What is left? (something to ponder)

Discuss arguments for existence of God and faith in general. Any aspect of any orientation toward religion/spirituality, as long as it is based upon a positive open to other people attitude.

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Re: What is left? (something to ponder)

Post by tinythinker » Mon May 23, 2011 7:58 pm

fleetmouse wrote:Beautiful, tiny, just beautiful. I want to see this thread take off because that's a wonderfully concise statement about the relationship between the contingent and the universal in religion.

Isn't what's special about Christianity the incarnation, though? The instantiation of the universal and timeless WITHIN the particular and the contingent? Doesn't Christ work as a bridge? I think I'm developing more of an appreciation for the contingent elements of the Christian mythos (I'm not asserting it's "untrue" merely because I'm using the word mythos), and how they function as humanizing elements... there's something very cold and inhuman about the transcendent, the thing that's supposed to be the goal of all this Eastern-ish winnowing away of the architecture of the self and its story.

Is it possible that some or all of the meaning we create for ourselves is in those "junk" layers? And that when we get rid of that, there's no "there" there? Isn't it an attempt to get outside of history and context, and isn't history and context where we create or find meaning? Isn't "self" (not as a reified hard thing but as a dynamic and changing process) something valuable?

Of course it's possible to get TOO trapped in the particulars of a myth - witness those poor bastards waiting for the rapture on Saturday. :-(
The reality of the present moment is at the convergence of transcendent and immanent. It transcends concepts, observations, opinion, preferences, assumptions, and the like, but it does so because it is grounded in itself, the basis of all of that is immanent, or even "immanence itself" as some theologian might say. It is the here and now. Not the idea of here and now, nor a mindless stupor, but a deep awareness. The ego assumes awareness, i.e. the presence of God, the peace of the Lord, etc, is cold and inhuman because it cannot conceive that there is anything other than itself, so if it isn't running the show, it presumes there will be some lifeless void. But the (Tibetan) Buddhists describe it as luminous. In the West it is called divine. The Japanese Buddhist and community organizer Jose Toda said it was life itself. There is no need to "try to get" anywhere, and certainly not outside of history and context, as these are relative and take place within the absolute. Instead, the idea is to not see history and context as fixed or as the total of reality, but as a passing reflection of a fraction of it's full depth. There can be no true "dynamic and changing process" if we live our lives in the psychological past or future. That is, we don't see what is but rather characters and feelings from the past, or we constantly worry about what we think will happen based on that same script. The script that says who we've been, who we are supposed to be now, and who we are supposed to be in the future. Throw away the script. Learn from the past, plan for the future, but transcend the script. The aspect of oneself that has a historical thread (our physical bodies, memories, ideas, etc) can be a vehicle for manifesting such depth, and isn't to be rejected, but when it becomes an end unto itself and tries to cling to something for a permanent sense of identity, that's when the trouble begins. There is then no winnowing away, there is the discovery of depth.

The story of Jesus is very interesting, because he is a Jew and uses Jewish conventions. Hence the eternal present, the awareness of now, the depth of Being, etc, is addressed as "God" or "Father". And to show his intimacy with this depth, he even uses the inflection which turns "Father" into "Daddy", as a small innocent child would use the term. He tries to convey his awareness of God by referring to being in the Father and the Father being in him, by referring to himself as the son of God, etc. He and the Gospel writers (sometimes it's hard to tell which is which) as well as the Apostle Paul also use the contrast between Adam and Christ. Adam represents humans who forget they are already created in the image of God, who are existentially unhappy and think they need to "be" more. This "fall" is the error of believing one is strictly one's ego. Its attendant need to (im)prove itself and reinforce its sense of solidity is countered by the image of Christ, the mantle attributed to Jesus, who by contrast is selfless and goes wherever the wind blows with no place to lay his head. There is a line that goes "as in Adam we fall, in Christ we rise." So now the question is how do we relate to this. If we go the ego root, the way of the flesh, then Christ is merely Jesus' last name. As such Christ is an object, distinct from us, into which we can vicariously tune or attach ourselves to in some weird magical way. Or, also in this ego mode, we can say Christ is just a nice idea, a psychic meme, a helpful myth, etc, and again Christ is just an object. It makes no difference if the object is mostly material, conceptual, intellectual, etc. This is why people got into all of those early heresy arguments that are reflected in divisions of the church to this day. It's all about Christ as object. It's all about ego. But if repentance is awakening the limitations of the flesh, of the ego, and renouncing its efforts to "save" itself, to earn a right to exist, etc, and to realize that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (within you), then Christ is not simply some Jew named Jesus, let alone some super-powered Jew names Jesus. Christ is a universal experience of becoming open to God. And in that, there is no first or last. There is no greatest nor least. There is no honor or shame or gain or loss, no treasure or poverty. Those labels are meaningless.

The trouble is, ego hates that. Flesh can't stand that. So Jesus tries to teach in examples people will understand and also tries to confound their expectations. But most folks who heard him heard with the ears of the ego. Not everyone had those spiritually open "ears to hear", as some Biblical contributors described it. So they imagined God on a throne and Jesus as his homeboy, as king and lord and head of the church. Trouble is, that makes sense in terms of Jesus' life and teachings only in an ironic sense. Without (being ruled by) ego there is no need for such distinctions. It's like saying, "Oh the world has kings and wants to know our king. OK, it's this guy, who was homeless, wasn't possessed by ego, gave his life to serving others, and was executed for not playing ego's power games." It's like saying, "Oh, you have your tribal or royal emblem, the banner you use to identify yourself. You want to know our emblem? Here it is, the image of physical and psychological agony and death." Because, it doesn't make sense to follow Jesus and have a tribe or kingdom, let alone a king or emblem, but the early Christians kind of threw it back at those who only understood such things. Unfortunately, many of them also forgot or didn't believe what Jesus was teaching, so factions emerged which tried to emulate the world. Their choices became traditions and then rather than being alive in Christ, as it were, alive in the presence of God, in the eternal now, many preferred clinging to the after-image, not as reminders of the present and the teachings which help us remember it, but to escape it (i.e. God) altogether and continue living the life of the ego. Even though the Old and New Testaments talk about daily bread and living water, many kept and keep trying to hoard it and store it away as some kind of wealth, but the mana in the wilderness became rotten with maggots and the living water becomes slimy and evaporates. And so basically this tension, the same one Jesus called out in his own time with issues surrounding the temple and the Pharisees and all of that, never went away. The two aspects are still alive and well in the church today, but historical events such as the rise of rationalism and empiricism in terms of religiosity were seized by the ego-driven wing and reinforced a lot of what people can't stand about the church today. The mystical element was nearly wiped out in the West during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, because on the protestant side it was too "Roman" and not practical enough for people in the north, and within Roman Catholicism it was turned into romantic emotionalism. It wasn't until Buddhism and Taoism started making inroads into western Europe and North America that we saw the start of the current revival of the contemplative traditions in the Roman Catholic and Protestant spheres.

So, no, the contingent in Christianity and the life of Jesus are not trivial, but it is too easy to make them into idols and to follow a corpse, not the risen Christ. Which doesn't just refer to a single person. Otherwise Jesus is a magic act. Look at me, I heal people and raise myself from the dead. It's also why I find the crucifix so powerful. Not the dressed up polite ones, but the ones that practically drip with sweaty horror, agony, and denial, where you think the figure is actually alive and at the point of death and of desperately wanting to die being in so much pain. Jesus was abandoned by his closest friends, publicly humiliated and slandered at trial and sentencing, physically tortured, and then killed in a fashion reserved for the worst of criminals and degenerates. That is pretty much everything the flesh--the ego--fears. It is the end of everything ego believes itself to be: physical form, reputation, etc. The truest part of Jesus, beyond any form (physical construction, mental construction, conception, etc) could not be harmed or killed. That is what left the tomb. Recall that resurrection doesn't mean resuscitation. It is more like a seed dying to become a new plant. Moreover, I am of the same mind as those who suggest Jesus was resurrected at his Baptism, but only spiritually keen people would have been able to know it. For everyone else, who saw with the eyes of the flesh, it wasn't until Jesus had died in every way possible for the ego to die that anyone could see past those forms. I find it wonderful and unsurprising that the first one to make this leap was a woman. Even Thomas couldn't get his head around it at first because he was so identified with form only as identity, especially the body (he and Philip after all clearly were shown to think this way in the Gospel of John when they didn't know where Jesus was going that they couldn't follow and then asked to "see" the Father). To me that's why we tell the story of his touching the wounds. It's isn't to prove or argue about a physical resurrection or insist it was just the same body patched together. But again, for too many I fear, the ego takes over and all of this becomes a good thing because it means we don't have to really die to ourselves, to our fixed sense of who we are, and because Jesus "did" A, B and C we "get" X, Y and Z. Typical ego-think. And of course, what ego "wants" to "get"? Hmm? And then the ego wants to define and classify "what" was resurrected, and "how" and on and on, missing the point of the mystery of it. The ineffability of it. OK, well, I think that gives the gist of what I'm saying.
Metacrock wrote:Tiny's observation doesn't take away form the incarnation it just means that there's more to it than just words on paper. The doctrines of Christianity must be experienced. The Trinity is not a formula it's a reality
True, but one can run the risk of getting hung up on "Christianity" and "doctrines". Because Being doesn't do labels or play favorites, but the ego can't help itself in creating and claiming these things and then defending them with ferocity as part of a fixed identity.
Last edited by tinythinker on Mon May 23, 2011 10:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is left? (something to ponder)

Post by met » Mon May 23, 2011 9:54 pm

Tiny, good post... :) ;)
The “One” is the space of the “world” of the tick, but also the “pinch” of the lobster, or that rendezvous in person to confirm online pictures (with a new lover or an old God). This is the machinery operative...as “onto-theology."
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Re: What is left? (something to ponder)

Post by fleetmouse » Tue May 24, 2011 2:09 pm

[it's taking me a day to read each paragraph of tiny's post and think through it]

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Re: What is left? (something to ponder)

Post by Metacrock » Tue May 24, 2011 2:30 pm

fleetmouse wrote:[it's taking me a day to read each paragraph of tiny's post and think through it]
He's a profound thinker.
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Re: What is left? (something to ponder)

Post by tinythinker » Tue May 24, 2011 8:04 pm

Metacrock wrote:
fleetmouse wrote:[it's taking me a day to read each paragraph of tiny's post and think through it]
He's a profound thinker.
Actually in real life I can be quite obtuse and shallow the point of exasperation. It's only through being too dense to give up and then accidentally falling open into inspiration that anything halfway intelligent comes out of my verbal expressions (spoken or written). I also suspect a bit of good-natured nudging and mild sarcasm from fleet anyway. I am sure he went through the whole thing in five minutes.
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Re: What is left? (something to ponder)

Post by Metacrock » Wed May 25, 2011 4:40 pm

tinythinker wrote:
Metacrock wrote:
fleetmouse wrote:[it's taking me a day to read each paragraph of tiny's post and think through it]
He's a profound thinker.
Actually in real life I can be quite obtuse and shallow the point of exasperation. It's only through being too dense to give up and then accidentally falling open into inspiration that anything halfway intelligent comes out of my verbal expressions (spoken or written). I also suspect a bit of good-natured nudging and mild sarcasm from fleet anyway. I am sure he went through the whole thing in five minutes.
Well I've never seen you in real life. I can't imagine that. you really aren't like that on the boards or the phone. Maybe in practical matters. I am a lot ore dense in practical things then I am in books. I just don't want to deal with practical life.
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Re: What is left? (something to ponder)

Post by fleetmouse » Mon May 30, 2011 8:40 am

Tiny, I find it very hard to respond to your heartfelt and eloquent post because I find myself resonating with it more than not. And on a messageboard, where does that leave us? :D So I'm racking my brain trying to come up with a bone of contention to argue about. ;)

I suppose I don't typically see Christianity in the light of that "Eastern" mode of thought. So when I ask myself what might possibly be the value of Christianity, I tend to see it in literary or mythical terms - here, I tell myself, let's view this the way we'd view the Iliad, or the Canterbury tales. And to refer back to your post, this "western" interpretation may well be colored by the influence of the ego-istic interpretations of Christianity that have been effective throughout its history. Oops, there I go agreeing again. :D

I will say though that I see the two modes of thinking as being complementary rather than antagonistic - the "ever desireless" and "ever desiring" of Laozi.

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Re: What is left? (something to ponder)

Post by sgttomas » Tue May 31, 2011 3:02 pm

I agree with person A.
I recognize that you aren’t totally discounting the role of the specific and contingent, but I don’t think I agree with you completely on the role that it has. I assert that it is not possible to extract one’s beliefs from the contingency of historical narrative. Changing or removing the historical narrative totally changes the nature and content of the beliefs. So the person would have “nothing remaining” of what was contingent upon those aspects, though obviously there is also a dimension of transcendent reality that is equally valid and necessary for beliefs. I agree with you significantly that the Christian history is spiritually corrupted because of invalid attachment to history and contingent artifices. By this I imply that the pathway to nearness with the Absolute was also corrupted because of wandering from the path. But I assert that the path to the Absolute is contingent, not on detachment of the ego from illusory non-Absolute, but by attachment TO the revealed pathway. In that way I have to agree with person A, but I recognize the wisdom in what person B is saying. The difference is entirely about whether or not one accepts the contingencies of revelation.

Here are my points of agreement and contention (just skip them if you get what I’m saying…I’m not trying to establish an argument on each point, just that maybe one example or the other might provide the necessary insight to see what I am distinguishing from what you assert). At the end I provide a summary of my agreements and contentions and describe the nature of what I believe is the proper depiction of Islam (insofar as I can do so in a few words) and of the religious life:
Anything, including God, that we can choose or lose, is not true being. It is an illusion. An idol. It's like the saying about finding Buddha on the road. You have to kill him. Otherwise you were just grasping at another idea. God must die to find God. Jesus must die to find Jesus. The Buddha must die to find the Buddha. We must die to find ourselves.
I agree with the notion that we have to transcend ourselves in order to understand ourselves. That is simply the realization that self-reference makes every appearance of reality both an illusion and a representation of something necessarily real. I assert that the self is both necessary and contingent. Where a religion makes an absolute claim of identity, this forms the template to which our contingent selves have to conform. There is no universal template of the absolute that can be assumed by us dying to our selves. There has to also be a contingent reality that we attach ourselves to, AND through this come to understand the limits of our self and our utter dependence upon the Absolute.

I agree that one cannot objectify God as just another idea. God is necessarily represented as “just” another idea when we are regarding the contingency of our self-identity (the Divine attributes of Mercy and Justice must be realized within our consciousness, but also remain beyond what can be conceptualized by our selves – there are layers to the Divine Reality and we are properly approaching ALLAH through these layers, but nearness to ALLAH is only by His permission). The representations we attach ourselves to are the only reality we have to mediate between us and the absolute.

However, I contend that there are specific valid means to approaching the Absolute, which are necessarily and specific. If you take away the Quran and the Sunnah, nothing of it remains because it is only to be fully represented by the specific character of its content, and ALLAH can only be properly represented by internalizing that content. We need to submit ourselves to ALLAH’s Will, but it isn’t any old will or just any path to the absolute; it is prescriptive and objective in its means.

The Messenger of ALLAH – may ALLAH shower him in blessings and grant him peace – said that none of us has the fullness of faith until we love him more than we love ourselves.

ALLAh – glorious and exalted is He – said that if we aspire to love Him, then follow the Messenger step by step and then ALLAH will love us.

The approach to the absolute is both about rejecting our desires of what we want reality to be like, and subjecting them to the specific template of human perfection that allows attainment of nearness to ALLAH.

I agree that to the extent that each of us has an organ for communing with ALLAH, we can attain something of this nearness without the specific and contingent – but that is not what the religion of Islam is characterized by. That has its own name (and is indeed an honoured way of life, but is not the highest calling). The name of Islam is simultaneously the incorporation of the love of the Messenger of ALLAH, by adoption of his words and actions, and also the purification of the heart (detachment from ego) and returning to nearness with ALLAH. But the method of detachment can’t just be invented by how we desire to know the Absolute, since that is itself an attachment of ego. ALLAH’s Will is specific, and submitting to it is a requirement. Without that, we have “nothing” of Islam.
Instead, the idea is to not see history and context as fixed or as the total of reality, but as a passing reflection of a fraction of it's full depth. There can be no true "dynamic and changing process" if we live our lives in the psychological past or future. That is, we don't see what is but rather characters and feelings from the past, or we constantly worry about what we think will happen based on that same script. The script that says who we've been, who we are supposed to be now, and who we are supposed to be in the future. Throw away the script. Learn from the past, plan for the future, but transcend the script. The aspect of oneself that has a historical thread (our physical bodies, memories, ideas, etc) can be a vehicle for manifesting such depth, and isn't to be rejected, but when it becomes an end unto itself and tries to cling to something for a permanent sense of identity, that's when the trouble begins.
I agree with the notion that the historical thread is a vehicle for manifesting depth, but I disagree that it can’t be an end unto itself. I assert that is both the vehicle of depth AND the end unto itself. We have two dimensions to our selves and we need to pursue both to be fully actualized as a human being ought to be. The inner journey obviously is the point of depth that I agree with you on, and it cannot be named but is necessarily experiential. But the outward rigor of conforming our bodies to the Will of ALLAH is also necessary in order to actualize the greatest inroad to that depth. Without that outwards conformity to a specific script (albeit one with various voices and roles) we cannot approach the Absolute by the proper means and so remain distant by greater degrees than by following the proper path. I’m not entirely sure you would disagree with me on this, you would just contend the details of the specific path.

Justice and Mercy are specific attributes of the Absolute that are necessarily tied to a script. We can’t have Mercy without a sense of Justice, but Justice can’t be actualized without defining the boundaries of the permissible. There are both Rights to be fulfilled towards ALLAH and towards one another; and there is Love to be had for ALLAH and with one another.

I don’t just mean that we can use the physical and immanent as a vehicle towards the Absolute, I mean that only certain physical acts and interpretations of immanence are valid. I repeat here that I think you actually agree with me in principle, but have contention with the set of acts and interpretations that I assert as being the valid ones. Clearly ego-detachment has implicit consequences on behaviour and values – you’ve said as much. It would be on the possibility of a True Revelation from ALLAH that we likely disagree.

I agree with most of what you imply about the character of Divine Approach. Obviously actions are by intentions (and so “right” actions can become invalid), but the ends don’t justify the means (wrong actions can never be right...and it’s all rather subjective about how one can re-characterize and action to make something wrong, something right: i.e. lying to Nazis about Jews in the attic). Instead the means are prescriptive and the ends are in the domain of ALLAH’s Will. Of course, with the complexity of human life, there is still a LARGE area of grey that isn’t prescriptive. That is where the inroads to ALLAH build up a character that shapes our path, and is individual and a “dynamic and changing process”. But Islamic history isn’t a continual path outwards towards the Divine, rather it is rooted in the specific course of history, grounded in specific revealed meaning, and contingent entirely upon the characterization of the Divine Will of which we cannot alter, nor apprehend anything of except by the permission of ALLAH. No amount of “dying to ourselves” will allow us to approach the Divine except by His permission and no amount of sinning will result in that permission – though repentance from sin brings Divine Mercy and nearness.
If we go the ego root, the way of the flesh, then Christ is merely Jesus' last name. As such Christ is an object, distinct from us, into which we can vicariously tune or attach ourselves to in some weird magical way. Or, also in this ego mode, we can say Christ is just a nice idea, a psychic meme, a helpful myth, etc, and again Christ is just an object. It makes no difference if the object is mostly material, conceptual, intellectual, etc. This is why people got into all of those early heresy arguments that are reflected in divisions of the church to this day. It's all about Christ as object. It's all about ego. But if repentance is awakening the limitations of the flesh, of the ego, and renouncing its efforts to "save" itself, to earn a right to exist, etc, and to realize that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (within you), then Christ is not simply some Jew named Jesus, let alone some super-powered Jew names Jesus. Christ is a universal experience of becoming open to God.
This is not something a traditional Christian, even one who is “alive in Christ”, would accept. For them the specific narrative of Christ is the atonement between man and God and Christ is identical to the Father, not just the realization of a universal experience of becoming open to God. That’s just rank heresy (yes, I read what you said about heresy!!...hear me out!). ...now...since I’m not about to defend the Trinity, I agree that the only consistent treatment of Jesus is actually to consider him as a human being who had a communication with the Absolute that is of the identical nature to what is open to you and I. Jesus was nothing more than a man, and a Messenger of ALLAH, someone beloved by ALLAH, and a person elevated to nearness to ALLAH in this life and in the Absolute-Beyond. Nevertheless, the actualization of Christ in a person is quite necessary for them to actualize “Christ within them”. It is precisely the experience of release from the bonds of the ego (the consequences of their sin) that is given objective reality through the material and conceptual framework for atonement on the cross. ...again...since I’m not about to argue for the validity of this theology, I agree that the same can be actualized without this specific objectivity, but then you are realizing a different religion from what other people self-identify with Christianity, and truthfully, whatever is becoming “alive within them” and you isn’t really the same thing, anymore than it is correct to say that you and I are the same thing because we’re both humans. Actually, the specific history and psychology that is uniquely mine cannot be eliminated. We can’t transcend the self entirely, we can only subject the self to the paradigm of the Divine Will for human reality. ALLAH is entirely distinct from human existence. We can’t transcend our humanity to become equivalent to anything of the divine reality.
The trouble is, ego hates that. Flesh can't stand that. So Jesus tries to teach in examples people will understand and also tries to confound their expectations. But most folks who heard him heard with the ears of the ego. Not everyone had those spiritually open "ears to hear", as some Biblical contributors described it. So they imagined God on a throne and Jesus as his homeboy, as king and lord and head of the church. Trouble is, that makes sense in terms of Jesus' life and teachings only in an ironic sense. Without (being ruled by) ego there is no need for such distinctions. It's like saying, "Oh the world has kings and wants to know our king. OK, it's this guy, who was homeless, wasn't possessed by ego, gave his life to serving others, and was executed for not playing ego's power games." It's like saying, "Oh, you have your tribal or royal emblem, the banner you use to identify yourself. You want to know our emblem? Here it is, the image of physical and psychological agony and death." Because, it doesn't make sense to follow Jesus and have a tribe or kingdom, let alone a king or emblem, but the early Christians kind of threw it back at those who only understood such things. Unfortunately, many of them also forgot or didn't believe what Jesus was teaching, so factions emerged which tried to emulate the world. Their choices became traditions and then rather than being alive in Christ, as it were, alive in the presence of God, in the eternal now, many preferred clinging to the after-image, not as reminders of the present and the teachings which help us remember it, but to escape it (i.e. God) altogether and continue living the life of the ego.
I’m not quite sure where you agree with me in this area:
An altogether different narration poses Jesus as the vicegerent who instructed us on the specific requirements of God’s Will and corrected misconceptions about the balance between the letter and the spirit of the law. The ego also doesn’t like to hear that it has to conform itself to God’s Will, which means denying that the ego is free to choose its path of transcendence. It does indeed make sense to follow Jesus in The Kingdom, which can be an Earthly Kingdom, because human beings actually live that way. Practically speaking we live under the Law and no society has ever conceived of a different order of affairs. The Will of ALLAH actualizes a nearness to Him through our humanity – including our societal arrangements, fleshly desires (sex as worship, anyone? Come to Islam!), and expressions of command and authority. It’s all a test, and the response is to worship ALLAH according to the confines of the ego that He has prescribed. And there is some flexibility in how to actualize that because we are humans and have our uniqueness to us. But it isn’t free from the objective and specific.
Even though the Old and New Testaments talk about daily bread and living water, many kept and keep trying to hoard it and store it away as some kind of wealth, but the mana in the wilderness became rotten with maggots and the living water becomes slimy and evaporates. And so basically this tension, the same one Jesus called out in his own time with issues surrounding the temple and the Pharisees and all of that, never went away. The two aspects are still alive and well in the church today, but historical events such as the rise of rationalism and empiricism in terms of religiosity were seized by the ego-driven wing and reinforced a lot of what people can't stand about the church today. The mystical element was nearly wiped out in the West during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, because on the protestant side it was too "Roman" and not practical enough for people in the north, and within Roman Catholicism it was turned into romantic emotionalism. It wasn't until Buddhism and Taoism started making inroads into western Europe and North America that we saw the start of the current revival of the contemplative traditions in the Roman Catholic and Protestant spheres.
I agree that the history of the people following on from Christ totally failed to actualize what he taught. There is also a rich tradition of Islamic influence on the Christian West, possible predating what you are mentioning here.
So, no, the contingent in Christianity and the life of Jesus are not trivial, but it is too easy to make them into idols and to follow a corpse, not the risen Christ. Which doesn't just refer to a single person. Otherwise Jesus is a magic act. Look at me, I heal people and raise myself from the dead.
Heh...umm...yeah, I can’t argue with that. ...well...except that I think that it is objectively wrong, but subjectively I agree that this is a more consistent interpretation with what the Christians assert about their tradition.
It's also why I find the crucifix so powerful. Not the dressed up polite ones, but the ones that practically drip with sweaty horror, agony, and denial, where you think the figure is actually alive and at the point of death and of desperately wanting to die being in so much pain. Jesus was abandoned by his closest friends, publicly humiliated and slandered at trial and sentencing, physically tortured, and then killed in a fashion reserved for the worst of criminals and degenerates. That is pretty much everything the flesh--the ego--fears. It is the end of everything ego believes itself to be: physical form, reputation, etc. The truest part of Jesus, beyond any form (physical construction, mental construction, conception, etc) could not be harmed or killed. That is what left the tomb. Recall that resurrection doesn't mean resuscitation. It is more like a seed dying to become a new plant.
Just have to say...Jesus wasn’t crucified, nor was he killed. I can appreciate the value of moral stories. This wouldn’t be one that a Muslim would ascribe to. ...just saying that as a minor contention on “path dependence” to ALLAH. It’s not as critical as, say, ritualized prayer.
Moreover, I am of the same mind as those who suggest Jesus was resurrected at his Baptism, but only spiritually keen people would have been able to know it. For everyone else, who saw with the eyes of the flesh, it wasn't until Jesus had died in every way possible for the ego to die that anyone could see past those forms. I find it wonderful and unsurprising that the first one to make this leap was a woman. Even Thomas couldn't get his head around it at first because he was so identified with form only as identity, especially the body (he and Philip after all clearly were shown to think this way in the Gospel of John when they didn't know where Jesus was going that they couldn't follow and then asked to "see" the Father). To me that's why we tell the story of his touching the wounds. It's isn't to prove or argue about a physical resurrection or insist it was just the same body patched together. But again, for too many I fear, the ego takes over and all of this becomes a good thing because it means we don't have to really die to ourselves, to our fixed sense of who we are, and because Jesus "did" A, B and C we "get" X, Y and Z. Typical ego-think. And of course, what ego "wants" to "get"? Hmm? And then the ego wants to define and classify "what" was resurrected, and "how" and on and on, missing the point of the mystery of it. The ineffability of it. OK, well, I think that gives the gist of what I'm saying.
It isn’t necessarily ego-think (ABC->XYZ). I disagree with you about that. I know totally selfless people who believe that – indeed ARE selfless precisely BECAUSE of that. Was one myself at a particular time. I agree that such a belief is incredibly PRONE to that failure to ‘actualize’, but I don’t agree with your construction of the argument. Maybe I missed the point?
Metacrock wrote:Tiny's observation doesn't take away form the incarnation it just means that there's more to it than just words on paper. The doctrines of Christianity must be experienced. The Trinity is not a formula it's a reality

True, but one can run the risk of getting hung up on "Christianity" and "doctrines". Because Being doesn't do labels or play favorites, but the ego can't help itself in creating and claiming these things and then defending them with ferocity as part of a fixed identity
This is obviously completely incompatible with revealed religion. ALLAH definitely plays favourites. Those who enact His Will, as exemplified in the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad – peace and blessings be upon him – are ALLAH’s favourites. This means both outward and inward dimensions. The inward is a good start, but the favourites of ALLAH are those who also subjugate their whole selves to His Will; and the religion of Islam has plenty of very specific instructions for what that means. Clearly you dismiss all of that as valid, but this goes back to the original conversation about Persons A and B...

I agree with Person A because the identity of a Muslim is inexorably bound up in the Quran and the Sunnah. A Muslim cannot realize nearness to ALLAH without those dimensions, and those dimensions are only realized through the contingent, historical narrative, and specific, necessary commandment, prohibitions, interpretations, etc. that ALLAH revealed to us.
I don’t expect you to agree with me about the nature of religion, but you’re wrong in saying that you can apply that conversation to Islam and have the same effect (well...you are right about some historical offshoots from Islam). I don’t think you’re right about Christianity, either, for that matter..though, I kinda do agree with you about Christianity, because I think they lost their historical validity and so are in the same boat as someone without a revealed religion.

Whatever they think they are following, it isn’t ALLAH’s Will, but some ego-invention through history. And I agree with you about your resolution to Christianity and your contemplation of the path to the Absolute. I agree with you about your essential conception of the inward dimension of ego-reform, but I can’t agree with you about the essential subjectivity of the historical script. ALLAH is path dependent and transcendence to the Absolute is not within the human dimension – we can only attain nearness to ALLAH (becoming more like the Divine attributes, but not acquiring something equivalent to the Divine), because the qualities of Divinity can only be actualized in totality and we are necessarily finite and limited in capability. So I don’t agree with you that ego-detachment is what we ought to aspire to, but rather ego-attachment to the Will of ALLAH. The Name of something is dependent upon its qualities and attributes, so since you don’t affirm the same qualities and attributes of Islam, I can’t agree with Person B that inclusion or removal of the contingent aspects of religion is the same religion. Islam without the Quran and Sunnah is not Islam. And the Quran and Sunnah cannot be replicated by human contemplation because they are Divine revelation; a unique and historically contingent event that necessitates out attachment to.

-sgtt
Prophet Muhammad (God send peace and blessings upon him) is reported to have said, "God says 'I am as My servant thinks I am' " ~ Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 9 #502 (Chapter 93, "Oneness of God")

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tinythinker
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Re: What is left? (something to ponder)

Post by tinythinker » Tue May 31, 2011 8:58 pm

My reply will be relatively brief because I am very busy and typing it out on the virtual keyboard of my Nook Color with spotty hotel wifi connection...

I am not a Muslim, so that isn't a concern for me. As I wrote to Fleetmouse, I do not reject the contingent, I simply don't confuse a limited view of a single configuration of it with the sum character of the absolute. Revelation for me comes and through all things, but sime things are more accessible and transparent for some people than others. I don't reject the historical, but neither do I priviledge any expression of revelation as more authentic or useful than direct awarenessy/the presence of the divine. If certain religious beliefs and practices lead someone to this, that's great, but they are tools. They like anything else can fuse with and illuminate our presence or they can obscure it. If some idea of rightness or correctness or superiority of ideas are what some folks prize in terms of religion and spirituality (and I don't presume whether ot not this applies to you) then let them have their intellectual or spiritualized treasures. I'm just not interested in that approach. For me what is right or correct or superior is whatever helps an individual to go beyond a purely egoic nature and into God-awareness, i.e. the absolute, the eternal present, the ground of being, etc. If some folks need the authority of special revelation to move in that direction, so be it.

As an example, the approach to Christology I suggested illuminates various views of Jesus rather than simply dismissing them. Various orthodox Christian teachings can be appreciated in the light of a dynamic and living spirituality as opposed to reducing interpretations of these teachings to fixed objects to be possessed and fought over. And while it is not a criticism, reading about eliminating specific history and psychology or transcending our humanity to become something tells me that what is being reflected back is not what I am trying to convey. Another way to say it: the contingent/historical is to the divine/eternal as waves are to water. You don't need to eliminate the wave to experience the water, nor does a wave need to transcend itself to "become" water. I will close with a favorite poem:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I will meet you there


When the soul lies

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tinythinker
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Re: What is left? (something to ponder)

Post by tinythinker » Tue May 31, 2011 9:05 pm

Sorry, here is the whole thing...

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I will meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase each other doesn't make any sense.
Adrift in the endless river

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