The story of Eden

 

I have enjoyed watching this mini-series about some of the stories in the Bible, or the Old Testament.

It highlights what’s already quite obvious: The Bible is written by humans, have gone through a great deal of revisions, and each one by people with a very specific agenda. And even those who say they wish to take the Bible literally, interpret and add a great deal to it. For instance, nowhere in the Bible does it say that the snake represents the devil.

It makes a good deal of sense to interpret the Bible from what we know about the culture and times when the different sections were written, and also use archaeology to inform these interpretations. This shows us how the stories may have been perceived and understood at the time they were written, and how they were changed and reinterpreted by later generations with their own agendas.

At the same time, I find it very interesting to look at the traditional (within the last few hundred years) interpretations and understandings of these stories. They too say something about us. They resonate with us, often at a quite deep level, and especially those of us who grew up and live in an Abrahamic culture. The Eden story may well be about the Temple in Jerusalem, and originally had nothing to do with the devil or the first people on Earth. It may well have gained it’s current meaning partly because it was later placed in Genesis, and then interpreted in that context. And at the same time, this later understanding of the Eden story says something about us. It’s archetypal. It resonates.

One of the many ways to explore this is in an earlier post on this blog.

(more…)

Thrown out of paradise

 

 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”  So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.  After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
– Genesis 3:22-24

Adam and Eve ate the apple, gained knowledge of good and evil, and were thrown out of paradise.

For me, an image (a memory, a flashback?) has come up since childhood from before incarnation. It was all love and a deep sense of contentment and home, and it was conveyed to me that it was time for me to incarnate again. I experienced it as being thrown out of paradise.

And, of course, I do it to myself. I believe thoughts, block awareness of love, and this is experienced as being thrown out of paradise.

The story from genesis reflects this quite accurately. There is a thought of good and evil, it’s taken as true, this blocks awareness of love, and I am – in my own experience – thrown out of paradise.

Healing and finding clarity is all about this for me now: Finding those parts of me, those situations, where I threw myself out of paradise, where I blocked my awareness of love. Find love there again, see it’s already love, was already love – feel it, allow it to sink in. And note and inquire into my thoughts at the time, the ones I took as true and which blocked my awareness of love at the time.

(more…)

Prodigal son

 

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

– Luke 15:11-32

(more…)

The Book of Job

 

I have written about The Book of Job before, and thought I would briefly revisit the topic.

Job is going through what’s typical of a classic dark night of the soul: Loss of what matters to him, illness, disturbing inner experiences, a sense of being abandoned by “God and man”.

This brings up shadow material, wounds and so on – so it can be seen, felt and loved. (Or “owned” and “integrated” in more modern language.)

And it brings up identifications and beliefs as invitation for questioning and inquiry.

So in a very real sense, what happens is a form of love (and it may or may not be experienced that way as it happens).

(more…)

But when Moses rose higher and became more perfect, he saw God in the darkness

 

Moses’ vision of God began with light (Exod. 19.18); afterwards God spoke to him in a cloud (Exod. 20.21). But when Moses rose higher and became more perfect, he saw God in the darkness (Exod. 24.15-18).

— Gregory of Nyssa, Commentary on the Song of Songs, quoted in An Anthology of Christian Mysticism edited by Harvey D. Egan. Via Anamchara – The Website of Unknowing.

This is a beautiful quote. What does it mean?

He saw God in the darkness.

Moses may have found refuge in unknowing, recognizing that no story can touch God or reality, perhaps even finding what he is as the Ground prior to any form. When we realize we don’t know, we are metaphorically in the dark.

(more…)

The Story of Job and more

 

Here are some stories from the Bible and the New Testament that have come up for me lately….

The story of Job

Job is purified of shoulds. His stories of what should be and what is, clash. He is humbled. His views are invited – in the strongest possible way – to be more aligned with reality.

Life happens, and it is not always aligned with our personal preferences. We can either throw a tantrum and blame the world, God, others, fate or ourselves. Or we can take a closer look at our fixed views, recognize what happens when we hold onto views not aligned with reality (stress, blame, resentment), and find what’s more true for us. We can (a) replace these stories with other stories more aligned with reality, and (b) softening our hold on these stories in general. We can find more trust in reality and truth. And we can find more comfort in not knowing, using stories as guides for ourselves and yet recognize that they are just stories. Reality is the boss. Through his experiences, Job matures from being blindly caught up in beliefs to recognizing stories more as stories.

Said another way, Job’s individual will (beliefs) is worn off, and he finds himself more receptive to God’s will (reality).

(more…)

Cherry-picking from the Bible

 

I cherry-pick from the Bible as everyone else, but am at least honest about it. I take the parts I find interesting, and interpret them in a way that makes sense to me and supports my current worldview.

Here is a quote from a discussion I came across on Facebook:

I will re-iterate the fact that my point is very simple- I disagree. I do not wish to be “right” I wish to follow only he who created all of us. Now less of my words & more of his; Jesus the Son of God our maker & creator ofheaven & earth. “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John 8:12-30 “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion & every evil thing are there.” James 3:16 “I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore keep my statues and judgements, which if man does, he shall live by them; I am the Lord. You shall not lie with a man as with a woman. (Speaking to Moses) It is an abomination. It is perversion. Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you.” Leviticus 18:17 Lastly, God most certainly is love. Through His forever-trustworthy words, God will keep for you His promise for the days when you can’t see where you’re going. You can stake everything on this promise: Isaiah 42:16 – “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”

And here is some additional advice from that wise book:

All who curse their father or mother must be put to death. They are guilty of a capital offense. (Leviticus 20:9 NLT)

If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10 NLT)

If a man lies in sexual intercourse with a woman during her menstrual period, both of them shall be cut off from their people, because they have laid bare the flowing fountain of her blood. (Leviticus 20:18NAB)

(more…)

My grace is sufficient for you

 

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians, 12:9

This is another beautiful pointer from the New Testament.

When I recognize my weakness, through and through, there is receptivity for God’s grace. Said another way, when I am less full of myself, there is more room for God.

I can recognize my weakness in innumerable ways. My human self is dependent on support from people close to me, society, ecosystems, the earth as a whole, the solar system and the unviverse as a whole. Without all of this, no human self. Even what I tend to take credit for – such as skills, insights, choices and actions – are gifts, given to me through experience, culture, biology, ancestors, the earth, the universe. I try to control my life and circumstances, but can only do it to a very limited extent. My days are numbered, and I can die this very moment. I aim at following precepts and guidelines, and fail miserably. I aim at living from what I really am, and fail miserably. There is no end to the weakness of this human self.

And I can also recognize my weakness as a doer and observer. When I explore the doer and observer, I find that they are only images. And also that the doer takes credit for shifts, insights, choices and actions after they have happened. This is the real, 100%, weakness of what I take myself to be.

(more…)

Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you

 

But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.”

Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe.

And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat.

Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.

Ezekiel 2:8 – 3:2

Bible verses can of course be interpreted to (appear to) support just about any point. For me, reading these verses in isolation, I see a beautiful description of what happens when we “eat” our lament and mourning and woe.

I start out rebellious. I argue against reality. I resist experience. I want things to be different from what they are. (According to my story of it.)

I am invited to eat my lament and mourning and woe. (Meet it. Be with it. Feel it. Welcome it.)

And when I do, I find – to my surprise – that it tastes as sweet as honey in my mouth.

I find that it is not what it appeared to be when I resisted it. It appeared horrifying as long as I resisted meeting, feeling and welcoming it. But when I do, there is a sweetness, comfort, receptivity and nurturing fullness there.