestors could never have understood. We no longer fear the darkening of the sun, because we understand the science of eclipses. Religion used the mysteries of nature to prove their validity. Now, we understand the forces of nature and although we cannot control them, they are no longer a mystery. It is a different world. We have evolved by leaps and bounds intellectually, now in order for us to continue to live on and be sustained by the earth that we have come to understand scientifically, we must evolve, we must mature spiritually and “put away childish things”. We have access to great Spiritual knowledge; we must make the spiritual leap.

Before we can understand good and evil, we must be able to stand mentally and emotionally firmly in the understanding that we are not these bodies or these lives, we are souls experiencing these bodies and these lives for a great purpose. We are energy and energy seeks to expand, we are the stuff that God is made of, and as we expand so does God. Thinking logically, the earth is not the only game in town. Ours is not the only dimension in town, and we are far from the only intelligent species in town. I believe that the earth is a unique school, one in which a soul can study the most diversified subjects and master the most diversified abilities. We are all creators, this is part of expansion, and the earth provides so many different mediums to learn to create within. There is the earth itself, there is the body, the emotions, the intellect, so many areas to perfect, and so many opportunities to grow.
Then there are those difficult courses, such as overcoming temptation, overcoming greed, selfishness, fear, hatred, prejudice – what we call the seven deadly sins are actually the seven challenges that we must overcome in order to graduate from this cycle. This is a very difficult topic because it seems to easy to declare one person evil and one person good, one act evil and one act good, but spiritually there just is no evil.

To say that a lie is evil causes most of us to immediately put up a defensive wall, against hearing anything else. The ego becomes angry and prepared for this attack on its goodness. Yet, this is not meant as a judgment of goodness. It is mean to help us to question our concept of evil.

In a belief built world, good and evil are concepts that arise out of perception. When we life in Maya, illusion, we are already living in a world built in the sky so to speak. Like those castles so readily attributed to neurotics. But what grounds that illusion, what connects it with God is the heart. The heart is where we find the doorway to God. So we can say that what we believe in our hearts, whatever we believe to be the truth, is as good as it gets.

The illusion, the Maya into which we are born is ultimately created by God for the purpose of teaching the soul its own value, its own essence which is God. Man once understood this and so created initiations for the purpose of changing the boy into the man, the boy into the warrior, or the shaman. The boy at a certain age would be sent away from the tribe to some place where he was totally unfamiliar, a place that was wrought with peril so that he could confront the many challenges that would force him to reach deeper and deeper within his being until he was in contact with the source of his power, God, which would then guide him through the dangers. He would then be led back home changed, clear, the illusions of childhood replaced with the knowledge of the true self. Just like Jesus truly became the Christ not merely at the baptism but when he went away for those forty days to confront his last temptation.

This is symbolic of mans time on earth. We must confront the ego which controls our little minds, with its wiles, its rationalizations, it justifications, its cunning and its judgments, which are, in fact, all different types of lies.

Evil is merely an illusion created in the mind of man. It is only “bad” because it takes us further away from our Source, which is connected to the heart. Good is anything that is truth, which originates from the heart and leads us to our Source. Look at it this way, if take one letter, the “o” out of good, you have God, they are connected. If you take one letter the “v” out of evil, you have lie they too are connected. Anything that is a lie, is not good, not of the heart.

When we hear the word evil we immediately seem some red horned figure, or some darkly cloaked sinister shadow lurking somewhere in a corner. Evil is in merely that which points us away from the truth which is that path to God. It is a sign that has been turned in the wrong direction, intentionally, for whatever reason. It is ultimately not in the best interest of anyone if it is away from God.

Am I saying that understanding this will put an end to conflict…an end to war? No, I am not. In a world that is built on a foundation of illusion, which is inhabited by souls who are all on different levels of evolutionary progress, there are bound to be different truths. Those truths will be defended or not based upon the age of the soul, its understanding and its inherent nature. But while the ego seeks domination and adherence at all costs to its beliefs, the heart seeks understanding and acceptance. What I am saying is that coming from the heart, living in truth, even if it is a very personal truth, will put an end to weapons of mass destruction. The heart, every heart, contains the essence of God, and even within the illusion the heart can never justify the death of one innocent being as “acceptable collateral damage”.

The ends do not justify the means in the heart only in the mind. And so a man or woman might very well see that the only way to defend what he or she believes in their hearts is to defend it with their lives. But, at no time will the heart defend its truth with someone else’s life. A noble battle is fought with honor by the one whose belief is being defended. Jesus did not send anyone else to the cross for him. And so, although we will not end conflict by coming from our hearts, we will end dishonor, and find our way to God. We will all emerge from the wilderness with the heart of a true warrior.

The Enemy is Not the Fanatic, it is Not Religion Itself – The Enemy is the hypocrite

Matthew 13:24-43 (King James Version)

24Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:  25But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.  26But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.  27So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?  28He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?  29But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.  30Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

An open mind is an amazing thing.  One day I realized that if I needed an answer to a question, and I could not find it, I just had to leave my mind open – eventually the answer would come.  I extended this to my religious reading and an understanding of the parables of the New Testament and the Books of the Old Testament.  So, in reading the above parable of the Sower and the weeds I could not understand how it was that the Sower thought that the good crop would be picked up with the weeds.  All of the stories are told in terms of the reality that we know so that we could draw a parallel.  However, I easily remove weeds from my garden upon the first appearance because they do not appear alike.  Suddenly, during the Presidential election I saw the true meaning of weeds.  I saw people who said that they believed in God, were “good” Christians and Jews turn into hateful bigoted people.

So what is the Harvest?  Many like to think of it as the “end of days”, when in fact there is no one end of days.  There are many fields in God’s world and many have seen an end of days.  Surely there was an end of days in Germany for six million Jews.  There seems to be an end of days in Darfur.  There was an end of days in Bosnia, Rwanda, and certainly parts of Iraq.  There certainly was an end of days for the thousands killed and still dying due to the World Trade Center attack, and Hurricane Katrina.  No, the Harvest is not connected with the end of days, it is a time when we are ripe and bear fruit.  That time is not the same for everyone – It is how we each answer when we are called to show ourselves.  When Obama ran for President I saw so many people grasp at straws to find a politically correct reason to fear his being elected, but their desperation exposed their truth.  They had been living as hypocrites, going to their Churches and Temples lying to the God that demands that we love each other as ourselves, perhaps even lying to themselves.  The Harvest came to the Germans.  Those who risked their own lives to save the Jews were the good crop, and those who turned on them were the tares.

god-endures3

The same holds true in Rwanda, there are so many stories of people who risked their lives to protect those whose lives were threatened, and those who did nothing – harvest.  Today, as millions of people lose their jobs and their homes – while others still spend tens of thousands of dollars on accessories rather than coming to their brother’s aid are showing the fruit – or lack of fruit that they truly bear.  It is not about tithing, it is not about giving of what is extra or comfortable – it is about giving what is needed – even when it requires a sacrifice, because to sacrifice is to make sacred.

Whether our hatred surfaces, our greed, or our indifference to all other life on earth, all is coming to the surface during these testing times.  The real enemy is never the one standing in your face holding a gun – no, the real enemy is the one standing at your back holding a gun on you while he tells you that he is your friend.  There is no greater enemy to man, to the world, or to God than the hypocrite.  The Harvest is when there is no choice but to act in accordance with who we are.  It is when the circumstances are so dire as to force a response that is true to the self – and when no response is equal to a response.

I once firmly believed that the enemy was Religion.  Clearly, at a time of readily available weapons of mass destruction Religion, being divisive, and the cause of so much death and destruction over the past two thousand years had to be our greatest enemy.  This was a disheartening belief, because we cannot do anything about religion.  Then one day I was reading about what it means to be a Jew.  I read:

“How could anyone who believes in the God of the Bible treat his fellow human beings, all of whom are created in God’s image, with less than compassion?”  “To Jews, compassion is the keystone of being a mensch, and so basic a requirement of being human that the Talmud’s Rabbis were willing, at least in theory, to read an unkind person out of the Jewish Community….  From Judaism’s perspective, an unkind person is presumably a non-believer”.


All of this would be intensified for Christianity because it is upon the rock of brotherly love and compassion that Jesus built His Church.  With or without religion, even with belief in One God and One Way – there will still be hypocrites because there is a universal belief in One God, and that God demands that we love and that we understand that we are our brother’s keepers.  Yet, there are still those hypocrites who place themselves above and apart from God by choosing to pretend to live in the image of God while living in the image of the deceiver.  We can only worship and honor God, the noun, by living God, the verb.  So, for many different reasons, the Harvest is coming to, perhaps more fields at once than ever before.  In a sense, it is a time of Revelation, as it was originally depicted – a time when all that has been hidden is being revealed – a time when however hard we try to disguise ourselves – we can no longer hide.  We are in a time when there are only two paths on which to walk – the path for those who are God-ing and choose to serve all as needed, as brothers and sisters under God, and the other path, the one for those who cannot bear to serve any except themselves and those they consider their own.

The road is forked and we must walk that path of who we are.  I never really grasped the big deal made of hypocrites in the Bible before now.  Now, I realize that a hypocrite is a promised vote that cannot be counted on, a promised service that cannot be depended on, a promised hand that cannot be trusted to be there, a promised fire that will cause one to freeze, a promised meal that will cause one to starve, and a promised ally that will cause one’s defeat.  The hypocrite is the one you trust to be there and because of whom you look no further.  The enemy that you know can make you strong; the one that you don’t know will destroy you.  We don’t need to eliminate religion – we need religion to eliminate hypocrites.  In the days to come religion too, will be revealed, it will be known by its members.  A whole is the sum of its parts.  It is perhaps the decade of harvest, and what will be separated out will be the hypocrites.  What are the “Meek” who will inherit the earth?  Perhaps meek means simple – clear – transparent.  Perhaps it is the true, the transparent who will inherit the earth.