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Thursday, November 01, 2012

Why Religion?

I made it to Salt Lake City and back, and it all went very well.  But let me back up a couple weeks.

 Ried

A 23-year-old named Ried from Minnesota hitched into town.  He had read the book and decided to come camp with me for a while.  He's a total joy, a shining light, making me and everybody I know smile.  My friend Arlen also started camping out with us off and on, making for sublime music and conversation around the fire.  While I went to SLC, Ried decided to hitch to Boulder to meet up with new-found friends.  He says he plans to come back here in a short while.  But you never know where wind will blow.

SLC

Last Friday, my friend Chris picked me up hitch-hiking and took me all the way to Salt Lake City, and I stayed at my friend Lin's.  Lin has a huge drum and we percussed and discussed, the perfect preparation for the next day.

Mark Sundeen's and my KCPW interview the next day with Jennifer Napier-Pearce went very well, and the audience was sublime.  The KCPW interview is on podcast now (I haven't listened yet since I lost my dumpstered earphones).  [On the last post I mistakenly said the interview was through KUER, not KCPW.  Napier-Pearce was formerly with KUER but now is with KCPW].

Westwater Canyon

On Sunday, Mark and his fiance, Cedar, took me on a river trip through Westwater Canyon (between Colorado and Utah) with seven other Moab friends, and it was stupendous.  Then on Tuesday night Chris (the one who had picked me up hitching), took me to a drum circle (or more like an oval or trapezoid) jam in a culvert with some other Moabite friends.  Now that jamming I can't even describe, it was so beyond-imagination-extraordinary.

Why Religion?

I've had a burr in my pants these days.  You might have noticed the blog entry before last was burr inspired.  

I've got myself on a line between the religious world and the secular world, and sometimes find it either pisses off both or inspires both.  One side keeps warning me I'm slipping over to the other.  The razor's edge.

Lately I've been saying that all I care about is that people be true and just.  Whatever motivates people to be true and just, I support.  I simply don't care whether or not they are called Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Pagans, Atheists.  As the Dalai Lama said, "My religion is kindness."  My saying this really upset some of my friends and loved ones who consider themselves Christian.  But I can't deny what I see.  Good fruit is good fruit.  Know them by their fruit, not their talk, not their vocabulary.  There are a few secular folks who get turned off by my vocabulary, too.  It's like I'm on a tightrope, balancing between both sides, translating language between both sides.  

I keep saying that if we erase all money and simply look at reality, we see truth so simply an infant understands.  In the same way, if we erase all words and simply look at reality, we see truth so simply an infant understands.  Let go of the imagination of your mind, and you see Truth.

How do deer and ants and coyotes eat nutritious, balanced diets?   They do it without books or manuals or school!  They know how to eat because they have no words to deceive them!

Ironically I find that non-religious people, including self-proclaimed atheists, are more accepting and comfortable with Jesus' teachings than self-proclaimed followers of Jesus.  I guess it's always been that way, the religious persecute their own prophets and then worship them when they're good and comfortably gone.  And Jesus himself states more than once he finds more faith outside his religion-nation than inside it, which is why he hung out with non-religious people.  That got him crucified.

Lately I've had several conversations with Evangelicals about Jesus' teachings.  Every single one of them has an explanation why Jesus' teachings are not for us, or Jesus didn't really mean what he said, or else they find clever "salvation-by-grace" loopholes, or "dispensationalist" loopholes, to cancel out Jesus' teachings.  I've personally witnessed many even call me evil and going to hell if I even suggest keeping his teachings!  They put incredible amounts of energy into diverting attention away from Jesus' teachings with distracting doctrines and scripture-quoting rather than simply admit they don't believe in their own Jesus!  I was impressed by some sincere Evangelicals a few months ago.  They simply admitted they didn't believe, but they wanted to.  The first step to believing in Jesus is to admit that you don't.  The first step into being able to practice Jesus' teachings is to admit that you can't.  Religious AA!  This is the paradox of all spirituality.

The only way to acting truth is by admitting truth.
Admitting you don't believe truth is truth, and makes you truth.
Lie that admits itself as lie annihilates itself and resurrects as Truth.
If Satan admitted he were Satan, he would annihilate himself and resurrect as God. 

A few weeks ago I was reading notes by Charles Ryrie from the Ryrie Study Bible on the Sermon on the Mount.  Ryrie's notes pretty much encapsulate Fundamentalist, Evangelical doctrine, and are popular with Fundamentalists.  The hallmark of Fundamentalist doctrine is that the Bible must be taken literally.  Genesis Creation: literal.  The Flood: literal.  The Red Sea parting: literal.  Armageddon: literal.  If you even question the literalness of these stories, most Fundamentalists would call you non-Christian!  But things change when we get to Jesus' teachings.  Jesus' teachings have to do with doing, taking personal, active responsibility, Here and Now.  If it's about past (Genesis) or future (Apocalypse), which have nothing to do with personal responsibility, it's literal.  If it's about present, which means changing our behavior, then it's mysteriously not literal.  

Ryrie states that the Sermon on the Mount, nice as it is, simply cannot be taken literally, unless we want all churches and Christian schools and institutions to collapse.  After all, he says, what institution could survive giving to everyone who asks?  What organization could exist if it gave up all it owned to the poor?  What will happen to our rich donors if we talk about camels squeezing through needle's eyes?

I repeat: Evangelical scholar Ryrie says that the Sermon on the Mount simply cannot be taken literally, unless we want all churches and Christian schools and institutions to collapse.

Collapse!  Hallelujah!

If everyone practiced the core principles of their own religion, religion would go obsolete, just as money would go obsolete.  Collapse.  The Law would be written on our hearts, as it has been from the beginning, and we would stop worshiping scriptures and dogmas.  When the Law is on the heart, there is no more need to talk about God, as the Prophet Jeremiah prophecies (Jeremiah 31:33-34).  No more ranting about how God is taken out of schools and congress.  We would no longer be under law (scriptures) but grace.  We would simply be ourselves.  

It's written that the religious people, in deciding what to do with Jesus, said,  "If we let him alone like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation."  So they opted to crucify him.  Christendom would lose its place and its empire if it followed its own Jesus.  But our institutions, our dogmas, our scriptures, are more important to us than love and justice and simplicity.  Religion, Money, and Nationalism are the Unholy Trinity.  Separate one from the other, and watch the religious dogmatist go ballistic.

Crucifixion of All that I THINK I am

I had an epiphany a few weeks ago:
 
To say, "I am Christian" is to say "I am righteous."

No righteous person can say "I am righteous."

Only an egotist can say "I am righteous."

No Christian mind can say, "I am Christian."

Only an egotistical mind can say, "I am Christian"
or, "I am Buddhist" or "I am Muslim" or "I am Hindu."

This is why the Bible forbids calling yourself a Christian (1 Cor 1:12)
or whatever religious label.

Both Christ and Christian mean "Annointed One," Messiah.

No Christ can say, "I am Christ."
Only ego can say, "I am Christ" or "I am Christian".

Only an honest person can refuse giving herself religious labels, and have trust enough to say, "what does my life and works say?" (John 2:24)

I am not labels,
I am who I am.

If I am good, it will be self evident.
If I am bad it will be self evident.

It's not for me to say,
but only my life.

I can't be anything else but who I am,
so why try?

Only my actions can bear witness to who I am.

The Quran states that, at the Judgment Day,
all of us will be silenced, unable to speak on our own behalf.
Only our bodies will bear witness to us.

Erase all words, and Truth is revealed.
 
There is no higher name, no greater power, no God but I am who I am.

The world's institutions always want to know what authority sent you.
What government, what nation, what institution, what religion?
What degree?  What certification?  What identification?
What credentials?  What credit?

If you refuse to go to war by saying, "I am Christian', "I am Brethren", "I am Mennonite", "I am Quaker," or even "I am Buddhist", your refusal will be respected, legally.  But if you say, "I refuse to go to war under no authority but my conscience.  No authority but I am who I am," you'll be imprisoned and persecuted.  [Nov 8 CORRECTION:  jbkranger commented below: "since the 1960's the US military has allowed for non-religious conscience objection."  He's right. I didn't do my homework: see Conscentious Objector]  If you are completely sincere, if you can say, I am who I am, the Name above all names, Word beyond all words, you will find that those who are actors (those who refuse to be themselves) will pick up stones to stone you.  The Greek word for actor is hypocrite.  I am who I am: there is no other way, no other truth, no other life.  Anything more or anything less is not love, not real.

A word, a thought, a symbol, is something that represents something else.  It is not the thing, but represents the thing.  If a word, a thought, or a symbol, represented itself, it would vanish from sight, from hearing, from mind.  A rose speaks for itself, because it has no words but itself.  Even called by any other name, a rose is a rose.  Imagine not imagining!  Think what it would be to not think!  To see everything as it is, as an infant!  Zen mind! 

Reality speaks for itself, having no words but itself as one never-ending Word.  In the beginning is the Word, and the Word is with Reality and the Word is Reality.  In the realm of time, the Word became not reality, separated from Reality, and only represented reality, to dwell among us who are unreal.  No thought becomes thought in order to lead thoughts back to no thought.  The Buddha leaves Nirvana to become a boddhisattva to lead lost thoughts back to Nirvana.  All we like sheep have gone astray.  All we thoughts have wandered away from Reality.  And Reality becomes not reality, the shepherd becomes a sheep and searches for lost sheep to lead them back to Reality.

There is nothing like reality.  Reality is itself and nothing else. 

As both the Bible and the Quran emphasize, there nothing else like God.

Funny how we don't consider this.

"Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness (Genesis 1:26)

To be yourself is to be the Image of God, like no other.
To try to be like anybody else is to not be True.

"I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your Likeness." (Psalm 17:15)

For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me (Isaiah 46:9)

The only way I can be the Image of God is to put away likenesses that I think I am, to put away all that I think I am: thoughts, images, labels, and simply Be Who I Am.

I am who I am, the only way, the only truth, the only life.
There is no other way to Reality
And there is no Heaven but Reality,
No God but Reality.

There is no power greater than
I am who I am.
I am who I am,
right here, right now,
in the flesh.

Any action (spirit) that
does not confess
that I am who I am,
right here, right now,
in the flesh,
is Anti-Messiah.