Q: What does it mean to be saved?
A: That depends upon your religious affiliation, but as a rule the Christian church teaches that Jesus Christ willingly gave up his life as a sacrifice for your sins, and by your acknowledgement of that sacrifice you have been freed from the curse of sin and death. It teaches that Heaven is reserved for those who die in the faith . . . Hell is reserved for those who don’t.
Christian doctrine accepts a convert as they are and promises them a new life where they will be forgiven of past sins and become a new person as they live under the living word of God and His bible. In time the simplicity of that message created the largest and most powerful religion known to man. People flocked to the Mother church and her teachings by the millions.
When I was a younger man I know I did. I was at the end of my rope. I needed help from somewhere. Jesus was there, free and open armed, for me. I was born again in a local church and as long as I remained in good standing with the church and it’s doctrine I was guaranteed a place at the table when I got to Heaven. Heady stuff for a guy who had absolutely no religious affiliation whatsoever, and it worked great for a couple of years . . . BUT . . .
In time I began to notice that my life had become an ‘us vs them’ affair, something I was not comfortable with for many reasons. I began to question . . . especially when I realized I, as well as almost every church person I knew, had pretty much traded our past sins in for an open, ongoing, and obnoxious version of self righteousness. I was not pleased with myself.
I studied the bible, prayed for this and that, even lived on a Christian commune for a couple years . . . but after all was said and done I was the same guy I’d always been, but now I had to hide behind this magical connection to God. Anyway the questions became too many, the doubts too large, and I became what we church people feared more than anything else . . . a reprobate backsliding his way to Hell!
Back to the question of salvation: What was I being saved for? Why me? What if I couldn’t read the bible? What if I was born a Muslim? A Jew? An Indian? Chinese? What about the rest of creation? The questions came on like an endless series of waves in a heavy storm and I felt myself sinking under them . . . so I did what I do best. I hopped a plane and headed off into the sunset and a new adventure in Seattle.
Today I am not down on any church, but in general I believe we have gotten it all wrong when it comes to Christianity. I believe we have been duped by a ministry clearly bent on self aggrandizement. Guys who have created magical doctrines in order to rule over their flock of believers instead of taking the time and patience to teach them to practice what the simple teachings of Christ actually meant. We Americans are an overly spoiled, ‘all show and no go’ people. Even our version of Christianity, (especially the TV ministry bullshit), proves it to us.
Bottom line . . . It is easier to WORSHIP Jesus than it is to LEARN from him . . . and the ministers are using our spiritual laziness against us by promoting their version of American exceptionalism in order to control our minds, and give themselves a great life in their shiny new church. These Pharisees and false prophets are alive and well and living among us.
So here’s my answer to your question on salvation: Jesus didn’t appear on the scene to SAVE you. He came to TEACH you how to SAVE yourself. . . and if you choose to follow and practice his teachings, he will be your teacher and you his student. And what can be more satisfying to a teacher than to have a student who learns his lesson?
Jesus was a special being, no one can argue that. I believe he existed and was a thorn in the sides of the priests of that day, just as you will become if you follow his lead. I don’t believe he was a special creation though. I believe he was an old soul who obtained awareness at a very early age and dedicated his life to the cause of teaching humanity a better way.
I believe there have been many teachers who have come and gone throughout the ages who were born for the very same reason, and I believe they all have based their teachings on one four cornered foundation.
You are being saved for no other reason than to build THIS house . . . you may never know it, you may never be awarded anything other than the satisfaction of knowing you helped build it . . . but that will be enough.
Q: What does it mean to be in the moment?
A: Well, to me living my life in the moment is the only time I am actually alive, any other time past or present is either over and gone or sitting somewhere in the future waiting to arrive.
The past, it lies behind you
The future lies ahead
Live in the moment or
live amongst the dead.
The past it lies behind you:
Living in the past in the physical sense is like this: When I was a young man I was strong and agile. I was superman. I could almost fly. When I became an old man I quickly realized I was no longer that person and would have been a fool to try to be. . . Today I must live with the reality that I have weakened to a great extent. I still work out, but now it’s to keep my bones and ligaments agile. Although I still think I can fly, I know better than to try. . . . Same thing for a woman trying to carry the beauty of her youth into old age, it don’t work. There is a special beauty that is reserved for the aged she will never know as long as she lives in the past. That’s living in the moment in the physical.
Living in the past in the spiritual sense is like this: I did some really bad stuff when I was younger that could have tied me up in guilt forever. My spiritual growth has also been stunted by lust, greed, and selfishness. I have hurt people and been hurt in return. I have struck out when a simple turn away would have been better.
Had I held onto past grievances and brooded over them for long periods of time they would have very soon become my best friends and I would still, at 75, be holding onto them. Though they were long past, and completely out of my control I would still honor them in my remembrance. Thankfully I have learned not to hold onto my past mistakes and erroneous ways and to recognize them for what they were. Growth lessons.
The future lies ahead:
It is imperative that each of us realizes that we personally have a whole lot to say say about what our future will hold for us. We are not just poor souls grasping onto dead logs as they float down the river of life, we are powerful souls piloting our own ships, and we have total control when it comes to buffeting the waves and circumventing the whirlpools. We quite literally create our futures by the things we do and say in the present.
Live in the moment or live among the dead:
That’s pretty much the way it is . . . the present is the only place we have control. Therefore, although it is a struggle to do so, it must be done.
Since time began God has been around in one form or another. Depending on when, where, and what age you were born in, you would have received from your elders an entirely different picture of Him . . .
Who is God anyway? This entity with the many names and personalities, this multi-faceted Father of the Universe, this Creator declaring His love, yet demanding our worship or else.
In our time, religious warfare has ravaged the planet. People of differing philosophies are killing one another to prove the point that they are the ‘chosen’ of the God of love and peace . . . What gives?
Say you were born in the US to Baptist Christian parents. Now, there were others in your town such as the Catholics, Protestants, Pentecostals, etc. who were also Christians, but the others were only privy to part of the truth, your parents taught you that the Baptists had it all. They were the ‘chosen’, above the rest of the ‘chosen’, who were chosen above the other religions because they all held at least one truth in common, Jesus the Christ.
The other guys, those religions and individuals that didn’t acknowledge Jesus as Lord, weren’t even in the running to be considered ‘chosen’.
Pretty confusing to a kid, but after a few years of brainwashing, you took your place in the church, accepted “it’s” version of the bible to be God’s holy word, learned your preachers denominational interpretation of all doctrinal issues such as ‘heaven and hell’ and thanked God for choosing you from amongst the billions of earthlings to reveal His truth to . . .
Is there something wrong here?
I grew up as a Protestant, but never thought much of it. My only remembrance of church was how I hated to get dressed up on Sunday and go. Jesus was just a sissy looking guy with long brown hair who got himself hung on a cross for some reason I couldn’t quite understand.
It was much later in life, after the army, after the free love ‘hippie’ days, that I began to give any serious thought to God. I had a bad experience on drugs one night with a Ouigi Board that scared me enough to seek some spiritual help.
I asked an old guy in the neighborhood about God and he sent me down the street to the Pentecostal Church. This was where my religious adventure began. Born again, Spirit filled, tongue talking, hell and damnation preaching, loud praising, song singing, Pentecostalism.
Years later, living a secluded life on a Christian communal farm, I began to wonder. I began to get an uneasy feeling about the whole thing and I left.
I stopped listening to what people had to tell me about God and decided to risk hell fire and damnation and get to know Him on my own. No bible, no Jesus, no nothing. It was time to lay aside fear of backsliding, fear of leaving the Church, and fear of everything else having to do with the Christian faith.
I began to read other philosophies, especially Buddhism, Taoism, Zen, and American Indian thought. Soon, I put these aside also and took a walk in the woods.
At first I found it difficult to deliver myself from years of religious conditioning, but as time went by, it became easier.
I began to peek into forbidden areas, and began to make choices. I thought about Jesus, about the necessity for salvation, and about sin, and hell, and death . . . and I thought about God,the creator of it all.
Today Jesus still has a role to play in my life, but not as a savior. Although I no longer worship him, I honor him as a great teacher, perhaps the greatest. His recorded life is an example of what life expects of me, and his sacrifices are deeply appreciated.
He was a teacher who revealed through his nature, what I could become if I chose to follow his lead. If he was the savior of the world, just believing in him didn’t seem to make much sense.
I can believe my math teacher is the greatest teacher on earth, but if I fail to learn what he has to teach, what does that make me? . . . a worshiper. If I absorb his teachings, I take him with me as I go into the world to become a teacher in my own right.
He will always be the Master and I his student, but as I build upon his foundation, it will no longer be necessary to sit at his feet. I will have taken on a mission of my own.
All religions seem to have a fuzzy image of God, He’s called a trinity in Christian philosophy. He’s the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Kind of confusing.
Other sects and religions have other names for Him, but none really pins Him down. He is the great I AM . . . and He doesn’t fit well into anybody’s preconceived box.
I needed a deeper understanding of Him than what religious teaching had for me, so I took a walk in the woods. . . and there I met Him face to face.
Simply put, God is not an individual entity, God is a state of being. Everything that lives, either animal, vegetable, or mineral is a part of God. He’s you, He’s me, the dog, the fly, and the leaf in the tree. We are surrounded by and engulfed in His omnipotence.
We are Him, His breath is what keeps us upright, the flesh He created is but a vehicle to contain His presence. We are drops of water originating from the same wave. We appear for but a moment, make a flash in the sun and re-enter. We are nothing . . . and yet we are everything.
We, as the highest evolution of His person, have the power to choose, therefore we are creators in our own right. As far as I know, we are the only life form having the ability to choose and to create according to our whim. We create our tomorrows by the thoughts and actions we take today, both individually and collectively.
God didn’t create this chaos we live in, we did. Instead of ignoring negativity, we embraced it and made a place for it in our world. By doing so, we have created a state of dualism.
Positivity/Negativity are battling for dominion and it seems the latter is in the lead. It will continue to grow, nothings going to stop it until, we as a whole, stop struggling to be amongst the ‘chosen’ and get down to the business of being our brothers keeper.
I’ve often wondered why we were given this ability and can only figure that God/Life is also evolving. That nothing is stagnate, but forever growing, even God. Where are we going? Well, that remains to be seen. I don’t have a clue, but I’m convinced the teachings of Jesus, as well as others, are paths leading us to the next step in our evolution.
Today I see God everywhere, but especially when I’m alone walking in the woods out of the earshot of men and their constant jabbering.
Walk softly upon the Earth and you will hear His still, small voice quietly floating upon the breeze. Study the miracle within an acorn. Listen to what He has to say concerning the joy of simply being a part of it all, as well as to the futility involved in claiming personal ownership to any of it.
I recently had an epiphany of sorts from a movie my daughter, who likes to catch people in awkward positions, made for me concerning last years trip to the beach.
First of all, I must say that even at the age of 75 I ignore the mirror and see myself as being muscle packed and fearless . . . probably always will. The truth, though, is a far different story. I have arterial sclerosis and a whole slew of other stuff I stubbornly ignore.
The other day after watching the candid camera kid’s movie I was mesmerized by the old man I observed in the movie. I know of course it was me, but I had/still have a problem reconciling that image with my own.
I am not that doddering old man, nor will I ever become him because now I am convinced without a doubt I am something or someone entirely different than any kind of physical presence real or imagined. I, the REAL me, am not at all a physical being, I merely present myself as one out of necessity.
So in the real world, though I am an old man physically, I am still a youngster at heart . . . and when that old physical body returns to dust I, the youngster, shall remain. I’m not sure how, or what form I will be in . . . (although I see no heaven or hell in my future) I KNOW I will remain vibrant in some form or another.
Anyway I saw this video and that’s the thought that came to mind. Because I have always been a bit like Dustin I have to wonder how many wonderful people I have passed by because they didn’t meet my physical/social/economic criteria. . . . far too many, I am sure. . . and our physical presence is the least aspect of who we are, it’s a shame that for most of us that’s all we ever see.
You said that I betrayed you
I can’t tell you what that did.
Once again I’d been defeated
By my impulsive id.
So I languish here within my soul
I ache in grievous pain.
While I watch that scene before me play
Again – and again – – and again.
What could I do to break the curse
What could I do to change
That sorrow filled face
Held together by grace
What could I do? . . . please what could I do?
I have mood swings every day
That have nothing to do with you.
I say and do things
I wish I’d never do.
Cloaked in colored garb.
I have mood swings every day
What more can I say?
And the devil played a lively tune
And the wise man danced along
And the tune was sharp and sweet and funny
And it’s rhythm very strong.
But the devil’s tunes
They are not free
And the time will come to pay.
And unless the wise man wise’s up
it’s not so far away.