Book Review: Stations of the Cosmic Christ, by Matthew Fox and Bishop Mark Andrus. Review by Bob Pajer

Mathew Fox is surely one of the greater thinkers in our times.  His ideas are forward, bold, fearless, searching and inspiring.  “Stations of the Cosmic Christ” by Fox and Bishop Marc Andrus won’t disappointment in any of these lofty achievements, nor Joanna Macy’s cover comment on the book, “…It celebrates the sacred at the heart of the universe.”

There is no universal theology, but there is a universal experience Jesus tells us in A Course in Miracles.  I’m sure “Stations of the Cosmic Christ” demonstrates this message from Jesus.  Christ is in us, all of us.  No matter what our eyes or ears seem to tell us.  Trapped in an ego mind, however, which is what the made up world is, is aimed at the maintaining of the bondage of self.  We really have no chance of making the world a better place by hoping that somehow we’ll finally get it right doing the same things over and over again, after which God in cosmic love demonstrates again and again: man has no will or mind, or anything really, separate from its Source, God if you will.  We are one and only as One do we awaken to the connection we have in Great Unity with God.  Christ is the path to this, and the only path, albeit under other names.  Jesus came to tell us and demonstrate this one truth, ever reminding us there’s no way to God except through Christ, our true identity.  His message also tells us this practically achieved by us the oneness of the forgiving thought, upon letting go of all un-forgiving thouths.   

One of the adventures of Fox’s book is that we are invited to believe in the Oneness of the Spirit in us, Christians call Christ. The name is not what is important, but the function of our lives in relation to it is.  Our brothers and sisters in this place we seem to live all have the same interest and because this is irrevocably true, my interests cannot be seen as more or less than yours. 

There is a truly remarkable Martin Luther King quote in “Stations of the Cosmic Christ” which I will carry with me always as a reminder about what is true in this world, often different than what I see: 

“Evil may so shape events that Caesar will occupy a palace and Christ a cross, but that same Christ arose and split history into A.D. and B. C., so that even the life of Caesar must be dated by his name.  Yes the arc of the moral  universe is long, but it bends toward justice.  There is something in the universe which justifies William Cullen Bryant in saying, ‘Truth crushed to earth will rise again.’”  p. 98

And a later quote by Buckminster Fuller:  “…The Ascension event is reminding us that the Christ presence is felt in the furthest reaches of the universe.  We are not just dwellers in our little villages on the modest planet; we share in the cosmic events and we carry the Cosmic Christ within us — the very ‘fullness of the one who fills the universe in all its parts.”   p. 144.  Thus the forgiveness Jesus teaches us is a cosmic event. 

Enjoy this book.  It is a masterpiece in our readiness for return to the Kingdom and not to dwell on our identity with religions’ negative  interpretation of the crucifixion, but to live the message of promise:  Viewing Jeus’ Resurrection in our lives through Christ.    

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.

Our Journey Home -“A Journey Without Distance to a Goal That Has Never Changed.” — An Interpretation From A Course in Miracles, by Bob Pajer

We are “chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world” (see Ephesians 1:4).

Cause and effect are one in what Paul says here in this seemingly incredible statement. It hits our dualistic, separately contrived world like a ton of bricks. God’s. As Richard Rohr says, reality is:  subject joins with subject, there is no object.  A heady thought, but true.  Our Cause and effect relationship with God is almost that Cause and effect are the same.

Our world, however, by choice is based on our decision to separate from our Source, and disappear into the dual consciousness of ego, a thought system that grows upon itself like a cancer, splitting off and splitting off again and again. Yet there is nothing unlike our unique unity in God’s Oneness, no such opposite thought system separate from God. Such a thought cannot not exist in The Oneness of God’s Mind where we exist. Such a likeness, in reality, can’t happen. “God is or He isn’t,” as Bill Wilson tells us in his non-dual statement on the exisitence of God, or Power greter than ourselves.  So we think we exist, but actually as separated from God, can’t exist. Our egos do the magic: we believe there is existence apart from God, and in our mind so it seems to be, albeit with one unsurmountable problem: it can only seem to be, it can’t go anywhere, for it is only love that can be extended into reality. And, all ideas, like all thoughts, do not leave their source — coming under the same immutable, changeless laws of God’s, including love for His children, truly extended to be extended eternally. Love does not need to go anywhere to be extended. For Existence has always been and forever will be everywhere. While fear, all that the ego’s source of its own being, for that is what it is, goes nowhere. “Nothing” cannot extend itself, 0+0=0.

However, the Holy Spirit, in Her ceaseless labor of God’s and His perfect love for us reminds us we are trying to think apart from God — a tug, one of thousands upon us, that something isn’t quite right-minded here. And we begin momentarily thinking in truth; yet, for most of us, we turn to defense of the ego and using that defense, think again in fear, apart from God: maybe they’ll be unwanted consequence, pain and suffering, so instead of listening to the Voice of Salvation, we make up a false God to “protect” us, to go with our false self, and live happily ever after in a made up chaotic kingdom full of sin, guilt, death and decay.  Death is always the ego’s ultimate unreality for the ego, bones crumbling into dust. Can this be what God created? Can this be His love for His Son? Deep in everyone here is God’s voice singing a different melody:  one of peace, loviness, connectidness and forgivness.  For-giveness simply meaning we have it all, each and every one of us, surging into a Oneness that can only connect to God.   There is no separation.

Richard Rohr so correctly says, if we had just gone in the other direction, toward “being chosen in Christ (Self) before the foundation of the world.”, which is not the direction Adam took, (nor I ten minutes ago,) where would we be? However, we are exactly where we are supposed to be based on our readiness to return home, Bill Wilson teaches, to help recovering drunks stay planted in the moment, now, for that is the only place, with God, where he/she finds the defense from the next drink — hoping it will never come.

One day at a time.  God is always in the now. However, God is in everything. There are no wrong places to be, just better choices. And we can always be where we want to be, for the love of God. The one power left to us in a dualistic thought system is choice, i.e., decision making. Choosing not to make 10 fighter jets in 10 countries in the world and diverting these savings to joint cancer research would provide enough resources to cure cancer forever. Isn’t cancer then our choice like all suffering in this world?

Alas, again thanks to the Loving Voice for God, the Holy Spirit, we can’t stand the guilt of wrong choices. If you separate from God you will feel guilty and guilt leads to the ego’s direct path to its art of the grievance. While love holds no grievances, we do. Grievances are insane, as is guilt. But, both, we think gives us an out: while judgement, self-righteousness, condemnation are like super glue, binding quickly and securely, there is always the ego’s masterpiece, blame, which is its “proof” there’s something out there to threaten us. Something we make up in our dream of scarcity and depravation, which is the world without forgiveness.  Our egos are contrived to release the bond, while making the bond to delusion and separation evermore secure.  This is one of the egos’s most most artful weapons:  the special relationship.  While God does nothing in special terms, the ego loves specialness and fosters it. While covering its design for self destruction, it deflects our real fear that God will find us and punish us once and for all for, actually, into what we did not do, separate with “loving” overtones.  Unfortnately, thes overtones cover special hate for the person we think we can love without God’s input, no thank you.

Which is of course what Adam did, here is where he blames his lovely wife, (the beginning of couples therapy.) We can in fact teach only one thing in this world. It is not knowledge, however, for that is of God and we have made the choice of not being “of God” — impossible but thinkable. We can only teach Love, or at least reoving the many blocks to love we love. If  we think of teaching being communication, which it clearly must be, we can teach each other by simple means:  forgiveness:  seeing in the other person, thus in ourselves, only what the other person can only be:  a perfect, holy child of God.  Since we cannot change God’s creaton, which is what this is, we are in effect than accepting the only thing necessary for salvation:  God’s love for us.   Although it must be just as Jesus taught us, through the reflection of love, forgiveness. Forgivness is our only way to God. There is no lother way.  And it must be done here on earht.  It is interesting it is in the final analysis, through the Christ in one another we reach our home in heaven, on “a journey without distance to a goal that has never changed.” (Jesus’ words in A Course in Miracles)

By Bob Pajer, September 22, 2016

Book Review: The Book of Revelation, (A NewTranslation) by Michael Straus, Illustrations by Jennifer May Reiland

Reviewed by Bob Pajer, NCTM, WSCTM, NIPA

It is of course difficult to say what John’s Book of Revelation is really about . Take your pick among those who have studied it.  My guess the Gnostics have it correct, only because of my own Gnostic leanings.  I and they  say that Jesus was a loving messenger.  His message is of love because he professes that only, his love, and the love of all of us comes from our creation.  I believe he heard only One Voice in his life here, a feat not many achieve as yet.  He preaches that we are as God created us.  God is love and therefore so perfectly equally are we.  Those references of the Oneness of love and the definition of God as Love can be found throughout A Course in Miracles.  Being a student of the Course I find Revelation to be difficult to understand because of the Courses’ references of itself to be the second coming of Jesus.  Jesus tells us this in the Course. The Jesus who teaches us we are One, as Christ, in union with God.  The best way it seems to place who God seems to be is by the two words: Our Father.  Oliver Wendall Holmes said that is all he needed to know about religious belief. 

A Course in Miracles takes this up with its main teaching:  to know who you are, see all your brothers and sisters as Christ, the One Son, the Sonship and only see him that way.  That in itself will tell you who you are, what we are all searching for here, being plagued by the thought we left Our Father for a world we continue to make up.  and fail to achieve peace doing it.  Who are we?  Yet our egos take us all around the battlefields we create to not find out who we are.  The world we appear to live in is not made to discover who God is as our Source.  As a matter of fact it is make by its makers to do just the opposite.  It is beleaguers us.  It is the root of all suffering here because it is based on unforgivenes,  by a whole people asking the question not to be answer, only to lead to more questions. The ego has no answer to anything, Jesus tells us in the Course in Miracles in his words, knowing they touch the truth in us that God put there.  Lots of questions and no answers.  Of course it will never have an answer to anything because it is a lie.  Lies are certainly not about truth.  Truth is true.  Lies remain, well, lies, much as depicted in Revelation.  The ego lives as a lie itself seemingly within us.  It has no intention of losing its place in our minds which are its hostage, never having us wander too far to realize we would be far better off by being host to God.  Jesus is host only to God.  He does not listen to the ego. Most everyone breathing in this world feels like a terrible thing has occurred:  separation from Our Father, a betrayal beyond words and thoughts, always there within us waiting for the day to strike out and finally create life. Guilt was born here, followed by death and the unknown. 

As to this new translation of Revelation, I can not tell you anything about its translation.   The translation is acceptable in my opinion, which of course is limited by my lack of knowledge of the subjects the author lays before us.  I find Revelation difficult to read in any form.  It is an ugly story, wasting one’s time in reading it.  The world is sad, old, and a tired place. It stumbles on with shear will power, coming from the mind of God which who is One.  After all we are the Power God created, but no to misbehave and kill each other.  No powers can exist before God’s Power. When men and women think they can oppose this with a separate will and power, we go to sleep and beat the hell out of each other.  Yes, “we”.  God’s children are not separated from one another.  That is the meaning of the clear statement of Jesus: 

Mark 10:9

What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

King James Version (KJV)

I do not think Jesus was referring necessarily to marriage in saying this, but to all men and women.  We are eternally joined.  There is no separation among us.  Although the ego, we, decided otherwise and made ourselves into bodies, trying to make each a separate mind.  Bodies are not minds.  Minds are forever joined in oneness with God as their Father. 

When we oppose God we sleep, just as God puts Adam asleep in the Bible and never wakes him up.  So let Revelation be.  It keeps biblical scholars and theologians busy.  The ego loves to study itself, but it does not tell us annoyingly about the everlasting love Jesus has and always will have for every “single” one of us.  And he waits for us to enter the Kingdom with him.  To join him and become together as the Christ, the only Son of God. 

Lastly, I find the authors’ use of sexual activity appalling in the pictures throughout the book.   I could only interpret this as our way of thinking about sex.  It’s the one big sin, the one we can feel most guilty about.  Which is all nonsense.  The ego thrives on the insanity of guilt over our separation from Our Father.  Sexual sin is one its favorite forms of making us feel the guilt, which is why we neglect and treat each other with disdain:  judgment, condemnation and hatred, leaving little room for the forgiveness we must practice in the face of any form of separation.  Sex fits into all this as a false god.  There is no order of separation.  Most of what drives us to remain separated is from other faults, not sex.  Separation either is or it isn’t.  Our spirits, however can not separate.  We think we are separate, nonthless, that we in fact did it, and then feel guilty and enter a deep sleep in order to play out our true wish to separate. 

I cannot find any salvation or Atonement thinking in Revelation, nor in the pornographic material Jennifer My Reiland presents throughout the book, except the focus on bodies, which are separation itself.      

 

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.

God and Hamilton ~ Spiritual Themes from the Life of Alexander Hamilton by Kevin Cloud

Review by Bob Pajer for Speakeasy

What if we really listened to Jesus and told his story — not the one we made up?  Well, we would wake up and say to ourselves, “What the hell was that all about.”  A fitting question, upon knowing that All has given us all, and only insanity would take us from a creation like that.  The world would completely wake up to what is eternal mind, God’s mind, first finding we never left, and then realizing, that was a bad dream, not a real choice after all, one being real and the other only seeming to be real, but now knowing only real is real and that we brought a story onto ourselves that that we know is impossible now and all the ways we look at this tired old sad world would disappear and leave our minds to be as they are:  only love, God’s extension of Him/her Self on to us, just as God is. Simply, the most and only most powerful existence in the universe, in the mind of God — no longer are we a sunbeam that does think is is sun, a droplet of water that believers it is the ocean can’t exist, and its insane to think so. 

Hamilton and all the characters in this book, along with the author clearly   have an awareness of Jesus’ message, as we all do. it is the one we hide, however, that keeps us in a world that seems to invite its own destruction.  We are so fearful of fully seeing it that all we experience here in this world is a distortion.  Think about it.  Jesus comes to us to be with us, to be a part of salvation, an awakening to truth and love, to help us come out of our dream of separation — and we build large cathedrals which all depict the crucifix with Jesus hanging from it, as though he came here and we really killed him. This is the mass neurosis that underlies our insistence we can build a world apart from God.  Forgetting Jesus real message is always simply love, as reflected in this world as forgiveness, the inevitable and only way to  return to God, through our own resurrection. 

So why do we keep thinking if we just get our world right, get things straight once and for all, atone for our sins, sacrifice, or become martyrs we’ll be something, we’ll have the peace of God. While we already and forever will be what we are:  an extension of God’s love for us.   

This is a splendid book, telling a story of all of us.  We fall here and we find that falling leads to more falling, hopelessness, suffering, guilt and more suffering.  We are separated from God, and in that thought doing what we believe is possible.  These are all aspects of idolatry.  We try over and over to somehow get it right and don’t.  It is why the First Commandment says, in its deepest meaning, we cannot do idols.  “the  shalt not” means we can’t.  Yet we do and do over.  Change the illusion to a better idol we have great hope will work.  We think that things like the Lease of Nations will end all war.  Or, a bigger bomb will end war based on more effective fear of one-another.  we continuously work on our concept of God, thinking that’s the answer, not remember Adam tried and got us to where we are.  (What kind of God would kick us out of the heaven and tell us we’re out at His hand, put two angels with swords to make sure we don’t come back the same way, and worst of all — we’ll now have to work for what we get. All, exactly what our ego wants, for us to determine who God is and how He operates, as one more idol among idols.  False gods we got.  Plenty. 

God does not play this way and Jesus came here to tell us so — and we killed  him.  Or at least thought we did.  The result of that false notion, comes out as more blame.  It wan’t enough that Adam blamed his wife for doing the fatal deed, we continue and  blame his death on some group, a group not the same as we are.  Projection is seemed to kill Jesus in the form of the “other.”  Blame is what happened to Hamilton and Burr.  They simply could not give up blaming.  So they engage in a killing game, one loss and the the other loses, fully intending for one to lose and one to win, a game we are so good at that we prove we can separate by losing, or winning.  Fortunately, God doesn’t play such game and nor does Jesus.   

Jesus teaches, on the other hand, that we cannot do anything that is not eternal love, what we are.  We think otherwise, that we can defile the alter God places in us, and really do it as a matter of sin.  Which Jesus is here to tell us otherwise.  We can’t  separate from anyone, because separation is an attack on God, who is not attackable.  Thank God. 

Hamilton’s affair and his duel are interestingly told about in this book.  We can one more time see the fall of God’s perfect son, so loved by his Father that his father does not ever forgive him, for He never condemns him.  If forgiveness were possible for God, so would condemnation and punishment be possible.  Either of these are of God and never will be.  We cannot change this.  We condemn, in our seemingly separated mind,  and think we must out of the goodness of our hearts, forgive.   In the process we don’t forgive we pardon someone who has sinned in some way, and feel ourselves more innocent.  Jesus on the other hand teaches us we can’t sin, but when we think we sin, pardoning someone is a hallow gesture.  And we underneath our actions in the process, we know this.  Forgiveness on the terms of this world, means that one of us is better than the other, or lots of others. In the great goodness of our hearts, in separation we pardon this person for what we think we never do.  The ego has long ago interpreted forgiveness this way, probably the moment Jesus uttered the term and its meaning as our lonely way to God, here in this world.  Not in heaven because there is no forgiveness where it need not be.  No in hell, because there is no hell accept that one that resides in the depths of our own hearts, known to be hateful and sinful — only a notion about our selves fortunately and nothing to do with how God thinks about His children.  We think we have other reasons for being in this world, on its terms, as a part of its unholy trinity:  sin, guilt and death.  Once in that pattern of thinking and behavior we have no way out.  God does fortunately:  in our inevitable return to love, our home where we have never left, not “out there” where we play the games we play and ‘die” playing them.  “The wages of sin are death.”  Jesus teaches us there is no sin and there is no death.  Did we ever ask God about sin or death.  I think we make up a lot of stuff. 

Jesus came to bring us home and he is doing that, on God’s terms, not ours. 

What this review has to do with this book is that much of what I have said here is discussed in the book, but  in different ways however — the ways that does not mention there is is no sin, because Jesus there is no sin. That’s not so difficult to figure out, but it does depend on our concept of God, which some might say is impossible to have, a concept of God.  However, the world runs on a concept of God.  I want mine to be true, and Jesus, as my inner teacher, miserable sinner that i am, is the only concept I want to listen to  There is no power but God’s, our Father’s proclamation is we are His only begotten Son (the Christ in us All) having a dream of separation, where we go all out to defend ourselves at all costs, forget about His love for us, forget about the fact that we are defending ourselves from God’s perfect hotness in each of us, forget that we are His love, we have all and are All with Him/Her, as long as we don’t leave His mind. We are not bodies, we are free.  Learning, or unlearning al the blocks to truth and God’s love, is our way home.  Teaching and learning are the same to His holy children.  What we teach we learn.  What we learn we teach.  Atonement, which we all need, is not sacrifice or punishment, but just recognizing we can’t be harmed in anyway and all suffering is a defense against this miracle of invulnerability within us all.  That is what Jesus teaches us here today.  It is also true that we are still afraid of Jesus’ message, for, as Christ’s message, it scares the hell out of us, as we perceive it to be.  Who stands up against an army of hate and says you can tear my body apart, kill it, but I’m not a body and you in reality have done absolutely nothing, but hurt yourself.  You can hang me on the biggest cross around, and nothing will happen to me, or you.  You’ll hate yourself, wallow in the guilt you already carry for ages, never smile again and you will nave done another.  Would my Father, and yours let this happen?  No, Our Father, doesn’t even think in your terms.  Our Father doesn’t know from bodies.  Only His/Her creation means anything.  And He/She doesn’t deal in the ephemeral.  Our minds, joined in a Oneness you can’t imagine, live and minds can’t attack.   

Also we don’t listen very well. 

The depiction of Hamilton’s life in this book is told slightly off track.  It seems to me an old story: fix ourselves, make the world a better place, find the right hero, sacrifice, avoid sin and prepare for death and a better place somewhere else (while trying so hard to unsuccessfully immortalize the life we live in a dead world.)  Jesus never ran for office, was hardly a financial expert, (maybe), never talked about having even intentions about  having a plan to change the world ,because he made none, as far as I can see. 

The crucifixion is quite the opposite from changing this world:  surrender.  He would not even make a sacrifice or be a martyr.  What a disappointment I suppose to those who were looking for someone to save them, smite the evil we suffer from here.  No, he says simply “Father, if is done.” the “it” being I have heard only your voice, there is no world without You, I came to get the attention of my brothers and sisters, so that they would see the battle is over, and You dear Father have won, because there was no battle. Who in their right minds would battle against the only Power there is, and the very power you gave them?   That, the message you gave me message is complete equality, even in a world that dreams otherwise, as we are all one, in unity with the only One, You.  There is nothing to fight, because we can only dream there is something we need to defend.  God’s children can only seem to be harmed in the world it makes up to include the idea of harm.  If we do not believe this, and only this, we do not believe Jesus’ message, today and always.      

Could we do what Jesus did?  Yes. He teaches us he is no different than we are, in that he was able to hear only God’s Voice as a single and only connection, an undoing of his own separation and Atonement.  That is what he truly did for us:  if I can do this, my brother/sister, so can you. 

For Hamilton and Burr to hear God’s Voice, as Jesus did he would have had to say to Burr:  “Brother, I forgive you for what you did not do.” There is no need for a duel, as we are here in this world together, knowing my interests are clearly no different than yours: our only purpose and function here is  forgiveness.   

Burr in return, would have to say, “Alexander you are right, I thought for a moment I could harm you because I thought you harmed me. I have a lot of hate in me, perhaps you understand that, and you became my specific, the special person I need to go on hating. I regret so much of my life and I will never be able to let go of the guilt in me.  Then  I made that mistake we all make here and the moment I thought I was protecting myself, I lost sight of the fact that in any defense of my self (my ego), I lose once again,  by attacking my own invulnerability.  God does not make what can be harmed — reflecting Jesus message from the cross and his resurrection, which is:  “teach only love, for that is what we are.” 

Taking steps in the opposite direction of where we stand,  waling away from one another in fear, then turning to face one another to hate yet more, aiming the and killing is clearly not love, and this act we do cannot be.   I see now its rather my own anger at myself for whaat i think I’ve done in my own separation from God and of course you.  But, boom!  “I had this strong terrible feeling that I am protecting my honor, as though it could be lost, and I could alter God’s perfect love for me.  He loves me, and there is no change possible in that. Boom. I will now lead the rest of my life, perhaps in more guilt and terrible suffering, not because I made a mistake, but clearly, I have sinned.  My ego has had its day with me, error becomes sin, the very mistake our Savior came to take away from the world in us.  I must be guilty, the wages of sin are death and I must too now die at your hand.  I recognize I could have lived at your hand, good brother 

All “Burrs” suffer over this same thing. But it is, like all suffering we choose to undergo, a rebirth into learning truth, there is no sin, only forgiveness and that there are only two things going on in this world:  love and a call for love.  And Burr, will surely learn as we all do:  my response can only be love, for that is what I am.  We will all learn this at a time where there is no time, when we are ready to see that we already have.  Our spiritual awakening is just that:  universal and required.  When we awaken to the fact it is our only real choice here.  As long as we continue to believe the “better way” involves a change in the world, and not in our minds about the world, we continue to do what we think will be sacrifice over and over, expecting a different result. (From Albert Eistein’s view of the world.)

There are great moments in this story about Alexander Hamilton, certainly an inspiring figure in our history,  and in the author’s words as well.  We “resonate”  because truth always finds its way into our hearts where it finds its likeness, our image of Our Father Who bore us into His own perfect love and holiness, where will also be found the tiny mad idea that told us for a spit second in time  we can separate from God and set up on our own account. Let’s give it a whirl! A kind of game of opposites, where following the rules, or not following them, leads equally to the truth, being, we can either have heaven or hell.  And yet there is no opposite that we can find to truth, whatever path we choose to take to All. 

Jesus has a wonderful way of putting it in his “A Course in Miracles:”

“All things are lessons God would have us learn.”

Bob Pajer

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.

Book Review: “Living Revision – A Writer’s Craft as Spiritual Practice

Review by Bob Pajer

For anyone who has entered the writer’s world for publication of their works or not, this is a fascinating and expertly written book.  Elizabeth Jarret Andrew has a written a book that is truly a gift to us all.  Whatever you consider the word “spiritual”, in her chosen sub-title, to mean you will get a lot out of Andrew’s way of explaining what it exactly is to be a writer, in my opinion one of the noblest of activates.  I think her word “spiritual” is quite appropriate.  At least as I think of the word’s meaning, a place we go in our minds that focuses our attention on who we are, from where and why we are here.  None of which is clear to most of us, so we think of a higher power that can teach us.  For many, this higher power is within us, unclaimed territory for helping us to better understand our potential and the capabilities of realizing it. 

Andrew explains to us that in revision, that moment when the material we have written seems like it needs change in the direction of closer to what we are thinking and wanting to tell.  I have always found this phase of writing to frustrating, disconcerting and disappointing as an author.  However, I’m drawn to it nonetheless and I love it.  I am a pianist and all of the preparation for a concert performance is exciting to me, from the moment I introduce my self to a piece of new music.  Right up to the moment before performance I am tinkering and testing, listening and revising, aiming for perfection, while knowing the only thing I can do perfect here is practicing my skill and deeper understanding of the music.  All so that when the time comes and I’m ready to give this piece away I can do it with the fullest understanding of what it’s about.  Knowing the fathom achieved so far is a touch of something out there that is, well just there, for me to view in a very with limited perspective from a mind that places it’s own limits on it self for some rather strange reason.  My mind is always afraid of knowing not its limitations, but the grandeur of coming from its Higher Source, some call God. 

Complete with descriptions of what writing is, what revision is and then providing excellent what Andrew’s refers to as “Toolbox”  One such helpful tool box (p. 120) describes use of tools in “Looking for Clues.”  She quotes Patricia Hampl in this Tool Box:  “Now that I have the fragment down on paper, I can read this little piece as a mystery which drops clues to the riddle of my feelings, like a culprit who wishes to be apprehended.  My narrative self (the culprit who invented) wishes to be discovered by my reflective self, the self who wants to understand and make sense of half remembered moment about a nun sneezing in the sun.” 

Later Andrew says, “These are clues to your piece’s inner life.  Reflect on them in our journal, dialogue with them, stretch these moments in your draft with more details  — in other words, listen to what these clues say.”

That can be a profound spiritual moment, a time when you are able to step out of the box of never ending thought and mind wandering to a deeper place in your spirit, which by the way I believe is having a human experience here in this world.  You know, the place we chose to come to better understand ourselves, as though we could do such a thing in a world that is made (by us) to do just the opposite.  But we do remember the questions we have.  You know, the ones that impose on the comfort not knowing seems to bring at times.  The inevitable questions our Creator left with us when we decided to set up on our own account in a universe we make up to “validate” in the impossible.   Those She asks us, “Where are you?” when we need attention, like He asked Adam in the garden, “Where are you Adam.”  Of course They know. 

This is an excellent book, written by a person who thinks beyond the regular age old repetition the mind normally wants to impose on us.  A book that will be on my desk as long as I believe writing is a very special uncovering of what spirit means, I am desperately trying to communicate with you about things we are still hiding from ourselves, until we’ve gathered enough holy perception to take the final stages of a journey without distance to a goal that has never changed, Jesus says in “A Course in Miracles.”

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.

Book Review: Seven Stories – How to Study and Teach the Nonviolent Bible by Anthony W. Bartlett

Review by Bob Pajer

This excellent book, study guide, draws on the work of Girardian Anthropology, which stems from thinkers like Durkheim, Freud and Live-Strauss — the human sciences.  Anthony W. Bartlett, our author, both agrees with the concepts brought forth by these writers and thinkers and develops his own philosophy and theology.  The point of meaning for Rene Girard, at least, comes in the form of mimesis — “If human beings are intensely memetic and this very quickly becomes conflict, their species would seem doomed to  immediate self-destruction.  At the level of early hominids, where the brain function of mimesis had overtaken inherited and instinctual  dominance-and-submission patterns, a self-destructive war of all-against-all could be the only outcome. However, a solution presented itself, enabled by the same imitative capacity.  In a crisis of desire everyone imitates everyone else’s violence, all against all, but then very quickly, as one appears weaker and/or more hateful, it becomes all against one.  If one homing falls and is being horribly beaten everyone will join in, attracted by the triumphant violence . The single victim becomes the evil source guilty of the whole crisis; but his/her killing brings transcendent peace, so heshe also becomes the god who brings sacred order.”

My comment on this is its true.  We are a nasty lot.  However, Jesus saw this and continues to see this in another way.  A forgiven world.  However, this truth is out of our minds.  We cannot see it because we’re in it, but out of our minds.  According to Jesus, as I read what he has said and is still telling us, not to worry.  We have not done anything that effects our Source and as our Source is in tact so are we.  We do make up some pretty awful stuff, however AND make it real.  That’s entirely possible because we are still in the the only power that is the eternal universe, created by God and never to be touched by human hands.  This to me is Jesus message, only message, which overrides whatever we think we see or mime toward desire as Girard seems to say.  Jesus is not saying be credulous but he is saying separation (our only problem here) never happened.  We will yet see it unravel, as though it happened and then never look back.  We are not bodies, we are free. 

Yet Bartlett describes three stages coming out of Girard’s thinking, and the third state is where Biblical interpretation enters in terms of the victim and sacrifice.  Ultimately, bringing us to forgiveness.  Very important to this study, according to our author, is Girard’s work, Things hidden, sin the Foundation of the World, in which Girard claimed the Bible reveals in the scapegoat/victim.  “Girard argues that the Bible reveals the innocence of the victim and perpetuates sacrifice.” Bartlett quotes. 

The mob that brought Jesus to the cross and his resurrection was mass mimesis, I believe Girard and Bartlett would agree.   

Through these discoveries mimesis, scapegoating and victim hood, Bartlett interprets for us a new “good news”, or certainly one that was there all the time in the Gospel.  Perhaps what the Gnostics and the early followers of Jesus saw and, through a surge of the destructive force between the earliest founders of the universal Christianity, sought to hide, the Empire’s church took its course as retributive and penal distorted Jesus’ message of love and compassion.  All are called, while few hear at first, all will be saved by you and I.  We do not have to get good, just see good in each other.  Jesus demonstrates this throughout his time here. 

There are many interesting and loving ideas ideas in Bartlett’s book.  It is especially helpful to all of us as a study guide introducing these new ideas in the following way: he say,  “The Bible, and in particular the gospel, continues to disclose the falsehood of the scapegoat process, as the same as proposing forgiveness and love as the new way forward for human beings.  This then becomes our new understanding of atonement.”

This is an excellent book with fascinating ideas.  However, its appeal to this reviewer is its overall acceptance of forgiveness over violence. Both are defenses in this world, forgiveness is the only defense, however, that isn’t in any way a two edged sword.  Jesus is certainly the one herald of a concept of forgiveness both difficult to conceive for us and, very clearly, impossible without God’s help in the form of His Voice speaking to us through the Holy Spirit.  Jesus did not die on the cross.  He continued his life there in the form of an extreme example.  He was not a victim, not did he sacrifice himself.  He certainly was not a martyr.  I am thinking, perhaps I am wrong, this book heads for a result of Jesus’ teaching, without an understanding that nothing in this world, no thought, idea, or action, unless it is in line with this truth will ever work.  Jesus says in A Course in Miracles, “Forgiveness is the only way to God here.  There is no other way.”  Jesus’ life here, in all respects, taught this.  And he is still teaching it.  Forgiveness means we have fully given up the idea that anything can happen to us, because we are not bodies that come here for a blip in a time frame that has no connection to God’s thought, except He suffers our use of this illusion because we made it.  As he overlooked the appearance of torture and death, he overcame the grand illusion we all suffer, separation.  Yes for us. But only to show us we can and will  do the same.  Not that he is asking us to go through the same extreme example he did, but to do the same in our everyday living here. Mimeograhing ourselves has I believe nothing to do with this. 

The Holy Spirit, the One who knows God and us, uses whatever we make to our own salvation, eventually.  Does it matter we mimic one another?  I think, probably not.  Egos do exactly that in keeping us from the frightful thought we will see God again.  In our ego trance we mimic ourselves and then define our gods (including our concept of God) just that way.  As Truth enters our minds, and it will, we will then find there is no world, no evil, no violence, no ego; but only our own illusion for what we think the world is for.  Would God let us define what a mad world is for?

Notwithstanding my comments about this book it is excellent and can lead us in the the direction to teach us Jesus’ true message, “Love one another as I have loved you.”  We have to understand exactly what this means before we become willing to let the Holy Spirit teach us how to learn all the blocks to love we have set up between that truth and our dreams of making the world a “better” place.  This is a work book and a great place to start on that work. 

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.

Book Review: Mind Your Life, by Meg Salter

Review by Bob Pajer

“It’s not just about following your breath” says Me Salter, who writes an excellent book on meditation practices from her own point of view as well as from the point of view of many who have worked with her on development an individualized program of meditation for themselves.  The practice of meditation described in Salter’s book has many facets.  We get to choose what’s best for us.  And then go on adjusting based on our own experience. 

“Regarding which mindfulness method choose, the most important guideline is that it doesn’t matter.  All the methods in the this book develop the core skills of concentration, sensory clarity and equanimity.  So pick whatever appeals to you.  The more you enjoy, the more you will practise (sit), the sooner you will develop mindfulness skills and taste the positive rewards.”

However, and this is my qualifier, based your reviewer’s experience with meditation.  Few really serious meditators are that lenient with the practice they have studied and teach.  That may be a good practice or one that’s not so helpful.  My own teacher is dedicated to what he has practiced for over sixty years.  He is a Roshi in the Empty Cloud Lineage and I can pretty much assure you, he is staying with what he has practices and does not drift at all from his long education on the subject.  Its just a matter of greater and greater development of the method you are in, and, those who feel they are really doing well with what they have don’t try a little of this and a little of that.  It is the method. 

After my studies with him for many years now, I can see the importance of perseverance and dedication.  It has taken a long to feel I know anything about it, which is little, why it works and what the future of my life with it will unfold. I just keep doing what I have been doing.  As the years go on I do see how much I feel differently, see differently and can see anything “out there” differently (all experiences that may have something to do with again).  My mind has changed about my mind, however, and I prefer how I see it today.  This new view, which I believe, in a large part comes from my meditation practice, is getting stronger and I’m less likely to take myself too seriously.  I’m simply OK leaving here with a passing grade.  There is within me now a general inner peace to which I can go to anytime and anywhere. 

All I do is sit and focus on the koan, which is at the moment for me,  mu (no-thing.)  I have found it can take much of a lifetime to delve deeper and deeper into just that and just to realize I’m not there and it doesn’t matter. I have no intention of ever trying to permanently stop my mind wandering, the “bad” mind that is so noisy at times I grow weary of it.   It is just there.  And it’s not going anywhere. I seem to have little power over its.  It’s a nuisance for sure.  But minds do this here. The world is made upon it.

I can, however, listen to it, or not.  That is the practice.  And the ego is extremely unwilling to let its “cover” go.  So I don’t try.  The ego, however, does hate to be watched, more or less, and will stop its incessant noise if it sees I’m watching.  It’s very life depends on it.  In addition to whatever it can use to get me to believe I’ve separated from my Source and join with the force it makes up for a better world, or a worse world, whichever is my on my menu for the day. 

Notwithstanding these remarks, which come from perhaps thousands upon thousands of hours sitting in mediation for over thirty five years, this is a good book for anyone wishing to improve their meditation practice or learn anew.  If I were starting over again, I would just continue to sit based on certain natural ways of pursuing a better life through mediation.  Worry not about the results, nor how frustrating it can be at times, because our minds have been trained to make up a body that is in fact an illusion.  The turning point for me occurred when I asked myself why I can’t make better headway on the control my noisy mind, why I go off on a side road so frequently, seeming to have no control over it at all.  The answer came quickly:  Stop cavetdhing about the times you left the field and congratulate yourself for every time you returned.  You are always a step ahead of your own disappointment over your progress.” 

I recommend this book for the novice considering mediation as a practice and anyone interested in the subject.   

Review by Bob Pajer

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.

Wisdom Walking – Pilgrimage as a Way of Life, by Gil Stafford

Book Review by Bob Pajer

 

Wisdom Walking is one person’s experience in soul transformation.  A beautifully written diary of Gil Stafford’s journey into the woods with expectations and coming home with a larger life experience that he reports transforms his spiritual life.  That is the theme of the first part of the book.  His transforming experiences in the last half of the book are about his journey living, with family and others.  He is deeply affected by those close to him and he describes a compassionate and warm understanding of those who are affected and suffering.  If I were going though a painful time, I would want him around. 

That is Stafford’s real contribution to the world of searching, all of us, who have  experience here.  It is a great breath of fresh air to hear it as a genuine experience.  Stafford reminds me there is no universal theology.  There is only a universal experience.  Truth comes with the second.  Perhaps all truth can be seen in a universal experience, if we search there for it.  Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon are just that.  And it is why they can embrace all religions and philosophies in the the success they have for helping people recover from the deadly decease, which alcoholism is, where past programs have always fallen in failure to do so.  Of course not everyone recovers in these programs, they are perfect in the practice of principles leading to sustainable recovery for most.  When someone like Gil Stafford shares his heartfelt experience in a world being restored to sanity, I want to listen,  

Alchemy is often referred to in this book.  That comes best where minds join and bodies are put aside for awhile, waiting for the power of the messages minds can give when there is a “we” program involved.  Stafford talks about solitude and quietness that comes from a walking pilgrimage, the way of life toward greater and greater looking into oneself and becoming comfortable with what we really are, in truth just  as God created us.  We are not bodies.  We are free —  freedom we get from being OK with oneself, walking through  the woods, or in relation to another person on the same journey, which everyone one is.  Our own equanimity.  Relationship is key to our own healing and recovery from separation.  And it is this aspect of spiritual growth that brings us to God, and in many ways Stafford tells us through his own experience.  

Quietness is essential to spiritual growth I believe, yet it is in compassion for others and loving, not special love, but loving one another as we are:  perfect, holy children of One Creator and Source, that we get to see that is what we are.  We find our identity in one another.  That in itself is the master key to the Kingdom of God, for that is what we are.   When I see you as God’s child, of a loving Father we both share equally in union with this Father, the world changes.  I am deeply impressed with Gil Stafford’s ability it seems to do this.  His description of his family relationships are poignant and inspiring.  A beautiful example of “I see you as God’s child and my brother or sister.”

For all who want to see the passage of healing that God brings to everyone, eventually, whether they seem to want it or not, this book is a great read.  This is truly an exciting journey.  If your soul is having a dark night, it will be helpful for you to see some light ahead in the tunnel, I think more so by our author’s beautiful love stories describing his experience with “love one another, as I have loved you.” 

Following Jesus’ practice of love is not so easy in a world that denies him and God — along with his being the Christ in all of us.   But it is simple I believe: Jesus tells us to follow my example and teaching of unconditional love together, and you will see God standing there right before your poor unseeing eyes, in the other person’s oneness with you.  And don’t ever deviate from this one thing.  For it is the crucible of our experience that the the Holy Spirit, the only alchemist, teaching us the only alchemy there can be how to regain sight of our own identity. 

Reviewed by Bob Pajer

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

“Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the Kingdom.” — an interpretation.

Jesus spares us nothing in his teaching.  As always, he does not equivocate.  Heaven is, or its not.  God’s Kingdom, which is God’s children, God’s off-spring, completion.  God is incomplete without us.  That is why God is so continuously nudging us to come home — the home we have never left, actually.  Although we think we are somewhere or elsewhere, we are nowhere out side the thought of God.  We are God’s thought.  We have no will, life or mind separate from that One glorious place to be.  The only place we can be.  

We are in the habit of making up a world that in God’s mind simply isn’t.  Nothing can happen in God’s mind that is not perfectly love.  So if we think there is such a place and condition, there isn’t.  We, in the mind of the only Power that exists, can think we are some other place.  But we dream only.  And we dream on.  God either is, or God isn’t.  And God is.  We dream the isn’t.  

The poor are fortunate to be the Kingdom.  Isn’t it like Jesus to use what we might consider the “least among us” to identify as the fortunate poor.  He does that because those of us who are not poor are much more likely to be clueless about what God’s world is, since we are doing so well on our own.  We believe.   Why would we think about God’s world when we are busy, far too busy, “managing” our lives:  bigger houses, better cars, better colleges, better, better, better.  Not to mention bigger wars, armament that kills greater numbers  — a signal there is something better than what we already have.  This is  the kingdom of the ego, not such a pretty place.  But we seem to endure.  We do have a little trouble ruling this kingdom of course.  But someday we think we’ll get it right. 

Ah, but the ego (we) are so “powerful”  we even think that avoiding such “riches” is virtuous.   A number of us think that resisting what we think completes us is a virtue.  Many who do that spend lifetimes here in arduous work, trying to make real the extras we collect, then not knowing how to get rid of, or resist them.  Jesus said, “Resist not evil.”  I think because resisting makes real what is not.  We are masters at making the unreal real.  It is one of the ego’s favorite cards to play out.  I think Jesus always wants us to ask ourselves, “What is the purpose of what I am thinking or doing in this world.”  Perhaps its condition will spell out its poverty for us to see.

But it isn’t enough to be poor to realize the Kingdom of God.  We have to admit, fully believe, we are poor.  Otherwise we just don’t get it.  

One of the gospels, Matthew, adds the phrase “poor of spirit.”  That is a step in the direction of understanding that Jesus isn’t referring to material things in his words about God’s Kingdom.  I think, rather than adding the reference to “sprit” as Matthew does, just “poor” was exactly what Jesus wanted us to hear.  Poor being in the place where we actually think there’s not enough of God’s gift to go around, or to satisfy us.  We need something more.  We surrender to the thought, “our way just is not working.  There must be a better way.”  

On the other hand, those who are in the state of poverty this way, believing in scarcity, (as I am for sure most of the time), God’s plan for salvation probably sees this as a good thing.  A word about “we”: (please forgive me for the we statements here.  I hate being alone in what I think.  If you think otherwise about yourself as I write this, go on thinking that way and ignore my “we” statements. And I do believe there is on “I” to experience with “us” who we really are.”  

When we think we are poor we believe there’s something missing.  If we believe in God, who has all power, there cannot be anything missing.  God does not create parts of, to be developed later into what is whole.   God says, “Let there be….” and there is.  Our dream here is a constant belief we need something, lack something, God creates scarcity, parts of something greater, our wholeness in union with God.  There is no wholeness of mind in a dream.  We have half a mind perhaps, we believe.  Or, we’ve lost our minds.  Fortunately, no matter what we believe about this subject, God doesn’t.  Either God is insane or we are.  I prefer the latter.  Dreams aren’t real.  No matter how much we think we can make them real in the dream.  As the dream takes place for us, Jesus tells us God is real, God is All Who gives all to All.  It is the fulfillment of God, however, that we dream on and on, without much thought about God’s participation, except our mouthing prayers that are prayers, but we cannot hear the answer from God, or refuse to listen to it. Adam changed God for us into a smaller non-being who punishes us for generations to come.  As a result we believe the unbelievable, impossible thought, insane thought:  God is small, Who Creation is incomplete, faulty and poses questions like “How could God let this happen?”, referring to the suffering in the world we make.  That is a question only the ego could ask.  For it is asked within its own made up world.  God has nothing to do with it.  We have nothing to do with it.  We are dreaming.  

Speaking again of Adam, remember he is put to sleep by God in the Bible.  Nowhere else in the Bible is he awakened.  

For me, I’m grateful for this one belief.  My restoration to sanity.  I believe I am being restored to sanity here in this world and that grace that this implies is to be carried out with my accepting the Atonement for myself.  That’s not “atonement” in the sense that I must atone for my sins, but in the sense that I don’t have to atone for anything but my belief in separation from God.  Which cannot be.  “At-one-ment” is the true meaning of this word.  I am as God created me.  I just have mistakenly forgotten who I am.  And that is insane.  Of course I have many other believes that compete with my belief about restoration to sanity: worry, fear, lack, I’m going to lose what I have, or not get what I want….. are just some. 

A belief in restoration to sanity by a Power greater than oneself is in the Twelve Steps, as Step Two, which Bill Wilson wrote in the program of recovery that he laid out for suffering alcoholics in the 1030’s:  (“We”) “Came to believe a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”  This Step occurs at a key place for the alcoholic:  admitting powerlessness over alcohol and admitting powerlessness over a life of unmanageability.  Alcoholics, some extremely rich, many very poor, most just of some means, reaching insanity in the fight to conquer “incomprehensible demoralization” over their terrible dilemma:  their inability to stop drinking, yet seeing death as a strong possibility, or jail, or institutionalization in the near future, (from the book Alcoholics Anonymous) are clearly poor.  It does not mater how much they have, materially or otherwise.  They are among the poorest lot to see in this world.  I grew up in New York City in the ’30s, not too far from the Bowery, where all wants, beliefs, pain and suffering are evened out amongst the least of us perhaps right within one of the richest nations in the world.  However, don’t believe one has to wind up any place like the Bowery or Skid Row to suffer.  There’s plenty of suffering to go around wherever we wind up in Jesus’ definition of poor.  

Bill Wilson being one of these who had millions and then millions over again, only to be finally entirely lost, knew what it was to be poor.  Although his geography was slightly different, by just ten or so New York City blocks, he knew what it was to be poor.  And he knew he himself would not begin to recover as a sober person for the rest of his life, without being poor.  And of course the miracle of being a founder of the only program that successfully affects the lives of millions of sick alcoholics, now, and most likely as long as the world goes on.  

Alcoholics, and I’m sure many other groups of the suffering, who come to know the poverty of the soul (although an impossibility in itself) know what poor means.    Accepting Reality, our very poorness opens up, as this Beatitude states the Kingdom of God is at hand.  It is the only Beatitude that states its promise as right here and now.  All the others are about things that will happen in time.  Beatitude One is a condition of the mind, now; the moment where we must be to hear God’s direction very clearly.  The only place God is, in the moment, now, where we join with God, as God’s thought.    

Jesus decided to tell us in the Sermon on the Mount one of his greatest truths, we are complete no matter what we think, completely in and of God. Nothing else matters in a world made to dispute this.  We are as God created us.  Not what we think we need, or think God needs from us, to reach God.   I often think how much Jesus must have loved the Twenty Third Psalm:  “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…”  I think he read it as “I cannot want, for all has been given to me, I need just pass this on through “for-giving”, to see this in everyone, as we reach out in compassionate understanding of those who still perhaps believe they need.  Everyone has all with God, because God has given all to All.   For those who believe otherwise, it is our purpose for being in this world, to give, no matter how much they believe they have, or have not.  Our job is to see their’s is the Kingdom.  Our devotion to that is the measure we recall as our own poverty and through that knowing, our own identity. 

Bob Pajer