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BillM

Non-Self Versus Loving Self?

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Hi thomas,

Yes, it seems to me also that "it doesn't matter if some reach enlightenment and others remain delusional". Under Buddhism you will find in general that there is no purpose or point to human life other than just to be. The One has no needs or desires so there is no self-centered action on the part of the One. You are here by choice and experiencing the pleasure and pain and impermanence of it all til you see it and the meaningless of it and decide to come to closure. Until then, one is destined to experience both pleasure and pain and be stuck in the wheel of Samsara as most Buddhists will say. There is no requirement for one to believe or seek to end the cycle. However, it may become a goal to do so when one has suffered enough and seen the pointlessness of it enough to make the decision to awake from it..     So says some of the teachings of Buddhism. 🙂

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10 hours ago, JosephM said:

Hi thomas,

Yes, it seems to me also that "it doesn't matter if some reach enlightenment and others remain delusional". Under Buddhism you will find in general that there is no purpose or point to human life other than just to be. The One has no needs or desires so there is no self-centered action on the part of the One. You are here by choice and experiencing the pleasure and pain and impermanence of it all til you see it and the meaningless of it and decide to come to closure. Until then, one is destined to experience both pleasure and pain and be stuck in the wheel of Samsara as most Buddhists will say. There is no requirement for one to believe or seek to end the cycle. However, it may become a goal to do so when one has suffered enough and seen the pointlessness of it enough to make the decision to awake from it..     So says some of the teachings of Buddhism. 🙂

Joseph,

Thank you and there is no need to respond further if this has become tiresome or pointless :+}.

Hart in his book, God, remarks that the "ontological surprise is not "what is it" but "that it (anything) is." However, it is the nature of the human, a being conscious of self, to (also) wonder, "why am I?" That question is 'in our genes' yet, seemingly, it is not answered by Buddhism. Not only that, but as you said (above), in Buddhism, it simply doesn't matter if one or any become enlightened - which is a bit startling in itself.

In Christianity, the One, i.e. God, also has no need or desires: essence is existence. However, in Christianity, creation is gratuitous (gift) action and, therefore 'it all matters.' I recognize we speak from the human perspective but, if there are human being, if it doesn't natter what becomes of them, if there is no point or purpose to humanity or the universe, then it does seem it is all about the One. Also, how can it be the choice of a human being?  Who would even suggest that any human being is born by choice? Are there others who have chosen against 'being here?' Only then is it a real choice, Or is it the choice of the One?  But, why would the One be 'expressed' in so many if it doesn't even matter and is pointless anyway; wouldn't a choice on the part of the One be an expression of a need or desire? However, no matter whose choice it is, if there is a choice to be here until enlightenment and then closure - that seems to be the actual purpose or the point of Buddhism.

Who awakens, the individual human beings who have achieved enlightenment or the One, who first chooses to sleep and dream (such choice would show desire on the part of the One)? And the unenlightened delusional remain a 'separateness' in or of the One?

Again, I truly appreciate the effort and I do see, as mentioned previously, some similarities between Buddhism and Christianity,  but I continue to find the (progressive or panentheistic) Christian understanding more 'reasonable' and attractive  - for lack of a better description - for me.

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Thomas,

I agree Buddhism as i described is a hard pill to swallow. Just as there are many Christian sects you will find differing Buddhists beliefs but what i quoted was based on the oldest recorded known document. (The Pali Canon)

About the doesn't matter bit i quoted. That was your quote..   I was just agreeing with my perception of your statement in that one is free to stay in the cycle of delusion or to awake. It's up to the individual to decide to break the cycle . If one is content to live in the cycle of samsara, one will continue. There is no requirement to awaken though i believe as in Christianity "in the fullness of times all will be gathered together in Christ" or in Buddhism "awaken" or attain enlightenment.

You say "Also, how can it be the choice of a human being?" Well in Buddhism what continues the cycle is ones attachment to the world or the things in the world. If one chooses to still cling to these things , one is reborn to them until one has had enough. In Christianity it says "be ye not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind" And again " For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life is not of God". It is also recorded "All is vanity"  It seems to me, in a sense, that both Christianity and Buddhism look for the new creature to awake and renounce the world and the things of the world.

Just some thoughts.

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10 hours ago, JosephM said:

There is no requirement to awaken though i believe as in Christianity "in the fullness of times all will be gathered together in Christ" or in Buddhism "awaken" or attain enlightenment.

First, thanks Joseph and sorry I didn't catch your use of my words.

This is an interesting addition: so although one or many can decide to live in delusion, ultimately all awaken and are enlighten. So this presupposes multiple lives, correct? Ah, you answered it. And, it seems to suggest purpose: that all attain enlightenment. Perhaps? My remaining question is why does the One bother with all of this - it always is and remains One, so why is there anything? Unless I'm missing it, Buddhism has no answer or cannot answer this basic question that all humans, consciously or unconsciously, ask of life.

I get the choice but I was focusing on 'being here at all' - being born or created in the first place: that can't be a human choice (since you were not yet), so has to be the 'choice' of the One.

I see the similarities between Buddhism and Christianity but the (seemingly) stark difference is that the latter posits a purpose: creation is gift, the point is abundant life (enlightenment) and the essential human self (using the best sense of that word) is in unity (but not dissolution) in God. I do recognize that all this can be understood differently by different people. The major stumbling block for me in Buddhism as you have presented in its oldest document, it its purposelessness and that it seems to 'express' a need on the part of the One to know itself: it is not an act of generosity or quite simply, it is not the loving act which Christianity believes is the very essence and existence of God/the One.

But again, thanks. I enjoyed it.

 

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6 hours ago, thormas said:

First, thanks Joseph and sorry I didn't catch your use of my words.

This is an interesting addition: so although one or many can decide to live in delusion, ultimately all awaken and are enlighten. So this presupposes multiple lives, correct? Ah, you answered it. And, it seems to suggest purpose: that all attain enlightenment. Perhaps? My remaining question is why does the One bother with all of this - it always is and remains One, so why is there anything? Unless I'm missing it, Buddhism has no answer or cannot answer this basic question that all humans, consciously or unconsciously, ask of life.

I get the choice but I was focusing on 'being here at all' - being born or created in the first place: that can't be a human choice (since you were not yet), so has to be the 'choice' of the One.

I see the similarities between Buddhism and Christianity but the (seemingly) stark difference is that the latter posits a purpose: creation is gift, the point is abundant life (enlightenment) and the essential human self (using the best sense of that word) is in unity (but not dissolution) in God. I do recognize that all this can be understood differently by different people. The major stumbling block for me in Buddhism as you have presented in its oldest document, it its purposelessness and that it seems to 'express' a need on the part of the One to know itself: it is not an act of generosity or quite simply, it is not the loving act which Christianity believes is the very essence and existence of God/the One.

But again, thanks. I enjoyed it.

 

You ask the ultimate question that most all seekers have asked.  "Why is there anything" and  "What is the purpose or meaning of Life?"

In Buddhism, ultimately there is no purpose,  your life is not a purpose, rather it is a result of a previous cause.

If you were to ask me , i would say the question is flawed because while you can choose to give life whatever purpose or meaning you want (to find happiness, peace, to love others, to attain something, etc. etc.), Life itself is in reality its own purpose. The question then remains basically unanswerable. The "Why is there anything question" you as a human cannot know because the physical you is part of creation/the world and impermanent by nature so it falls into the category of here today, gone tomorrow, with no discernable purpose and perhaps may be better categorized in human terms (for lack of a better word) as amusement.

On love and loving act as relates to God, define love in detail. Without full understanding i don't believe you can define it as a particular act. Of course that was already addressed in the thread ........

 

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1 hour ago, JosephM said:

In Buddhism, ultimately there is no purpose,  your life is not a purpose, rather it is a result of a previous cause.

And of course, much like the discussions of creation, we would have to ask about the previous cause of the previous cause until we got to the uncaused cause: I blame it on the One in Buddhism :+}

1 hour ago, JosephM said:

If you were to ask me , i would say the question is flawed because while you can choose to give life whatever purpose or meaning you want (to find happiness, peace, to love others, to attain something, etc. etc.), Life itself is in reality its own purpose. The question then remains basically unanswerable. The "Why is there anything question" you as a human cannot know because the physical you is part of creation/the world and impermanent by nature so it falls into the category of here today, gone tomorrow, with no discernable purpose and perhaps may be better categorized in human terms (for lack of a better word) as amusement.

I will ponder on what you have written.  Life might well be its own purpose but it still begs for an answer: what is that purpose? I agree we cannot know but an individual's, a community's or a religion's answers, shines a light and provides insight into God, man and existence. It has been said that ethos is the flip side of mythos: how one acts in the world is directly related to what one believes 'this' is all about or what it means. 

Hopefully, this is not mere amusement for that would reveal something disturbing about the One. Furthermore, this is a life full of pain and suffering, and even with enlightenment,  pain sucks:  if such life is meant to amuse (the One), that would be beyond cruel for the One and enlightenment would only confirm this disturbing reality. Who then would choose enlightenment over delusion?

 

1 hour ago, JosephM said:

On love and loving act as relates to God, define love in detail. Without full understanding i don't believe you can define it as a particular act. Of course that was already addressed in the thread ........

It seems that agape or compassionate concern (and care) seems to be the best definition of the love that images God, if indeed God is love. This love, unlike other loves, is for the other, not for self and often at the expense of self (obviously other loves can also share in this self giving). This love is a 'pouring out' unto and for the other; it is not earned, not a reward, it is pure gift. Such love is act, attitude and a life. It is or can become one's essence.

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6 hours ago, JosephM said:

You ask the ultimate question that most all seekers have asked.  "Why is there anything" and  "What is the purpose or meaning of Life?"

I think what you're describing Joseph is the closest I come to in understanding a God outside of the existence of our mind/ego.  Maybe this is panenthesim, but I could imagine God existing as everything we know - physically, mentally, spiritually and every other shade in between.  God doesn't judge like a thinking human being, God is simply an existence in, through and of, everything.  For me, such a God would be totally indifferent to pain, suffering, love, joy, etc.  God is everything and participates in everything and leaves behind everything.  We have a war, God experiences that and moves on.  We have joy and happiness - God experiences that and continues on.  Right now we think of ourselves as individuals, but when our consciousness finishes we might be 'absorbed' into that God and everything continues on as if nothing happened.  The same goes for every animal, vegetable, mineral and anything else that exists.  God is, is of, and is within the universe and beyond.

For me, such an approach to God answers all Thormas' questions about meaning and purpose.  There is no meaning and purpose other than being God existing in and through everything.  God is not emotional, judgmental, preferential, or anything else - God just is, and we are that God and within that God. This, to me, would seem to answer why God let's bad things happen, why there is pain and suffering for some right next door to happiness and joy of another.  It is all simply part of God being everything.  On a macro level, nothing is good or bad, it just is.  We still have our micro-level of existence to which we apply all sorts of rules and beliefs concerning how to live our life, and so we should because on that level we exist and others also will continue to do so, but ultimately there is no right and wrong to this life beyond our temporal existence.

I'm thinking this line of thought answers many people's questions about there being 'something else' to this life - some sort of sense that they are a part of a 'more' that they can't really quite capture (and so we end up creating beliefs and dogma).  Indeed there is a more - an existence beyond our lives that we have trouble comprehending because there doesn't seem any reward or punishment or 'point' to this life.  But the whole point is that there is no point, other than being part of the existence of God.

I can imagine God in that perspective and it makes the most sense to me out of any version of God I have come to understand thus far.  Undoubtedly many would feel ripped off with this sort of view of God because there doesn't seem to be anything in it for them.  But the point is that they are already completely in it - indeed they are inseparable from it.  We all are.  We are all God.

Disclaimer - This seems to work for me but I reserve the right to change my mind - then again, I don't think it really matters either way! :)

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6 hours ago, thormas said:

And of course, much like the discussions of creation, we would have to ask about the previous cause of the previous cause until we got to the uncaused cause: I blame it on the One in Buddhism :+}

I will ponder on what you have written.  Life might well be its own purpose but it still begs for an answer: what is that purpose? I agree we cannot know but an individual's, a community's or a religion's answers, shines a light and provides insight into God, man and existence. It has been said that ethos is the flip side of mythos: how one acts in the world is directly related to what one believes 'this' is all about or what it means. 

Hopefully, this is not mere amusement for that would reveal something disturbing about the One. Furthermore, this is a life full of pain and suffering, and even with enlightenment,  pain sucks:  if such life is meant to amuse (the One), that would be beyond cruel for the One and enlightenment would only confirm this disturbing reality. Who then would choose enlightenment over delusion?

 

It seems that agape or compassionate concern (and care) seems to be the best definition of the love that images God, if indeed God is love. This love, unlike other loves, is for the other, not for self and often at the expense of self (obviously other loves can also share in this self giving). This love is a 'pouring out' unto and for the other; it is not earned, not a reward, it is pure gift. Such love is act, attitude and a life. It is or can become one's essence.

It may only begs an answer because you require one. To me, It is a form of clinging or attachment to limited reasoning. It seems to me that Pauls statements in his post  above this one are very close to reality in as much as can be described with his own personal experiences of which i mostly share as a similar perspective.

The amusement bit was inserted for a lack of better words on my part. To me life provides entertainment like watching a movie where dichotomies exist but in reality it is illusion in the sense that it is impermanent and not as it seems. Much of life may personally disturb you concerning happenings and the nature of God but if you experienced reality you might find it more amusing, take it less seriously,  and understand that nothing is really gained or lost. This, in my experience, is a most difficult conundrum to understand or explain with the thinking mind. Pain  and suffering is part of the parcel of physical life along with joy and pleasure and the rest of the dichotomies. If one has only preferences instead of attachments in this life , it is my experience,  that suffering (mental anguish) would be dissipated and one would experience the world differently. In that state, one might even choose to set a goal to do whatever is in their power to alleviate it in others.

To me Love is not an act in itself but rather recognizing the God in others by a connection to all things and then allowing it to express itself. An act itself can have its own selfish motive but Love sees and acts beyond such.

These are my musings and i reserve the right to be in error. 🙂

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14 hours ago, PaulS said:

For me, such an approach to God answers all Thormas' questions about meaning and purpose.  There is no meaning and purpose other than being God existing in and through everything.  

Coming from a Christian tradition, although I accept we are in or have our being in God, I simply don't buy that "God is everything." I think or believe there is greater nuance here: we are in or of God, God is in everything, everything is in God - but God is not everything.  That would mean, if followed logically, and as has been stated, that we are God. I (and most, probably all of us) do not experience myself as creator, being in itself, the One, God or the many other names we give God. My experience is that I partake of being but I do not generate being; I partake of existence, I do not generate existence. There is some 'space,' so to speak, between creation and the creator. Hart in his book, God, writes that the ontological surprise is that "it (anything) is at all." We experience ourselves surprised by and wondrous before creation. Why would God be surprised and delighted if God is everything? And if one posits that there is a forgetfulness about God or that he creates everything to know himself - (how can that which is everything forget or have a need to know itself or anything?) then God is not God.

Can there be 'more' of anything if God is already everything? Can there be an "existence 'beyond' our lives" if we are God and already everything?  Aren't we, as God, already any 'beyond' or 'more' that is or will be? Can there be different levels (macro and micro) if everything is (already) God?  Can there be time and space, i.e. 'more' or 'beyond' in One?  Can there be fiction or delusion in us if we are God/One? Can there be division or difference in One? Actually, how can every thing be One for isn't One, One (not more)? If there is every thing, if there is we -  is there more than One? 

We, according to this explanation, are not merely "part of the existence of God," we are God (we are everything). So, the point ( of all this) can't be nothing "other than being part of the existence of God." We are God!!

However, can (a) we be One?  There can be nothing (no thing) else, there is only One. Yet, we experience 'some thing', we experience many things: we experience some thing rather than nothing.  There is some thing 'other' than One.  Yet, in our experience of the many, we cannot be God because we would know, as God, as everything, that we are these many things, we would, as God, 'know' we are everything. But we do not! We are not all things, we, unlike God, are not (in) everything.

We still may be in God, we still may partake of God but we are something 'other' than (yet in) God: we are creation, not the Creator. Then we ask: if we partake of Being/God, what does that mean, what do we do, why do we exist, why does any and every thing exist. And the Christian answer is: to have life, to have Abundant Life (pure gift) in God. 

i too reserve the right to be in error and adapt, change, delete or add in the future, when there is 'more.'  🙂

 

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12 hours ago, JosephM said:

It may only begs an answer because you require one.

I think our very existence, from our beginnings, stepping out of the cave to the space age and for all time, poses the question. It is not that I require one, since we all recognize one will not be forthcoming, but there is a curiosity before creation and in the contemplation of existence, that is naturally asked.

Actually for me it is just the opposite: moving beyond an attachment to the things of the world to Being or the One, in whom all things are. 

While I appreciated Paul's participation in the discussion, I (see last post) find too much problematic and contradictory in the position

13 hours ago, JosephM said:

The amusement bit was inserted for a lack of better words on my part. To me life provides entertainment like watching a movie where dichotomies exist but in reality it is illusion in the sense that it is impermanent and not as it seems. Much of life may personally disturb you concerning happenings and the nature of God but if you experienced reality you might find it more amusing, take it less seriously,  and understand that nothing is really gained or lost. This, in my experience, is a most difficult conundrum to understand or explain with the thinking mind. Pain  and suffering is part of the parcel of physical life along with joy and pleasure and the rest of the dichotomies. If one has only preferences instead of attachments in this life , it is my experience,  that suffering (mental anguish) would be dissipated and one would experience the world differently. In that state, one might even choose to set a goal to do whatever is in their power to alleviate it in others.

 

I get the amusement bit but it still speaks volumes. We all, hopefully, in our families or with our friend, find amusement in many of the moments of our shared lives (how horrible if that is not the case?) but that is not the (primary) reasons we create or seek and sustain friendships. I too am (greatly) amused by moments in life but I am also moved to pity or motivated or disillusioned or humbled or empowered and so much more about life and those that share it. Of course it is impermanent, as all of us have always known (although it takes a while for one to realize their mortality) but where, it seems, we differ is that I think many recognize it is 'not as it seems' but that it is more (deeper, even sacred) and requires more of us to live it, enhance it and to ultimately continue in it.

Ultimately nothing is lost, but in our impermanence, when another dies, someone is (experienced, even briefly) lost and it is not delusion and not amusing. Having attended enough Irish wakes, I know what amusing is even in the death of a loved one but the lost is not delusion. If we recognize the greater reality (however named or described) of which we are part, there is no delusion, for we know and we see. However, even such wisdom, experiences loss, misses a friend, longs for the life partner while at the same time, knowing It continues and is 'before' us and more than what is. Although not really lost, it is still lost to you and it can be a deep lost (even to the enlightened as Jesus experienced upon hearing of his friend Lazarus). The 'enlightened' can see and perhaps because of that, feel even more deeply and their loss greater for a fellow traveler who was their good friend or partner with whom they share in the amusing experiences of life. 

I don't see a problem with understanding it with the thinking mind, it's rather that some simply disagree, about the explanation or, rather, what is to be understood and how. Indeed, pain and suffering are part of the mix and suffering can, at times, be different than pain but when I have a migraine my experience is not only painful but it causes suffering. Not a suffering of the sour or the spirit but ...........because of the head. Interestingly, when one is numbed up for a procedure, there is no pain and.......no suffering.It might occur later but during........it's like a walk in the park. It would seem that Jesus felt pain and suffered - the latter having nothing to do with his faith or wisdom. 

Maybe because one is on a first name basis with pain and suffering, they are able and motivated to alleviate it for others.

14 hours ago, JosephM said:

To me Love is not an act in itself but rather recognizing the God in others by a connection to all things and then allowing it to express itself. An act itself can have its own selfish motive but Love sees and acts beyond such.

The expression is the act (I did mentioned act, attitude, a life and one's very essence) - so we are on the same wavelength. To love as compassionate concern, if it truly is such, is not motivated by selfishness nor is it selfish - it is beyond such; it is only possible when one sees the other either as a child of the Father or (if one is not of a religious persuasion) if one sees the other as human and therefore worthy of compassion, concern and care.

We seem to be in agreement on the ethos but simply disagree in some parts on the mythos.

 

 

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20 hours ago, thormas said:

(snip)

Ultimately nothing is lost, but in our impermanence, when another dies, someone is (experienced, even briefly) lost and it is not delusion and not amusing. Having attended enough Irish wakes, I know what amusing is even in the death of a loved one but the lost is not delusion. If we recognize the greater reality (however named or described) of which we are part, there is no delusion, for we know and we see. However, even such wisdom, experiences loss, misses a friend, longs for the life partner while at the same time, knowing It continues and is 'before' us and more than what is. Although not really lost, it is still lost to you and it can be a deep lost (even to the enlightened as Jesus experienced upon hearing of his friend Lazarus). The 'enlightened' can see and perhaps because of that, feel even more deeply and their loss greater for a fellow traveler who was their good friend or partner with whom they share in the amusing experiences of life. 

I don't see a problem with understanding it with the thinking mind, it's rather that some simply disagree, about the explanation or, rather, what is to be understood and how. Indeed, pain and suffering are part of the mix and suffering can, at times, be different than pain but when I have a migraine my experience is not only painful but it causes suffering. Not a suffering of the sour or the spirit but ...........because of the head. Interestingly, when one is numbed up for a procedure, there is no pain and.......no suffering.It might occur later but during........it's like a walk in the park. It would seem that Jesus felt pain and suffered - the latter having nothing to do with his faith or wisdom. 

(snip).

 

 

Why is it not delusion if you really  know or have realized it is impermanent or was temporary in the first place. It seems to me it is a form of attachment or clinging. That is a delusional act and being common doesn't make it less so.

We have something in common. I also have experienced severe migraines. Mine are triggered by certain foods. I know and recognize when they are starting, what to do when i sense them coming on  to alleviate the pain,  and how to go through the pain when it is too late without suffering. Its not preferred but when it comes it is accepted, no medication is taken, and though experienced as severe debilitating pain it is witnessed without suffering and in fact sometimes amusement at the unconsciousness of the human condition that knows better but allowed it to develop in the first place. It seems to me, one can be the witness of ones pain without suffering if you are not attached to it. It too will pass. 

My Dad on his death bed saw life as a cosmic joke. That was his words of wisdom along with drinking plenty of water because it is basic. Life is a cosmic joke when one sees that no matter what the religious and spiritual seeking on this planet, you end up back where you started. If that’s not a fantastic joke worth a good laugh I don’t know what is. We all look for happiness, peace and fulfilment in the things of the world, yet all along these things are our very nature  which is our very own center of being. 

 

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5 hours ago, JosephM said:

Why is it not delusion if you really  know or have realized it is impermanent or was temporary in the first place. It seems to me it is a form of attachment or clinging. That is a delusional act and being common doesn't make it less so.

We have something in common. I also have experienced severe migraines. Mine are triggered by certain foods. I know and recognize when they are starting, what to do when i sense them coming on  to alleviate the pain,  and how to go through the pain when it is too late without suffering. Its not preferred but when it comes it is accepted, no medication is taken, and though experienced as severe debilitating pain it is witnessed without suffering and in fact sometimes amusement at the unconsciousness of the human condition that knows better but allowed it to develop in the first place. It seems to me, one can be the witness of ones pain without suffering if you are not attached to it. It too will pass. 

My Dad on his death bed saw life as a cosmic joke. That was his words of wisdom along with drinking plenty of water because it is basic. Life is a cosmic joke when one sees that no matter what the religious and spiritual seeking on this planet, you end up back where you started. If that’s not a fantastic joke worth a good laugh I don’t know what is. We all look for happiness, peace and fulfilment in the things of the world, yet all along these things are our very nature  which is our very own center of being. 

 

Merely because we recognize the fragility and impermanence of life - as all have done since the dawn of man - it does not follow that life is (or must be recognized as) a delusion. Many recognize that 'this now' is when and where the Gift (Life) is given. As such, it is treasured; it is here that the 'fullness of the Reality' begins. Actually, the more accurate description, as some religions acknowledge, is that there is only one Reality: there is only Life/God in which we have and live our being and it continues .......eternally. Impermanence does not make for delusion.

I too have never taken meds for migraines: I know what is happening and attempt sensory deprivation and relaxation. It can still hurt like hell and until the relaxation kicks in there is suffering. I must admit, I never thought my migraines or those of others were objects of amusement.  Although I allow that one can 'detach' to a degree from suffering (the emotional response to pain), It seems to me, no one can be the witness of another's pain and not feel for them or wish for their suffering and pain to end.

I, and many, don't see life as a cosmic joke - and I love humor, jokes, puns and most everything in between. This is similar to the first line of my post here: merely because one recognizes that one starts and ends with the One, doesn't make the journey a joke or worthless. Many, myself included, don't believe we end up where we started: the source and destiny are One (i.e. God) but because existence 'has been gifted' to man, everything is new (even different): it is in this 'vale of soul making' that we begin and become the embodiment of divinity. It begins now and it is here, to paraphrase Kazantzakis, that we (begin) to "turn the mud of humanity into the divinity."

For the Christian, 'fulfillment' is not in our own center of being - it is in Being, the Alpha and the Omega, in whom we live and become our truest selves.

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On 7/28/2019 at 12:25 AM, thormas said:

My experience is that I partake of being but I do not generate being; I partake of existence, I do not generate existence. There is some 'space,' so to speak, between creation and the creator. 

But indeed you do generate existence, you just don't think about it.  Every day you are creating millions of cells within your body.  All of those cells rely on you for their existence, just as they rely on their interconnections with all other cells that comprise of your body to maintain that existence.  Most of these cells will die sometime in the next few years and you will create new cells to take their place.  You are not personally attached to these cells, but without these cells you wouldn't exist either.  I can't attest what these cells may 'think', but like us it is possible that their degree of consciousness can not yet comprehend what it means for them to be you,  just like you can't comprehend what it means for you to be God.  Maybe.

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Hart in his book, God, writes that the ontological surprise is that "it (anything) is at all." We experience ourselves surprised by and wondrous before creation. Why would God be surprised and delighted if God is everything? And if one posits that there is a forgetfulness about God or that he creates everything to know himself - (how can that which is everything forget or have a need to know itself or anything?) then God is not God.

I'm not sure God is 'surprised or delighted' or indeed that we are.  We might simply be 'experiencing' what surprise and delight is.  God may 'know' what it is already, but still experiences it as it is not possible not to.  Maybe.

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Can there be 'more' of anything if God is already everything? Can there be an "existence 'beyond' our lives" if we are God and already everything?  Aren't we, as God, already any 'beyond' or 'more' that is or will be? Can there be different levels (macro and micro) if everything is (already) God?  Can there be time and space, i.e. 'more' or 'beyond' in One?  Can there be fiction or delusion in us if we are God/One? Can there be division or difference in One? Actually, how can every thing be One for isn't One, One (not more)? If there is every thing, if there is we -  is there more than One? 

I think there can be if you consider my example above concerning the human body and its billions of comprising cells, each with a 'life' of their own.  We cannot live without our cells and they cannot live without our existence.  Yet, all cells die, new ones are generated, and of course our bodies eventually wear out too.  None of that detracts from 'everything' - it just shifts along doing its thing.

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We, according to this explanation, are not merely "part of the existence of God," we are God (we are everything). So, the point ( of all this) can't be nothing "other than being part of the existence of God." We are God!!

However, can (a) we be One?  There can be nothing (no thing) else, there is only One. Yet, we experience 'some thing', we experience many things: we experience some thing rather than nothing.  There is some thing 'other' than One.  Yet, in our experience of the many, we cannot be God because we would know, as God, as everything, that we are these many things, we would, as God, 'know' we are everything. But we do not! We are not all things, we, unlike God, are not (in) everything.

Yes - we experience what it is to 'be'.  Maybe our existence as a part of God is like our subconscious.  Now I know you don't consciously think "I have to make my heart beat or I will die) but yet it happens.  Your heart is very much a part of you, and yet you don't really know how you make your heart beat.  Maybe that's a bit like our existence as a part of God.  Like your body and its composition of cells - they are 'one' yet they are separate, are they not?  Your kidney is a part of you, a part of the 'one' of you, yet you can survive without that kidney and indeed, even donate that kidney to another so that they may continue life.

And maybe we 'do' know everything, we just don't realise it in this current form?  It seems to me that we 'know' more than any other generation that has come to pass, so maybe this 'knowing all things' is something evolutionary that will come in time and answer all things?  As for being in everything, the same elements that comprise of 'us' comprise all other things also.  We all come from the same stardust, so maybe we are in all things more than we understand?

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We still may be in God, we still may partake of God but we are something 'other' than (yet in) God: we are creation, not the Creator. Then we ask: if we partake of Being/God, what does that mean, what do we do, why do we exist, why does any and every thing exist. And the Christian answer is: to have life, to have Abundant Life (pure gift) in God. 

That might be your Christian answer, but another Christian answer could be that we don't fully understand why we exist as God and that like all religions, we are grasping at trying to understand without yet fully understanding.  But there's no problem with that because God is simply existing as us and everything else.  Maybe.

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13 hours ago, PaulS said:

But indeed you do generate existence, 

Actually, we don't. To generate is to cause or to create and, with a little examination, it is evident that 'we' don't create or generate 'existence.' Alone, none of us can create a human life: the generation of a human being demands and require a co-dependent relationship with another human being. Indeed, each life requires much and we stand in need of others to see it to fruition. Nor can we create animal life as we must 'sit back' and allow it to happen. The same with plant life: we can plant a seed but we need the seed, we need the soil and beyond that the seedling needs the sun, rain and all the right conditions to spring to life. So too our cells: we are not creating millions of cells every day -  typically (always?) we are unaware of the process. Even the 'generation' of new cells is dependent on more than the individual body: there is the need for good nutrition and all else that is necessary for the maintenance of a healthy body so it can continue its growth. These cells do not only rely on a particular body   - they depends on much more. It is not we who are solely responsible for the creation of millions of cells. Furthermore, if there is a problem, for example a cancer or another disease, the body is no longer abel to create cells or the wrong cells are created and begin the destruction of that body. It is apparent that we do not generate or create such life (human, animal, plant, cellular level, any life) - we partake of and participate in the generation of existence/being.

It's valid and axiomatic (in religion, theology and philosophy) to say that humans, not being God, don't comprehend God in himself but, if 'we are God,' it is absurd to suggest that God does know or comprehend who God is.

13 hours ago, PaulS said:

'm not sure God is 'surprised or delighted' or indeed that we are.  We might simply be 'experiencing' what surprise and delight is.  God may 'know' what it is already, but still experiences it as it is not possible not to.  Maybe.

Exactly, God would not be because God is Being in whom all is. So we are  not 'surprised or delighted' but we simply experience surprise and delight?? Surprise is surprise and delight is delight - so we're agreed that we, humans, are surprised, delighted and wondrous (the beginning of philosophy) before creation, the 'things' of creation.

13 hours ago, PaulS said:

I think there can be if you consider my example above concerning the human body and its billions of comprising cells, each with a 'life' of their own.  We cannot live without our cells and they cannot live without our existence.  Yet, all cells die, new ones are generated, and of course our bodies eventually wear out too.  None of that detracts from 'everything' - it just shifts along doing its thing.

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If God is everything, then the cells are also God - so how can there be more in that which is all and everything? Now, if everything is not God, we have a whole different situation.

13 hours ago, PaulS said:

Yes - we experience what it is to 'be'.  Maybe our existence as a part of God is like our subconscious.  Now I know you don't consciously think "I have to make my heart beat or I will die) but yet it happens.  Your heart is very much a part of you, and yet you don't really know how you make your heart beat.  Maybe that's a bit like our existence as a part of God.  Like your body and its composition of cells - they are 'one' yet they are separate, are they not?  Your kidney is a part of you, a part of the 'one' of you, yet you can survive without that kidney and indeed, even donate that kidney to another so that they may continue life.

And maybe we 'do' know everything, we just don't realise it in this current form?  It seems to me that we 'know' more than any other generation that has come to pass, so maybe this 'knowing all things' is something evolutionary that will come in time and answer all things?  As for being in everything, the same elements that comprise of 'us' comprise all other things also.  We all come from the same stardust, so maybe we are in all things more than we understand?

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No, if God is everything and we are God, we do not merely experience what it is to be - we (God) are being itself. However, if everything is not God, the we have a whole different situation and I agree that "we experience what it is to be." 

How does God have parts? I agree with you on the kidney: it is a part of me but then again, as you demonstrated, it is only a part - it is not fully me nor is it essential to the one that I am. But how can God be divisible into parts, especially if parts do not have to be fully God and parts are not essential?  Either God is truly and completely everything and everything is fully God - or God is not everything but all is 'part' of, or part-icipates in God. 

How could God not realize God knows everything - if God is God? Is God not fully or really God in our current form? Is there evolution in God's understanding of God? Again, if everything is not God, but rather, everything partakes of Being/God, then there is 'room' for us to grow in wisdom, grace and knowledge - as Jesus did.

13 hours ago, PaulS said:

That might be your Christian answer, but another Christian answer could be that we don't fully understand why we exist as God and that like all religions, we are grasping at trying to understand without yet fully understanding.  But there's no problem with that because God is simply existing as us and everything else.  Maybe.

Not just my Christian answer: that is the 'answer' that Jesus gave, so I am on the most solid of grounds: "I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). The theme of man/woman being given the opportunity to live and share (partake of) 'the life of God," to be his people, to be in community with God, is the constant throughout the Judeo/Christian scriptures.

I get that we are still trying to understand without yet fully understanding - after all, what does Abundant Life even mean and what are we to do.? The 'Christian' answer and the quest to understand are not mutually exclusive but the constant is the gift/Life that we are invited to partake of. 

 

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14 hours ago, thormas said:

Actually, we don't. To generate is to cause or to create and, with a little examination, it is evident that 'we' don't create or generate 'existence.' Alone, none of us can create a human life: the generation of a human being demands and require a co-dependent relationship with another human being. Indeed, each life requires much and we stand in need of others to see it to fruition. Nor can we create animal life as we must 'sit back' and allow it to happen. The same with plant life: we can plant a seed but we need the seed, we need the soil and beyond that the seedling needs the sun, rain and all the right conditions to spring to life. So too our cells: we are not creating millions of cells every day -  typically (always?) we are unaware of the process. Even the 'generation' of new cells is dependent on more than the individual body: there is the need for good nutrition and all else that is necessary for the maintenance of a healthy body so it can continue its growth. These cells do not only rely on a particular body   - they depends on much more. It is not we who are solely responsible for the creation of millions of cells. Furthermore, if there is a problem, for example a cancer or another disease, the body is no longer abel to create cells or the wrong cells are created and begin the destruction of that body. It is apparent that we do not generate or create such life (human, animal, plant, cellular level, any life) - we partake of and participate in the generation of existence/being.

The problem with this is that there are animals that do 'create' on their own - it's called parthenogenesis.  So if the argument for not being God is that we, humans, can't reproduce on our own, then maybe we should consider as God the New Mexico Whiptail, the state reptile of New Mexico, as the females of that species can reproduce on their own and males have become obsolete. 

We might not 'solely' be responsible for creation of cells, but if all things are actually God, then we are in effect creating by ourselves, its just that the reality of 'ourselves' is all things.  Maybe.

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It's valid and axiomatic (in religion, theology and philosophy) to say that humans, not being God, don't comprehend God in himself but, if 'we are God,' it is absurd to suggest that God does know or comprehend who God is.

Do you know yourself 100%?  Are you never surprised at yourself about something you did or said, or found something on or in your body that you didn't know you had?  Do you know every single cell in your body intimately and by name?  I think that if you don't know yourself in full then it is hardly absurd to say that the bits that comprise of God don't know they are God in full either.  We are looking through a lens of our own self-importance here - maybe we're just not that important to God as we think, being a part of God and all.

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Exactly, God would not be because God is Being in whom all is. So we are  not 'surprised or delighted' but we simply experience surprise and delight?? Surprise is surprise and delight is delight - so we're agreed that we, humans, are surprised, delighted and wondrous (the beginning of philosophy) before creation, the 'things' of creation.

If God is everything, then the cells are also God - so how can there be more in that which is all and everything? Now, if everything is not God, we have a whole different situation.

There is a whole you - yet you don't even know a fraction of the pieces that make a whole you.  Maybe God is in a similar situation.

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How does God have parts? I agree with you on the kidney: it is a part of me but then again, as you demonstrated, it is only a part - it is not fully me nor is it essential to the one that I am. But how can God be divisible into parts, especially if parts do not have to be fully God and parts are not essential?  Either God is truly and completely everything and everything is fully God - or God is not everything but all is 'part' of, or part-icipates in God. 

I guess God could have parts like the world has parts, but at the end of the day it is one, whole self-contained world.  It's not essential that I have this atom or that atom in my composition, but without atoms we wouldn't exist.  So we are a part of the whole but feel 'separated' from the other parts because they're different perhaps.

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How could God not realize God knows everything - if God is God? Is God not fully or really God in our current form? Is there evolution in God's understanding of God? Again, if everything is not God, but rather, everything partakes of Being/God, then there is 'room' for us to grow in wisdom, grace and knowledge - as Jesus did.

If for God, all things are possible, then God not knowing everything could be possible too.  Maybe God is evolving like us and the universe.  

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Not just my Christian answer: that is the 'answer' that Jesus gave, so I am on the most solid of grounds: "I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). The theme of man/woman being given the opportunity to live and share (partake of) 'the life of God," to be his people, to be in community with God, is the constant throughout the Judeo/Christian scriptures.

I don't consider the ground as solid as you do.  I don't disagree that this passage is in John but did Jesus really say it?  Is it at all possible that the author of John (who scholars recognize as making a sizable jump from the synoptics concerning the divinity of Jesus and other matters) may have simply been providing his own thoughts rather than precisely those of Jesus?  I don't doubt Jesus' intent, just the accuracy in what he actually knew and what we think he knew.

As for 'the scriptures' - I'm sure by know you know my position on much about the accuracy and reliability of these, but in short, they are basically one argument (and many parts thereof) that won the day.  There were many, many diverse Christianities in the early days following Jesus and hundreds of years later some blokes got together and decided for all of us what scriptures should be regarded as holy and which shouldn't.  Frankly, I don't trust them to have necessarily got it right.  I think it would be interesting to see what sort of bible the various Christian groups in the decades following Jesus might have considered a cannon - you know, the Marcionites, the Ebionites, the Gnostic Christians, the Montanists, Christians who thought Jesus required them to remain Jews and Christians who shunned Judaism altogether for Christianity, docetism, arianism, adoptionism, etc etc etc.  But of course, we have lost to all time those many writings and differing opinions about Jesus and what his life may have meant.

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10 hours ago, PaulS said:

The problem with this is that there are animals that do 'create' on their own - it's called parthenogenesis.  So if the argument for not being God is that we, humans, can't reproduce on our own, then maybe we should consider as God the New Mexico Whiptail, the state reptile of New Mexico, as the females of that species can reproduce on their own and males have become obsolete. 

We might not 'solely' be responsible for creation of cells, but if all things are actually God, then we are in effect creating by ourselves, its just that the reality of 'ourselves' is all things.  Maybe.

OK I accept that you now accept the whiptail is God :+} However, we now agree that humans, not being asexual, are not. Progress. Now if we can only catch the whiptail in another creative act, say creating a dog or a cactus we will have definitive proof. Thanks, a good laugh is always a great way to start a day,

You lost me on the logic of your last sentence: we (i.e. God) are not solely responsible for creation (of cells) but if God is all things then we create by ourselves? So, we don't need another to create a new human life? And what of those people with diseases, either born with it or developed along the way, that impact the cells, destroying them or killing the individual human being? Were they once God and now are not? As God, why do they create cells that will kill them?  

Things make much more sense if one recognizes that everything is not God but, rather, partakes or participates in God/Being.

10 hours ago, PaulS said:

Do you know yourself 100%?  Are you never surprised at yourself about something you did or said, or found something on or in your body that you didn't know you had?  Do you know every single cell in your body intimately and by name?  I think that if you don't know yourself in full then it is hardly absurd to say that the bits that comprise of God don't know they are God in full either.  We are looking through a lens of our own self-importance here - maybe we're just not that important to God as we think, being a part of God and all.

Of course not but I am not God. However if God does not know God, then God is not God! And to say that 'bits' comprise God, is to once again suggest that God has parts and some parts are ignorant of other parts.  Actually, it seems your lens has greater self-importance for humans than mine: you say we're God, I do not. 

But just out of curiosity: how can we just not be that important to God......if we are God? 

BTW, all my cells are Tom cells named after me - except of course for any bad or deadly cells. I call then roger.

10 hours ago, PaulS said:

There is a whole you - yet you don't even know a fraction of the pieces that make a whole you.  Maybe God is in a similar situation.

If all is in God, how could God be caught unaware, surprised, by himself? Again, we all get that we don't know every bit of ourselves but to say that God does not know himself?

10 hours ago, PaulS said:

I guess God could have parts like the world has parts, but at the end of the day it is one, whole self-contained world.  It's not essential that I have this atom or that atom in my composition, but without atoms we wouldn't exist.  So we are a part of the whole but feel 'separated' from the other parts because they're different perhaps.

But you have shown that with us, some parts are not essential, some parts are unnecessary; we can lose them and we are still ourselves. So if God is everything, if we who have unessential parts are God, then God has parts that are unessential or can be jettisoned........and are not God.  How can God feel or be separated from God?

However, if everything is not God but participates in God/Being, then we can be ignorant of it, we can feel separated and we can 'evolve' (so to speak) to a greater participation.

10 hours ago, PaulS said:

If for God, all things are possible, then God not knowing everything could be possible too.  Maybe God is evolving like us and the universe.  

How can all be possible in God if God is not fully God but evolving? "Maybe God is evolving like us and the universe" - you just spoken of God as like us and the universe - but not us or the universe.

10 hours ago, PaulS said:

I don't consider the ground as solid as you do.  I don't disagree that this passage is in John but did Jesus really say it?  Is it at all possible that the author of John (who scholars recognize as making a sizable jump from the synoptics concerning the divinity of Jesus and other matters) may have simply been providing his own thoughts rather than precisely those of Jesus?  I don't doubt Jesus' intent, just the accuracy in what he actually knew and what we think he knew.

As for 'the scriptures' - I'm sure by know you know my position on much about the accuracy and reliability of these, but in short, they are basically one argument (and many parts thereof) that won the day.  There were many, many diverse Christianities in the early days following Jesus and hundreds of years later some blokes got together and decided for all of us what scriptures should be regarded as holy and which shouldn't.  Frankly, I don't trust them to have necessarily got it right.  I think it would be interesting to see what sort of bible the various Christian groups in the decades following Jesus might have considered a cannon - you know, the Marcionites, the Ebionites, the Gnostic Christians, the Montanists, Christians who thought Jesus required them to remain Jews and Christians who shunned Judaism altogether for Christianity, docetism, arianism, adoptionism, etc etc etc.  But of course, we have lost to all time those many writings and differing opinions about Jesus and what his life may have meant.

I fully recognize when John was written and the theologizing (and his high Christology) that scholars tells us is in a gospel but I reiterate: "The theme of man/woman being given the opportunity to live and share (partake of) 'the life of God,' to be his people, to be in community with God, is the constant throughout the Judeo/Christian scriptures." And this theme is recognized in the historical Jesus. However, as you have said you don't doubt the intent of Jesus and neither do I: we agree on the intent (captured in the scriptures and in Jesus), that is more than enough. 

"Frankly, I don't trust them to have necessarily got it right." Except you don't doubt Jesus' intent that is 'captured in the accounts we have. So there we are.

Edited by thormas

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On 7/28/2019 at 3:51 PM, thormas said:

Merely because we recognize the fragility and impermanence of life - as all have done since the dawn of man - it does not follow that life is (or must be recognized as) a delusion. Many recognize that 'this now' is when and where the Gift (Life) is given. As such, it is treasured; it is here that the 'fullness of the Reality' begins. Actually, the more accurate description, as some religions acknowledge, is that there is only one Reality: there is only Life/God in which we have and live our being and it continues .......eternally. Impermanence does not make for delusion.

I too have never taken meds for migraines: I know what is happening and attempt sensory deprivation and relaxation. It can still hurt like hell and until the relaxation kicks in there is suffering. I must admit, I never thought my migraines or those of others were objects of amusement.  Although I allow that one can 'detach' to a degree from suffering (the emotional response to pain), It seems to me, no one can be the witness of another's pain and not feel for them or wish for their suffering and pain to end.

I, and many, don't see life as a cosmic joke - and I love humor, jokes, puns and most everything in between. This is similar to the first line of my post here: merely because one recognizes that one starts and ends with the One, doesn't make the journey a joke or worthless. Many, myself included, don't believe we end up where we started: the source and destiny are One (i.e. God) but because existence 'has been gifted' to man, everything is new (even different): it is in this 'vale of soul making' that we begin and become the embodiment of divinity. It begins now and it is here, to paraphrase Kazantzakis, that we (begin) to "turn the mud of humanity into the divinity."

For the Christian, 'fulfillment' is not in our own center of being - it is in Being, the Alpha and the Omega, in whom we live and become our truest selves.

The clinging and attachment is the delusion. Life here is recognized as impermanent but it is our clinging to it as if it isn't that is the delusion.

Pain and suffering is is part of the impermanence of life here. One can be upset at it, fight it , grieve for it , be saddened by it, wish and hope it was not there, etc..  or accept it and  see it for what it is whereby it loses its power over one to suffer. This doesn't preclude one from helping to alleviate it in others when in one power to do so..

Is life a cosmic joke? No one likes to think so. But i do find it amusing at times. You search all your life for the meaning and the purpose of Life and while you may assign it your own purpose there is none to be found. Life is its own meaning. One searches long and hard all ones life for happiness, joy, and peace as if it can be found in the things of this world and after having painfully searched for something a long time, finds it one morning in the pocket of ones own coat. It was there all the time. That is the cosmic joke.

 

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2 hours ago, JosephM said:

The clinging and attachment is the delusion. Life here is recognized as impermanent but it is our clinging to it as if it isn't that is the delusion.

Pain and suffering is is part of the impermanence of life here. One can be upset at it, fight it , grieve for it , be saddened by it, wish and hope it was not there, etc..  or accept it and  see it for what it is whereby it loses its power over one to suffer. This doesn't preclude one from helping to alleviate it in others when in one power to do so..

Is life a cosmic joke? No one likes to think so. But i do find it amusing at times. You search all your life for the meaning and the purpose of Life and while you may assign it your own purpose there is none to be found. Life is its own meaning. One searches long and hard all ones life for happiness, joy, and peace as if it can be found in the things of this world and after having painfully searched for something a long time, finds it one morning in the pocket of ones own coat. It was there all the time. That is the cosmic joke.

Attachment to life "as (if) it isn't" is the delusion.  Ok, let's go with that. I see it as an attachment to self not life: (too) many put self above all else or make the self the center of existence. What you call clinging or attachment to life, I call self-centeredness, clinging to self as the center of life  - this is also the definition of sin. However the problem isn't life: some believe that God is immanent in the ordinariness of everyday life and it is 'here and now' that we can (first) meet God and have real, if finitely lived, life. So, while some/many opt for a 'sinful' attachment to self,  others, choose an attachment to love......and it begins now. Not everybody is 'clinging:' it is fine and healthy to "look for (the beginning of) happiness, peace and fulfillment among the things of the world. It is not 'in' the things but it is and should be in the people of this world, in creation. The Christian (and others) recognize that there is not an absolute divide 'between' this life and the fullness of Reality. Even a religious ethic aims for peace and therefore happiness and some real fulfillment in (this) life. 

We know 'this' is not permanent yet we also know many people don't cling: they live, they love, they incarnate God in (this) life and, when death comes, it is accepted as natural and inevitable and they go with it. There is no clinging.

I can agree that clinging/attachment to self is the delusion but it is in this life where we are 'first' called, challenged, encouraged and empowered to become like God/Reality. 

Pain and suffering are part of life but are any really amused at  the suffering and pain of others or do many try to relieve or heal it.  Some might 'understand' suffering and deal with pain but few if any will welcome either. As for pain and death, it is okay to be (a bit) upset, fight it (called going to a doctor, taking meds, getting a necessary surgery, etc.), grieve for the impending loss of what you know and will miss, be saddened at that loss or the loss of another and wish 'it would pass.' But the flip side of the coin is that when the fight is concluded, when you have mourned a bit or simply, then, with a smile and a tear, you say goodbye to what you have known. Many are fine with 'continuing the journey' at their moment of death because they have long recognized this life's impermanence. This, though, is not sinful, self-centered clinging, this is like a parent full of love watching their kid leave home for college and meeting the moment with memory, hopefulness, a tear and a kiss. This is not an attachment to self, it is the (attachment and) living of love. Is there some 'selfish' attachment - sure there can be but that is to be expected in the finite, human living of love.

For the Christian, actually for most of us, this is not seen as a cosmic joke because of Who gave it and because it is here where we begin. Moreover, we don't end where we began (we are not Sisyphus) as our loving makes 'all things new again.'  Some of us don't 'assign a purpose,' we discover and live Life's purpose (it's called wisdom or enlightenment and it happens in stages but it is to be lived). 

 

 

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15 hours ago, thormas said:

You lost me on the logic of your last sentence: we (i.e. God) are not solely responsible for creation (of cells) but if God is all things then we create by ourselves? So, we don't need another to create a new human life? And what of those people with diseases, either born with it or developed along the way, that impact the cells, destroying them or killing the individual human being? Were they once God and now are not? As God, why do they create cells that will kill them?  

What I meant by "...but if all things are actually God, then we are in effect creating by ourselves, its just that the reality of 'ourselves' is all things", is that if God is in and of all things, then 'we' do create new things because we are within and are a part of God, so any new creation whatsoever (whether it is humans breeding together or Whiptails executing parthenogenesis, that is all 'creating'.  It cannot be otherwise. 

Possibly to God there is no good, bad or otherwise, so to create cancer is no different to creating healthy cells, its all part of the experience of what we call life.  I'm sure the cancer cells don't regarded their existence as evil - they are just existing like other 'good' cells.  At an atomic level everything still remains God - from dust we come and to dust we will return.

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Things make much more sense if one recognizes that everything is not God but, rather, partakes or participates in God/Being.

I disagree.  I think what I am proposing, an indifferent God who is experiencing existence in a multitude of ways (not just the anthropomorphic version) and that that version of God comprises of everything in existence, makes much more sense.

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Of course not but I am not God. However if God does not know God, then God is not God! And to say that 'bits' comprise God, is to once again suggest that God has parts and some parts are ignorant of other parts.  Actually, it seems your lens has greater self-importance for humans than mine: you say we're God, I do not. 

But just out of curiosity: how can we just not be that important to God......if we are God? 

Who says the rule has to be that if God does not know God then God is not God?  This sounds like a very reasonable way of human thinking, but it could just be that, human thinking and not what actually God is or is not.

Our existence may not be that important to God because we already are God.  What could be important is the experience itself and not the shell, or entity, that we think is separate to God (in that we think we are not God).  In us, the rocks, the trees, the air - God could be experiencing existence.  There is no good or bad, just existence.

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If all is in God, how could God be caught unaware, surprised, by himself? Again, we all get that we don't know every bit of ourselves but to say that God does not know himself?

Maybe so.  One universal truth that does come to mind is that there is no universal understanding of what God is and that would seem representative of the fact that such a diverse range of beliefs such as animism, superstition and other religious beliefs have for millennia been coming up with different propositions for what God is.  Possibly God could be caught unaware and surprised and not know every bit of itself.  Maybe only God can understand that?

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But you have shown that with us, some parts are not essential, some parts are unnecessary; we can lose them and we are still ourselves. So if God is everything, if we who have unessential parts are God, then God has parts that are unessential or can be jettisoned........and are not God.  How can God feel or be separated from God?

We quite possibly can't be separated  in the sense that God is a closed loop - all things are, come from and stay within God whether to our minds things are dead or not.  They may change form (eg human remains turn into dust or worm food) but those atoms still remain within the God system somewhere, so nothing of God every really ceases to exist.

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However, if everything is not God but participates in God/Being, then we can be ignorant of it, we can feel separated and we can 'evolve' (so to speak) to a greater participation.

One can choose to feel separated if they want, or they can choose to imagine themselves as part of the whole and not separated in any way.  Maybe that's part of the experience of being God.  No good, no bad - just experiencing existence, warts and all.

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How can all be possible in God if God is not fully God but evolving? "Maybe God is evolving like us and the universe" - you just spoken of God as like us and the universe - but not us or the universe.

I was trying to draw a comparison to help you understand what I was saying.  Just like we consider ourselves and the universe to be evolving, we could actually be part of the bigger picture which is God itself evolving and expanding.  Not separate, but an intimate part of the whole, just not understood by us in the context of our ego.

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I fully recognize when John was written and the theologizing (and his high Christology) that scholars tells us is in a gospel but I reiterate: "The theme of man/woman being given the opportunity to live and share (partake of) 'the life of God,' to be his people, to be in community with God, is the constant throughout the Judeo/Christian scriptures." And this theme is recognized in the historical Jesus....

Much of the theme of the NT is about a theistic God who sits in Heaven, separate to mankind, and who judges people.  Do you think that is an accurate representation of God?  Were NT authors wrong about that but right about 'other stuff'?

The bible theme that has been modeled for you by previous decision makers has some resemblance to being given the opportunity to live and share (partake of) 'the life of God,' but I wouldn't say it is constant throughout the Scripture.  It ducks and weaves between a King God who must be feared and obeyed and who commits acts of savagery and genocide, through varying degrees to today's thoughts of God as Jesus as a buddy who one could play golf with.  It argues about whether good works or faith is adequate enough to live a life that God wants.  I mean God couldn't even decide if we were meant to eat pork until after Jesus died according to the scriptures.  The only constant to the 'theme' is that it was constantly changing as culture changed.

To me it also seems pretty clear that Jesus thought the end of the world as they (the Jews of his day) knew it was coming and that God was about to bring in a new kingdom.  Jesus wanted people to get on board before that happened and also to tell them his thoughts about how life would be once that new God Kingdom was implemented.  He clearly wasn't welcoming the Romans into this opportunity to live and share (partake of) 'the life of God,'.  It was definitely a Jewish-focused message carried on by his closest disciples and family immediately following his death.  In time, that changed.

I think a 'constant theme' has to be 'read' into it the scriptures by oneself to come to the conclusion that what you are saying is a constant theme.

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...However, as you have said you don't doubt the intent of Jesus and neither do I: we agree on the intent (captured in the scriptures and in Jesus), that is more than enough.

"Frankly, I don't trust them to have necessarily got it right." Except you don't doubt Jesus' intent that is 'captured in the accounts we have. So there we are.

I am referring to the intent of Jesus as it being his desire to express what he believed God was and what God wanted.  I am dubious that the accounts we have accurately capture all of that and I am highly suspicious that many differing accounts were destroyed or disregarded in the decades and centuries following Jesus because well-intentioned people thought they understood Jesus 'the right' way (particularly hard for those who had never met Jesus, lived with him and who wrote decades if not centuries after Jesus had died).  Paul and Pauline Christianity comes to mind as a major influence from a person who had never even met Jesus, so I see much room for error in truly understanding what Jesus had to say on all things God.  

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10 hours ago, PaulS said:

What I meant by "...but if all things are actually God, then we are in effect creating by ourselves, its just that the reality of 'ourselves' is all things", is that if God is in and of all things, then 'we' do create new things because we are within and are a part of God, so any new creation whatsoever (whether it is humans breeding together or Whiptails executing parthenogenesis, that is all 'creating'.  It cannot be otherwise. 

Possibly to God there is no good, bad or otherwise, so to create cancer is no different to creating healthy cells, its all part of the experience of what we call life.  I'm sure the cancer cells don't regarded their existence as evil - they are just existing like other 'good' cells.  At an atomic level everything still remains God - from dust we come and to dust we will return.

There is a vast difference between "all things are actually God" and "God is in and of all things." The former is identification while the latter is participation and immanence. I agree we do create new things, i.e. human babies, but that again is obviously limited: humans need another to 'create' a human life and cannot create any other life be it plant, animal, whiptail, etc. (even the millions of cells come with the baby and are not created separately). So too the whiptail, its asexuality is limited to the 'creation' of a new (is it actually new?) whiptail. This is limited, dependent, specific 'creation. Again we have parts in a limited God.

If for God there is no good or bad, it is obvious that for God, i.e. humans and other living beings, there is good and bad, example cancer and other diseases. So, if God is all things why does God create the bad that destroys God? 

10 hours ago, PaulS said:

I think what I am proposing, an indifferent God who is experiencing existence in a multitude of ways (not just the anthropomorphic version) and that that version of God comprises of everything in existence, makes much more sense.

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How can God be indifferent if we are God and obviously not indifferent? This is a contradiction in God.

How and why does God experience in a multitude of ways if God is everything? And if God is experiencing that which is new, then God is not everything for God is not yet the new that is yet to be created. And now God has versions? And God needs new experiences? This is the very definition of anthropomorphism: God is just like us with parts, versions, experiences, etc. but expanded into a bigger or a supreme 'version' of the human. This is like the theism (God is a being like us albeit a supreme being) that so many progressives have rejected.

 The reasonable of this position continually breaks down and under examination it contradicts itself.

10 hours ago, PaulS said:

Who says the rule has to be that if God does not know God then God is not God?  This sounds like a very reasonable way of human thinking, but it could just be that, human thinking and not what actually God is or is not.

Our existence may not be that important to God because we already are God.  What could be important is the experience itself and not the shell, or entity, that we think is separate to God (in that we think we are not God).  In us, the rocks, the trees, the air - God could be experiencing existence.  There is no good or bad, just existence.

So, now God doesn't know who God is? Talk about anthropomorphism. The more you explain, the more you move from God is everything to God is actually just one of us and actually not even like the best we have to offer: he doesn't even know who he, i.e. God, is.

How can 'our' existence not be important to God if "God is experiencing existence.... if there is just existence?" Aren't we existence? Then you further divide God into a shell and the experience of the shell?  Why does God need to experience existence if God is (already and always) everything? Contradictions abound in this position.

10 hours ago, PaulS said:

Maybe so.  One universal truth that does come to mind is that there is no universal understanding of what God is and that would seem representative of the fact that such a diverse range of beliefs such as animism, superstition and other religious beliefs have for millennia been coming up with different propositions for what God is.  Possibly God could be caught unaware and surprised and not know every bit of itself.  Maybe only God can understand that?

But we're not talking about all other positions or understandings, we're talking about this (your) position which has mad a very specific claim: God is everything.  So the question remains: how can God, i.e. everything be unaware of anything or surprised by anything .......if all those things are God? And God who is everything does not know he is God? More contradictions and the rationale of the position doesn't hold.

10 hours ago, PaulS said:

We quite possibly can't be separated  in the sense that God is a closed loop - all things are, come from and stay within God whether to our minds things are dead or not.  They may change form (eg human remains turn into dust or worm food) but those atoms still remain within the God system somewhere, so nothing of God every really ceases to exist.

To say that " all things are, come from and stay within God" is not the same as saying that all things are God. The former is participation, the latter is identification.

 

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18 hours ago, PaulS said:

One can choose to feel separated if they want, or they can choose to imagine themselves as part of the whole and not separated in any way.  Maybe that's part of the experience of being God.  No good, no bad - just experiencing existence, warts and all.

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"One can choose to feel (be) separated" - this is only true if we are dealing with participation in God, not identification with God (i.e. everything is God).

18 hours ago, PaulS said:

I was trying to draw a comparison to help you understand what I was saying.  Just like we consider ourselves and the universe to be evolving, we could actually be part of the bigger picture which is God itself evolving and expanding.  Not separate, but an intimate part of the whole, just not understood by us in the context of our ego.

I got that but you are still saying that God evolves. For something to evolve is to state it is not yet complete or fully itself. So God is not complete in God  or fully God? Again, if we go to the idea of participation or partaking of Being/God, we know that we and the universe evolves or grows but God is complete and fully God - in which all takes place and grows to fruition.

18 hours ago, PaulS said:

Much of the theme of the NT is about a theistic God who sits in Heaven, separate to mankind, and who judges people.  Do you think that is an accurate representation of God?  Were NT authors wrong about that but right about 'other stuff'?

The bible theme that has been modeled for you by previous decision makers has some resemblance to being given the opportunity to live and share (partake of) 'the life of God,' but I wouldn't say it is constant throughout the Scripture.  It ducks and weaves between a King God who must be feared and obeyed and who commits acts of savagery and genocide, through varying degrees to today's thoughts of God as Jesus as a buddy who one could play golf with.  It argues about whether good works or faith is adequate enough to live a life that God wants.  I mean God couldn't even decide if we were meant to eat pork until after Jesus died according to the scriptures.  The only constant to the 'theme' is that it was constantly changing as culture changed.

To me it also seems pretty clear that Jesus thought the end of the world as they (the Jews of his day) knew it was coming and that God was about to bring in a new kingdom.  Jesus wanted people to get on board before that happened and also to tell them his thoughts about how life would be once that new God Kingdom was implemented.  He clearly wasn't welcoming the Romans into this opportunity to live and share (partake of) 'the life of God,'.  It was definitely a Jewish-focused message carried on by his closest disciples and family immediately following his death.  In time, that changed.

I think a 'constant theme' has to be 'read' into it the scriptures by oneself to come to the conclusion that what you are saying is a constant theme.

This is a bit of an aside to the main conversation but: 

Actually, there is the idea of what we call the theistic God (and also non theistic images for God) but the point remains: "the theme of man/woman being given the opportunity to live and share (partake of) 'the life of God" is a constant throughout. In the Biblical scriptures, there is not a belief that we, humans, are God or that God is everything but there is the theme of 'participating in and partaking of' the life of God. Given our many discussions, you already know I am not a theist: I don't share a theistic notion but I do recognize the constant theme.

Modeled by previous decision makers? Rather, simply read, understood and stated! We have been over the so called King God but even with this caricature the theme remains constant throughout and is referred to as the 'history of salvation.' Even in the so called 'ducking and weaving,' it is there. God as a golf buddy? Really? Can you cite the verse? As an aside I was just reading Ehrman on faith and works and he argues that the letter of James is in line with the authentic writing of Paul but takes on a letter that is not written by Paul which misinterprets or mischaracterizes the real Paul. 

God couldn't decide? I thought that was a discussion, between the disciples, about gentiles or are you saying it was God because we (including those first disciples) are God :+{ The good news is that it seems God made up his mind - or at least the disciples did :+}  

No, if anything the descriptions of God might be inconstant but the theme of partaking of the life of God is constant throughout the history of Judaism and Christianity, across cultures and covering centuries. For example, the Old Testament is the history of the agreements God made with Noah, Abraham, Moses and the people; it is the history of their covenant or relationship. And the New Testament is that history, that covenant, that shared relationship (and partaking of God's Life/Kingdom) continued and fulfilled in Jesus, his disciples and the people. The theme is constant! No doubt about it.

Actually, the biblical expectation of the Kingdom was that all the nations of the world would worship the one true God of Israel - so all were included to partake. Thus the commission of the apostles in the NT. The 'times' were within a few years of the death of Jesus when the outreach or the commission began.

To conclude: actually I am not reading the theme in, this is my reporting on what has been written about Testaments and, also, is obvious with a fair, unbiased reading.

19 hours ago, PaulS said:

I am referring to the intent of Jesus as it being his desire to express what he believed God was and what God wanted.  I am dubious that the accounts we have accurately capture all of that and I am highly suspicious that many differing accounts were destroyed or disregarded in the decades and centuries following Jesus because well-intentioned people thought they understood Jesus 'the right' way (particularly hard for those who had never met Jesus, lived with him and who wrote decades if not centuries after Jesus had died).  Paul and Pauline Christianity comes to mind as a major influence from a person who had never even met Jesus, so I see much room for error in truly understanding what Jesus had to say on all things God.  

Again, another aside (as I would rather hear more about your position about everything being God), but:

I think his (Jesus) intent is pretty clear and I know of no critical scholar who is so dubious or thinks the NT is so off the mark that he/she raises alarm bells. Sometimes what you get, even with commentary and theologizing, is what there was. Interestingly, I was also recently reading Ehrman on his blog about Paul 'delivering what he received.' Seems this is understood as the language used when receiving a teaching(s) from another. It seems apparent that Paul originally learned what he delivered to his gentile churches, from the earliest Jewish followers of Jesus. And Larry Hartado, another prominent scholar, shows that Paul was in line with these original followers of Jesus.  Paul never met Jesus but he met his original followers and they even came to agreement on the one burning issue in the Council of Jerusalem.

It is fine to be a bit dubious or cautious in reading the gospels and letters of the NT but you seem to throw everything out rather than trying to determine what is in common and therefore has a greater likelihood of being an accurate take of he historical Jesus. You also seem to place a high value on lost gospels even though we should be dubious/cautious if we had them - and we do have some and some are highly entertaining. Isn't there one where little kid Jesus kills those who piss him off? Can we be dubious about that especially when compared to other gospels that tell no such stories? Are you saying Paul destroyed or discarded stuff he received from the disciples of Jesus (after all who else was there from whom he could have gotten his knowledge)? Do you have information of what exactly he discarded or destroyed? 

Again, I find this biblical stuff interesting but I only mentioned what has always been pretty widely accepted (the constant theme) and had no intention of shifting the discussion from 'everything being God' vs. 'participation and partaking' in Being/God.

 

 

 

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18 hours ago, thormas said:

There is a vast difference between "all things are actually God" and "God is in and of all things." The former is identification while the latter is participation and immanence. I agree we do create new things, i.e. human babies, but that again is obviously limited: humans need another to 'create' a human life and cannot create any other life be it plant, animal, whiptail, etc. (even the millions of cells come with the baby and are not created separately). So too the whiptail, its asexuality is limited to the 'creation' of a new (is it actually new?) whiptail. This is limited, dependent, specific 'creation. Again we have parts in a limited God.

We could all be parts of the whole.  All of existing creation could be working together as God to continue creating.  Rather than sticking to a micro level concerning whether we require a penis and a vagina to create, I am suggesting stepping back a bit and looking at the macro view of God creating by simply existing.  

18 hours ago, thormas said:

If for God there is no good or bad, it is obvious that for God, i.e. humans and other living beings, there is good and bad, example cancer and other diseases. So, if God is all things why does God create the bad that destroys God? 

There is no destruction, only change.  It's a closed loop - nothing 'leaves' the system.  We obviously consider cancer bad because it 'kills' us, but does it?  Where do your atoms go when you die?  And from the cancers point of view, why is it bad?  It is just existing like you are when you kill something else in order to exist.

18 hours ago, thormas said:

How can God be indifferent if we are God and obviously not indifferent? This is a contradiction in God.

It's only a contradiction if you think there are limits to what God can and can't do.  

18 hours ago, thormas said:

How and why does God experience in a multitude of ways if God is everything? And if God is experiencing that which is new, then God is not everything for God is not yet the new that is yet to be created. And now God has versions? And God needs new experiences? This is the very definition of anthropomorphism: God is just like us with parts, versions, experiences, etc. but expanded into a bigger or a supreme 'version' of the human. This is like the theism (God is a being like us albeit a supreme being) that so many progressives have rejected.

I never said God needs new experiences, I simply suggested that God is experiencing existence in a multitude of ways.  Whether God needs to do this or whether it is a result of being God, I don't know.  To the contrary about it being the very definition of anthropomorphism, I am trying to point out that what I am thinking about explicitly does NOT follow anthropomorphic lines in that God doesn't feel and think like only a human, the same as God doesn't feel and think as only a goat, or a lizard, or a rock, or a plant.  God may be all those things experiencing existence as they experience it in their current form.

18 hours ago, thormas said:

 The reasonable of this position continually breaks down and under examination it contradicts itself.

Clearly your reasoning skills and mine differ on these points.

18 hours ago, thormas said:

So, now God doesn't know who God is? Talk about anthropomorphism. The more you explain, the more you move from God is everything to God is actually just one of us and actually not even like the best we have to offer: he doesn't even know who he, i.e. God, is.

Again, I am trying to express that God may not know God like you and I consider 'knowing'.  God could be experiencing everything that existence itself has to offer in all its different ways and forms.  Maybe God knows what that's like, maybe God doesn't.  Maybe it's all a new experience to God.  

Who says God has to be perfect?

18 hours ago, thormas said:

How can 'our' existence not be important to God if "God is experiencing existence.... if there is just existence?" Aren't we existence? Then you further divide God into a shell and the experience of the shell?  Why does God need to experience existence if God is (already and always) everything? Contradictions abound in this position.

I don't think contradictions abound.  I am suggesting your existence does not end, it just changes form.  Maybe this is like the Buddhists question concerning ego - we are so trapped in our own self importance that we don't understand that we are not all that important in the big picture of things.  Your atoms can't go anywhere, what is you today will exist in different ways in 100 years time - so there is no separation from God, only what you perceive because you think 'you' is somehow separate from God.  You are and will always be, God.

18 hours ago, thormas said:

But we're not talking about all other positions or understandings, we're talking about this (your) position which has mad a very specific claim: God is everything.  

But you would agree that there is no universal understanding of what God is, agreed upon by all?

18 hours ago, thormas said:

So the question remains: how can God, i.e. everything be unaware of anything or surprised by anything .......if all those things are God? And God who is everything does not know he is God? More contradictions and the rationale of the position doesn't hold.

Why does God have to know every feeling and emotion?  When you became a father and created your beloved child, did you already know every intimate and caring feeling you would have for your creation?  Did you know what those feelings would actually feel like?  So I am suggesting in a similar way that God might be also experiencing such and may not know what all of it feels like.  I don't see why that is so preposterous to imagine.

18 hours ago, thormas said:

To say that " all things are, come from and stay within God" is not the same as saying that all things are God. The former is participation, the latter is identification.

So you say - I disagree.

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13 hours ago, thormas said:

"One can choose to feel (be) separated" - this is only true if we are dealing with participation in God, not identification with God (i.e. everything is God).

Maybe, but maybe not.  Maybe being God means we can choose to feel separated if we want to - its all part of the experience of being God perhaps..

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I got that but you are still saying that God evolves. For something to evolve is to state it is not yet complete or fully itself. So God is not complete in God  or fully God? Again, if we go to the idea of participation or partaking of Being/God, we know that we and the universe evolves or grows but God is complete and fully God - in which all takes place and grows to fruition.

Maybe God ISN'T fully complete.  I'm not sure how you can know that God is fully complete.  You might think God is, and you are entitled to your beliefs, but surely you recognize that this is not a point that either of us can conclusively prove, so how can anyone conclusively state that God is this or that to such a degree?

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This is a bit of an aside to the main conversation but: 

Actually, there is the idea of what we call the theistic God (and also non theistic images for God) but the point remains: "the theme of man/woman being given the opportunity to live and share (partake of) 'the life of God" is a constant throughout. In the Biblical scriptures, there is not a belief that we, humans, are God or that God is everything but there is the theme of 'participating in and partaking of' the life of God. Given our many discussions, you already know I am not a theist: I don't share a theistic notion but I do recognize the constant theme.

Maybe better put - the theme of 'how' to participate & partake in the life of God is not constant throughout.  Sometimes it's about fearing God who will kill you if you trip over when carrying His Ark of the Covenant, whilst at other times to live how God wants you to is to take slaves and rape women and commit genocide.  Later it evolves into this Abba God where to participate in the life of God is more father/son than King/servant.  It's 'how' to participate in the life of God that I am saying is not a constant theme at all.

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Modeled by previous decision makers? Rather, simply read, understood and stated! We have been over the so called King God but even with this caricature the theme remains constant throughout and is referred to as the 'history of salvation.' Even in the so called 'ducking and weaving,' it is there. God as a golf buddy? Really? Can you cite the verse? As an aside I was just reading Ehrman on faith and works and he argues that the letter of James is in line with the authentic writing of Paul but takes on a letter that is not written by Paul which misinterprets or mischaracterizes the real Paul. 

God as a golf buddy is not a bible verse obviously (Jesus had a crap handicap so it never made it into the canon) but it is how I have heard other Christians speak of Jesus.  "What a 'friend' we have in Jesus" as the hymn goes.  I doubt you have not been exposed to people who consider Jesus to be more like a brother and friend than a raging King.

As for James and Paul, Erhaman does conclude that the book of James is a counter-forgery - i.e. the forgery of James is in responses to what the anonymous author of James understood of Pauline teachings (other forgeries), and Bart says that those teachings are not necessarily Paul's but have been put forward by other proponents of Paul.  Just how confusing was early Christianity and yet these books still made it into the Holy Canon!

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No, if anything the descriptions of God might be inconstant but the theme of partaking of the life of God is constant throughout the history of Judaism and Christianity, across cultures and covering centuries. For example, the Old Testament is the history of the agreements God made with Noah, Abraham, Moses and the people; it is the history of their covenant or relationship. And the New Testament is that history, that covenant, that shared relationship (and partaking of God's Life/Kingdom) continued and fulfilled in Jesus, his disciples and the people. The theme is constant! No doubt about it.

So we agree that the Bible is inconsistent with its various descriptions of God.  And I think you would agree that ways in which the bible expresses just 'how' to partake of the life of God is also inconsistent.  To me what you seem to be saying is that the bible consistently says there is a God and that we should partake of the life of God.  Fair enough, I can concede that this is what Judeo/Christians believed.  So?  You don't think it had anything to do with culture?  It's stark how this view didn't form anywhere else in the world around that time isn't it?

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It is fine to be a bit dubious or cautious in reading the gospels and letters of the NT but you seem to throw everything out rather than trying to determine what is in common and therefore has a greater likelihood of being an accurate take of he historical Jesus. You also seem to place a high value on lost gospels even though we should be dubious/cautious if we had them - and we do have some and some are highly entertaining. Isn't there one where little kid Jesus kills those who piss him off? Can we be dubious about that especially when compared to other gospels that tell no such stories? Are you saying Paul destroyed or discarded stuff he received from the disciples of Jesus (after all who else was there from whom he could have gotten his knowledge)? Do you have information of what exactly he discarded or destroyed? 

Yes, I am dubious about much - both what made it into the Canon and what didn't, including the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. I am dubious that anonymous, psuedographical and forged works can be untrustworthy as an accurate representation of what Jesus actually said and did.  I am dubious that over the centuries whatever Jesus really meant in the beginning was distorted or interpreted into teachings which other people may well have had good intentions about, but which could be wrong.  I certainly do not blindly trust that all that was written some 2000 years ago should be regarded as the only way to consider God.  But as for commonality, I just don't see it like you do.  I don't see either the Bible or the NT as a consistent book and I personally think one has to read such into it to come up with that conclusion.

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Again, I find this biblical stuff interesting but I only mentioned what has always been pretty widely accepted (the constant theme) and had no intention of shifting the discussion from 'everything being God' vs. 'participation and partaking' in Being/God.

I think the 'wide acceptance' to any 'constant theme' is a religious by-product of the bible and is also largely culture-induced, and I think it is being eroded away by better biblical scholarship and understanding of history.  Biblical scholarship has put the blowtorch to much that was 'accepted' about Christianity up until a couple of hundred years ago.  Progressive Christianity itself arises from many Christians having an evolving view on Christianity.  So I expect, Christianity will have a further take on participating of the life of God, next century.

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7 hours ago, PaulS said:

We could all be parts of the whole..........

All creation is 'in' this together -  however your argument has been that creation, including human beings are God, whereas my position is that creation is 'in' God and participates in God but is not identified as or identical to God. I am fine with moving to a macro level, however the discussion at a lower level has been sufficient to show that we are not God. We can't create on own own, nor can we survive and thrive on our own - even the lowly, asexual whiptail has needs. My position is that we may partake of Being, we may participate in creation - but we are not God.

Even at the most macro of levels, we human beings know we were not 'there' at the beginning, we don't even know if all this had a beginning and we know we are not responsible for 'sustaining' all things in existence. How can we be God, individually or collectively, or even with the rest of creation, if we know we were not there and we know that we don't even have the power to sustain our limited earthly life, not to mention all things for all times? And to say that God simply doesn't know or remember 'he' is God trips over itself and cannot sustain the position. Even to argue we were there in another form still raises the question, how could God not know where and when he is?

Your position has described God in terms (parts, not knowing, evolving, experiencing, needs, etc.) that one would use to describe a human being - this is anthropomorphism. But how could it not be if indeed, as you have said, "we are God." This is opposed to a classic philosophical/theological understanding of God which is not anthropomorphic: God is absolute, man is contingent; God is creator, man is creation; God is complete, man evolves; God is, man becomes; etc. And now you're saying that God feels and thinks as a goat, or a lizard, or a rock, or a plant? Well, if these are also God, he must not be like them, he must be them. However, in the participation position, God is not any or all of these things so he does not think or feel like anything: God is creator and source and enables all else to be, to partake of being and live, think and feel as itself. 

The reasonable of your position continually breaks down and remains contradictory as evidenced just by these latest statements: 

"God may not know God like you." Yet how is this possible if we are God?  

"God could be experiencing everything that existence itself has to offer." But, again, if we are God, we would be experiencing everything in existence - yet we are not or we are and we, God, simply don't know or remember it! 

"We are so trapped in our own self importance." But how can God be trapped or if we are God and what else is there that is as important? We are God! 

"What is you today will exist in different ways in 100 years time - so there is no separation from God." What we are today? Aren't we God? How can God be different tomorrow than what God is.......always, including today? 

"You are and will always be, God." So if I am or you are always God how can we ever think we are somehow separate from God? How can God ever think God is separate from God?   

Moving on:

I have no problem with the suggestion that existence doesn't end or that the 'universe' is eternal and that there is change in existence. This speculation is fine from a position that believes we and all participate in Being/God and we may even undergo or experience different lives in Being/God.

Actually, in the various theistic religions (even if they are more panentheistic in cases) there is, as Hart, demonstrates in his book, 'God,' an incredible agreement of what is said about God. However, the discussion is about our positions and I have been asking questions about your position and its contradictions with itself.

You are describing and actually comparing God to a human parent. If I were to do that, it is metaphor but, given your position, when you do it, it is a definition and a literal description because -  the human being is not God like or the image of God nor does it (only) partake of God's Being -  the human being is God! If so, there is no space between the two, actually there are not two, there is complete identification. And there is complete identification of God with the whiptail. How does that work? This position is more confusing that old time theism and it simply does not 'hold together' or make sense when examined. 

There remains a vast divide between saying "all things are in and/or of God" (i.e. panentheism and theism) and saying that all things are God (pantheism), that we are actually God. The latter cannot be explained or presented in reasonable way that actually makes sense to people as evidenced by a consideration of your quotes above.

 

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, PaulS said:

As for James and Paul, Erhaman does conclude that the book of James is a counter-forgery - i.e. the forgery of James is in responses to what the anonymous author of James understood of Pauline teachings (other forgeries), and Bart says that those teachings are not necessarily Paul's but have been put forward by other proponents of Paul.  Just how confusing was early Christianity and yet these books still made it into the Holy Canon!

True but the point remains that 'James' or its writer is in agreement with the authentic Paul and against the pseudo Paul who misunderstand faith and works. Actually not really that confusing when one has experts like Ehrman and others.

3 hours ago, PaulS said:

Maybe better put - the theme of 'how' to participate & partake in the life of God is not constant throughout.  Sometimes it's about fearing God who will kill you if you trip over when carrying His Ark of the Covenant, whilst at other times to live how God wants you to is to take slaves and rape women and commit genocide.  Later it evolves into this Abba God where to participate in the life of God is more father/son than King/servant.  It's 'how' to participate in the life of God that I am saying is not a constant theme at all.

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Great, you agree that the theme is one of participating and partaking in God.

3 hours ago, PaulS said:

I doubt you have not been exposed to people who consider Jesus to be more like a brother and friend than a raging King.

To look upon Jesus as a brother (i.e. fellow child of God) or a friend seems perfectly fine. Never was taught, heard or looked upon Jesus as a 'raging King' although it is a colorful image. 

3 hours ago, PaulS said:

So we agree that the Bible is inconsistent with its various descriptions of God.  And I think you would agree that ways in which the bible expresses just 'how' to partake of the life of God is also inconsistent.  To me what you seem to be saying is that the bible consistently says there is a God and that we should partake of the life of God.  Fair enough, I can concede that this is what Judeo/Christians believed.  You don't think it had anything to do with culture?  It's stark how this view didn't form anywhere else in the world around that time isn't it?

 There is not one, constant description which makes sense given the many writers and the centuries over which the scriptures were written. However, what is constant is that this God wants a relationship with people, who this God is and this is continued and crystalized in Jesus and the NT.  Actually the way to partake is amazingly consistent: the Law of God summarized in the two great commandments and lived in Jesus. 

So we agree on the theme. It is certainly within the Jewish culture and religious view but it also moved cross cultures in its Christian expression and later in Islam. However, this 'insight' did seem to parallel what was going on in other cultures without any obvious direct cultural contact between them. It has been called the Axial Age and refers to new ways of thinking that appeared in China, the Greco-Roman world, India and Persia in philosophy and religion. I have not read extensively in this area but have a couple of book in My Amazon account that I hope to get to soon. Is it exactly the same? Probably not, which would be the cultural influence but is there a real parallel in other cultures? Seems so!

Actually Hart in his book quotes Jewish, Christian, Indian and Islamic (and perhaps others, can't remember) thinkers showing the parallels and agreement in their insights.

3 hours ago, PaulS said:

I don't see either the Bible or the NT as a consistent book and I personally think one has to read such into it to come up with that conclusion.

I actually don't read either without consulting scholars and I make sure I have a mix: an atheist like Ehrman, a Catholic like Johnson. Levine a Jew, a believer like Allison and others, who I have no idea what they believe, like Fredriksen and Vegmes. I resist reading into the scriptures, have seen how people like Borg and Spong have done that, have forced myself to read a very conservative scholar's work and like to see how the best scholars, the experts, try as much as humanly possible to let the work speak to them - and I listen.  Actually, I have no axe to grind when it come to the Bible as I long ago moved to theology and philosophy as better paths for me to understand 'stuff.' I can both recognize the descriptions of God that we have discussed that are rather disturbing and weird and, at the same time, recognize the theme (previously mentioned) that runs throughout. Even in a discussion of cursing a fig tree or the incident in the Temple, I don't offer my virgin interpretation but go to different authors to see what they are writing about these biblical verses. As an example, I found Ehrman's book, God's Problem, on the vastly different and inconsistent takes throughout the bible on why there is evil, fascinating. And I was not disturbed or shaken by his scholarship. I enjoyed it and was motivated to figure it out for myself: I read a good deal on the topic of theodicy, finding much that resonated in the works of the British theologian, John Hick.I found no need to go back and read his insights into the scriptures. 

I see inconsistency in the bible, how could one not - but I also can see the themes that carry throughout. No reading into it required only a fair assessment, aided by experts.

4 hours ago, PaulS said:

I think the 'wide acceptance' to any 'constant theme' is a religious by-product of the bible and is also largely culture-induced, and I think it is being eroded away by better biblical scholarship and understanding of history.  Biblical scholarship has put the blowtorch to much that was 'accepted' about Christianity up until a couple of hundred years ago.  Progressive Christianity itself arises from many Christians having an evolving view on Christianity.  So I expect, Christianity will have a further take on participating of the life of God, next century.

I think the "covenant' (relationship and participation) theme is obvious and confirmed by a diverse group of experts. Who's is eroding it? If the blowtorch means questioning things like virgin birth, literal resurrection, responsibility of the Jews and not Pilate, the different theologies of the writers, etc. - I agree. However, there is much that 'holds up' and has not burned away. For example, is Fredriksen correct, using John's gospel, that Jesus traveled often to Jerusalem, was known and not considered a threat until his last visit? Was Paul the so called founder of Christianity as some allege or was there a remarkable sameness in his teachings and devotional practices with the original Jewish disciples and leaders of the Jerusalem church?

I agree that we will have a further take on participating in the life of God but just as with present progressive (Christian) takes, there remains a remarkable agreement with the insights of the scriptural writers. 

Once again, that was fun, thanks.

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