Sunday, August 31, 2008

One is Cursed, One is Blessed....

A while back, I read the following snippet on Oprah's website, on the A New Earth Message Board.

remember: the body, the inner body LOVES attention and so does the predatory needy mind. Starve the mind and enhance the inner body :D

This reminded me of a poem I associate with Ray Prinzing. I'm not sure if he was the original author or if he just repeated it. I can't even remember if I heard it on one of his taped sermons or if I read it somewhere in one of his many writings.

"Two natures beat within my chest, one is cursed, one is blessed, one I love, one I hate, the one I feed will dominate."

And I came across the following in my NLT New Believers Bible that I bought shortly after becoming a Christian. The quote stuck with me....although I have pretty much ditched most of the other theological commentary throughout the Bible. VERY Fundie stiff:

An American Indian elder described his own inner struggles this way: "Inside of me there two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time." When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, "The one I feed the most."

On a side note, a month or so ago, Keith and I watched a video sermon by Preston Eby. I find it ironic that the more I understand Eckhart's teachings, the more I appreciate what Eby has to say. Eby definitely puts a very Christian slant on things but there is so much similarity in what they teach. I think you could find many excerpts from both of their writings that match just about word for word, concept for concept. Eby talks Christianese...Eckhart speaks "new age", but the concepts are the same. Digressing again....I don't remember a lot of the details of what he said in the sermon but I did jot down on this draft post version, here in the queue that he talked a lot about mankind being lowered into this realm. Because of our lowering into the natural, we know how to be adam. We must learn by experience to unveil Christ. To "learn Christ." To be Christ.

Eby believes that we pre-existed with God before being lowered into this realm. (I think I do too) He mentioned a verse that had confused him somewhat because it seems to state the opposite. The verse was 1 Corinthians 15:46.

Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.

Or as the Message succinctly expresses it:

Physical life comes first, then spiritual--

His conclusion...the verse, taken in context, is talking about this realm...this realm of "form" as Eckhart refers to it...and the timeline of events here in the physical realm. First the natural--creation is subjected to futility...the fall....the lowering of our spirits into these earthen vessels. THEN the spiritual. Makes sense to me.

And speaking of Preston Eby, I read a really good article of his last night, a new article called The Seed In Every Man. I am going to go back and reread it today because there are many verses of scripture that he makes note of that Biblically confirms this teaching....and fits very neatly alongside what Eckhart has to say. I also like to read this teaching from a Christian perspective. I'm not sure why the words of Eckhart (self described as "not a Christian") brought this to life for me....but as my friend, annie says, if God can speak through Balaam's ass there is no limit to the venues he can use to teach us. Let me be clear...I am not disparaging Eckhart with that remark...just pointing out that God uses whatever he chooses, whenever he chooses, however he chooses to teach us.....but we have to be willing to look outside the walls of the box we've put Him in.

In the Queue....

For the past week, "Write blog posts" has been on my day to day to do list.  Obviously, since my last post was August 17th, I did not cross that item off my list.  There have been a few "aha" moments and things that have piqued my curiosity that I thought might make a good blog post but I just have not gotten around to it.  I use Windows Live Writer to compose most of my posts.  It is a very good program and compatible with most of the blogging sites on the internet.  It makes it easy to keep track of previous posts and drafts...and I find it very helpful. 

But anyway, there are about a dozen posts in the drafts section.  In the "queue."  I am going to try to finish some of them and actually post them.  I am putting it on my to do list today!!!!  And so a disclaimer.  The subjects are varied and reflect interest piques from as far back as 12/1/07.  So this is not a series...for sure.  It will be random subjects reflecting the progression of my spiritual direction since the beginning of the year.  I've gotten a lot more "airy fairy" since then. Perhaps looking more at the big picture than the "don't sweat the small stuff" details. 

For instance, my studies of Girard, mimesis and mimetic rivalry were specific...but I see now that mimesis and mimetic rivalry are part of a bigger picture.  They are manifestations of the egoic mind...the carnal mind, the old man, the adamic man...however you want to refer to him/it.  A specific symptom of a larger disorder.  Not the disease itself.   I knew, even while studying Girard, that it was not the whole picture.  Actually, I wrote a post about it called Not The Whole Puzzle last May.  Keith pointed that out at the time, and I did not disagree with the opinion that Girard was just a piece of the puzzle.  If I recall correctly, he voiced the concern that Girard's work was not "spiritual"....and he's right, Girard picks apart a very widespread manifestation of the ego and shows us where it leads.  To envy, lust, jealousy, dishonesty, ill will, "me, me, it's all about me"...and finally to violence.  The Bible is the only sacred writing that progressively reveals mimesis, scapegoating and our need to sacrifice and clearly shows, in the crucifixion of Jesus, that it is NOT okay with God. 

I think it is particularly interesting that scapegoating does not work if the participants see it for what it is.  Tolle and teachers like him point out that the awareness of the ego....observing its little tricks and schemes...sound the death knell for it.  But I digress. 

I'm writing it on the To Do List today....we'll see if I get to cross it off or not....

Sunday, August 17, 2008

College, Already???

How the hell could it be time for Matt to go to college!!!???  It doesn't seem that long ago I took him to his first day at Mother's Day Out...and sat in the coat room the whole time because he was nervous and I promised I would stay.  He ran out to me several times, to tell me what a good time he was having.  I didn't have to stay the next day....

I remember when we moved to Nashville...the year he started kindergarten.  We moved from Cleveland where school started after Labor Day.  School had already been in session in Nashville since about the tenth of August.  All the other kindergartners were accustomed to school.  Matt wasn't.  In spite of a really great teacher, Matt had some problems adjusting.  He would come into my bedroom early...4 am early....

Matt: I'm scared. 

Mom:  What are you scared of, Matt?

Matt:  I'm scared of the cafeteria.  (he drew the word cafeteria out ....long and mournful)

Mom:  Why are you scared of the cafeteria?

Matt:  I don't know......(tears followed)

To this day he can't tell me why he was afraid of the cafeteria.  He is now 6'3' and weighs 260ish.  He got over being afraid.  I remember when his voice changed....which tickled me to no end.  I remember when he was as tall as my shoulder...and now, my head is about as tall as his shoulder.

I think he will do fine at college.  He has been self sufficient for the longest time....spending weekends alone at his dad's house without ever any trouble serious enough to require a parent or the police.  He's never gotten a ticket...never wrecked his car other than the time he slid off the road into a snow drift....and sustained minor damage.  (although three times someone has wrecked into it....while it was parked) 

He has been a great kid.  An easy kid to raise.  There was a glitch with grades in his junior year....a glitch he learned a valuable lesson from.  Other than that glitch...and a few other minor things like stealing a toy gun from his grandmother's toy box...and breaking one of the wise men in my Precious Moment Nativity scene while winging a ball around the living room, the kid has given me no problems.  And I love him deeply.  I am not a clingy mom....and sometimes several days go by when he is at his dad's and I don't see him or talk to him.  But he is Williamsport....just a few miles away....and I will miss that proximity.  I am excited for him as he takes the next step toward being all grown up....but I sure do miss that little boy with the crew cut.  I love you, Matt....

Stone your disobedient teenagers....

While I was researching heaven knows what on line, I came across an article written by William Einwechter an elder at Immanuel Free Reformed Church in Stevens, Pennsylvania.  He is the vice president of the Christian Reform Association which advocates "Explicitly Christian Politics." Their mission?

The mission of the National Reform Association is to maintain and promote in our national life the Christian principles of civil government.

And for twenty bucks you can get the book which explains in detail just what explicitly Christian politics entails.  Hint, is some pretty scary stuff....7_ECP1

Christians who are tired of the compromise of evangelicals in the political sphere will find this book to be a wonderful breath of fresh air. Here is a vision for politics that the faithful servant of our Lord Jesus Christ can get excited about. The days of retreat for Christians in the political sphere are about to end, and Explicitly Christian Politics points the way!

The article that caught my eye while surfing was entitled "Bible Requires Death By Stoning For Rebellious Teenagers Says PA Preacher"  and it was on a site called Positive Atheism.  

Einwechter says the death penalty should be applied to "a grown son (and by extension to a daughter as well) who, for whatever reason, has rebelled against the authority of his parents and will not profit from any of their discipline nor obey their voice in any thing."

Writes Einwechter, "[T]he execution of the rebel in view is just, merciful, and preventive. Just, in that the transgressor deserves to die; merciful, in that his quick death prevents the destruction of the family, society, and others; preventive, in that it strikes fear in the heart of other would-be rebels and restrains them from taking a similar ruinous course."

The Chalcedon Report is the leading publication of the "Christian Reconstructionist" movement, the most extreme contingent of the Religious Right. Reconstructionists reject democracy and believe Christians should take "dominion" over American society. Under their version of "biblical law," the death penalty would be required for over a dozen offenses, including adultery, homosexuality, witchcraft and spreading "false" religions.

I told you it was scary stuff. 

The original article was published in The Chalcedon Report and later reprinted in The Christian Statesman.  Einwechter is editor of the publication.  As if the first time around was not disturbing a bad horror flick, there was a sequel; Stoning Disobedient Children RevisitedDon't expect a retraction.  It simply defends the first article....although he does clarify the method of execution he advocates, since his original article was misunderstood:

......state that I say the Bible requires "death by stoning for rebellious teenagers." As I have noted already, death only would be imposed in the most severe cases of rebellion. Furthermore, as one who holds to the "general equity" of the law, I do not believe that cultural items such as elders sitting in the gates as judges and stoning by the men of the city as the means of execution are essential elements that need to be reproduced today to have the justice of this law upheld. These are peripheral matters, and justice would be served by our courts using more modern methods of execution in those cases that might warrant death.

I've included lots of links within this post for anyone who might want to rubber neck a when passing an accident.  You don't want to look...but you do in spite of yourself.  And for those who might be interested in a hard copy....the following snippet can be found at the bottom of The Christian Statesman.   

A six month subscription to The Christian Statesman is FREE on request. Renewals are FREE on request.
POBox 8741-WP Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15221

Oh...and one more thing.  When I clicked on the link to read more of Pastor Einwechter's writings, there were no other articles....only a notice that explained the site had been hacked and links to 58 articles ended up at a site where everything was written in Turkish. 

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Telephone Game...

I recently joined a yahoo group which was formed around the teachings of Eckhart back when the Power of Now was in its hay day.  It is still active and discusses not only Eckhart Tolle but also similar teachings and teachers.  I like the group.  Recently someone compared the Bible to the telephone game.  You know where you have a line of tell the first person in line a sentence and by the time it gets to the end of the line it has been distorted, added to and embellished.  So, he thought, was the case with scripture.  I wrote the following post in reply.

I am not your run of the mill Christian.  Nor do I have a run of the mill view of the Bible.  I don't think it is inerrant and in many places, I think it was written out of the egoic and not the spiritual nature of the authors.  The OT especially.  The sacrificial system....jihad....all of that.  But throughout there are snippets of enlightenment....which grow clearer and clearer until they finally reveal Jesus.  The Bible is the story of man trying to find God...and how he fumbles and messes up in the process....and totally misses him time and time again.  And isn't that sort of a corporate story of what we go through individually?  At least for most of us, spiritual awakening is a process.  Two steps forward, one step back. 

The Garden of Eden?  Eckhart uses that as a description of when the egoic nature took over and took precedence over our spiritual natures.  Pure genius in the Biblical description.  They ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil...rather than the tree of life.  God put adam to sleep.  It says nowhere in the text that he woke him up again.  I find layer upon layer of wisdom in scripture.  Bring in the meanings of some of the words in the original out the hidden meanings of methaphors, cliches, similes, hyperbole and there is so much meaning that can be mined out in a course the spirit designs for us personally....just us.  A private class.  When the student is ready, the teacher will appear kind of thing. 

Another interesting thing about the scriptures came to light when I studied some of Rene Girard's work.  He was a French anthropologist, who, while studying famous literature and trying to discern what makes some works endure forever and others fade away quickly came upon what he coined as mimesis and mimetic rivalry.  A nutshell version is difficult...and I won't attempt it but info abounds on the internet.  It deals with the ugly little secret of mankind's predisposition to scapegoating, their need to sacrifice to appease their angry deities...and how this is all born out of the turmoil that occurs because we "catch" our desires from each other, and then as we compete for things that are in limited supply (not just material things but also things like fame, respect etc.)  mimesis turns into mimetic rivalry....which turns into violence.  A scapegoat, a victim upon which to lay all the blame is the safety valve which releases some of the pent up steam...literally sacrificed in times past but more commonly in today's world by shunning...prejudice etc. 

As I said, it is hard to describe in the scope of this post, but I found it to be a fascinating manifestation of the ego.  The ego at it's subtle we don't even know it is happening.  What does this have to do with the Bible?  Girard studied many ancient religions and holy writings and literature and he came to the conclusion that the Bible was the only one that progressively revealed this secret mankind so wants to sweep under the rug and not see.  Which is how the ego survives afterall. 

Once we shine the light of awareness on it, it loses its power.  Since scapegoating is still so prevalent and destructive even now (think war in Iraq and groups of people who are ostracized and discriminated against, think unrest in Israel where the mimetic struggle for a tiny strip of land has gone on for so very long, think about the dog eat dog world of corporate life, the cliques that form in schools.)  I think it all ties in with what Eckhart says about making another our enemy...a trick of the ego to strengthen itself. 

This post is getting I will wrap it up with one last point.  I read the following quote (paraphrased because I read it a long time ago) on a message board.  It has stuck with me. 

"You can read it (the Bible) in the King James Version, the NIV, the Concordant Literal, the original Greek  but unless you read it "in the spirit" you will never hear Abba speak."  (Abba is the name Jesus coined for God which is a very personal form of the word for Father....sort of like papa) 

So for me personally, how do I weed out the stuff in scripture that is a result of the telephone game?  I know when I hear "Abba" speak, because the spirit within me stirs and I have the inner knowing that what I am reading is truth.  Like a baby in the womb who kicks, I get a spiritual kick from the holy spirit within (who Jesus promised would lead us into all truth) and I know that it is for me.  I don't just get that kick when I read the Bible... I get that same stirring when I read Eckhart and other similar authors.  I don't think that the Bible is the only way to enlightenment.  Nor do  I think it is the only place where God's message to the mankind can be found.  However, I don't think it should be discounted to those of us who hear the voice of Presence, Awareness....the voice of our Father recorded in the pages of scripture.  

Written Not With Ink....

I am reading through ANE again....slowly because I am reading a lot of other stuff too....stuff I've printed from online, scripture etc. And I am taking notes, copying down quotes from the book that strike me (and there are a LOT of things that strike me). And as was the case the last time I read it, so much of what he has to say brings scripture to mind. Something struck me last night when I read the following quote from Eckhart...which is on page 72ish.

When you are in touch with that dimension within yourself - and being in touch with it is your natural state, not some miraculous achievement - all your actions and relationships will reflect the oneness with all life that you sense deep within. This is love. Laws, commandments, rules, and regulations are necessary for those who are cut off from who they are, the Truth within. They prevent the worst excesses of the ego, and often they don't even do that. "Love and do what you will," said St. Augustine.

It reminded me that the Law was referred to as a schoolmaster or tutor to "bring us into Christ" and that the Law was "only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very image of them." In Jeremiah God promises to write his Laws on our hearts....and in 2 Corinthians it refers to us as a "letter of Chrst written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tables of stone but on tablets of human hearts" Isn't that the gist of what Eckhart is saying? Doesn't it say the same thing?

It reminded me, too, of something that Keith has pointed out many times and that is that the Ten Commandments are actually promises....things that will naturally occur when we live out of our christ nature. Thou shalt not kill...thou shalt not steal. If we are living out of the christ within (or as Eckhart refers to it on page 71, the indwelling God) we will not need laws that tell us not to kill because it will be totally against our nature. Jesus summed the Law up into two the Lord God with all your heart, strength, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. If you love your neighbor as yourself it pretty much eliminates the temptation to steal from him, run around with his wife, kill him....bear false witness against him. So the 10 commandments state first of all "thou shalt have no other Gods before me" Doesn't the egoic mind set itself up as "god" convincing us that is who we really are....and seems to me to be reflected scripturally in the following verse:

Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God. 2 Thes. 2:3-4

Hmmmm....who is the man of lawlessness? The egoic mind? The Painbody?

Where is God's temple?

Don't you know that your body is a temple that belongs to the Holy Spirit 1 Corinthians 6:19).

So in total unconsciousness, we allow the egoic mind to take over our temples...and depending on how unconscious we are, we might not have a clue we are not the thoughts and attachments and roles rattling around in our heads. The apostle Paul referred to the indwelling God as a MYSTERY...the mystery of "the Christ in you, the hope of Glory" and reiterates in 2 Corinthians 13:5 when he says...."do you not know yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you?"

I want to add that a lot of the understanding I am coming to now is based, in many ways, on the things Keith has tried to teach me for years. I did not want to hear about the adamic/carnal man vs the christman. It made no sense. In fact, it sounded as if God was trying to kill me off...and I wanted no part of that. Keith used to say that "adam doesn't want to die" and that used to really piss me off. It was the egoic (carnal/adamic/earthly) Cindi that was getting miffed because...well, the egoic mind does not want to die. I should also add that Keith is not interested in Eckhart's teachings at this point and that most of the opinions expressed on this blog do not represent his opinions or his beliefs. The irony is that his teachings helped to form many of my beliefs. Go figure.....

Saturday, August 9, 2008

God Blessed the Broken Road.....


The Portuguese proverb declares....

"Deus escreve certo por linhas tortas.

In English? 

God writes straight with crooked lines.

And he leads us down many a broken road.  



Friday, August 8, 2008

The Long and Winding Road....

Before we can change anything in our life, we have to recognize that this is the way it is meant to be right now. For me, acceptance has become what I call the long sigh of the soul. It’s the closed eyes in prayer, perhaps even the quiet tears. It’s “all right,” as in “All right, You lead, I’ll follow.” And it’s “all right” as in “Everything is going to turn out all right.” This is simply part of the journey…— Sarah Ban Breathnach

This "journey" I've been on with Beth for the past few years has indeed seemed like a long, winding road.  Several times along the journey, I was sure the rockiest part was behind us...that we had reached the peak and the journey would not continue to be all uphill from there.  Last year at this time, Beth went to Impact with her sister and the youth group.  It was under duress but she went.  And lo and behold, she had an encounter with the Lord.  I think it was a legitimate encounter.

The theme of last year's Impact was "Let It Go" in "let go of the pain."  I think I expected an instantaneous healing.  I think she did too.  It didn't happen.  She slipped back into the same old patterns.....with a few rebounds and bright spots along the way.   Then, at the end of last school year, things went exponentially down the crapper.  So, we continue on this journey. 

In a conversation I had with Keith the other day, he mentioned an analogy....the sandpaper that sands the rough edges off the wood, is also changed during the process.  I was on my way out the door to work so we didn't delve into it any deeper than that.    I'm not sure if, in this situation, I am the block of wood or if I am the sandpaper.  Perhaps if he is reading this entry (he occasionally reads here on my blog) he might provide a more thorough explanation of that view in the comments sections??

I am being changed, for sure.....but I don't like it.  Byron Katie, known for "The Work" talks about "loving what is."  Yeah right.  Eckhart Tolle teaches that, when faced with a situation that is intolerable, we have 3 sane options.  We must either totally accept the situation, change it or leave it.  I am teetering somewhere between acceptance and change.  I haven't given up, although I have come to believe that Beth will not necessarily be changed in this lifetime, on this side of the veil.  Leaving is not really an option.  I guess Paul echoes these sentiments (or these sentiments echo Paul....since he was obviously a teacher before Katie or Eckhart)

1 Thes. 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 

Hmmmm....pretty sure I'm not there yet.  The Beatles song The Long and Winding Road came to mind when I happened upon the quote at the beginning of this post.  Even though I've never particularly liked the song, I find many spiritual meanings hidden in the words.

And it does, indeed, seem like a very long, very winding road.... 


The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I've seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to your door

The wild and windy night
That the rain washed away
Has left a pool of tears
Crying for the day
Why leave me standing here
Let me know the way

Many times I've been alone
And many times I've cried
Any way you'll never know
The many ways I've tried
But still they lead me back

To the long winding road
You left me standing here
A long long time ago
Don't leave me waiting here
Lead me to your door

But still they lead me back
To the long winding road
You left me standing here
A long long time ago
Don't leave me waiting here
Lead me to your door

Your God Is Dead...

I found this scrawled on a T-shirt in Beth's room the other day.  Things have not really improved much...and on this particular day, they were perhaps at a very low point.  At first, it hurt my feelings..sort of like another one of her "screw you's"  (screw you's that are communicated silently, via a look and pursed lips...sometimes articulated) At the time, I didn't say anything to her about the shirt.  For one thing she is mad because I told her that she is going to go to church and youth group.  It is her silent protest.

This is a first. I've never forced any of the kids to go to church.  Matthew hasn't been to church (other than the Christmas Eve services) for about 6 years.  Beth was involved in the youth group last year, briefly...and then she pretty much said "screw you" to them too.  I think if you force kids, they grow up bitter...with a major chip on their shoulder and seeking God is the last thing on their minds.  So it is not so much because I think she will find God by going to is just that I want to find some kind of wholesome activity for her to get involved in.  We live in a small town...there are not a lot of activities for teens.  Hanging out is the major pass time...and oftentimes, hanging out involves drugs and alcohol.  It is her preferred lifestyle. She's has made it clear that once she turns 18 it is the lifestyle she is going to pursue.  But I digress...

So at first it hurt my feelings...but then I got to thinking...

The God she is referring to, in the scrawled graffiti like message on the T-shirt, is indeed dead.  More accurately ...he never lived.  The God of mainstream Christianity does not exist.  Many things the United Methodist Church teaches, I have issues with.  The youth leaders, as wonderful and loving as they are, teach a view of God that I think is skewed.  (Love...not correct doctrine, is the benchmark of a Christian and they show the kids their love in large and small ways)

The girls and I drove up to the mall today and on the way there the T-shirt came up.

"Mom, Beth is going to wear her God is dead T-shirt to church on Sunday."

I told them some of the things I have been thinking the God many of us worship is very far from who he really is.  Emily pointed out the differences between churches and the differences between their "Gods." She mentioned Catholics as an example...with their worship of saints and their view of the Pope as akin to Jesus.  Keith and I have talked about the cliché that oftentimes pops out of the mouths of Christians when they are confronted with something attributed to God that they consider totally out of character.

"That's not the God I worship"

I pointed out to Em that there is a God and there is a definite unchangeable truth about Him...even though we may not know it.  It is just that we humans do not always see or accept that truth.  Sometimes we won't see it.  Sometimes we can't see it.  Sometimes, the "my thoughts are not your thoughts nor are my ways your ways" thing comes into play. 

But there is one absolute truth about God...even if our minds cannot comprehend it.  There is one most high God and he never changes.  Scripture describes him AS love.  Not that he possesses love....or that he embodies love...or that he dispenses love.  He IS love.  It is his essential character.  Who he is...not what he does.  (I will be the first to admit that some of his acts do not really look like love)

And the God who sends non-believers to hell, or who sanctions jihad, or who is exclusive instead of inclusive, who will rapture his elect, who hates homosexuals etc. etc is indeed dead.  He never lived.  He is a figment of churchianity's imagination.  He is scripture misread and misunderstood.  Sometimes he is the embodiment of hate.  Sometimes he is the embodiment of fear.  Sometimes he is the embodiment of prejudice.  Many time he is the polar opposite of love. 

I know my view is skewed too...that I don't have all the answers.  My vision is not unobstructed and my beliefs are tainted by my humanity, my carnality, my egoic nature.  But I will continue to seek him. Who he really is.  Like Moses, my plea is, show me your Glory. 

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Do You Want To Be Well?

On my walk this morning, I listened to one of the Oprah and Eckhart webinars.  In response to a question, Eckhart mentioned that the ego (and the pain body) love negativity.  He addresses this in more detail in the Power of Now and A New Earth:

Once you have identified with some form of negativity, you do not want to let go, and on a deeply unconscious level, you do not want positive change.  It would threaten your identity as a depressed, angry, or hard-done-by-person.  You will ignore, deny or sabotage the positive in your life.  This is a common phenomenon.  It is also insane. (PON 157)

Complaining is one of the ego's favorite strategies for strengthening itself. Every complaint is a little story the mind makes up that you completely believe in.

An illness can either strengthen or weaken the ego. If you complain, feel self pity or resent being ill, you ego becomes stronger. It also becomes stronger if you make the illness part of your conceptional identity: “I am a sufferer of such and such a disease.” Ah, so now we know who you are. Some people, on the other hand, who in normal life have a big ego, suddenly become gentle and kind and much nicer people when they are ill. They may gain insights they many never have had in their normal life. They may access their inner knowing and contentment and speak words of wisdom. Then, when they get better, energy returns and so does the ego.

When you are ill, your energy level is quite low, and the intelligence of the organism may take over and use the remaining energy for the healing of the body, and so there is not enough left for the mind, that is to say, egoic thinking and emotion. The ego burns up considerable amounts of energy. In some cases, however, the ego retains the little energy that remains and uses it for its own purposes. Needless to say, those people who experience a strengthening of the ego in illness take much longer to recover. Some never do, and so the illness becomes chronic and a permanent part of their false sense of self.

A very common role is the one of victim, and the form of attention it seeks is sympathy or pity or other’s interest in my problems, “me and my story”. Seeing oneself as a victim is an element in many egoic patterns, such as complaining, being offended, outraged, and so on. Of course, once I am identified with a story in which I assigned myself the role of victim, I don’t want it to end, and so, as every therapist knows, the ego does not want an end to it “problems” because they are part of its identity. If no one will listen to my sad story, I can tell it to myself in my head, over and over and feel sorry for myself, and so have an identity as someone who is being treated unfairly by life or other people, fate, or God. It gives definition to my self image, makes me into someone and that is all that matters to the ego. (ANE)


In John Chapter 5, scripture is a bit more concise in conveying the same truth. 

5There was a certain man there who had suffered with a deep-seated and lingering disorder for thirty-eight years.
6When Jesus noticed him lying there [helpless], knowing that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, Do you want to become well? [Are you really in earnest about getting well?]
7The invalid answered, Sir, I have nobody when the water is moving to put me into the pool; but while I am trying to come [into it] myself, somebody else steps down ahead of me.  AMP


The thing is that without the little nudge from Tolle, I might not have understood the mechanics behind the question Jesus asked.  "Of course, he wants to get well," has always been my first thought.  It never occurred to me that perhaps the man by the pool at Bethesda had no identity or self image apart from sick, crippled, victim.  Perhaps never being the first in the pool after the stirring of the waters was no accident. 

I wonder if it was a look in the invalid's eyes...or something that Jesus could see in the man's heart because even though the invalid did not directly answer the question.. Jesus healed him anyway. 

8Jesus said to him, Get up! Pick up your bed and walk!
9Instantly the man became well and recovered his strength and picked up his bed and walked.

I think it is interesting that, according to the Strong's, one of the meanings for the word translated as "walk" (Peripateo) is:

Hebrew for, to live

Then later when Jesus see the invalid in the temple, he cautions,

See, you are well! Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.

Stop sinning?  What was the invalid's sin?  Among the meanings for the word translated sin:

  • to miss the mark
  • to err, be mistaken
  • to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honour, to do or go wrong

  So what did Jesus mean when he said, "Stop sinning?"  Stop living out of your egoic nature?  Out of the carnal man, the adamic man? Let go of the image of cripple that his ego, for whatever reason, identified so strongly with.  Stop missing the mark....or something worse may happen. 

So what is the message for us?  Simple. We need to ask ourselves the same question Jesus asked the invalid.  Do you want to be well?  Do you want to be whole?  Let go of your identification with negativity, with sickness, with complaining.  Stop thinking out of a victim mentality.  Poor, poor pitiful me.  Pick up your bed and walk.  Pick up your bed and live.....

And Speaking of Max....

I came across the following series of video sermons by Max Lucado entitled "Fear LESS."  I've only listened to the first one so far...but I liked it a lot. 

View Fear LESS Message 1: Why Are You Afraid?

View Fear LESS Message 2: Flying Standby to Heaven

View Fear LESS Message 3: Where to Stare in a Storm

View Fear LESS Message 4: Finding Peace in a Day of Panic

View Fear LESS Message 5: You Don't Have to Worry

Hem of His Garment....

In the comments section, Jack posted the following excerpt from a sermon by James Smith called Wait on the Lord. In it he mentions the women with the issue of blood...and how, by simply touching the hem of Jesus' garment, she was healed.

No case can be desperate that is brought to him. The poor woman in the Gospel had spent all her money, tried all the physicians, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, until she came to Jesus; and then, by only touching his garment, she obtained a cure. So, let your case be as bad as it may, having tried what means you will, the Lord can with one word deliver you, set you up on high, and save you forever. He loves to undertake difficult cases. He gets glory by appearing for poor souls in their extremity. He has so appeared for millions, and he will yet appear for you. Fix your eye on his strength, and your heart on his promise.

It was not too long after becoming a Christian, I read one of my all time favorite books...He Still Moves Stones, by Max Lucado. About 10 years ago, I found it (and the beginning of my "relationship" with Max) on the shelf in a public library on the outskirts of Nashville TN. I had never heard of Max Lucado before that day. In the book, there is a chapter about the healing of this woman with the issue of blood...and the profound impact it had on her life. I hadn't realized how being a Jewess with nonstop bleeding affected every aspect of her life. Everything she touched was considered unclean. She was considered unclean and untouchable. Shunned, an outcast, untouchable for 10 years. Talk about restoration in a single touch....

There is a song by Jeff and Sheri Easter called "Last Thread of Hope." The first verse talks about the women's seemingly hopeless situation. Following is the You Tube video of Sheri Easter singing the song. The first minute or so of the video is an interview...but after that the song. Very moving....