Archive for the what I'm reading Category

Jesus says the Kingdom of God is here on earth

Posted in Christianity, The Spirit, what I'm reading with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2013 by jason elijah

In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus said, “The Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it.”

“If those who lead you say to you, ‘See, the Kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the Kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you.”

sunrise

In this excerpt from his book, Son of Man: The Mystical Path to Christ, Andrew Harvey describes Jesus’ vision of the Kingdom of God which is not about the afterlife, but a new form of society here on earth.

[The radical message and vision of Jesus] menaces both of the predominant modern visions of political organization — the “socialist” and the “capitalist” theories of society.

The socialist vision is “undermined” because the center of Jesus’ ideal society remains God, Kingdom-consciousness, and the living experience of love through communion — and not the State or some vague feeling of “fraternity.”

Capitalism, both in its historical and contemporary “globalist” and “nationalist” forms, is questioned because its frank advocacy of competition and blatant celebration of power and wealth betray all of Jesus’ beliefs about how human beings should live.

Any political vision, in fact, that is not primarily a mystical vision of transformation betrays the fullness and majesty of what Jesus had in mind; any mystical vision of transformation which does not also attempt forcefully to be a political one also betrays his vision.

He urged those who followed him to give generously to beggars, to lend money without expecting any repayment, and to give without anticipating any reward. The Jerusalem church after his death practiced a form of ownership-in-common, which may well reflect Jesus’ own beliefs. A kind of mystical “communalism” may be the best analogy we have of what Jesus intended for a society that reflected the egalitarian compassion of the Kingdom.

If everyone was equally welcome at the table of love, and love’s healing resources were to be shared equally with everyone, why shouldn’t wealth and land also be similarly equally distributed, so that no one need be poor and that everyone could have the chance at a decent life, and not at the expense of others but in admitted interdependence with them?

It is at least probable, even likely, that Jesus’ practical picture of the Kingdom on earth would have at its heart a vision of as equal as possible a distribution of wealth and property and access to, and control of, the sources of power.

As the mystic realist he was, Jesus would have known that mystical inner-communion had to be reflected, as exhaustively as possible, in the actual day-to-day relations of society at every level, and that the holy equality of beings to the all-loving eye of God could not simply be “experienced” but had also to be implemented in the life of the world.

To someone who has not seen the Kingdom, the games of power can seem sad but unavoidable rituals in a mostly evil world that needs hierarchy and power elites not to crumble into chaos. But to someone to whom the Kingdom and its glory has been revealed — and to whom the glory of the human spirit and soul have also been revealed — no arrangement deserves to be fostered that does not constantly encourage and inspire the transformation of the human into the divine human and does not constantly invoke the potential splendor of the new world, one in which the glory of God and of the Spirit and of the love between them would not only be honored but actively reflected in every law, every transaction between beings, every concerted “social,” “religious,” and “political” action.

When Jesus said “my Kingdom is not of this world,” he did not mean that it belonged to some purely ethereal realm: he was in not any way an escapist. What Jesus meant was that the Kingdom had nothing to do with this world, the banal, violent world created by human greed, ignorance, and folly; the Kingdom was the hidden soul’s reflection in reality and not the reflection of that blind false self that had — goaded on and inspired by evil forces — largely made human history. To make the hidden reflection of the soul “real” was the task of the life that Jesus came to “give more abundantly,” of the new being he was trying to inspire into action, and of the living and very heteroclite (“deviating from common rules or forms”) community that sprang up around him.

Jesus and dove

In the Gospel of John, when the Pharisees (religious elite) ask Jesus if he is the son of God, he replies, “It is written in your own scriptures that God said, “You are gods.”

We are all the divine children of the Spirit. We must bring the Kingdom of the Spirit into reality. “It will not come by expectation.”

Joseph Campbell says religious literalism sets Satan in the seat of God

Posted in Joseph Campbell, The Spirit, what I'm reading with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2013 by jason elijah

In this very straight-forward lecture by Joseph Campbell, he explains the Eastern (Hindu, Buddhist) spiritual perception of “mythic identification” (seeing yourself, the world, and all beings as divine) in comparison to the Western (Jewish, Christian, Muslim) spiritual perception of “mythic dissociation” (seeing the divine as separate from yourself, life, and the world). He also points out that the Western religions each have a unique “fetish” as their focal point…

tree of life

Gods and Buddhas in the Orient are not final terms — like Yahweh, the Trinity, or Allah, in the West — but point beyond themselves to that ineffable being, consciousness, and rapture that is the All in all of us. And in their worship, the ultimate aim is to effect in the devotee a psychological transfiguration through a shift of his plane of vision from the passing to the enduring, through which he may come finally to realize in experience (not simply as an article of faith) that he is identical with that before which he bows. Their mythologies and associated rites, philosophies, sciences, and arts, are addressed, in the end, not to the honor of any god “out there” but to the recognition of divinity within.

But now, in irreconcilable contrast to this ancient, practically universal mode of experience of the world’s and one’s own dimension of divinity, which I have termed “mythic identification,” there is the order of beliefs derived from the biblical tradition, where Yahweh, as we know (arriving very late on the scene), cursed the serpent of the Garden, and with it the whole earth, which he seems to have thought he had created. Here God created the World and the two are not the same: Creator and Creature, ontologically distinct, and not to be identified with each other in any way.

In contrast to the Oriental (Buddhist and Vedantic) ways of interpreting the symbolism of the guarded gate and passage to the Tree of Life — as referring, namely, to an inward, psychological, barrier and crisis of transcendence — the authorized Christian reading has been of an actual, concrete, historic event of atonement with an angry god, who for centuries had withheld his boon of paradise from mankind, until strangely reconciled by this curious self-giving of his only son to a criminal’s death on the Cross. The fact of the crucifixion was read as the central fact of all history, and along with it certain other associated “facts” were accepted, such as in other mythological traditions would be interpreted psychologically (or, as theologians say, “spiritually”) as symbols; such as (1) the Virgin Birth, (2) the Resurrection, (3) the Ascension, (4) the existence of a heaven to which a physical body might ascend, and, of course, (5) the Fall in the garden of Eden, c. 4004 B.C., from the guilt of which the Crucifixion has redeemed us.

God in this system is a kind of fact somewhere, an actual personality to whom prayers can be addressed with expectation of a result. He is apart from and different from the world: in no sense identical with it, but related, as cause to effect. I call this kind of religious thinking “mythic dissociation,” The sense of an experience of the sacred is dissociated from life, from nature, from the world, and transferred of projected somewhere else — an imagined somewhere else — while man, mere man, is accursed.

The sacred is now not secular, of this world of mere dead dust, but canonical, supernaturally revealed and authoritatively preserved; that is to say: God, from “out there,” has condescended graciously to accord special revelations: (1) to the Hebrews, historically, on Sinai, via Moses; (2) to mankind, historically, via Jesus; but then also, apparently, (3) to mankind, once again, historically, in a cave near Mecca, via Mohammad. All, it will be noted, Semites! No other revelations of this desert god are admitted to exist, and Extra ecclesiam nulla salus (“outside the church there is no salvation”).

To the formula of mythic dissociation, there must now be added that of “social identification”: identification with Israel, with the Church as the Living Body of Christ, or with the Sunna of Islam — each body over-interpreted by its membership as the one and only holy thing in this world. And the focal center and source of all this holiness is concentrated in each case in a completely unique and special fetish — not a symbol, but a fetish: (1) the Ark of the Covenant in the Temple; (2) the Torah in the Synagogue; (3) the Bible of the Reformation; (5) the Koran, as well as (6) the Ka’aba, of Islam.

In India and the Far East such revered supports of the religious life would be known, finally, to point beyond themselves and their anthropomorphic god: beyond names, forms and all scriptural personification, to that immanent transcendent mystery of being which defies though, feeling, and figuration. For, whereas the attitide of focused piety is there recognized as appropriate for those not yet able to live in the realization of their own identity with “That” (tat tvam asi, “thou art that”), for anyone ready for an actual religious experience of his own, such canonized props are impediments. “Where is Self-knowledge for him whose knowledge depends on the object?” we read in a Vedantic text. “The wise do not see a this and a that, but the Self (atman) Immutable.” “You have your own treasure house,” said the eighth-century Chinese safe Ma-tsu; “why do you search outside?”

For the lover of that jealous god in the Bible, there is no allowance for the following of one’s own light: the leadership and guidance of one’s own expanding, deepening, enriched experience of the nature of the world and oneself. All life, all thought, all meditation, is to be governed by the authority of the shepherds of the group [the Church]; and there can be no doubt, from what we know of the history of this tradition, that this authority was imposed and maintained by force.

But any religious symbol, so interpreted that it refers not to a thought-transcending mystery but to a thought-enveloping social order, misappropriates to the lower principle the values of the higher and so (to use a theological turn of phrase) sets Satan in the seat of God.

[from Flight of the Wild Gander: Explorations in the Mythological Dimension: Select Essays, 1944-1968 by Joseph Campbell]

banished from paradise

banished from paradise

Eckhart Tolle: breathe to feel at ease

Posted in Eckhart Tolle, The Spirit, what I'm reading with tags , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2013 by jason elijah

Eckhart Tolle

Here is a simple but very useful lesson from Eckhart Tolle about thinking, breathing and awareness.

Thinking is no more than a tiny aspect of the totality of consciousness, the totality of who you are.

Time is seen as the endless succession of moments, some “good”, some “bad”….

Yet, if you look more closely, that is to say, through your own immediate experience, you find that there are not many moments at all.

Most egos have conflicting wants. They want different things at different times or may not even know what they want…

…except that they don’t want what is: the present moment.

Be aware of your breathing. Notice how this takes attention away from your thinking and creates space.

Karen Armstrong lectures and interviews

Posted in Karen Armstrong, The Spirit, what I'm reading with tags , , , , , , , on January 8, 2013 by jason elijah

Here are 14 wonderful, in-depth talks, lectures and interviews featuring brilliant religious scholar Karen Armstrong. Watch below and save for your archive.

“Karen Armstrong is considered one of the world’s most thought-provoking and original public thinkers on the role of religion in historical and contemporary life. Her poignant writing and captivating talks have sparked worldwide debate and respectful dialogue.”

ka-case ka-battle ka-history

2004-03 [mp4]
Karen Armstrong hopes for compassion in religion

2008-02 [mp4]
Karen Armstrong’s TED Prize Talk – Charter for Compassion

2009-09-27 [mp4]
Vancouver Peace Summit – Karen’s Charter for Compassion

2010-04-27 [mp4]
Karen Armstrong at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine

2010-06-17 [mp4]
An Evening with Karen Armstrong at UC Santa Barbara

2011-03-10 [mp4]
Karen Armstrong on InnerVIEWS with Ernie Manouse

2011-03-13 [mp4]
Karen Armstrong CIRS Distinguished Lecture

2011-04-28 [mp4]
Compassion: Nice idea or Urgent Global Imperative

2011-08-06 [mp4]
One on One with Karen Armstrong

2012-03-20 [mp4]
Karen Armstrong in Vancouver – Jack P. Blaney Award

2012-03-22 [mp4]
Karen Armstrong in Vancouver – What is Religion

2012-03-27 [mp4]
Karen Armstrong in Vancouver – Compassion in Action

2012-04-23 [mp4]
Karen Armstrong – Big Think interview

2012-10-16 [mp4]
Karen Armstrong at St. Paul’s Cathedral

Carl Jung says God is reality itself

Posted in C.G. Jung, The Spirit, what I'm reading with tags , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2013 by jason elijah

jung1“To this day God is the name by which I designate all things which cross my willful path violently and recklessly, all things which upset my subjective views, plans and intentions and change the course of my life for better or worse.”

“For the collective unconscious we could use the word God. But I prefer not to use big words, I am quite satisfied with humble scientific language because it has the great advantage of bringing that whole experience into our immediate vicinity.

“You all know what the collective unconscious is, you have certain dreams that carry the hallmark of the collective unconscious; instead of dreaming of Aunt This or Uncle That, you dream of a lion, and then the analyst will tell you that this is a mythological motif, and you will understand that it is the collective unconscious.

“This God is no longer miles of abstract space away from you in an extra-mundane sphere. This divinity is not a concept in a theological textbook, or in the Bible; it is an immediate thing, it happens in your dreams at night, it causes you to have pains in the stomach, diarrhea, constipation, a whole host of neuroses.

“If you try to formulate it, to think what the unconscious is after all, you wind up by concluding that it is what the prophets were concerned with; it sounds exactly like some things in the Old Testament. There God sends plagues upon people, he burns their bones in the night, he injures their kidneys, he causes all sorts of troubles. Then you come naturally to the dilemma: Is that really God? Is God a neurosis?

“Now that is a shocking dilemma, I admit, but when you think consistently and logically, you come to the conclusion that God is a most shocking problem. And that is the truth, God has shocked people out of their wits. Think what he did to old Hosea. He was a respectable man and he had to marry a prostitute. Probably he suffered from a strange kind of mother complex.”

jung2“The absence of human morality in Yahweh is a stumbling block which cannot be overlooked, as little as the fact that Nature, i.e., God’s creation, does not give us enough reason to believe it to be purposive or reasonable in the human sense. We miss reason and moral values, that is, two main characteristics of a mature human mind. It is therefore obvious that the Yahwistic image or conception of the deity is less than that of certain human specimens: the image of a personified brutal force and of an unethical and non-spiritual mind, yet inconsistent enough to exhibit traits of kindness and generosity besides a violent power-drive. It is the picture of a sort of nature-demon and at the same time of a primitive chieftain aggrandized to a colossal size, just the sort of conception one could expect of a more or less barbarous society–cum grano salis.

“This image owes its existence certainly not to an invention or intellectual formulation, but rather to a spontaneous manifestation, i.e., to religious experience of men like Samuel and Job and thus it retains its validity to this day. People still ask: Is it possible that God allows such things? Even the Christian God may be asked: Why do you let your only son suffer for the imperfection of your creation?

“This most shocking defectuosity of the God-image ought to be explained or understood. The nearest analogy to it is our experience of the unconscious: it is a psyche whose nature can only be described by paradoxes: is is personal as well as impersonal, moral and amoral, just and unjust, ethical and unethical, of cunning intelligence and at the same time blind, immensely strong and extremely weak, etc. This is the psychic foundation which produces the raw material for our conceptual structures. The unconscious piece of Nature our mind cannot comprehend. It can only sketch models of a possible and partial understanding.”

jung3“It is only through the psyche that we can establish that God acts upon us, but we are unable to distinguish whether these actions emanate from God or from the unconscious. We cannot tell whether God and the unconscious are two different entities. Both are border-line concepts for transcendental contents. But empirically it can be established, with a sufficient degree of probability, that there is in the unconscious an archetype of wholeness. Strictly speaking, the God-image does not coincide with the unconscious as such, but with this special content of it, namely the archetype of the Self.”

“God is reality itself.”

“God is a psychic fact of immediate experience, otherwise there would never have been any talk of God. The fact is valid in itself, requiring no non-psychological proof and inaccessible to any form of non-psychological criticism. It can be the most immediate and hence the most real of experiences, which can be neither ridiculed nor disproved.”

“All modern people feel alone in the world of the psyche because they assume that there is nothing there that they have not made up. This is the very best demonstration of our God-almighty-ness, which simply comes from the fact that we think we have invented everything physical – that nothing would be done if we did not do it; for that is our basic idea and it is an extraordinary assumption. Then one is all alone in one’s psyche, exactly like the Creator before the creation. But through a certain training, something suddenly happens which one has not created, something objective, and then one is no longer alone. That is the object of certain initiations, to train people to experience something which is not their intention, something strange, something objective with which they cannot identify.

“This experience of the objective fact is all-important, because it denotes the presence of something which is not I, yet is still physical. Such an experience can reach a climax where it becomes an experience of God.”

Jung quotes from: The Visions Seminars, Answer to Job, Jung Letters, Vol. 2, and the December 1961 issue of Good Housekeeping.

Dr. Edward Edinger said: “Jung’s psychology offers not only a method for the psychological healing of individuals but also a new world view for Western man which holds out the possibility for healing the split in the contemporary collective psyche.”

Jean Shinoda Bolen on Transformational Women

Posted in Jean Shinoda Bolen, The Spirit, what I'm reading with tags , , , , , on June 24, 2012 by jason elijah

This is a wonderful 5-part interview with Jungian analyst and author Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen by Kimber Marie Lim. Bolen may be most widely known for her books, Goddesses in Everywoman and Gods in Everyman, which mystic/philosopher Ken Wilbur praised for their “wonderful presentation of all the ‘archetypal’ gods and goddesses that are collectively inherited by men and women…”





Elaine Pagels interview archive

Posted in Elaine Pagels, The Spirit, The World, what I'm reading with tags , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2012 by jason elijah

Elaine Pagels is one of the greatest religious scholars of our time and is Professor of Religion at Princeton University. This is a collection of her interviews from 1995 to 2012.


A discussion with Elaine Pagels
July 4, 1995 – Charlie Rose

The Beatrice Interview
1996 – Beatrice

Heaven’s Gate And Early Christianity
Spring 1997 – Sean Casteel: UFO Journalist

Bill Moyers Interviews Elaine Pagels
May 16, 2003 – PBS: Now

The Politics of Christianity
July 17, 2003 – Edge

Video interview
October 10, 2003 – PBS: Religion and Ethics

Interview with Elaine Pagels
January 2004 – Rodes Fishburne

Revisioning Christianity:
New Perspectives from the Gospel of Thomas
January 26, 2004 – Stanford University Lecture

The Gospel Truth
January/February 2004 – Stanford Magazine

A discussion about Jesus and the impact of Christianity
April 9, 2004 – Charlie Rose

There’s Something about Mary
November 2005 – Minnesota Women’s Press

Video interview
2007 – Barnes & Noble

Early Christianity’s Martyrdom Debate
March 7, 2007 – Time

The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity
March 14, 2007 – NPR (audio)

Gospel according to Judas
April 2, 2007 – Salon

A conversation about the Gospel of Judas
April 6, 2007 – Charlie Rose

The Mysteries of the Gnostic Gospels
October 1, 2009 – Future Primitive

“Gnostic” Is an Open Question: An Interview with Elaine Pagels
May 2, 2011 – Reality Sandwich

Elaine Pagels on the Book of Revelation
February 24, 2012 – PBS: Religion and Ethics

Book of Revelation: ‘Visions, Prophecy and Politics’
March 7, 2012 – National Public Radio

Elaine Pagels on Her New Book “Revelations”
March 13, 2012 – Religion News Service

Elaine Pagels “Revelations”
March 26, 2012 – Eye on Books

Elaine Pagels’ New Book Offers ‘Revelations’ On The Book Of Revelation
March 27, 2012 – Huffington Post

Fight the Power: How to Read, and Re-Read, the Book of Revelation
A conversation with Elaine Pagels
March 27, 2012 – Religion Dispatches

Revisiting Revelation: PW Talks with Elaine Pagels
March 28, 2012 – Publishers Weekly

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Books by Elaine Pagels:


Gnostic Paul: Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline Letters


The Gnostic Gospels


Adam, Eve, and the Serpent: Sex and Politics in Early Christianity


The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans, and Heretics


Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas


Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity


Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation

Jean Houston: an era of Quantum Change

Posted in Jean Houston, The Spirit, what I'm reading with tags , , , , , , on March 21, 2012 by jason elijah

Two wonderful talks by social anthropologist, Dr. Jean Houston.

Baffled No More

Possible Human, Possible World

Humanity and the World are Divine

Posted in The Spirit, what I'm reading with tags , , , , , , on March 13, 2012 by jason elijah

Insight about our unity with God from the Corpus Hermeticum.

If then you do not make yourself equal to God, you cannot apprehend God; for like is known by like. Leap clear of all that is corporeal and make yourself grow to a like expanse with that greatness which is beyond all measure; rise above all time, and become eternal; then you will apprehend God. Think that for you too nothing is impossible; deem that you too are immortal, and that you are able to grasp all things in your thought, to know every craft and every living creature; make yourself higher than all heights, and lower than all depths; bring together in yourself all opposites of quality, heat and cold, dryness and fluidity; think that you are not yet begotten, that you are in the womb, that you are young, that you are old, that you have died, that you are in the world beyond the grave; grasp in your thought all this at once, all times and places, all substances and qualities and magnitudes together; then you can apprehend God. But if you shut up your soul in your body, and abase yourself, and say “I know nothing, I can do nothing; I am afraid of earth and sea, I cannot mount to heaven; I know not what I was, not what I shall be”; then, what have you to do with God? Your thought can grasp nothing beautiful and good, if you cleave to the body, and are evil.

For it is the height of evil not to know God; but to be capable of knowing God, and to wish and hope to know him, is the road which leads straight to the Good; and it is an easy road to travel. Everywhere God will come to meet you, everywhere he will appear to you, at places and times at which you look not for it, in your waking hours and in your sleep, when you are journeying by water and by land, in the nighttime and in the daytime, when you are speaking and when you are silent; for there is nothing which is not God. And do you say “God is invisible?” Speak not so. Who is more manifest than God? For this very purpose has he made all things. Nothing is invisible, not even an incorporeal thing; mind is seen in its liking, and God in his working.

So far, I have shown you the truth. Think out all else in like manner for yourself, and you will not be misled.

Marion Woodman interview archive

Posted in Marion Woodman, The Spirit, The World, what I'm reading with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2011 by jason elijah

It has been said that Marion Woodman is “one of the wisest women in the world.” She is a brilliant Jungian analyst, mystic, healer, writer and international speaker. It is true that her work is inspiring, healing and whole-making. To share a glimpse into the world of Marion Woodman, I searched the web and gathered links to every interview I could find. If you know of any others, please let me know and I will update the list. Otherwise, do enjoy these, they are wonderful…

Marion Woodman: “When I say the feminine, I don’t mean gender. I mean the feminine principle that is living—or suppressed—in both men and women. The feminine principle attempts to relate. Instead of breaking things off into parts, it says, Where are we alike? How can we connect? Where is the love? Can you listen to me? Can you really hear what I am saying? Can you see me? Do you care whether you see me or not?”

Empowering Soul Through the Feminine
1993

Inner Man, Inner Woman
December 1993 – M.E.N. magazine

An Interview with Marion Woodman
November 1995 – M.E.N. magazine

The Dark Goddess Returns
1996

Marion Woodman Profile
May 13, 1996 – Maclean’s magazine

An Interview with Marion Woodman
November 1, 1997 – The London Free Press

Abandoned Soul, Abandoned Planet
1998

Robert Bly and Marion Woodman
Over a Decade of Magic in Working Together

1998 – M.E.N. magazine

Marion Woodman Interview
November 1998 – Yoga Journal

Slow Down and Meet Your Sacred Feminine
January 1999 – New Times

Taming Patriarchy
The Emergence of the Black Goddess

Fall/Winter 1999 – EnlightenNext magazine

Conscious Femininity
A Speech by Marion Woodman

September 2004 – 3rd Annual Women & Power Conference

Men Are From Earth, And So Are Women
Marion Woodman on the Inner Marriage of the True Masculine and the True Feminine

August 2006 – The Sun

I had a marvellous dream about a metaphor machine…
2007 – Ascent magazine

Marion Woodman video interview
2009 – PBS “Life (Part 2)”

8 Ways of Looking at Power
The Power of the Feminine

September 2009 – O, The Oprah Magazine

Jungian Analysis, Eating Disorders and the ‘Great Work’
May 21, 2010 – Huffington Post

* Marion Woodman books, audio-books, lectures and DVDs
* Marion Woodman Foundation website

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