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PaulS

Deleting 'god'

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Edited by thormas

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Member Davidsun has been blocked from posting for a one-week period (until Saturday 10 March) as an administrative measure to discourage uncompassionate posts.

What is an uncompassionate post?– see below.

There IS an etiquette and guidelines to abide by here so that all members may participate in discussion threads without being called names or insulted or other derogatory comments made about their beliefs.  We don’t all agree all the time and vigorous discussion often does ensue, but everyone has a right to their beliefs here without being insulted.  It is a fine line sometimes and this decision is not taken lightly.  

I have only implemented a one-week period in this instance, but I think it is necessary for maintaining our forum for all who wish to participate in accordance with the guidelines established for this forum.


Paul

(As Alternate Administrator)

 

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On 6/1/2017 at 1:31 AM, SteveS55 said:

I think many people end up deleting "God" from their minds, if not their vocabulary, Paul. Some of the great Christian mystics ended up befuddled from trying to comprehend what "God" even meant so they just gave up trying. At some point the concept must, for many people, just be abandoned! "Pray to God that you may be free of 'God'"- Meister Eckhart.

 

Having read some of these Christian mystics, incl. Eckhart myself, I think it's a huge leap to assume that they mean "abandoning God" in sense of becoming an atheist. When you put together everything Eckhart has said, and interpret this particular sentence in the light of everything else he says (as opposed to, being biased to see atheism in it) it's quite unlikely that this sentence speaks of desire to reject theism.

 

The most likely interpretation, in my opinion, is that it's a rhetorical device for trying to point to a distinction between the kind of worship that is born of the holy spirit, and the kind of worship that is a product of unholy human mind. This is a common theme in all Christian traditions and it's not limited to medieval mysticism. In modern days protestantism, the same idea is put in statements such as "reject your religion and start following Jesus" or "I lay down all my religion and follow God" etc. I think we all know that the people who utter phrases like that, are not talking about becoming an atheist and very likely, the same applies to the likes of Eckhart.

Edited by Jack of Spades

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Posted (edited)
On 5/31/2017 at 7:48 PM, SteveS55 said:

The quote is contained in Sermon #87, Burl, although it may be a different number in some texts. Rather than take it completely out of context, I'm including a few more paragraphs from that Sermon below:

 

 

 

 

"While I yet stood in my first cause, I had no God and was my own cause: then I wanted nothing and desired nothing, for I was bare being and the knower of myself in the enjoyment of truth. Then I wanted myself and wanted no other thing: what I wanted I was and what I was I wanted, and thus I was free of God and all things.

 

 

But when I left my free will behind and received my created being, then I had a God. For before there were creatures, God was not 'God': He was That which He was. But when creatures came into existence and received their created being, then God was not 'God' in Himself - He was 'God' in creatures.

 

 

Now we say that God, inasmuch as He is 'God', is not the supreme goal of creatures, for the same lofty status is possessed by the least of creatures in God. And if it were the case that a fly had reason and could intellectually plumb the eternal abysm of God's being out of which it came, we would have to say that God with all that makes Him 'God' would be unable to fulfill and satisfy that fly!

 

 

Therefore let us pray to God that we may be free of God that we may gain the truth and enjoy it eternally, there where the highest angel, the fly and the soul are equal, there where I stood and wanted what I was, and was what I wanted."

 

Steve

I think this kind of mysticism can be easily misunderstood . It is not atheism in the usual sense.   Just like how a Zen master might give a sharp rebuke to a student who merely parrots an answer to a koan   without genuine understanding, we need to be cautious about misapplication of a mystical realization such as what Eckhart is expressing. 

 

On 9/30/2018 at 1:41 AM, Jack of Spades said:

 

Having read some of these Christian mystics, incl. Eckhart myself, I think it's a huge leap to assume that they mean "abandoning God" in sense of becoming an atheist. When you put together everything Eckhart has said, and interpret this particular sentence in the light of everything else he says (as opposed to, being biased to see atheism in it) it's quite unlikely that this sentence speaks of desire to reject theism.

 

The most likely interpretation, in my opinion, is that it's a rhetorical device for trying to point to a distinction between the kind of worship that is born of the holy spirit, and the kind of worship that is a product of unholy human mind. This is a common theme in all Christian traditions and it's not limited to medieval mysticism. In modern days protestantism, the same idea is put in statements such as "reject your religion and start following Jesus" or "I lay down all my religion and follow God" etc. I think we all know that the people who utter phrases like that, are not talking about becoming an atheist and very likely, the same applies to the likes of Eckhart.

Yes, that's closer to the truth.   He's speaking of mysticism.  He's not countenancing modern atheist cynicism.  He's saying you have to go beyond even your concept of God. But that still necessitates having a concept in the first place and taking it seriously more than simply saying "This God stuff is merely wishful thinking".

Edited by FireDragon76

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Posted (edited)

Sorry about the double post.

Edited by FireDragon76

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Posted (edited)
On 6/1/2017 at 9:44 AM, thormas said:

However Jen, there are those who remain 'rooted' and for them (and others), love is more than a vague ideal. So too, they realize that each generation must take its turn to nurture and care for what has been given to them and they see that for many of their fellows, what springs from the root, no longer provides shade, nor do they eat its fruit. So, they attempt to cut away what has withered, to prune where necessary and, hopefully, allow the tree of life to once again nourish the lives of those in the present generation. Gabriel Moran once wrote that revelation must have one food firmly planted in the Bible (the NT), which is the root as the other foot steps into the future. The back food supports and guides but the other foot, stepping into 'now,' allows the word to be hear by each new generation (in their words, within their world view) so there is always a 'Present Revelation.' Revelation is not facts or information handed down by the ancients in sacred books; revelation is always self-revelation, God's giving of himSelf so each generation might respond and live in relationship with the Sacred / with Love. The NT is the story of those who went before, who experienced the self-giving Love in the man Jesus; it is our beginning, our roots, but it means nothing unless, guided by it, we have our own present story of living in relation to the Sacred.

 

I see this thread as one venue to do that and the words God, Jesus and Christianity still speak to me and, with some watering and careful pruning, open dialogue with a new generation so the vine does not wither. Plus, I like what Chesterton wrote that the Christian is sure (in faith) of the ground on which he walks, so how can one fear a dialogue with God's children?

As somebody with a Buddhist past and who has returned to meditating daily as my refuge... I find the idea that a non-Christian cannot relate to God as a useful concept, and that we must instead be "protected" from it through language, rather paternalistic (even the concept of sacredness, for instance, isn't very helpful, since it is not necessarily found in some religious worldviews/philosophies).

Look at somebody like Thich Nhat Hanh, for instance.  He is definitely a Buddhist but is capable of understanding the concept of God and its significance for Christians.  He doesn't see the need, when talking to Christians, to mince words and pretend Christians believe in something they don't.

Edited by FireDragon76

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8 hours ago, FireDragon76 said:

As somebody with a Buddhist past and who has returned to meditating daily as my refuge... I find the idea that a non-Christian cannot relate to God as a useful concept, and that we must instead be "protected" from it through language, rather paternalistic (even the concept of sacredness, for instance, isn't very helpful, since it is not necessarily found in some religious worldviews/philosophies).

Look at somebody like Thich Nhat Hanh, for instance.  He is definitely a Buddhist but is capable of understanding the concept of God and its significance for Christians.  He doesn't see the need, when talking to Christians, to mince words and pretend Christians believe in something they don't.

I take it you don't mean the western religions like Judaism and Islam, correct?

As for the Eastern 'religions,' the Way of Taoism has always struck me as having to do with what I call God or the Sacred, even though the word might not be used. So too Buddhism but it has been a while since I studied Buddhism.

Not sure what you mean by protected: one either uses and is comfortable with God language, perhaps having reimagined it for their times, or not, correct? 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, thormas said:

I take it you don't mean the western religions like Judaism and Islam, correct?

As for the Eastern 'religions,' the Way of Taoism has always struck me as having to do with what I call God or the Sacred, even though the word might not be used. So too Buddhism but it has been a while since I studied Buddhism.

Not sure what you mean by protected: one either uses and is comfortable with God language, perhaps having reimagined it for their times, or not, correct? 

Bodhidharma, the monk who was said to have brought the Zen tradition to China from India, was once asked what was the highest holy truth he had learned from years of meditation.   "Vast emptiness and nothing sacred".  The notion of "the Sacred" is frequently a descriptor in a dualistic worldview, typically of a certain notion of transcendence.  The point of Mahayana Buddhism is that Dharmakaya (the eternal body of all the Buddha's wisdom) is immanent in the world, not separated from it.

Dao doesn't correspond to western concepts of God.  People don't pray to Dao, nor is Dao itself loving.  Dao is just the all-pervading principle behind the world of the "Ten Thousand Things" (phenomenal world) and the source of wisdom and virtue.  

 

 

Edited by FireDragon76

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1 hour ago, FireDragon76 said:

Bodhidharma, the monk who was said to have brought the Zen tradition to China from India, was once asked what was the highest holy truth he had learned from years of meditation.   "Vast emptiness and nothing sacred".  The notion of "the Sacred" is frequently a descriptor in a dualistic worldview, typically of a certain notion of transcendence.  The point of Mahayana Buddhism is that Dharmakaya (the eternal body of all the Buddha's wisdom) is immanent in the world, not separated from it.

Dao doesn't correspond to western concepts of God.  People don't pray to Dao, nor is Dao itself loving.  Dao is just the all-pervading principle behind the world of the "Ten Thousand Things" (phenomenal world) and the source of wisdom and virtue.  

Good explanation. 

I allow for a transcendent (sacred) presence in all things and in which all things are - and, by transcendent, I mean beyond or more than as opposed to a spatial understanding. For me, if there is too close a link 'between God and man, it can be reductionist, smack of pantheism and stumble into materialism. Having said this, if one is a panentheism, there is indeed so close a link (with God and creation/man) that it is missed in the ordinariness of life but it it essential to life and salvation (understood as Wholeness or Completeness). So it is all about nuance.

I admit I have no expertise in Buddhism, so perhaps there is more to this belief. Actually, some Christian writers have written that God is nothing (which perhaps go to vast emptiness) for God is not a thing among other things but the emptiness (nothing is also empty) or the nothing from/in which all is.

Dualism means 'opposing elements' and Christianity, properly understood, does not accept this opposition. Actually it does not accept the classic dualism between good and evil, contending that God alone is the Power and there is no equivalent or equal and opposing god. Rather than dualism, I see the Christian perspective as diversity in Unity.There is One but I am creation, not Creator - but it is the embodiment of the divine that completes and makes whole, the human. So Unity but not identity.

Agreed that dao does not correspond to God, however both 'religions' speak of the Way/Tao (to be) and it is in doing that one IS - as God is (I AM). Again, not an expert but  when I studied Asian history and when I, thereafter, read about Taoism, I never thought the two were diametrically opposed. In Christianity, the Way is also the source of Wisdom.

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, FireDragon76 said:

The creation-Creator distinction is a kind of dualism.

Christianity, properly understood, does not accept the classic dualism that there is more than one Power. In the Christian understanding, there is only One and out of that One there is creation. So we have more a paradox: the One, i.e. Being, creates all that is (still being), the One is immanently present with creation, the One is essential to the wholeness or fulfillment of creation, creation's 'destiny' is the One (again being). There is One and, there not only appears to be but, there is many (in the One). 

Given the freedom of man and creation, there can be, as we know, 'opposition' to God, but man and/or creation are not 'opposing elements' or powers. However, I am find with acknowledging an apparent dualism: Christianity posits that creation is real and it is for the creation (as opposed to being for the Creator) with a coming together of the many in the One, as opposed to the final unity of only the One. In Christianity, God's essence is his existence and his existence is his essence: God is complete - there is no need for God to know himself; creation is graciousness/love, it is for the other so that the others(s) may be and have 'abundant life' in the One.

Edited by thormas

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