Dogma Bites Man

Discussion in 'Reincarnation, Religion and Spirituality' started by Steve, Jun 15, 1999.

  1. Steve

    Steve Grand Poobah

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    To get things started--and a little more focused--I'm posting an excerpt from Carol's book that outlines the early history of reincarnation in the Christian church. Actually, this is a section I researched and wrote (Carol gave me the hard parts to do) My primary source was H.G. Wells The Outline of History, but I had help from some tracts written by church historians as well.

    This is a short section from Chapter 14, Adults and Their Religions. The rest of the chapter explores how religion-induced fear prevents Westerners from talking about reincarnation; it includes a section on reincarnation and Judaism too.

    **********

    Dogma Bites Man from Chapter 14 of Children's Past Lives:

    The awesome charisma of Jesus Christ and his good-news ministry profoundly changed the lives of those who knew him and who followed soon after. The enthusiasm and spirit of the first Christians spread through the Middle East until what had begun as an inspired cult of Jews in dusty Judea grew to be a revolutionary religious movement pervading the whole Roman Empire. As the ideas spread, they percolated through the practices and theologies of existing religions and took on forms that Jesus would not have recognized——especially the institution of a formal priesthood to mediate between man and God. Throughout the first three centuries of the Christian era, there was no single Christian doctrine. Christian theology and doctrine——interpretations of Christ's teachings blended with ideas from other philosophies and religions——were hotly debated for at least three hundred years. Many of the tenets of the faith that Christians take for granted today were, during this long period of flux, simply one point of view among many.

    It is a fact that some Christian sects and writers accepted reincarnation as an enhancement to the teachings of Christ. Origen, one of the heralded Fathers of the Church and described by Saint Gregory as "the Prince of Christian learning in the third century," wrote: "Every soul comes into this world strengthened by the victories and weakened by the defeats of its previous life."

    So if reincarnation was an idea in currency with early Christians, why have all traces of it disappeared from the Christian religion we know today?

    By the early fourth century, strong Christian factions were vying with each other for influence and power, while at the same time the Roman Empire was beginning to fall apart. In A.D. 325, in a move to renew the unity of the empire, the absolute dictator Emperor Constantine convened the leaders of the feuding Christian factions at the Council of Nicaea. He offered to throw his imperial power behind the Christians if they would settle their differences and agree on a single creed. Decisions made at this first council set the foundation for the Roman Catholic Church. (Soon after, the books of the Bible were fixed too.) For the sake of unity, all beliefs that conflicted with the new creed were banished; in the process the factions and writings that supported reincarnation were thrown out.

    Then, with the applause and support of the Christian leaders, Constantine moved to eliminate competing religions, and to make his personal grip on the Empire even more absolute. The result of the marriage between church and imperial state was a new Church made in the image of the autocratic Roman Empire. This is why, according to some historians, the Church exalts unquestioned central authority, imposes a singular dogmatic creed on its followers, and works so hard to stamp out divergent ideas. This is important, because reincarnation fell outside the official creed.

    Apparently some Christians continued to believe in reincarnation even after the Council of Nicaea, because in A.D. 553 the Church found the need to single out reincarnation and condemn it explicitly. At the Second Council of Constantinople the concept of reincarnation, bundled together with other ideas under the term "pre-existence of the soul", was decreed to be a crime worthy of excommunication and damnation ("anathema"):

    Why would the Church go to such lengths to discredit reincarnation? The implicit psychology of reincarnation may be the best explanation. A person who believes in reincarnation assumes responsibility for his own spiritual evolution through rebirth. He does not need priests, confessionals, and rituals to ward off damnation (all ideas, incidentally, that were not part of Jesus' teachings). He needs only to heed his own acts to himself and others. A belief in reincarnation eliminates the fear of eternal hell that the Church uses to discipline the flock. In other words, reincarnation directly undermines the authority and power of the dogmatic Church. No wonder reincarnation made the Defenders of the Faith so nervous.

    Despite the decree of 553, belief in reincarnation persisted among the rank and file. It took another thousand years and much bloodshed to completely stamp out the idea. In the early thirteenth century, the Cathars, a devout and enlightened sect of Christians who believed in reincarnation, flourished in Italy and southern France. The pope launched a crusade to stop their heresy, a half million people were massacred whole villages at a time, and the Cathars were totally wiped out. This purging set the tone for the brutal Inquisition that began soon after. Not only was a belief in reincarnation cause for persecution, but so was belief in any metaphysical idea that fell outside the bounds of Church dogma.

    The murderous efficiency of the Inquisition proved effective. The persecution by the institutional Church has scarred our collective psyche and surrounded us with an invisible fence dividing what is safe from what is dangerous to believe. Since then, people who harbor forbidden ideas have learned to keep their thoughts to themselves. Our cultural memory still carries the fear of reprisal for publicly associating with any occult practices, the use of psychic powers, or a belief in reincarnation.

    Here it is, the source of the double standard. No wonder so many people today believe in reincarnation privately but are afraid that if they come out publicly, they will be attacked for being weird——the modern word for heresy. Maybe by understanding where this fear comes from, we can negate its hold on us and turn off the invisible fence. So when our children speak of past lives, we can follow our hearts and not our fears——and believe them.

    Copyright 1997 by Carol Bowman and Steve Bowman
     
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  2. davev

    davev Guest

    Pre-existence of souls does not necessarily imply reincarnation. The doctrine of pre-existence of souls implies the souls existed some place else, not necessarily as living beings as we know them on Earth.
     
  3. jeremy

    jeremy Guest

    Thanks for the great post Steve,I will go back and read through that chapter again.
    The reason I am on a quest to know more is that my church going friends wont be able to accept this untill they see where the lines are drawn.It's sad my Prostentant buddies are scared of anything they dont understand they call any non Prostentant teaching heresy especially if it came from the catholic church.
    So this is really a great topic where we need all the information that we can get to prove that this really is true.
     
  4. Steve

    Steve Grand Poobah

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    To Davev,

    Pre-existence of the soul *does* imply reincarnation. As I said in the piece, reincarnation was bundled with other ideas under the term pre-existence of the soul, and condemned. The actually history is much more complicated than I could represent in this short piece--the three hundred years between Christ and the Council of Nicaea is a long time for a largely oral culture. The point is that many, many ideas and diverging opinions on what Chirst meant were expunged in favor of a unified, and politically convenient, creed.

    Jeremy, if your Protestant friends label anything outside their own church's teachings as heresy, you aren't going to convince them with history, no matter how well documented it is. Show them "Dogma Bites Man" and see what they say. I'll be surprised if it makes a dent. I wrote that for people with at least some amount of their mind still open to new facts.

    Steve


    ------------------
    Steve
    Webmaster, www.childpastlives.org
     
  5. Steve, the members of the CHurch of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) hold to one of the few religious traditions that specifically teach pre-existence. Yet, they do not teach reincarnation. Their view of pre-existence (and I hope I am not misstating it ) is that souls live in the heavenly realm of the Father -- God -- before they come to earth for their one earth experience, from which they return to the heaven world. Because of their belief in pre-existence they have done a great job of recording instances of pre-birth communication and memory of pre-earth life. Their "alternative" view of pre-existence is a stimulating challenge to my thinking, for sure. You are correct that the Church long ago anathematized "the heinous doctrine of pre-existence." I always thought it was weird that the church (Catholic) had nothing to teach me of existence before this life, but so much to expound about future destinations!
     
  6. Mylene

    Mylene Guest

    Thank you Steve for your information it was very interesting to read.
    I am catholic because I was born in a catholic family but I had to live abroad to realise that I could not just say I am chretien. That was not enough. I had to specify that I was catholic not protestant or methodist etc...
    Yet I like to consider myself just a chretien. I feel I am a chetien because I am very attached to what I know of Christ and it inspires my approach to life. I also feel very lucky because I was born in a country where people now do not care much about what you believe, considering it your personnal choice.
    To me all those differences are feuds and I don't have interest to dig in it. I have try to read the bible in French and in English. A lot of it past way above my head as I have a hard time keeping my attention on old styles of writing.
    Yet having said all that, I had several past lifes spontanuous experiences before I finely accepted to believe in re-incarnation. One of these past life was most probably as a cathare, pretty traumatic. Believing in re-incarnation was a big step for me. My understanding of re-incarnation was limited to what I knew of Indian's social casts. Before my attitude had been I stay in the craddle of my church and I pay attention to what I believe and discard the rest. Accepting re-incarnation made me look at life in a very different perspective. But I feel I am still as blind by day as the other owls!
    So I do appreciate reading your information as you are digging in history to find proof to validate that re-incarnation was accepted by the early chretians.
    Also I agree that if we can let our children keep and trust the wiseness they came on earth with they will have a better chance to fullfill their lives and they can be our teachers in many ways.
     
  7. Peter V

    Peter V Senior Registered

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    Other aspects of The Bible people often ignore is ancient slang. Having studied near east cultures for a few years, I have found that many terms in The Bible were actually "slang" for specific meanings and usually meant something entirely different than their literal translation.

    For example, the term "40" in ancient times meant "a lot". Therefore, when we read of rain falling for 40 days and 40 nights, we should consider the fact that the term "40" meant "a lot" when it was written. So, instead of it raining for 40 days and nights, it should read "a lot" or "many".

    Another example can be found with the word "son". "Son" in ancient times meant "One who inherits his fathers house". Now apply this to the statements in The Bible where this term is often used. When Christ is refered to as the only Son of God, it is not meant to mean that Christ was the only individual to be born divine. It means that Christ was the only individual to fully inherit the house of God/become fully conscious of His Oneness with God.


    "Even as I do these things, so to shall you, and more"

    ------------------
    Peter VanderZwet
    True Origins
     
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  8. Deborah

    Deborah Executive Director

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    Hi Peter,

    Yours truly here. (I have full intentions of delving back into Egypt with you soon.)
    Great observations regarding the Bible and slang BTW! Thanks for sharing!

    You said..."It means that Christ was the only individual to fully inherit the house of God/become fully conscious of His Oneness with God."

    Hummmm the ONLY individual.....???? Aren't we all connected? Sons and daughters of GOD? Haven't there been others? Buddha - Just to name one. Then you put in the quote....."Even as I do these things, so to shall you, and more"

    Can you clarify for me? How can the first be true if the quote is also true?

    Love,
    Deborah
     
  9. Deborah

    Deborah Executive Director

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    Hi Hermit -

    I have read many texts by many cultures regarding religion and beliefs and they are wonderful.

    Sumer, Babylon, Chaldea, Egypt - all set the stage for Christianity. Are you familar with the story of Gilgamesh? The Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the oldest and most moving stories rooted in the ancient wisdom-tradition of mankind. Recited for nearly three millennia, it was virtually lost for another two with the advent of Christianity. ---------

    Love,
    Deborah
     
  10. Patrik

    Patrik Senior Registered

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    Shalom hermit

    I wish this dicussion would be on in the egroups, it be SOO much easier.

    You're right in saying that NT is the best preserved collection of writings from the antiquity, what comes to the number of extant manuscripts. But there is a problem with the fact that we don't know who were the authors of the gospels, nor exactly when they were written. Especially the authencity of the Yeshuic sayings in the gospel of John is highly doubtful, as it's oracles bear a distinct Greek oratory style, VERY different from the Aramaic style of speech found in the synoptics. There are also other indications of a different origin in the gospel e.g.

    "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him." John 6.53-56

    To eat someones flesh and drink his blood, is a Jewish/Arabic idiom for inflicting upon the person some serious injury, especially by calumny or by false accusation. Thus Yeshua would be here saying that we can have resurrection and eternal life only by hating and slandering him. This could not originate in a Semitic culture, i.e. with Yeshua.
    There is strong evidence to suggest that the material contained in the gospels had been "filtered" already at their conception, whether the motives for this were sincere or insincere.

    The evidence that k'bar enash (one like a son of man) in Daniel 7 is symbolic of Israel and not Mashiach, is rather overwhelming. But I don't put it here unless someone is interested.
    Also, this son of man is not worshiped, that is misunderstanding of the words used.
    And in Yesh 9.6 the Hebrew text doesn't read "he will be called" but "he called", that is; the child calls someone by these names, that someone apparently being G-d.

    The phrase "the kingdom of G-d is within you" would probably better translate to "the kingdom of G-d is in the midst of you", referring to the same as the parables of the mustard seed and the leaven. The kingdom doesn't really come the day Mashiach appears, the world cannot turn good with any magic tricks, it's up to the people if there is really going to be peace and goodwill among all men. And the kingdom of G-d is already there were there are people hastening the redemption.
    The phrase "kingdom of Heaven" doesn't indicate that the kingdom is in heaven or that it is only a spiritual reality. The Heaven is just a substitute word for the unpronouncable Name Y-H-V-H, as is also Adonai, the L-rd. The Hebrew phrase is "malkhut Shamayim", used also by other Rabbis.

    Although I do appreciate the similarities between Judaism and Hinduism, especially in Kaballa, there are also significant differences.
    Although there is a hierarchy of spirits, angels and demons, only One, the Source of existence, is G-d. The creation mirrors Him, but He Himself is unknowable and hidden.

    Verily Thou art a God that hidest Thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour. Yesh 45.15

    The kingdom of G-d is, in contrast to the Hindu Nirvana, an earthly concept, a just society. Olam habbah (the world to come) is a whole another chapter alltogether.
    Also, in contrast to the Hindu perceptions, material existence is good. Sin is misuse of the creation.
    While in Hinduism a person seeks to get himself a dwelling in the transcendental, in Judaism one seeks to make the world a dwelling for G-d.

    Also, there is a mistake, often encountered, that it was Yeshua who introduced the mitzvot (commands) of, "Hear, O Israel, the L-rd is your G-d, the L-rd alone. And you shall love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might." and "you shall love your neighbor as yourself" Deut 6.4,5+Lev 19.18
    It was G-d through Mosheh, almost 1500 years earlier. Also the historical Jew Yeshua bar Yossef taught people to observe all the 613 mitzvot of Torah, with humility and compassion.

    Light.

    Heikki
     
  11. hermit

    hermit Guest

    Shanti Heikki!


    I believe the gospel of John was actually written by John (dictated by him to Greek scribes) and is a reliable testimony to the words and acts of Jesus. There are several reasons for this.

    First is the fact that early writers such as Irenaeus and Tertullian say that John wrote this gospel, and they were close enough to the action to know. Irenaeus sat at the feet of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the apostle John. It would be inconceivable for him to have gotten that information wrong.

    Also, the earliest text fragment of any gospel is a papyrus fragment of John, dated from 98-138 ad, I believe in the Rylands collection. This was a copy found far from where the gospel was composed. This supports the testimony of early Christian writers, who said that John wrote late in his life to supplement the other gospels, and proves rather conclusively that the late dating of liberals and non-believers is wrong (they say that John' gospel was written by several people long after John's death, and that legends had crept in.)

    The author knew Jewish beliefs well, as seen by several references to popular Messianic speculations, to the hostility between Jews and Samaritans, and to Jewish customs such as the duty of circumcision on the eighth day taking precedence over the prohibition of working on the Sabbath (7:22). He knew the geography of Palestine, locating Bethany about 15 stadia from Jerusalem (11:8) and mentioning Cana, a village not referred to in any earlier writing known to us.

    Recently the architectural detail of the five covered collonades surrounding the pool at Bethesda (5:2) has been confirmed by archaeological digs.

    This gospel also has many passages obviously based on eyewitness recollections, such as the house at Bethany being filled with the fragrance of the broken perfume jar.

    So we see that John really did write his gospel.

    We might further ask whether John was making up tales or embroidering the truth, such as was encouraged in the nearby Roman and Greek cultures. I feel this is unlikely, for the reason that ancient Jews were raised from childhood to feel complete revulsion for anyone who lied about God or divine matters. This was blasphemy, and it was punishable by death. Neither Matthew nor John would have felt free to make up long, detailed fables of someone who claimed a unique relationship with God, and backed up the claim with astonishing, effortless miracles and a resurrection from death.

    Was Jesus a con artist who tricked everyone with staged performances? John certainly could not have been fooled, since he lived and travelled with him for 3 years. If the apostles had been "in it" with Jesus, surely they would have fallen apart at the first sign of persecution after his crucifixion. Who would willingly die for a magician or con artist?

    So the gospel of John was written (dictated) by John, and is reliable testimony about Christ's words and actions, despite there being some possible minor problems from him writing long after the events, and filtering through his beliefs and theological speculations (e.g. while John obviously believed Jesus was God incarnate, Jesus himself did not explicitly claim to be so).

    Given this, I find that the words of Jesus "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you," are perhaps the most persuasive evidence that he was God in the flesh (can we limit God by saying it is impossible for Him to incarnate?). These words are not just shocking to us, they were also shocking to the great multitude which followed him around, who deserted him as he emphatically reiterated the statement. At any time he could have said something like, "Aw guys, I was just speaking symbolically..." and they would have stayed with him. Only the inner group of 12 stayed.

    If God were to secretly visit us, like the stories of kings or presidents disguising themselves and "slumming," would you not expect him to say shocking, enigmatic things that simultaneously reveal truths and create further mysteries?

    To me, that statement draws attention to the idea that we are "eating God and drinking his blood" by our very existence on this planet, which is part of His vast body. We must eat other living organisms to survive, their "flesh and blood" goes to feed us, and ours will feed other organisms, if only microorganisms, when we die. "All life is sustained by sacrifice" says Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. Perhaps God himself came down to become the main sacrificial victim in the terrible, magnificent drama He initiated.
     
  12. Deborah

    Deborah Executive Director

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    Hello,

    Well, I shall have to disagree with you Parick; But that's OK to agree to disagree. Do you ever wonder - in Genesis when God created light before the sun and the moon, what LIGHT the prophets of old were referring to?

    You said:
    The phrase "the kingdom of G-d is within you" would probably better translate to "the kingdom of G-d is in the midst of you," referring to the same as the parables of the mustard seed and the leaven.

    Within the Nag Hammandi Library Jesus is quoted to say:

    Regarding this very special relationship of sons/children to their living Father's Light, Jesus continues to clarify His position with the following words.

    Jesus is speaking of the Father's "infinite light" in Him and that this is the "I" of which He continually speaks. He also says that His Inner self is so close to this Light that His Consciousness, or the principle "I" of His existence, has become like a "new man." His new consciousness has "come to my own" true self realization. Therefore, the inner human experience of coming "to know" the "infinite light" of the "incomprehensible Father" is the same experience as coming to "know yourselves."

    Love,
    Deborah
     
  13. DJ

    DJ Senior Registered

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    Everyone,

    I assume most of us have seen the movie "The Wizard of Oz"---right? Have you read the series of books by L. Frank Baum? (The books are better.
    Anyhow, in the books, Dorothy travels to Oz for real. There is no "dream."
    However, I would liken *the movie* to existence. In the movie, Dorothy leaves home to travel to a world simultaneously full of fun, danger and color. She takes to the Yellow Brick Road, on foot, to make the long journey to the Emerald City so she can talk to "Oz" about going back home. On the way there she encounters people she loves, creatures which repel her, events she doesn't understand, those who help her, and others who seem determined to make the whole trip difficult.
    In the end, Dorothy discovers that she had had the power to return home ALL ALONG. She hadn't really needed to speak to "Oz", because the answer had been inside her self the whole time.

    Light,

    DJ
     
  14. RavinStar

    RavinStar Guest

    When it is established that the Bible has been translated, edited, retranslated,parts removed, etc. then what is the purpose of trying to prove anything by quoting the fictious thing.

    The problem with us is that we have grown up in a society that has basicly "brain-washed" us into thinking that Christianity is what it is all about. Even if we rationally and consciously know the futility of it all, we still want to accept it on a certain level because it is now a part of our values. It is very hard to change ones values as it is a part of us - no matter how wrong it might be.

    We need to somehow start with a clean slate. With a clean slate it will become painfully obvious that Christian dogma is a distorted bunch of tales forced into some kind of belief to control the masses.
    Reincarnation is logical. We are totally responsible for what we do. There is no "god" out there who will punish us or give us rewards for the asking (prayers). What happens to us is our own fault - if we win a million dollars it is our own fault; if we choose to be born blind it is our own responsibility.

    Let's stop the useless exercise of quoting the Bible, or any other collection of fables, as a truth and get on with living. We are an energy source, some might call Souls. Collectively our Souls are a part of an ocean of Souls some might call Spirit. This "Spirit-That-Moves-In-All-Things" is all there is, and is what some people call god. We are, collectively, god. We are resposible for what happens on Earth. We cannot blame an external god for our downfalls, because there isn't one.
     
  15. Deborah

    Deborah Executive Director

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    Hi Ravenstar,

    Well, I am not sure who you are addressing in your post, but since I was the last one to quote anything I guess I'll say something!!!! LOLO Intelligent I hope.

    Are you familiar with the Nag Hammandi Library? It has not been changed - for it wasn't found until the 1940's and is almost 2000 years old. It is NOT the Bible although there is a beautiful book entitled LIGHT CONSCIOUSNESS that compares these ancient texts with the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible -- the correlation's are amazing.

    The quote I included I chose due to my experience with inner light....not because I am following what was written. As a researcher I am interested in looking at ancient religions and their similarities. What I found was that most every major religion around the world, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and Jewish, all speak of the first “LIGHT,“ the “beginning“, and the first 'word' of creation. I found that most religions were started because of man's experience with LIGHT, and that LOVE and LIGHT were synonymous. I also found that it was almost impossible for religious doctrines to express, or even attempt to communicate what and who God is -- it simply could not be done -- our language does not allow us to extrapolate that which is, the Holy Father. Except that God is absolute.

    Quantum physics tells us that Light is also absolute. The separation between science and religion is vast, yet what is suggested, is the possibility that the Light was where God and Science met.

    God is described as being somewhere beyond our physical understanding. He is beyond the world of matter, beyond shape, and beyond form. God is beyond space and time -- but so too is the light.

    My point I think is your point -- God is within us.... we are HIM -- He is us, and YES we are responsible.

    Lifes experiences weave a tapestry of knowledge.
     
  16. RavinStar

    RavinStar Guest

    Thanks Deborah, you are a wise being.

    I agree with you wholeheartedly that the concept we use the word "God" for is Light. And it is Love. In fact, when people are "in love" they in such an altered state that they can recognize the essence of Spirit. The person they are in love with has a certain identification-frequency and that vibration is recognized by the other individual. These two Souls that have identified each other as love probably worked out the details before this incarnation - a signal to recognize each other. This recogition of Energy, of Spirit - which we tend to call "God" - is love.
    I hope I am clear in what I'm trying to say. To sumerize: the Energy we call "God" is both Light and Love. We can recognize "God" in others as Love.
    Further to this: the recognition of beauty in Nature, or art, is the recongition of the Energy we call Love, which is the same Energy as "God". Beauty is a word for the recognition of Love (God). {And remember, we are collectively God - not some external being with a beard.}
     
  17. Deborah

    Deborah Executive Director

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    Awe..gee Thanks Ravinstar.

    Beauty and Art - you are speaking my language you know!

    As a professional artist, I consider beauty as a transformative experience that awakens the unconscious and leads us to a greater understanding of ourselves and each other. This ‘greater understanding’ enables each of us to obtain a glimpse of truth, and so beauty transforms us from the inside out.

    Lifes experiences weave a tapestry of knowledge
     
  18. jeremy

    jeremy Guest

    I have really enjoyed the posts too!
    The correlation between points like light and spirit in the earths major religions is so easy and logical to see that it deeply frustrates me when others I know ignore it.
    So many people are wasting their lives devoting themselves to opressive churches and dogma when all they have to do is look within for the answers that they already know.
     
  19. RavinStar

    RavinStar Guest

    Jeremy,
    You mentioned ".....opressive churches & dogma." Did you happen to read Majic's post in the Spirit Community, Does God have a beard? I think you might enjoy it.
     
  20. jeremy

    jeremy Guest

    Thanks Ravinstar!
    That was a great post! For anyone who thinks evil doesn't exist in religion today I can tell you a whoper of a story about what I have been through.

    Take care!

    Jeremy
     

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