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Showing posts from 2012

A Thomasine Incarnation

The Gospel of Thomas has no birth narrative.  In fact it hardly has any narrative at all in it about the life of Jesus.  However it does speak to the mystery of Jesus.  Yet I firmly believe a Thomasine Christian could celebrate Christmas with all the awe and mystery that comes from contemplating the season.  We find in the Gospel of Thomas:


(28) Jesus said, "I took my place in the midst of the world, and I appeared to them in flesh. I found all of them intoxicated; I found none of them thirsty. And my soul became afflicted for the sons of men, because they are blind in their hearts and do not have sight; for empty they came into the world, and empty too they seek to leave the world. But for the moment they are intoxicated. When they shake off their wine, then they will repent."
(29) Jesus said, "If the flesh came into being because of spirit, it is a wonder. But if spirit came into being because of the body, it is a wonder of wonders. Indeed, I am amazed at how this great…

Apocalyptic 2012

The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us how our end will come to pass." Jesus said, "Then have you laid bare the beginning, so that you are seeking the end? For the end will be where the beginning is. Blessed is the person who stands at rest in the beginning. And that person will be acquainted with the end and will not taste death."
-The Gospel of Thomas 18

I do not get too worked up with the end of days.  The Gospel of Thomas would be the bane of those who spend their lives trying to find verses to support their Rapture/Revelation studies.  Jesus does not seem to be concerned with the end of days, but rather challenges us to know ourselves as we were at the beginning.  There are two ways of thinking about that actually.  It could be referencing to the unified Adam in the beginning.. the original child of God.  It is a calling to know yourself as a son or daughter of God and to rest in that.  Whatever comes, I am a child of God.
The other way of understanding this is t…

God?

Even as I go back and read my past post, I do not know if I believe it or just speaking the Gnostic party line.      With this tragedy of these children being killed, I ask myself "Where is God?".
Why did God not intervene?
I am left with several possibilities.


God could have but did not.God could not.There is no God.In considering the first idea, that God could have intervened and saved those kids, but for whatever reason did not, I am disgusted.  This answer is not satisfying.  I expect morality of God.  Now, when I say God here, honestly I am looking at the biblical God who claims to be moral.  Would I be moral if I saw someone harming kids, and could save them and stop the harm (even with no harm coming to myself as in the case of God) but did not - That would be an immoral act.  I say the same would be true of a God who could have saved those kids from such a traumatic end, but did not.  I cannot honor nor worship such a God.

There is the possibility that God could not.  I…

Where is God in the Face of Tragedy?

Gnosticism speaks of a half-maker, a mixed-bag psuedo-wanna be deity called the Demiurge.  It is he who traps us in this world.  He sings the lullaby and we fall asleep.  He is also the deity who demanded the murder and massacre of people in the Old Testament.  He is the God of this World.  The Demiurge and Archons are active and alive in our world today.  With the loss of those children and teachers, the God of this World sought to stake his claim.  Yet the true God is not of this world.  This is not his domain. This temporal world merely hides the fullness of God.  And yet God comes to us in the aeons who work subterfuge to free us from the hideous shackles of this mixed-bag life.  We get glimpses of grace even as it fades and is temporal in this life.  I pray for those who have died.  I pray for their families.  I pray for all those affected.  May we be free, Oh God above Gods.  Come awaken us!

Emanations Cosmology

God emanated from Godself life.  All things come from the light.  Hidden within this temporal creation is the spark of God.  Some of the sparks of God are hidden under dung, while others can almost be seen in crystalline purity, yet all are there for those who will wake up and see through the matrix which we call life.  Just as these sparks spread out so too are they called back home.  Like the out breath and in breath...what has been poured forth will be pulled back into God.

This means that for you and I, we are invited to wake up and return to the source...God.  The Gospel of Thomas puts it that we are called to realize that we are Sons and Daughters of the Living Father.  We need to realize who we are and put on the robes of faith, love, and compassion as we are resurrected into new life...sparks returning home once again.

4-Point Plane

When the Palm Tree Garden Forums went down we suffered a loss.  One of those losses was being able to access the information there.  The four point plane I hold to is derived from something that was discussed many times there.  It was created by Jesse aka Spark. In my opinion it does an excellent job  describing some core common parts in this enigma of groups we call Gnosticism.

http://www.palmtreegarden.org/2010/05/what-is-the-four-point-plane/

1) Emanations Cosmology. The heavenly and phenomenal worlds are ultimately the effect of God’s process of “emanation,” or pouring forth from itself.

2) Immanent Pneumatology. God’s spirit fills the heavenly and phenomenal worlds. God is right here, right now.

3) Gnostic Soteriology. Gnosis, which can also be called insight, plays the most important role in the salvation of the Gnostic.

4) Sacramental Praxis. Gnosis can be facilitated by symbolic ritual.

Advent and the Gospel of Thomas

Jesus said, "It is I who am the light which is above them all. It is I who am the all. From me did the all come forth, and unto me did the all extend. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there." Gospel of Thomas 77

Jesus said, "I took my place in the midst of the world, and I appeared to them in flesh. I found all of them intoxicated; I found none of them thirsty. And my soul became afflicted for the sons of men, because they are blind in their hearts and do not have sight; for empty they came into the world, and empty too they seek to leave the world. But for the moment they are intoxicated. When they shake off their wine, then they will repent." Gospel of Thomas 28

Jesus identifies with the fullness of God from which all came forth.  And yet we also find that he came to earth.  The Divine Presence came to earth.  The Light came here in this world that is such a mixed bag.  Jesus sees our emptiness and seeks to share his fu…

Advent

I love Advent.  I have since I first discovered it.  This silent waiting.. this anticipation..this magnificent pleading for God to come-to help us, to walk with us is simply something that can shake me to my core.  With my father dying earlier in the year, the realization has been driven home that this body and my place in this world is not eternal.  My friends, loved ones, job are not here forever.  As I age, my body aches and I am more aware of my own weaknesses.  And so it is that I sing those Advent hymns and pray the prayers of  Advent.

God, please come.
Please come to us, walk with us and in us.
This ocean is so big and my boat is so small.
Please come.
Send your light into the world.
Send your word and we will be healed.
Come in a way we can touch.
The ways of this world have trampled so many of us underfoot.
Come and be with us God.
Remind us that this world is transitory, and only that which is eternal matters.
Come quickly, Lord.

Trapped

One of the premise in many of the Nag Hammadi texts is that humanity is trapped.  We are trapped in this temporal body, in this temporal world that acts as a type of prison in that it lulls us asleep from our divine nature as sons and daughters of God.  Folks may hear a similar teaching in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sufism, and even some of the more "orthodox" branches of Christianity.

     Still reflecting on the movie, The Life of Pi, I cannot help but ponder this in a modern Gnostic context.  God is wholly other as the tiger in the movie.  The demiurge and the archons were all around in so many forms.  And yet God was there as a Savior but not one that is "safe".  Rather God stripped away every chain that bound the man.  God demanded that every rag be left behind so that knowledge of the real may be known.  Nothing changed and yet everything changed.  This reminds me of the Zen saying, "Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.  After enlightenment, ch…

The Life of Pi

((Possible Spoiler Alert))

I enjoyed some time with my mom over Thanksgiving.  This is the first Thanksgiving without my dad, and I wanted to help her appreciate his memory without drowning in grief.  One of the things we did was go see the movie, "The Life of Pi".

I have to say I was totally in love with it.  I saw in it an allegory of the spiritual life.  Pi as a child had a child's faith that even then would not be limited by any one religion, God was just too good and there was so much good in the world's religions that made sense.  But religion in an of itself, can only help you lay a bit of a foundation for the spiritual life.  It is when everything begins to be stripped away that spiritual depth is really driven home.  How we respond is everything in the journey.

In the movie, the tiger, to me, was God.  God who is not cutsie, but is ferocious and not tame.  A God who seems to be utterly beyond.  And so the relationship really seems to grow.  Agreements are made…

Know Yourself

A big message within the Gospel of Thomas is to know yourself.  This can be a scary task as one can see pieces of oneself that need the grace and healing of God.

I Believe...

I believe...

I believe in a living God.  A God that is a Lover.  The God that Rumi, Gandhi, and Jesus speak of.  This God is Lover, Friend, Mother, Father, and even impersonal as energy, life-force, chi, prana, and all of the Cosmos.

I believe that we know this God in both personal and impersonal ways.  Prayer, Chanting, Songs of Praise, Meditation, Contemplation, and many other "spiritual" practices (whether or not they are viewed as spiritual) are ways to come to know this God in greater and greater ways.

I believe that death is not the end.  When we die, we still exist.  We may face some form of purgation or life review in which we see which lessons we learned and grew from and see where we can further our development in the Spirit.  When we are ready we can return to earth. (Reincarnation) I believe no one will be eternally lost, but that in the end all will know union with God. (Universalism)

I believe that those who have passed over can still communicate with those still …

What if...

In hearing the mudslinging going back and forth with the upcoming presidential election, I have to ask, "What if we lived our lives from the perspective of relationship rather than power?  What would it look like?"  In the Gospel of Thomas, we find a call to relationship.. to know ourselves in relation to the Divine Presence as Mother and Father, to know ourselves in relation to our big brother, and to know ourselves in relation to all our brothers and sisters.  What if we responded from a perspective of relationship?

Relationship

The Gospel of Thomas reveals a God of relationship...not one of any religion.  The God Jesus reveals is a Mother and Father...he himself is a big brother.  He shows a God not interested in our behavior whether religious or not.  Rather a relationship with family.  Humanity is our brothers and sisters, and we are all children of the same Mother/Father.  He has no interest in holding the Jewish Law nor the Christian practices of prayer and fasting.

Knowledge of What?!

Scholars have argued back and forth whether The Gospel of Thomas is or is not a Gnostic text.  Part of it is due to the disagreement what qualifies as Gnostic.  If one means the Demiurge and a full aeons, Sophia type text...then no it is not.  And honestly it can be approached either way in my humble opinion.  We know that later groups that were Gnostic did make use of the Gospel of Thomas.  It is also used by mainstream Christians as a contemplative text and even used for inclusion within the New Testament.

The Gospel of Thomas uses language with which many modern mainstream Christians would feel totally comfortable.  There are also concepts that Gnostic Christians would also be totally comfortable with as well.

The Gospel of Thomas calls us to follow Jesus.  He is presented as fully man and yet somehow proceeding from the Father as well.  One even gets a taste of the kernals of the the Trinity in some of the sayings in the Gospel of Thomas.  Humanity is called to follow God and to h…

The Gospel of Thomas as Contemplative Text

One could easily find inspiration within the Gospel of Thomas even if they do not accept it as scripture.  In fact it could even be a great manual for spiritual life to mainstream Christians.  The main message of the Gospel of Thomas is to know God and who we are in God.  We are called to be twins of Christ or as Martin Luther said, "a race of Christs".  We are called to truly know God and not get caught up in the world's systems.

God - Wrestling

I have been reading through The Gospel of Thomas very very slowly lately.  Really taking the time to think on and contemplate each saying.  Something strange that I notice is while there are some radical differences with mainstream Christianity there are some things that will definitely not keep those who shuck spiritual authority, and stability from feeling uncomfortable.  Jesus really expected those who choose to follow him to do just that...be his student..his disciple.  And he seems to think not everyone will get it.  While thankfully the Gospel of Thomas does not do a lot of speculating about the afterlife, Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas does seem to think that his words are not easy and following him will not be easy.  This god-wrestling is not a one time decision nor necessarily an easy task.

Finding Faith

My bishop and I have been talking.  Well writing is more like it.  Anyone who knows me, knows I am not much of a phone person.  I prefer face to face, then if not face to face then in writing.  I am odd that way.

So we have been talking about religion.  Both of us would describe ourselves as universalists.  We believe that all people will eventually achieve a life changing revelation knowledge of God, which we call gnosis.  But we have also talked about our journeys.  We both come from fundamentalist backgrounds with all its mixed baggage.  In our lives we have also witnessed and even been a part of what Ramakrishna describes of digging many shallow wells.  We follow whim in our exploration of religions but not digging too deep.  His deep love is Sethianism (often called a type of Gnosticism) and I the Thomasine path.  However we both felt that we were directed to something more.  We needed a foundation to keep us grounded and from bouncing all around.  For him as well as for me, it ha…

Thomas the Mystic

I am convinced that the Gospel of Thomas is a mystic text.  It's main challenge is to know yourself in a living experiential way, a rhema kind of knowledge as a son or daughter of God.  We are called to awaken where we come from thus realizing where we are going.  In my humble opinion the GoT is Chistianity without the hard to believe things like the virgin birth, the sacrificial view of Jesus death to appease God, and an us vs them mentality.  It is an oneness text.

Inner Life

Following Jesus

I found a quote today that I really love:
“Jesus did not say that the whole world should go to church.  Essentially He said that the church should go to the whole world.” ~ Greg Laurie

This quote goes great with the one attributed to St. Francis of Assisi:  "Preach always, if necessary use words."

I am still reaping the fruits from the 30 days of letting go, of letting go of any clinging to a religion and just focus on a relationship with God.  What happened was a shakedown that sifted like flour all that was fluff and then what remained was of substance.  I let go of old of fundamentalist wounds and worries that I still held and from that I am now able to approach the Gospel of Thomas and Jesus without that worry.  I am seeing Jesus in a healthy way, and from that even the church in a more healthy way.

I do not believe that Jesus ever intended to form a church like we see today.  Rather if anything the small home communities were probably much more true and fruitful.  Money g…

So, What's the Big Deal?

The Gospel of Thomas talks about the Kingdom of God...a lot.  In fact in saying 3, Jesus tells his disciples that the kingdom is within them and outside them.  But what is the kingdom anyway?  What would this have meant to his followers?  I don't think this saying is supposed to be just a feel good thing you can just nod and say yes..I am filled with God, and stop there.

The Jews of the 1st Century knew of several kingdoms. The kingdom of the Romans was seen as the kingdom of oppression, suppression and injustice.  In fact many emperors and kings throughout history have displayed these same tendencies. But there was also a hope and view of the messianic kingdom.  This kingdom is a kingdom of justice, of goodness, help for the widows and orphans, of peace.

I love what Richard P. McBrien says about the kingdom in his article, "What is the Kingdom of God?" (http://www.americancatholic.org/Newsletters/CU/ac0980.asp)

We can define the Kingdom of God as the redemptive presence…

Is the Gospel of Thomas Gnostic? Christian?

Many scholars suggest that the Gospel of Thomas is not Gnostic. It contains no mythos of the demiurge, the fall of Sophia, and sees God within creation. Many of the scholars make the case that the Thomasines were a Christian community, one of the many diverse Christian communities (though some today might attach a label of mystical to them, but honestly could not any of the Christian groups fit that bill?)  Their text fitting in with much though not all of "mainstream" Christianity. The Thomasines were Christians.  However there are kernels or seeds of things in the Gospel of Thomas later adopted by those groups commonly called Gnostics.  It's concepts were later built on with much else in other Gnostic groups, so the GoT did influence Gnosticism without being Gnostic itself. Today, perhaps as in its earliest ages, The Gospel of Thomas has a foot in two worlds, that of Christianity and that of Gnosticism, yet not fitting completely within either.  It is Christian but not…

How Did Jesus Meditate?

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Messages from My Dad

Last night, I had a dream for my dad who passed this summer.  He had a message for me concerning my mom.  The message made perfect sense.  He also shared something personal.  This is the 3rd time he has come to me, not just in an odd passing dream, but with a message.  He also visited the nurse who was taking care of him to thank her and the staff..this was the night before he died that morning.

This happening is strange and yet has happened with both grandmas and an aunt going back several years.  Each time the messages seemed to hit on the head.  The first one I remember was with my grandma, who came to me and gave me a message for my mom and her brothers and sisters.  It was about the guilt they were feeling for not being there.  I was just a goofy teenager and had no clue that they were feeling guilty.  As it turns out, none had been there to visit her in the nursing home that week, and the nursing home failed to let the family know that she was going into the hospital for surgery…

Spirituality Is Where it is At

"Jesus said, 'The person old in days won't hesitate to ask a little child seven days old about the place of life, and that person will live.  For many of the first will be last, and will become a single one.'" -Gospel of Thomas 4

This is such an interesting saying.  An old man...a man who is an elder.. who has his place in Jewish society as an elder, a wise one will ask an infant, but not just any infant...but one who is uncircumcised (Jews circumcise on the 8th day), one who is not part of the covenant about the place of life... the seventh day could also refer to the Sabbath, dating back to the first Sabbath, the day of rest, the day God rested in the creation story.

So we have an elder, established in the covenant and tradition asking one who is not established in it for the place of life.  It seems in the Gospel of Thomas, the Wisdom Jesus does not teach a religion...Jewish nor any fledgling Christianity that we know of today.  Instead he seems to point to a l…

The End

So the time of my little personal experiment is coming to an end.  And yet what has come from it feels more like the beginning.  I remember being taught it takes 21 days to establish a habit and another 21 to have it so ingrained that you feel awkward without that habit taking place.  This 30 days of Bliss, really challenged me to be more introspective.  I have learned to be more forgiving of myself...noting that I am a person who in many ways is an over-achiever in some things, and live guilt for even the smallest most foolish things.  So when I messed up, I realized it was okay.  The world did not end, God did not punish me, nor did I suffer severe karmic consequences for missing an exercise time.

Some of the the results for me were really planting the seeds of letting go of the need to cling to a religious label.  I am still learning to feel okay with that.  I am learning to build a relationship with Spirit that is not based on a religion.  Again, this really feels like a beginning …

Beautiful Song!

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This is so beautiful I wanted to share it.  Publish Post

Longing - Day 28

Though I am not at the end of this 30 day experiment, I am close.  Already I am aware of some of the lessons I have been taught through this exercise.  The first is that this time was a period of the practice of mindfulness.  Another lesson was simply that there is a real need in my life for discipline.  It is too easy to talk religion/spirituality without a deep practice of it.

On a deeper level, I have found something awakened in me...a deep longing for God.  The Gospel of Thomas says we are children of the Father and that our source or home we came from is in this light we call God.  I long for God.  I long for another experience of God.  And yet this longing is an experience and awareness of the Divine. And this Divine Presence is within!

Checking in! - Day 21

Well I was away from the ol' blog longer than the weekend, but a week fast from the blog was just what I needed.  Things are still going very well.  In this time I have revived my aromatherapy practices, Reiki and praying with my angels and guides.

This past week has been very interesting in my conversations with my spouse who due to being beaten down by fundamentalists is not sure there is a personal God.  Personally, I am fine with that.  God to me is more than fundamentalists make God out to be.  God is often believed to be the image we imagine Spirit to be, and yet God is so much more!  You find a similar teaching in the Bhagavad-Gita, one also finds hints of these teachings in the Gospel of Thomas.

My spouse's questions have challenged me to contemplate Spirit more.  Who or what is God?  Is God all powerful?  I don't see Spirit as something separate from us, but rather like Bible's Book of Acts teaches, "in God we live, move, and have our being."  We are…

Away

I will be with my family for a bit!  Have a great one!

To Everything There Is A Time: Day 11

Yesterday was a very interesting day.  I like interesting days.  My emotions were doing some interesting things, so I took a little extra time for prayer and meditation.  God to me is both personal and impersonal.  Both The Gospel of Thomas and Hinduism teach something similar.  At times, such as in meditation, I simply rest in God as presence....not really a person just an energy or such for lack of a better word.  During prayer God is mother and father, brother and friend.  Someone I can talk to, share my thoughts, worries, and fears.

This 30 day experiment is bringing up lots of stuff for emotional and spiritual housecleaning.  My dreams reflect a lot of that.  From being bound and threatened to be raped by a demon, to dreams of my recently passed father, to so many others.  All are part of the process.

Prayer Intention: Those who travel.   (I also ask for prayers for my family...a lot going on with sister in her marriage and spouse with job).

Hurry Hurry: Day 10

Yesterday went by in a blur.  Yoga was fantastic, but wow my mind did not want to slow down for meditation.  Do you have that happen?  I offer up my thoughts again and again.  One thing that is a challenge for me is not to get fixated on time limits for my meditations and yoga.  My average time meditating is 20 mins in the morning so I have to be careful not to look at the time or I will compare it to 20 minutes!


Karma: Day 9

Yesterday eve, my spouse made a delicious meal but it was also pretty greasy.  My stomach hated it.  I have been eating very well and to suddenly eat something so radically different, made me regret it!  My evening workout and meditation times were shortened.  Peppermint herbal tea helped.

This morning however, I hopped right up, took a shower, rubbed on my aromatherapy oils and did an intense yoga session and meditation.

I really feel that letting the labels drop and not identifying with a single religion for this 30 days has really liberated me to look at things.  I have not stopped my personal passion for social justice, caring for the needy, nor the time for prayer and meditation in my life every day.  I just do not feel that almost obsessive need to conform/integrate/immerse myself in a tradition.  I found myself on a merry-go round of beliefs adopted, thought about, and laid down to follow my next interest.  I don't feel that now.  What I am doing just feels...well.. authenti…

Lethargy: Day 8

Yesterday, I started off the day perky and full of energy.  However, not too much later, lethargy set in and I did not want to do a thing.  I wound up dancing and my energy perked back up.  (Dancing is a fantastic form of exercise!) I meditated twice and wound up doing yoga in the evening.  Turned out to be wonderful.  My change of eating lifestyle is fantastic as my spouse has joined me in part of it.

Prayer Intention:  Those who are lonely.

Keep On Keeping On: Day 7

Today was a great day.  Meditation was fantastic.  Got to spend some time with my beloved, where we went to pick up yoga mats and a few things for the kitchen.  (I admit I love kitchen gadgets).  We grilled some chicken outside and it was fantastic.  Yoga was wonderful...I am growing more and more limber and these poses I can hold longer and stretch a whole heck of a lot more!  God has really blessed this day.  I am so thankful for it.

Prayer Intention:  Those who suffer the effects of violence.

Every Have That Dry Feeling? Day 6

So yesterday went well.  I ate three amazing meals that were healthy.  I did so without gorging myself.  My veggie and fruit intake has been incredible since this has started.  I noticed my meditation time is increasing as well.  My workout time was less intense, and I do not want to make that a habit but once in a while is okay.

One of things I am observing is the "newness" of this project is passing.  Now comes the time to really allow the foundation to set and stick with it.  While I am happier than I have been in ages, I also know that blogging here helps hold myself accountable!  Thank you for being here!

Prayer Intention:  For those suffering financial struggles.

Day 5

Eek I forgot to blog yesterday!  I am still meditating twice a day.  Doing some cleaning and removing clutter daily.  Prayer is becoming much more natural again.  I had started the first couple of days with a Marianne Williamson audio that has morning and evening prayers.  They are lovely.  My eating is going well.  Again I am not trying to go to extremes.  I am eating a ton more veggies and fruit lately though.  I love them anyway, so no big struggle there.

I had a unique moment yesterday where I got a distinct message, a synchronicity where God winks..giving you a little guidance just when you need it.  I love those!

Prayer Intention: For those struggling within a relationship.

What Time Is It? Day 4

I woke up this morning energized.  I am noticing that my sleep patterns are regularizing, that I am spending less time at the computer, and more time being...well...happy.   I did an intense yoga session then took the last of my books that I am removing away.  While driving them to their destination, I noticed it was noon and my brain began an odd series of thoughts, that I should find somewhere to eat, where was I going to eat, what places are there near here that I could eat.  The funny thing was...I was not hungry!  It was due to the time being noon and thus "lunchtime" and nothing else.  So I did a bit of self-talk that I do not need to eat because it was a certain time, but rather chose to pay attention to my body and its needs.

Yoga, Prayer, and Meditation are going well.  I want to give a shout out to Angel who is doing this little journey with me.  Thanks for your comments.  Comments keep me going and inspired!  You are a blessing!

Prayer Intention: For those who take…

Day 3: Observing

Happy 4th! I just finished up an intense yoga session followed by meditation. This project is proving fruitful. Moving away from sodas has proved easy. Meditation too has been easy to re-establish in my life. (though it is only day 3!). I did notice a couple of things today related to eating and my weight. I tend to crave food when I am bored. I find myself bored when I veg in front of the tv or video games. Also I feel a need to fill my plate and then eat everything on it. So I am adding another component to this 30 day project. I am going to practice portion control as well.
Prayer Intention: The sick.

Is THAT the Devil?: Day 2

It is Day 2 of my 30 day quest to deepen my spiritual practice.  So far all is well.  Last night I did another round of yoga, meditation and prayer.

Today, I did some flow yoga which was glorious.  I love it.  Also for lunch I ate humas, tabouli, and lentil soup!  So far I have not missed sodas, drinking water and teas instead.

One of the things that has popped up for me in removing hundreds more books to get rid off is an old devil hiding in the back of my subconscious.  As a teenager I was a fundamentalist Christian.  While I learned many wonderful things, and grew into a living relationship with God from it, I also carried away tons of baggage when I was shunned by my faith community.

Most of it has been dealt with but in getting rid of tons of my old fundamentalist Christian books, many dating to these years, I realized a part of me thought I would someday go back.  And with that insight of that came the revelation of why I thought that.  It was pounded into my brain that if one i…

Day 1

Ha!  So much for good intentions.  I woke up this morning tired and thinking I really do not want to meditate.  But I did anyway.  One of the things I have done with these practices I am undertaking is not setting time limits.  There was a time when I meditated 3 times a day for 45 minutes a pop.  Sadly when I regularly meditated, some days I would keep peeking at the clock wondering how much longer I need to sit.  With my exercise and meditation I do not look at the clock at the beginning nor during it.  I just do it.  This has freed up the sense of anger and frustration at having to do it.

So my day went like this.  I got up, meditated and then did my yoga routine.  I prayed and am embarrassed by the fact that I am out of practice and did not have much to say.  But I did pray.  I ate a healthy breakfast and drank water.  Then I went to continue the final stages of the remodel of my bedroom-putting stuff back in.  This of course is a practice of letting go of clutter.  I have tons an…

30 Days of Change

Well it has been a little over a month since my father passed.  In that time, he had come to me a couple of times in my dreams with little messages.  He even came to me in the day before he passed, just reminding me to look after my mom, and what my plan was to help take care of her in this time of grief.  Oddly enough our nurse too had a dream the day he passed, saying thank you for taking care of him during all of this.  The dreams since he passed have been a comfort and inspiration to me.  This past month I have really been reflecting on it all.  The Christians I met had their beliefs which were very comforting to my family during all this.  They still are helping care for my mother and sister who live many miles away from me.  I am so thankful for them.  They also challenged me.  I do not identify as a Christian in any orthodox form.  However I believe and love God but hold many different beliefs that put me outside the Christian fold.  The God I believe in, is often impersonal as…

A Big Enough Deity

I have spent each day after coming home contemplating my experience of Christianity during the time of my father's passing.  I have been thinking about God, what both evangelical and liberal Christians say about God, Jesus and humanity.  It has led me to conclude a couple of things.

The first is, I am not a Christian. Not in any traditional sense.  The good thing is all those old grudges were healed through my experiences with good kindly Christians during his sickness and death.  I know there are closed minded and psycho people who claim to be Christians, but I dont blame the whole religion for them.  I know many are not that way.  So why I am I not a Christian?   My God is bigger.  My God has so many describers.....many not biblical in the least.  God to me is Mother, Father, Lover but also friend, nature, Goddess, Shakti, Sophia, Krishna, Jesus, Kali, the tree in my front yard, the rolling plains, sunset, land my spouse.  My faith story is not limited to the Biblical characters…

Reflections

This past couple of weeks have been a roller coaster ride of emotions, but also one of prayer and contemplation.  I am home for the weekend, before returning next week to help my mom get all the other stuff that goes on after a death in order.

This roller coaster ride was one of great sorrow but with that healing as well.  I saw a side of the church I had long forgotten about and refused to see.  I was reminded that not all Christians are intolerant jerks, that most are people just like you and I just trying to get by.  I was inspired by their love and trust in God, as well as that lived out in love for my family through this sad time.

While I will never return to my literalist fundamentalism of my youth, I am comfortable now in my relationship with Jesus, which I struggled with from the moment I fell in love with the Gospel of Thomas.  I also gained a renewed appreciation for the Bible both through these Christians as well as a book I would read while sitting with my father called od…

It Is Finished

I saw my dad die today. I was with him when it happened. It is odd how I had certain expectations of how it should happen, perhaps from stories or too much television as a child. Both the nurse and I had dreams with messages from him. I knew it would be today...he had declined that much. He did not come to at the last moment with a message or even a deathbed vision when he passed. There was no death rattle. He was simply surrounded by his loved ones and simply stopes breathing peacefully. Seeing my mother and his father weep deeply in their grief made it all the more sorrowful. I found myself hoping against hope that there is an afterlife. I wish I had a strong faith,as I saw how it comforted the rest of the family, in the afterlife. I thought about my own afterlife and a verse from the Bible describes my life: "Lord, I believe. Help thou mine unbelief." Please pray for my family as we go through this time of loss.

The Compassionate Face of Christianity

Sitting here with my father in his final days on earth, many people have come to see him. He has touched many lives. I grew up in this small town. I know many of these people. It was here where my spiritual life began, and it was here where I was rejected by my faith community that has left me scarred with a spiritual limp like Jacob who wrestled with God and forever walked with a limp afterwards. I knew the wound had never completely healed, crippling my trust in Christianity, the church, God, and really any religion. Sitting here, watching folks come in there have been several members of the clergy come as well as church folk. Some have been the stereotypical religious types but a few have been as Jesus. They weep and suffer with my dad and my mom who is losing the love of her life. One of them is the one who stood with me when I had to stand before the church tribunal. Rather than stand with the majority against me, he went out on a limb and publically stood with me and…

The Promise

I am sitting in the hospital. My dad who looks like a refugee from the concentration camps has slipped into a coma. His kidneys are failing. As friends and family visit to say their goodbyes, each of us reach for hope.

What Are You Made Of?

My dad is dying.  He had been fighting this latest round of skin cancer for a year.  He won several smaller battles.  This one-he will not win.  I live five hours from home and when my folks would come up for chemo they would travel to the city I live in for chemo.  The last time they were up was about 2 weeks ago.  He did not look great, but nothing prepared me for how he looks now.  My sister tried to warn me when she told me it was time to come down and say our goodbyes.  It was hard not to gasp and cry when I walked into his hosptial room.  He looked like a living skeleton with only the lightest layer of skin on bone.  His muscles were gone.  My dad had always been an athlete, like his father before him.  One eye has gone blind and he cannot close it.  He also has lost the ability to speak. All within the past few days.

It is times like this when one realizes what you are made of.  I have been a spiritual nomad for a large part of my life.  My first love and how I was raised was C…

Sometimes it Sucks Being Passerby!

There is a saying in the Gospel of Thomas that says, "Be Passerby".  This brings to mind another saying I heard that we are not called to build a house on the bridge of life but rather to pass through it.  I find my spirituality is a lot like that.  There are certain core things that consistently resonate within me:  meditation, contemplation, works of compassion and justice and that of the sacred in all people and things.  But sometimes it sucks to not really fit within any one camp of religions.  Being an outsider and not being able to set up one's tent is very uncomfortable to me.

I love the Gospel of Thomas but due to my UPG (unverified person gnosis) with nature last year, it is simply not enough.  I don't fit within a church nor a church mindset. (Not for a lack of trying in many different settings)  There is a lot to appreciate there but my theology does not really fit any known church to encourage me to join that local community.  I cannot affirm God as only …

Now You're Cooking!

So...uh..I am learning to cook.  I am a little embarrassed to say this, but I am a 30-something male, and I cannot cook...but I am learning!  A visit to my doctor who had dropped over 100+ pounds, got us talking about things to eat.  I confessed I usually eat out on my way to and from work.  Now I should tell you that she is utterly fantastic.  The most friendly doctor I have met.  Well we got to chatting and next thing you know she is sharing recipes that she has found delicious and healthy that has helped her drop the weight (along with exercise).  Well, last Sunday I made a marinated beef roast.  It was roasted with herbs, fresh green beans, celery and carrots.  It was delicious and easy to make!

Today I made a pork loin with herbs rubbed into it.  As a side I baked Asparagus lightly drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt, and a bit of minced garlic sprinkled on it for taste.  It was utterly delicious and easy to make!  Who knew?

I used to read books about the spirituality…

God - What a Riot!

Sometimes I just don't get God.  Okay, a lot of times I don't!  He is just so damned irreverent sometimes!  He really does not care one bit for our sacred cows.  It just blows me away.  Driving in the car today, I became aware of the presence and power of God.  My mind flashed with images of God, and my response?  Well the images of God were not typical and not "holy" in the traditional sense.  Much more gritty, much more urban...much less "religious."  I could love a God like this.  I guess I do.  In moments like this I do "get" the mystics like Rumi and John of the Cross.  I totally want to marry God.

Universalism and Holistic Spirituality

I saw this quote attributed to Rumi: "I am neither Christian, nor Jewish, nor Muslim. Doing away with duality, I saw the two worlds as one. I seek One, I know One, I see One, and I call One. "  I have no idea if he actually said this, but I find the sentiment powerful beyond measure.  


The past day or two has really helped me realize that I am not a traditional anything religious-wise.  I am not a traditional nor orthodox Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Thomasine etc.  I am both comfortable with all of these and yet also outside of them.  
I have a passionate love of God and yet am just as comfortable dropping God language and speaking of the sacredness in every-day life or in nature.  I can speak of Goddess or the Gods.  It all works.  Somewhere along the way, I have embraced (or have I been embraced) by a holistic spirituality.  I relish the writings of the various scriptures and yet can also appreciate the scripture of nature.  I am far from perfect, yet feel embraced and ut…

Original Innocence

I want to point you to a post by T Thorne Coyle called "Invoking Random Kindness".  She really taps into what I call Original Innocence.  Those who love the Gospel of Thomas will recognize the theme.  This post is beautiful as it is profound.  Enjoy!

Seeing The World Through Devotional Service

I find the path of devotional service very challening and wonderful  The path of action is to awaken to our unity with the Divine.  I have never been one advocating complete withdrawal from the world.  After all my early tutors in spirituality were social justice oriented Roman Catholic priests, and I have never outgrown their passionate love for all humanity and nature.

So how do we "do" devotional service.  There are several possible ways.  One is to simply go through the day seeing each person you come across as an image of the Divine and serve and love them as God.  Try to maintain that focus throughout the day, that each person you come across is a living manifestation of the Divine.  (Yourself included.)  Another way is dedicate everything you do as a holy offering to the Divine.  Do not cling to the results.  Do your best, do it with goodness, compassion (toward others and yourself), and with the mindset that all you do today is a simple offering to the Divine presence…

Finding Love

I remembered one of the things I noticed when I first read the Gospel of Thomas was what I thought was a lack of reference to the love of God.  Now many years later I find God's passionate love in almost every saying in the Gospel of Thomas.  I find a God who's desire is that we be whole, that we be free, that we know ourselves.  I see a God who desires that we protect our brothers and sister like we would protect our own eyes from harm.  I see a God who desires his children to remember their heritage and who they really are.  This God loves us with a mature passionate love.  He is not a jealous God.  He does not rage against things that are not important.  God merely loves us as a parent loves their children of any age and longs for them to reach their fullest potential.  With that we receive promises that God is within us, and without.  That God is in nature.  God is in our brothers and sisters.  This is the God I believe in.  This is the God I love.  This is the God I know.…

Did You See That!?

Jesus said, "Know what is in front of your face, and what is hidden from you will be revealed to you.
For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed.  Saying 5 of the Gospel of Thomas

The teacher here speaks of seeing reality as is.  To know what is in front of your face.  In meditation, I face the challenge to sit with my monkey mind.  It seeks to jump from thought to thought to thought.  It creates fantasies and even delusions that often reveal how I see the world.  The master instead challenges those who he called as disciples to be aware of the present moment - to know and be aware of what is before us.  To make a mental step back and simply observe something for what it is.  To let go of what you want it to be or want it to lead to, and to truly live in the present moment.

When we do this, something amazing happens.  When we experience something purely in the present moment, we experience gratefulness and are able to see through the delusions of clinging and aversion. …

Knowing the Self

"But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty." Gospel of Thomas 3

The goal of the spiritual life is to know the Self.  By this I do not mean the transitory self that is influenced  by circumstances of life.  Rather, I believe Jesus is pointing to something else...a knowing of the Divine within.  The Spirit of God within.  Our truest self is that of God.  Using the metaphor of God as Father or Mother, then as children of the Divine we take after the very nature of our Father/Mother.

In sitting in meditation, one observes the coming and going of many thoughts, feelings and impressions.  Who is the observer?  Who is the self?  If you lost your arm in an accident, would you still be yourself?  What about both arms?   Arms and Legs?  Would there still be a you?  Yes!  We are not our body.  We inhabit this body but are so much more.  We are not our transitory thoughts, emotions, fears, or joys or sorrows.  The Observer within us is none less…

What's in a Name?

Not to be difficult, but I know some of my readers have difficulty with Jesus, immediately associating him with "churchianity".  While there is good and bad in the institution of the church, I am not a part of it.  I follow Jesus as my guru, through his words in the Gospel of Thomas.  I practice Vedanta/Hinduism.  These two are not separate for me.

The Art of Letting Go

Gospel of Thomas 21. Mary asked Jesus, "What are your disciples like?"
He said, "They are like little children living in a field that is not theirs. When the owners of the field come, they will say, 'Give us back our field.' They take off their clothes in front of them in order to give it back to them, and they return their field to them.


Life is funny.  We are funnier still.  I sometimes wonder if God is a cosmic jester wondering who will get the joke.  For example, look at my life.  I want something.  I pine for it.  I check my account to see if I can afford getting it.  I go to the store, getting happier as I get closer.  I walk in and buy it.  A day or so later, the joy has passed and I now want something else.   Rinse...Repeat.

I am the only person like that.  Wait?  What?  You are like that too?  Many of our lives are caught up in the hamster wheel of attachment.  I want something and suffer until I get it.  Then if it is something really valuable, I suffer t…

Illumination and Enlightenment

I find it interesting that the early church spoke of illumination/enlightenment.  This seemed to be an awakening that happened at the initiation ritual.  I know in the Gospel of Thomas one hears the same kind of talk.

Jesus said that we should seek until we find, and then we will be agitated, then will be astounded then reign over the all.

I find this to be the journey to enlightenment.

Seeker Stage:
There are those who long for something more.  They search for meaning, peace, wisdom, or enlightenment.  Seekers are not shunned or looked down on in the Gospel of Thomas as we all must start here.  I remember this stage in myself, and often find myself returning here to start around the spiral to the center yet again.

Finding Stage:
It is here where one receives an epiphany of the spiritual life.  They start a practice and devour learning.  This initial finding may last for years.  It is a passion for the spiritual life.

Agitation Stage:
Here is the time of spiritual dryness or doubt.  Every…

By Your Grace

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Making the Two-One

There is a reoccuring theme in the Gospel of Thomas of Oneness. Jesus, time and again speaks of reconciling the two into one. In my journey the past few months and particularly the past week or so, I have had to do a lot of soul searching. For the past 5+ years I have been a Thomasine, a devotee of the Gospel of Thomas. I have wrestled, struggled and meditated on the sayings found in that wonderful book. Then several months ago, I had an experience of all nature as being alive and divine. This "vision" was so mind-blowing I could not return to the GoT with the same eyes. Like Thomas Aquinas when he experienced God, I saw my writings and speculations as an "epistle of straw". I felt lost and confused..should I somehow serve God in nature? Was this what I was called to do? I am a person who needs structure and community, and looked back to my time I was a Hindu. Here, I told myself, I could serve God in nature and still respect the Gospel of Thomas, which …

Karma Yoga

As I read in the Bhagavad-Gita last night I read a passage about Karma Yoga.  Karma Yoga is the path of selfless service.  To serve, to give, to do with the intent of serving the Divine Presence in all people and things.  There is no clinging to the outcome to cause a clouded mind.  You do what is right and good (your dharma) simply for the sake of serving God.  How beautiful is that!  To serve God in all we do.  Whether it is at your job, with your kids, or at your job...act as if it were a worship of God.  One practice I had done in the past is to see that of God (however you envision the Divine) as dwelling in each person and honoring that divine presence in them, seeing them as God appearing as "Bob" or "Melanie".

A Western Hinduism

I have been thinking what a Western Hinduism might look like. One of the books I am reading is called American Veda by Philip Goldberg which explores how Vedanta and Hindu philosophy came to America. One area I found fascinating was how Hinduism was re-packaged for an American audience and culture often by Indian teachers. I think many Americans would be less reluctant of calling themselves Hindu if we had a uniquely Western expression of Hinduism. I know friends who fall in love with Hinduism but then experience culture shock when visiting a temple because they may be the only non-Indian there. I also know people they cannot be Hindu because they are not Indian or should not speak of dharma and such as they do not know Sanskrit and thus should not speak of Hinduism at all.   I know for me I felt as if I were somehow inadequate or faking at being a Hindu as I stood out like a sore thumb.  I think however Buddhism has largely succeeded in speaking to a Western audience, and welcomi…

Why a Vedantic Spirituality?

For me it is not a conversion, but rather a reversion...going back to the faith I practiced.
I ran away primarily for one reason, but another was there as well.  I ran away due to an unhealthy experience with a guru and the fact I could not separate the Indian culture from the spirituality (my fault there).  Enough time has passed to have let go of the pain from the first, and somehow, almost naturally, I have been able to separate the two...culture and spirituality.  There is nothing wrong with the culture, but I am not trying to be something I am not.

So why I am I returning?

It already fits what I believe and hold to be true.  God is one and many.  God is in nature.  God is both male and female and yet more than these.  Reincarnation.  Spiritual Practice.  Dharmic LivingI can still appreciate nature and the Gospel of Thomas.  Hinduism has no problem with Jesus.  He may be seen as a divine avatar or guru.  Community-As a Thomasine, I knew only one other person who followed it as their…

Joy

Ever wake up so filled with joy that you can hardly contain it?  I woke up this morning that way.  A love song came on the radio and I just sang and sang to God.  What could be better?

Big Tent Religion

As I had mentioned in my blog in the past, at one time I was a Hindu monk..for three years to be exact.  I left due to an unhealthy relationship with my guru, and seeing him cross lines that should not be crossed.  That said, my friend Eric and I have been talking about Hinduism and what a Western expression would look like.

It embodies a wide diversity of theologies (including mine!) and all the best that I love from the Gospel of Thomas.  When he first mentioned it, I really had to do some soul searching...could I return to it?  I prayed on it and slept on it, but honestly...yes I could.  Yes, I can.  Yes, I am.  I have been stumbling since no longer identifying as a Thomasine...or a better way of putting it...expanding beyond just a Thomasine worldview...which is still beautiful and a part of me.

As neither of us are Indian, there comes the point where we must work through what is Indian and what is Vedanta.  I made the mistake when I first became Hindu of trying to be Indian, not …

Making the Two, One

Silence

"Let all mortal flesh be silent, with fear and trembling stand."
Here I have tried to walk away from something that has been my path for years, but I am finding that I do not have the words as I try to find a way to put into words who or what I understand the Spirit to be, and how I am called to live that.  Right now it is silence.  I simply do not have the words.  I feel pregnant and ready to birth something, but...not yet.  I do know this.  This monastic calling still is there.  A monk in the world.

The Beloved is All in All

I find myself longing for simplicity.  I stepped out in the dark of the moon the past few nights.  I feel the presence of the Beloved and that is enough.  I am rejuvenated and refreshed.  Who is the Beloved?  He is God  many and yet one.  One Divine Essence and Energy filling all things.. personal and impersonal.  There are so many ways I experience the Beloved, and each one precious.  I do not need elaborate liturgies, as beautiful as many of them are.  I often simply walk in the sun or moonlight and thus fulfill my vows as priest and a simple monk.  I can light a candle and feel the Beloved's presence.  I am thankful for these simple graces..a thousand simple graces...and this is enough. Perhaps this is what the Gospel of Thomas was talking about all along and I missed what was right in front of my face.

Praising the Dawn

Standing out among the dew washed grass this morning I praised the Dawn.

All praise to you Rising Sun in the East.  All praise to the Eastern dawn.  Spirit of the Morning Air I praise you. Power of Inspiration, Hope, and the Inquiring Mind.  You of new beginnings and the wind on the breeze, I praise you!  I praise you! God is all in all!

Mornings

A beautiful waning moon is in the still dark sky.  Clouds blow quickly past her.  A coolness has fallen during the night.  Last night, stars shown so brightly, I just stood in awe.  Can you hear all nature whisper?

Change, Frustation, and Peace

I, like many people do not like change.  Part of me completely craves it as a sign of growth and moving away from stagnation,  but as soon as I take a step I want the comfort of the known.  The religious community I belong to is undergoing massive change.  We are moving away from the Gnostic label as we keep finding the word to be a stumbling block with others.  Some assume we are like the Themites, ,the Weor Gnostics, the Sylvia Browne Gnostics, or even folks trying to reconstruct the ancient groups labeled Gnostics.  None of these were true.  Also add to that, that we all seemed to grow beyond just the Nag Hammadi, exploring other religious traditions etc, that the label of Gnostic even from that perspective may not have been the best label.

As we as a religious community work through who we are, what we are about, and even what to call ourselves, our need for being heard can come through too strongly.  Our opinions become sacred writ that leads us to defensiveness if anyone dare ha…