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BillM

Non-Self Versus Loving Self?

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Personally, I am confident that I am my physical self. Cogito ergo zoom.

 

The question is not whether a physical self exists or not. The question is it what it seems to be?

 

Physically you do not hang on to the various parts that make up you. Your pattern of behaviour changes with time. There is nothing that is essentially Burl. Burl is simply a reflection of the environment that Burl finds himself in. This I think is what the metaphor of Indra's net points to.

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I don't think that current science can get us much past the point of "ashes to ashes, dust to dust." And maybe this fits with Jesus' teaching that we are to deny ourselves and pick up our cross. He was facing his own death, probably gazing into the unknown. So perhaps this is what it means to deny the self, to be aware that the self that we know, the self in our bodies, is doomed to perish.

Absolutely not. Jesus taught that the self can be eternal if one subordinates self-will to the will of God. The resurrection was a positive demonstration.

 

Those who live by self-will do perish.

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The question is not whether a physical self exists or not. The question is it what it seems to be?

 

Physically you do not hang on to the various parts that make up you. Your pattern of behaviour changes with time. There is nothing that is essentially Burl. Burl is simply a reflection of the environment that Burl finds himself in. This I think is what the metaphor of Indra's net points to.

The nature/nurture controversy was decided in the favor of nature back in the 80's.

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I don't take the resurrection accounts as literal, historical events, Burl.

 

In the first place, the four accounts don't agree with each other and cannot in any way be reconciled.
In the second place, I recognize science as a better way of understanding our physical world than the mythical claims of people 2000 years ago. We all know that people don't come back to life after being dead for 3 days except in fairy tales.
In the third place, Christianity has done a poor job in understanding "eternal" (aionos) in the scriptures. It doesn't mean "everlasting." It means "age-pertaining." Even those that Jesus promised "eternal life" to still died. There is no scientific reason to think that consciousness continues without the brain that produces it. That's what would make the resurrection necessary. But we have no evidence or proof of such a thing. Certainly people have come back to life after dying with resuscitation efforts. But that isn't quite what the Bible means by resurrection. The whole idea is rather nebulous, lacking proof, and against science.

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PS - One of the things that Progressive Christianity does for me, Burl, is it gives me the freedom to bring reason, common sense, science, textual criticism, conscience, and morality to the scriptures. I don't have to believe that Jesus was born of a virgin. That's not how human reproduction works. Even children know that. I don't have to believe that Jesus turned water into wine or walked on water or fed 5000 with a little bread and a couple of fish. I don't have to believe that epilepsy is caused by demon possession. I don't have to believe in bodily resurrection of Jesus, especially when the accounts disagree and when such an event is not in any way supported by science or biology. I don't have to believe that Jesus is going to return to destroy the world. I don't have to believe in a literal heaven or a literal hell. I don't have to believe that God had to kill Jesus before he could forgive my sins.

 

I can believe in these things *if* I choose to, if I think they make sense to me or are moral. But, for me, PC offers a liberal Christian approach that, rather than trying to reclaim some time of non-existent pure Christianity of the first century, calls me to ask how Christianity can be interpreted in sensible, moral ways today that help us face the challenges of being human and the needs of a hurting world. I read and converse with the scriptures. But they have no authority over me than what I allow them to have. So when Jesus says, "He that believes in me will never die" and believers died anyway, well, he was obviously wrong. If he meant that they wouldn't stay dead, he could have said so. There is no evidence, even in the scriptures, that a Christian is immortal. None.

Edited by BillM

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The nature/nurture controversy was decided in the favor of nature back in the 80's.

 

Burl I can't tell if this is meant to be tongue in cheek, but taking it at face value, science of this century would beg to differ.

 

Also genetics (nature) is just a historical aspect of the environment (nurture).

 

They are one.

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It seems we are our deepest desires and beliefs where we are just being our self as we manage our energy and matter to manifest them. We identify with the energy and information formed and it becomes our identity and then we have an identity crisis and form another perspective and direction in life. Jesus said, "I and the Father are one." It seems He identified with the Absolute Reality that is one and Eternal. Science law of conservation says, "Energy is neither created nor destroyed, just changes form." Josephs quotes seem to say identify with the whole and live forever or identify with the unit desires and beliefs and watch them perish, die or transform to another energy form in duality as we cope with decay. Buddhism was saying the same thing from another angle the difference of joy and pleasure caused by mistaken identity. Identify with the temporal duality and suffer or change the identity beyond the mind to experience joy because the energy of the unit is constantly changing, but the whole energy can't be created or destroyed. The present moment identity is the door that opens to all moments because the observation or identity is with the whole unity not the small unit self. So the prophet Steve was referring to was identifying with Brahma and not the atman or what Quantum physics reveals as a basic oneness of the universe. Christianity says love is the easiest way to forget your small identity, but it seems the physical and mental realms help us to discover who we really are.

 

Two nights ago on a work day for Koreans I took part with a choir practice where I felt their unity even though the personalities were so strong and different. Two people were mourning deaths in their family, but the Christian choir family they formed was helping them heal by just being them selves. We ended up sharing and being until midnight. They were open as the energy flowed from work, politics, Buddhism and Christianity we were identifying with the same energy carrying information and formed a group consciousness. I have had many different experiences in Korea with different people and groups where they took me in, opened me up and we shared without thinking about what we can get, but just each other so I understand where people talked on another thread about the community consciousness that they were apart of. Unfortunately I will not be able to take part here for a week as we are heading off tomorrow for China.

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Soma

The other thing the first law of thermodynamics tells us is we don't get something for nothing.

 

So all our thoughts and stuff are a result of something ... and for us this proximate energy is the sun and these thoughts etc are written in stardust. A sort of scary thought is fundamentally quantum phenomena point to a probabilistic existence.

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I wonder if we can ever completely lose our-self or even if we would want to, if that is actually the goal. I suspect not. I think the 'goal' is to transform the self into a truly Human Being. This I believe is analogous to what I hope for my daughter: that she not lose her-self but that she become her truest self, that she achieves her true Humanness.

 

I think it is not self but self-centeredness that must be overcome and I believe that selfishness or self-centeredness is the only and 'original' sin - which presents itself in myriad ways. And, this (overcoming) is only accomplished by the transformation of self into a truly 'Human Being.' It is also fine and necessary to love oneself: examples include, taking a vacation with your family, going to see a movie, reading a great book, taking a nap, having a cold beer (these last two can be reversed according to individual requirements) and on and on and on. These actions are indeed love as opposed to selfishness as the latter is only concerned for self, literally above all else: I lie for me, I cheat for me, I covet for me, I take the handicap space (when I don't have any qualifying hardship) for me - because in that moment it is all about me.

 

It seems the point of existence is what some have referred to as deification, or to paraphrase Nikos Kazantzakis, 'to mold the mud of humanity into divinity.' And I suspect this is done as man and woman 'incarnate' Love. Divinity in Humanity so that Humanity can 'become' Divinity. Or as one of the ancients put it (and I forget which one at this moment), God became man so that man could become God.

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Hi Thomas,

May we all find our true Self.

 

Welcome to the forum and thanks for your participation in this thread. Glad to see you got registration straightened out. Perhaps, when you get a chance, you might take the time for a small intoduction in the water cooler forum so others can learn a bit about your religious background or whatever you are willing to share with us..

Joseph

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thormas I like your thought to transform ourself using the Art of Being Human. I am back in Korea today where I visited mainland China for a week, a week where I didn't know the language or the culture even though I have lived in Taiwan and Hong Korea. I have been in awe for a week because their humanity communicated with mine as people took care of me as if I was a baby. I expanded my love beyond myself and had an awe experience beyond my material being. The geography, mountains like in the movie Avatar and people different, but caring sincerely. It is an unexpected natural transformation where you do nothing, but be yourself and a state of grace happens. I climbed a couple of mountains here in Korea before China and met some amazing individuals and feel I am a better person just having an experience with them. Won't be able to answer for awhile because I am leaving tomorrow early for the biggest mountain in S. Korea and will be beyond technology for 3-4 days, but it nice to read your post, welcome.

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Burl, what are the non-incarnate entities you mentioned? I think we are unique because we are most like god and intended to be the Sons and Daughters of Abba but I do recognize that we are and must be the beings we are, i.e. physical.

 

Not sure what you mean that according to Christianity the body and physical world is our reason for being. It is our means but the reason?

 

Paul, I think I understand your point but for Christians and most religious people, our reason for being is Oneness with God or Abundant Life. This is not scientific certainty but 'certainty' found in faith, which is still faith.

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Burl, what are the non-incarnate entities you mentioned? I think we are unique because we are most like god and intended to be the Sons and Daughters of Abba but I do recognize that we are and must be the beings we are, i.e. physical.

 

Not sure what you mean that according to Christianity the body and physical world is our reason for being. It is our means but the reason?

 

Paul, I think I understand your point but for Christians and most religious people, our reason for being is Oneness with God or Abundant Life. This is not scientific certainty but 'certainty' found in faith, which is still faith.

 

There are a multiplicity of angels, demons, odd characters like Elijah and Elisha who are gone but did not die, saints, the patriarchs in their heavenly feast, Christ.

 

I'm currently reading Dr. Michael Heiser's book "The Unseen Realm" which is a study of the supernatural world of the bible. He has a less academic version titled "The Supernatural", and Patheos has a series of interviews with BW3 if you want a quick overview. Heiseralso has a website and podcast.

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I respect your opinion Burl but you lost me at angels - although I am always open to possibilities. I allow for other life, other worlds but always envision it as akin to the bodily, like us. And, I do believe in the continuation of life after death and that the prophets, saints, patriarchs, and the many ordinary (and eventually all) people live in God. What that actually means or looks like, no idea.

 

I don't believe, for lack of a better way of saying it, in such non-incarnates interacting with us rather I believe that God is present, calling (Word) and encouraging (Spirit) us to Fulfillment (Father) and that is more than enough.

 

However I will check the website you mentioned, thanks.

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Some religions, especially those of the East, tend to focus on diminishing self or attaining some state where self no longer matters. How would this concept, which I think has some benefit, mesh with Jesus' teachings about loving one's self? Are these notions at odds or do they overlap?

Popped in for a quick look and saw this. I can only give my own take and speak of my own approach.

 

Buddhism speaks of "anatta" or "not self". i.e there is no self.

 

Thus it suggests that there is nothing to get rid of or to diminish. There is no self to lose.

 

Yet here we are. Therefore it is not a case of "attaining" ( who or what would attain? ) but of realising that which is from the beginning and "knowing it for the first time" (Maybe we need duality to come to this realisation - which contains the seeds of a theodicy if you give it thought)

 

To ask who or what "realises" is to engage in the metaphysical speculation that the Buddha frowned upon. It is not speculation that leads to the "unshakeable deliverance of mind" that the Theravada texts speak of as the goal of the Holy Life .

 

I see the above to be fundamental to my own Pure Land path. To say the nembutsu in ALL circumstances, which morphs into a simple "thank you" in ALL circumstances, which becomes in time a choiceless awareness of what is - and this not a passive acceptance but paradoxically the catalyst for genuine transformation.

 

This relates to the zen saying "if we wish to know the truth just cease to cherish opinions".

 

Zen = self power ( yet in relation to anatta )

 

Shin = Other Power ( yet in the context of non-duality )

 

No, I am not there yet. Far from it. But the journey itself is home.

 

"Whether I am headed for hell

Or headed for the Pure Land

All is in Amida's hands

Namu Amida Butsu!"

 

What could be more "unshakeable"?

Edited by tariki
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I respect your opinion Burl but you lost me at angels - although I am always open to possibilities. I allow for other life, other worlds but always envision it as akin to the bodily, like us. And, I do believe in the continuation of life after death and that the prophets, saints, patriarchs, and the many ordinary (and eventually all) people live in God. What that actually means or looks like, no idea.

 

I don't believe, for lack of a better way of saying it, in such non-incarnates interacting with us rather I believe that God is present, calling (Word) and encouraging (Spirit) us to Fulfillment (Father) and that is more than enough.

 

However I will check the website you mentioned, thanks.

We are dealing with understanding ancient literature. We are only trying to accurately understand the cosmos as the they did. Personal opinions are not relevant.

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No, I am not there yet. Far from it. But the journey itself is home.

 

Am I there yet? I don't know.

 

Though I find I am here ... it is where the universe has unfolded.

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Burl,

 

If the discussion is about an ancient view of the cosmos, then along with a three tiered universe they believed in angels and demons. However, if the Bible is a living word, then it must resonate with people 'where it finds them.' Thus in today's world, no three tiered universe, no angels and demons and for many there are no non-incarnate prophets or patriarchs interceding with those of us who are bodily beings. Thus this view, while historically interesting, is irrelevant because it does not 'speak' to me. It does not call the living. Simple as that.

Edited by thormas

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There are plenty of people who have written in depth about angelic and demonic experiences. Medjugorje was one significant event where there were extensive group experiences. Experiences during the night at hospitals are commonplace: ask any experienced nurse or night chaplain.

 

There is no lack of evidence. Only closed-minded people who turn ostrich and discount the existing evidence rather than dealing with it.

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Burl, I did say such things did not 'speak to me' (and also some/many? others). So that part can't be disputed.

 

I know about personal testimonies concerning such matters but I also know that people see Jesus, Mary or God Himself (whatever he looks like) in paint, in the clouds and in a crust of bread. All are 'religious or spiritual' testimonies but even such group testimonies are not proof*. Also you are talking about hospitals and who is normally is a hospital over night? People who are not well at that moment in time. Also, I deal with hospitals regularly and have relatives who were nurses - so not every experienced nurse has witnessed patients with these experiences or would agree with the patient interpretation of these experiences.

 

Such 'religious or spiritual' testimonies are not 'evidence.' And this is not a quarrel about the Great Spirit, it is a disagreement about...........angels, demons and other things that go bump in the night. To not see the difference is to turn to another animal and it's not an ostrich:}

 

* the witness of the disciples concerning the appearances of the risen Jesus were testimonies, even group testimonies but they are not 'evidence' and prove nothing. Rather they invite us to believe.

Edited by thormas
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Sporadic and nonrepeatable experiences do occur rather frequently, and we can either feign ignorance and dismiss the account or take a more humble approach and simply appreciate that we do not presently have a logical framework to fit these experiences into.

 

I have met many people who had God speak to them. It is no longer surprising to me, but most say they kept it a secret for years because of fear of ridicule.

 

But back to Medjugorje. Thousands of people having the same supernatural experiences over a period of months is not in the same class as Our Lady of Guadaloupé appearing in a tortilla. Surely this passes any test of credibility.

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Burl,

 

I, humbly, just don't buy it. It is perfectly fine to question the true reality of the experiences you mention. It is not feigning ignorance, I simply don't buy that God works this way. And as have said, you have met people who had God speak to them (and there are people who say a Saint has performed a miracle or that Jesus' image appeared in a crust of bread) - but that is simply what they are saying. I know that Jesus speaks/prays to the Father, does God speak to Jesus - that is not an addition like at his baptism but one that has some true ring of the historical?

 

Aha, so there was also a tortilla!

Edited by thormas
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Sporadic and nonrepeatable experiences do occur rather frequently, and we can either feign ignorance and dismiss the account or take a more humble approach and simply appreciate that we do not presently have a logical framework to fit these experiences into.

 

Burl,

 

Personally, having had numerous unexplainable experiences myself during this lifetime, i take your "approach and simply appreciate that we do not presently have a logical framework to fit these experiences into." At the same time i would certainly not suggest that those who have not are feigning ignorance or find any fault in those for dismissing such because of lack of either personal experience or scientific evidence. There is an adage imprinted in my psyche from a friend that says "you will never know that it is true til it happens to you". How can one expect another to change their belief simply based on the subjective experience of another especially on such matters as this one?

 

Joseph

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How can one expect another to change their belief simply based on the subjective experience of another especially on such matters as this one?

 

Joseph

 

Joseph

I will refer to again to Susan Blackmore ... she was a devout believer in the paranormal, after a personal experience; but after studying the pseudo-science and believing it (for twenty years if I remember correctly) she became a skeptic ... the evidence was just not there, at least for her.

 

We can change our beliefs with critical study apparently ... the wrong way in Susan's case it would seem.

 

Note the difference between we don't know how to explain and inexplicable or unexplainable.

 

.

Edited by romansh

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