There is study and there is practice. Ideally, they come together. There is seeking for historical authenticity and there is freestyle spirituality. Ideally, they come together as well.
I’ve got a friend who turned fundamentalist Christian. When we were younger, he was always argumentative, but I never took him as the religious type. Then, upon the death of another of our friends, he returned from whatever Bible College he was attending and we exchanged words on Jesus and the Holy Spirit and stuff around a big bonfire.
I love him. We are all bigger than our views.
I don’t necessarily love your views, but yes, I do love you.
I hate arguing. But, when that which is incorrect is asserted, it is *sometimes* my responsibility to assert that which is correct. Or, when that which is correct is asserted, I don’t get all worked up with pride– I merely say, “yep. That is correct”.
Taking this step back allows my mind to stay calm. With a calm mind, things are more easily recalled. The True Dhamma flows forth naturally from a peaceful and compassionate mind.
I am a fool. I don’t like to speak of my own accomplishments. But, by this time, by the time I was sitting around this fire with this fundamentalist friend, I’d already had Elaine Pagels in my mind for years. I had already had my own ‘Holy Spirit’ descending kinda experience in the desert mountains. I was already well grounded in the teachings of Buddha.
My buddy came to me with all the boring assertions you get from these aggressive type of religious folk. He came at me with these assertions because he knew I had been studying early Christianity as well. But, I guess, we come from different schools. And his school hates mine. They have always hated us. The Gospel of John is one long hate-spew at us.
The gist of their school:
Satan is gonna get ya. Satan is as powerful as God, therefore God cannot just crush. Oh yeah, Satan rules the earth. And Demons! Demons will trick you.
Better follow the rules. Or God’s gonna get ya. God wrote lots of books! He put down lots of rules! Everything in the bible, despite the many internal contradictions, is absolutely true.
Jesus was a sacrifice to an angry God. You better accept that he sacrificed himself to his own father, who is also himself, or you won’t partake in the blessing of his sacred blood. You won’t rise from the grave, with your moldy corpse, among the 144,000 elect.
Jesus is God, even though he explicitly stated in Mark that he was different from God, but yeah– we say they are the same but different. And our trinity includes no feminine spirit. Triple male. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
If you don’t believe our stories, you will dwell in hell for all eternity. Accept this convoluted kludge theology or suffer forever.
The gist of my school:
The Kingdom of Heaven is here now,
but your selves (your own greed, anger and ignorance/delusion), some fools and some liars are distracting you from taking the time to notice.
Be still and gno.
Jesus was a good teacher with some bad followers. He hit upon the true Dhamma, but was unsuccessful in passing it along. Therefore, his movement was perverted.
We can show respect to him by surpassing him in wisdom and compassion. As sly as snakes and innocent as doves, we gno the Kingdom is all around and we watch lotuses blossom beneath our feet upon every step.
This is the Bliss Realm. Amitabha’s light is everywhere surrounding us. Our own lights of pure mindfulness respond by growing in intensity and this Buddha realm is beautified.
Never satisfied with word teachings, GnoTruthers keep going beyond. Respecting, loving, sometimes discerning wickedness, sometimes discerning righteousness, realizing that both wickedness and righteousness are not universal, but are human, all too human.
So, that is how I see the “conflict”. In truth, there is no “conflict”. He still wants to argue with me, but you just can’t argue with ignorance. You can only offer evidence and remain still, leaving it up to your friends to take it or leave it.
But, I was particularly surprised by a recent response of his to my explanation of the evolution of the early Christian church, from diversity to homogeneity– totally informed by Elaine Pagels.
You know, while we’re talking about early Christianity, I gotta say that you should check out Philip Harland’s podcast. Awesome teachings.
The thing surprised me, was, after he had spent energy trying to convince me of the authenticity of the four canonical gospels, he turned around and gave up on history. He simply asserted that, in 2011, the Holy Spirit descended upon him. So, I guess when the Holy Spirit comes, she teaches the theology developed in part at Nicene?
He didn’t like that I was able to enter into the historical context, and he doesn’t like my freestyle meditation, but when his own version of history was revealed to be lacking, he resorted to a type of freestyle spirituality.
Because there is no basis for any dogma. There is no foundation. If your leaders tell you where the Kingdom is, they are liars, fools, or both. The Kingdom is inside you and it is outside you. When you gno yourselves then you will be known and you will recognize that you are children of life.