On Soul and Spirit in Animals and Humans

August 2, 2018

Soul is inherent in organisms. Where there is life–Nature–there is Soul.
All creatures and humans (even brain-dead humans) have Soul.

Spirit arises in organisms–animals–as a consequence of the brain and nervous system. The brain is a “house” in which Spirit can reside in an animal or human.

Spirit “saves” the Soul, so to speak. That is, Soul (which “arises” in matter as life) and Spirit (which “descends” into life as intelligence) MEET within an organism to complete, as it were, the purpose of life:

The “Divine Marriage” of Soul and Spirit.

This can only happen within a human being, as a consequence of our highly developed brain’s receptivity to Spirit–through the faculty of intelligence, by means of INSPIRATION.

The “Soul” counterpart to intelligence is instinct–again, found throughout Nature–and its counterpart to INSPIRATION is INTUITION.

Just as INSPIRATION is the doorway to Spirit through intelligence, so INTUITION is the doorway to Soul through instinct.

In Christian terms, Christ became a man in order to save the souls of all people–paving the way for the personal indwelling and guidance of the Holy Spirit for all who believe and are willing to receive this free gift of (and from) God.

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10 Questions to Help Crack the Nut of Life

August 2, 2018

These are some questions I’ve asked myself and sought the answers to, through study and experience. The search for answers to these questions has brought me much good. Maybe one or more of them would interest someone else who “wonders”.

I’ve shared my own answers to some of these questions throughout my posts on this site.

1) What’s the difference between people and animals? (Do animals think like we do? Do they have feelings? Do they experience them like we do? What do they remember? Do they “love” their offspring like we do? Do we?)

2) What’s the difference between children and adults? (Are adults really just “big kids” with mature bodies? Are kids just “little adults” in kid bodies? When does a “child” become an “adult”? Are kids “better” than adults, or are adults “better” than kids? Or neither? What constitutes “child abuse”? Can its effects be “fixed”? What are its effects?)

3) Why do I experience and remember things? (What is “I”? Is “I” different from “me” somehow? Why don’t I remember my earliest years? Or the time before I was born? Did I exist before I was conceived? If so, where was I? In my parents’ bodies? Somewhere else? Nowhere?)

4) Why isn’t there just “nothing” instead of “something”? (How? Why does anything exist at all? If “God” exists, where? Everywhere? Somewhere else? Did nothing exist at some point? Why don’t I know? Can I know? If so, how?)

5) Do other people experience life like I do? (Could they be imaginary, like the people in my dreams? Can I trust other people’s words, thoughts, feelings, and experiences? Can I trust my own? Why or why not, and to what extent? What if my experiences contradict someone else’s? Is there really a contradiction?)

6) Why do we (have to) sleep? (Can I somehow stay “awake” while I go to sleep? What’s the “body” that I move around in dreams? Why is it different from my “real” body? (Is it?) Are the people in my dreams imaginary, or are they “real” like I am in dreams? Do I “create” them somehow? If so, what else do I “create”? Can (or do) I do this while awake?)

7) How are people the same, and how are we different from each other? (What’s the difference between men and women? Boys and girls? Male and female? What are the similarities? Where do these differences and similarities come from? Nature or Nurture? Both? Neither?)

8) Is it okay to defend myself if someone attacks me? (What if they attack my kids? Why or why not? How far can I go to defend myself? Is it ever okay to kill somebody else? If so, when and why? Is it okay to kill myself? Why do some people do that? If someone were to kill my child, could I rightfully kill that person? Why or why not?)

9) Where do my thoughts come from? (Can I trust them? Do they come from me or somewhere/someone else? Are they right or wrong? Is there a “right” or “wrong”? Can I know it? Do I already know it, or do I just repeat what I was taught as a kid? Was my family right in what they taught me? To what extent? How can I know? What about my feelings? What are they? Are they okay to have?)

10) Why do scary movies “scare” me? (Are there invisible beings who (can) interact with me and others? Are they good or bad? Can they be contacted? Why am I usually not aware of them, if they do exist? Are demons real? Ghosts? Poltergeists? Angels? What are they, if they do? What do they do?)

Bonus) Does anyone else already have this stuff figured out? (How do I know? Which one(s) of the many people and groups who claim to know can I trust? Can I be assured of anything at all without figuring it out myself? What are the limits of knowing? Who’s the judge? Who’s my judge? How do I know how to judge my own judge? Why am I asking? Why isn’t everybody else asking? Or are they?)

Originally written on March 10, 2014.


A Quick Note on “Subconscious” vs “Unconscious”

July 28, 2018

The Subconscious is instinct in animals and intuition in humans. Think of it as the “Soul of Life”.

It isn’t “unconscious,” though. It’s alive, but not AWARE of being alive. (That’s Consciousness.) Subconsciousness, basically, is FEELING.

Consciousness is AWARENESS (of being alive).

The unconscious is the dark, hidden repository of emotional pain and false beliefs that Jung called the “Shadow”. Many people call it the “ego” that must be overcome to bring Enlightenment (Consciousness).

Emotional pain is unconscious Subconsciousness. False beliefs are unconscious Consciousness.

Unconsciousness consists of part Consciousness and part Subconsciousness, but in it both are “inverted” or “corrupted”.

As only animals (with nervous systems) possess Consciousness (in addition to Subconsciousness, which ALL life forms have), so only animals (especially humans) have unconsciousness.

Unconsciousness is really “inverted” Consciousness that can (theoretically, but not always) be made Conscious again. This is what “spirituality” is all about: “turning dark into light”.

The occult frequently focuses on using the “power” of the unconscious–which is really “inverted” power (derived from something else), not real power.

Consciousness is God/Spirit/Mind. Subconsciousness is Goddess/Soul/Heart. Unconsciousness is Devil/Demon/Shadow (ego).

Narcissism is unconsciousness in an otherwise mature human being.


The Pharisees Ask Jesus for a Sign: A Short Study in Mark, Q, and the Synoptics

July 28, 2018

The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.” Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side. (Mark 8:11-13, NIV)

Thus spoke Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, which is probably the earliest original extant writing about Jesus’ life that I know of. He speaks very similar words in the other two Synoptic Gospels, Matthew and Luke–but with some interesting twists.

Let’s see where those twists take us…

Equivalent Passages in Matthew 12, Matthew 16, and Luke 11

First, the author of Matthew repeats much of Mark’s wording in its equivalent passage (with Mark’s wording below in bold type):

Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it… (Matthew 12:38-39)

This is pretty similar to Mark, with a few minor tweaks (“teachers of the law”, “Teacher”, “wicked and adulterous”). Indeed, Luke has Jesus saying much the same thing (with Mark’s wording in bold type):

Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven. (Luke 11:16)

The “Pharisees” have disappeared from Luke’s account–becoming “others”–but where’s the rest of the passage? Ah! It picks up again 13 verses later (with Mark’s wording below in bold type):

As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it… (Luke 11:29a)

Here there are “crowds” (which isn’t surprising), and Luke agrees with Matthew (but not with Mark) in calling Jesus’ generation “wicked” (although Luke doesn’t add “adulterous”).

But wait! Matthew repeats this passage again a few chapters later (with Mark’s wording below in bold type):

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. (Matthew 16:1)

This time, though, there are now also “Saducees”. Fair enough.

Additions in Matthew 16 and Luke 12 (NOT in Mark’s version)

Then, in the next few verses, the writer of Matthew adds some flair that’s not found in Mark’s (earlier and probably original) account (with Mark’s wording in bold type):

He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away. (Matthew 16:2-4)

Where did this flair come from? The “weather” analogy here is NOT found in Mark…but it IS found in Luke (surprisingly, NOT in the equivalent passage, but rather in the next chapter):

He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time? (Luke 12:54-56)

Interestingly, although this passage apparently corresponds to Matthew 16:2-3 above, its wording is quite different. (Why? I don’t know.) The only overlap between the two passages is “When…, you say, ‘It…and…You know how to interpret the appearance of the…sky…you…not…interpret…time…”

(Note Luke’s addition of the word “Hypocrites!” here.)

Also interestingly, in both Matthew 12 AND Luke 11, Jesus continues speaking after saying, “none will be given it” (in BOTH accounts). This is the same place where the quotation in Mark ENDS–right before “he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.”

The “Sign of Jonah” in Matthew 12 and Luke 11 (but NOT in Mark)

In Matthew 16 (remember, there are TWO versions of this passage in Matthew), Jesus adds, “except the sign of Jonah”–right before “Jesus then left them and went away.” He does not explain what this means before the Matthew 16 passage ends.

What, then, IS the “sign of Jonah”? Both Matthew 12 and Luke 11 explain, picking up after “none will be given it”:

…except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth*. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here. (Matthew 12:40b-42)

…except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom; and now something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and now something greater than Jonah is here. (Luke 11:29b-32)

(In these two passages, I italicized the wording that’s identical in both passages and put the variant wording in bold type. None of this material is found in Mark.)

Jesus’ words in the first sentence (after “For as Jonah was”) are QUITE different in these two passages, although both obviously refer to the Ninevite prophet Jonah from the Old Testament. Here’s what that first sentence says in BOTH passages after removing the variation*:

“For as Jonah was, so will the Son of Man be.”

To me, this sounds exactly like the sort of “drop-the-mic” statement that Jesus often said (especially in the Gospel of Mark) before turning away and leaving a dumbfounded audience to argue among themselves. But what does all this mean?

A Second Source for the Authors of Matthew and Luke?

We began this study with Mark’s simple account of a conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees: they asked Jesus a provocative question, and Jesus replied–and then “left them”).

The end. Right?

No, wait! In Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts of the same interaction, we see three apparent additions to the story:

  • a criticism of the Pharisees’ (in Matthew) or the crowd’s (in Luke) inability to “interpret” the “present [or “signs of the”] time[s]”;
  • a reference to the “Sign of Jonah” (in three passages); and
  • its explanation (in two of the three).

Where did these apparent additions to Mark’s passage, as perhaps re-told in both Matthew and Luke, come from–and why do they differ?

Assuming that

  • the Gospel of Mark was written before the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and
  • the authors of Matthew and Luke wrote their Gospels independently of each other,

we can form some conclusions based on comparisons of these (and, indeed, many other) similar passages found in any two or more of the three Synoptic Gospels–that is,

a) in both Matthew and Mark;
b) in both Matthew and Luke;
c) in both Mark and Luke; or
d) in all three.

For choices a and c, it’s reasonable to conclude that the authors of Matthew and Luke were writing their respective Gospels with the Gospel of Mark as a source–open on the table in front of them, so to speak. Indeed, some 97% of the verses found in Mark are reproduced in Matthew or Luke, usually verbatim (as we’ve seen here).

This conclusion would also account for option d. But what about option b, where the authors of Matthew and Luke give very similar accounts NOT found in Mark–especially considering that there’s often variance between THESE accounts, as we’ve seen here?

Examples of this type of “variant similarity” include the additions mentioned above, i.e. the “weather” analogy and the “Sign of Jonah” (and its two very similar, but not identical, explanations). Logically, these examples point to the existence of a second source of accounts of Jesus’ life.

This second source apparently no longer exists.

And now we arrive at a sentence I wrote very early on in this study, but which I’ve been pushing ever farther downward as the essay developed. I’ll just leave it here as a sort of conclusion:

I’d like to use those twists to demonstrate the previous existence of Sayings Gospel Q (an equally early writing about Jesus that is no longer extant, but much of which is preserved in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke).

********

* Note: Supporting my suggestion that the original saying in Matthew 12:41/Luke 11:30 above might have been the “drop-the-mic” version without further explanation, Jesus (having died on Friday evening and risen on Sunday morning) did not in fact spend “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” like Jonah did inside the “huge fish”–but rather rose again “on the third day.” (See Matthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; 27:64; Luke 9:22; 13:32; 18:33; 24:7; 24:21; 24:46.)

Interestingly, there’s no such “on the third day” statement in the Gospel of Mark, leaving the impression that this phrase came to us, through both Matthew and Luke, by way of the now-lost Sayings Gospel Q.


Does Stephan Molyneux contradict the New Testament on forgiveness?

February 13, 2018

Evil always wants forgiveness without confession because that’s the final nail in the coffin of the conscience of their victims. Evil people always want forgiveness without confession–without an admittance of wrong and a genuine seeking of restitution

Forgiveness is created by the restitution of the abuser, of the wrongdoer. It is not something to be squeezed out of the victim by further acts of conscience-corrupting abuse.”

–Stefan Molyneux

You can watch the entire 53-minute YouTube video here.

These are strong words–and powerful words for an abused person to take to heart and begin to heal. I realize that they seem to fly in the face of many Christians’ view of forgiveness, and since forgiveness is such a central topic to Christianity (the majority religion in my society, and the religion I grew up in), I wanted to examine Scripture to see what it really says about this subject.

This examination is a brief, but hopefully sufficient, look into the subject of “forgiveness” in the New Testament. At the end, I will compare its findings with Stephan Molyneux’s statements above.

John the Baptist in Mark and Luke

There is more than one context or meaning of “forgiveness” in the New Testament. One meaning indicates the individual’s forgiveness GIVEN BY GOD, and another refers to the individual’s forgiveness OF SOMEONE ELSE. In a few instances, a third-party individual seems to BROKER (or facilitate) the first type of forgiveness. The first section of our study will examine this latter context.

Chronologically speaking, our study in the Gospels begins with John the Baptist “preaching a baptism of repentance [METANOIAS] for the forgiveness[APHESIN, “REMISSION”] of sins [HAMARTION, “ERROR”]” (Mark 1:4 and Luke 3:3). We see here that forgiveness GIVEN BY GOD (at least as John the Baptist brokered it) involved two steps: first repentance and then baptism. Presumably, these two steps were enough “for the forgiveness of sins” (at least until Jesus came a bit later).

This is the first instance of forgiveness in the Gospels. In this case, John the Baptist was not forgiving SOMEONE ELSE of sins, errors, or offences committed against John himself; rather, John was apparently BROKERING forgiveness for others, GIVEN BY GOD.

Jesus in the Synoptics

Jesus acted in a similar fashion when speaking to a “paralzyed” man who was brought, lying on a mat, to Jesus:

When Jesus saw their faith [PISTIN], he said…“…your sins [HAMARTIAI, “ERRORS”] are forgiven [APHIENTAI]” (Matthew 9:2; Mark 2:5; Luke 5:20).

In contrast to John’s BROKERED “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” GIVEN BY GOD, Jesus simply declared forgiveness GIVEN BY GOD (to the paralyzed man) in response to “their faith”. Whose faith? In both Mark and Luke (but absent in Matthew), “their” refers to “some men” who had carried the paralyzed man’s mat onto a roof and lowered it down to get him near Jesus.

Whether “their” includes the paralyzed man himself is not clear. Interestingly, it’s also not clear who is the BROKER in this act of forgiveness; is it “some men” or Jesus? Also, it appears that, in the context of Jesus’ personal ministry, someone’s faith [PISTIN] led to their forgiveness GIVEN BY GOD.

Christ in John

Similarly, in the only use of the word “forgive” in the Gospel of John, the risen Christ says to the newly-minted Apostles:

“Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he BREATHED INTO [ENRPHUSESEN] them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive [APHETE, “YE MAY REMIT”] anyone’s sins [HAMARTIAS, “ERRORS”]…THEY HAVE BEEN REMITTED [APHEONTAI]; if YE MAY RETAIN[KRATETE] them, THEY HAVE BEEN RETAINED [KEKRATENTAI]” (John 20:21-23).

Thus, to conclude this first section of our study, John the Baptist seems to have foreshadowed and exemplified a sort of brokered forgiveness GIVEN BY GOD similar to that which Jesus practiced at least once in the Synoptic Gospels. Jesus is also said in the Gospel of John to have explained this brokered forgiveness to the Apostles (immediately after the risen Christ “breathed into” them “the Holy Spirit.”)

Although this information may be interesting and relevant to the individual Christian’s understanding of the roles of John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Apostles in “brokering” forgiveness GIVEN BY GOD, it doesn’t address Molyneux’s statement above. Indeed, it seems to model the later priesthood (“forgiveness-brokerage”?), rather than giving guidance about forgiveness OF SOMEONE ELSE in personal relationships.

The Lord’s Prayer

Next, in both Matthew and Luke (but with different wording), we have the Lord’s Prayer, which states either

forgive [APHES] us our debts [OPHEILEMATA], as we also have forgiven[APHEKAMEN] our debtors [OPHEILETAIS]” (Matthew 6:12).

or

Forgive [APHES] us our sins [HAMARTIAS, “ERRORS”], for we also forgive [APHIOMEN] everyone…INDEBTED TO US [OPHEILONTI HEMIN]” (Luke 11:4).

Here we see a relationship described between forgiveness GIVEN BY GOD and forgiveness OF SOMEONE ELSE–namely, that one’s own forgiveness GIVEN BY GOD depends on one’s own forgiveness OF SOMEONE ELSE–especially in Luke’s wording.

To support this idea, Jesus explains elsewhere that “when you stand praying, if you HAVE [ECHETE] anything against anyone, forgive [APHIETE]…so that your Father in heaven may forgive [APHE] you your OFFENCES [PARAPTOMATA]” (Mark 11:25). He repeats this basic idea in both Matthew 6:14 (if you forgive[APHETE] other people THEIR OFFENCES [TA.PARAPTOMATA.AUTON], your heavenly Father will also forgive [APHESEI] you) and Luke 6:37 (RELEASE[APOLUETE], and YE SHALL BE RELEASED [APOLUTHESESTHE]”).

It seems so far that, according to Jesus, one IS NOT forgiven BY GOD unless one HAS forgiven SOMEONE ELSE–but also that one IS forgiven BY GOD if one HAS forgiven SOMEONE ELSE. This seems pretty simple, and much more relevant to the Molyneux statement than the third-party “forgiveness-brokering” described in the first section above.

Seven Times or Seventy-Seven Times?

Now we come to the Gospel teaching that perhaps most directly addresses the present question. The following saying of Jesus is recorded in both Matthew and Luke, but with some variation between them.

In Luke 17:3-4, Jesus says, If your brother [ADELPHOS]…sins [HAMARTE, “SHOULD ERR”] against you, rebuke HIM [AUTO]; and if HE SHOULD REPENT [METANOESE], forgive HIM [APHES AUTO]. Even if HE SHOULD ERR [HAMARTESE] against you seven times in a day and seven times come[S] back to you saying ‘I repent [METANOO],’ YOU SHALL FORGIVE HIM [APHESEIS AUTO].”

In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive [APHESO] my brother [ADELPHOS]…who SHALL ERR [HAMARTESEI] against me? Up to seven times?” and Jesus answers, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Because of the discrepancy here–and following my personal Bible study guideline that passages present in both Matthew and Luke but NOT in Markmost likely came from a lost source called Sayings Gospel Q–we can surmise that at least one of these passages (if not both) has changed the original saying of Jesus. But which one? Let’s look at what these passages have in common:

“…your brother sins against you…forgive him seven times.”

In Luke, this might read, “If your brother sins against you, forgive him seven times.” In Matthew, it might read, “Forgive your brother who sins against you seven times.” The idea is basically the same in both accounts.

Interestingly, the author of Luke adds (twice) a condition to forgiving one’s “brother”:

“rebuke HIM [AUTO]; and if HE SHOULD REPENT [METANOESE]” and also “come[S] back to you saying ‘I repent [METANOO]…”

Perhaps we shall see below why the idea of repentance as a condition of forgiveness is present (twice) here in Luke (although its inclusion begs the question of its absence from the equivalent passage in Matthew).

The Lord and the Wicked Slave

On the other hand, only Matthew expounds upon this teaching. In the subsequent verses (23-35), Matthew has Jesus tell the story known as the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant. This parable tells the story of “a king [BASILEI] who wanted to settle accounts with his SLAVES [DOULON, “BONDSMEN”].”

One DEBTOR [OPHEILETES] “owed him” about 200,000 years of wages(according to the NIV footnote) and “was not able to pay,” so THE LORD [HO KURIOS] “ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold AND PAYMENT TO BE MADE [KAI APODOTHENAI].”

The BONDSMAN [DOULUS] fell down and DID HOMAGE TO HIM[PROSEKUNEI AUTO], saying, “Be patient with me…and I WILL PAY ALL TO YOU [PANTA APODOSO SOI].”

Then, “HAVING BEEN MOVED WITH COMPASSION, THE BONDSMAN’S LORD RELEASED HIM AND FORGAVE HIM THE LOAN. [SPLAGCHNISTHEIS.DE HO KURIOS TOU DOULOU EKEINOU APELUSEN AUTON, KAI TO DANEION APHEKEN AUTO.]”

Afterward, that servant [DOULUS] went out and found “a FELLOW BONDMAN [SUNDOULON]” who owed him a hundred days of wages(according to the NIV footnote).

Jesus continues recounting the parable:

“He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay [APODOS] back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

His fellow servant HAVING FALLEN DOWN [PESON] begged [PAREKALEI] him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay [APODOSO] it back.’

“But he refused. Instead, he went off and CAST HIM [EBALEN AUTON] into prison until he could pay [APODO] the debt [TO OPHEILOMENON]. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their LORD [KURIO] everything that had happened.

“Then HIS LORD [KURIOS.AUTOU] called the servant in. ‘You wicked [PONERE] servant [DOULE],’ he said, ‘I canceled [APHEKA] all that debt [OPHEILEN] of yours because you begged [PAREKALESAS] me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy[ELEESAI] on your fellow servant [SUNDOULON] just as I had MERCY ON[ELEISA] you?’ In anger his LORD [KURIOS] handed him over to the TORTMENTORS [BASANISTAIS]…until he should PAY [APODO] all he owed[OPHEILOMENON].

THUS ALSO [OUTOS KAI] my heavenly Father WILL DO TO YOU [POIESEI HUMIN] unless you forgive [APHETE] your brother [ADELPHIO]…from your HEARTS [KARDION].”

In this parable, it is the king or lord who demands from his slaves repayment of their debts to him. In a compassionate response to one extremely indebted slave’s penitence and promise to pay the lord his impossibly large debt, the lord releases the slave and forgives the loan. However, the slave’s unwillingness afterward to extend forgiveness LIKEWISE to another slave (who owes the first slave much less than he himself was forgiven–AND WHO LIKEWISE IS PENITENT) causes the lord to hand the unmerciful slave over to “tormentors” until he pays all he owes.

Jesus explicitly states here that this parable describes the attitude of “my heavenly Father” regarding forgiveness (as a metaphor for canceling debts). So far, this is the Gospels’ clearest teaching on the relationship between forgiveness GIVEN BY GOD and forgiveness OF SOMEONE ELSE.

Checkpoint

To summarize so far, we see that

1) John the Baptist preached “a baptism of repentance for the remission of errors”;

2) there are two types of forgiveness–one GIVEN BY GOD, and one OF SOMEONE ELSE;

3) John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Apostles apparently “brokered”forgiveness GIVEN BY GOD for others;

4) Jesus said in two Synoptic Gospels that IF you forgive SOMEONE ELSE, THEN you will be forgiven BY GOD;

5) Matthew and Luke agree that Jesus said that if “your brother sins against you,” you should forgive him at least “seven times”;

6) Luke has Jesus saying FIRST to “rebuke them; and THEN if they repent, forgive them”; and

7) Matthew has Jesus recounting a parable that explains and models repentance-and-forgiveness.

Taking note of what we’ve seen so far, what do Paul and the other New Testament writers have to say on this subject? Not much…but still something relevant to our discussion.

Paul’s Letters: Ephesians and Colossians

There are two passages in Paul’s letters that directly address our question. Notably, the Greek verb translated as “forgive” in these verses is NOT the same verb used elsewhere in this study:

Be kind and compassionate [EUSPLAGCHNOI, “TENDER-HEARTED”] to one another, forgiving [CHARIZOMENOI] each other, just as in Christ God forgave[ECHARISATO] you. BE YE THEREFORE IMITATORS OF GOD [GINESTHE OUN MIMETAI TOU THEOU]… (Ephesians 4:32-5:1)

Therefore, as God’s chosen [EKLEKTOU, “ELECT”]…Bear with each other and forgive [CHARIZOMENOI] one another if any of you has a grievance[MOMPHEN, “COMPLAINT”] against someone…EVEN AS ALSO [KATHOS KAI] the Lord [KURIOS] forgave [ECHARISATO] you, SO ALSO YE [OUTOS KAI HUMEIS]. (Colossians 3:12-13)

There we have it. “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” How much plainer and more direct can you get, and what more “Christian” idea of forgiveness could there be? Along with John’s and Jesus’ teachings regarding forgiveness, this teaching of Paul seems to resolve, settle, and answer the question.

What was the question? It was, “What does the New Testament teach on the subject of forgiving other people, and does this confirm or contradict Stephan Molyneux’s statement?”

And now we’ve arrived at a new and unexpected question: “What does it mean to forgive ‘as the Lord forgave you’?”

John the Baptist in Matthew

Let’s return to John the Baptist. He shows up in Matthew as well as in the other Synoptics, but he doesn’t use the word “forgive” in Matthew. Instead, Matthew’s account says:

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent [METANOEITE], for the kingdom [BASILEIA] of heaven has come near…I baptize you with water for repentance [METANOIAN]” (Matthew 3:1-2,11).

Both Mark and Luke also have John proclaiming repentance:

And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Mark 1:4)

He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Luke 3:3)

Why repent?

The New Testament writers included repentance here for a reason: as a foreshadowing of Jesus of Nazareth, whose initial message was identical to that of John:

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent [METANOEITE], for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 4:17)

“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent [METANOEITE] and believe [PISTEUETE] the good news!” (Mark 1:15)

We see, then, that John the Baptist

1) preached “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”;

2) preached “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near”;

3) foreshadowed Jesus, who preached the same message of repentance.

Confession and Forgiveness

Recall that John’s baptism was “of repentance” and “for the forgiveness of sins.” But people didn’t merely repent when they came to John the Baptist:

Confessing [EXOMOLOGOUMENOI] their sins [HAMARTIAS], they were baptizedby him in the Jordan River. (Mark 1:5b; Matthew 3:6)

But why “confess” their sins?

John of Patmos, writing many years after the days of John the Baptist and Jesus, offers an insight into this teaching. This is the only reference to “forgiveness” (in all its forms) in the non-Pauline letters that directly addresses the present question:

If we claim to be without sin [HAMARTIAN], we deceive [PLANOMEN] ourselves and the truth [ALETHEIA] is not in us. If we confess [OMOLOGOMEN] our sins[HAMARTIAS], he is faithful [PISTUS] and just and will forgive [APHE] us our sins[HAMARTIAS] and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9)

Confession of one’s errors, then, is part of repentance–throughout the New Testament. That is, “an admittance of wrong and a genuine seeking of restitution” (to quote Molyneux again) are prerequisites for forgiveness GIVEN BY GOD in the teachings of the New Testament.

Jesus taught his followers to have “mercy on your fellow servant just as [the Lord] had mercy on you”. Paul taught his followers to “be imitators of God” and “forgive one another …even as also the Lord forgave you.”

We see now that forgiving SOMEONE ELSE in compassionate response to their confession and repentance IS forgiving “as the Lord forgave you.” Therefore, Stefan Molyneux’s statement on forgiveness is in harmony with the teachings of Jesus, John the Baptist, Paul of Tarsus, and John of Patmos.

Stefan’s words here are modern-day reminders of the New Testament’s ancient teachings about forgiving people who have erred against us…after they repent of their errors and confess them to us.

Appendix: A Few Technical Notes…

According to the online concordance that I use, the word “forgive” (to include “forgave,” “forgiven,” “forgiveness,” and “forgives”) appears 66 timesin the New Testament (NIV), as follows:

Matthew (12 times)
Mark (10 times)
Luke (19 times)
John (1 time)
Acts (6 times)
Romans (1 time)
2 Corinthians (4 times)
Ephesians (2 times)
Colossians (4 times)
Hebrews (3 times)
James (1 time)
1 John (3 times)

In keeping with my personal Bible study guidelines, this discussion omits the Old Testament, the Book of Acts, certain Pauline pseudepigrepha (2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Hebrews–but NOT Colossians, Ephesians, or Titus), and passages that only appear once in the three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), except where noted.

I also have a custom of rendering the Koine Greek word “HAMARTIA” generally as “error” in English because 1) the literal meaning of its verb form “HAMARTANO” is “to miss the mark” (with the classic example of “missing” the bull’s-eye in archery being frequently given) and 2) I know through personal experience that “error” is the greatest cause of harm (perhaps the Greek word translated below as “offence”) among human beings.

(Interestingly, the English word “error” in all its forms (such as “to err”) occurs only EIGHT times in the New International Version (NIV) of the New Testament–and 17 times in the King James Version (KJV). It comes from a different Greek word that also means “deceit” as a noun and “to deceive” as a verb. See 1 John 1:8, referenced herein.)

Text quoted in this essay is from the NIV, as copied from the online concordance at BibleGateway.com. I used this version here because its textual sources (being chosen from among many divergent Greek manuscripts) are superior to the Textus Receptus, the manuscript used to translate the King James Version (KJV) more than 400 years ago; however, the NIV‘s English translation (being less literal or word-for-word, as in the KJV) sometimes loses grasp of the original meaning, in my view. I believe that the value of my approach will become apparent to attentive readers.

Accordingly, in this study I provide, within the copied NIV text, an English transliteration [IN ALL CAPS] after certain key English words and phrases. Where I believe the NIV translation differs meaningfully from the corresponding manuscript’s literal translation (according to my Interlinear KJV: Parallel New Testament in Greek and English), I note both the Greek transliteration AND its literal English translation together [IN ALL CAPS, “IN BRACKETS WITH QUOTES”] following the NIV‘s translation.

In certain instances, the wording of the NIV was so divergent from the Greek that I simply removed the NIV‘s wording and replaced it with its literal English translation IN ALL CAPS, followed by the Greek transliteration [IN BRACKETS]. In other cases, as in general, I use “…” to indicate the removal of text from the quote when it isn’t present in the Greek at all, or where its inclusion (or word order) would reduce the reader’s ability to follow the text, or for the sake of brevity.

All bold type is my own addition, in order to emphasize certain points and/or focus on the subject of study.


Living Consciously Leads to Freedom

February 6, 2018

I’ve observed in my own experience that living consciously is good (leads to freedom), while living unconsciously is bad (leads to suffering). Anyone can test this statement against their own experience.

What do I mean when I say “consciously” and “unconsciously”?

What you think of as yourself is not who you really are. In a kind of funny way, you live from the perspective of this false you, thinking all the while that you’re the one living your life, determining your experiences, and suffering from the mistakes you make.

In reality, you are not the one living your life or determining your experiences—-but you are the one suffering from the mistakes this false you is making! It’s not even close to fair. It’s tragic, if you want to look at it that way (but you don’t have to). Every other person alive is in the same predicament as you—-unless they have become conscious of their ability to be conscious.

How in the world can it be that you are living and breathing in this body…and yet you are not?

When you came into the world, you had a Basic Personality: your True Self. This “BP” is like a blueprint. It contained (and still contains) your potentials, your abilities, the seeds of your preferences, and everything else that your life experience would help to mold into who you would become. Your BP is who you really are, as an individual, without the input of other people and your environment and life experiences.

At the present time, you are not functioning as your BP.

Since you were born, other people have been trying to make you into what they want you to be. And guess what? You were so little and so dependent on these people for everything you needed to live that you eventually stopped trying to be who you really are. In the face of overwhelming physical force and emotional withdrawal from the people you depended on for life itself, you sacrificed your BP on the altar of feeling accepted.

What replaced your BP was a collection of ideas, words, beliefs, and many other mental concepts that other people injected into your mind.

Your mind, when you were born, was a blank slate, completely open to be written on.

Your BP is not your mind.

Your BP is beyond your mind.
Your BP owns your mind.
Your mind owns your emotions.
Your emotions own your body.

Your mind is a creation of the people around you who didn’t accept who you really are and sought to create you in the image they wanted.

Your mind is not real. It is a creation of society.
Your BP is real. It is who you really are!

Your BP can control everything: your mind, emotions, and body. But guess what? The poor thing is shriveled up like a raisin! You locked it up when you were so little you don’t even remember and there it’s been, in solitary confinement, locked away within yourself, alone.

No wonder you feel so alone, so often.

But guess what? Your BP can come out and play again. In fact, this is the goal of your life. It’s the thing all the religions started out teaching.

You have to sacrifice yourself—-your false self—-to reclaim the real you!

You have to deny the world to gain what is truly real and important.

You have to set the captive-—you—-free!

How?

You become more conscious.

How?

If you haven’t until now, you just started. Congratulations. It’s quite a trip. Once you know what’s wrong, you won’t settle until you’ve solved the problem. Now you know what’s wrong, and how you solve the problem will be up to you.

“He who seeks shall find.”

This is absolutely true, no matter what your life seems to be telling you. If you have faith in anything (and you do), this statement is worthy of your faith…even if only to seek (and find) whether it is true.

“The truth will set you free.”

Meditation is a good first step toward becoming more conscious. When you meditate, you let all the crap in your mind (false self) settle. You empower your Basic Personality (the real you). Eventually, you will connect with that long-lost inner part of yourself and you will begin to live for real. Your decisions, no longer made by the many contradictory voices in your head, will be made by you and no one else. For the first time, you will be living your own life. The false you will be silenced.

Aside from meditation, there are many other ways of becoming more conscious. Self-observation is one. Breathing exercises are another. Entheogens, contemplation, movement, artistic expression, parenting, and simply appreciating beauty are others. These practices can help to establish and strengthen your connection with the True Self.

In time, you will live more and more consciously—-more and more from the vantage point of your True Self, your Basic Personality. You will discover who you really are and what you really like. You will no longer allow others to control your thoughts, emotions, or actions. You will be free.

That’s the difference between living consciously and unconsciously: freedom. Freedom to love and accept and sing and dance and create, to be free to share and enjoy and live in peace. Free to be who you really are.

(Written on November 6, 2008; freshly edited on February 6, 2018.)


Why We Contain the Universe

July 17, 2017

The deeper we go within, into the depths of our own Consciousness and Psyche, the more we withdraw our attention from the outside world.  The farther within that we dig, the less influence the outside world has on us.

This can be, and I think usually is, a sign of insight and depth of vision.

As insight deepens, consciousness “shrinks”: its focus is more toward the center of one’s being, and the outer “edges” of awareness tend to shrink (or expand) with the range of focus of one’s attention.

It’s not easy to find the center at first.  It’s underneath “stuff”: the burden of unresolved past painful experience and the fuzziness of things we “learned” that aren’t really true.

The burden is called “negativity.”

The fuzziness is called “wrong beliefs.”

Together, negativity and wrong beliefs are called the “ego” or the “false self.”

Negativity and wrong beliefs are also the substance of which attachments are made.

Ego and attachments cause consciousness to be focused on the “surface” of awareness, where Soul and Matter meet to form “flesh”–that is, the body and its needs, desires, and sensations.

Someone deeply asleep in the darkness of ego is deeply identified with the body.

The bodily identity is called the “(surface) personality.”  It consists of bodily characteristics, innate personal qualities, urges, and a name and mailing address.  It also has a social group, usually a family.

The personality is temporary and constantly changing in accordance with experience.

Experience happens on the outside, in the collective dream-reality of society and sensation.  Experience registers on the inside, at the center of one’s consciousness.

The center goes all the way “in” (or “up”), to a more collective or shared version of consciousness.  The collective or shared consciousness at the center of (one’s personal) consciousness is cause, and the outer world of experience is effect.

A “point of consciousness” is a self-aware, aware, or semi-aware being (or object).  A human or dolphin is self-aware.  A dog or amoeba is aware.  An enzyme or atom is semi-aware.

All points of consciousness are “connected to” this central-consciousness database through their own centers of consciousness.  All points of consciousness are points of exchange of information between the inner center of consciousness and the outer world of experience.

What is exchanged is–and must be–information from other points of consciousness, including thoughts and sensations.

This means that when I (consciousness) look out my eyes into another set of eyes, consciousness is seeing itself–from both sides of the interaction.

In every interaction, something is shared.  This “something” is recorded in the centers of consciousness that are present in the interaction.

All the information collected and stored in the ultimate center of every center of consciousness equals the sum total of everything that has ever been experienced in the history of existence.

As experience becomes more complex, there are more unique situations and opportunities for interaction to happen and be “recorded” in the central center of consciousness.  This is one purpose of Existence: to provide a vast array of different kinds of experience.

We can accurately say that the central center of consciousness “knows all.”  A lot of people call this central center of consciousness “God.”

Since it is causative to everything that happens, has ever happened, or ever will happen, it is.  Since it knows all, it is.  Since it is everywhere all at once, it is.  Since it “can do anything” (because it DOES everything), it is.

Right there in the center.  Small as a mustard seed, small as a grain of sand.  Like a tiny candle flame that ever (not “never”) changes but is static.

This tiny center within us and everything else is enormously huge.  After all, it caused and causes everything.

It is everywhere, in everything, unable to be scraped off or squeezed out of anything.

Unable to be sliced in half.

It is huger and grander than the universe we can see or know.  It contains the universe.  The universe exists within it, surrounded and penetrated by it.

It it, we live and move and have our being.  Literally!

And it’s all there, sitting quietly and patiently, being unaffected, always, free for the taking, hidden but accessible.  Inside you.

God. In you.

THIS is why there’s a Golden Rule.  Jesus understood.  Do unto others…because they ARE you.

Namasté.

(“The divinity in me bows to the divinity in you.”)

Written on July 17, 2010, and freshly edited on July 17, 2017


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