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Brian Holley

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Brian Holley last won the day on July 11 2011

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About Brian Holley

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    Weobley, Herefordshire
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    Spirituality & Religion, history, walking, classical music, strumming a guitar and spending time in the pub with my friends.
  1. Thank you so much for this interesting reply Jennel. I'm about to depart for week on the west coast of Wales but I've downloaded your reply to my laptop so I can take it with me and think about it while I'm away. I'll get in touch when I get back.
  2. Thanks for that insight, Jenell. You obviously have a much better understanding of psychological theories than I do. I tend to base my thoughts about Ego on the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads more than anything else these days. These certainly confirm your assertion that the Ego is not all bad for the two birds of the Mundaka Upanishad (the ego and the Self) are 'intimate friends' according to Easwaran's translation. In trying to reconcile psychological theory and the vedic teaching about ego with my own experience, I find that my ego seems to be a function which operates in the field of pairs of opposites. It makes judgements and chooses but in doing so it is strongly influenced by my experiences, my past responses to my experiences and by my instincts (from the reptilian and mamalian brains). So although the ego should be a positive aspect of my mind, often it is a negative because of these influences. The Upanishads teach that the ego represents the 'False Self'. As Richard Rohr emphasises, that doesn't mean it's a bad self, just not the real thing because its judgements are so warped by my desires and fears and my attachment to them. As Rohr says, I am not my ego any more than I'm my big toe. But just as I need to control every aspect of my physical being, so I need to bring my ego under control of my True Self. In another Upanishad (I can't remember which) the relationship between the Self and the ego are compared to that of the Lord of the chariot and the chariot driver. The chariot is the body, the reins are the mind and the horses are the senses. In Juan Mascaro's translation of the BG there's a reference to the body and senses being a servant of the soul. So for my ego to be at peace it needs to be directed by my Self and no longer attached to desires and fears. I guess I do view my ego somewhat negatively, though, I hope with compassion too. Although it should be a function of mind for good, it has been a function for bad too much in my life and in the evolution of humanity as a whole, it seems to me. What I need to do, it seems to me, is gain control of my ego through the realisation of my True Self. I wonder how this relates to standard psychological theory. (I don't trust Freud, I'm afraid).
  3. Thank you for sharing thisJenell. It all boils down to love.
  4. Hi Marsha. There's an old Jewish saying that where there are two Jews you will find three opinions. It's much the same with Christians, Muslims, Hindus - et al - it seems to me. I wonder how many interpretations could be assembled for any one piece of scripture. From reading Jung I discovered the importance and effect of symbols. Then I realised that words are only symbols and that they don't contain meaning - the meaning is in the reader. This is what occurs to me: The purpose of the symbol (in whatever form) is to draw meaning into consciousness. However, because meaning is in the reader one symbol may draw many meanings into consciousness. A bird may be thought of as a bird, as freedom or as peace. So although a person writing words may be expressing the meaning he or she is experiencing, those who read it may experience something quite different - we've all experienced that, sometimes with disastrous effects. The same thing applies when we start interpreting things. So I suppose what I'm saying is that words are unreliable as they can only ever approximate meaning in any individual. I was interested to read in the Bhagavad Gita that, to the wise, scriptures are like a well in the flooded land. I feel that if I try to tie things down to a form of words I'm going to lose out on the experience and it is the experience that counts, not how I explain it. Don't get me wrong, I love scriptures, but I don't try to interpret them anymore. I let them interpret me. With love.
  5. Welcome Robert. You might find some interesting pickings in the Evolutionary Christianity thread. There's some links to Michael Dowd's site and if you haven't come across him before Mclaren and others feature there.
  6. Thanks Myron. Such analysis always interest me, perhaps because of my background in careers counselling and personal development. They trouble me too. I just wonder if we can actually analyse our way to 'the One' (Enabling Love). I find myself being drawn to the poetic and intuitive more than to the intellectual and analytical these days. Having said that, I found some of Michael Dowd's stuff on the natural outcomes of our evolution useful in understanding my own responses to things. It looks like the matrix can also be understood in that context. The degree to which I find myself on the continuum between the extremes may be a measure of my spiritual progress toward detachment from ego desire - then, of course, I have to ask myself if measuring my progress is actually an ego activity! I'm currently re-reading the Bhagavad Gita, comparing three translations and delving into the allegorical references of some of the names. Fascinating and heart warming. It's getting beyond desire and fear I'm working on. Just when I think I'm making progress something happens to show me I've still a way to go.
  7. I'm trying to catch up here, having been busy for a week. You guys really do get down to it, don't you.! I agree with Soma that evolution seems to be changing up a gear, though I'm not totally committed to the idea of a change "from a mechanical process to a conscious strategy". I was reading about the work of John Cairns this week in a book by Bruce H Lipton and Steve Bhaerman called Spontaneous Evoltion. Cairns put bacteria under stress and found that they spontaneously produced an enzyme that started to randomly generate genes. When a gene was generated that dealt with the cause of the stress, the early gene was replaced and the random generation ceased. It seemed that the organism knew when it had found the answer it was looking for. It took a long time for Cairn's discovery to be accepted by the scientific community because it seemed to show purposeful behaviour by the bacteria. I've long intuited that it is in the nature of nature to nurture and that our evolution into an empathetic creature with the intelligence and ingenuity to become co-creative with the evolutionay process is purposeful, although the route taken has been random. Is our consciousness something new or did is it merely a new expression of that which has always been in the energies of the universe? This takes me back to my earlier suggestion that love is at the heart of the creative process and that this love is totally committed to non-violence. Thus progress has to be on the basis of 'what can be will be' - it is both purposeful and random - the Greeks call it 'stochastic'. That's why I find the message of Matthew 5, the Bhagavad Gita and the Tao Teh Ching so important for today. Nature's creative method is overwhelmingly (though maybe not totally) non-violent. The only way we can become co-creators is by choosing to control our mammalian and reptilian instincts and choosing the path of love. Does this make any kind of sense?
  8. Delighted you're enjoying the EC recordings, Jenell. I find I have to listen to them several times to get most of the juice out. Thanks for your contributions to this conversation too. It's always good to wrestle with ideas alongside people of open mind and you're helping me test some ideas I've included in a book I'm writing. Your comments bring me back to my original idea about 'God' as enabler rather than creator. Looking at the way evolution has taken place there has had to be a lot of scope for what we would regard as mistakes. The concept of an enabler allows for that. The process I observe seems to be in terms of 'what can be will be' rather than an imposition of will through 'intelligent design' or 'creation'. As I've said before, this brings new light for me on Matthew 5 which shows the qualities of 'God' to be emphatically non-violent. Thus we move from the simple to the complex, from unconscious to conscious by what Eintein suggested was a 'weighting of the dice' or as Hoyle put it, 'monkeying with the physics'. Something is interfering with entropy, slowing it down long enough for regeneration to take place - but in that regeneration there seems to be a purpose. The process is stochastic: random but purposeful - what can be will be. So that, as you say, good intentions can sometimes result in bad outcomes. Paul's great poem on love in 1 Corinthians 13 comes to mind here. " Love is patient . . . it keeps no record of wrong . . . it rejoices with the truth . . . it always protects, always trusts, always hopes. always perseveres. Love never fails." What a good description of the nurturing of life on earth through evolution! Hence my personal term for whatever we refer to as 'God' is 'Enabling Love' The cloud of unknowing, I think, is like St. John of the Cross's 'Dark night of the soul'. It is the discovery that in terms of reason and words, I cannot know. At first, to a reasoning creature, this is devastating. But then comes the realisation that, as Soctrates said, "As for me, all I know is that I know nothing." That realisation is like breaking through a cloud into bright sunshine. It is liberating. It is the implication of Lao Tzu's words, "Those who say they know, know not. Those who say they do not know, know." To linear logic this is unreasonable, but to those who have experienced the One it is perfectly clear. What I have experienced is beyond words. I could not achieve it through words but only by abiding in the silence of my own heart. So what are the purpose of words and reasoning? Maybe they are to enable me to express what I experience in a way which will provoke a response to that meaning in the hearts of others. Maybe that's why Jesus said, 'let those who have ears, hear.' Only those with hearts open to the idea that they can never know with the mind alone can have the wisdom within themselves brought to birth by the midwifery of another's words - one who has already entered into the experience and in expressing words, expresses that experience. Enough of my prattling. Does this make any kind of sense?
  9. I'm just trying to catch up with all the words this subject has created. My wife, Liz, is about to have a pacemaker fitted and am making sure she doesn't do too much at present, so time's limited. What you said on 12th June, Jenell, brought me back to my thoughts about God as 'enabler', rather than creator. In looking at the way evolution has gone, there had to be lots of room for what we'd regard as mistakes - outcomes that were the best that could be achieved given the circumstances. This kind of creation is a matter of 'what can be will be' - far from the 'intelligent design' model or the creationist model. As I said earlier, it makes a deeper sense of Matthew 5 for me when I think of a totally and utterly non-violent enabler - one who, in Einstein's words, 'loads the dice' or, as Fred Hoyle said, 'monkeyed with the physics'. It follows then, that the enabling won't stop things from happening that we regard as bad or evil because it is enabling what can be to be and what can be sometimes is negative.
  10. Love it. Thank you minsocal. In a way, it's a pity we have a cerebral cortex isn't it? Life would be so much simpler without. Thanks everyone for contributions on the nature of evil. Sorry I confused you, but wow -- look what it evoked. I guess what I was trying to say is that the enabling is about life and life is about relationship. Evil arises when we fail to co-operate with that enabling - either through inability or shear contrariness. Whatever we choose to do, we are nonetheless enabled from that same eternal source because the enabling is a gift of pure grace which will never be withdrawn. Hence the most imperfect people are capable of great good and those who seem most perfect are capable of great wrong. The enabling is something like Dutch suggested in his quotation from Father Coyne I'd love a source for that quote.
  11. I agree. Any descriptive phrase we use to try to describe anything about what we refer to as God is going to be a limitation. I guess what I'm trying to describe is our experience. I like the term allurement which I remember was used by Brian Swimme a lot. Maybe that describes our relationship too, rather than the actions of the divine. However, your use of lure, seems appropriate to the action of the enabling I speak of. I'll think more on that. thank you.
  12. Many thanks for this thoughtful reply, Jenell. I really didn't do a good job of describing my thinking here. Let me see if I can do better. It seems to me that the 'enabling' I speak of is at work in all activities in the cosmos. According to the writers of the Upanishads, there is nothing that is not enabled by Brahman and the same thought arises in all the Levantine faiths. The problem that comes out of this is that God must enable evil as well as good, but then how is that consistent with his righteousness and love? The way I'm beginning to see it is that it is essential to understand that whatever it is we refer to as God is totally and utterly non-violent. Matthew 5 is the key - "Do not resist the evil man.". There's also a passage in the Tao Teh Ching, refering to the Tao, which Stephen Mitchell translates "You can do whatever you like with it." In the whole history of evolution, things have worked now and then, but largely they haven't worked, which is why we've taken so many millions of years to evolve thus far. Human failure in maintaining relationships and resorting to violence is just one among many set backs that 'God' encounters every day. We judge these issues as good or bad because we only see them in relation to ourselves. Maybe God judges them as 'right' because if you do something evil to someone it will be bad for them and that is the correct outcome. Our role though, as we increase in conscious awareness, is to participate in the evolution of the cosmos and that will mean establishing non-violence as the leading principle in our lives - even though it may result in others being violent towards us (Ghandi, Luther King, Madela, Jesus et al). At the end of the Beatitudes Jesus says, 'Be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect'. He didn't say, become perfect - which is interesting. It seems to me that the Enabler enables irrespective of whether the recipient of the enabling uses it for good or evil (the sun rises and the just and the unjust). This is what I meant about a the enabling being a massive 'YES'. Everything is right. Every action results in the outcome that should result from that action. We place a value on it according to how it affects us. Meanwhile 'God' bleeds all the way to the cross - daily. In Matthew 25 God's naked, hungry and in prison. The enabling suffers in those who suffer and rejoices in those who rejoice. This gives me grounds to surrender myself totally to that enabling, for when I do it consciously, I am particpating in the suffering and joy of creation. I don't know it this makes it clearer, but I value the observations of friends on this forum.
  13. Thanks for the comments, Jenell and Joseph. I liked the idea of Darwin being an early PC. I guess that's true. Over the years we've had to modify our ideas about the divine as new discoveries have been made (earth's orbitting the sun for instance). The easiest option is to dismiss any idea of the divine, which was my first knee jerk reaction when my fundamentalist faith evaporated. Seeing the way the cosmos evolves and understanding it alongside some of the insights of Jesus, Paul, Buddha, Lao Tzu and the writers of the Upanishads brought a rich new dimension to my understanding. May I try out my latest 'insight'? Whatever it is that we refer to as God is not a creator in terms of an engineer, an artists, a composer, a writer or an inventor. These are all human expressions of creativity. God does not seem to create by direct intervention but by an enabling. This derives out of God's totally non-violent character (Matthew 5). In evolution what seems to be happening is that when something can be enabled it is. That may mean waiting a few million years for the right conditions to arise, so that there is a randmness in it. Nevertheless, there is purpose too which becomes active when the right circumstances are in place. I'm thinking here of Cairn's discovery that bacteria put under stress produce an enzyme which randomly generates genes until the right one is produced to deal with the cause of the stress. Then it replaces the original gene with the new one so it can survive. This demonstrates an inbuilt purposefulness and negates the mechanistic evolutionary idea of accidental mutation. With the bacteria, Cairns discovered that the random mutations stop as soon as a suitable gene is produced. The principle seems to be 'what can be will be'. All that can be is right. This means that everything is enabled by whatever we refer to as God - good and bad. If I strike someone on the head with a club and kill them, that's bad for the person, no doubt bad for me, but it is the right thing to happen in those circumstances. Thus the enabling is, in a sense, actually a big 'Yes' to everything, even though my evaluation of events will be either that they are good, bad or indifferent. I can now look at everything from a tree to a bus, from a person to an ant, and wonder that the incredible enabling that, not only brought it into being, but keeps it going until entropy catches up. Does this make any sort of sense? Where are the holes in the argument? I shall appreciate your input.
  14. I found a greater depth in my understanding of this through the Tao Teh Ching and the Upanishads than I got from my inititial reading of the Gospels. Coming back to Matthew 5 and the Gospel of John with a more thorough grounding in the TTC and Upanishads helped me to see that incarnation more clearly - not only in Jesus, but in me as well.
  15. This is a question I've often asked of myself, Kath. I've always assumed the term 'Christian' was a label applied to those who subscribed to a common and clearly defined set of doctrines, and I guess that's one possible definition. However, the reference to Christ in the New Testament was not reference to Jesus's surname! It seems to be a reference to something eternal and, as far as I can discover, could be similar to that which is referred to as the Tao, the Atman or Self, Krishna, Buddha and maybe the Shekina. It seems as if Jesus was an embodiment of that eternal Christ and that Paul continually called his followers to be the same. I'm coming to feel that it is that embodied experience that counts, not the doctrine. If I don't experience something in my body, but only in my mind (which I suppose is part of my body but you know what I mean), then it's not real to me. It's like knowing about the Arctic but never having been there. Once I've been there are experience -50, then I'm in an altogether different relatinship with the Arctic. Christian teaching is full of lessons in embodiment - baptism, the so called 'Lord's supper', good works etc. I can't have a disembodied experience of peace, love or joy, but I can experience faith and reason in a disembodied way. So could a possible answer to the question 'are we all Christians' be, 'yes' inasmuch as we experience the embodiment of that which is referred to as Christ? If Paul is right and 'in him all things consist', are we an embodiment of Christ by default? Is the problem for us not acheiving it, but realising (making real) the a priori fact? I do hope this raises more questions than it answers.
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