Prodigal Valentine: Two Worlds, Two Minds, One Self

June 28, 2009 at 11:45 pm (Prodigal Valentine) (, )

A little bit of progress tonight, nothing particularly foundation-shaking. I have not had great success with getting into a focused mental space lately, even with the meditations that usually give me ready access. I did at least get a sense of why this has been so, however.

I have always known the external accusations against the gnostics (and the Gnostics), that of dualism and world-hating, were not in any way accurate. I have fallen into the trap of succumbing to such a false dichotomy however, and did not realize how fully it was entrenched, and may always be.

I come from a strongly dualistic and legalistic world-hating background, one that has instilled a mindset within me, from birth, that I will probably never be able to shake. I work around it instead, as best I can, with the limited resources I have to do so. For the most part, I am usually successful, but it is impossible to maintain such an effort thoughtlessly, and when I am tired, stressed, or ill, any such efforts are discarded in favour of fight-or-flight survival.

If there was any “message” for me tonight, it was that of balance and moderation, and acceptance of the physical, instead of rejection of it, in favour of living entirely inside my own mental sphere. This is the infinite chain of attainment that I am attached to, and that I desperately need to discard, although I haven’t quite figured out how to accomplish that. My psyche, for its part, is retreating even further into its own shell, as a result of that shell being threatened with elimination or removal.

The insight I had tonight was part of an ongoing realization, of re-framing things in a positive light. Not only mental events and dramas and other internal emotions and reactions, but physical things as well. Circumstances and physiology and relationships, etcetera. I have known that for quite some time, but it’s one thing to “know” it, and another thing entirely to put that into active practice. Maybe in that respect, the shell does not need to be discarded or eliminated, but reframed or utilized in a different manner.

Time to put up or shut up. That was my small insight for the evening.

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Quaker Pagan Reflections: Sea Glass (and video)

June 28, 2009 at 3:20 am (Prodigal Valentine) ()

And here is why I read the Quaker Pagan blogs.

“Talking to the wrong Jesus.” Here I am, a non-Christian, sometimes feeling like a poor, orphaned relative among the Christians of the world, apologizing, explaining, translating… And there’s Alan, one of the most sincere and serious Christians I know, equally dismissed, equally marginalized.

For talking to the “wrong Jesus.”

I could not decide, in that moment, whether those words were more funny or sad. But they’re both, really, aren’t they?

The wrong Jesus. The wrong Zeus, the wrong Demeter, the wrong Allah, the wrong theology, ontology, hermeneutics, philosophics, harmonics, recipe for sweet golden Hannukah latkes… Oh, dear sweet Ground of All Being, how we humans dearly love to draw our little lines around your limitlessness and fence you off and take You (and one another) hostage. There it was: the tragedy and the comedy of being human and trying to love God and one another, all sewed into one small sentence.

Sea Glass

Particularly apt words for me, having been dogpiled by literalist fundies on the ex-member boards lately, just because I don’t “talk to [the right] Jesus”.

But! According to YouTube, it’s a flamewar that has been going on for two centuries at least!

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What?

June 24, 2009 at 8:49 am (Prodigal Valentine) (, )

What?

It’s supposed to be funny?

What?!

Not that I didn’t need a moment of levity, I actually kind of did. A lot more than I realized. But yeah, seriously? It’s supposed to be funny??

Like the kids say in netspeak I think my brain is brokeded…..

🙂

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Being troubled, and my ongoing baptism of fire.

June 21, 2009 at 2:57 am ("Like it says on the tin.", Praxis, Prodigal Valentine) (, )

The ascent of the seven spheres hit a little closer to home today than it has to date; I don’t know if I am making progress, or back-sliding. I know for a fact I am accessing long-disused parts of my cerebral cortex, because for the past week I’ve had songs from my former church running through my head completely unbidden (not the ones I’ve cribbed for the psalter, the more apocalyptic ones). I am hopeful that means I am clearing it out of my head. Reading it out of memory so it can be erased? Question is, what am I overwriting onto it??

MfW today was more of a personal reflection, than a connectedness with an external subjective reality; that was actually the point. Unfortunately. A lot of “truth came to the world in images”, and quite a considerable amount of trying to figure out if I am being honest to myself, or if in actual fact, I can “remember who I am” and make myself different at the same time. Or maybe make myself the same as what I would like myself to be.

What do I want myself to be? Remembering who I am means remembering things I don’t really want to descend into again, and I thought I had gotten past most of them. I have. Superficially. It is my interactions on the outside of my skull (what few that I have) that are still impacted by who I am, as a result of how I grew up. Remembering who I am means paying attention to those interactions, and trying to determine how they are impacted by who I am, and how I can change my interactions, to change who I am, which might change my interactions. Maybe.

Things have definitely moved from “see the big picture” into “focus in on yourself with a laser” in my praxis. Not a comfortable experience, but as the gospel of Thomas says, “Seek and do not stop seeking until you find. When you find, you will be troubled. When you are troubled, you will marvel and rule over all.” But back to the ascent.

The first sphere was fine, leaving behind the force to grow and decrease is what gets me “in” on the mental space of subjectively non-linear consciousness, quite effectively.

The second sphere, I found myself reflecting upon my own machinations of evil. Nothing of a criminal nature, and the “machinations of evil” that I came up with sounded ridiculous, even to me. The second  sphere was all about my actions and their consequences today though, not the actions of others towards me, the way it usually is.

The third sphere, I found myself reflecting that the guile of lust could also refer to the infinite chain of attainment. Yeah, the one that gnostics vow to escape. I contemplated whether or not there was anything in my life that I could really say I was attached to, through greed or desire or even lust. I couldn’t find an answer right away, until I realized there is one thing that I am attached to, that I should probably let go of.

It isn’t anything material though, it is a mental tic that I have used for a security blanket for as long as I can remember, one that I am definitely 100% absolutely attached to. How I am going escape it, I have absolutely no idea. It informs who I am, just as much as any of the rest of it does, and not in a good way. I wish I was attached to stuff, or things, or even other people (in the real world) although being attached to other people would be a swing of the pendulum in the exact opposite direction from where I am now. I’m trying to find the median, although I don’t know where that is, nor how to get there, if I even can.

The other thing I realized is that NOT being attached to anything, can be a guile of lust all on its own. Rejecting everything out of hand, that isn’t healthy either. Motion and rest. Seesawing between being too attached and not being attached enough is surely better than not being attached to anything or anyone, anywhere, ever, isn’t it?

The fourth sphere was all about reflecting on how I was and can still be judgemental. Again, how I’m going to change that, I have no idea. I was even judgemental of someone, AS I REALIZED that I had to stop being judgemental!! THAT’S NOT GOOD. My brain refuses to cooperate…….How the hell am I going to get my brain to cooperate?! Maybe my brain won’t ever be able to cooperate. Judging others is basically the default setting for all of my interactions with people in the real world, and I DON’T KNOW where the damn DIP switches are………

The fifth sphere, I realized that for me, unholy daring and rashness can be inaction, as well as action. Thumbing your nose at the outside, crawling into your hole and pulling it in after you, THAT’S “unholy daring and rashness”! Crawling out of a nice, comfortable, unthreatening hole to make a life and connections with others, on the other hand, that’s troubling. Which is the point.

The sixth sphere, at least was a little more mundane. I certainly don’t attain wealth through malicious means, but I do have problems with money. Not what you think. I pinch nickels so hard, the beaver chews off its own tail in an effort to get free……Which I realized is also a form of attaining wealth through malicious means. Not something I can readily modify, in my current situation, as being cheap is necessary right now, and more of a help than a hindrance. Mostly.

The seventh sphere had me wandering back to the beginning, and wondering how in the hell I’m supposed to work harder to reflect my “true self” to myself and others around me, when I don’t even have the first clue who or what that true self really is? I know exactly who my true (childhood) self WAS, but given that I was raised in a closed high-demand Bible-based group, I definitely don’t want that “true self” escaping ever. Ever. At all. Not even a little bit. Maybe I don’t have a “true self” maybe I actually am a black hole. Blank slate. I really don’t have any hobbies, popular culture stuff holds absolutely zero interest for me, and my interactions with others are strained at best, and awful at worst.

I don’t know how to change. I don’t even know how to convince myself that I NEED to change. Part of me is still going, “You don’t need to change! You’re in almost total isolation except for your imagination which gives you everything you will ever want or need, you haven’t settled down anywhere,  you have no permanent connections with anyone, ever, anywhere, but it’s easier, less messy, and you’re free to pick up and go as you will! Why is this a bad thing?”

Um, because it’s the stuff normal people’s nightmares are made of?

They’re not kidding when they call it a baptism of fire……..

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Ehrman on Misquoting Jesus

June 20, 2009 at 6:25 pm (Prodigal Valentine) ()

“Misquoting Jesus”, by Bart Ehrman (all emphasis is mine, and my notes are in []):

In 1715 Wettstein went to England (as part of a literary tour) and was given full access to the Codex Alexandrinus, which we have already heard about in relation to Bentley. One portion of the  manuscript particularly caught Wettstein’s attention: it was one of those tiny matters with enormous implications. It involved the text of a key passage in the book of 1 Timothy.

The passage in question, 1 Tim. 3:16 [read about Paul and the Pastorals here and  1 Timothy in particular, here] had long  been used by advocates of orthodox theology to support the view that the New Testament itself calls Jesus God. For the text, in most manuscripts, refers to Christ as “God made manifest in the flesh, and justified in the Spirit.” As I pointed out in chapter 3, most  manuscripts abbreviate sacred names (the so-called nomina sacra), and that is the case here as well, where the Greek word God is abbreviated in two letters, theta and sigma, with a line drawn over the top to indicate that it is an abbreviation. What Wettstein noticed in examining Codex Alexandrinus was that the line over the top had been drawn in a different ink from the surrounding words, and so appeared to be from a  later hand (i.e., written by a later scribe). Moreover, the horizontal line in the middle of the first letter, , was not actually a part of the letter but was a line that had bled through from the other side of the old vellum.

In other words, rather than being the abbreviation (theta-sigma) for “God” , the word was actually an omicron and a sigma , a different word altogether, which simply means “who.” The original reading of the manuscript thus did not speak of Christ as “God made manifest in the flesh” but of Christ “who was made manifest in the flesh. According to the ancient testimony of the Codex Alexandrinus, Christ is no longer explicitly called God in this passage.

The Gospel of Philip:

Truth didn’t come into the world naked but in types and images. Truth is received only that way. There is rebirth and its image. They must be reborn through image. What is the resurrection? Image must rise again through image. The bridegroom and image enter through image into truth, which is restoration. It is right that those who don’t have it take on the name of the father and son and the holy spirit. But they have not done so on their own. If you do not take on the names for yourself, the name “Christian” will be taken from you. You receive them in the oil of the chrism, the aromatic unction of the power of the cross. The messengers called this power “the right and left.” You are no longer a Christian but Christ.

Small wonder the early Quakers called their Protestant bed-fellows “people of the book” !!

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Vridar: Reasons to question the historicity of the crucifixion

June 20, 2009 at 3:20 pm (Prodigal Valentine) ()

Reasons for questioning its historicity:

1. The earliest references to the crucifixion present it not as an historical event but as a theological doctrine, a point of faith, a matter of religious belief.

2. The crucifixion is itself always portrayed in canonical literature as a theological event with a theological meaning, and its power lies in its paradoxical relationship with conquest and victory. Attempts to appreciate its reality in terms of historicity or human horror are latecomers to the discussion.

3. The first gospel narrative of the crucifixion portrays it as a theological drama. Mark’s crucifixion is a mock Roman triumph, and teases out OT allegories. So even by the time the crucifixion is narrated as, in part, a human drama, it is shrouded in allegorical and theological trappings.

4. The authenticity of the first non-Christian references to the crucifixion have to be questioned on several grounds, including the fact that their existence is unknown in all other surviving records up till the fourth century.

5. The least controversial earliest non-Christian reference to Christianity (Pliny) fails to mention both the name of Jesus and the crucifixion.

One regularly reads among books discussing the historicity of Jesus that the crucifixion of Jesus is a bedrock established historical fact. No-one would have any reason to make up such a story about someone being crucified like a criminal or subversive, and who was nonetheless still venerated as the Messiah long afterwards, so the argument goes. There are further elaborations of this argument from “the criteria of embarrassment”. Tacitus is also regularly invoked as a pagan witness.

I would like to expand on or support each one of the above points — by examining the evidence in ways historians of nonbiblical topics normally do — and show why each ought to be considered at the very least grounds for pausing before routinely assuming that the crucifixion of Jesus was indeed “a bedrock historical event”.

From the thorough and insightful Vridar blog of Neil Godfrey.

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In puris naturalibus on the Trinity

June 19, 2009 at 12:06 am (Prodigal Valentine) (, , , )

The Trinity for me is the Nous that gives me consciousness, the Logos, the light to use it; and Sophia, the wisdom of divine inspiration to truly live it. Source.

Yet another reason why I read the Johannite blogs; the external trappings of their religion may not be my cuppa, but under all the layers, they’ve got the good stuff!

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The Prodigal Valentine Explains

June 17, 2009 at 12:36 am (Prodigal Valentine) (, )

A Friend asked me recently what MfW was like for me; seeing as I am a non-theist, intellectual (filthy word that, in some circles) self-hacking quasi-gnostic (no rituals please), I described it as best I could at the time.

Today I found The Splintered Mind, a blog I had bookmarked some time ago, but had never gotten around to reading. Everything lined up tonight though, it seems.

Here, is what MfW is subjectively like, for me:

“[W]here the body is motionless… there is an almost complete adaptation of the receptor organs, and the result is that the body simply disappears from the phenomenal world. This is indeed what seems to happen to a very high degree in the practice of certain oriental sects, where those who are expert are able, by remaining motionless, to achieve an extreme state of apparent “spiritualisation”. Movement appears to be essential to the phenomenal existence of the body, and it is probable that we are aware of our bodily states only in so far as they are terminal phases of movements.”

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The empire never ended.

June 16, 2009 at 8:49 am (Prodigal Valentine) (, )

This happened last week but I didn’t mention it then because I hadn’t fully processed it. I had a sense of “the empire never ended” in that I pictured the Thomasine parables as my subconscious would like to think it “happened” two thousand years ago; a bunch of Middle Eastern early mystics, sitting around trading yarns and basically seeing what they could crank out of the insides of their own skulls.

It definitely wasn’t a romanticized image; I, for one, am under no illusions that life three thousand years ago in the middle of the desert, in a time of political uncertainty and upheaval, not to mention religious oppression, was any picnic.

I wasn’t quite sure how to process the images, or what they meant for my particular path, until I ruminated over them this morning.

I then recalled Philip K. Dick’s “revelation” (albeit brought on by schizophrenia, but many of the same chemical processes occur in enlightenment; hopefully in a controllable manner), of the delivery girl with the “jesus fish” necklace, when he had the sense that they were really persecuted Christians, living two thousand years ago, the subsequent “modern time” was just false image overlaid onto the collective unconscious.

Now, I don’t believe that to be “true”, any more than I believe Bladerunner to be a documentary! (Excellent flick, BTW. Recommended.) But it served the point, for me, to illustrate that humans have been hacking their own brains since long before they had the terminology to adequately describe it, never mind the technology to accurately study it.

Which may be part of the reason why gnostics are accused of being syncretic, or why some religious Gnostics are led towards cults, such as guru-driven closed groups, or other high-demand philosophies like Anthroposophy or Theosophy, or other “faiths” that mask controlling intentions.

In a zeal to connect to that which connects us all, a thin strip of meat in the middle of our cerebellum ( that grows thicker through meditation, studies have shown), some may seek “answers” or concrete “truths” of what it is, exactly, they are experiencing.

For me, it isn’t finding an answer for “what” the subjective experience I am having “is”, in any literalized or fundamental sense; that is the meaning of the admonition from the gospel of Philip not to create gods, after all. For myself, it is trying to connect the dots, that my subjective experience is the same as every other spiritual “seeker’s” subjective experience, regardless of the labels or personas they slap onto it, or have the need to slap onto it.

I wonder if labels would serve any purpose for me…..Then I remember that it is not about the “finding”, but about the seeking, to begin with. The empire never ended. It is within and without us, however that “kingdom” is defined.

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Small Things

June 14, 2009 at 8:58 pm (my funny valentine, Prodigal Valentine) ()

We must be conscious of small things, even those (seemingly) beyond our control. Those things that seem beyond control, are often not. We are not to control things, anyway, merely to observe. We are the universe watching itself, as it is, in all its forms and wonders.

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