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Hi Bruce,

To close on a note of agreement, you say:

Most of all, though, Leewoof, I appreciate your saying this:

"The true core of God and reality is love."

If we agree on that, we can't be all that far apart.

Love is not only the source of everything, but is what provides common ground for everyone with one another.

On this, as you say, you and I aren't all that far apart.

Leewoof said:

"To use a rather silly example, if you spray yourself with the hose, that does have a different feeling and result than if you spray someone else with a hose."

Right. But water is water. And since there's no difference between water that flows in one direction and water that flows in another, why give it two names?

As I see it, one problem with thinking in terms of two kinds of love is that it can lead to confusion: How do I treat my friends? What do they need from me?

Whereas seeing only one kind of love simplifies the matter: ah -- my friends need to receive from me the same compassion I give to myself (when I'm loving myself).

Another advantage is that we stop reinforcing the illusion that we can truly love ourselves while neglecting others, or vice-versa.

Again, the supreme example is the NDE. Consistently, NDErs insist that the distinction between the love they give to others and the love they give to themselves has evaporated. No matter in what direction it flows, it's all just love.

Isn't that one of the main lessons of the Life Review?

In fact, come to think of it, they even say that spraying others with that hose feels exactly the same as spraying themselves. :)

Matt said:

"I also don't see why God couldn't create other minds within perfection to enjoy it."

All that exists is God. So when God chooses to create other minds, he has no raw materials to work with other than the stuff of his own being.

So God breaks off fragments of himself and creates you, me, and everyone and everything else.

But in partitioning, he can't create *perfect* beings, because perfection and wholeness are synonymous. And only God is whole!

Bruce Siegel isn't perfect, because he is missing certain of God's attributes. And Matt Rouge is missing others.

"God could simply do a better job of setting up the Universe."

How can you know that without being able to see the whole picture?

If we are created *from* God and *filled* with God... how come that we are not God?

I think we *are* God, but diferentiated from *him* in this aspect of reality... It's like we are now a portion of our total selves.

Leewoof, what you're saying in your comment of November 22, 2014 at 08:39 AM, and also other of your remarks, very closely reflects my own viewpoint.

You said:

"Now this gets tricky, because it depends what perspective you look from.

"To speak somewhat abstractly, if we look at reality from the perspective of love only, then everything is one, and everything is God.

"If we look at reality from the perspective of truth only, everything is radically distinguished and separated into unconnected and unrelated bits of reality, so we are all radically different from and separate from God"

This is excellent. My only quibble is that you're giving a special meaning to the word "truth." As I see it, truth can also apply to concepts of wholeness or unity, as in the statement "God and oneness are synonymous."

That's true, and yet it doesn't involve separation or distinctions, right?

"Another way of looking at it is in using the distinction between uncreated and created reality."

I like this better. No special definitions here.

"But the short version is that my view is that we are not God, but we are created from God and are filled with God to the extent that we allow God into us."

You've probably already read my version of this, which I've repeated here endlessly: we are portions of God who, for the purpose of having a certain kind of experience, have chosen to temporarily forget our true nature.

That seems a good solution to explaining how we can be God and not-God at the same time.

So while I might say "to the extent that we allow God into us," I might also say "to the extent that we remember who we are and where we come from."

We really seem to be on the same page, Leewoof, which surprises me. I rarely find someone on this forum who sees things as I do.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but your worldview seems closer to mine than to Matt's. Here's why I say this.

When Matt says:

"To me, God or Source or Plenum is the "end result" of the Universe as well as one but not all of its ontological causes."

This seems a hedge, an unwillingness to go whole hog and simply say that God is the source of all. To simply acknowledge that God = wholeness = oneness = all that is.

I don't mean this as a put-down, Matt, but your viewpoint has always seemed atheistic to me. As I see it, God (or love) either explains everything, or nothing. And the latter, to me, is an atheistic position. Or at least relatively so.

What do both you guys think about what I just said?

By the way, I think Michael is in pretty much the same boat as Matt.

Ding ding ding ding! We have a winner!

Luciano, you just posted the 40,000th comment in the history of this blog.

No kidding. (Typepad keeps track.)

This accomplishment entitles you to free access to this blog for life!

I just wanted to say that I have really enjoyed leewolf's comments on this thread. Very thought provoking.

Also, Bruce, I am beginning to understand your comments - some of them, like the ones on this thread - as being very much like Zen Koans; at least that is the effect they have on me. I do not agree with them literally, but they do cause me to hold competing or incompatible ideas simultaneously as true and not true. Thanks for the mind benders!

Free access? Gosh that's a dream come true! :P

I have to say that the Castaneda piece leaves me underwhelmed. Maybe it's an accurate portrayal of a certain kind of person I've never met. But can I relate to it from my own experience, or the experience of people I know? Not at all.

For example:

"He must be definitely afraid, and yet he must not stop. That is the rule!"

Now this part I really like. We need to embrace our fears, but we can't let them define us.

But then he says:

"Once a man has vanquished fear, he is free from it for the rest of his life because, instead of fear, he has acquired clarity"

In my 67 years, facing fear has indeed been one of my key challenges. But for me, it's a challenge that never ends. Do we really know people who become free of fear once and for all? Think about it.

Then too:

"Is it possible, for instance, that the man who is defeated by power may see his error and mend his ways?"
"No. Once a man gives in he is through."

What a pessimistic outlook, and how unrealistic.

I myself see the temptation to be seduced by power as a continuing adventure. Each and every day I wake up to countless opportunities to practice humility and surrender. And some days I do better than others.

But one defeat and I've had it? Please. That's nonsense.

Now as I've said, maybe Castaneda is describing a person, or way of life, I've never encountered. I'm skeptical about that.

He also says that this "Man of Knowledge" status is only attained for a moment. So what's the value in striving for it? One mistake and you're out of the running, and even if you succeed, it's only for a moment?

It's just not the sort of philosophy I find either realistic or inspiring.

I said:

"Castaneda also says that this "Man of Knowledge" status is only attained for a moment. So what's the value in striving for it?"

I suppose someone might counter my complaint by saying that what matters is the striving. That it's the path itself where satisfaction is to be found.

I could go along with that except for his saying that one slip-up and we're lost. Because we ALL will mess up at times. And then, if we truly believe in Castaneda's vision, what's left? The path is lost to us forever, and there's nothing even to strive for.

I just can't see how anyone can turn to writing like this for help in mastering life's challenges.

Boy, the more I think about the Castaneda piece, the more it bothers me:

"Is the defeat by any of these enemies a final defeat?"
"Of course it is final. Once one of these enemies over-powers a man there is nothing he can do."
"Is it possible, for instance, that the man who is defeated by power may see his error and mend his ways?"
"No. Once a man gives in he is through."

Here's the bottom line. As I see it, it shows not a trace of perhaps the most important human virtue of all: compassion.

"Free access? Gosh that's a dream come true! :P"

Luciano, I was about to say how lucky you are. But then I thought you might not appreciate seeing that word and your name in the same sentence:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucky_Luciano

"Also, Bruce, I am beginning to understand your comments - some of them, like the ones on this thread - as being very much like Zen Koans"

Thanks, no one. That's a pretty nice compliment since a koan, properly received, can lead to enlightenment. :)

Bruce,

||All that exists is God. So when God chooses to create other minds, he has no raw materials to work with other than the stuff of his own being.

So God breaks off fragments of himself and creates you, me, and everyone and everything else.

But in partitioning, he can't create *perfect* beings, because perfection and wholeness are synonymous. And only God is whole!||

But since everything is God, and God is whole, then everything should be whole... no?

The argument reminds of what we learned from Catholic Doctrine: God is perfect, but since only God can be perfect, everything else can only be imperfect, hence the existence of imperfection and pain and suffering in the world. But this argument doesn't really work, since we don't need for things to be perfect in order to be much happier. We simply need pain and suffering eliminated.

||Bruce Siegel isn't perfect, because he is missing certain of God's attributes. And Matt Rouge is missing others.||

If we are God, then how are we missing any of God's attributes?

||How can you know that without being able to see the whole picture?||

That response implies the "best of all possible worlds" argument of Leibniz, which I find wholly unconvincing. If the world *could* be better in any way, then God should make it better.

||This seems a hedge, an unwillingness to go whole hog and simply say that God is the source of all. To simply acknowledge that God = wholeness = oneness = all that is.||

I wouldn't use the term "God" if other people didn't do so. Rather than saying, "There is such an entity called 'God,' and let me explain this entity to you," I say, "People speak of an entity called 'God,' and here is what I think is the closest approximation to the truth with respect to that topic."

||I don't mean this as a put-down, Matt, but your viewpoint has always seemed atheistic to me. As I see it, God (or love) either explains everything, or nothing. And the latter, to me, is an atheistic position. Or at least relatively so.||

I think the term "God" is way too loaded with Abrahamic power relations and such.

Also, @Bruce re the Castaneda page, I think the teaching is unfolding in a mythical fashion; hence the dramatic description of the consequences in terms of absolutes.

Hi Bruce,

You say:

I should have added to my previous post that, as that sentence suggests, all the love we experience while in the body is ultimately self-love -- God's love for himself.

If the universe is pantheistic, then the whole thing is just God playing with himself. I can't accept the idea that all of the vast complexity of the material universe and of the human spiritual and social universe is merely a massive divine masturbation.

From my perspective, for the universe to have any point at all, it must include mutual love, not just self-love. And that means there must be self-aware beings who are not God, even if they come from God and depend upon God for their existence.

I believe that the purpose of the universe is greater than God gaining experience, pleasure, and love for himself. If divine love is real, then it must have others to love, not just the self to love. God's purpose is not self-love, but loving others and giving them joy, happiness, and meaning in their lives.

People who devote their entire lives to pleasuring themselves are generally not well-regarded by others. Most ordinary people consider them to be a poor excuse for a human being. Psychologists consider them to be lacking in essential human qualities. Spiritual teachers consider them to be undeveloped as spiritual beings.

Is God really the ultimate narcissist?

I think of God as being much greater than that. I think of God's love as a real, outgoing, mutual love, very much like the best of our human love for one another, only raised to an infinite level.

Hi Matt,

You say (quoting me at first):

||So what we "create" is both new and not new. It is new in that it has not previously existed within the planes of reality in which we exist. But it is not new in that it already existed on the divine level of reality consisting of and inhabited by God.||

That doesn't answer the question of "Why?" to me, however. If everything is perfect in God, then God should have no need to create anything.

Everything is perfect in God, but perfect love requires others to love.

That is the "why" of the universe, from my perspective. God created others to love.

And since real love is mutual, it requires others who are self-aware and capable of loving in return--or of not loving in return, because real love is also freely given, not coerced.

You also say (also quoting me at first):

||The non-abstract reason why we exist as distinct beings even though the source of everything we have and are is beyond ourselves is that the nature of God's love is to love others outside of self. That requires the existence of others who are capable of receiving and returning that love as if they were autonomous beings.||

This I don't buy, since God could simply do a better of setting up the Universe. I also don't see why God couldn't create other minds within perfection to enjoy it.

When you say that God could do a better job of setting up the universe, I presume you're referring to the problem of evil?

This has to do with the freedom that is necessary in created, self-aware beings (read: human beings) for love to be real and mutual. And that's a huge topic.

I referred earlier to Swedenborg's book Divine Love and Wisdom, on how and why God created (or really, creates) the universe.

On the problem of evil, Swedenborg wrote a companion volume, Divine Providence. (Once again, the link is to my own listing and review of the book, with links to where it can be purchased, or downloaded for free in PDF or epub formats.)

You may or may not agree with Swedenborg's solution to the problem of evil. But for anyone who seriously grapples with the problem of why there is so much pain and suffering in the world if God created it all and God is love, this book is required reading. It goes far beyond Kushner's popular book in its analysis of the human condition in relation to God's love.

Hi Matt,

You say (quoting me at first):

||I do not single out Roman Catholicism on this. It's just that Mother Teresa happened to be Roman Catholic, so that would be the source of the particular false doctrines she struggled with.||

I single it out! I was raised on that crap, and it deserves some singling.

Haha! Well then, you're in a better position than I am to single it out and sling some mud at it. :-)

Since I'm an outsider, and never was an insider, to the religious institutions that I disagree with, I attempt to limit myself to critiquing their doctrines. This helps it not to get too personal--for me, anyway.

Oh, and I also do attempt to offer something better in place of those faulty (from my point of view) beliefs. It does no good to tear down someone's faith if you have nothing better to offer in its place.

Incidentally, I am also gradually disengaging from the religious institution that I grew up in--the Swedenborgian Church.

This is not due to doctrinal disagreements, but because I see the institution as not doing anything practical or effective in serving others based on the riches of spiritual understanding that it enjoys. As a result of that, and of clinging to old Christian forms of worship and practice that do not harmonize with its new ways of seeing God, the universe, and everything, it is gradually dying out as an institution.

Perhaps I'm just a rat abandoning a sinking ship! But I hope it's more than that.

Incidentally, in my former life as a Swedenborgian pastor, at least half of the newer members of my congregation were former Catholics. They were fine people. Very good-hearted and giving. I enjoyed their presence in the church. Plus, without their hard work and contributions to the life of the church, that congregation would not have survived.

So although I heavily disagree with many of the Catholic Church's most fundamental teachings, and think those teachings have done a lot of damage, I also give it kudos for sending many fine, good-hearted, and hard-working people into the world.

@Matt: I hope you get as much insight from the book as I did. I studied the work of just about all the writers whose lives Wilson examines. And I feel all the richer for it. Please let us know how you get on . . . . . if Michael doesn't mind. ;)

Hi Matt,

You say:

Here we find ourselves in some interesting territory for debate. A lot of Eastern and therefore New Age (which combines East and West) practice is concerned with self-transformation and development. I can do things for other human beings out of love without transforming myself. Indeed, Christianity pretty much says that's what we should do. Be good to others and maybe God will give one "grace" to facilitate our goodness. But "will to power" "or will to some badass Zen-like tranquility" has no place in the enterprise.

I suspect that we in the West have a skewed and partial picture of the various Eastern religions that have landed on our shores in the past century or two. What made it to the U.S., anyway, was largely the philosophical and mystical end of those religions. The way they are practiced by ordinary working people in their countries of origin is very different from the philosophical versions that many in the West have adopted.

As a result of that, and of not being particularly adept in those religions in general, I mostly avoid making any sweeping generalizations about their view of the universe and our place in it. But I do suspect that for ordinary Hindus, Buddhists, and so on in areas of the world where those religions are dominant, there is a much more practical, everyday focus to the religion.

To put it simply, I suspect that most ordinary Hindus, Buddhists, and so on think of their religion as requiring a basic moral and ethical code in their behavior toward their fellow human beings, along with the practice of various required rituals in honor of their God or gods. In that way, they function for the masses of people in those areas of the world much as ordinary Christianity does in the majority Christian areas of the world.

My view of Christianity probably bears the same relation to the ordinary Christianity practiced by the masses of Christians that philosophical and mystical Hinduism and Buddhism bear to the ordinary Hinduism and Buddhism practiced by the masses of people in areas of the world where those religions are dominant.

But to respond to your point, I think of Christianity as involving both doing things for other human beings out of love and transforming ourselves in the process.

I agree that it's possible to do things for other human beings, and even do them out of love, without transforming the self. But it is a shallow form of doing, and the love that it comes from is often a murky and even self-centered love.

To truly do things for others out of love requires developing real, spiritual love within oneself. And that does not happen without transforming oneself from the inside out.

On the general issue of developing oneself, I see it as being for the purpose of making oneself more useful to others.

I reject any teaching that says that the purpose of our existence is to become enlightened and powerful so that we can enter into nirvana and enjoy bliss. No matter what fancy trappings it's dressed up in, that is a low-level, self-centered view of religion and spirituality.

That form of primarily self-developing spirituality may be fine to get our spiritual engines going. We humans do start out as a self-centered, pleasure-seeking lot, and if we're not motivated toward spiritual development by a desire to be greater, happier, and more powerful, we may never get motivated at all.

However, sooner or later, for real spiritual development and growth to continue, that primary goal of self-development for our own power and pleasure must be replaced by a desire for growth and development of the self in order to render ourselves more capable of truly loving and serving our fellow human beings--and of loving and serving God, who is behind them.

Hi Bruce,

Wow! I just realized that there's a second page of comments! I've got to stop and get some actual work done. I'm having way too much fun here! But just one more . . . .

You say:

We really seem to be on the same page, Leewoof, which surprises me. I rarely find someone on this forum who sees things as I do.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but your worldview seems closer to mine than to Matt's.

Since I'm still learning both what your viewpoint is and what Matt's viewpoint is, I would hesitate to make any comparisons.

About your viewpoint and mine, I would say that we may be close, but no cigar.

My sense so far is that your view of the universe is a form of pantheism, whereas mine is a form of panentheism.

We're close in that we see love as primary, and God as pervading and filling the universe and everything in it.

We're not so close in that you (I think) see everything as being a part of God--so that, for example, all of our love for one another is God loving himself--whereas I see a distinction between what is God and what is not God in the universe--so that when God loves us, we love God, and we love one another, it is mutual love among distinct beings, which is not the same as self-love.

I recognize that my view of the universe involves a certain amount of paradox. I see everything in the universe as both continually filled with God, so much so that it could even be said that the substance of everything is God, and as being distinct from God as created rather than self-existing beings, and therefore as being non-God.

As I've said in earlier comments, from my perspective, this is the polarity and interchange between love and truth. Love makes all things one. Truth distinguishes all things from one another. Reality exists in the relationship between the two.

The title of Swedenborg's book, previously referred to, "Divine Love and Wisdom," is a compact expression of this view of the universe ("wisdom" being used as a higher form of "truth"). The whole book can be read as an exploration of that polarity and relationship, which is God, and in which everything else in the universe exists.

My view of God, the universe, and everything flows from that fundamental relationship and paradox of divine love and wisdom, and its highly varied expressions in all created things.

And the third thing that flows from the relationship, or marriage, between love and wisdom is action.

Everything in my understanding and philosophy of the universe can be traced to that basic "trinity" in God of love, wisdom, and action, and its many expressions in almost infinitely varied forms throughout both the physical universe that scientists study and the spiritual universe of human existence and interaction that mystics and spiritual teachers study.

Hi no one,

You say:

I just wanted to say that I have really enjoyed leewolf's comments on this thread. Very thought provoking.

Thank you. I enjoy the conversation here as well. Regardless of agreement or lack thereof on particular ideas and beliefs, it is good to exchange ideas with people who think deeply and take spiritual issues seriously, and who treat one another with respect. It causes me to think more deeply about my own views.

So thanks also goes to Michael for hosting an uncommon conversation!

Leewoof said:

"If the universe is pantheistic, then the whole thing is just God playing with himself."

Exactly. I thought you agreed with me earlier that at the deepest level--what you call the level of love or non-created reality--there *is* no one else.

Did I misunderstand you?

"We're not so close in that you (I think) see everything as being a part of God--so that, for example, all of our love for one another is God loving himself--whereas I see a distinction between what is God and what is not God in the universe--so that when God loves us, we love God, and we love one another, it is mutual love among distinct beings, which is not the same as self-love."

But, as you also said earlier, isn't it just a question of what level of reality one is focusing on?

As I see it:

"all of our love for one another is God loving himself"

That's true -- if one is looking through (unembodied) God's eyes.

"it is mutual love among distinct beings, which is not the same as self-love."

Also valid, from the perspective of God while manifesting himself on the physical plane.

Is any part of what I just said problematic for you?

Bruce, "Thanks, no one. That's a pretty nice compliment since a koan, properly received, can lead to enlightenment. :)" I pretty much meant it that way (as a compliment of sorts).

As for your distaste of the Castaneda excerpt; I think it is absolutely true, though still does need to be appreciated in a mythical context as Matt says. It is what I have seen in life.

Maybe part of the misunderstanding arises from not liking the finality of a defeat at any of the levels and not understanding what is actually being said.

One can certainly succumb to fear (or any of the other barriers) in any particular battle, but rise again to win the war. "Don Juan" says this himself in the quote. But there is a kind of final defeat that one doesn't rise up from. One sees it every day, though I admit it is hard to quantify. It's an internal collapse. A total snuffing out of the will to advance. A broken spirit. I firmly believe that no one recovers from that. They stay stuck wherever they lost their soul.

I know this is contrary to modern self-help philosophy and jesus saves type doctrine, but I think those are wrong and Castaneda is right. Just because something is unappealing doesn't make it false.

And we aren't talking about something like "being happy with who we are" or even feeling joyous with the "being of light" or any of that touchy feely stuff. We are talking about the path to acquiring knowledge and perceptual freedom. So probably different rules apply.

Leewoof,

||Everything is perfect in God, but perfect love requires others to love.

That is the "why" of the universe, from my perspective. God created others to love.

And since real love is mutual, it requires others who are self-aware and capable of loving in return--or of not loving in return, because real love is also freely given, not coerced.||

Yet in beings as limited as we are, what value is our autonomy compared to God's? I should think not very much. I'm not sure there is such a thing as a lack of coercion in a world in which we are so vulnerable. If God wanted to create true "others," I don't think he would create us in such a position of powerlessness and ignorance.


||When you say that God could do a better job of setting up the universe, I presume you're referring to the problem of evil?

This has to do with the freedom that is necessary in created, self-aware beings (read: human beings) for love to be real and mutual. And that's a huge topic.||

I think the very wrong track that Christian theodicy takes turns it into a huge topic. I think the atheist argument from evil is sufficient: God is either unable or unwilling to eliminate evil. That's one big reason why I don't believe in the paternalistic God of Western religion.

I'd be willing to hear the nutshell version of Swedenborg's argument, however.

||But for anyone who seriously grapples with the problem of why there is so much pain and suffering in the world if God created it all and God is love, this book is required reading.||

I think it's Ptolemy versus Copernicus. If you try to justify the existence of an Abrahamic God in light of evil, you have all manner of epicycles and whatnot to deal with. If you eliminate this absentee Father God, then things become much simpler.

||But I do suspect that for ordinary Hindus, Buddhists, and so on in areas of the world where those religions are dominant, there is a much more practical, everyday focus to the religion.||

Yes, I think for most it is just a folk religion, and few really try to seek enlightenment or whatever. Those religions also pretty much tell people that becoming enlightened will be a full-time job anyway (be a Brahman, monk, whatever). That is definitely true of the Japanese. Buddhism basically does not exist in the country any more as any kind of religion people take seriously or practice (Shinto was never a serious religion in the first place).

||My view of Christianity probably bears the same relation to the ordinary Christianity practiced by the masses of Christians that philosophical and mystical Hinduism and Buddhism bear to the ordinary Hinduism and Buddhism practiced by the masses of people in areas of the world where those religions are dominant.||

I think less highly of it, as here in the US, Christianity insofar as it is taken seriously by its practitioners has become this ugly, fear-based, fascist religion dedicated to policing people's sexual practices, etc. (cf. Kirk Cameron).

||I reject any teaching that says that the purpose of our existence is to become enlightened and powerful so that we can enter into nirvana and enjoy bliss. No matter what fancy trappings it's dressed up in, that is a low-level, self-centered view of religion and spirituality.||

Not sure. Familiar with Ramana Maharshi?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramana_Maharshi

His thing was asking, "Who am I?" He advised that the closet route to helping others is to become edified oneself. I think there is something to that.

Here I think Bruce's lack of distinction between self-lover and other-love is helpful. Now *of course* I think we should love others. But I think a better way to put it is that we *do* love others, or "there is love."

Bruce, "Do we really know people who become free of fear once and for all? "

I don't think that's what was being said. I think it is that fear is no longer an overwhelming emotion and barrier to advancement. It will only reside in the background, it is under control and it actually gives an edge when appropriate.

On the subject of God, I am toying with the idea that the God of love and perfection and truth isn't the true "God". Rather, it is a demigod that we create as much as it contributes to our creation (a feedback loop). There is also a demigod of hate (AKA the devil) with whom we have a similar creator/creation relationship. We can draw from and add to either of these sources. Each of us chooses.

The demigods (and there may well be others beyond those two) are definitely entities with whom we can have a personal relationship. They are conscious and intelligent.

The Real Deal is too far beyond our comprehension to even start to talk about. I suspect it is something more akin to a raw energy source and is somewhat impersonal.

This model solves the contradictions that we debate.

Bruce, what about this one?


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bugsy_Siegel


Not the same first name, though :)

I don't know about the rest, but I can see Bruce's, Matt's and even Leewoof's ideas to be not-so-conflicting and I even think their worldviews can co-exist in some unified aspect.

Maybe there's a little (or a lot?) of truth in all of them?

I think only dogmatic minds assume that their worldview is the only possible explanation of reality (of course, not saying anyone here is dogmatic at all, I think is quite the opposite in this blog, that's why I like it so much).

Matt, "I think the atheist argument from evil is sufficient: God is either unable or unwilling to eliminate evil. "

Right. Actually, I'm just going to be honest and state that I have decided that the whole god is love and god is everything is bunk.

I think there is a band of reality within our range of perceptual capability that is a place where there is a higher organization made of "love energy" and where one perceives interconnectedness, but it is only one station on the radio.

Now, if you want to wear rose colored glasses and either stayed tuned to that particular station or have faith that it is the "real" station, then good for you. Enjoy. But there is no evidence - in fact much to the contrary - that supports your contention.

The whole thing is gigantic mystery, wrapped in consciousness, and I am quite certain that within the mystery we largely create our own reality depending on where we focus our perceptual attention.

To reiterate my earlier comment, at most the god of love is a demigod and it is more dependent on our awareness/attention for its conscious reality than we are on it reciprocating the same.

"Bruce, what about this one? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bugsy_Siegel"

LOL, Luciano. Looks like we both have our dark sides.

"I can see Bruce's, Matt's and even Leewoof's ideas to be not-so-conflicting and I even think their worldviews can co-exist in some unified aspect."

You're saying this universe is big enough for the three of us? :)

Matt said:

"If we are God, then how are we missing any of God's attributes?"

We're not missing them, just temporarily denying/forgetting them.

"If the world *could* be better in any way, then God should make it better . . . We simply need pain and suffering eliminated."

Are you open to the possibility that if you could see more of the big picture, you'd understand why eliminating negativity from the cosmic scheme would not make it better at all?

no one said: " I pretty much meant it that way (as a compliment of sorts).'

I know you did and my thanks were sincere.

"One can certainly succumb to fear (or any of the other barriers) in any particular battle, but rise again to win the war. "Don Juan" says this himself in the quote."

Could you find that quote for me? I don't see it, and it seems to me he repeatedly says exactly the opposite: lose one fight and you're out of the game.

I guess we all respond to different styles of teaching or coaching. I've tried to get into his writing before, but Castaneda just doesn't appeal to me.

Bruce,

||We're not missing them, just temporarily denying/forgetting them.||

By the way, I don't totally think the "forgetting" thing is incorrect. I don't think we choose so much forgetting itself as reincarnation, which entails forgetting. I remember some past lives, which means I haven't totally forgotten.

But the idea of a *single* and *universal* forgetting process in which God engages over and over again. No, I don't think that holds water. After all, after we figure out the Cosmic Game, why don't we remember? Let's say I've learned from Grof that I forget--why don't I just snap back into memory (and complete freedom, unity with Source, etc.) at that point? After all, if the analogy is to hold, then such a reveal would at least jog our memories somewhat.


||Are you open to the possibility that if you could see more of the big picture, you'd understand why eliminating negativity from the cosmic scheme would not make it better at all?||

Well, first of all, my argument is neither of the following: 1) That negativity could be eliminated, 2) That the elimination of negativity would be a good thing. I think it is impossible to eliminate it and, thus, it is irrelevant whether eliminating it would be a good thing. (But I also think that Love and Fear require each other in order to define each other.)

My argument is against a God who supposedly 1) wants the Good alone and 2) has the power to have the Good alone but chooses not to have it. It is this contradictory notion that puts the adherents of Abrahamic religions in mental knots and inspires a wide range of unconvincing excuses.

Sometimes an argument really does lead one to the truth, and that's it. There is no such thing as the Daddy God of Christianity, and that's a *good* thing as that is an infantile vision of Reality.

Apologies all. I should not have used the word "bunk" to describe a belief that many people sincerely hold in my last comment, Nov.25, 10:52pm. I was all tense and angry what with the riots, looting and arson in Ferguson and that attitude carried over to my comment here. My bad.

Please replace "bunk" with "a mistaken belief".

"You're saying this universe is big enough for the three of us? :)"

If this blog is, then why not?

"I don't think we choose so much forgetting itself as reincarnation, which entails forgetting."

Of course. Spiritual amnesia is not a goal in itself. It's a mechanism or facilitator -- the means by which we get to explore a huge spectrum of experiences and embodiments.

"Let's say I've learned from Grof that I forget--why don't I just snap back into memory (and complete freedom, unity with Source, etc.) at that point?"

Think of it this way. Amnesia, in the conventional sense, is a valid phenomenon, right? Well, just because a person suddenly discovers that he is suffering from amnesia, doesn't mean that his memory instantly returns. And so it is with the *spiritual* forgetting all of us are experiencing to one degree or another.

"After all, if the analogy is to hold, then such a reveal would at least jog our memories somewhat."

And that's exactly what happens for many amnesia sufferers, both conventional and spiritual. Not always, but often, when the environment and psychological conditions are favorable, our memories will gradually return. Just as you yourself have begun to recall some of your past lives.

"My argument is against a God who supposedly 1) wants the Good alone and 2) has the power to have the Good alone but chooses not to have it. It is this contradictory notion that puts the adherents of Abrahamic religions in mental knots and inspires a wide range of unconvincing excuses."

I'm not sure why you're saying this to *me*. Does the God of my understanding seem in any way tied to the Abrahamic concept?

||Think of it this way. Amnesia, in the conventional sense, is a valid phenomenon, right? Well, just because a person suddenly discovers that he is suffering from amnesia, doesn't mean that his memory instantly returns. And so it is with the *spiritual* forgetting all of us are experiencing to one degree or another.||

The trouble with the analogy is that amnesia in our world is a pathology, not a mechanism. And it is pretty rare (though not in the movies!). So if God *wants* us to forget (it's a mechanism), then why do we remember at all during our lives? And isn't it weird that we in these incarnations could "hack" the system just enough to write books like "The Cosmic Game," remember past lives, etc.?

||I'm not sure why you're saying this to *me*. Does the God of my understanding seem in any way tied to the Abrahamic concept?||

Yes, you use the word "God." Most of my New Age friends specifically avoid the term, as it is so loaded.

Maybe the mechanism of forgetting isn't that strict or severe, or some souls choose to remember at least partially. Even if you don't completely believe this concept of God, you have to acknowledge that there must be a reason why some people recall certain things, and others don't. I think our Oversoul is the one that chooses what we have to remember and what not. I think the same is true with NDEs.

Also I don't find the term 'God' loaded with any biblical concept... I can see God as an Impersonal Energy, or 'All That Is'...

Luciano,

||Maybe the mechanism of forgetting isn't that strict or severe, or some souls choose to remember at least partially. Even if you don't completely believe this concept of God, you have to acknowledge that there must be a reason why some people recall certain things, and others don't. I think our Oversoul is the one that chooses what we have to remember and what not. I think the same is true with NDEs.||

That's a very tricky question. From recalling my own past lives, it has seemed to come from triggers to the memories. For example, I remembered my life during WWII while walking along a river and smelling a burnt machinery smell at a particular point. Thus, the triggers are similar to other memory triggers in my experience. Further, as with regular memories, digging to find more works.

I think being willing to accept that the memories are real is an important part of recovering them. So in a society that widely accepted past lives, I think it would be much easier to notice the memories and recall more based on exploration of them.

So I think the forgetting and remembering of these memories is based on a natural process and not some arbitrary mind wipe by a higher power. The fly in that ointment, however, is that I think on some level this entire world is an arbitrary representation made to seem as realistic as possible. So you and Bruce may be right anyway, ultimately.

||Also I don't find the term 'God' loaded with any biblical concept... I can see God as an Impersonal Energy, or 'All That Is'...||

Probably 99.9% of the people who use the term "God" in English are referring to the God of the Bible, so I think it's fair to say it's a fact that the term is heavily associated with that usage. I think using it leads to fallacies of equivocation, in which one draws upon the connotations of the term (omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, loving Father, etc. etc.) without buying into the belief systems that spawned it. It leads to a lot of, "Oh I meant that but not *that*"-type exchanges, which are not all that productive.

Matt said:

"The trouble with the analogy is that amnesia in our world is a pathology, not a mechanism. And it is pretty rare"

Even if amnesia were rare, it could still be a key to understanding reality, as is the case with some of the less often seen psi anomalies we on this forum hold so dear.

But amnesia is only rare in its most dramatic forms. When looked at in a broader sense, it's a universal phenomenon. Did you ever wonder why only *some* people remember their early childhoods? As Luciano points out, "you have to acknowledge that there must be a reason why some people recall certain things, and others don't."

Clearly, there are different kinds of forgetting, some of which are apparently more purposeful than others. And of the purposeful kind, I see two main types: protective and spiritual.

Protective: PTSD or an abusive childhood can cause us to forget in such a way that we are shielded, at least temporarily, from feeling overwhelming pain.

Spiritual: Michael's recent comment is a fine illustration of what this looks like and how it works:

"Inside the closet I seemed able to concentrate my energy, and I had a very emotionally powerful sense of union with another consciousness, like a soul mate - someone who was waiting for me, and whom I unconsciously had missed greatly."

Apparently, Michael had, at a superficial level, forgotten about the existence of this "soul mate." But at a deeper level, he's been chronically missing him or her. That's how amnesia works: it always involves a mix of remembering and forgetting. It's never black and white, as your question suggests:

"So if God *wants* us to forget (it's a mechanism), then why do we remember at all during our lives?"

Every shred of remembering and every shred of forgetting contribute to a particular kind of life experience. Perhaps Michael's oversoul (as Luciano suggests) chose to distance itself from (forget) this soul-mate during this particular incarnation, so Michael would need to extend himself and look for other souls with which to commune, and other ways to do it.

Maybe if Michael were in closer touch with that soul-mate, he wouldn't have needed to create this blog as a way of reaching out to like-minded companions. Our loss!

And yet, if Michael had *completely* forgotten this soul-mate at all levels of his being, he might not have had the strength, sanity, and hope required for the arduous experience of life on earth.

The notion of spiritual amnesia, by the way, is ancient and well-known:

"The shades of the dead were required to drink the waters of the Lethe in order to forget their earthly life. In the Aeneid, Virgil writes that it is only when the dead have had their memories erased by the Lethe that they may be reincarnated"

"And isn't it weird that we in these incarnations could "hack" the system just enough to write books like "The Cosmic Game," remember past lives, etc.?"

Not at all -- it's exactly what we would expect with any well-designed game or mystery. The presence of certain clues, just waiting to be found, is essential.

"you use the word "God." Most of my New Age friends specifically avoid the term, as it is so loaded."

I used it in this thread because Leewoof did. As evidenced by his contributions, and Luciano's comment, the word presents less of a problem for some us than for others.

I myself have never been steeped in conventional theological concepts--quite the opposite, in fact--so I'm able to approach the word "God" with a certain helpful naivete.

Luciano said:

"Maybe the mechanism of forgetting isn't that strict or severe, or some souls choose to remember at least partially."

Great comments, Luciano! I made good use of them in my response to Matt.

By the way, Michael, I don't claim to know the literal truth of your experience. But I don't think it's too far-fetched to imagine that something similar to what I described could be at work. And by extension, in all our lives.

It also occurs to me that the "soul-mate" you encountered could be your own larger self or oversoul.

I forgot to mention one of the strongest pieces of evidence for spiritual amnesia: NDErs. A huge percentage of them talk about remembering, at long last, their true Home and true companions throughout eternity.

Over and over, we hear some variation on: As I re-acquainted myself with all I had left behind on coming to earth, I couldn't believe how I could have forgotten something so precious to me.

One final thought, Matt. It genuinely surprises me that, as someone who's gradually recovering some of your own past lives, you are so reluctant to embrace the significance of forgetting-and-remembering in the cosmic scheme!

Bruce,

||Even if amnesia were rare, it could still be a key to understanding reality, as is the case with some of the less often seen psi anomalies we on this forum hold so dear.||

True amnesia, based on what I've read, comes from serious brain injury. Like everything else, it's certainly worth understanding, but I don't see it as related to the paranormal per se.

||As Luciano points out, "you have to acknowledge that there must be a reason why some people recall certain things, and others don't."

Clearly, there are different kinds of forgetting, some of which are apparently more purposeful than others. And of the purposeful kind, I see two main types: protective and spiritual.||

I think most forgetting is simply due to the way the brain works. IOW, it's biological forgetting.

||Every shred of remembering and every shred of forgetting contribute to a particular kind of life experience.||

A criticism I have made before that I think is key is this: Why does God only choose to forget within a particular range? If God is trying to have every type of adventure possible, then why not have a certain portion of people born on earth having forgotten absolutely nothing?

It seems that this God is fine-tuning the process and limiting it, which would seem to go against the desire of this being to have adventures or create stories without limitation (the individual stories are limited, but the scale and variety of them as a set is not).

||"The shades of the dead were required to drink the waters of the Lethe in order to forget their earthly life. In the Aeneid, Virgil writes that it is only when the dead have had their memories erased by the Lethe that they may be reincarnated"||

Well, if we grant that incarnation is real, then we must admit we don't remember past lives, at least not very well. This myth would appear to be a "just so story" that explains the mechanism of how we forget. I don't think it validates Grof's theory. And I think that there is no spiritual tradition that *does* validate Grof's theory. That's one reason I oppose it so much. It is pretty much de novo and sitting there on its own.

||Not at all -- it's exactly what we would expect with any well-designed game or mystery. The presence of certain clues, just waiting to be found, is essential.||

Although Grof calls it the Cosmic Game, it does not bear much resemblance to a game in that it can never be won or completed. Even if we humans were collectively to say, "Ah hah! Grof figured it out, and this knowledge is ours forever!" it would not empower us in the least, inasmuch as once we died, we would be dissolved again and on to the next adventure with more or less complete amnesia. The knowledge would *not* give humanity the power to pull a master hack and end the cycle or do anything of the sort.

||I used it in this thread because Leewoof did. As evidenced by his contributions, and Luciano's comment, the word presents less of a problem for some us than for others.||

I am not the word police and people can do what they want, of course; I just feel that using it often leads to bad philosophy.

||One final thought, Matt. It genuinely surprises me that, as someone who's gradually recovering some of your own past lives, you are so reluctant to embrace the significance of forgetting-and-remembering in the cosmic scheme!||

My issue is not with forgetting; if we grant reincarnation, it is simply a fact. My issue is with Grof's vision of the Cosmic Churn, which seems to me a lot like half-baked Spinoza. There are a lot of similarities in "The Cosmic Game" and "The Ethics" of Spinoza. Consider this passage:

Now, as the divine nature has absolutely infinite attributes (by Def. vi.), of which each expresses infinite essence after its kind, it follows that from the necessity of its nature an infinite number of things (that is, everything which can fall within the sphere of an infinite intellect) must necessarily follow.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/3800/3800-h/3800-h.htm

Now, I had many good takeaways from Grof, and he is very valuable in the pieces. But in terms of macro vision, like Spinoza he comes up with a God that is neither personal nor goal-oriented. In both systems, God just happens to do things the way he does and doesn't have much concern for the individual. I find it depressing. More importantly, however, I don't think it matches either traditional spiritual systems or the evidence from NDEs, channeled material, etc. Everything I see points toward a controlled evolution toward higher levels of awareness, love, and so on.

"Great comments, Luciano! I made good use of them in my response to Matt"

Thanks Bruce! It is the best I could do having English as a second language :P

"The knowledge would *not* give humanity the power to pull a master hack and end the cycle or do anything of the sort."

What if the cycle is not to be ended? Or what if some souls do end the cycle, and then they restart it? Because I don't think that Bruce's worldview is against some kind of evolution, at least mine isn't.

I've never read The Cosmic Game, but it's not the only book that talks about this pantheistic god... I think Matt should read Neale D. Walsch's books, because many of the things he finds unappealing about this "God" I don't see them like that at all, (for example I don't find it to be impersonal).

Also Matt, I would like to know what is your worldview, Bruce said somewhere that is not very different from his own.

"In both systems, God just happens to do things the way he does and doesn't have much concern for the individual" - "Everything I see points toward a controlled evolution toward higher levels of awareness, love, and so on"

Well, even if you can come out with a different idea of a Higher power, this entity would still *seem* not to be too caring of us at all (I say "seem" because remember, I want to have hope that ultimately at some level it does take care of us, or that our real selves are actually never in danger), diseases and other terrible things would still be existing.
And if you don't believe in a Higher power (or a Creator or whatever), and think we are the only beings here (some more evolved, some less) and we naturally happened to exist... I don't see why you would expect the Universe to be heading towards something good, since there would not be any creator to set a moral-friendly outcome. Unless it is *controlled* (a word I don't personally like) by something or someone. But who? And why does this being controls universal evolution towards love and stuff but does not stop a growing tumor on a baby (assuming his domains are not only the spiritual, but then how could the physical exist...? they must be under someone's control)? or does not come to save earthbound spirits (maybe they can move on whenever they want but they don't) and doesn't stop evil spirits? Who is in charge?

Luciano,

||Because I don't think that Bruce's worldview is against some kind of evolution, at least mine isn't.

I've never read The Cosmic Game, but it's not the only book that talks about this pantheistic god...||

I think you'd need to read the book. It's very good, but I think the overall explanation Grof comes up with is dissatisfying and incorrect.

||I think Matt should read Neale D. Walsch's books, because many of the things he finds unappealing about this "God" I don't see them like that at all, (for example I don't find it to be impersonal).||

I don't find the Universe to be impersonal, inasmuch as it's filled with persons. I don't like the idea of a Higher Power that is impersonal, however, and I don't believe in one.

||Also Matt, I would like to know what is your worldview, Bruce said somewhere that is not very different from his own.||

I agree. I think we overlap on most stuff.

I think the Universe has an eternal, a priori ground of being that we at least partially understand in the form of the truths of mathematics. For example, 1 + 1 = 2 is true in all possible universes, and "God" does not make that true, nor could he change it if he wanted to. Thus, even in a monotheistic system, God would have to be subordinate, or bounded by, these truths.

Thus, Void is not truly nothing; it is at least this ground of being. And from this ground of being has evolved the Universe we know. I think the Greek myth has it right: there was original Chaos, from which emerged order, quite possibly in the form of godlike entities who were able to select the a posteriori qualities of the Universe. And I think for mathematical reasons, the Universe has an ultimate direction and end state, which is Love, but this is achieved only in the realm of Infinity. Paradoxically, we will never get there, but we are also already there. Thus, we really will have an infinite number of adventures as we approach infinite Love. So I agree with Bruce about infinite adventures, but I don't see them as random and repetitive. They are, in the aggregate, for the good of the Universe.

||Well, even if you can come out with a different idea of a Higher power, this entity would still *seem* not to be too caring of us at all (I say "seem" because remember, I want to have hope that ultimately at some level it does take care of us, or that our real selves are actually never in danger), diseases and other terrible things would still be existing.||

Any Higher Power(s) would not have created the Universe but would have evolved from it. I have no problem saying the beneficent entities out there are a combo of unwilling and lacking in power to change things here. I certainly think they have the power to change things in individual circumstances, and sometimes they do. But I don't think they could just rip everything up and start over, nor would they want to, as they value our freedom to evolve.

||And why does this being controls universal evolution towards love and stuff but does not stop a growing tumor on a baby (assuming his domains are not only the spiritual, but then how could the physical exist...?||

I believe the Universe doesn't exist because a Higher Power created it; I think the Universe exists to create the Higher Power.

I think miracles happen all the time, and we are protected more than we know, but these are not "advertised." Thus, if a baby is saved from cancer, it just seems like a normal baby, and no one notices.

In my own life, I feel that I have been allowed to be afflicted with painful illnesses for my own growth, and I also feel that I have been given free passes out of accidents and close calls. There are many factors that come into play, including simply asking for help: "Ask and ye shall receive."

||they must be under someone's control)? or does not come to save earthbound spirits (maybe they can move on whenever they want but they don't) and doesn't stop evil spirits? Who is in charge?||

I don't think there is such a thing as powerful, advanced evil spirits, since power can only come from a higher vibration, and evil lowers the vibration. Hence, there is no devil. I do think evil vibrations seek to possess humans, however, and thus you get people like Hitler, who seemed to have a great talent for channeling evil and surrounding himself with the worst of the worst.

I don't know if time for earthbound spirits is the same for us. Thus, they may seem to be around for a long time to us but may not feel they are stuck for very long. I just don't know. I also know that higher spirits enlist humans in the Astral/Dream World to contact people who have just died and lead them to the Afterlife dimensions. I have done this many times in my dreams. So it's not as though no one cares about earthbound spirits or people who are stuck.

Then we agree more than we disagree, Matt... actually I could say I don't quite disagree with what you say.

Also I don't see that you have a problem with the "All is One" idea...

At the end, I don't truly know what is going around here (who does?), but my best guess is that is something between Bruce's and your worldview!

Matt, "Thus, even in a monotheistic system, God would have to be subordinate, or bounded by, these truths......
Thus, Void is not truly nothing; it is at least this ground of being. And from this ground of being has evolved the Universe we know. I think the Greek myth has it right: there was original Chaos, from which emerged order, quite possibly in the form of godlike entities......"

Agreed. That is why I said that I coming to see the God of Love and Light as an emerging force - a demigod - that is somewhat dependent on our focus on its energies to sustain existence and to grow. And that the primary mover is just a raw - perhaps chaotic - impersonal energy.

However, I do not see why you think a devil could not be the same sort of demigod; albeit at a lower vibrational energy (whatever that means exactly). Ditto other archetypes and demigods out in a morphic field type level of consciousness.

As much as I like what you say and overwhelmingly agree with it, the idea that love vibrates "higher" and is therefore more powerful than the opposite (or at least anything less than it) seems to me a little faith based as well as just plain murky in meaning. It sure feels right to me, but that is not all that counts if we are developing an objective model.


Luciano,

||At the end, I don't truly know what is going around here (who does?), but my best guess is that is something between Bruce's and your worldview!||

Yes, make no mistake, I do *not* deliver my views with high-voltage confidence. I merely offer them up as one way to connect the many, many data points. I tend to have more confidence in saying what I think is *wrong*, and I try to vary that confidence appropriately with my level of disagreement.

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