“I still have a tendency to think too well of myself and to pretend to be more than I really am. Am I always in danger of becoming conceited just because I’m sober?” Hazelden, Thought For the Day.

The real problem is I think to little of myself. Am I a child of God? Of course! Has God given me all because God loves me and everyone else as well? Yes, no matter what I think or do! If it were anything less, would that not mean God is indivisible or has favorites? Or, that He needs to hold on to parts of His love to maintain His power as One who has all power? Or, to reward some, and punish justice. When I think I must prove my false self, am I not diminishing God’s power in me? My ego always speaks on behalf of my littleness or grandiosity. And it always speaks first, in my mind at least. Seeing my self as less than, seeing myself inferior to anyone is a separation thought, which leads me to think I am less than, lacking in something. Although I frequently don’t know what that is. Searching for whatever it is is a part of the human condition, “search and do not find,” which has nothing to do with God. He knows where all His children are. He also knows His abundance fully shines on everyone. It is up to each and every one of us to accept it and let it shine through us.

“I am as God created me. I’m not a body, I am free.” A Course in Miracles.”

Book Review: Finding God in the Body, by Benjamin Riggs. Review by Bob Pajer

People on planet earth who read this book and practice in their own lives the author’s beliefs, will make the world we live in a better place. Benjamin Riggs writes about kindness, goodness and love. It is about how to live one’s life with regard for others, how to present oneself to the world with generosity and a giving spirit. I would recommend that anyone who regards these qualities as the ones we need most right now, as we relate to others and how we gain love for ourselves read this book. It will be helpful in understanding that living life according to the principles Jesus set down for us, those ideas that saved him as he saved the world are the path to our accepting the Atonement for our selves here through forgiveness, forgiveness of ourselves to begin with. This message is brought to us in this book with great care by the author. It is, for a good part, a scholarly work, and sometimes difficult to read because of it. There are so many ideas that are upside down from the ideas the world presents to most of us it takes time to absorb the different ways of living it presents us with.

Riggs describes God consciousness as an intimate experience, a personal presence that is intimate with God and others, in the moment, now. This might just transform my own experience into one that brings me closer to God as I understand God. Perhaps you as well. His message is mostly experiential in a profound way throughout the book. Although he slips from this into judgment of others and other sources without evidence for his findings. That’s a flaw, that seems to contradict his whole message. One we all suffer from. Judging without the possibility of knowledge in an ego driven world. While Briggs seems to treat the ego with some impunity, I think the ego is not a nice thing, for it is born of our fear, not of God.

A substantial aspect of our proclivity to judge one another is our misunderstanding of others. Well, we really can’t understand others, although we should try. Without knowledge its almost impossible. I believe we can believe the truth about others, as long as we do not also believe that truth is true in split minds, trying to live the truth we are separated from one aother. Which we are not. And as long as we, our egos hold onto this insanity, there will be no knowledge here. Would God truth knowledge with a an ego dream that believes we have separated from Him and feel horribly guilty about it, and want to foist this guilt off onto our brothers and sisters because in our selves we can’t stand it. Guilt in the mind system the ego devises must be transferred or hopefully transcended. We work at that these two ideas with the intensity of the dying hoping for just one more breath.

So I don’t agree the ego is a good thing, as Briggs intimates. Only what God creates is good. Although we can get pretty sure and pretty confident we’re right, about anything. This shows up in our inability for so many of us to tolerate other religious beliefs, as Briggs talks about. We believe somehow theology is universal. Yes, Briggs fails to see, universal in our opinion we are right. But the world we live in would always seem to rather be right than be happy, which is our true state of mind created by God. Who is Himself happy I supposed because he knows we are just playing with dreams and one day we will awaken to truth and dispel the insane idea we could possibly separate from Him or Her. Riggs suffers from the idea that one day the world will be a better place. Perhaps not. We will one day see God’s will be done. His will is unconditional Love and its only Life. Truly the only Life that exists, the giving away of love.

At least to some extent in his writing, our author seems to be aware of all this. Yet he dismisses what he says by allowing himself to think God resides in our bodies. That’s a huge mistake, I believe. As there is no body. God is eternal, at that is all that will ever exist. Fortunately, we are in His Mind, which is our eternal home. We have no other. The old saying the body is the temple of God or the Holy spirit is a mistaken ego thought. Which must and will be corrected. God in the form of the Holy Spirit, which has no more form than God, is in the temple of our relationships, our only connection with one another in this world, as each blossoms with His work, which is forgiveness. Jesus taught that, as he taught the few alcoholics who formed the only truly spiritual healing ever to set foot in this world. One might wonder why Jesus gave this miracle to AA. Well, perhaps because alcoholics are all crazy enough to need to believe it. The pain of that disease is awful. Really awful and one doesn’t get to die right away, nor, because of the illness can lay hands on truth very easily. It truly takes the grace of God to bring addicted people to their senses enough to know they have any sense at all. Jesus is in charge of miracles.

Although Briggs speaks highly of AA, he doesn’t seem recognize that it is its basis in universal experience that has made it so successful. Furthermore, if he understood that, he, perhaps, would not criticize “new age philosophy” such as A Course in Miracles, without explaining why. The world believes a universal theology is somehow possible. It’s not. Only universal experience is possible.

While Riggs it would seem, would like to cast Jesus’ teaching in a “new light”, there’s nothing new about it. It is in our mass miscasting of Jesus teaching that has led us astray, except for teachers like Martin Luther King, Richard Rohr, and Michael Finlay (who sees so much truth in Miester Eckhart’s writing,” to name a few. Jesus teaching has never changed, it has indeed been really misunderstand. In fact we have to change his teaching to follow it, it seems. Riggs is right in exposing this misunderstanding, and what it appears to have have done to our world today. We have a reactionary teaching of Jesus, a direct opposite of what he taught. As correct as Riggs is about this, he doesn’t go far enough in my opinion. Christian teachings today are closer to truth than most of the teaching of Rome given to us over the last roughly 1500 years. The most important thing that Riggs does teach is the presence of God within us. However, Jesus taught that for certain, yet Jesus also says that while this is clearly the truth, we don’t ever get it unless we practice his most prominent lesson: forgiveness. Which is not what the what we think forgiveness is. The ego of separation took care of that soon after Jesus taught this most important of all things, the very reason why we’re in this world, to forgive (love) one another. He says this of course in his wonderful commandment, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Which we don’t do. His love for us includes the essence of real forgiveness, the only reflection of God’s love here in this world, and our expression of how this is carried out. Here. Jesus also says, the only way to God is through forgiveness here. Yet it is the one thing we most don’t seem to get. In fact we have changed the meaning of forgiveness to the point it is difficult to even understand what this word ever meant. Why does Jesus dwell so much on it? Jesus meant by it what he did in the cruxifixction and resurrection. Which is an extreme example he does not ask us to repeat. And few, perhaps none of us, want to go there. Even though he never asked that we do. Our justice system, in its absence of love, is a good example of how we don’t do forgiveness here. Would Jesus imprison someone for a mistake that has already been corrected by the Holy Spirit, and then advocate killing that person as just punishment?

Briggs, almost gets the meaning of the crucifixion. But its the kind of thing Jesus teaches, which is unequivocal. He did not die on the cross. He came here to overcome the idea of death. He did c certainly redeem us though resurrection. While Riggs refers to such things as “myth” that may be, but it doesn’t matter. The story is true even in the duality of the world’s beliefs. Its not in heaven’s terms. Nothing like that can happen in God’s world. Only here could a myth reach our minds with such impact. The truth however is true. Jesus did not die. His, Our Father, did not send him to be sacrificed for our sins, whatever that means. “How could God do that to His beloved Son?” and old question of the thinkers among us. We always must bring truth into the realm of duality here in this world because separation itself is a duality of great value to us, and with far greater cost and sacrifice in letting it go. We are separated because we think we are. Convinced of it. We don’t recognize the fact that, as Riggs clearly tells us, separation is not possible. He could have said in his book, that that means the world is not real. We make it up, it is not God’s creation. God does not create the unreal. We spend lifetimes here trying to make the unreal real, however. Repeating the same beliefs and actions over and over

Un-forgiveness is the fundamental decision we make for all the suffering in this world. The great mistake is we can’t forgive ourselves for such things as slavery, killing native Americans, etc. and etc. Christians are the most violent people to have set foot in the history we know. Ask anyone who was present at Wounded Knee. Christians carried out that atrocity. Christians killed over 6 million Jews. Look at this from above the grounds of guilt we all feel and try to transfer onto Muslims.

Guilt is a terrible human insanity. We cannot stand it. It is insane and all of us deep down realize that at a level we are almost never willing to share. That is what Jesus came to take away. To tell us “don’t feel guilty”, it cannot be true because it opposes God’s power.

So while Riggs may be telling us God is within, which is true. However, I must say he falls short. As I read the his book I thought much further about Jesus’ primary message for all of us. First of all, we cannot recognize that unless we see all of our brothers and sisters as they truly are. Forgiveness is nothing more that seeing truth. One truth. Not a universal theology, but a universal experience. The heart of the meaning of AA’s Twelve Steps, which Riggs refers to, but doesn’t really seem to fully understand them, at least as he shares with us what he thinks they mean. The Steps are are about forgiveness. Jesus’ primary concern for us.

Furthermore, Briggs seems to think we can change the world to make it a better place. Yet the essence of Jesus teaching is that this world does not exist. It is an illusion we think is real, and spend most of our lives trying to prove this so. Jesus would have none of it. Forgiveness is a reflection of God’s love here. Our salvation comes from our forgiveness of ourselves and then passing that on to everyone else. Jesus says in A Course in Miracles, that forgiveness is knowing truth is true. And then forgiving everyone, including ourselves, in the sense that we forgive our brothers and sisters for what they did not do. Unless we understand we made the world and God did not we will never know that is we who are insane and not God.

I believe our merciful Father does not ask us to change this world because we can’t. The ego that makes it up will not change it into what we think it should be, because it can’t. We do have the means to see truth, however, that comes through practicing forgiveness here, and that must become for us exactly what that is: loving one another as he loved us. There are folks in this world who I’m sure are on this path, those who have come to be poor enough to realize having is being, worldly wealth can mean having nothing, and not searching for more of what we already possess. We can’t fit through the eye of the needle because we carry and are overburdened by our belief in illusion. For the most part we are good at switching illusions. That’s about it. And its not enough. The poor (poor spirit) have given this idea up and they don’t have to wait, for Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount, “theirs is Kingdom.” There’s no waiting. Whoever they are have identified the Kingdom for those of us who are still working on it. So we can recognize we are the Kingdom, now and forever. This is an awakening, waiting for us in time that has never passed, to what we truly are. Jesus is the one who is waiting, by our side, showing us All has already given us all. There is nothing to want. Nothing to wait for. It is an awakening from our dream because God’s Voice has never left us. Just listen.
The subtitle of the book is “A Spiritual Path for the the Modern West.”

Far from agreeing with everything Riggs presents I agree with much of it. His interpretation of the Bible are beautifully written with an extensive understanding. His description of Jesus teaching, different than what is put forth my most scholars today, is almost in agreement with mine. I don’t think he goes far enough, however. Perhaps this is because of his theory that God is in the body. I cannot imagine anything being so far from Jesus’ teaching as this unfortunate misconception. I believe his message pushes truth away from us and Riggs never fully explains how he arrives at this proposition, although he does such admirable job of explaining through Biblical passages. Although, I believe even he did a better job of explaining this I could not disagree more. Bodies are neutral things we make, used to prove the ego is real, and then as we awaken to truth see they have no purpose but being a vehicle for the God’s Voice to speak to and show us how to relate to one another to recognize the truth. As a result of separation, which cannot be, we make up a body, materialize our false selves by covering them with skin. Its quite an impressive effect, although it lacks cause and cannot be. And it takes much energy to keep it going. Yet the Holy Sprit takes what we think we do and turns it into His mission: to bring us home. This is true even the egos’ masterpiece, the body. In a Course in Miracles, Jesus teaches us “I am as God created me, I’m not a body, I’m free.” I believe that. Yes, God is in everything, our bodies as well, but I must conclude that is because God does not dismiss what we do, just uses it to make restore us to sanity and freedom, which is sanity. One thing is certain in this regard, without the Holy Spirit’s direction, bodies are not free, no matter how much we paint our faces and present them as the grand work of our ego. Feathers and all, like a peacock setting out for his day in the world, one thought in mind. I leave for the reader to decide what that might be for. While underneath it all we hate what we make without God. Bodies are made as a defense against the truth. Which we spend a lot of energy doing here.

Riggs is close to discovering much about God’s plan for salvation as he describes his own journey toward salvation.

I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.