Life is easy except for preferences

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Life is easy except for preferences.

I’ve noticed that a lot of suffering in my life stems from resisting the way things are, and fighting life at every turn. The way through this for me is to be present in the moment and respond as each situation requires without resistance or attachment. I have many preferences, which are all the ways I want life to be. When life doesn’t line up with my preferences I get frustrated and resist it, which only leads to more suffering. When life is going as planned I become attached to the way it is, but then things change as they inevitably do, and I am frustrated once again.

Living life “without attachment” does not mean living without emotion or abandoning our humanity. Living “without attachment” is the recognition that peace and well-being are not the byproduct of or contingent upon what unfolds in any given set of circumstances. Life is a continuous undulation of ups and downs, but we are never separated from peace and well-being because they are the fundamental nature and essence of who we are. In other words, peace and well-being is not something you “have,” “achieve” or “attain;” they are who or what you are.

Consider it a profound spiritual practice to be fully present in each moment without preferences, and to respond as the situation requires without resistance or attachment.

For example, a couple weeks ago I went for a run, and strained my right calf. Not what I wanted! At first I was in a place of complete resistance, and all this did was cause suffering in the form of inner upset, frustration, and drama. I realized what I was doing, and decided instead to respond to the situation from a place of acceptance. I quickly determined what I needed to do to address the injury and began doing that. The inner resistance was gone, and the inner turmoil dissipated.

Can Christians believe in reincarnation?

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The question of reincarnation comes up often. Reincarnation is the notion that the soul or spirit, after biological death, begins a new life in a new body. Though the belief is a central tenet of the Indian religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, traditional Christian theology does not make room for the concept of reincarnation.

Some of the early church fathers held a belief in reincarnation such as Origen, but ecclesiastical powers outlawed the belief and persecuted those who held it. The idea was a threat to the power of the religious hierarchy – if we have unlimited opportunities to evolve spiritually, the church authorities could not threaten people with hellfire if they did not fulfill their demands in this single life.

As a result, most Christians believe that we are created at conception and when we die we become eternal. However, eternity cannot be eternal on one end and finite on the other. If something has a beginning, it must have an end. If we believe that we will live forever, it must follow that we have always existed, as Origen taught.

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The fallacy of “generational sin” (as God’s punishment)

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I was reading about the Christian concept of “generational sin” this morning because of a question I received on FB. One of the statements I read about it said, “The sins of the fathers are punished in the children through becoming the sins of the children.” The idea that God punishes the “sins” of parents by cursing the children ranks right up there with one of those most absurd things I have ever heard. The plain and simple truth is that every human being is a product of their conditions until they begin to exercise conscious choice, and even then it often requires substantial personal work to free oneself from destructive patterns that a person has been conditioned into. In other words, we all are predisposed to the dysfunctions of the family unit and early life circumstances we grew up in. It’s often the case that we perpetuate these by default until we guide our lives more consciously, and choose differently. God has nothing to do with it. God is not actively punishing people by somehow cursing their children.

On being alive

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Alan Wilson Watts wrote, “The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.” We have difficulty comprehending and accepting these words, which is symptomatic of our woefully inadequate view of what life is.

Religion often doesn’t help the matter by focusing out attention on the afterlife, and more or less implying that attachment to the herelife is “worldly,” “ungodly,” and “sinful.” Religion’s apocalyptic view of the world’s end reinforces this further. Why bother if it’s all going up in smoke and flames anyway?

I find it interesting that Christianity puts tremendous emphasis on the birth of Jesus and his death/resurrection, and misses what happened in between… umm… like… his life! Joseph Campbell said, “We save the world by being alive ourselves.” We think of Jesus’ death/resurrection as the salvific part and forget that Jesus was saving the world all along by being alive himself, and showing us what this meant.

Howard Thurman wrote, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Stop trying to be free

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“Jim, how do I become free?”

I am asked the above question a lot. I’ve never given the same answer twice because the context, specifics, and person asking are always different. This morning, a few things particularly came to mind about this question.

“Jim, how do I become free?”

1. Realize you ARE free.

You don’t “become” free. You ARE free. Your fundamental, underlying, unchanging Self is one with God. That Self is whole, free, at peace, and well. That Self is in no need of improvement or enlightenment, and has nothing to gain, earn, attain or become. That Self is never threatened. So, no person needs to “become” free. What we’re talking about is how to stretch out into and walk in the freedom that you already have and are.

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That reality moving through our universe

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As human beings we experience the world through the prism of our five limited physical senses. Our eyes can only see what is called “visible light,” which is light between infrared light and ultraviolet light. There is light bouncing around everywhere but we cannot see it. Our ears can only hear a tiny decibel range. Humans cannot hear a dog whistle, because it emits sound in the ultrasonic range, which people cannot hear. We cannot hear high-pitch frequency sounds.

Isn’t it likely then that there are other vibrations, frequencies, energies, consciousness moving through the universe?

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Be irreverent (and other ways to change the world)

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8 ways of being to create a new future for our world:

1. Curiosity
the desire to learn or know more about something; inquisitive interest; interest leading to inquiry

2. Irreverence
the willingness to question an individual, idea, dogma, organization, institution, etc., considered to be exempt from criticism or questioning

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Power is not bad

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The English work “power” comes from the Latin word “posse,” which became “poeir” in french, and then “power” in English. The word means to “be able.” It’s the ability, whether physical, mental, moral or spiritual, to act. The word “power” gets a bad rap The first thing that comes to mind for most people is Lord Acton’s quote, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” That’s not even what he said. A very important word got left out. The proper quote is, “Power TENDS to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The corruption of power is not in power, but in ourselves.

Power is the very essence, the dynamo of life. It is the power of the heart pumping blood and sustaining life in the body. Power is the organizing energy of human beings, pulsing upward, providing a unified strength for a common purpose and vision. Power is an essential life force always in operation, either changing the world or opposing change.

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The crisis of contemporary theology

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Contemporary theology is unquestionably in a state of crisis for multiple reasons. One of them is the relationship of dogmatic theology to its biblical ground. We know that the Bible was written in and from a view of the world that was reflective of its particular culture and time. Scientific knowledge and sociocultural evolution has rightfully dropped those outdated views. It has opened up a different understanding of the Bible altogether from being some sort of theological treatise for carving out an orthodoxy about God to a story of humankind’s relationship to the divine from which we must each work out it’s meaning and significance for our own lives.

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