Reversing the Rules

tao

Preston Harold shows us how empathy aligns with religious thought. He says:

The effect of empathy and its meaning to life may be likened to Tao: Tao is obscured when you fix your eye on little segments of existence only…” but when Tao is grasped universally, “Without law or compulsion men [will] dwell in harmony.” In individual terms, empathy is realizing on one’s own being the Golden Rule. Empathy is Jesus’ new commandment as an act in one’s own soul – love one another, love the Lord your God with your whole mind, heart, and soul, and your neighbor as yourself. Only through empathy is it possible to step into another’s shoes without displacing him or foisting oneself upon him or losing one’s own precious identity; empathy not only makes this possible, it makes it mandatory.

Mandatory?! Maybe that’s why Jesus couches empathy’s impetus as a commandment. It seems ridiculous to me to make loving someone a commandment that must be fulfilled, but through genuine non-judgmental empathy a slight crack in the door may open that invites me to walk through.

When empathy exists, one experiences in his own being what is happening to another and understands that another suffers whatever is happening to oneself. Empathy is direct, involuntary. It cannot be vicariously expressed because it is borne from out the boundless deeps of a man and, to borrow words from Alfred Lord Tennyson, rises, “too full for sound or foam, but such a tide as moving seems asleep,” and with certainty “turns again home” whatever one does or witnesses.

Alfred Tennyson

And here Harold will explain how empathy is born out of the interplay between good and evil:

Because empathy is begotten only of the wholeness of experiencing good and evil involved in any decision, situation, or act, it exerts an incomprehensible power – which is to say, unconsciously it is expressed and it cannot be called into action. Because it is an unconsciously made automatic response, through it man gains freedom from having to make a choice between what appears to be good and what appears to be evil, for his response is both unconsciously tempered and in accord with the reality of the situation. Huxley says: “The fullest freedom is the expression of an inner compulsion of our being, of a choice, which we have come to feel as inevitably necessary…In general, once we manage to ‘see things steadily and see them whole,’ the choice is made for us.”

And with this one can understand Jesus’ breaking of the religious “rules” in order to meet people where they are, with their immediate hopes and needs. Empathy can be summed up in one phrase of Jesus that echoes the Tao quote above and bears along with it huge implications.  Jesus grasped the Tao and stated: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

Until next time, peace.

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Enter Empathy

“For every step in spiritual development, three steps are to be taken in moral development.” – Rudolf Steiner 

“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

 MLK

In man’s struggle with good and evil, enjoining them in his every battle, he has reaped the reward of finding the key to all but unlimited power in the material realm. But this will be of no profit to him unless he also achieves self-dominion and self-control such as will prohibit his doing evil, or himself reaping its destructive force – and he must achieve this in such a way that he, himself, does not become mere “vegetable,” living a life that has lost its spice, satisfactions, and meaning.

So how is this to be done? How will mankind as a species find self-dominion, self-control; how will we find our way? In what way is our moral sense developed? Preston Harold continues with an answer:

Does controlled fusion of nuclei cast a clue – which is to say, is there a word to describe a psychological reaction in which passion is both loosened and controlled? Consider the word empathy. Ludwig Binswanger sees that it depends upon the possibility or impossibility of understanding – that it costs more, means more, than sympathy – that it is as yet beyond definition:

In the case of “empathy”…we would have to examine to what degree it is a phenomenon of warmth…or a vocal or sound phenomenon, as when the poet Hoelderlin writes to his mother that there could not be a sound alive in her soul with which his soul would not chime in; or a phenomenon of touch, as when we say, “your sorrow, your joy touches me”: or a phenomenon of sharing, as expressed by Diotima in Hoelderlin’s Hyperion – “He who understands you must share your greatness and your desperation”: or a phenomenon of participation, as in the saying, “I partake of your grief”: or lastly, a phenomenon of “identification,” as when we say, “I would have done the same in your place”….All these modes of expression refer to certain phenomenal, intentional, and preintentional modes of being-together…and co-being…which would have first to be analyzed before the total phenomenon of empathy could be made comprehensive and clarifiable.

Empathy-3

Empathy; that ability to put ourselves in another’s place, to “walk a mile in their shoes.” In our next post we will begin to analyze the meaning of empathy and how it is the fulcrum on which turns the proper, intentional development our species. Until then, peace.

Learning Experiences

Why does our knowledge of love’s fullness have to be so painful to obtain? Why doesn’t God completely reveal to us our full nature?

By giving His power, the power of the word, to man, God destroyed His absolute power to reveal Himself and the secrets of creation. But before man appeared on the scene, the secrets had been told in mammon – in the temporal – which reflects them oppositely and truly, as though in a mirror, itself material, a form that is real is seen, albeit its “mirror-image” is not its reality in being. Thus, truth-bearer must make unto himself a friend of mammon, “unrighteous” as mammon is, and he must reveal the working of the flesh, offensive and error-provoking though his words may be.

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Being part of the material realm limits us in coming to full knowledge of the reality and fullness of God. If we want LIFE, we must deal with the limitations and consequences thereof. The Apostle Paul says as much in his letter to the Romans:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits in eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (Rom. 8:18-21) 

According to Paul here, we were not created by God already perfect, then fell, and now are in the process of regaining paradise. Rather, we have been subjected to futility from the beginning by our creator! Why? In hope that we will come to know the freedom of being children of God (being set free from slavery to mere mammon). It is the only way we can know love for ourselves. In other words, the Eden story isn’t a time-based story; it is rather an eternal happening, goading and guiding us into a better future. The story is a “trap” God sets for us, striving for the “beginning,” which in eternity is also our “completion.”

'Dad, I'm sure you're probably ticked about this, but when I tell you what happened, I'm sure you'll agree it's been a great learning experience for me,'

And here Preston Harold sounds like a modern day Paul:

Mammon is the mirror, and perforce the mirror lies – for it, itself, is not what it reflects in its being or as its being. God, First Cause, love, life itself, is not matter as revealed in mammon; God…is revealed through mammon’s examination to be “spirit,” or a type of “energy” unknown and unknowable in physical terms…. The reality underlying the world of appearances cannot be reduced to physical terms, it is only indirectly knowable as reflected in mammon’s mirror, and as it is intuitively experienced by man…. But in mammon’s mirror, in evil, or in pure matter, or in life’s temporal history with all its evil-doing, the image of good and its working may be beheld. This is to say, there is evidence that life is building into man a factor that will in time deliver him from evil without robbing him of its desirable aspects, and that this factor is in truth the saving grace of life.

Amen! Until next time, peace.

Love and the Authority-Ego

Through the cycle of life and death we come to know the fullness of love. Up through the “twisted tree of knowledge of good and evil” our Authority-Ego within leads the way.

In rebirth, one partakes of love’s spirit…He is reclothed in the flesh of God, virgin flesh, that he may live again to learn the cost of evil doing and through learning, be redeemed. In death the Authority-Ego divests man of his garment: it is this psychic factor that sheds one’s blood for the remission of the many sins of his ego-group; it is this factor that determines life or death…Love itself, which is his Authority-Ego, resurrects and holds inviolate in the id those of the ego-group whose own expression of love has redeemed them; and love resurrects also those that must live again unto the resurrection of damnation until their forces of good and evil are recast into a nonmaterial responsive factor that will prevent abusive exercise of power, and into the pure or purified evil that matter in itself must be seen to be; and in each rebirth love brings to life something of its whole being that has yet to partake of the tree of knowing.

words (1)

What might this “nonmaterial responsive factor that will prevent abuse of power” be? Preston Harold will ultimately turn once again to William Wordsworth for a poetic description:

Thus, into a new world of being, the Authority-Ego brings its love of life, the ego-group restated: “he was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” In time, as consciousness comes to the ego-group, the voice of worldly experience is heard: conscience sounds its note from one’s subconscious depths. And then, the superego is formed of that element in the id that is responsive to truth and can carry a word of it into the world, as the Authority-Ego “elects” them, giving to these the “keys” to the kingdom within. Through the superego, love speaks, and makes its presence felt in:

…that blessed mood

In which the burden of the mystery,

In which the heavy and the weary weight

Of all this unintelligible world,

Is lightened: -that serene and blessed mood,

In which the affections gently lead us on,-

Until, the breath of this corporeal frame

And even the motion of our human blood

Almost suspended, we are laid asleep

In body, and become a living soul…

out_of_body_experience_by_districtaliens-d6ubzaw

Here Wordsworth describes an “out of body” experience, a body-free state of rapture; a “nonmaterial responsive factor.” As we become a living soul, there is no need for abuse of power, no need to flaunt ourselves, just increasing knowledge and assurance of blessedness. But why does this knowledge have to be hard earned? Why can’t God simply and totally reveal Himself and our full human nature to us? Let’s ponder this in our next installment. Until then, peace.

A Reason to Be

The goal of our existence is not to become “a good person” but to understand and know love. But to know love, one must participate in a paradox. Preston Harold opines:

Once man had partaken of the fruit of knowing, consciousness stood naked, until clothed in the flesh of God, in the “skins” of the animal world, and in this flesh the pain of knowing good and evil, the pain of knowing love, is borne. To know love, man must know pain. Love incorporates a degree of agonia. Pain, patheia, tends to be pathological. But pain agonia, or the word agony incorporates in its meaning: contest, celebration, violent striving, sudden delight – it involves a “wrestling” that blesses, an intensification of meaningful being that allows it to be joyfully accepted.

agony

In terms of violent striving, one is reminded of Jesus’ words, “The kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” In terms of a wrestling that blesses, one is reminded of Jacob’s wrestling with the angel and refusing to let go until he is blessed.

Harold continues by opening a door into the secret of good and evil…

The fruit of the tree of life…could not be partaken of, after knowledge of good and evil had been incorporated in his consciousness and being, until life had taught him the secret of these opposing forces and had attenuated through many generations the virulence of both. For the secret of good and evil, insofar as human experience can determine it, appears to be that good turns into evil in the maximum expression of good, and evil turns into good in the minimum expression of its force. For example, utter surfeit that gives rise to loss of appetite or desire is little if any better than hunger or extreme want. Want (evil) must be attenuated so that it cannot express beyond periodic and diversified desire; surcease from want (good) must be attenuated so that it cannot express beyond periodic and diversified satisfaction. Both good and evil must be recast in life to make everlasting life endurable and to be desired.

And so let us be thankful that love is beyond good and evil:

Up through the strange, twisted tree of knowledge that turns good to evil and evil to good, man must grow, led by the spirit of attraction first to the one idea and then to the other, to become neither good nor evil, but divinely human – as love is. Although love and life may be corrupted as lust expresses itself, though one’s “sins be as scarlet,” love’s returning washes them “white as snow.”

Until next time, peace.

A Strange Twist

What is the goal of mankind? What are we meant to become? Genesis clues us in right from the beginning:

There is a strange twist in the Eden legend that bears examination. Eve speaks of the tree in the midst of the garden, but earlier in the legend this plant is described as two trees: the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Not until after Adam and Eve had partaken of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is man driven from the garden, lest he also partake of the tree of life and live forever.

TreeofLife

This always struck me as a point we can tend to slide right past. The reason for expulsion from the garden wasn’t merely because the fruit of knowledge had been eaten, ie Adam and Eve sinned, but rather that the fruit from the tree of life may not be partaken of. Not only does the expulsion happen, but a Cherubim with a “turning, flaming sword” is stationed to guard not the way back into the garden, but rather “the way to the tree of life.” One must also wonder what life process this “turning, flaming sword” represents.

Flamswrd

Why was deathlessness then a danger? For life to express itself eternally in sentient flesh that could feel the extremes of pain and want, and in consciousness that could suffer intolerable boredom as want is surfeited, is a curse beyond the imagination of man. But had man partaken first of the tree of life, life must express itself eternally in a form that could not know love or a reason for being. Thus, the “fruit to be desired” was the fruit of knowing, so that this fruit was forbidden, thereby making it attractive.

Here Preston Harold tells us that our reason for existing, our task, is “to know love; a reason for being.” It is this thought we will continue exploring in our next post. Until then, peace.

Lucifer Rising

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“Lucifer Rising” by Elvinia DC

Why must evil be resurrected along with righteousness? What purpose does it serve?

…Lucifer, the devil, means “light-bringer,” and light is primordial energy – but Lucifer is not himself the light he brings. It must be that if “your father, the devil” is resurrected in man causing him to express evil, this expression brings in its wake a necessary enlightenment. If man’s evil is wed to his very being, his good, life must be recasting his evil into a measure of “something” indispensable to him, and this “something” must be flesh over which consciousness has full dominion: flesh man can in truth call his own and keep. To have it, man must have knowledge of evil, of matter itself, and he must have dominion over evil. That is, he must learn to live without corrupting his flesh and abusing life itself in evil doing; he must complete the task begun in Eden, which is to acquire knowledge of good and evil.

Ah, a necessary enlightenment! Many people, including great philosophers and theologians throughout the ages have looked into and considered the possibility of redemption not just for human beings, but for Old Scratch himself. Origen said that nothing is beyond being healed by its maker.  Rudolf Steiner postulates that through resisting and balancing the extreme forces of spirit (Lucifer) and matter (Satan) we redeem evil. In his early lectures on the Bible, Valentin Tomberg says that Lucifer experienced an inner metamorphosis through the Mystery of Golgotha, and that at the crucifixion he recognized the nature of the sacrifice of Christ. Gregory of Nyssa said that the originator of evil WILL be healed. At the heart of these interpretations seems to be a deep intuition that there is a reason for the existence of evil, that it is serving a greater purpose which could not be accomplished without it’s resistance. Preston Harold would say that reason is “flesh man can in truth call his own and keep.”

One here must also consider here the role that Judas played in Christ’s drama. In his “Cipher of Genesis,” Carlo Suares reminds us that the Gospel of John has Judas following Jesus’ instructions to the letter.

I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfulled. He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. Now I tell you before it comes that when it is come to pass ye may believe that I am he. Verily, verily I say unto you: He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent meVerily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall HAND ME OVER (OR, DELIVER ME)…He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.

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So Satan enters Judas, Jesus then sends Judas. In essence, Jesus has sent Satan. So it must follow, according to Jesus’ own words, that he who receives Satan receives Jesus, therefore in the process receiving God. Once again we must ask ourselves, “Does this offend us?”

The lesson in all of this? Suares tells us:

In terms of gnosis it is the statement of a simple fact: there is only One energy, only One life, only One movement. All is one and one is in all. The One is the one game of life and existence, of energy as energy and of energy as its own physical support, which is its own resistance to itself, without which nothing would be.

Until next time, Peace.