Archive for the 'January 2007' Category

Peace – When and Where?


January 29th, 2007

When I was much younger, I used to be fascinated with the idea of “world peace,” and it was a great thought to have at the time. Then, as I started growing up, become involved in politics, meeting people from all walks of life and becoming aware of my environment and the events that shape history I realised there was no such thing as world peace. Strangely enough I have never come across anything tangible that I could call “the world”. It is not the world that needs to be fixed; it is people. When people are at peace within, there will be world peace. Unfortunately at this point in our history, people are fascinated by war.

War begins with denial. One group decides that their cause is greater and that the other group’s cause does not exist. Causes become greater, and human beings are reduced to nothing. In the present conflict in Iraq it is the “cause of democracy” or “fighting Terrorism” that takes precedence over the lives of not only the Iraqi people but Americans as well. The Bush administration justifies the war in Iraq because they give more legitimacy to their “cause of democracy” and “to fighting terrorism” than to human life. It is this type of rationalisation that has diminished the value of human life.

The first time someone came up with the idea that a cause was greater than human life, the balance was upset, and it continues to get worse. Human beings will fight when they do not understand what life is all about, because in wars we squander life. War does not exist only on the battlefield. At home, without a war, we squander life.

Many humanists, philosophers, and world leaders have expressed that war starts within the minds of people. World war can seem tame compared to the battle that rages within a human being. Lifetimes are destroyed in this battle; precious moments are sacrificed; total decimation can take place. The fight within is the biggest battle. We need to be at peace with ourselves because on our own battlefield the “I” is being decimated. The unrest within keeps us from finding true peace. As long as there is no peace within, there will always be war outside. The unrest of the body surely brings misery, but the misery that comes from the unrest of the heart is far worse. It has to be the most miserable thing there is. And yet, the heart has been enduring it for a long, long time.

Each one of us has an invisible thief that follows us wherever we go. What does the thief do? He robs us. Neither doors, nor locks, nor alarms can stop him. This thief does not take money or clothes. He robs us of the most valuable assets we have. He robs us of joy, peace, contentment. He robs us of understanding. He robs us of all those things that are much more important than anything else. When we say, “I want peace in my life, but I will pursue it later,” we give permission to this invisible thief to come in. This is his signal. All he has to hear is, “Not now,” and the thief says, “Here is someone I can rob, because this person is not protecting their most valuable asset. This person is squandering it! This person is throwing it away!” And in that moment, we have been robbed of what is most important to us as human beings.

Deep within every human being there is something that yearns for peace. In times of total chaos, there is a yearning for peace! When there is mistrust, there is a yearning for trust! When we are in pain, something within seeks a glimmer of hope, of relief from this pain. Human beings need love – to love and to feel love. The question is what is going to be the source of that love? A human being needs to trust, but what is going to be the source of that trust? What can be trusted that is trustworthy, that will provide the support that is needed in one’s life? Similarly, there is no doubt that a human being needs peace. In fact, there is very little anyone can do about that. This is a thirst that is innate to all human beings. The question is what is going to be the source of that peace?

Peace is not necessary in the mind; it is mandatory in the heart. The mind and intellect cannot capture peace. They have a different function. Peace, joy, and true happiness are not subjects for thought. They can only be felt. There is a feeling behind being alive. There are no explanations for it. It is the feeling that one has to get to because that is where there is comfort, that is where there is joy, that is where there is satisfaction. It is in that feeling that we need to live our lives. Somehow, we think that we need an explanation of what peace is, but peace cannot be explained; it can only be felt. Fulfilment needs to be felt. When we are fulfilled, something inside of us says, “Yes, I am fulfilled.” For a thirsty person, not even a thousand pictures of other people drinking water will do any good. Only drinking water will do.

It is within every individual. And it is up to each individual to say, “I want peace in my life.” Societies do not have peace. Societies do not exist; governments do not exist – just people. Peace is a simple thing. It can be felt by the individual. When we forget the meaning of being at peace and only grab onto formulas for creating peace, we have problems. What I am talking about is peace within – each individual’s peace – not peace outside. Many people think peace will come when they control every single element in their lives. That will not happen. That is not within their reach. It is not within anyone’s reach to understand or control everything. All I can do is to understand me and all others can do is to understand themselves. Look for peace inside. Even if all the other wars end, as long as the war within us is still raging on, we will not be in peace. If we are at peace with ourselves, then we will have that peace, no matter what outer war is going on. There is a smile that nothing can take away. This smile comes from such a deep place of peace and celebration that nothing in this world can take it away. That is the smile each one of us can smile. The peace that resides in this place, in the heart, is the only peace that will do.

There is a symphony playing inside. We can awaken to that possibility. That’s all it is – a possibility.

  • It is possible to be fulfilled, to be in peace within.
  • It is possible to understand the value of each breath, to acknowledge the yearning for life.
  • It is possible to turn pain into gratitude, doubt into knowing.
  • It is possible to turn all the questions into one answer.

One answer. What kind of answer? The one answer that does not have a question.

How can a person help peace manifest in their life?

Peace within is not something that can be created or invented. It is a process of unveiling the peace that already exists. It is more a matter of reduction. Eliminate everything else, and peace will be there because it is already there in all of us. When does joy come? When we stop doing all the other things that we do, we feel joy because joy is inherently inside of us. Peace and joy are inherently inside, and when we try to create them, we get further removed from them.

Finding peace inside without any catalysts – finding just you – is what people need to find. Nothing else! A lot of people expect that finding peace will make them a complete human being. Not so. Each of us is already a complete human being. We could not be more complete. Nothing can be done to embellish a human being. In the most agitated person, I have seen peace. In the most hateful person, I have seen love.

When we are in that real place, when there is contentment, then there is peace, then there is joy. That needs to be accepted. I want people to understand that there is hope and that there is a bigger purpose in life than all the mundane things we find ourselves caught up in. I want people to understand that the answer to the need they have felt in their lives has always been inside. If they are looking for peace, the place to look for it is inside. This “inside” is where we seek the kingdom. We need to turn inside and find peace within. Without that, what I say would be philosophy. It would be meaningless – a lot of good words, but meaningless. There is no escaping the issue – going inside is the only practical way to be in peace within. This is the opportunity. This is the gift. It cannot be bought or sold.

I am not saying I am a prophet, or I am this, or I am that, but if you want peace in your heart, if you want joy in your heart, go inside to connect and to feel that joy that love and that peace that has always resided within you. This is the gift, the privilege, to be able to offer you this possibility to feel tranquillity, joy, peace. It does not matter what you call it. It cannot be labelled. Call it simple. Simple is best. Each human being has the gift of being able to feel that peace.

When a human being truly realises that there is an absence of truth and happiness in one’s life, an absence of peace, then a fire comes from within. A real fire to find peace burns for that person from the heart, not from the head. That person starts to search. Look for the thirst. It is the thirst within that propels us in the right direction. That is what we need – the rediscovery of the passion for joy. Let that be the driving force. When this life feels full, when our breath is not being thrown away, kindness begins to manifest. Kindness is the outpouring of a heart filled with joy. That is when peace comes into our lives. That is when we begin to find the resolution to our problems. It is not that our problems are resolved, but that we find within a simplicity that is magnificent.

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HOW MANY SAVIOURS ARE THERE?


January 29th, 2007

Pagan spirituality in ancient times from the Mediterranean region was composed of two components. The Outer Mysteries which consisted of pagan beliefs and practices that were widely disseminated and taught to the general public. Knowledge of these has been preserved in historical records.

The Inner Mysteries were revealed only to those who had been initiated into the pagan religions. The initiates learned that Osiris-Dionysus was not a historical person. His legends were simple “spiritual allegories encoding spiritual teachings”. Late in the 4th century CE, Christianity was established as the state religion of the Roman Empire. Pagans were given the choice of converting to Christianity, being exterminated or being exiled. Their temples were either stolen for use as Christian churches, or destroyed. Eventually, detailed knowledge of the inner mysteries was lost.

The core of the Outer and Inner mysteries was a mythical, male entity who was part god and part human – often referred to as a “god-man”. The biographies of these god-men were consistent from religion to religion. The main difference among the faiths was his name.

Alexandria Aion
Asia Minor Attis
Babylonia Antiochus
Egypt Osiris and Horus
Greece Dionysus and Asclepius
Syria Adonis
Italy Bacchus
Persia Mithras

These were viewed as mythical characters. There were also some self-proclaimed god-men – humans who actually lived on earth. Two are,

   
Pythagoras (569 to circa 47BCE) Samos,Italy
Empedocles (circa 450 to 390 BCE) Sicily

Osiris in Egypt may have been the first god-man. His story has been found recorded in pyramid texts that were written prior to 2,500 BCE. These saviours were truly interchangeable. Coins have been found with Dionysus on one side and Mithras on the other. A person who was initiated into one of the mysteries had no difficulty switching to another pagan mystery religion. In the third century CE, these godmen were referred to by the composite name “Osiris-Dionysus”. Of course the use of the word pagan in modern society is pejorative as the practitioners of the “Mysteries” certainly did not think of themselves as engaging in some strange aberrant religion but considered themselves mainstream.

The early Christians and pagans shared many rituals and practices. It is reasonable to assume that Christians did most of their copying from pagan sources. However, some might have gone in the opposite direction. During the third century CE, Mithraism and Christianity were the main competitors for the religious affiliation of the citizens of the Roman Empire. Many early Christians celebrated Yeshua Hanotzri’s birthday on JAN-6. Armenian Christians still do. In Alexandria, the birthday of their godman, Aion, was also celebrated on JAN-6.

Christians and most pagans eventually celebrated the birthday of their godman on DEC-25. Not only is this the “birthday” of Yeshua Hanotzri but also the birthday of Mithra, the Light of the World, an ancient sun-god born 272 BCE on December 25.

According to Persian traditions, the god Mithras was actually incarnated into the human form of the saviour expected by Zarathustra. Mithras was born of Anahita, an immaculate virgin mother once worshipped as a fertility goddess before the hierarchical reformation. Anahita was said to have conceived the Saviour from the seed of Zarathustra preserved in the waters of Lake Hamun in the Persian province of Sistan. This birth took place in a cave or grotto, where shepherds attended him and regaled him with gifts, at the winter solstice.

According to an ancient Christian tradition, Yeshua Hanotzri died on MAR-23 and resurrected on MAR-25. These dates agree precisely with the death and resurrection of Attis.

Baptism was a principal ritual; it washed away a person’s sins. In some rituals, sprinkling holy water on the believer performed Baptism; in others, the person was totally immersed.

The most important sacrament was a ritual meal of bread and wine, which symbolised the god-man’s body and blood. His followers were criticised of engaging in cannibalism, but of course when the Roman Church copied this it was no longer “cannibalism” but a “Blessed Sacrament”’

Early Christians initiated converts in March and April by baptism. Mithraism initiated their new members at this time as well.

Early Christians were naked when they were baptised. After immersion, they then put on white clothing and a crown. They carried a candle and walked in a procession to a basilica. Followers of Mithra were also baptised naked, put on white clothing and a crown, and walked in a procession to the temple. However, they carried torches.

At Pentecost, the followers of Yeshua Hanotzri were recorded as speaking in tongues. At Trophonius and Delos, the pagan priestesses appeared to speak in such a way that each person present heard her words in the observer’s own language.

An inscription to Mithras reads. “He who will not eat of my body and drink of my blood …the same shall not know salvation”. 1 In John 6.53-54, Yeshua Hanotzri is said to have repeated this theme. “… Except ye eat the flesh of the son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day”. (KJV)

The New Testament records that Yeshua Hanotzri was crucified between two thieves. One went to heaven and the other to hell. In the Mithras mysteries, a common image showed Mithras flanked by two torchbearers, one on either side. One held a torch pointed upwards, the other downwards. This symbolised ascent to heaven or descent to hell.

In Attis, a bull was slaughtered while on a perforated platform. The animal’s blood flowed down over an initiate who stood in a pit under the platform. The believer was then considered to have been “born again”. Poor people could only afford a sheep, and so were literally washed in the blood of the lamb. Christians interpreted this practice symbolically by Yeshua Hanotzri becoming the slaughtered “lamb” at his crucifixion. For Christians to be saved they must be “washed in the blood of the lamb”.

There were many additional points of similarity between Mithraism and Christianity. Augustine even declared that the priests of Mithraism worshiped the same God as he did. Followers of both religions celebrated a ritual meal involving bread. It was called a missa in Latin or mass in English.

Both the Roman Catholic Church and Mithraism had a total of seven sacraments.

Epiphany, JAN-6, was originally the festival in which the followers of Mithra celebrated the visit of the Magi to their newborn godman. The Christian Church took it over in the 9th century.

There are many possible explanations of the similarities between earlier pagan and later Christian beliefs, practices, and the lives of their god-men but this perhaps the most obvious theory, that the Christians copied the pagans. Celsus was a Platonist and polemical writer against Christianity who lived in the late second century CE. He “complained that this recent religion (Christianity} was only a pale reflection” of pagan belief. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Celsus pointed out that Christianity copied the concepts of others. Christian “…ideas concerning the origin of the universe, etc., are common to all peoples and to the wise men of antiquity”. “Are these distinctive happenings unique to the Christians – and if so, how are they unique? Or are ours to be accounted myths and theirs believed? What reasons do the Christians give for the distinctiveness of their beliefs? In truth there is nothing at all unusual about what the Christians believe, except that they believe it to the exclusion of more comprehensive truths about God.” Many modern-day writers and theologians agree.

How could the Christians respond to these criticisms? They brought out Satan and blamed it all on him. Satan knew that the day Yeshua Hanotzri would come and so he counterfeited their savior-god multiple times in advance in order to confuse Christians:

Yes, they say, the early Christians did in fact copy from the pagans but Satan did it to deceive. Various early church writers, such as Irenaeus (Bishop of Lyons; circa 120 CE) Justin Martyr (Christian apologist; 100 to 165), Tertullian (Christian theologian; circa 160 to 220 +) concluded that the Pagan/Christian similarities were a Satanic attempt at “diabolical mimicry”. Satan was said to have used “plagiarism by anticipation”. That is, the Devil made a pre-emptive strike against the gospel stories centuries before Yeshua Hanotzri was born. The reason was to confuse the public into thinking that Yeshua Hanotzri was merely a copy of previous god-men. The goal was to demolish the credibility of Christianity in the people’s eyes.

Conservative Christians accept the inerrancy of the Bible. The writings of the authors of the gospels are without error. The gospels describe the life of Yeshua Hanotzri with precision. Thus ancient pagan practices in the Middle East and around the Mediterranean are of no concern to the believer. They cannot impact on the credibility of the Bible, which is God’s word.

To some Liberal Christians, the pagan-Christian parallels are convincing proof that much of the magical components of the gospels are of pagan origin. The virgin birth, bringing dead people back to life, the many miraculous healings, exorcisms, transfiguration, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, Yeshua Hanotzri’ anticipated return to judge humanity, etc. These stories were all derived from pagan material that had been circulating for centuries before Yeshua Hanotzri was born.

There was a great risk the early church founders took in absorbing all these other religious traditions. Essentially, they claimed that Mithra, Dionysius, Horus, Buddha, Krishna and others were all “false gods” and yet when these very same religious traditions were attached to Yeshua Hanotzri the story of Yeshua Hanotzri was true. Christian credulity knows no limits!

“The talk of a godly man is always wise, but the fool changes like the moon”.

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