Pain vs Unhappines

Coming in at the tail end of a discussion on who is responsible for what regarding an addiction in a relationship I would just like to affirm what I have learnt from experience, recovered/recovering porn addiction and a Christian counselor dealing specifically with sexual brokenness and addiction.

There is no “one size fits all” solution, no guarantees and no way anyone can take responsibility for another’s life, whether good or bad.

Did I often revert to porn to escape the feelings of failure I experienced whenever my wife was unhappy? Yes, but if that meant that I could not stop watching porn untill she stopped being unhappy then I would have been lost. The hard lesson we both learnt through the pain of my addiction was that untill such time as the individual becomes willing to let go of the other and centre on self, take responsibility for self, there can be no true life.

As long as you are labouring under the illusion that you are unhappy because of someone else you are and always will be a victim of the behaviour and percieved intent of others. And before I get my head handed to me on a platter, lets not confuse being hurt, an event, with being unhappy, a state of being. Did I hurt my wife and she me? Unfortunately, YES! But it is how we respond to the hurt that determines whether or not hurt becomes unhappiness, a state of being in which we believe ourselves to be powerless victims.
What those choices are will vary from person to person and cannot be imposed by another.

The harsh reality, however, is that untill we become saved/conscious this “unhappy” state of being is the preferred/default setting of the ego. This belief or mental position that unhappiness is a result of the actions or lack of actions of others and/or myself keeps us mentally “separate”, (unable to trust and interact without demand or manipulation) from others and my true self.

Being unhappy is the safest place for the ego, it is also that which, ultimately, by the grace of God, leads us to salvation.

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The a-moral Jesus, rejecting “good” & “bad”.

We read in Luke 18 that a rich man/ruler came to Jesus asking, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus starts his answer declaring that none is good except God! This answer has fascinated me for a long time, particularly as Jesus then goes on to list the actions/good deeds that the Jews of the time would have deemed worthy of everlasting life i.e, respect for your parent, honesty, the diligent practice of religious ceremonies, etc.

The man declares that he had done all of these since childhood and the bible says that Jesus looked on this man and “loved him”. I believe that Jesus recognized in this man a true seeker who has realized that “good works” does not equal salvation and loved him for it. The man did everything right but realized that he did it for salvation’s sake. No matter how good the deed the motivation was a crab, it was shellfish.

Jesus  then goes on and instructs him to sell everything he has and give it to the poor. Saddened, the man walks away because he was exceedingly rich.

Why? Was the giving away of his wealth the ultimate good deed that would earn his salvation? No, no,no! I believe that it was not a call to a “supreme good deed” but rather a call to shift sources. Jesus knew that the man, like the rest of us, did not need “good” deeds but to change his source from what he thought to be “good” to the only thing truly good, namely God.

Jesus calls on the man to relinquish his security i.e his wealth and good deeds and trust that God and who he is in God is enough. For Jesus, whether something was good or bad according to the morality of his day was meaningless. He knew that morality was determined by the group ego and as such not a way to salvation but a method of ensuring the survival of the false, egoic self.

No, Jesus judged according to the source. If it was rooted in the divine self it brought forth life and if it was not it brought forth death no matter how good it was from a moral point of view.

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“I feel happy, so happy and gay!” My contribution to the homosexual debate.

What a difference 30 years can make to meaning. When the song came out, everyone would have known what was meant by “feeling gay”. Today, those who do not know the song would attach quite a different connotation to “feeling gay” and this is the problem we as people have whenever we base our lives on content. Just when we start to get a handle on it some clever bastard goes and changes the meaning on us.

Another example: Living on the coast in what is called the “Windy City” I have been told that the many small sailing vessels found on our shores would be incapable of sailing were it not for the ballast and keel below the surface that keeps the boat upright. This is a good representation of the difference between a life based on content and one based on being.

If I, as a Christian, try to find my identity in the content of the bible then I would be in turmoil every time anyone questions the truth of the bible or gives an alternative interpretation of it. The result is that we either build “truths”/mental constructs so hard and impregnable that we become completely irrational whenever those “truths” are questioned (I am unfortunately speaking from experience here) or, we do not hold on to anything and drift aimlessly with no hope or purpose (speaking from experience again).

If, however, I embrace scripture not as a self- help/how to book but rather a witness to the effect of having our identity based in “being” and “being in the divine” then it becomes a source that helps me find my own ballast and keel. Once I am centred on the divine self, information/“truth” can no longer threaten me. Instead, information becomes a source that gives direction to the flow of the spiritual through me to the world. The wind becomes useful and gives temporary direction without capsizing my life because I Am rooted in something much deeper and eternal.

As a bonus other belief systems/religions no longer threaten me as my belief system is not my source, merely a pointer to it. This empowers me to see past the differences, Christian/Hindu, gay/straight to the divine centre that unites us all without having to sacrifice my “truths”/religion. It allows mental constructs firm enough to give direction in the world but flexible enough to embrace that which is different.

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Bibliolatry – Replacing God with the Bible

I remember a time in my life when any suggestion that the bible is not anything but the 100% authentic Word of God would elicit an anger response bordering on rage. Now that I find myself more and more on the receiving end of that anger I have tried to understand what lies at the root of it.

I believe that it comes down to the interpretation of the fall as described in Genesis. I have discussed this in detail in an earlier post called, “Sin, understanding the fall”, so I won’t bore you with the details again. There are two basic schools of thought regarding the fall.

The first, to which I used to belong, believes that mankind is somehow deficient at its core. We are sinful by our very nature and our salvation is dependent on our understanding of, our mental agreement with the supposed act of human sacrifice of the man Jesus Christ to atone for this inherent deficiency. If we then intellectually agree with the “work” of Jesus the Holy Spirit can begin to fix this inherent default. This thinking is the basis for such well known Christian statements as “just a sinner saved by grace”.

It is very important to note that the emphasis is on the mind. You must believe that you are sinful, that you deserve God’s judgement, that you can only be saved by Jesus. Christian reasoning based on the bible and embraced by the mind is the foundation for your salvation.

The problem with this, according to the second school of thought, is that it is through the mind that sin entered. It was the intellectual rejection of God’s position that we are inherently divine, that we have the very same nature as God, that led to the creation of the ego. All the brokenness that we see in the world is the result of us living out of our ego or false, mind created self that believe that we are separate from God.

So, the process of salvation becomes a transformation of the ego and not the restoration of the divine self. Can you see the deception? The ego is not brought into submission to the spiritual core but remains the false source of salvation. All that is required is for the ego to embrace a new set of paradigms and rules and it is back to business as usual with just the language and dress code changing, sometimes not even that.

This means that the new ego identity feels very insecure when the infallibility of scripture is brought into question. The intellectual “truths of the Word of God” is the basis of the new ego identity. The ego does not need nor want God to be real unless it is to affirm its own position/understanding of scripture. God is thereby limited to look, sound and act only in accordance with the ego’s intellectual understanding of the bible.

To end where I started, a comment on beliefnett stated that the religious are unable to see “God for the bible”. The reason is simple, for them the bible is God. The religious ego cannot allow it to be anything else.

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The need for the evolution of Christian thought.

I believe that Christianity has stagnated since the reformation. We were meant to stand on the shoulders of the masters who have gone before, Paul, Augustinius, etc. Men and woman who pushed the boundaries of our faith.
We were meant to become masters ourselves, giants pushing the boundaries so that our faith becomes, bigger, more inclusive, ever more expressive of Him who is beyond expression.
At the root of the problem is the idolatry of scripture. Instead of being our foundation, our starting point, it has become our destination. Meant to simply be a pointer to God, we have made it into God.
No wonder we cannot address the needs of modern day society, we have limited God to language and concepts two thousand years old.

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Did Jesus have to die?

Everyone dies. Scripture teaches that Jesus learnt obedience through suffering. That means that the paradigms and belief structures he embraced were tested in real live pain and suffering. If it wasn’t it would not have any meaning to us. If he did not die then how could I, who will die, trust that his example can be trusted?

Through it all, he stayed true to his faith/convictions, even to the point of accepting an unfair death on a cross. He was rewarded for his faithfulness with resurrection life. That is why the apostle Paul proclaimed that if Jesus were not raised from the dead then our faith is in vain. It would have meant that the willingness to lay down my physical body rather than abandon my divine nature is nothing but delusional suicide. If this life is all there is then willingly relinquishing it is utter stupidity.

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Forgiveness and the cross

I believe that sacrifice in the old testament serves as a reminder that our denial of our spiritual true selves leads to destruction.

I utterly reject the notion that God is incapable of forgiving us unless someone gets butchered on a cross. That is an ancient interpretation ascribed by minds capable of believing that throwing your child in a fire will give you a lot of sheep. Utterly ridiculous and extremely disrespectful towards God.

The true purpose of the cross for me is to reveal to me that true life is not a result of desperately clinging to my own interpretation of what ought to be, but by embracing life as a gift from a loving God even if it comes wrapped in the shape of a cross.

Jesus died because his message threatened the status quo of those in power, simple as that. He died as all of us will. What made him special is that he did not resist death but accepted it as part of life and trusted God in it even though he did not understand completely what was happening.

By refusing to view himself as separate from God, even in the face of death on a cross, he leads those willing to embrace his example into a life of connectedness with God, ourselves, others and the entire universe. This, I believe, is the salvation offered to us in the man Jesus. As such, his willingness to sacrifice his physical body to a higher ideal that we all can embrace is the true power of the cross.

If we dare to believe that Jesus is a revelation of God/Universe in which we are accepted, then we do not need forgiveness and our sin, which is our steadfast insistance that we are separate from, is removed from us. If we insist that we are alone/removed from God then this very belief will create our reality and make us unable to receive forgiveness.

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