jb789

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Everything posted by jb789

  1. I can actually relate very well to what you are describing - many of the details of church history (such as Joseph Smith having several wives) are indeed not taught in Sunday School/etc. Just like this seer stone translation history item, it too was specifically omitted from the general church curriculum (sunday school/etc). While others may disagree with me, I believe the reason for such omissions is this: the church is very careful about the information it presents in the curriculum. It knows the faith of many (especially as there are many new converts) is tender. So, in my view they do indeed filter out many of the topics that many members would find hard to reconcile their faith with. Including this seer stone issue. Why now do we see the seer stone/race and the priesthood/etc discussed on lds.org? Because the age of the internet has made these historical facts much easier to obtain for the regular church member. Now that these issues are more "out in the open" the church has chosen to address them directly. In the past such historical facts were harder to come across - as such they were largely ignored by the church, and not addressed as we see them being addressed today. The fact is, there are a great many aspects of church history that differ from the "whitewashed" version we are taught in sunday school. Make no mistake - I still absolutely feel this is God's church on earth, Joseph led the restoration/etc. But certainly the church does withhold even true information sometimes if they believe it will do more harm than good to growing testimonies.
  2. I think this above post is absolutely correct. "Men are that they might have joy" - this situation does not sound like one of joy! It would be different if she was trying to change but making mistakes, showing humility, repentance, etc. This does not seem to be the case. All the signs indicate you will be happier without this burden, so I suggest you accept she will not change and act accordingly. Of course you should pray about it also to know for yourself what is correct - but to me this seems like a situation that will persist if allowed. Mistakes/weaknesses can be tolerated (we all have them) but it requires that a person is humble and working on them. If not, then "cutting bait" is the best option.
  3. Some interesting discussion here, just thought I'd throw in my 2 cents: Personally (and I thought this before this latest statement on race issues appearing on lds.org) I believed (and still do) that the Priesthood ban on negros was similar to Peter incorrectly thinking that the Gospel was only for non-Gentiles. This was a prevailing social custom at the time of Peter, yet the Lord told him it was not so. And Peter was an apostle of the Lord! Brigham Young, though a prophet of God, likewise was not incapable of error. Very simply, I believe that he did act in error in withholding the Priesthood from negroes. The fact that Joseph Smith ordained some african americans to the priesthood is very telling. I think it is silly to think that then following Joseph's death, all of a sudden God would proclaim that african americans are not to receive the priesthood =) In short, for myself I see this as a mistake by a Church leader. It doesn't mean he wasn't a prophet of God, but it does mean he made a mistake, as many other prophets and apostles have done before him. The dilemma from a PR standpoint is that the Church will find it hard to outright say a past prophet made such an error - those of tender faith may find it difficult to accept, and thus lose faith in the Church. So the stance of the Church, in my view, is to not outright state such errors, but rather imply them gently as was the case with this latest lds.org article.
  4. I think this is great you've found a way to reduce these temptations in your life! For me I always found regular temple attendance to be of great help, when I do this the temptations simply seem to arise less. One thing I thought I'd share (I've had struggles with this issue at times, not major, but some) is something I read once from an Indian teacher named Osho (he passed away years ago). Osho stated that whatever we repress will eventually return with the same force with which we resisted it. In specific regards to sexuality, he stated that it can indeed be transcended and replaced with true love (or charity), but this only comes about when one sees sexuality in it's true light and purpose. However, he explained, because we we often repress the sexuality within ourselves (due to shame, etc), we never get to the point where we have seen the utter futility and worthlessness in base sexuality (pornography, sexual excess, etc) - and as such, we cannot transcend it. In my own life I have seen this is true. On an outward level, putting in external controls (filter on computer, etc) will keep us from these acts, but we have not reached true transcendence. True transcendence is when we see firsthand that there is nothing to be desired in these sexual/etc indulgences, when we literally lose all desire for them. If this occurs, there is nothing left to "resist", as we see the emptiness and futility of it all. We are no longer a house divided fighting against ourselves. To get to such a state is a long road to hoe! I have found that making mistakes, even allowing ourselves to make mistakes, it a critical part of the process. Because it is only through the making of mistakes (similar to Adam/Eve partaking of the fruit to know firsthand of the bitter) that we will eventually lose the desire to sin, as we will see firsthand it is truly empty. To do this requires great honesty, you cannot hide from your weaknesses, nor demand more from yourself than you are currently capable of. You must walk the long path of making mistakes/learning from them/etc, there are no shortcuts, no secrets, no tricks. If you ever would like to I would recommend reading some of Osho writings on sexuality - I really think he had some great insights. Reading what he said on the matter was of more help to me personally than any other advice I had received before.
  5. jb789

    single by choice?

    Hi Dove, Sure! For Buddhism books that have really helped me, a great one is "The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving Kindness", by Pema Chodron. You can find it on amazon, etc. For me this book was really transformational - it was so powerful to realize that we can find peace among any circumstance. Pema is actually a woman Buddhist monk - you can also watch videos of her speaking on Youtube - I always feel very at peace when I read her words or watch her, I think she is a wonderful person and full of light. I think that reading this book would be a great start. I've read other books by Pema as well. Anthony de Mello is also a wonderful person with great insights - he was a bit different, as he was actually a Jesuit priest, a psychologist, and he taught much from the Eastern traditions of Buddhism etc! He has several books - mainly I've watched many of his talks, you can find many of them here: awareness A third person I'd recommend is Jiddu Krishnamurti - he was not of any particular religion/philosophy, but his words are so powerful and profound. His book "Total Freedom" was great - it doesn't touch so much upon suffering/hardship per se, but was an amazing read - he was such an illuminated person. For starters I'd really recommend reading the Pema Chodron book I mentioned above. The wonderful thing about Buddhism is that it centers so much on finding peace in suffering/hardship. The others are great to check out as well - Anthony de Mello is often very amusing/fun to listen to, and he is such a happy guy. And Krishnamurti is very profound, almost amazing at times. I hope these help you! I know they and others have been of great help to me.
  6. jb789

    Tithing-Itemize Daycare?

    To be very simple, in response to the OP's question, I would say simply pray unto God and do whatever you feel is right. The great difficulty in asking advice is you will get a myriad of answers, some say this, others say that. In the end all that matters is your own heart and how it aligns with God's will - if you feel fine deducting those expenses before tithing, so be it! I think sometimes we ask for advice either because we are hesitant to trust our own instincts, or, we want to rationalize doing what we know we should do. In either case, just pray to God and get His guidance, and follow accordingly - no need for any third-party "yea" or "nay".
  7. jb789

    single by choice?

    Right, yet in all likelihood he passed on (died) in a very peaceful state - during the stoning his vision might have well continued - his final words for the Lord to receive his spirit indicate this. The principle being that while the external world (body, actions of others, etc) can be in total chaos, total disarray, yet at the same time the spirit can be at peace. And this can be known through experience, proof of it doesn't necessarily need to be found in any scripture (as scriptures are essentially the experiences of others, such as prophets, etc)
  8. jb789

    single by choice?

    Yes, good point - I would think this is the case (saints suffering externally - physical pain/persecution/etc, but inwardly they have the Spirit to comfort them in mind and spirit). It's like being in the eye of the storm - outward life may be very chaotic, any number of things may happen, etc, but inwardly we remain undisturbed and at peace. A very telling instance of this was Stephen the prophet - while he was being stoned to death he had a vision of God and Jesus! So this might be a key to understanding how inward peace is always possible.
  9. jb789

    single by choice?

    Sure, I hope that helps! One thing I've found for myself, that was fairly startling when I realized it, was that I was the cause of all my "trials". Meaning, my impatience, my wanting to go my own way, etc, was the cause of the difficulty - not the external situation. I see what you mean by the "refiner's fire". Years ago I experienced such a thing rather intensely, and then suddenly and unexpectedly it ended - I can see for the past few years I have felt very at peace, I almost don't make the distinction between "trials" and "blessings" anymore, they are almost one and the same. The Lord speaks of His yoke easy and burden light. I don't think we were meant to go through life suffering - I think God wants us to be at peace, our souls to be at rest. This has been my experience - no matter what happens I can have peace. As I mentioned, there might be a critical time in one's life where they have to pass the "refiner's fire" before the natural self/ego/etc is dropped, after which long-term peace ensues. I'm still not sure 100% about this, but in my experience it has been the case, I can honestly say I've felt at peace with myself and God for many years, perhaps it will never end.
  10. jb789

    single by choice?

    This is a very good question! I will do my best to answer it, according to my (limited!) knowledge and experiences. I know what you mean by the will of God being difficult, often very hard to follow. The conflict and difficulty arises when in our hearts we know the will of God (through the Spirit), yet we desire something else. This is our "inner house" divided against itself - this division is what creates the feelings of heartache, disappointment, frustration, etc - they all stem from this fundamental division within us. The only way to absolve this division is a deep surrender to the will of God. And by will of God, I mean very specifically the guidance of the Holy Spirit within us - the prayer of our hearts. This is how we know the will of God, we must be very in-tune with the Spirit within us. The will of God (as some mistakenly think) does not mean conforming your life to some external standard - it means following the Spirit within you. Back to surrendering to the will of God (again, assuming it truly is God's will for you - which is known through the peaceable Spirit). It is a lack of complete surrender to this Spirit that causes all of the pain and hardship in our lives. I know this sounds like a blanket/absolute statement, yet it is true. Example: when I was about to graduate from college, I personally wanted to chose one career path, yet felt the Spirit guiding me another way. For months before graduation I was in a lot of stress - the stress was caused by my attachment to my own way. When at long last (after much "banging the head against the wall") surrendered to God's will in my heart, the stress and conflict disappeared - I was completely at peace in this matter. Eastern philosophy teaches that it is our desires that cause us pain/heartache/disillusionment/etc. What they mean is those desires not in alignment with the Spirit within us cause these negative states. When we become as a child, and have no desires save it be the Spirit within us, life is experienced as peaceful and without conflict. This is what the scriptures term "entering into the rest of the Lord" - at this point life ceases to be a struggle, in a sense, the war is over, we are one with God's will and conflict has ended. For better or worse, to get to this point of deep surrender in all things to God, it often requires that a person must suffer significantly through their own experiences before they finally realize the futility of "going their own way" and turn all over to God. This has been my experience - only when you finally get fed up of the frustration/disappointment/heartache/conflict/etc are you finally ready to drop it all, to lay it all at the altar. And if you do indeed turn it all over to God completely, it really is like a re-birth, you are never the same, it is like becoming a child again, they live completely and without conflict. I hope this helps! I know it's hard to surrender one's desires to follow God's will. Yet in my experience, the conflict and hardships in our life arise from this fundamental conflict - us vs. God - and deep humility and surrender is what brings lasting peace. P.S. One other point I will mention is, in order to be fully at peace, we must surrender to the peaceful promptings of the Holy Spirit within us. This is following God's will in the truest sense. If, however, in our efforts to follow God's will we are not seeking the guidance of the Spirit, but are simply conforming to some outward standard or "shouldism" (I should do this, I should do that) this will not bring peace. Indeed, such an approach of trying to live up to external standard may very well bring about more conflict, because it did not originate from our own hearts! Peace comes from following the peaceful guidance within you - seek that and follow it, and as sure as day follows night, you will be at peace. When you do this, you are true to God AND yourself, because in reality God speaks to us through our own spirit. The will of God must be sought within - this is how we know the will of God.
  11. jb789

    Vexing situation

    OK, so clearly the porn and sex worker issue aren't healthy. But to be honest, neither is the lack of intimacy with your wife! Clearly, for men (and I assume women), sex is a biological need, our bodies are wired that way. It needs a healthy outlet. Men cannot live without healthy sexual release - it causes tremendous tension, and if repressed, can lead to unhealthy sexuality (i.e. porn, sex workers, etc, these are not natural). So, I would say, take the necessary repentance steps regarding the porn and sex worker. These are not correct. But, find a way to be intimate with your wife, explain your needs to her. As I said, men are wired biologically to have sexual needs, much like eating/sleeping, they are truly physical needs. In the Church we often downplay this fact, but it's a fact nonetheless. I really think that sexual repression has a lot to do with porn use in the Church - we're taught too much to deny our own sexuality, to shame it, etc, this leads to it being expressed in unhealthy ways. And truly a lack of a healthy sexual outlet (i.e. with one's spouse) can lead to a lot of pent-up sexual energy, which will come out one way or the other. There are two issues here - one is unhealthy sexual expression (porn, sexual worker) - the other is lack of a healthy sexual outlet (lack of intimacy with wife). Both will lead to conflict and issues, and to be honest are likely highly related to one another.
  12. jb789

    single by choice?

    Thanks for sharing your insights - I'm actually a 32 year old single man in the Church, in a way I can sympathize. To be clear, your approach to pray to God and seek His will is the correct way. You cannot force desire - if you have a desire to date and marry, it will be natural, you have the desire and act upon it. But in your case it seems at this time you don't have a desire to date - that is OK! Again, the key is seeking the will of God and following it. This is different for everyone, and different at different times of life. All kinds of conflict arises when we try to force desire - it cannot be forced! It can only be submitted to and followed, this is the natural course of action. As you mentioned, action/being proactive is good, but it's only one side of the coin. There are times for in-action and rest, for patient waiting, for just "being", not doing. Find out in your heart what you truly want, and be true to that. If you do this you can never go wrong - you will always be living truly and authentically. This is different then trying to motivate ourselves by force or willpower - this cannot last! You mentioned you feel conflicted - this feeling comes when inwardly we want something, but we are torn between the desires of our own hearts, and what we think we "should" do, what is expected of us, etc. Seek the desires of your own heart and follow them - only this will bring you peace and fulfillment. And if your desire is to not date at this time, so be it! Honesty is the best policy - to conform to a pattern/expectation you yourself do not feel will only lead to inner conflict and struggle.
  13. Worthiness is a very misunderstood topic in the Church - what it really means is we are "whole", or "holy". It means we are at peace with ourselves and our God. It does not mean we measure up to some external standard or some expectation of another! God knows our heart. It is said in Eastern philosphy, "the first step is the last". What this means is, the moment you decide to turn your will over to God and strive to do what is right, this is the re-birth, this is the beginning and the end. A man or woman that makes this decision, no matter where they are in their life, has entered the straight and narrow path - and the goal, eternal life, is just a matter of time. The first step is the last step! So, do not be consumed with a false idea of "worthiness". Ironically, when we pursue "worthiness" from an external-based approach (live up to other's expectations, external standards, etc) it will only leave us feeling like we're not measuring up! But if we are true to our hearts and seek God in humility, we will feel His love for us, and we will love ourselves. And this allows us to love others. A child does not think of how he or she can be "worthy". He just lives in his innocence! Becoming like children (as Christ directed) means we stop judging, and this includes ourselves. Focus on being at peace with God and yourself, the rest is irrelevant. Of what use is striving for some concept of "worthiness" if it brings you no peace? When we see ourselves as God sees us, we are whole, we are complete and at peace. When we judge ourselves, perfection is always out of our reach, it is like the carrot dangled before the horse, we can never reach it!
  14. jb789

    a deeply troubling quote from E McConkie

    Just wanted to echo these words - this is true! At times I think with all these doctrinal questions, to really know the answer, you must receive the revelation yourself. Then you will know! To debate it, albeit in a logical fashion, is the carnal mind trying to understand the spiritual, it cannot be found this way. Thus, no rational or logical answer will ever satisfy the spirit, it must be know through the spiritual, through revelation - and revelation is always personal. The prophets knew because they received such personal and direct revelation. The maxim "follow the prophet" really means do what they did - seek God, seek revelation! Know for yourself! Everything else is secondhand knowledge, it is just reading of another man's experiences with God, but they are not your experiences. In regards to this specific question of calling and election made sure (which I don't know the answer to), even if one who had received, himself, direct revelation of the topic, told you the answer, it would still not satisfy you until you received the same answer via your own revelation. This is the only way the spirit is satisfied - through spiritual communication. And this always comes on the timetable of the Lord, when our minds are quiet and clear, and completely open to receiving revelation. Ironically, the question is often the barrier to receiving the answer! We must give up wanting to know with the mind - this is becoming like a child - then by and by we will receive our own revelation as needs be.
  15. The topic of anger/"righteous" anger is a very important one - I think often in LDS culture we can get into a habit of repressing our emotions, because we deem them "bad", which ends up being unhealthy and un-natural. The reference about Jesus clearing the temple is key - He was motivated by anger! In this cause He felt His anger, and it was constructive - it caused him to do what was necessary. Say for example I am walking along with my wife or another loved one, and someone out of the blue hits her in the face (extreme example but go with me =)) Will I suppress my anger, no! The anger is a call to action - it is natural, it is your spirit/emotions saying something is not right. If we are totally accepting and non-suppressive of our emotions we will be moved to do the right thing. In this case, anger will indeed arise very quickly, and lead me to take the appropriate response (a swift beating of the assailant!) What I'm saying is, anger has a purpose, it is not something to be suppressed or done away with. The problem people get into is they suppress their anger (and thus the natural reaction it stimulates), and this suppression then turns into a grudge, an ill feeling towards another, that brings about nothing constructive or helpful. In this case the anger is eating you from the inside out! This is anger not applied correctly. This could happen to a victim of abuse - if they suppress their anger against the abuser, they will not take appropriate action to get out of the relationship, and at the same time will have strong grundges/ill-feelings building up, which are not helpful. Often those who are constantly angry or "ready to explode" have gotten into such a habit of suppressing their anger and not releasing it correctly, in this case they are just sitting on top of a volcano, it will blow! Suppression only leads to accumulation of the emotion/desire, and it's eventually tumultuous and untimely release. Whereas, the correct and natural course of action, is to feel anger in its entirety when it arises, and thus be moved to take the correct action. This is the correct use of anger - it moves us to action, but doesn't leave any "residue" or "afterglow", which is evidence by a grudge, hard feelings towards others, etc. Christ's anger to clear the temple was just this - it caused him to immediately take the right action, but surely there were no grudges/hard feelings/etc thereafter. This article might help you - it's written by a guy named Osho (deceased); while Osho was not LDS, he was very insightful in many areas, I truly think he was inspired. Here's the article: Dealing with Strong Emotions - By Osho
  16. jb789

    Tithing

    Sorry if it came off as judgemental, totally not my intention! I'm just stating that (I'm sure most are already aware of), while paying tithing is important for both spiritual and temporal help from God, perhaps of equal importance are the practical matters of budgeting, finances, seeking ways to increase one's income and reduce one's expenses, etc. I find often that those who are financially well-off (in or out of the Church) practice good financial principles. The original poster stated tithing payment was difficult due to the current budget strain they find themselves in. While I think still paying tithing in such a situation is important, of equal importance is doing budgeting/financial forecasting to see realistically how much money you will have when all expenses/tithing is paid, seek ways to further cut costs/expenses, increase income if possible, etc. Such practices are, in my thoughts, just as important as tithing payment.
  17. jb789

    Tithing

    Out of curiosity, if you don't mind, if you don't make enough income to meet bills every month, yet by paying tithing (an additional expense) you find you are able to meet your bills/obligations, how does this come about? What is the source of additional income that allows you to meet your obligations? This clarification might help the original forum poster understand how such a similar help might be of aid to them. P.S. As a side note (I know this is a thread about tithing, but finances do come into play here), I think having a good understanding of our budget, our income/expenses, how to save, how to minimize expenses and as much as we're able to maximize income, is very helpful temporally. I'm just saying in my experience (and in speaking with my father, who has served in many callings and temporal-oriented ones as well such as building maintainence/clerk/etc), our financial well-being is just as much dependent upon our understanding of good finances/budgeting/saving/investing/etc as it is upon our payment of tithing. Kind of like the principle of the word of wisdom - if we merely abstain from coffee/drugs/etc, but don't eat healthy and exercise regularly, will will have poor health. Likewise, merely paying tithing, in my opinion, will not lead to financial well-being. Of course it's important to pay tithing, but if you are worried about making ends meet, being in debt, etc, then addressing the financial concerns with financial solutions is equally important. I have found that people who are financially sound, both in and out of the church, are those who practice good finances, constantly keep and follow a budget, and are very disciplined and aware of their finances and their appropriate usage. The practicality of this cannot be underestimated!
  18. jb789

    Symbolism of the veil?

    I would say all things in the temple (and spiritually in general) must be learned personally or they will not be meaningful for us - yet I'll share my thoughts on this. We are taught that Adam, having been faithful in all things, desired further light and knowledge through interaction with the Lord. We are taught to consider ourselves as Adam and Eve. Thus, it is a message about us. When and if we prove ourselves faithful in all we have been given (commandments, covenants, etc), we indeed will receive further instruction, but it will not be through the medium of prophet/apostles/commandments/instructions - it will be through the veil, via the Lord Himself (pure revelation). This is a promise unto all - D & C 93:1 indicates that all who are faithful and forsakth his sins and seeks the Lord will see the Lord's face and know that He is. Joseph Smith was very frank when he said that if a person were to whole-heartedly follow God and come unto Christ, after being proven in all things, they indeed would have the privilege of knowing firsthand Jesus is the Christ. Here's Joseph's words on the subject: "After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted. "When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses. "Note the 16, 17, 18, 21, 23 verses:
  19. I think this is a very good point - I hadn't heard it described that way before, but it makes total sense.
  20. jb789

    Tithing

    Tough question and situation! I would say the most important part of paying tithing, perhaps, is to demonstrate to God we recognize all material blessings come to him, and by paying tithing, we develop a great reliance upon God to help us, rather than setting our hearts upon that which He has given us (material blessings). At the same time, if I were you, I would pray to God and ask what He would have you do. If you feel the Holy Ghost direct you what to do and you do it, that is the best way. Ultimately you will have to find the answer - as a side example, I work as a freelancer, and at times with very busy project schedules I've worked on Sundays (I work from home). So technically I'm not following the letter of the law, yet I feel in certain cases it is justified by the bigger picture (making a living to support myself, etc). As such, I would hesitate in giving you any course of action to follow. For myself, I certainly feel paying tithing is important, so I do it. But this is for the reasons I described above, and the fact I inwardly feel it's the right thing to do. But best for you to get your own spiritual guidance in this matter, I would say it could vary from situation to situation (I'm very hesitant to make 100% absolute statements such as "do this" or "don't do this" because everyone's situation is different, and as such, personal prayer and reliance upon the guidance of the Spirit become so important in making decisions). P.S. If we remember in D & C tithing is actually a preparatory law to the law of consecration, in which all goods/money are shared equally among communities of the saints (this was attempted in the early days of the restoration but due to the people not ready to live it, was replaced by the law of tithing). The ultimate aim of tithing, I believe, is to keep us from setting our hearts upon our material goods, so we can eventually "have all things equal" like the Nephites did at times (no rich or poor among them). Also, despite at times people saying "the Church doesn't need your money" etc, the fact is tithing serves a very practical purpose in supplying the funds to allow the Church needs to be met. Surely, if no tithing were paid, the Church could not function monetarily! So it serves a very real and practical purpose as well, which is funding the Church we take part in (building of meetinghouses, temples, etc.)
  21. I'm a bit late getting to this thread, it's obviously well underway. However, one thought I would add, is that I recall Brigham Young stating (in regards to the scriptural account of Eve being created from a rib of Adam) that this is the equivalent of a parent explaining to a child that little children come from "under a toadstool" (kind of like saying babies are brought from a stork), rather than explaining the actual reality of the situation. Brigham was explaining that God teaches us, in our infant understanding, often through parables that hint at the truth (but are not necessarily literally true). We are told that the endowment etc. is symbolism. I am just putting this out there as an idea - but perhaps the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and Eve partaking of this fruit, is a parable, meant to be understood as symbols, rather than as a literal tree and fruit. Much in the same way in Nephi's dream the Tree of Life is a symbol - representing the love of Christ. Thus, an understanding of the Fall comes from understanding the meaning of the symbols, rather than taking them as literal events. And as the temple endowment states, we are to consider ourselves as Adam and Eve, thus, apply this symbolism to our own lives. (see here for an accounting of the rib taken from Adam being figurative: http://www.lds.net/forums/lds-gospel-discussion/17588-were-adam-eve-born-15.html)
  22. jb789

    Question about the Fall?

    Yes, I think you make very good points - I agree with your point that often Eastern philosophy will deny dualism, and that Christianity teaches dualism exists, yet to strive to be non-dualistic. This is a good way of putting it. I've read a fair amount of Eastern philosophy also, I think one of the potential problems with the way it's typically presented is that it describes the spiritual/mental state of a very advanced/mature spiritual person (non-duality), which is quite a way's off from where most of us are at. Thus, in reading such descriptions of the "enlightened" state (or we could call it the "born-again" state), it often sounds very cryptic, and even the notion of non-duality to some appears to be an impossibility (yet when experienced the saints/sages are correct in their descriptions of it). I think you bring up good points about the striving aspect as well. Often it's a matter of semantics/definitions - to the Eastern way, I believe, if one has truly transcending carnality/is enlightened/born-again/etc, they are so aligned with will of God (the Tao, in Taoism), that they have no conflicting desires within them - this is then experienced as being "effortless" or sometimes "desire-less", as the figurative river flows very quickly and easily with no obstructions. Again, I think such a description, while accurate, is a fairly advanced spiritual state, so if you were to try and explain this to say a recent church convert, they would look at you like you are crazy =) It's like trying to explain to someone that you can love others, yet at the same time not be attached to them - unless you've experienced this, it can see like a contradiction! Anyways, good points, I see where you're coming from and I agree. I think Eastern philosophy might teach that duality doesn't exist because they view it as an illusion - those under the illusion may insist it does exist, but to the Eastern philosopher, it is an illusion nonetheless, and hence, not actually real (whereas truth would be considered "reality"). P.S. Another thing important to remember is that Eastern philosophers (Lao Tzu, Buddha, etc) largely operated from the light of Christ within them - they made no claims of speaking with God, celestial visitations, etc. As such, their view of evil was simply the temptations/thoughts/desires they encountered themselves. They knew nothing personally of God nor Lucifer, they were only guided by the light of Christ within them (and did a remarkable job with what they had!)
  23. jb789

    Question about the Fall?

    Yes, I see what you mean - I suppose it's a matter of definitions/semantics. Perhaps I'm not understanding it correctly - but I see non-duality as the ending of false judgements/positionalities/preferences/etc. And the opposite of this of this would of course be duality. It's really a condition of the mind itself. The dualistic mind is forever craving something, and avoiding something else, because it is caught in illusion - the illusion that this is preferable to that. The non-dualistic mind sees no such divisions - it is not caught in the struggle of opposites, in the sense that it is desiring one opposite, and resisting the other. Again, this is my own understanding, but I believe that dualism/non-dualism is a state of mind. As one begins the spiritual path, they see life as full of choices - good vs. bad - and they strive to make the good choices and reject the bad ones. However, as they spiritually mature, eventually they get to the point where life is not so much seen as a series of choices/judgements we must make between good and evil - because their hearts are so aligned with the will of God, indeed, they have an eye "single to the glory of God", all they perceive is the straight and narrow path, dead ahead, which leads directly back to God. They are not a house divided against themselves. In this way, there is nothing to "strive" for, and nothing to "avoid" - for them, duality has ended, for they are alive in Christ, and the division between good and bad, for their own spiritual state, no longer exists. It's like being enveloped by the light so much that no shadows exist. Having experienced true spiritual re-birth, having entered "into the rest of the Lord", they have minds like children that are full of light and single in purpose - hence, without duality. As I mentioned, it really is a difficult concept to explain, it's like I remember a general authority using the analogy of trying to describe what salt tastes like to one who hasn't tasted it - words don't do it justice. Yet throughout the ages individuals have come to a spiritual awakening (call it being born again, enlightened, etc, they all refer to the same experience) where a fundamental change occurs within them, and at that point inner conflict ceases. To them, the path truly is "straight and narrow" - they are not caught in the illusion of dualistic thinking, which essentially is the reasoning/comparisons of the carnal mind. Non-dualism is when the mind ceases judging, when it ceases comparing, when it is completely still and sees truth instantly. I hope this helps somewhat! It is a difficult concept, rightly so because it is largely beyond the usual mental constructs/etc, which is how we explain things to others. It is something that is truly spiritual in nature, and not based in mental ideas and notions. Indeed, even mental ideas/concepts are a barrier to such a pure understanding, because the mind itself can become a barrier to perceiving truth. If you have the time or interest, I would recommend at least looking at some of Max Skousen's book (I provided a link in an earlier post) - when I read it, it hit home some concepts I was thinking about for several years, and clarified them in a remarkable way.
  24. jb789

    Question about the Fall?

    Good point, yes, we must judge righteously. I think what Max Skousen had in mind is, according to him, as we refuse to partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, we have an eye single to the glory of God, uncluttered by our own opinions/judgements/preferences/beliefs/etc. So in that sense, if we had truly "removed the mote" from our own eye, we would see things clearly, in their true light. There certainly is a difference between judging righteously (via the Spirit) and unrighteously (via our own limited understanding). The concept of non-duality is a difficult one to understand - it almost can't be put into words, because it is actually beyond concepts/mental formulations. the best way i can describe it is when the mental chatter ceases, and one sees truth and light (intelligence) instantly. I think this is what Max was getting at - to not partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is to remove the barriers that prevent us from having a fulness of the Spirit with us, which allows us to in a sense return to a state of innocence and be as children. I think the concept of non-duality (which is what Max called leaving the tree of knowledge of good and evil) is when we see how all things are inter-connected, and we lose our bias/preference for one side of the whole. A crude example would be someone who loves summer, but dislikes winter, rather than seeing the beauty in both. One thing Max said that really stuck with me is that we are to be grateful in "all things" - which happens when we no longer have preferences for this or that (this applies to the tree of knowledge - for in this state we would no longer prefer health to sickness, pleasure to pain, etc - we would see they are two sides to the same coin - we are not to be attracted to one side of the coin, yet have an aversion to the other side). Living such a principle removes a lot of the conflict from life - you are no longer struggling to get the things you deem desireable, and struggling to avoid that which you deem as undesireable. You embrace the whole of life, rather than accept one half and reject the other. If we think about it, evil really is the lust for one thing, and the rejection of another (think of the love of money - it is the lust for what is falsely deemed as desireable - riches - and that which is falsely deemed as causing unhappiness - the lack of riches). Paul put it well when he said he learned to be content in sickness and health, poverty and wealth, etc - see Phillipains 4:12). I think this is what Max meant by not partaking of the tree of knowledge of good and evil - it is actually the evil person that is obsessed with the idea of certain things being desireable, and chasing after them (money, sex, power, etc). To not buy into this illusion of opposites - where one is to be desired and the other shunned - is non-duality; this is not partaking of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Lucifer deceived Adam and Eve into believing that whatever he was offering them, by partaking of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, was preferable to the paradise they were already living in. And so the whole quest of mortality (for us as well) is for Adam to realize he is Michael, and having tasted the bitter (the tree of knowledge of good and evil), come full circle back to the presence of God, from whence he came.